Webcam Wednesday - Guam  

Pack your virtual suitcase & passport and join me every Wednesday to travel around the world via webcams! I thought it fitting to start with a few from Guam, where I lived for 2 years. If you live in the States, the best time to check these is late afternoon thru the evening since their night is our day.

Harvest Ministries Weather Webcam
(picture refreshes every 30 seconds)
Harvest Ministries Multiplex Construction (picture refreshes every 30 seconds)
Micronesia Mall Webcam (I had trouble with this in Firefox. You may need to view it in Internet Explorer)

More information about Guam:
CIA World Factbook
Guam Visitors Bureau


I'm finally home!  

About 31 hours after my journey started, I arrived home! My plane left the gate on time from Detroit. (There were a lot of cancellations, so I wasn't sure I would get out!) We sat on the ground for about 2 hours for a mechanical problem and deicing. But we got out!!! I arrived in Minneapolis too late to catch the first flight to Iowa. They were able to get me confirmed on the 5:15pm flight instead of the 10:30pm one. Hooray!

Next time I spend 31 hours flying to my destination, I hope it's to Guam! :-)


Flight update  

I've now been rebooked for an earlier flight out of Detroit. I'm waitlisted in Minneapolis for two flights and still confirmed on the late flight just in case the others are still full.

They're now predicting 10-14" of snow for Detroit by tomorrow night!

The good news? My luggage made it home! I think that's the first time my luggage made it there before me! :-)


Stranded in Detroit  

I left Greenville today for Iowa. My plane was delayed, but we were supposed to arrive only a few minutes late to Detroit. By the time we arrived, I had about 20 minutes to catch my next flight. Ordinarily, that might be enough time, but...the jet bridge wasn't working, so we sat on the plane guessed it...20 minutes! When we finally got off, the gate agent checked & they were about to close the door on my connecting flight at the other end of the terminal.

Northwest was kind enough to put me up in a hotel and give me meal vouchers. Apparently there were lots of delayed flights because the they rebooked me on a 9pm Sunday flight! That means I get to Iowa at 11:30pm. Ugh!

There are earlier flights from Detroit to Minneapolis, but apparently all the flights from Minneapolis to home are full. I'm going to try and rebook on an earlier flight from Detroit and try to get a standby seat from Minneapolis.

Oh, and did I mention there is a storm brewing in Detroit? They're predicting 4-8"


Road Trip with Alamo  

I wonder, just how many cars does Alamo have available for this reservation if they're sold out and referring me to another agency? (If you can't read it well enough, click the picture for a larger view.)


Don't forget batteries for all those Christmas toys & gadgets!  

Batteries Plus has 10% off all online purchases. They carry batteries for just about everything - cell phones, laptops, digital cameras, watches, cars, ATVs...they sell them all!

10% off Entire Site


$432 savings!  

I am looking at making some changes to my internet service - Dry Loop DSL is now available in my area! That means I can ditch my landline phone and save about $36/month! That's $432 a year!

I haven't even used the landline since I've been here. I did plug a phone into it, but didn't give the number out to anyone. After 2 days of getting telemarketer calls (and they had my name!), I unplugged the phone! It's been so peaceful since then!

I was reading some boring fine print and ran across this on AT&T's website:
"Applicable taxes and fees based on the full price of all products and services, and no faxes or fees will be added to any rebate." Whew! I am so glad they are not going to add any faxes to my rebate! I hate it when they do that.

Back to telemarketers. Since I have a VOIP phone and a cell phone, I really don't get telemarketer calls. I suppose it's only a matter of time though. I did get one interesting one awhile back. This lady called urging me to subscribe to the newspaper. I thought I caught the name of it, but wasn't sure. Didn't matter. I wasn't interested anyway. She persisted and started extolling the virtues of local coupons, etc. I asked her to repeat the name of the paper. It was my hometown paper in Iowa! I told her local news and coupons wouldn't be much help. I'm in South Carolina! :-) She apologized and hung up.


The brain is an amazing thing!  

I've often marveled at how our brains work. I can dial a desktop phone about as fast as I can 10-key on a keyboard. But have you ever noticed the keys on the two are set up opposite of each other?

And those paragraphs written with no vowels- you can still read them because your brain fills in the missing letters.

I found this today - it's really pretty amazing. It's a half-keyboard. To type on the other "half", hold down the space bar. I was finding that I was hitting the right keys, but forgot to hold the space bar. I think I could get it with practice! I first tried it with my left hand only because the point is having your other hand free for using your mouse, writing, etc. Then I tried typing with my right hand. I was a little better at that.


Let it snow!  

No snow here in South Carolina yet. I'm heading to Iowa on Saturday though where they do have some and expecting more this week! I realized the other day that it's been 3 years since I've seen snow! I ran across this site today where you can make your own snowflake - the kind you did as a kid where you cut shapes out of folded paper! Once you create your snowflake, they add it to the snowfall on the site. If you mouse over the flakes, they'll stop and you can see ones other people around the world have created. There are some pretty fancy ones!

Need a Snow Day?


Works for Me Wednesday - What do I fix?  

Today's "Works for Me Wednesday" topic is What do I fix? This is for those days when you're short on time and need to fix dinner.

Since I am single, my #1 "no time" dinner tends to be cereal! :-) I love Grape Nuts and raisins, so it's healthy at least!

Fried Rice is a pretty simple delish dinner to whip up with stuff I usually have on hand.
1. Cook up a batch of rice in the rice cooker or on the stove top. (Rice cooker is my favorite way. Start it & forget it!)
2. Heat oil in a wok
3. Crack a couple eggs into the wok and scramble as they cook
add vegetables. Depending on what I have on hand I use fresh or frozen. Usually peas and carrots. Last time I had "Asian blend vegetables with schezwan sauce" (microwaved first) and used that. Very yummy!
4. Add rice
5. Stir until rice is browned
6. Add a few dashes of soy sauce and stir in.

