Sunday, December 28, 2008

I Survived 24 hours in a car, no computer, and a non-stop eating frenzy

I'm hungry all the time, my stomach is beginning to hang out my pants, and my clothes are fitting tight. 4 days of the family pumping sugar and all sorts of amazing foods full of saturated fat in my belly via my veins mouth, no wonder. My stomach has stretched so much that I get hungry 20 minutes after a large meal. Gotta love the holidays! 

Short aside... Is this what its like when you're preggers? Because I do not know how I will be able to control my eating if I can't even do it for a few days during the holidays. (P.S. I am not preggers)

Starting January 2nd, I will be back at Curves working off the 3 10 pounds I gained in one week. PLUS losing extra, I hope, to get in shape for the wedding celebration in May. My goals are to shed 15 pounds and tone my arms and belly although I refuse to call it a "New Years Resolution." Slap those 3 words in front of any sort of goal and I am bound to fail. 

I also survived my 4 days without a computer. I THOUGHT I would miss it, but quite honestly I didn't. In those 96 hours, the computer only crossed my mind twice. I even made my mom look something up for me to avoid breaching the commitment I made to myself. And so life does go on without a computer, believe it or not! (I was skeptical ;) )

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas and Computerless

I work on my computer for a minimum of 8 hours a day. I play on my computer. I check my email on my computer. I blog on my computer. I put all my photos on my computer and crop them and print them and... and...

Okay, I think you get my drift. It's hard for me to even put my computer down anymore. SO I have decided to go computerless from Wednesday til Sunday. It's not very long and I think I can do it! I can't remember the last time I have gone a day, muchless four, without checking my email or facebook or blog or myspace or... 

It's Christmas and I am going to enjoy that time with my new and "old" fam. 

We're traveling 12 hours to my home and on the way seeing my hubby's family. I can not wait! Except that the weather is supposed to be BAD, really bad and although my hubby is not used to driving in the snow, he insists on driving. Sigh. Men. 

So anyway, Merry Christmas! Enjoy this time with your friends and family! And in all the hustle and bustle don't forget the reason we celebrate Christmas, Jesus' birth.


P.S. I stole this picture from a friend... THIS is where we're going!

Guess we get to see some real snow after all.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fairy Tales and Reality IV

First Read...

My eyes gazed at the list. I rubbed the sleepiness out of them with my fingers and searched frantically for my name. I flipped through the pages and just didn't see it. 

When we're nervous and frantic somehow we miss the obvious. 

Someone eventually pointed to their name which was right below... MINE... AT THE VERY TOP! In my second production with Mrs. Buford, I scored the lead! 

*********************************
I am not the most confident person in the world, and I was far from cool in High School. I was lucky to have a friend or two at a time at that school. Because of that and my perfectionist type A personality, I was super hard on myself all the time. 

For once in my life, I had the opportunity to not have all that pressure on myself. Yes, I wanted to do the best I possibly could as Rosalind, but I eventually sort of melded into her. So for those 2-3 6 hours of practice each night, I could be someone else. I didn't have all those extra pressures on me. It was wonderful. I could pretend to be in love and pretend to experience it like a little girl twirling in her dress up clothes or playing barbies. I was that little girl again, I was free. 

Until... the kiss... which I will explain at a later date. 


Thursday, December 18, 2008

One of those mornings - my apartment smells like burnt cloth

I am sitting on the floor just minding my own business getting a shoulder rub from my hubby because when I'm sick, my shoulders hurt like the dickens. (Does anyone say that anymore?)

I had asked him if he minded starting the kettle for some tea but instructed him to add water and be sure to put it on the big burner. I was sitting in front of him working when I started to smell burning. Eventually I got up and walked to the kitchen. I saw red and orange and smoke. It was not good. 

The tea kettle was sitting on the small burner which was on high. When I picked it up there was no water in it. (Mind you the kettle had maybe been on 5 minutes!) Next to the kettle on the counter was the oven mit I used for the chili last night and in front of that was the spoon I used to serve the chili. The mit was singed and still singeing and the handle to the spoon had melted. These items weren't even that close to the burner. I didn't panic. I just called my hubby's name and told him he needed to see what happened. Then handed him the mit and told him to throw it in the fireplace. Sigh. I do things like this too... Can't be mad at him.

In fact, I was so distracted last night that I forgot to put away the yummy chili I made and the fresh homemade loaf of bread. I managed to save the bread but the chili? Meat sitting out all night in tomato sauce is just not salvageable. :( I hate to waste things! 

Oh well. Just one of those mornings I suppose. 

Fairy Tales and Reality III

First Read...

If you've never experienced that overwhelming feeling of having to wait 3 days to find out what part you got in the school play or if you even got a part, you're missing out. It's pretty nerve-racking. Forget sleeping... It just doesn't happen.

And of course, although 3 days is the promise, it really never works out that way. And sometimes the parts are posted at the beginning of the day and sometimes they're posted at the end of the day. And sometimes your friends get to it before you can and as much as you want to ditch class and go see the list, you are too much of a goody too shoes to do that. So you get the lav pass and shimmy down there instead or not... 

********************************
Practice was going to start that night for those that got parts. By this point in time I was so tired and shaken up that I just wanted to see the list and go to bed. Forget classes, forget practice, just tell me if I got the dang part or not. By the end of the day the list was up. 

Part of me wanted to run down the hall around the corner down the stairs and around the next corner as fast as I possibly could. The other part of me wanted to just procrastinate and eventually drag myself down. (I know, you'd think after 2 or 3 nights without sleep I wouldn't want to way any longer.) 

So I chose to take deep breaths and go at a decent pace. Thump. Thump. Thump. Stopped at my locker. Thump. Thump. Thump. Faster and faster. The wall was surrounded by those who had auditioned a few days prior. I managed to push my way through and let my eyes wander over the page. "Preston." "Teressa." "Ashley." "James." Where was my name?

to be continued...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Fairy Tales and Reality II

First Read....

I am typically pretty good at hiding my nerves. Most people can not tell when I get nervous. But it was just all hanging out there at this point. 

