You’re a Wizard, Harry

I haven’t posted in a while because I’ve been busy completing another item on my 30 Before 30 list, #8: Visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Clay and I took a week trip to Orlando to visit Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. We were both so excited to see the Harry Potter themed attractions, and I’m happy to say they did not disappoint. Tucked away in Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park is the cozy village of Hogsmeade. Take your picture by the Hogwarts Express, delight in the treats at Honeydukes, and experience the wand selection process at Ollivander’s. It really does transport you.

We took some time to rest at the Three Broomsticks pub and had a couple butterbeers. While it was incredibly fun, I didn’t love the flavor: a little too sweet for me!

After riding a hippogriff and taking the Dragon Challenge twice, we came upon the real highlight of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogwarts. It’s incredible to look at and even more exciting to walk through. It’s the kind of line you want to wait in, just to take in everything. See the talking paintings, visit Dumbledore in his office, help Harry, Ron, and Hermione in the classroom, and chat with the famous sorting hat. Oh, and the actual ride is awesome too.

Every fan of the movies and/or books should definitely see it. Even non-fans will find the rides exciting and well done. It was really a magical place and I can’t wait to visit again.

A Weekend Sale

The anti-hoarder in me is cheering as I cross off another item on my 30 Before 30 list, #10: Host a yard sale.

I regularly try to purge my home of things we’ve outgrown or never use. While donating items can be great for the spirit and for filing taxes, it’s nice to occasionally get some extra cash. For the past few months I’ve been filtering items out of storage and placing them aside for our garage sale. My guest bedroom was a wreck, but I knew it’d be worth it!

We also invited my parents to join us, as my dad has been working to clear out some of the piles in his garage up in Scottsdale. After a day off work to set up and price everything out, we were good to go! The sale went very well and we came out the other end with about $600 between us.

There are a lot of yard sale posts around the web, but I thought I’d share what I learned from our Saturday garage sale:

Don’t ignore curb appeal.
We had plenty of drive-bys, as people assessed our items without even stepping out of the car. One lady pulled up to the driveway and looked out her window for a good three minutes before deciding to drive off. Put big ticket and visually appealing items out where they can be seen from the road.

If it’s free, people will take it.
We marked a few items as free just to get them out of our hair. I wasn’t sure anyone would take our beat-up old shelf or nasty fireplace tools, but sure enough, out they went. The word “free” is like the Pied Piper of garage sale patrons.

Don’t expect people to bargain with you.
Some items were underpriced and some over, and that’s to be expected. But if the price isn’t close, people will just skim over it. Some items I purposefully priced high: ones I’d be happy to keep if no one could meet it. However, if you want the item gone, price it low!

Label and price everything.
Some may have thought I went overboard with labeling and pricing every single item, but it really made a difference. Trust me, it’ll be a much more enjoyable sale if you aren’t being asked “What is this?” or “How much is this?” every three seconds.

I’d encourage people to host a yard sale if they’re looking to clean house or to get some extra cash. It wasn’t a huge effort and was a lot of fun!

Eliminator Champ!

I’m not a huge sports fan, but I do want to take a minute to gloat about my victory in our Eliminator Challenge for the second year in a row! I’m the only one left who hasn’t missed a pick yet. While I hope to go many more weeks of pick ’em success, I’m very content with this win!

Halloween 2012

With Halloween on a Wednesday this year, we had our company Halloween party last night. There were some really awesome homemade costumes in attendance. For my costume, I decided to dress up as Charlyne Yi’s Dr. Park from House. I paired a button up shirt with too-short, tapered work pants and added a lab coat. What put it over the top was the Dr. Park ID badge and the wig. It was an easy costume and it won 2nd place in our costume contest! Here are some photos of the finished look (don’t mind Jake).

Inbox Zero

I never thought I’d finish this one, but I’m thrilled to cross off another item on my 30 Before 30 list, #25: Organize my email inbox.

In my offline life, I’m pretty organized. I’m the opposite of a hoarder, always trying to find things to get rid of and spaces to declutter. For whatever reason, I can’t seem to carry that mentality over to my email inbox. At the beginning of this effort, I had thousands of random email messages from several years, not categorized or labeled in any way. I just needed to sit down and power through it.

So, after a few hours of deleting, folder organization, and laughing at silly emails from years past, I am excited to see this message for the first time ever:

Now my new goal is to keep it this way forever and not let my email hoarding tendency come back!

Grand Rapids

This last weekend I traveled with a few of my friends and coworkers to Grand Rapids, Michigan for a design conference. We were all surprised and excited to find that downtown Grand Rapids is actually pretty cool. We stayed just a few feet away from the BOB, a historic building turned into a group of restaurants and bars. We also ate at Stella’s, a bar that features classic arcade games and one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. And to top it all off, the weather was a perfect non-humid 80 degrees. While I don’t anticipate visiting again anytime soon, I can confidently say it was a fun place to spend a few days.

Minnesota

Clay and I just got home after spending 5 days with his family in Minneapolis and Moose Lake, Minnesota. Fisher family visits always consist of great food, plenty of laughing, and loud, late-night games. This trip was no exception.

The weather was a nice break from the Arizona desert. We took full advantage by renting bicycles at Minnehaha Falls, pontooning on Sand Lake, tubing down the Cannon River Valley, and watching the Twins play at Target Field. We also took a little trip to look at some adorable shih tzu, poodle mix puppies. It was plenty difficult to not take one home.

We had a blast, but it’s great to be home in mosquito-free Phoenix with the pups.