For variations you can add bacon, green onions, SPAM, garlic, brown some chicken for chicken fried rice, experiment with different sauces and oils, vegetables, etc. If it sounds good, I throw it in!

French toast, grilled cheese & tomato soup, sub sandwiches, fruit/yogurt smoothies or meat cooked on the George Foreman Grill are a few other quick-fix ideas that work for me.

I have also been making some dinners when I do have time to cook and freezing them in individual servings . Those are quick and easy to pull out and warm up. Here are a couple that freeze well: Cheesy Mostaccioli and Creamy Italian Chicken (sans mushrooms. blech!) I serve the Creamy Italian chicken with rice and freeze the rice in the same container so it's all ready to grab, thaw and reheat.


Great time saving service from USPS!  

Two great features the United States Postal Service offers are online postage and carrier pickup. Carrier pickup is only available for Priority Mail and Express Mail. I can pack, pay and mail all from home! I just wish I could do this for media mail. :-(

Last year I ran to the Post Office with my package (carrier pickup is not available on Guam). I had already paid it for using online postage. It was right before Christmas, so the line was long. I went to the nearest window that was technically closed, but there was an employee there. I asked, "Where can I drop this box. It already has postage." She took it from me & I walked out the door avoiding that long line!


Tackle it Tuesday  

I ran across the "5 Minutes for Mom" site recently and decided I needed to participate in their Tackle it Tuesday. So I'm not a mom, but I can still pick up tips & tricks from others that post there! :-)

My project today was my work area. I work from home and currently my office doubles as the living room. It had been driving me nuts for awhile, so this blog motivated me to clean it up!

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

For background noise and entertainment, I turned on The Princess Bride and started tackling! (see previous post).

It looks much better now and I feel better too without all that clutter! Here are the before & after photos:


To the Batmobile...I mean the squad car  

I read an article yesterday about a new technology that will eliminate high speed chases. Equipment mounted behind the grille of a police car will allow the officer to target the fleeing vehicle with a laser and launch a small GPS transmitter that sticks to the back vehicle.

The officer pursues long enough to attach the GPS, then backs off and lets the technology do the work of keeping track of the vehicle and follow at a safer speed and distance. When the suspect slows down or stops, the officer then can speed up and move in.

You can read more about this technology on FoxNews or the StarChase website.


You want how much for that?!  

I listed a (barely) used cable modem on ebay today. While I was there, I browsed a little. With Christmas getting near, I thought I'd look to see what the hard to find Nintendo Wii was going for. Normal retail price is $249. One guy is selling one for 10 million dollars! I think I'll pass.


I've turned into a wimp!  

I grew up in Iowa where it can get pretty cold in the winter. I spent 7 years in Wisconsin and endured 30 below temperatures at times. And 10" of snow at the end of April. And yet, in Greenville, SC, I freeze when it gets below 60! People laugh at me for being bundled up in a sweater and a light coat. I really want to wear my warmer winter one, but when it gets "really" cold I won't have any more warm layers to put on!

Please understand, living on a tropical island thins your blood. If you get too cold inside the air conditioning (or air con as it's called there), you go outside to warm up!

I will be in Iowa for 3 weeks over Christmas. I think I'll turn into a human Popsicle. They've already had snow there. It will be good to be with family, but I think I'll be wishing we could all be together on the beach - where I spent Christmas the last two years! They don't know what they're missing! :-)

If the weather gets cold in your area and you need a new coat, I found some on clearance (50% off or more) at Amazon for women and men. Christmas idea for the sports fan in your family - the men's clearance had quite a few different styles of lightweight NFL jackets 60% off!


Kevin Inafuku's newest CD is on SALE through Christmas!  

Click on the pictures for more information about these CDs. Regular retail price is $17.50. Sale price through Christmas is $12!


Extreme Makeover Blog Edition  

I finally decided it was time my blog had a new look! I updated a few new features as well using the new draft version of blogger.


A budget help for ministries, individuals and businesses  

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I played fetch with the neighbor's dog today. Toys? Who needs them when you have rocks! Yes, she plays fetch with rocks! She is so funny! If I didn't throw it fast enough, she'd bark at me to hurry up! There is a chain link fence between us and she runs over and pushes it through the fence to me. Apparently if there isn't enough dirt on the rock it doesn't taste as good. Every so often she would run over to a dirt patch and cover the rock with dirt then bring it to me again. Silly dog! BTW, she does have dog toys, but likes rocks better. She'll even catch it mid air sometimes!



I can't believe it. I just found out today that The Princess Bride is 20 years old! It is one of my all time favorite "classics". So many great quotes and dry humor!

Who can forget the impressive clergyman?
Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam... And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva... So tweasure your wuv.

Murdered by pirates is good...
As you wish.
Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father prepare to die.
You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles.

Another great scene is the rhyming on the boat. Anybody want a peanut?

I think I need to get my copy out and watch it again in honor of the anniversary!

I have also read the bookby William Goldman. The movie is pretty close to the book with a few exceptions. Shrieking sharks instead of shrieking eels. And they it into further detail about [use your raspy voice here] "The Pit of Despair" There are probably others, but I'll bet it's been about 20 years since I read the book. I'm getting old & my memory is what was I talking about again?


Guam pictures (I know...they're about 5 months late!)  

Asan Beach - I loved walking here and listening to the Pirates of the Caribbean Soundtrack on my iPod. I could just imagine a big pirate ship coming up over the horizon!

Pictures do not do justice to the sunsets on the ocean! You have to see them in person!

Crystal & I went snorkeling one afternoon and I shot this video of the little fishies in the ocean!


I miss Guam, but finding good buys is making me feel a little better about living in the States!  