As I stood up, my legs were shaking. I heard a crinkling noise and peered down at my hand which was also quivering. Taking a deep breath, I took a step. And then another. I tried telling myself that it wasn't really a big deal. "It wouldn't be the end of the world if I just didn't get a part at all." Life would go on. There was always the musical in a few months. "Breathe. Just breathe. It's going to be over soon." 

I walked up the steps and onto the stage. I saw Mrs. Buford staring at me over her glasses. Yes, over them. You know, when they tilt the glasses down and peer over the top. I took one more deep breath, looked at my auditioning partner and tried to keep my composure. 

"GULP"

First I had to read the part of Celia and then Rosalind and then Rosalind with Orlando and then Phoebe with someone else... 

And there were lots of "forths" and "thees" and "thousts" Good thing I was passionate about Shakespeare and "got" what he was saying.


Exhale... First one done. My attitude changed. "Wow that wasn't so bad," I thought. I had only tripped up 5 or 10... okay maybe 15 words. 

By the next group of lines I was nervous again, but not quite so bad. 

As soon as it was over, I scurried out of the room. I was just too hyped up to stick around and make small talk. Time to go to my bedroom and wallow and maybe...throw up. 

Sigh... I'm already a Junior. "There is just no way I'm EVER going to get the lead in a show. I'm just not good enough. Everyone else is so talented... But gosh, I hope I got it."

Basically the entire night consisted of "Gasp, maybe I got the part. Sigh, there's no way I did. Maybe I got a part? Probably not. I should've done that differently. Boy I botched up that line." 


to be continued... 

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fairy Tales and Reality I

I was 16 years old and it was my first real opportunity to get a part in the school play. I received the script about a day before auditions and feverishly studied the lines. I read the entire Shakespearean play and did research on the characters. I was so excited about this opportunity but had no idea whether or not I was good enough to get the part. 

***************************************
Our director was different than most. The first underlying rule was that you had to be in a couple productions before you even had a shot at a major role. I had only been in one of her productions and it involved twirling a parasol in the chorus. I think I had one line that I struggled with wanting to do because it involved joking around about tarot cards. 

Anyway, the director was not just an english teacher that was just interested in directing plays. She went to school for theatre and lived and breathed it most of her life. This lady was very involved in theatre education and even pursued professional adjudication and competitions for her students and the musical productions. 

*************************************
I was pretty much in love with the character of Rosalind in the fall play we were about to do. She was this strong woman, who being banned from the court for her love of Orlando, decided to disguise herself as a man in order to stay safe on her journey. She runs into Orlando in the woods and he doesn't recognize her but he speaks of his love for Rosalind. She agrees to "teach him the lessons of love" if he promises to pretend he(she) is Rosalind and comes to woo him(her) every day. Okay so it sounds really confusing but it is fabulous. Read it or watch it...

***********************************
Where was I? Ah yes... Never in a MILLION years did I think I had a shot at the lead. I couldn't dance to save my life but boy did I love to act. There is just something about being someone else for those 3-4 months that was freeing.

I walked into my audition clasping my script with all my might. (At this point I had the lines memorized.) I sat shaking in my seat watching others recite their lines. "What if I mess up the lines? I am going to make such a fool of myself. What am I thinking? I should just walk out now. I'm not going to get a part." My heart was pounding out my chest. 

Then I heard my name called, "DANAE" With my heart now in my stomach and my stomach up in my throat, I stood up. It took everything within me just to swallow at this point. My hand was still grasping the script and I was shaking profusely. 

to be continued...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tele-marketers, Do not Call

I have received an overwhelming amount of calls from tele-marketers lately. Let me just say that I have become less than civil with them. One company called National Readers Service has called at least two times a day and every time I have told them to take me off their list. I still get the calls. As days go on, I get more and more calls. I answer to get the name because 50% of them are "restricted" numbers. 

Now generally I like my cell phone carrier, Verizon, but they charge 5 bucks a month to use the "block this number" feature. I pay plenty every month to use my cell phone, if I want to block a number it shouldn't cost me extra! 

So anyway, the National DO NOT CALL list does exist and I got the phone number from the lovely Verizon lady who wanted to charge me $5 a month to individually block every number that keeps calling. I am sharing it with you because it takes 31 days to get the list out and affirm that these people are not going to call you and this is information you should be able to access freely. 

1-888-382-1222

It took me 3 minutes to get my number on the list, if that. 

3 minutes to prevent 20-30 random phone calls each week... Probably worth it. Just saying...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Baby on the Brain

For some reason no one my age really talks about this and thus I found myself hesitant to bring it up. I don't know why, it's not like some big secret or anything. 

I have "baby" on my brain. I feel like everywhere I go lately, I am surrounded by babies! 

My hubby and I met for lunch yesterday at Moes. We were sitting across from each other in a booth when I noticed there was a grandma and a baby at the table next to us. I watched another family with a baby walk by. There was a baby at the table behind me and one at the table behind my hubby. I was surrounded. They were all very quiet, but I noticed ALL of them. 

At least 10 friends/acquaintances are either pregnant, had a baby last month, or are due in about 4-5 months. No joke. They're in clusters within weeks of each other. It's crazy. 

I've been babysitting on the weekends again lately. Last weekend it was for a 9 month old and this weekend a 4 month and another 9 month. 

I am seriously having to fight myself right now. I want to take one day at a time and enjoy this time alone with my man. I want to enjoy the freedom and focus on the big wedding celebration. I have spent too much of my life wanting to be older or wanting the next thing. Setting goals and then achieving them, setting new goals and then achieving them,... I'm trying to stop the psychological circle here. 

But this motherly desire is busting at the seams. I want to experience a pregnancy and have a little one that is a combo of my hubby and I. Sigh. 

I hear its hard on the other end too... that even after you have all your children, that desire is still there. 

Friday, December 12, 2008

Superwoman Award #2

I am still undecided about the third award so if you have any suggestions, please let me know. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of AMAZING woman out there, it's just so hard to choose! 

Anyway... 

