amanda k brown

It’s been a busy couple if weeks, and I know I’ve been gone. But have no fear! I have a retroactive post or two in the works.

To give you an idea, in the last two and a half weeks I’ve been in 5 different states, where I’ll add a sixth on Sunday for a professional conference! I’m excited for the trip, as our staff all prepares to head out, but I must say I am looking forward to some down time at home soon.

In the meantime, Japan is still struggling to keep everything in order. They need all the help they can find. All the same, they haven’t forgotten their children. Meet “Nuclear Boy”, and see the crisis from a child’s eyes.




For your viewing pleasure this evening, we give you the Mississippi River!

More updates soon!

It’s been a great week! Valentine’s Day was just the beginning.

A friend  invited me along to visit potential venues for her wedding. I spent the Thursday and Friday with her and her family, debating on what might be a good fit. Of course we couldn’t end the adventure without trying on some pretty clothes for the affair! I enjoyed meeting her parents, and getting some much overdue time to catch up with her as well.

If that wasn’t enough, to make the week even better, what a gorgeous day today! The weather was perfect, all of the city seemed to be in a pleasant mood, and it’s a Saturday. I slept in, after an eventful and exciting week, enjoying the cool morning. What could make it better? Why, music in the park of course!

After lunch, the boy and I broke out the guitars and new ukulele for a trip to the park. It was a blast–and it looks like playing the uke won’t be so hard after all, especially with my [limited] guitar experience. Enough of the skills transfer. Unfortunately tuning is completely different, so the chords will take getting used to. But it should be a fun activity this spring!

How are you enjoying this weekend weather?

My Valentine’s Day was postponed, since my Valentine was otherwise occupied by work and class. But he’d been telling me for a couple of weeks that there was a surprise! That started with an M…

As it turns out, said surprise was mmmmmmmmmusic!

After a nice dinner at an Indian restaurant, we went to a music shop in the area, which reminded me how much I’ve missed my guitar. We played the pretty, expensive guitars. Then we drooled over mandolins, steel guitars, and banjos. And finally left the store with a ukulele.


That's me.. with a Ukulele


Hey. Don’t judge! When I can play some sweet Hawaiian tunage, you’re going to be completely jealous. If I’m lucky.. I can be as good as this kid! But I’m not going to hold my breath on that 😉


The Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Image via Wikipedia

This weekend I…

  • Made tamales
  • Rode in the car. A lot.
  • Celebrated a birthday!
  • Watched the Super Bowl (Congrats Packers!! Lame ads. Entertainment fail.)
  • Made a pizza (yum)

It was certainly busy–but a lot of fun!

Having been Super Bowl weekend, I should make some cliché parallel between the football game and goal setting and how far I’ve come just in the first month of 2011. I’m going to skip that and let you pretend I did. Instead I’ll just jump right in…

It seems that I can cross a few more things off the 101 in 1001 list–particularly #91 ! I found out today that my little sister has started her very own list 🙂 It looks like there may be a few others joining us as well. I look forward to reading everyone’s ideas!

For my goal updates: I’m on book 4 for the year, which is a good pace, since I’m starting to slow down a little as work picks up. Posting here has been pretty consistent, and I’ve averaged a little more than a post per week. Pacing new recipes might be a little tricky. I cook now and again, but not always something new. I’ve identified resources for almost all of my goals, but a few are still outstanding, so I can’t cross off goal #7 just yet.

I need to take more pictures, or 5 of my goals will be difficult to accomplish! I’m debating whether I should pay for another year of Flickr pro, or just use the basic account. I’d have to make it worth the money.

Financial updates: With tax season here, it’ll be a good time (and motivation) to get my files in order in the next couple of months. is helping me watch my budget–not very well, yet, but after a couple of months I think it’ll be “smarter”. I’ve made more payments against my student loans, too, and I’m well on my way to meeting my June deadline! This is probably the goal I’m most excited about at the moment, since it will impact almost everything else–budget, credit score, potential future loan and insurance rates. You know how it goes.

I did write a hand written letter last month, which felt awesome. I love getting mail, so I love thinking someone else might have a better day when I send mail. I would love to find myself in the habit of sending snail mail. This goal should help develop that habit! If you leave me a comment or message through my blog, I’ll mail you a hand written letter too–even if I don’t know you. Why not? Don’t believe me…try me!

That’s all for now folks–until next time, keep on keepin on!

“This activity forced me to focus and be honestly introspective.”

How I did it: I considered where I’d be in 1001 days (just three months shy of three years). I told myself this was a goal I wanted to complete, and now that I’ve done it I’m glad that I did.I had to be honest with myself, and consider where I would be at that time. What new goals I might want to be reaching for. I aimed to make the letter current now, but also relevant for the time I’d be opening the letter to reread it.I wanted this letter to act as a reminder of where I am now, so when I get to the end of this 1001 days I can take a look at my progress, and see what I’ve learned, but also assess what I have yet to learn or accomplish.