Today I went to my favorite store - Target! Unfortunately, their clearance was no good today. I only found one good gift item that I won't mention here in case it's for you! :-)

Here are the other good deals I found on sale items using coupons -
4 boxes Stove Top stuffing
2 bags Cheetos
4 bags M&Ms (one 11 oz & three 14 oz)
1 Polly Pocket set
Grand total? $4.16!

I don't know what the "normal" regular prices for all these things was because they were on sale, but without using coupons, my total would have been $20.15. Overall savings of 79%! I wish I knew what the regular prices were...

4 boxes of Stove Top stuffing for one person you say? Believe it or not it would have cost me more to buy one box! They were on sale for .79. I had Target coupons for .50 off. I also had a manufacturer coupon for $1 off 4 boxes. So it ended up costing me .16 for all 4 boxes!


'Tis the Season to Travel  

With people gearing up to travel for the holidays, I thought I'd post some of my favorite travel resources.

- This site will show you the good bad and ugly of your airline seat choices. I always refer to this when choosing my airline seats!

Packing cubes from eBags - (click on the picture to go to the site for more info.) These help keep your suitcase organized. When I arrive at my destination, my clothes aren't a jumbled mess. I confess. I own a lot of eBags items - packing cubes, suitcase, laptop bag, luggage locks, toiletry bag, shoe bag, the list goes on! They produce quality and functional items. They also sell many other brands, but if I have a choice, eBags wins out hands down! (After seeing my packing cubes, several of my friends are now converts. One of my friends uses a different color for each family member.)
Packing Cubes - 3pc Set

TSA (Transportation Security Administration)
- Traveler information including prohibited items, carry-on policy, etc.

Sleeping in Airports - Yes, I have done this a few times! Not because I didn't want to get a hotel, but because of a long layover on international flights & I just couldn't stay awake any longer!


Better Business Bureau Update  

I did hear from Nu Era Group on November 14th. The lady I spoke with was quite nice. She actually remembered seeing my case awhile back and was wondering why nothing had been done yet. (Me too!) Anyway, they are going to credit my account within the next few days. We'll see how that goes.

This is what they submitted to the BBB:
On November 14, 2007, the business provided the following information:
After researching this complaint, we have determined that the customer is due a full refund. This refund amount has been turned over to our accounting department today, November 14th, and our customer should see a credit on their account in the next few days. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused, as we did have some difficulties with a system conversion that occurred during this time.


Better Business Bureau  

In July of 2006, I placed an order with Nu-Era Group for some store fixtures. They were plastic and not packed well at all. They arrived at my parents' broken and missing pieces. (I was living on Guam at the time.) Since 08-16-06, I have sent 4 emails and called 6 times. At one point I did talk to someone and they had to check on how to return the items (apparently they were shipped direct from the manufacturer & she didn't know if they wanted them back or would just give us credit.) I never heard back from her. I also got an email once that apologized for the delay & their customer service department was very busy handling customer requests and they would contact me soon. Yeah, well they've started contacting me - sending me PAST DUE notices and threatening to take action! (For some reason they never charged my credit card for these parts, but they did for the ones we kept.) I contacted the Better Business Bureau for help. Seriously, I have tried to resolve this! Finally on the last notice, they included an extension number, so I decided to give them one more chance and called that. Know what the lady told me? They wouldn't do anything because I've had the product more than 30 days! Can you believe it!? I explained to the lady I had been trying since we received them, but no one will get back with me. I asked to speak to her manager. He was "in a meeting". She said he would call me back. That was on 11/05. I also mentioned I have documentation of my attempts and have already reported them to the BBB. I still haven't heard back from them. They have until the 14th and the BBB will pursue it further. We'll see what happens.


My budget thanks me  

I bought 6lbs of chicken, cooking oil, conditioner, liquid coffee creamer and 2 packages of yeast. Total spent - $14.40! I saved $26.52! A savings of 54%


An apology and a long post  

This post is long overdue! I have been incredibly busy with work, Heather's wedding, spending 3 weeks with family & trying to get resettled in Greenville again!

My apology goes to Chad. After years of mocking you for your "USB network", I finally had too many things plugged in to my laptop & docking station that I had to unplug something in order to download picts from my camera! :-) (I'm not quite ready to buy a hub though!)

I left for Heather's wedding on September 11th. It's such a small world. I ran into a couple at the Greenville airport that know the missionary I stayed with in Japan for a few days last November! I had a great time catching up with people at Northland! Heather & I stayed with the Ollilas and Charlene made me a milkshake for breakfast one morning. (It's a long story!) I realized I had forgotten my camera charger & we searched all over Iron Mountain for one to no avail. Thus, I wasn't able to take any pictures. :-( Heather & Jon got married on September 15th. We woke up to frost that morning, but it turned out to be a gorgeous day! Chris took a ton of pictures & Heather just sent me a copy of the CD, so here are some picts for those of you that have been asking!

After the wedding, I headed to Iowa with my parents. I stayed there for 2 weeks. Had a great time visiting with family, spoiling Aayla, hanging with cousins for Uncle Gary's retirement and Steve's 30th birthday. We got a little shopping in as well, but not nearly as much as previous trips home!

Mom and Dad brought me back to Greenville so they could see where I live and go to IKEA for some furniture! On the way down, we stopped at several Target Stores along the way. (It was for work.) I think we counted up about 15 or 16 we hit in a 3 week span! Good thing I love Target!

We did some sightseeing on the trip as well. On the way to Greenville, we stopped in Asheville, NC and toured the Biltmore mansion. It was very impressive! I could not imagine living in a house that big! (If you ever go for a visit, I highly recommend purchasing the self-guided audio tour.)

