J and I are learning to be domestic.


Yep, I grew those carrots. And nothing tickled me more than digging them in October. After I dug the first one, I ran to show J. Then I dug another one – even bigger – and of course, I had to run and show him. The next one was a Siamese twin – duh, had to show J. At this point he asks, “Am I going to see every carrot as you dig it, Carrie?”

Well duh. It was so fun. All you see above ground is the green top, but lo and behold, down in the dirt is an amazing carrot! Love it!


J handled this one for me. We installed a kitty door on the side and hid Lola’s litter box inside. I’m soooo tickled with the finished project. My man is handy!


Remember that blog I started?

I started a blog a few months ago because I like to write, among other reasons. I clearly wasn’t thinking about this precious new project when I cancelled my Internet service shortly thereafter. But really, Internet service is highway robbery, is it not?

I was thinking the other day about the feeling I had after I ran my entire half-marathon. Why did it feel so amazing? I know why. I have started SO many things in life, only to give up before I reached the finish line. The half-marathon was one of the only times that I set a big goal in front of myself, worked my tail off, and actually realized it.

Unfortunately, a blog has no particular end in site, but I do want to be a more dedicated writer, if for no other reason than to be able to read this 10 years later and giggle at myself.

So, what’s new? Well, my last post was about Olsonfest. And guess what – I have been officially invited to join that family! Jason and I are getting married in February and I simply cannot wait. I have a new nephew, Nolan, and in December I am going to become a godmother. It’s easily the biggest honor I’ve had bestowed upon me and I couldn’t be happier!

Right now, I am getting ready to tuck myself into my bed at the Hilton Minneapolis for one final night as we leave the NMDP Council Meeting. I have to say, sometimes our jobs get stressful, but anytime I get to put faces on the people we are helping I get a healthy dose of rejuvenation. But really, the heroes are the donors, patients, and their families. Talk about dedication – I could learn a thing or two from them.

Signing off from Minneapolis.



A Wonderful Weekend: Olsonfest 2012

Ah, Olsonfest. How many families do you know that have an annual reunion consisting of 3 days and 2 nights of food and fun aplenty? This was my fourth Olsonfest experience with Jason’s family, and very easily my favorite in many ways.

1. On a wet (and early) Saturday morning, we had the first annual Miles for Memories 5K walk/run in Elkhart. What a way to kick off the weekend! The group managed to raise over $6500 for the Alzheimers Association, which is close to the Olson family’s heart as we’ve watched our loved ones suffer. Everyone pulled together and walked/ran through the rain, and we were treated to warm breakfast of biscuits and gravy at Talk of the Town (a nice local bar/restaurant owned by Elkhart’s own Curt and Dana (Olson) Hudson) afterwards. Some of our Mahomet “family” made the trek to show their support, which was easily my most favorite part. True friends family wakes up at 5:00am, drives 1.5 hours, and walks a 5K in the rain to support their loved ones.

2. Lots of babies this year! Those who know me well are probably thinking I’ve gone crazy with that statement, given my normal adversity to most children. I don’t know what they put in the beer kool-aid at Olsonfest this year, but I loved all of the kids! They’re all so cute, and very well-behaved for the most part. Perhaps it’s all because of Jason’s impending nephew, due in October. I can’t wait for that nugget to get here!

3. We had a great visit from Oly (Jason’s grandpa). Oly is an Olsonfest founder and the man behind our dedication to Alzheimers awareness. He was able to come visit us for a bit one afternoon, and everyone enjoyed getting to see him. At one point, someone had mentioned that Oly could really only push himself backwards in his wheelchair. Oly instantly had a you-know-what-eating grin on his face, and started pushing himself forward in his wheelchair – he got a good laugh out of us all.

4. I realized that these crazy Olsons, and our Mahomet friends (The Happy Lutherans), have really become my family, too. They’ve all welcomed me into their families and treat me like their own now, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything (at least nothing I can think of right now…). Families go through phases, both good and bad, but you’re stuck with them (and they’re stuck with you!). When the going gets really tough, you know you’ve got people to help you. And if they’re an Olson or a Mahomet friend, they’ll bring the beer.