The second person awarded is really special. Not special "ed," duh, but one of those people and friends you are really blessed to have in your life. She has 3.5 kiddos (the .5 is the one in the womb) and a hubby that works his tail off and thus is home odd hours sometimes. Aside from keeping up with the laundry, running after children, growing her own garden, canning and freezing her garden, and feeding her family, she is very involved in her church and Habitat for Humanity. She is always willing to lend a helping hand to anyone who needs it, even if it means losing even more sleep. This superwoman somehow finds the time to write wonderful posts that include some of her very interesting and humorous life stories. 

As a crazy, perfectionist high schooler I'd walk to her house after school to either hang out or babysit. She would drop everything to share coffee and a conversation with me, thus helping me keep my sanity and put things in perspective. Plus I KNOW I'm not the only one she does this for... I'm really not sure how she finds enough time in the day.

So, this Superwoman goes to none other than... 

Starla Jones... JK (I don't know anyone named Starla)


Ahem...

Pamela over at The Dayton Time

Go leave her some comments and love please.

Opportunity versus Security

I may have a really cool opportunity of which I can not discuss in detail at this point in time. That opportunity may really stretch me and cause me to learn and grow. It would push me outside my limits and boundaries. This could result in something amazing where I would benefit financially and grow in my skills and experience. Or it could result in failure and not a lot of money.

What do I have to lose? Well, potentially my mind, money, time... 

What can I gain? Money, experience, skills, personal and professional growth...

Which would you chose and why? 

This could all unfold before Christmas... I feel like I'm on the Superman rollercoaster for the first time, climbing up, up, up, up that really high hill knowing that at some point I am going to reach the top. It's exhilarating and exciting but also twists my insides and makes me really nervous. Eventually I can put my hands up and let my stomach fly up into my chest and enjoy the ride, but for now that anticipation is getting the best of me. 

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Superwoman Award #1


I did the military wife thing for a little while and it was not easy, but it was probably not nearly as difficult as being a military wife and having little ones. I can't begin to imagine... Needless to say the first "Superwoman Award" goes to a military wife and mother. She has 2 little ones and a newborn and managed to move in the same month she had the baby.

A superwoman doesn't have to be perfect, no one is perfect. But they're able to juggle a lot and still be there for anyone who needs it. They put their family and friends' needs above their own. 

The first Superwoman Award goes to...




P.S. Can someone help me... I am trying to get Mister Linky attached to that award/photo. I can set up a Mister Linky but not sure how to attach it to the award.

100th Post - Superwoman Award

Woohoo! I have reached my 100th post!!! Technically it should have happened many moons ago but we're not going to dwell on that. In honor of my 100th post, I have an award for 3 wonderful women!

I call it the Superwoman Award. Okay so these ladies may not be perfect. In fact, they may really struggle from time to time. But overall they work really hard to do their absolute best for their families! I may not know them personally, but from what I can tell they really deserve this!

Here's the catch... I am not going to announce all 3 of them today. One will be announced later today, one tomorrow, and one on Friday. So... you may have to come back to see if you are one of them!

Here's a sneak peak at the award.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wordless Wednesday



Monday, December 8, 2008

So I'm not perfect

Bear with me for a moment please... 
Do you ever have that little voice in your head that tells you you are going to mess something up? That the mistake may be minor but a minor mistake will still ruin your entire project? 

Going into the printing of the Save the Date Cards I had this overwhelming feeling I was going to mess something up. I checked the grammar and spelling, got outside input and advice, and played with the thing for hours. I perfected the font and the spacing and size of each line. I printed 20 or so practice pages just to try to get it right. 

Once everything was to my satisfaction and I checked it 10 more times, I clicked the print button. And clicked it and clicked it and clicked it. One or 2 at a time just to make sure they fed through the printer just right. Crooked Save the Date Cards would just not be acceptable. So here I am very satisfied with them. I loved the elegance and the cool idea I had for them. (Which maybe I'll share later.)

I go on to take care of the pups, get ready for bed, yada yada... An hour goes by. I climb into bed only to find that my hubby is across the entire bed and I had but a small corner. I pushed and pushed and eventually weaseled my way in enough where I might be able to sleep. 

Laying in bed about to fall asleep, my heart skipped a beat. OKAY it skipped several beats. Did I...? Did I...? I had to run and see. I knew it meant I may lose my spot on the bed but I just couldn't sleep without checking. 



1....2.....3....4....5.........20............30....................60.... 

Yep... I put the wrong year on 60 Save the Date Cards. I was too tired and upset with myself to cry. But oh did I want to cry. 

I got on twitter and asked the advice of my fellow twitterers. They all were very supportive and helpful! I really like the ideas I received and who knows? Maybe these cards needed a little creative touch. As much as I strive towards perfection (another blog for another time), I am not perfect. But I am creative. And as minute as a Save the Date Card is in the scheme of things, it'd still be kinda cool for it to reflect me a little more. 

And so people may look at it and go "I bet she messed up and that's why that looks that way" but I don't mind because like the rest of the world, I'm not perfect. I make mistakes. 

Saying it out loud makes me feel so much better. I make mistakes. I'm not perfect.

***********************

Being a perfectionist is really overwhelming sometimes. I don't wish that on anyone.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Save the Date Cards - Need Advice!

Background story...
I always dreamed that my wedding would be fairly large, a huge celebration with all those I love and care about. I wanted to publicly express my love for my soul-mate. I wanted to share this time in our lives with people. It was and is really important to me. 

When the news came that his deployment was bumped 9 months earlier than I expected, I was devastated and confused. After much prayer, we decided to go ahead and have a small wedding and then have a big celebration when he returned from the 15 month deployment. 

Well, he is back from the deployment and the planning is on!

The Question...
Our situation is different, obviously. We're already married and we're doing the whole shabang publicly. We're having a wedding ceremony... (I am trying to convince hubby to write his own vows so that its a little more personalized/different but we'll see.)...and then of course the big reception party! 

So the Question??? 

How do I say the part about the "union," "wedding," "marriage"? 

Ours will be slightly different from this but most do something like...

Save the Date
Insert Date Here
Jack and Jill
are getting married/ tying the knot/are getting hitched 
Location

Formal invitation to follow


What do you think? 