In Atlanta, we went to The New World of Coca Cola. They had a cook 4D theater and we were able to taste different drinks from around the world. Some are definitely an acquired taste! Unfortunately, the bottling line was down while we were there so we didn't get to see that.

What'll ya have??? Next it was on to The Varsity. Dad had seen a show about this on TV and wanted to try it. He loves unique hot dog restaurants, so we went! (I think the funniest named one he took us to several years ago was "The Flying Wienie"!) I had a "Slaw Dog". Your basic hot dog topped with cole slaw. Sounds kind of gross, but really wasn't too bad!

Next it was on to IKEA. It was kind of a bad experience. They were out of stock on just about everything I wanted. I changed my mind multiple times to be able to buy something in stock! We finally found a table & chairs that would work. The quest was over! Only to have our hopes dashed when we went to pick it up. They really were out of stock on that too! Ugh! Back to the drawing board. I ended up with a table, bookcase, chair (Alme natural) & stools that I'm using for end tables and extra seating at the table when needed. I don't have room in my apartment to store extra chairs, so we thought this would be a good way to get double use and not take up additional space! We didn't get any chairs because we couldn't find any in stock. They had a few floor models they'd sell us, but they were scratched up and they'd only take a couple dollars off. Not worth it. It was a long day & I even talked to the store manager about buying some off a display that were up high and looked like they were in good shape. It's company policy to not sell them & they wouldn't budge. We ended up with no chairs and we'd try to order them online.

The next day we were putting the bookcase together and the top piece was smashed in 2 places. Not good. We took a vote and as much as we didn't like paying full price for damaged goods, you wouldn't be able to see it and we didn't want to drive all the way back to Atlanta! However, when we opened box #2 of 3, it didn't contain the right parts. Guess we're going back to Atlanta! On the plus side, we were able to get chairs as well! We also found out they have an area where you can open all your boxes to check the contents and tape it all back up. We used it this time! :-) Needless to say, if this had been my first experience with IKEA, I would have been very disappointed and probably never go back. I stuck it out because I like their stuff - it's well made, reasonably priced and different from the norm.

The bookcase forms a partial wall to section off my office space. Eventually I'd like to get a curtain hung between it and the wall to hide my desk & stuff. For now though, it has lots of cubbies to store things! It's hard to visualize without pictures (those will come later!), but we put part of it in the kitchen and part in the living room. That helped give me extra storage space in the kitchen for my cookbooks and some of my kitchen things that are nice enough to display.

I've been able to cook a few "real" meals lately now that I have all my belongings back! It's nice being able to do that again after 5 months! I made Pollo a la Crema the other night for supper and had Guacachips with it. (I love Guacachips and searched high and low for a place that carried them here. Almost had to have my friends from Guam send me some! I finally found them at World Market!)


It's here!  

The crate has finally arrived in Greenville! It's going to be like Christmas! After many phone calls back & forth to the shipper & Customs, I learned it was cleared and we are free to go pick it up! Now we just have to get the truck lined up & we're on our way to get it!


I'd like to introduce you to J.J.  

I met J.J. a couple weeks after I arrived in Greenville. Here are some stats:

He's about 4 years older than me.
He's originally from Texas.
He's shorter than me.
We've been spending a lot of time together.
The first time we really did anything together, we went to Olive Garden with a group of friends after church.
We've been numerous other places too...Starbucks, Target (my favorite store!), downtown to the Reedy River bridge, shopping and numerous other errands.

Click here to see a picture and to read more about J.J.


Alas, it has been delayed again.  

I got a call tonight saying my crate has been delayed again. Now it isn't going to be here until September 4th. How sad. I was kind of looking forward to having the weekend to unpack. Oh well. Maybe I'll work over the weekend and take time off next week. That's the beauty of being self-employed! :-)


Oh, oh, the Wells Fargo Wagon is comin' down the street!  

I got word the other day my crate cleared Customs, made it to Chicago and should be here on August 30th or 31st! Woo hoo! After 3 months without my stuff and almost 4 with most of it packed up, I'm ready to see it all again!

I've been getting pretty creative cooking with limited utensils and equipment! I have a pizza stone, crock pot, blender and a borrowed sauce pan. One must remember to buy only cans with pull-top lids since the can opener is not here yet! :-)


It's up! It's up! It's up!  

My business website is finally up and running! You can check it out at


At least one person checks my blog...  

Jaime keeps hollering at me that I haven't updated my blog in awhile. Let me fill you in on the last few months!

On June 28th, I left Guam. sniff..sniff.. I arrived in Chicago on June 28th (I gained a day crossing the dateline). My best friend, Heather, picked me up & we did some shopping. Boy, did I miss Wal-Mart & Target! We spent the night in Chicago and I didn't have any problem with jet lag! That might be attributed to staying up for 48 hours straight and sleeping almost the entire trip, but that's another story! We did more shopping the next day, then continued on to Indianapolis, IN. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza Union Station downtown. It was a really cool hotel!

We continued on our journey and arrived in Greenville late at night on June 30th. We were tired & there was no furniture in my apartment yet, so we crashed at some friends, who graciously let us stay at their house while they were gone. For the next couple weeks, we ran all over Greenville & even up to NC one day to look for things I needed for my apartment. We got to see Chad & Kelly a couple days while they were here. (Funny stories & good times!) On July 13th, Heather dropped me off at the airport to fly home to Iowa for Uncle Gary's 60th & Aayla's first birthday.

From July 13th thru the 28th, I was at my parents. We did some shopping, but not as much as last time I was home! :-) For Aayla's birthday we went to the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines. Aayla LOVES animals and really enjoyed it. Mike borrowed a Nintendo Wii from a friend and my parents got hooked! They bought one last week. It was good to be home. I'm looking forward to doing it again in September!

