[Resolutions] – Do You Have a Stamp for Week 9?

I’ve been waiting for this week! I’ve started to forget what many of my weekly resolutions were, but this one I knew was still in there and I’ve been hoping each week that I would pick it.

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Week 9’s goal is to find a pen pal! Is that one word or two? Spell check doesn’t really care.

I want to make sure that the pen pal I find is:

  1. not someone I already know
  2. not in the United States, or if they ARE from the United States, they’re at least from a state that I’ve never been to
  3. not creepy
  4. interested in sending actual snail mail, handwritten letters instead of emails
  5. not going to use my address to hunt me down and make clothing out of my skin (see #3 above)

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Do any of you have pen pals? Have you ever had one?  When I was younger, I used to write to a girl from New Zealand. Her name was Helen and she sent me a pin in the shape of a kiwi (the bird not the fruit).

If you have any pen pal stories, or advice on where to find one, send them to me!

p.s. Does trying to stay awake during The Oscars tonight count as watching a movie?

[Resolutions] – This is Where I Came From

So this ancestry stuff is equal parts exciting and overwhelming. The overwhelming might have more to do with the fact that I’m currently trying to watch an entire season of Scandal before Hulu decides my 1-week trial is up, read the entire 13 year archives of this blog, figure out my DSLR and read the book I bought that should teach me how to do such a thing, and create the world’s longest run on sentence. At least I’ve just accomplished one of those things.

I also will be taking that First Aid class this week, and beginning an Italian class on Monday, so I’ve raised my grade on Week #4’s Class Resolution to a B+.

Last Wednesday night I dove into the ancestry stuff head first and became so engrossed in it that I stayed up until after 11. At NIGHT. It was like an internet treasure hunt and I kept discovering things that made me want to find just one more clue.

I began by creating a free account on geni.com and entering all of the info on my immediate family, aunts, uncles, and cousins that I already knew. Then I started my search. First I searched for places to search. Then I searched those places. Some of the sites that I have found to be helpful are:

  • Ancestry.com – this was helpful for my first search, and I was able to view an entire page of U.S. Census data, which was incredibly cool, but then it wanted me to pay to view any further documents.
  • FamilySearch.org – I found this site to be the most helpful and it lets you view all the documents you can find for free. This is where I spent most of Wednesday night.
  • Google – pretty self-explanatory.
  • LocateGrave.org – while this one sounds pretty morbid, it does a whole lot more than just locate a grave. I searched for my grandfather who passed away when I was 16, and not only did the website tell me exactly where his grave is located, but I also found all of the information below, including what branch of the military he served in and what wars he fought in. Um, anyone know when World War li was? Is that a new Roman Numeral?

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This is him, my Grampy. Under the eyebrows.

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I also found Census data from back before computers (gasp!). Did you know the Census data can only be released after 72 years, so the information from 1940 just became available recently, and 2010’s won’t be released until any of us reading this are probably long gone? Below is a handwritten page from 1940. One section of rows are my great-grandparents and all of their children (there were a lot!)

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At the time of this Census, my grandfather was only 10, but several years later he met and married my grandmother. Doesn’t the picture below make them look like they’re from a magazine? It makes me want to live in the 40s.

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I found the naturalization documents for my great-great grandfather. I’m pretty glad my parents didn’t name me Ulric.

Ulric Dansereau Naturlization Card

And here are the draft registration cards for both of my great-grandfathers.

Harmidas Draft Card

William Dansereau Draft Card

Can you see why I was up so late doing this?! I was able to get all the way back to my great-great-great-grandparents and find ancestors from Canada, Ireland, and Sweden. I kind of hit a wall at that point and I don’t know how to search any further back. There are still a lot of things left for me to discover about the relatives that I did find, so in the next few weeks I plan on doing just that.

I am attempting to make a physical family tree on one of those folding poster boards that you’ve probably used for science projects. I wrote the girls’ info on pink post-its and the guys’ on blue, and I’m going to attempt to arrange them all on the board and add info to the sticky notes when I find it. If I remember, I will post some pictures of the finished product!