The Save the Date card is fairly formal.

Cookie Time!

I still remember standing on a stool in the kitchen stirring the cookie dough and watching my mom. Cracking eggs was my favorite part and at the ripe age of 5 I wasn't too shabby at it. I guess I didn't think much about Christmas cookies back then, but this was a tradition I was going to keep and hopefully pass on to my children some day. 

Well, I sort of took the tradition to the max and I go all out these days! 15+ types of cookies, candies, fudge,... Mmmmm. I like to get started early and have all my ingredients by December 1st. Unfortunately that did not happen this year. I'm beginning the process today!

First things first!

Spend some time looking at your cookbooks and if you're not happy with the cookie recipes, get a new one. I really like "Grandma's Christmas Recipes." I don't think I have disliked any recipe I've tried. (I just tried to find it and I don't see it for sale anymore. It's a Publications International, Ltd. book in case you would like to research further.)

BRING STICKY NOTES WITH YOU! Use one color for those cookies you definitely want to make and another color for the ones you may like to make. I left my sticky notes on after last year and it makes it so much easier to find the cookies I want to make. Just make sure that you take the sticky off the page if you decide you don't like it or don't EVER want to make that particular cookie EVER again. 

I'm doing a cookie crash course this morning. Choosing most my recipes, straightening up the house, sanitizing the kitchen, and purchasing the ingredients I can afford. I have a friend coming over to join me in the insanity so I think I'll get some of my cut outs out of the way!

Check back for more tips and recipes!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Cold lonely nights

My hubby got promoted which is very exciting. But it also means new hours. And new hours stink especially when they involve him working 9-5. No not 9-5 like most people work, 9 pm - 5 am. I really wouldn't complain except one becomes accustomed to sleeping with another warm body and when that other body isn't there, it gets very lonely. 

I can't help it really... 15 months of no warm body sleeping next to me should have been more than enough for our entire marriage... But alas that is not the case. 

On the positive side, I'm SO proud of my man. He works way too hard and is amazing. Of course, I'm partial to him.


And because I needed to add a piece of randomness, here are our pups.


Rudi... a.k.a. Bear, Toots, Rudi Bear, Miss. Toots and every other combination you can imagine.


Jackson... a.k.a. Jack... We keep it simple with him.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Finding my place in blogger land

The land o' blogging is filled with mommy bloggers, military bloggers, coupon cutters, and tech gurus. 

Well...

I'm not yet a mommy, unless you count my 2 pups which don't really count. I'm not a tech guru. I don't feel that searching for all of the best deals is my calling. I lived the military life for 2 years but that is nothing compared to those who have done it for many more, some even life. There are people who do all of these things and do them very well, but they aren't me, not right now. 

I'm young and can still be considered a newlywed. I've been out of college but a year and am searching for the job that really fits, if one even exists. I want children but the timing is off right now. 

I have yet to find a solid market for 20 somethings who are knee deep in their in between phases. In one way, this is an exciting place to be because they must be out there. In another way, I can not always relate to my fellow bloggers who are wonderfully talented but in completely different places in life. 

So for now, I'm just going to keep embracing my differences and be me. And hopefully I'll come across some other bloggers who are in similar places.

Oh yes... And shameless plug. I LOVE the mommy bloggers, tech gurus, "coupon divas", and military bloggers. They inspire me, teach me, make me laugh, and give me really great deals!!!

Here are a few of my new favs...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hanging over my head

There are tasks on my list that I simply do not want to do, ever. If I could just pay someone to do these tasks for me, it would make me VERY happy and probably eliminate 20-50% of the stress in my life. (Not to say that I wouldn't find something else to stress about.)

These tasks include but are not limited to paying bills (except loans*), taxes (the word alone is enough to make my insides quiver), health insurance, returning purchased items, anything DMV or County Clerk related, and having to speak to customer service people because something went wrong. 

I like customer service people. I admire them because I could NEVER be one, but the thought of actually having to deal with an issue that was not the customer service person's fault is a problem. If the said customer service person can not help me, I'm likely to get mad and take it out on them even though I know its not their fault. This probably makes me a bad person, but it often works in getting me to a manager, or a manager's manager, or even higher. 

I avoid these tasks at all costs until it is either absolutely necessary or I realize they will only continue to linger if I don't fix them. It's really bad. Am I the only one that does this?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Christmas Season

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the music and decorations, the joy and laughter. It's a time where people give what they can to those they love and care about. 

What do you like about Christmas? 

I have a feeling this year will be a little more difficult for many in our country. With the unemployment rate slowly rising and the economy falling money is tight, but there are ways to get around it and still enjoy the season. I find that giving is a great way to enjoy yourself and what you have.

Some ideas...
1. Volunteer someplace. A soup kitchen, a nursing home, a pregnancy center, an orphanage. Pick something you might like. (Hospitals even need people to hold babies.)

2. Help a neighbor or friend. Someone you know have a new little one or just seem overwhelmed? Cook them a meal or offer to do dishes. Again, you can choose how you help and it's not bad if its something you enjoy.

3. Say something kind to someone. When things get really bad and a stranger takes the time to say hello and smile at me, it changes my entire mood, seriously.

4. Be Creative. Make something with your hands for someone else. Even if all you can do is a card, it will mean a lot to someone!

5. Enjoy yourself. Forget about the messy house or the drama at work for 10 minutes. Curl up under a blanket with a cup of tea or hot chocolate and sit in the quiet or with calming music.

I hope some of these ideas help! If you have any others, please share!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Wedding Drama - I know it will work out

My hubby and I are having our "big wedding" in May and the details were finally falling into place. I took a trip to NY and nailed down much of the celebration. Well,... the original reception location people were very rude and EVERYONE in western, NY has their reception there so I went to a small country resort that was affordable. The lady was super nice and promised if I booked the date within the month I would lock into my prices. I called her to tell her I was going to mail the deposit as long as they held up their end when she informed me that they no longer could. Their new menus and prices are coming out in a month. It's not a large venue and the guests would probably have to be squeezed in tight but I was willing to make that sacrifice for the location, nice lady who helped me, and the food. Now I can either A wait until January and check out their new menu and prices, B go with the original plan and deal with mean lady, or C start from scratch and be super stressed. Not to mention the fact that my Save the Date Cards are almost nearly ready to go out and I don't even know that we can have a reception... Advice? A, B, or C? Is there an alternative? I would prefer to not do it in the Firehall. I want something nice, beautiful, affordable, and fun. Is that possible?