I've been back in Greenville for about 2 weeks now. I'm pretty much settled except none of my stuff from Guam is here yet. :-( It was supposed to arrive in LA on August 8th. It takes 3-8 days to clear Customs, then 2 more weeks by train. Hopefully I see it all again soon!

Life has been pretty busy. I'm keeping up with work and finishing up my website (should be up early next week). I don't have a car right now, so I've had to be creative with my transportation. My bike is on the crate along with the rest of my stuff. I have gotten rides to church with friends, walk to a nearby grocery store. I've walked to Wal-Mart and Office Depot. Today I walked to the mall. I had planned to walk part way then hop a bus, but Greenville's public transportation isn't exactly the most user friendly for a first time user. Maybe I'll try again next week. I've gotten some good exercise out of this! Last week I logged about 12 miles. This week I think I did 13. On my walk today I felt like a camel. I drank 60 ounces of water and 20 ounces of Gatorade!


Progressive Synergy logo!  

After countless hours of thinking, researching, meeting with the graphic designer, getting input, and going back to the drawing board, we finally got it all put together today & I have a logo! Thanks to everyone who had input and took part in the voting!


Happy Birthday to me!  

My birthday was actually on June 3rd, but I'm without internet connection at home right now, so I don't have as much time to do updates. You can see pictures of the celebration on Filipiak's blog.

Kelly made little cakes just for Brenna and I. Brenna's was decorated with fish & mine had a sea turtle. They were pretty cool. Thanks, Kelly!


Jehovah Jireh!  

In the last several months as I prepare to move, I have seen God provide in many ways - my best friend just moved from Greenville last week and she left me some things she has duplicate of! Most of the money for my plane ticket was provided. I paid only a couple hundred dollars out of pocket. I have a buyer for my car and can keep driving it until I leave. Over the last week or so I have received a little extra money that I wasn't expecting and it will help with purchasing things I need when I get to the States. The biggest blessing so far was on Memorial Day & the day after.

Kelly called & asked if I wanted to go on a hike to Pagat Cave with them & Colliers then have a cookout afterwards. I had to run and fill out paperwork & pay for the shipping of my crate. While I was out, I needed to pick up some things for the hike & cookout. After leaving the shipping company, I turned onto the busiest road on island. (Would you believe we have a 6 lane road here!?) Right after I made the turn, my car started shuddering & I had no idea why. I quickly turned into the gas station driveway and it died. Thankfully I was not on Marine Corp Drive blocking a lane of traffic! The driveway was big enough that people were easily able to get around me. I called Chad, but he wasn't able to help right then. He told me to stay put & he'd call me back in a little bit. He got 3 guys from Harvest to come push my car into a parking space. They said they'd come back in the evening to tow it when traffic was lighter. Kelly came to pick me up & run to KMart to get the stuff I needed. We stopped at their house & I took her car home to get the things I needed for the hike. I got home & realized I did not have my keys. I search her car & my purse, but they weren't there. I knew I had given only the car key to Joe for when he towed it. That meant my keys were for some reason in my car or at KMart. Groan! My roommate was home, so I was able to get in the house. We went on our hike & had a great time! After we got back, I ran to see if my keys were still in my car. (I had a spare key with me so I could get in!) They had fallen down between the seats! Praise the Lord!

Cliff & Joe towed the car back. Originally, they thought maybe it was the fuel pump, which would be around $300. Groan! On Tuesday, a couple guys worked on it & determined it wasn't the fuel pump, but possibly a $600 part. Ugh, this is sounding worse! They had one more thing to try. It ended up being only the rotor that is on the $600 part. Grand total? $16.10! Praise the Lord!



Whew! We made it through the last few weeks of school! I've pulled a lot of late nights since we had something going on almost every night & I had ordering for the container to finish, packing, cleaning my apartment for white glove. (We were the only one that passed the first time around! Woo hoo!) Makes me tired thinking about it! Thank goodness for the 3 day weekend we have now!

Today is the big event - I'm "packing out" this afternoon. Amazingly enough it all got packed on time! I'm actually updating while I'm waiting for the movers to arrive. All my stuff will sit in a warehouse here until the ship leaves. After that it will take 7-8 weeks for it to reach Greenville.

I'm getting close to having a logo done. I got the rough draft a little over a week ago & we're going to make some modifications with it & see where we're at then.

The movers are here now. Guess I better go.


Guam Souvenir  

I wanted to get something to remember my time on Guam. I have a necklace, ring & bracelet with the Guam seal, but I wanted something a little different. Here's a picture:

In case you're wondering, it's not real. Actually my Mom bought it at the SPAM museum & sent it to me. I got some good laughs out of it at work the other day! Thanks, Mom! Guam is the #1 consumer of SPAM per capita. You can even get it at McDonald's & Denny's!


How do you pack a gecko?  

I've been slowly packing what I can over the last few months so I don't have a mad rush at the end! At this time, I'm trying to arrange a crate to ship my stuff, but the guy that does the quotes is off island. :-(

Anyway, I decided not to pack the dead gecko that I found. My roommate asked me what I had done with him. I said, "Put it in your bed!" :-) She was not amused & said she might have to hurt me! Well, OK...I gave him a proper burial. I mean, I dumped it into the trash can. I like live geckos, but not dead ones. Yuck.


Random updates  

A couple weeks ago at the grocery store, I scored a great deal! General Mills cereals are typically about $5.50 per box. I hit a sale - 2/$5. I had a coupon for $1 off two. 2 boxes of cereal for $4! Woo hoo!

On the business front, I am almost finished with the paperwork to register in South Carolina. My logo is in the process of being designed. I have a Greenville phone number now as well. (It's a little early, but I needed one to fill out paperwork.)

I am working with the principals here to save money on their order for school supplies for next fall. I went over last year's order and can save them over $2400! (That is assuming they buy the same quantities of items. We're still working through and refining the order.)