But now I have to go watch a movie.

[Resolutions] – Coming Soon to a Couch Near You: Week 8!

Well, just like Week 6’s resolution was thought up with my mom in mind, Week 8’s is going to make Dan very happy.

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This week I have to Watch More Movies. I do enjoy the fact that “more” is a relative term though, and since right now I watch about zero movies per week, if I sit down and watch one movie with Dan, I’d say the week was a success.

It’s not that I don’t like movies. I do. It’s just that I also have some form of undiagnosed ADD where I can’t sit still for a whole 97 minutes without thinking about what else I could/should be doing. If I see a movie in the theater, it kind of eliminates this problem, so I prefer to watch movies this way.

When I’m not ADD-ing all over the apartment, I’m falling asleep in the middle of movies. I think the thought process is something like: “Fine, if you think I’m going to sit here without moving/cleaning/eating/reading/discovering all of the wonderful things the internet has to offer, then I’m just going to STOP doing ANYTHING and go to sleep right now.” Seriously, it’s the best cure for insomnia. Throw in a DVD and just the mere sight of that little play arrow icon will put me to sleep in minutes.

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This week is going to be a little challenging because there are not many nights where I’m home and without plans, so we are going to have to find some clever ways to sneak in these movies (read: THE movie). Do you have any suggestions for movies that I should watch?? I like comedy, horror, thrillers, and some dramas if they’re not too weepy or full of elderly folks. For reference, some of my faves are Billy Madison, Halloween, Paranormal Activity, Silver Linings Playbook, Horrible Bosses, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. What are your favorites? I’ll try to check them out!

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[Resolutions] – Week 6 Complete!

So the first day of Week 6 I’m driving home from work and get about a mile from my apartment when I realize I have not worn my seatbelt all day. Apparently a resolution, a blog post, a little reminder on a piece of paper, and an inherent desire to be the best at everything was not going to make me remember to put on my seatbelt.

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The next morning I stuck this on my (very dusty) dashboard and I’m happy to report (to my Mom) that I’ve worn my seat belt every day since then. I also just learned, just NOW, that seat belt is two words. Who knew?! I apologize to those of you that did know and have cringed every time I’ve written “seatbelt” for the last week.

I notice that it still hasn’t become a habit yet, though. I still have to look at that little piece of paper before I remember, but I don’t want to live my life with little sticky notes placed all over (right, like I don’t already do that), so I’m going to try to find something a bit more inconspicuous to put in its place. Something cute, but unexpected, so that when I get in the car I’m like “why is there a tiny puppy sitting on Bradley Cooper’s lap licking an ice cream cone?!” Oh, right, it’s to make me wear my seat belt.

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Actually, now that I think about it, that might be MORE dangerous because I will probably never look at the road again.

[Resolutions] – The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from Week 7

Week 7 is already here! Crazy. Why am I not in a bathing suit with my toes in the sand yet?? Actually, the mention of bathing suits makes me change my mind completely. Please stay winter for as long as it takes me to get up off the couch and not cancel a gym class.

Starting on Wednesday, my task is to Learn About My Ancestry.

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I hope I find out that I’m related to someone famous! Actually, I can kind of see the resemblance here:

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Week 6 is going well, but that’s not entirely because I’ve remembered to wear my seatbelt every time I get in the car. It’s mostly because you don’t need to wear your seatbelt when Mother Nature has decided you’re not going ANYWHERE for days.

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[Resolutions] – Week 5 in Recipes, Photos, and Too Many Words

Somehow this week turned into a food diary complete with pictures and notes on what I ate every day. The pictures stopped happening after the first few days because I’m not a patient person, hence why most of my meals are normally microwaved or cooked by someone at Macaroni Grill. I’ve been getting better at cooking dinners at home lately, but I still eat a lot of breakfasts and lunches out.