HELP!!!

100th Post and Christmas Cookies

I know I should probably be way beyond 100 posts at this point, but I am not. The 100th post should come sometime next week and I've decided to do something special. I will be giving away at least 1 award to 2 or 3 deserving bloggers. We all love flare, right? Maybe? Okay, I may be the only one... but this award will be pretty special, in my humble opinion. 

Just what sort of award is it? You will have to check back to find out. 

And for Christmas Cookies...

I love baking cookies. It is one of my favorite Christmas traditions. I tend to go all out and make a minimum of 15 kinds plus chocolate dipped pretzels, and other candy type treats. I keep some, put some in pretty baggies or plates for friends and family, and take some to work. I will be sharing some of my favorite recipes and tips throughout the next few weeks both here and on my kitchen blog. If I post a recipe over there, I will be sure to let you know! 

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Greatest Gift

For any new readers or those who don't know, my hubby and I got married 4 months before he left for Iraq. We were actually planning a beautiful wedding for that May but plans changed and he ended up having to deploy 9 months earlier than we anticipated. 

When he left, he mentioned something about writing in a journal to me while he was gone. I never got letters, but I held on to the fact that I would have something tangible from him with his thoughts and stories when he returned. 

Well, since the first "traditional" anniversary gift is paper, how perfect was it that I received this gift on our anniversary this year... (He was in Iraq for the first anniversary.)

The gift was wrapped in a hand woven scarf.


Inside the scarf was a beautiful hand-carved camel leather journal.


The detail of each individually carved design is enough to take my breath away.


The photos don't do it justice.


This is the inside flap.




......And if a hand-woven scarf filled with a hand-crafted/carved camel leather journal wasn't enough,... There's more...




Each page is hand pressed with flowers. You can see every detail of the press on each page. 


And of course, the pages are filled with love letters, stories, and memories that my husband wrote for me. I will forever hold a precious, beautiful gift that encapsulates the 15 months we spent apart. 

M.I.A.

I have been missing in action this week, obviously. Between food poisoning, driving to Ohio, Thanksgiving, and then being a bridesmaid in my friend's wedding things have been crazy! I will be back to post about one of the best gifts I have ever received later today!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Please don't stare

I woke up unable to move without feeling like my stomach may explode. The feeling did not go away. In fact, it got worse. I will spare you the details but eventually I decided that I NEEDED some Gingerale and Pepto-Bismol or I would not get better. I muscled up enough energy to get in the car and drive up the road to Walgreens. I felt like my body was turning green. I grabbed the extra extra extra strong Pepto-Bismol and some Canada Dry Gingerale

Now obviously I look like crap, feel like crap, and I'm holding two items that are meant to help your stomach. I stand get in line and the cashier just stares at me. She was helping other customers but for whatever reason she JUST STARED. And stared and stared. Did I have a big blob of something on my face? Did I look so incredibly awful that it was necessary for someone to stare? 

People get sick. And they go to the store to get remedies. When she finished ringing me up, she proceeded to stare and tell me that I should come back to buy batteries. It was the most awkward moment I had experienced with a cashier. Okay I take that back. There was one that was probably equally awkward that is too embarrassing to share here; for her of course. ;) 

Monday, November 24, 2008

Oh yes, a MEME

Thanks to Pamela over at The Dayton Time for giving me something to write about! It seems many people are struggling with that these days. With holidays approaching, weather getting crazy, friends having babies or getting married,... life is getting crazy for all! 

Check out the Rules and such on the left.

Seven Random/Weird Facts about me.

1. I don't smile with my teeth, never have. (But I hope to once the braces come off in January!!! Can I get smilingwithteeth lessons?)

2. I like really cheesy, unintelligent movies, like the ones they play on the Family Channel. I can't help it. My brain works really hard all the time and when I sit in front of the television, I do not want my brain to have to work.

3. I LOVE horseback riding and used to show in fairs when I was younger. Pretty sure I started when I was 3. Most people don't know that about me. 

4. I wish I could live in the middle of nowhere on a mountain far away. Did you get the part where I want to be away from everything? I love the woods and open land and nature. Suburbia is getting old. 

5. Details, details, details. I love details. A lot of people think that's weird, but its just me.

6. If I don't wash my hair, I'm likely to have a bad day. I just start feeling really gross and it puts me in a bad mood. 

7. I can drink 5 or 6 shots of espresso (one shot equals one cup of coffee) and fall fast asleep. I need at least 7 or 8 to keep me up. Oh the things you learn while working at Starbucks!

Now on to the tagees, tag-ees, taggees??? I like making up words, okay?

1. Mrs. SSgt over at Married to the Military
2. Stephanie at Hot From the Furnace
3. Michelle from Anna Engaged
4. Allyssa with Dynamics of Chaos
5. Laurel at Laurel Plum Online

And I'm totally being a rebel and only tagging 5 people.
Enjoy!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

2 years

My husband and I have been married 2 years as of today! It's been 2 incredible years of growth and learning, good times and bad. Just like anything really... In that 2 years I have spent about 9 months total with him. Between 15 months of separation with the deployment, we have missed out on the "first year of marriage" and all that comes with that. Most people say the first year is the hardest. For us that was true but for different reasons. 15 months of being apart can really do some damage and also strengthen relationships. We learned early on to be open and honest and not take each other for granted. Sure we're not perfect but I wouldn't change what we went through and where we are now. God has truly blessed us. 

My husband is one of the most, if not the most, thoughtful people I know. He cooked me a fabulous dinner tonight, a man that did not know how to fry an egg until a few months ago. Bourbon Marinaded Pork, Glazed Carrots, and Slow Cooked Garlic Mashed Potatoes! Mmmmm!

He also presented me with the most incredible gift I have ever received. I will tell you about it later! 