I have rented an apartment in Greenville. I'm working on getting furniture.

My plane ticket has been purchased. I leave here June 28th & arrive in Chicago June 28th (I gain a day crossing the dateline.) Heather and I are going to road trip to Greenville.

I am looking into shipping a crate with my belongings instead of mailing each box separately. I decided to do this for various reasons, but it potentially could be cheaper for me in the long run vs. mailing what I can and replacing what I don't ship.

I was really tired last night & fell asleep around 6:30pm, I think! A friend called me around 8pm & I fell back asleep before she called me about 20 minutes later. I fell asleep again, then she called again another 20 minutes after that! (It's OK. She was looking for something at the store for me & I didn't expect to keep falling asleep!) I got up for awhile, then went to bed about 8:45pm.

The Amazing Race was filming on Guam in December. The episode finally aired this weekend. I had planned to watch it last night (Everything airs a day late here.) Because I was so tired, I really didn't care. I don't really like the show, but wanted to see it since they were here. My friends recorded it for me, so I'll watch it later. Some people said it wasn't very good. It basically took place on the Air Force Base, Navy Base and Fort Soledad. It didn't really show the true Guam. My next door neighbor gave directions to one couple & he thought he was going to be on TV, but they got eliminated a couple weeks ago. The racers have to keep racing even after they've been eliminated!

Recently at the store, I saw Sugar Free Peeps. I thought that was funny! If you want to see some funny Peeps experiments done by some people that had too much time on their hands, click here. My favorite is Medical Miracle!


Gaby & Brenna make me feel loved!  

Wednesday afternoon I was heading to the stairs for the hike up to my office on third floor. At the bottom of the stairs a bunch of kids were lined up & all the sudden one of the kiddos comes flying at me & gives me a big hug! It was Gaby. She's 5 & we give each other big hugs whenever we see each other. She calls me Auntie Jenni.

Before church, I watched Brenna for about a half an hour, then we headed to the nursery. (She'll be 2 at the end of May.) I had nursery duty so I stayed with her in the toddler room. They ended up needing me on the baby side & asked me to switch. Brenna was playing fine, but I told them if she got upset that I was gone, they could send her over because there were only 3 babies & 11 toddlers. A little while later she figured out I was gone. I heard from the other side of the door a little voice saying "Je-NEE!". They opened the door & she ran over & fell into my lap. She had been wandering around the toddler room saying "My Je-Nee", "My Je-Nee". When the toddlers went outside she decided to go too. Soon I hear a little voice on the other side of the door, "Je-NEE!" It was so cute!


What's been up with me?  

Life is busy as usual. The other night I packed another box to move. I'm slowly packing up stuff I can live without until I get back to the States. That way I don't feel so overwhelmed with doing it all at the end.

I went to the Harvest 7-12 grade art show tonight. One of the seniors had asked me to go. We have some talented kids in our school! I was amazed! All I can draw is stick figures!

Later tonight I worked on paperwork for starting my business. Ugh! One step forward & two back. Someone needs to write a "Starting a Business in SC for Dummies" book! I am registering as an LLC, which requires more paperwork, more steps and a "Registered Agent". Now, you're probably asking just like I did, "What in the world is that?" That is another company who you pay money to so if the state sends you registered and/or legal documents, they accept them on your behalf and forward them to you. I can't do it myself because a registered agent must be available at all times during normal business hours. Seems like a racket to me. I pay a company in case the government needs to serve me with legal papers at any time! One company I found is about $200/year! I shot off an email to the Greenville chapter of SCORE to get some help with this. Sole proprietorship is sounding much easier all the time! (There are various benefits to being an LLC, so that is why I want to go that route .)

Tonight I am staying up a little late to talk with some vendors in the States. I have called both of the ones I need to & neither one is in right now. I hate leaving voice mails because then they may try to call me back in the middle of the night! So I will stay up later and hope to catch them!

Friday night I'm going to Filipiaks' to help clean and put furniture back. They had some problems with their tile and have pulled it up & are carpeting the bedrooms. Removing the tile left a fine dust EVERYWHERE and all their bedroom furniture is currently in the living room. You can read more and see pictures on their site.

Saturday morning I am going to walk in the Harvest 5K. I'm not sure what I was thinking signing up to go walking at 6am on a Saturday! I have never done it before and decided I'd give it a try. Maybe I'll win the trip to Saipan!


Pictures from the Spring Break boat trip  

I finally am getting around to posting the pictures from our boat trip. I know, I'm a slacker. We had an awesome time. As usual, the food was delicious! Nothing beats BBQ short ribs!

Some of us enjoyed jumping off the top deck of the boat. I did it a couple times too! This is a picture of Pastor & Bryn jumping.

This video shows some of the dolphins we saw. There were probably around 2o of them total! (And yes, the water really is that blue!)

Photo Sharing - Upload Video - Video Sharing - Share Photos


Hello to Paul Allen (if you're still reading my blog)  

Let me preface this post with a few things. First, I have occasionally been called a "geek". I take that as compliment. Second, I am starting my own business as an independent research/purchasing agent (my nickname "ertlnet" was given to me by a friend because I can find almost anything on the web). This post shows both my "geekness" and just what I can dig up when I go hunting!

My last post was about the mega yacht, the Octopus. Three days later, I got a hit on my site from a Google blog search for "Paul Allen". No big deal, right? Well... that hit came from a host name with the word "portable" in it. That got me thinking... portable? as in "on a yacht"? That led me to the ISP of the host name. Guess who owns that particular ISP? You guessed it- Paul Allen! Along the way I also discovered a connection to a fixed orbit satellite, thereby making me wonder if my blog was hit by Paul Allen himself or someone aboard his yacht! Now that would be pretty cool!