Lessons & tips: I wish I’d had pointers to set my mind at ease when I did this exercise. Hopefully this will help someone else:

  • Relax: It may feel awkward at first, like you’re forcing yourself into forward thinking that you’re not prepared for. Shake that feeling, and imagine you’re writing to a friend you don’t know very well yet.
  • Determine your purpose: Consider what kind of letter you want this to be. Do you want to remind yourself of who you were? Is there somewhere you want to be in three years, that you want to make sure you keep in mind?
  • Just Write: Once you get started, the rest won’t be as hard as you might think. Let your mind wander in a stream of consciousness, like a conversation. It’ll turn out alright. Remember, unless you give it to someone else, you’re the only person reading this anyway! It’s not as though you’re going to embarrass yourself in public by doing this activity.


  • Pen
  • Paper
  • Envelope
  • Location for finished letter

Find a place for your letter, where you won’t forget it. If you’re tracking your progress in a journal or blog, or on 43Things, you might want to make a note of where stashed your letter. Three years is a long time to remember where you put something!

It took me 1 day.

It made me Thoughtful

Okay–confessions time. I’m that person who loves to try new products, restaurants, and services even when there was nothing wrong with the old products, restaurants, or services. I’m also that person who gets really pumped up when a company can do something ordinary and make it seem so simply perfect to make it the best [or worst] product or service I’ve ever had, and then I insist on telling everyone all about it.  This is one of those moments. And no–I don’t work for this company.

Evolution of Smooth

So one day about six months ago, I’m strolling through a Target, I need to pick up some shaving cream. Nothing out of the ordinary–but as I reach for my usual buy, a new kind of bottle catches my eye. Bright pink. I’m talking Legally Blonde kind of pink. In big letters the bottle announces itself as “eos“. Reading closer you can see that it clarifies “the evolution of smooth”, and from the shape to the texture of the bottle, this company makes you want to believe it. The bottle is plastic instead of metal, which they’ve crafted to have this soft, rubbery feel, so it doesn’t slip in your hands as you’re trying to use it in the shower. Also, it says you can shave without water. Really? I mean–really!!? So far, I’m intrigued.

The lid is neatly fit, but not as impossible as some other brands are to get off. For me, this is a big deal. I have waited for a company who can make bottles easy to open in the shower without my products spilling all over the place, like a little kid waits for his time-out to be over so he can play with the cool kids. Seriously–my shower doesn’t need to be tryouts for the Olympics or an episode of Wipeout.

Then, as soon as you do take off the lid, you don’t even have to pump it, and you can smell it. And it even its smell makes you think, “You know, I think this just might be an evolution of smooth.” It’s a soft, raspberry cream scent, which is just enough to let you enjoy it.

Keep in mind this is still the OUTSIDE PACKAGING of this product. I was this excited before I even tried it. Oh the powers of marketing, and creating a functional container for your product. Manufacturers and marketers: take notes!

Moving on–so I get home and decide I must try this stuff. Right now. I take a look at it, scramble for my favorite razor,  pop off the lid with one hand, and pump two to three pumps in my palm as directed. It doesn’t spray like a lot of them do. It’s more like a thick lotion, than what you’d usually think of as shaving cream. I like this, but can imagine it isn’t for everyone. But you end up with exactly as much as you want, instead of that “oops” moment you get with the regular stuff, when you’ve dispensed so much shaving cream you could shave the walls of your shower. I spread the eos on my leg without getting in the shower with running water, and it really goes on like you’d expect a lotion to–so I went ahead and tried shaving this way. And later I tried with water running. Both ways work well. I’d still use lotion after if shaving in the shower though.

Now the negatives–because I don’t tell anyone about my new favorite products without leaving room for errors. If you do shave without water, your razor will get super lotion-y quickly, so you have to leave the water running anyway. Also, I wanted to rinse my legs afterwards, just to clean up. So this kind of defeated the purpose of trying to shave without water. However, it did leave my legs feeling moisturized, so if I were in a hurry, it could work nicely.

I’m not sure how to fix the next negative–because it’s a lotion type cream, and not a pressurized can of soap, it’s tough to get all the shaving cream out of the bottle. It’s pump, so you can’t just turn it upside down like you do your shampoo, and the pump straw can only do so much with the thick cream. So you end up with quite a bit of product just chillin in the bottom. But, since I’m wasting less with the smaller, more controllable “pumps” to dispense the shaving cream instead of spraying it out, I can live with this “con” and hope they fix it soon.

Other little things–their bottles are recyclable, which could be a pro for some. Apparently good things happen when you recycle. Price-wise, it was comparable to the other shaving creams. The first time I bought it, it was actually cheaper, so it may depend on the store. My local stores only had one of the fragrances in stock, until a week or so ago when I found a second. I haven’t tried any of eos’s other products, but I’m sold on this one! It’s my new favorite way to shave.

What’s your fave?

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2012 Reading Challenge

2012 Reading Challenge
Amanda has read 1 books toward her goal of 20 books.
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