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Myspace - A little over the top?

Myspace ads are starting to get a little too personal for me and it makes me uncomfortable. I understand that they are probably getting paid big bucks for those advertisements but do they need to sell their user's soul?

I was clicking through Myspace earlier when I noticed a VERY LARGE advertisement that said "Overweight at (insert age here) ? Click here." Yes because since you already know my age and probably way more info about me than you should, I should tell you whether or not I'm overweight? And you're really going to help me if I am?

(Steps off high horse)

Needless to say as much as Facebook annoys me sometimes, I'm quickly switching my loyalties. Myspace will soon be the social network of the past... in my humble opinion. 

* Note: My Myspace is set to private... so much for privacy!
 

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Circle of Life and the Bubba Keg

Wake up. Shower. Throw on some clothes. Take out the dogs. Work. Go home. Take out the Dogs. Clean. Spend 2.5 minutes with my husband. Sleep. Wake up... and it begins again.

That seems to be the cycle lately and it is quickly getting old. Not to mention the drama that has magically popped up around every corner. Thank God for the Bubba Keg.

You better believe that thing is filled with coffee, a little milk, and a tbsp of brown sugar (which really is way better than white sugar by the way). 6 cups of warm goodness that gets me through my morning. 

This is actually my husband's. He "needed" the big one and I totally made fun of him for it. I don't even think he knows that I've taken it hostage this week. Let's just keep that between you and me, k? ;)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Writer's Block

errr... Bloggers block?

I'm suffering from a bad case of writer's block. I have a lot of ideas but they just will not come out the way I want them to. I even ended a sentence with a preposition... See? It's bad. Real bad. (Okay so maybe I ended that sentence that way to prove a point.) 

In other news...
I have an award that I'm working on so keep checking back to find out what it is and see if you are the winner. It's taking some time to work out the graphic and figure out Mister Linky, but the wait will be worth it! 

Hopefully a good nights rest will solve my writer's block, and I will have something amazing for you tomorrow.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wordless Friday


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Big D word - Divorce

My best friend called me on the phone when we were just 4 years old. I heard something in her voice that I had never heard before. I knew something was seriously wrong. I remember it like it was yesterday. She came over to my house, stood in my driveway and I embraced her. (We lived within walking distance.) "My parents... are getting... their getting a divorce." I didn't know what to do or say. I think I cried with her; if not out loud I definitely cried inside. This was my best friend. How could this happen?

This is a subject that no one wants to talk about. No one wants to think about it. Unfortunately, some don't have a choice. 50 out of 100 couples who get married end up getting divorced. That is an alarming statistic. One that makes my stomach curdle.

I've witnessed some people who think divorce is of the devil... (Bear with me for a minute.)

I was in a church where a lady had gotten divorced a few years back. The pastor made her get in front of the entire church and repent of her sin, repent from being divorced. TO THE CONGREGATION. We obviously left the church after that. Why is that anyone else's business? The poor lady was struggling enough as it was and no one knew the details.

I've seen people, friends and family go through some really harsh times...

My cousin is a beautiful, intelligent, loving and kind lady who had been married for a long time, probably 25 years. She put up with a lot of crap and it pushed her off the deep end. Her husband was an alcoholic who verbally abused her. She tried to make it work and tried to put up with it, but eventually she just couldn't.

Probably the most shocking end to a marriage that I have witnessed was this lovely couple from church. They had been married at least 20 years and were really happy. I was friends with one of their children and spent many nights in their house. The wife/mom brought us a really nice meal, the best stuff shells I've ever had, when my dad was seriously injured at work. They were very involved in church and were always there for anyone who needed anything. She left him for someone else.

One divorce split another church we attended. The wife cheated on the husband, who happened to be the pastor, and it was a mess. 3 beautiful children.

Throughout my life I've seen it and felt some of the pain of those around me, but I could never empathize. My parents are still together. I can not even begin to imagine what it's like to be a spouse or a child going through it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Nanny 911 - For real?

I'm not going to lie. I find myself watching "Nanny 911" just waiting to see if the family can pull it together. Really, who would not want to watch a lady from Wales take on an American family?

I do, however, have a difficult time finding most of the episodes credible. A family of 5 with parents who have not had it together for years miraculously changing the entire dynamic of their relationship and household in one week? Sound a bit like finding the love of your life through a reality TV show that lasts a couple months, only to find out that person was not who you thought they were and make tons of fans upset because your life and your decisions are not what they want? (ahem.. The Bachelor / The Bachelorette) 

I nanny from time to time and after 10+ years of experience and a CPR certification, I consider myself pretty qualified. I have observed some pretty interesting children and have many stories. The most horrifying was a little three year old girl named Belle.* This wasn't one of those jobs I could get away from after 4 hours. No, I was with this little "angel" 3 days a week, 8+ hours a day for a year. 

Belle was beautiful. Blonde hair, blue eyes, very sweet disposition. She had a lot of people fooled. I quickly learned that Belle was starving for attention. Pooping and peeing in her panties when she was fully capable of using the toilet. Screaming at the top of her lungs when she didn't get what she wanted. Throwing her food across the room when she didn't feel like eating. Scratching and hitting. She was crazy! I have never seen a three year old girl with SO much personality. 

One day, I took her to target to pick out a coloring book. She really liked Dora so I found a really cool Dora one that I showed her. Meanwhile she had been looking at the books and found a 200 something paged hard cover coloring book that she just HAD to have. (Please bear in mind this is a $30 coloring book.)

Me: No Belle we can't get that one today. Check out this one. It's really...
Belle: NO I WANT THAT ONE. (she rips it off the shelf)
Me: I'm sorry Belle but that one is a lot of money and....
Belle: NO I WANT THAT ONE. I DON'T WANT THE DORA ONE! I WANT THAT ONE! 
Me: Belle, I guess maybe we shouldn't...
Belle: I WANT THAT ONE! GIVE IT TO ME! GIVE IT TO ME! IT'S MINE! (I didn't even take it from her.)
(Screams at the top of her lungs)
Me: Okay Belle. We need to go home now. (While she is screaming)

I promise, this girl had one of those bloody murder screams that everyone in the store could hear and everyone stared at me like I'd abused this poor child. I eventually got her to calm down but she did not get the coloring book. 