Paul, if that was you and you're reading this post also, thanks for stopping by my blog! I hope you enjoyed your time on Guam! Did you have a chance to go diving? And thanks for the adventure of tracking down all this information on who hit my blog. It was fun!

And if it wasn't Paul and didn't happen via the route I mapped out above, well, I can dream big, can't I? ;-) I did track down enough solid information to be pretty sure that it at least came from someone with a close connection to Paul Allen!



Friday afternoon, we took 2 boats (about 45 people each) out for a BBQ and snorkeling. On our way out, we passed a HUGE yacht called the Octopus. Not the typical boat you see around here. I joked that it was probably Bill Gates' boat. I was close. It actually belongs to Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft.

This boat cost $200 million to build and has an annual operating budget of $20 million! (And Paul owns 3 of these big yachts!)

It has 2 helicopters, a pool, a sub, several boats & jet skis and a full time crew of 60. It was an amazing boat to see! Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera handy to take a picture of it & we didn't realize whose boat this actually was until a couple days later.

You can read more about this incredible boat here. And see some additional pictures here.


I love Spring Break!  

Spring Break has been great! I was hoping to go to Japan for the week, but it didn't work out. That's OK though. I've been able to rest and get a lot of things accomplished here. Right now I'm sitting at the Coffee Beanery relaxing and enjoying the change of scenery. This week I've worked on a website for my business. It's not up & running yet. I still have a lot to do, but it's coming along. This is the first time I've started a website from scratch. I'm learning Joomla! as I go. It's fairly simple.

Monday - I went for a walk at Asan Beach for some exercise & fresh air. Later I went to dinner with a Bob & his brother who is here visiting for the week. We tried a new pizza place. I thought the pizza was good, but the service & atmosphere were lousy. We won't be going back.
Tuesday - hung out with Filipiaks late afternoon, then we all went to McKinzie's to watch Facing the Giants. It was a great movie!
Wednesday - Jeremy's 12th birthday. We went bowling with the Colliers, then to the Food Court at the mall for lunch. In the evening was Watchcare Group at Paulins. Then the Paulins & I went to Subway to grab dinner. I stayed at their house for awhile, then stopped off at Filipiak's to snag a piece of leftover birthday cake since I wasn't able to be there when they had it. Chocolate cake with chocolate chips & chocolate frosting. Jeremy knows how to pick a good cake!
Thursday - got some things done at home in the morning, then headed to Coffee Beanery to work on my website. I not sure what I'm doing tonight. Probably making cookies for tomorrow.
Friday - I'm going on a boat trip in the afternoon. We have 90 people going on 2 boats! We'll have dinner on the boat, go snorkeling, etc.

I have had to put in some time in at work this week, but I've been able to do it all remotely from home! I think I'm going to like having a 2 second commute! I can do laundry while I'm working & if I need a break, I can stop and do housework for a change of pace!


Rotten Eggs, Granola, Spaghetti Sauce and World War II  

Friday morning I opened the door to leave for work & was greeted with the unpleasant smell of rotten eggs. Yuck! A volcano about 200 miles north of us is emitting gas. The wind is blowing this way, so we can smell it.

Since I'm moving in a few months, I am trying to use up some of my non-perishable food in the cupboards. Last night I made granola in my crock-pot using stuff I had on hand. It is really good! I'll definitely be making it again!

A few weeks ago I made spaghetti sauce. It was really good! I've been looking for a recipe for a tomato cream sauce & found one the other day, so I thought I'd try it. It wasn't so good. I think I'll dump the rest in the jungle behind my apartment!

Today I went for a walk on the beach at "War in the Pacific National Historical Park". I've been there a few times, but hadn't stopped to read all the informational signs around the park. In the late 1800's, the area housed a leper colony. After it was destroyed by a typhoon, it became a prison camp, then a Marine camp. In 1931, the US military left Guam. Ten years later, Japan took over the island. In 1944, US troops invaded to take it from the Japanese. 55,000 troops landed on the island and about 1747 (or 2124 according to another source) died. It was sobering to walk around the park and think of all the men who gave their lives to free Guam. Thank you to all the servicemen and women serving around the world today to protect our freedoms! You can read more about the park and the liberation of Guam here and here.



Temperatures here on Guam are about 85 degrees year round. Typically it is pretty humid too unless there are tradewinds. The last several days have been very unusual with the temps aroudn 75-78. I've had the windows open and the air con off for 4 days now and it's colder in the apartment than we normally keep it! It's been very rainy too. Reminds me of a warm fall or spring day in the States! However, because the temperatures are down about 10 degrees from what our thin blood is used to, we are donning jackets, socks and warmer clothes! Who would have thought?!

Yesterday I went for some x-rays at the clinic. My hip has been bothering me for quite some time - walking up stairs, sitting, sleeping... and it just didn't seem to be getting better. Last week my chiropractor ordered some picts. I'm not a doctor, but I could immediately see what was wrong! Just above my hips, my spine starts to curve. (I think the last time I had a full spine x-ray was about 10 years ago & it apparently didn't show up then.) I went to the chiropractor today and he looked at the x-rays and confirmed my findings. (And my hips are out by about 6mm too!) He's not worried about the curve and is pretty sure he can correct it & get me back to normal! Hooray!

Monday we had the day off for Discovery Day. Thank you Magellan for discovering Guam! I slept in and that was great! I did some cooking for a party later in the evening. Went to get x-rays taken. Came back home & collected the stuff I needed to take to the party & headed out. We had a great time. Chad smoked a beef brisket. We had SO much food! John entertained us with stories from his recent trip to a convention in the States. It was good to relax and hang out with friends.

Kelly is sick today. I hope I don't catch it from her. I dropped Luke off after school and went in to check on her & she was sleeping. Probably a good thing!


This just in from Asia...SMOG!  