(I was hoping to post photos, but can’t do so from my work computer at lunch today – maybe this evening!)

Urbana’s Market at the Square – Worth the Early Wake-up!

After my weekend in Detroit, I vowed to get back to my own local farmer’s market. The following Saturday, I woke up to my alarm clock and ventured over to Urbana’s Market at the Square. We were also hosting a blood drive that day, so I made sure to stop by and tell our staff hello.

First things first: Find Prairie Fruits Farm! Their goat and sheep milk cheeses have never let me down, and this year they’re making goat milk gelato with the most amazing fresh flavors. I power walked to find their stand first – if you get there too late in the morning you risk missing out on your favorite cheese! I ended up with Lemon Verbena Thyme gelato and two cheeses. All were fantastic! I was able to taste a Thai basil gelato as well, and it was truly my favorite, but I knew Jason would have nothing to do with it. I paired one of the cheeses with triscuits and some cherry tomatoes (amazing, from Ellen’s in Monticello – she really hooked me up!) that I picked up later in the morning for a delicious fresh snack.

I also had to pick up some onions, zucchini and peppers for Jason’s mom. I found the onions with this gentleman:

And the zucchini and peppers here:

I also had a request for some new potatoes. Since it’s later in the season, they were hard to come by. This little lady dug around her stand for a few minutes to fill up a couple quarts of new potatoes for me. Loved her!

I couldn’t forget my Hogan!

And a little something pretty for myself:


I couldn’t wait to share all of my goodies, and almost all of it was gobbled up by the end of the day! I can’t believe I waited so long to return to my local market. It did not disappoint!

**My pictures ended up smaller than anticipated – I am hoping to get them enlarged so you all can actually see which stands I visited!**

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Suck it up, buttercup!

I want to thank the people in my life who have given me a “Suck it up, buttercup!” speech. While I didn’t likely appreciate it in the moment, I am certain I (almost) always was grateful afterwards.

Jason gave me this speech the night before my half-marathon in April. All of my running partners had dropped out of the race, and it was going to be cold and raining the next morning. I wanted to do anything BUT run that race. But he reminded me that I had dedicated myself to it, I had trained, I had gone to physical therapy, and I was capable of doing it on my own. I did it, and it was amazing. Thanks, Jas.

My “Happiness Project” daily desk calendar has told me to snap out of it a time or two. August 10, 2012…”3 tips for feeling happier at work”: 1)Be honest about how you’re spending your time. You feel overwhelmed, but are you really working hard? How much time do you spend surfing the internet*, chatting on the phone**, looking for things you’ve misplaced, or doing tasks that are really someone else’s job? Well aren’t you smart, little desk calendar? But really, between that calendar and a come-to-Jesus talk with Jason’s mom, I realized that my happiness at work will largely depend on the efforts I put into it. It’s really that simple. Thanks, Calendar and Susie.

*I don’t surf the internet all day. I do, however, spend my lunch hour on the internet.

**I don’t chat on the phone all day. I do, however, text more than I should while at work.

My mom has given me multitudes of these chats, so I will simply say, thanks Mom!

Maybe you’re facing a life challenge right now – discontentment at work, a failing relationship, weight loss, breaking a bad habit, financial woes. Ask yourself: “Is this circumstance completely out of my control? Or am I contributing to my own demise?”

It might be time to suck it up, buttercup! After all, life is what you make of it.