At some point during my time with Belle and her parents, I realized that they felt bad for not being in her life and thus gave her everything she wanted and did not discipline her. 

I hid the crayons from her one day because while I was in the bathroom for 1 minute, she drew a mural across 2 walls, 2 doors, and a stairwell. That was fun to clean up. Her dad asked me where her crayons were later that day because Belle asked him for them as soon as he got home. I told him what had happened and they were everywhere when I came in the following day.

After several months with Belle, she grew on me. She learned that I wouldn't put up with her crap and that she needed to listen if we were going to have fun. Her parents told me that I was the only babysitter she ever said she really missed/loved. (I think she wanted someone who would be honest with her and show her right from wrong.) This took several months to accomplish and the new babysitter had to go through the same thing. (She's a friend of mine so I heard more stories.)

I think children are much smarter than we often give them credit for and they pick up a TON from their parents. I also believe that the ones who do have behavioral issues can improve with time. And although I do believe in miracles, saving 100s of families and fixing behavioral issues in one week is just not feasible. 


* Not her real name

Organizing Chaos


I am diving into a new project at work. I've been doing A LOT with the website stuff which is fun to an extent but I am SUPER excited about this one. 

Okay this may be teetering on nerd territory but I am proposing a plan for a book tour to my boss. I get to pick the locations and companies and work with the publisher to make sure the books are in store. I have to prove why we should go to a certain location/area and why it will be beneficial. It's complete chaos... and I love it. 

I thrive off of organizing chaos... seriously. When my apartment is a disaster suddenly struck by a massive tornado, I love spending a day reorganizing it all and seeing it come together bit by bit. When I'm thrown a million different tasks at work, my initial reaction is to stress. Once I get past the stress part, I thrive. Details, details, details. I love them. 

Monday, November 10, 2008

Only in the middle of nowhere...


...would you find something like this...


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Cable Trail O' Doom



Yeah... Did you notice the run on sentence with that one? "It is a rough climb if your health is impaired do not attempt it." Oh well....


So it doesn't look so steep in this photo but it was SO steep I couldn't get a picture of it... For real.



The falls... well one of them. We're in a drought, give us a break... Supposedly these are normally MUCH bigger. But no rain = no water





The climb up! My legs shook like crazy and it took a couple days to recover...


Thursday, November 6, 2008

A sort of contest

I am giving you the opportunity to be the winner of "THE BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE RECIPE FINDER." Doesn't that sound marvelous? Just kidding... well sort of. I'm trying to find another great chocolate cake recipe that sends me into chocolate comatose. You can check out the details over at my other blog

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Voting

When I turned 18, I was thrilled that I had the opportunity to vote. It is our right (one of the few we have left) and duty as responsible citizens to press a few buttons or pull a few levers and select who we would like to oversee our country. When I voted around 11:30 today, the Judge informed me that over half of the registered voters had already cast their ballots. There was no line and no hassle. This seems to be the trend across most of the country.

So if you are registered to vote, please exercise your right and GO!!! Don't let your fears of hassle or lines get in the way. Use your freedom so it doesn't get taken away!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Beauty where you don't expect it

I was flying over NYC last week looking at the beauty of the city when I saw the most spectacular sunset I have ever seen. The sky was this bright, ocean blue and underneath was a beam of an orangish red color. As we got closer to the ground and city, the sunset began filling the sky. The juxtaposition of this beautiful sunset and a very busy city was fantastic. It was then that I learned to verbalize what I've been learning and experiencing lately. 

Typically, I think of NYC as a slightly dirty yet booming place. I love visiting every once in a while, but I don't know that I could live there. Although the airport was slightly dreadful and certain places in the city are not so nice, my brief moment in the sky really transformed my outlook. There really is beauty in everything. When you are close, you see the busyness, the dirt, the crime. Yes there are gorgeous buildings and such but in the back of your mind you know the dirty, scary places exist. When you step outside of the city, say on an airplane, you can see it in all its glory. You only see good, not bad. 

Now why on earth would something so miniscule matter so much to me and in my life? Well, I'm learning to stop looking at good and bad in every situation, step outside of my little bubble, and see beauty in situations and people; beauty that I never knew existed. 

All this to say, this is the new theme for this blog. If you have anything you want to share or a question or comment for me, don't hesitate to email, beautyindistress@gmail.com, or leave a comment!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Good Morning

Well, I should really be working right now, but I fear my productivity will be lacking if I try before sharing this fabulous experience with you. I felt as though I woke up on the right side of the bed this morning. I really did. I got ready in plenty of time to let the pups out, get to work on time, and even stop for a cup of coffee. It was fabulous. So I spilled some coffee all down my shirt. Oh well. I was am determined to have a fabulous day. 

I got to work with coffee stains all down my shirt. I think my boss is used to me having stains because Friday I came in with a big glob of toothpaste that I thought I got out. I parked, opened the door to the office, and saw water. Everywhere. The entire office suite was flooded. I saw the owner and another business owner standing there on the other side of the suite. I entered our office to find the new furniture, carpet, trash cans, CDs,... soaked. The owner had pulled most everything off the ground except the electrical. All of the electrical cords were plugged in soaking up water. I got them all off the ground, picked up a few other things dropping some, and tried calling my boss. No answer. No ring. Voicemail. 

After soaking my feet in water for a while, I decided to go to the coffee shop down the street. It's very close and was a nice day so, naturally, I walked. On my way I heard screaming. Eventually a lady got my attention and yelled across the parking lot that I wasn't allowed to park there. She put her foot in her mouth when I told her that I worked there. (She later apologized.)