It's been hazy here the last few days. Today I couldn't see the ocean from my office and the nearby mountain was very hazy as well. Normally that only happens when it's rainy. What was the cause of all this gloominess? It depends on your news source! The newspaper says it is smog from Russia, China and Japan. The TV news says it is dust from the Gobi Desert in China. Funny thing - they both site the National Weather Service (NWS) as their source!

You can read the official release from NWS here. Homeland Security also issued an advisory. One of the symptoms is general lack of energy. I think I'll call in "haze sick" tomorrow! In fact, I think I have a permanent case of haze! :-)


My good deal of the week!  

Several years ago, my best friend talked me into buying a down pillow (no feathers, just down!). They're kind of expensive, but I have decided it is well worth it! Well, it was time for a new pillow. The only place here on island I've seen them is Macy's. They start around $140 and go up to $280! I figured I wouldn't be buying my pillow at Macy's! Last week they ran a sale - Buy one, get one for $1 (I had a friend that maybe wanted one & we could split the cost, but that was still too expensive!) Friday night I stopped in and the pillows were all 40% off. Still too expensive. Then I spied the clearance bin. It was full of pillows! However, there were no clearance stickers on them & they were $220. Ouch! I figured they were just using the bin to hold their extra stock & they probably weren't on clearance. I decided to check anyway, but didn't get my hopes up. It rang up at $55! That was 75% off! Hooray! I am now the happy owner of a new pillow & got a good night's sleep last night!



I got my taxes filed last night. It only took about 30 minutes. I am getting back about 1/2 of what I did last year. Bummer. But on Guam, it is years before you see your refund anyway, so I guess it's not a huge deal! :-)

While we're on the subject of money, here are some local prices for you:
8 oz block of cheese $3.50
gallon of gas $2.93
gallon of milk $7.10
yogurt $0.99 (I only buy this on clearance when it's 25 to 50 cents!)
12 cans Diet Coke $4.29 (this is at KMart. the grocery store is $5.15!)
pound of bacon $4.89
box of Jell-o (4 serving size) $0.89
8 oz cream cheese $1.99 (on sale. I think regularly it's around $2.45)

Things are expensive here & you learn to bite the bullet and pay it or watch for good sales & stock up! Sales here aren't quite like they are in the States. Some things never go on sale. :-(


The simple things in life...  

I grew up in Iowa - the tall corn state. When I lived in Wisconsin my mom would sometimes find a way to send fresh corn up for me. I LOVE Iowa corn! (Wisconsin corn is nasty. But their cheese is good!) Well, due to customs restrictions and the time it takes to get packages here, I resigned myself to the fact I wouldn't get any good corn unless I was back in Iowa. Guam is not known for their produce. It's pretty difficult to grow crops here. However, there is a local guy that grows corn & it is in season now. I bit the bullet & bought some today. $5 for a 1/2 dozen. It is really pretty good for not coming from the tall corn state! :-)



This morning at 5:30am, it felt like a large dog jumped out of my bed. Then I remembered I didn't have a dog! I realized it was an earthquake! It was a 5.2 about 40 miles NE of us. You can see the stats here.

I didn't feel the one to the east of Saipan. It was too far away.


Do I get points for trying?  

Last night I couldn't function & went to bed at 9:15 pm. (I forced myself to stay up that late!)

Tonight I decided I was going to work on my taxes. It doesn't take long. My taxes are easy, so it's just a matter of setting aside the time to do it. (Next year will be another story!) I got my paperwork, booted up the computer, headed to the Guam Rev & Tax website... the website is down! Oh well, I guess they'll wait for another day. Do I at least get points for trying?

I guess I'll go to bed early again! :-)


2007 - A Year of Change  

The last one and a half years of my life have taken place on a small island of Guam in the South Pacific. It has been an awesome experience- scuba diving, traveling internationally, learning about different cultures, driving along the beach while running errands, 85 degree weather year round, eating new foods (including beef tongue and squid), meeting new friends and reconnecting with old ones…

This June, I will be moving to Greenville, South Carolina to start my own business. It is still unnamed, but the best way to describe what I will be doing would be “independent research/purchasing agent”. For many years, I have enjoyed researching products and prices in order to get the best pricing available for a product. Clients will contract with me to do research and find the lowest price for the items they need. In many cases, the amount of money saved will more than make up for the fees I charge. For example, I saved over $800 on a project that I would have charged a client about $40. That’s a savings of $760 they wouldn’t have saved otherwise. (And three very busy people had already spent a good chunk of time trying to find this product at a better price & I did it in a fraction of the time it took them. So there will be a time savings as well!) Depending on the product I can sometimes save 50% or more off the list price!

There will be various facets to my business: research only, price research and purchasing and combinations of all of them and probably a few other things as well. Churches, ministries and other non-profits will be my target market, but not necessarily my sole clients. I have worked in ministries for 9 years and understand the staffing and budget problems most of them face and have a burden to help. My goal is to save them as much money as I can on anything from as small as office supplies to purchasing furniture and equipment.

I have done this “officially” for several years already and it is now time to go out on my own and make this available to others. Unofficially, I have tried to get the best deal for as long as I can remember! I HATE spending more money than I have to!

It is a bittersweet time for me. I am excited about the new adventures ahead, but sad to be leaving Guam. I did consider starting the business on Guam because I love it here, but the cost of living and the time difference between here and the States would make it too difficult. To talk with vendors, I have to stay up really late or get up really early. I guess I’ll just have to come back for vacation occasionally! :-)

Harvest is 100% behind me in this move and excited they will have a permanent contact in the States to help them coordinate research, purchasing and shipping. When I approached my boss about this, he thought it was a great idea and a wonderful use of my gifts and talents.

Stay tuned for more information and updates as I proceed in this new endeavor!