Cast & Crew, Part 1

I’d like to introduce some of the folks playing important roles in my life:


Jason: Partner in Crime, Boyfriend, Sarcasm Extraordinaire

Enjoys: Teasing Carrie and Susie, Playing with Hogan, Talking to Mike on the phone


Hogan: Jason’s Best Friend

AKA: Handsome, Hogie, Hogan-Monster

Enjoys: Eating, Farting, Playing with Simon & Riley, Stalking Lola


Lola: Roommate, Show Cat

AKA: Missy Kitty, The Missy, The Missus, Miss (all dubbed by Jason)

Enjoys: Chewing cords, Sitting on my lap while I’m trying to do something, Touching her wet nose to my nose while I am sleeping, Playing with feathers

My Musical Identity Crisis

I have an awesome habit of making judgements of someone based on their musical tastes. But then, I must ask myself, “Self (like Chef Emeril), how would you judge yourself based on your own musical tastes?”

Allow me to explain…

My playlist while driving to Detroit last week consisted of:

Mainly because Jason claims to dislike The Beatles, and I think that’s ludacris, so I took advantage of my solo time in the car. (And who made the terrible decision to leave out Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds?)

You can see where the trouble comes in, right?

I played tenor/alto sax and have a love affair with violins, what can I say?

Ah, college.

I grew up listening to my parents’ music:

Dad The Beatles, The Eagles, Cheap Trick, Alice Cooper, Tom Petty, etc.

Mom Tina Turner, Lorrie Morgan, and all things country.

As a kid in the 80s/90s, I suppose I should’ve been into NKOTB…but I didn’t start hearing popular music until I hit roughly 6th grade. By then, NSync and the Backstreet Boys had arrived. NKOTB were old news.

In junior high, I gained a new group of friends, including my friend Kyle, who introduced me to the Smashing Pumpkins, Hole, Garbage, Metallica, and Nonpoint. I really must thank Kyle for saving my musical livelihood. Sometime during junior high, my friend Sarah and I went to a meet-and-greet with the Smashing Pumpkins, and we went to a Bush concert (our first concert without any parents!). The concert was on a weeknight and started at 7:00pm. By the time the opening act (Moby, whom we obnoixiously booed because we wanted to see that hottie Gavin Rossdale) was done and Bush had set up, we saw a whopping 2-3 songs before our parents arrived to pick us up.

My high school was defined by its “country-ness”. We were a tiny school in the middle of a corn field (literally), and we had Drive Your Tractor To School Day. Our anthems were country classics about farmers, country boys surviving, and pick-up trucks. However, I also had a locker next to Jess, and her boyfriend was in a band with some guys from Urbana called Missing the Point (they all still play together and are awesome, check them out!). Between this new set of friends and my “punk” friends at good old Unity, my tastes were certainly leaning more towards Chucks/Vans rather than cowboy boots. I am simplifying this paragraph beyond belief. Just know, I was a local band groupie, and I don’t care how silly it seems now.

Fast forward to college: I went country line dancing on Wednesdays with my friends and took pleasure in showing the Chicago-ans what it was like to live in the “country” of Champaign-Urbana. Simple as that.

Post college*: I meet Jason, who is a country music fanatic. His love of Eric Church, Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan have certainly rubbed off on me. And they’re all studs, which helps. I have also started listening to more and more classical AND Christian music. When training for the Illinois Half-Marathon, I ran to Prodigy and an odd group of rock-and-rolled classical pieces. If I think about wedding music (I was an event planner, so I am allowed to do that before getting engaged), I want to play Beatles songs while people are waiting for the ceremony, walk down the aisle to a string quartet playing Tonight, Tonight by the Smashing Pumpkins, and walk into my reception to the intro of Marilyn Manson’s The Beautiful People (thank you, Jay Goff). And if Jason has it his way, we will have a live country band.

Is it really possible to truly enjoy all of these different types of music? Do I have to pick favorites? I sure hope not, because this fickle quarterlifer couldn’t handle the decision.