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I did it though! NO EATING OUT! all week long, unless you count that one froyo at Orange Leaf, which I don’t.

The breakfasts were probably my favorite part. I had everything from these super easy pumpkin muffins (only 2 points on Weight Watchers! Also, I used spice cake mix), to this AH-mazing cake batter smoothie. If I was running late, I grabbed some oatmeal or a greek yogurt to eat at work. Then on Sunday I made us this casserole for breakfast and it was like elves lived here because all I had to do was throw a few things into the Crock Pot at night and we woke up to breakfast.

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Lunch was a bit more challenging, but I managed. I had picked up two salads at Trader Joe’s to eat at work, then had leftovers or a frozen meal for the other work days. On the weekends….well, maybe I don’t want to mention what happened on the weekends. I’m going to call it a buffet. Of Goldfish and chocolate. Maybe a soft pretzel, some popcorn. Ben and Jerry were there too. Hey, I didn’t eat out.

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I’m quite proud of myself for dinners, at least for the first half of the week. We had a tasty stir-fry the first night, followed by this Skinny Broccoli Mac & Cheese the next night.

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Then Dan “made” us dinner by putting some Trader Joe’s Eggplant Parmesan Towers in the oven with sweet potato fries. Those eggplant parm things are SO good.

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The last thing I made was the pumpkin orzo that’s in the very first picture that I posted above, and then we ate leftovers for the rest of the week. I don’t think I used my debit card or cash all week long. However, when I walked into Starbucks this morning they probably wondered what was up with this girl’s goofy grin and dazed look ordering a Crack Latte and asking if there was a size larger than Venti yet…

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Oh, the mythical Trenta. Why hasn’t my Starbucks heard of you?!

Moolala!

I just found this great site and I have to share! I was reading through some of the deals that other bloggers had posted today and of course I stopped at one that advertised $12 for 2 movie tickets.

Wait, can we insert the sound of screeching tires here? Because I know Dan is like “you don’t even LIKE good movies!”, or “you can’t even stay awake/sit still for a movie!” To which I say “you don’t even like chocolate!!”

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But somehow we do still find ourselves at the movies a lot. And occasionally there is a horror movie, or a silly comedy, or sometimes even an action movie that I do want to see. So I jumped on this deal and bought us 4 movie tickets for $24. Not bad, eh?

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The site is called Moolala and I’m really liking it! Not only can you get great deals, but you earn 2% back from every deal you purchase. AND if you refer someone, you get 2% of every deal THEY purchase, as well as 2% of every deal that their own referrals purchase. So if your friend’s uncle’s sister’s dog’s grandmother buys a deal, you still earn 2%. The math is crazy.

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In a good way.

[Some referral links used]

[Resolutions] – Fasten Your Seatbelts for Week 6!

Last night I picked a new slip of paper out of the Resolutions Jar because I have trouble waiting until Sunday like I’m supposed to. My mom is going to LOVE this one.

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My newest resolution is to Wear My Seatbelt! I know I know I KNOW. But listen. If you ask me why I never wear my seatbelt, I’ll say something about how I don’t want to be decapitated in an accident, or get stuck underwater when I drive into a lake and OH MY GOD I can’t unbuckle my seatbelt and I’m going to drown!! That’s not entirely true though. I mean, I don’t want any of those things to happen, but the real reason I never wear my seatbelt is because I just don’t even think of it when I get in the car.

I somehow managed to end up with the only car on the planet that does not beep, ding, chime, or slap me in the face if I don’t put my seatbelt on. I also don’t have a dashboard light that comes on if I’m not wearing it. In fact, I’m not sure I have a dashboard light for anything because I’ve been lower than empty on gas and my car just keeps on going all blissfully unaware. Because of those things, and the fact that it’s never been a habit for me, I just don’t think of putting my seatbelt on when I get into the car and it drives my poor mother crazy.

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So for this week, I’m going to tape a little reminder to my steering wheel and wear my seatbelt every day. They (who?) say it takes 7 times for something to become a habit, right? So by the end of the week, I should be a seatbelt-wearer for life!