Current Pandora Station: 90’s Pop (Third Eye Blind, Alanis Morisette, Wallflowers, Lit, Christina Aguilera, No Doubt)

*I must thrown in a story of post-college/pre-Jason: My friend Mike (from my Urbana groupie days) convinced me to hit a Lucky Boys show at the Canopy Club. I thought I was certainly too old to participate with these college young-ens. I went. I was coaxed to the front of the stage, on the edge of the “pit”. I proceeded to be slathered in shirtless, drunk college boy sweat. During the last song, I got drilled in the head with a solo cup of beer from across the pit. And it.was.amazing. I can’t thank Mike enough for dragging me to the front of that concert.

40-minute late addition: How could I forget to mention my massive crush on Dave Grohl?

Au Natural is not my signature scent.


Like many other quarterlifers out there, I am starting to realize that youth is not everlasting. When I turned 25 back in 2010, I started to spend some serious time and dollars on age-defying skincare products. I started wearing a daily SPF and vowed to never have another sunburn. Wrinkles are for “old” people, after all. 

(Aside: I had an eye appointment just after my 26th birthday and asked my doctor about the floaters on my eyes. Big mistake. “More often than not, it’s just a natural sign of aging.” Whaaaaaaat?)

Over the last year, I have also started paying more attention to the ingredients of the lotions, potions, chemicals and food I was putting on/in my body. After all, we don’t want cancer or anything else too much Diet Coke may cause. My natural-fanatic friends Beth and Jill shared the wonderful worlds of www.vitacost.com and www.ewg.org with me, and it’s become quite the experiment. On a recent expedition to Trader Joe’s, I scored some Tom’s of Maine natural deoderant – it promises all natural ingredients, no aluminum, and 24-hour clinically-proven odor protection. Who could ask for more?

Tom's of Maine Original Care Natural Aluminum Free Deodorant Stick, Unscented

I head to the gym on Monday and get in a quick cardio workout on the stairclimber, then sit down on a mat to stretch out. One gentleman passed me on the floor, and I got a solid whiff of his BO. Whew, that dude stank.

Tuesday, I meet Jason for an errand after work. It’s hot, I’m a little nervous about the errand, and I start sweating. And I realize…that BO? Yeah, it’s me. Jason gave me the “What did you expect?” speech. I returned to my old faithful Dove the same night. Au Natural is not my signature scent.

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I’ll just bounce backwards off the side of this cliff.


Rappelling at Ferne Clyffe: One of many things I have loved experiencing this year with my life group. Special shout out to Jas, Bill, Tami, Mike, Katie, Brad, Jess, Shaun, and the Dhoms.
Make it over the edge the first time, and you won’t be able to get enough of the rush! That is, until you get tired of hiking back up to the top of the cliff, or you find a tick in your underoos.

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I survived hosting a field trip at the blood center!

I work at a community-based blood donor center, and I (almost always) love it. I work with great people and selfless donors.

Today, we hosted a field trip for a group of 20 K-5th graders from a local summer school program. Trying to explain blood donation to a group of restless children is…exactly how it sounds.

Allow me to provide a tidbit of information. I don’t dislike children. Someday, I absolutely want to have a family of my own. I can feed/change diapers/mend ouchies/sooth/etc. What I can’t seem to do is understand children and what makes them tick. (Plus, they typically have that child smell, not to be confused with the baby smell, which is pleasant.) Place me in a room with 20 kids, and my eyes get big, I put on my most patronizing voice, and hope for the hour to pass without incident.

Thank goodness for my coworkers. For funsies, here are some of the comments and questions we fielded:

“Since there are five lights in the ceiling, shouldn’t you have five shadows?” (This was my personal favorite.)

“I am a superhero because I am a star basketball player.”

“I am healthy because I play sports all the time.”

“Will you turn into a zombie if you donate blood?”

“I want the CHERRY Capri Sun.” (HELLO, they all taste the same.)

“I’m going to draw braces on my blood cell.” (They were coloring blood pictures.)

“Hey, I have to get braces, see?” (Flashes teeth, which, in true child fashion, appear too large for the face.)

So, there you are. I clearly survived. According to my coworkers, I had a look of sheer terror on my face for the majority of the presentation. I hear kids can sense fear…