Moving on to an update on Week 5 and NO EATING OUT! I’ve cooked quite a few new recipes at home already and I haven’t eaten a single meal out. What you see below does NOT count because it’s not a meal, but I will delete all evidence of ever having said that once this week is over.

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And honestly, I might frame that one.

[Resolutions] – Grade Me on Week 4

This could go one of two ways:

  • I get an A+ for the week because I scheduled not one but TWO classes and then I checked out some online ones as well.
  • I get an F for the week because I didn’t take a single class THIS week, the online ones didn’t work out so well, AND I cancelled a gym class that I had scheduled.

Compromise?

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I signed up for a First Aid class because I’ve really been feeling like I don’t have enough blood and disease in my life now that House has ended. And mainly because I like to be prepared for all sorts of apocalypses (apocalysi? apocali?) just to set my anxiety at ease. So after February 22nd, if you need a Band-Aid and/or the Heimlich, I’m your girl!

I also will be taking a class to learn what all the buttons and menus and functions (oh my!) are on my new camera! I don’t actually have that camera yet, so I couldn’t take the class, but it’s currently in NY where it arrived at 2:17pm, and it is scheduled to be at my door tomorrow afternoon. Is there a 12-step program for obsessive package tracking?

So because I couldn’t physically go and take one of those classes during the week, I decided to check out some of MIT’s free online classes. I think it’s really great that they offer this (Harvard and UC Berkeley do it also), but I went into it expecting to be able to watch some lectures, take a test, or read some articles, and while some of the classes do have those things available, the tests don’t have answers and the lecture notes are really just undecipherable outlines. I did look at some of the photography student’s final projects though.

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I had a barre class scheduled for Tuesday night, which doesn’t really count because I had it scheduled before I picked this resolution anyway, so the fact that I cancelled it because of snow (read: because I was too lazy from having to clean off my car and get to work in the snow that had long since ended by the time of the class…) doesn’t count either. So there.

When I finish my classes, I will post a little update about them. In the meantime, I’m currently on Day 1 of NO EATING OUT! which is how I like to say it because it just seems like a punishment. $150 at the grocery store. Rescheduling Cheesecake Factory plans with Mom. Not being able to go out to lunch with Dan on his last Friday off. NO EATING OUT! week is SO mean!!

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But those muffins. Those muffins are not mean. I quite like them!

[Resolutions] – Week What?

I’m starting to get confused about the weeks because I just picked for week #5, but I’m still in the middle of week #4, and I have something to say about week #3. Wait and see what kind of fun this will be when we get to week #37.

Week #5 is…..Make Every Meal at Home – No Eating Out! I cried a little when I picked this one today. Not only do we not have any food in the house right now, but I despise food shopping and I like to play a little game where I see how long I can go without doing it. I also have plans from now until Wednesday, making it a little difficult to find the time to get to the grocery store and start this one for Wednesday’s breakfast.

Don’t Complain week is going to be a nightmare. Oops, is that complaining? Good thing it’s not Don’t Complain week yet!

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So I need your help, Internet Friends & Family. I have a few recipes I’ve been wanting to try on Springpad, but I need some ideas to help me drive by Starbucks in the morning (more tears) and quick things to grab for lunches during the work week. Please share your ideas with me in the comments!

Now let’s time travel back to the present. Week #4. It’s going well. I’m signed up for a CPR/First Aid class on February 21st, so please don’t get injured in my company until then or I will probably just say “OMG” a lot and cover my eyes.

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I also just bought myself a new camera, one with lenses and ISO and aperture and more things that I don’t understand, so I will be taking a class in Cambridge with Dan on that also. And because I feel the need to be valedictorian of this whole class resolution thing, I’ve also checked out some of MIT’s free online classes, as well as signed up for a barre class Tuesday night.

Lastly, I brought to the consignment store a bunch of books from week #something (3?) and got $54 for them! Resolutions are awesome.