I'm learning to laugh through some circumstances that I used to cringe over. There is no need to let all of that ruin a day. Now if it was my building and I didn't have tenant insurance I might then be stressed and upset. Fortunately for me, that is not the case.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Blogging

You know you have been blogging for a while when:
1. In the midst of what would typically be a horrible situation, you find yourself thinking or saying "Man, this will make a great blog."
2. You can not focus on the task at hand until you blog what is on your mind.
3. You lie awake at night wondering when a fellow blogger is going to post about a particular topic.
4. You can not wait for your next blogging fix.
5. You enjoy reading others blogs as much as you enjoy writing your own.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Lost it all...errr..almost

You are working away on your computer. You've got several windows open going back and forth between several different tasks. Suddenly, things stop working properly. You decide the best course of action is to quite everything and restart. 

Click. Click. Click. Restart. "Yes you are sure you want to restart." CLICK. 

Then you take a bathroom break because this is the PERFECT opportunity. After all your computer is restarting and that prevents you from working or doing whatever it is you need to. 

You come back, after flushing and washing your hands of course, and everything is working much better! Hooray you shout! Or not. Then you open your email client... Let's just say its Entourage. You see a question that says "Would you like to set up your account now?" It takes a second to register but you then wonder why on earth it would ask you to set up an account when you have 2, count them, TWO accounts set up already. Then you click the notorious "x" button and see that none of your emails, folders, sent mail, inbox messages, drafts, contacts, addresses, calendar items,... are there any more. Oh yes, you have LIVED by Entourage for work, home, birthdays, and other important days. It tells you what you need to do and when you need to do it. It reminds you where you need to be and at what time. It is all gone. 

******************

Thank you Entourage for clearing your database of all of my information without my consent. I appreciate it ever so much! Lucky for you me, I backed EVERYTHING up this weekend and you will soon be back to your begrudging tasks of doing what I tell you to do! 

All of this nonsense to say PLEASE for allthatisrightandwrongandgoodandbad in this world, back up your information. When the time comes for something to go wrong, which it tends to do with technology, you will be SO glad you did it.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Debate and my not so normal JOB (Part II)

The rest of the day was a whirlwind. It rained. It poured. I chased down the impersonators and dragged them around. We got photos with Myspace, did videos with Rock the Vote, talked with the Associated Press, aired live on News Channel 4 (Nashville), interviewed with the French Press (a kind lady from Paris), talked with Joel Stein and Cinemax/HBO,... It was a fabulous productive day! We had no interviews or anything set up but with 2,000 plus media in town, good things are bound to happen!

Photos from 2nd Debate

With Chris Matthews from Hardball



Joel Stein with Cinemax



Jonathan Martin with News Channel 4 - Nashville


Belmont's Provost and Associate Provost


Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Debate and my not so normal JOB (Part I)


So the Debate Fair was crazy and the Debate disappointing but overall I had a great time. Now I find myself in the background of a lot of pictures looking completely drab! How exciting!

**********************************************************************************

Well, my day started off pretty poorly. I couldn't find any comfortable shoes and I didn't have time to make myself look like a human. I threw on a suit, pulled my hair back, painted on some basic makeup and out the door I went. I had time to stop at Starbucks and grab a Pumpkin Spice Latte which I had high hopes for turning my day around.

Let me preface this next point by saying that it has not rained in Nashville in months. No joke, no lie. It has been dry. Tuesday, debate day, it decided to rain! I like rain but standing/walking/running in a suit and high heels outside in pouring rain is not so fun. I wouldn't recommend it. 

I finally got to downtown Nashville where I parked and my boss picked me up. I was worried that there would be NO parking which was somewhat true. Better safe than sorry I say. (I'll explain why this was a horrible decision later.) After turning around a few times to find the right way to enter, we pulled up to a booth where secret service, police, and event organizers swarmed. The secret service people (who by the way all advertised they were secret service by either their nice suits and spiffed up appearance or the writing on their uniform) had to do a double take at the GW impersonator and before we new it, he was out the door taking pictures with them. 

10 minutes later we found our booth. The impersonators worked the crowd and walked over when they could. I felt completely useless because I didn't know what went where or the order... (If you know me, you know this drove me absolutely insane because I hate being useless.)

5 minutes later I was chasing down the impersonators and heading to local fair trade coffee shop, Bongo Java. The outside was swarming with Obama supporters and paraphernalia. Everyone was doing double takes and taking pictures. One of the ladies we passed was on the phone and said "You'll never guess who I just saw! Sarah Palin is walking down the street!" My mood quickly turned from frustrated to excited and energized. 

Check back for info on the rest of the day, pictures,...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I'm a little scared...

Nashville is buzzing with media, police, and absolute chaos. In most cases I would AVOID GOING DOWNTOWN AT ALL COSTS, but unfortunately I do not have that option.

Let me explain...

Nashville is usually buzzing a lot with award shows and concerts and things, but I don't think we've had something of this magnitude in a long time ever. The debate is being held at Belmont University (the college I graduated from last December) and there are lots of activities surrounding it. My boss flew in 3 political impersonators, a G.W. (who I work with), a Sarah Palin, and a Bill Clinton. It will probably be fun, but there are over 2,000 media in town and there aren't enough parking places for the people who LIVE in Nashville, muchless thousands more.

(I will add more and let you know how it goes but I must run for now.)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Fall is in the air

My weekend ended up being rather productive although I always wish I could have accomplished more. Even though cleaning is my absolute favorite pastime,* the highlight of my weekend was definitely the apple pie I made last night. 
I really enjoy the fall, especially in the south. Its still warm with gentle cool breezes. (Unless of course it decided to rain every day for 3 or 4 months which has happened.)** I also love fall foods. A bowl of hot chili with a fresh slice of cornbread. Pumpkin and squash soups. Pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks. Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing. Pies of all kinds, shapes, and sizes. The aroma of these foods; particularly when I use my crock pot and it steeps all day! Mmmm. Mmmm. Mmmm. (Oh and I am completely aware that this paragraph is lacking in grammar and complete sentences, but it is the blog world and rules don't really apply, right?) 

Fall=comfort. Comfort foods, more comfortable weather, more comfy clothing (like sweaters, sweatpants,...), comforting aromas (apple spice, pumpkin), cuddle time by the fireplace. Yeah, I'm excited.




* denotes sarcasm
** denotes slight exaggeration

Friday, October 3, 2008

Taking it Back

You know how sometimes you get REALLY busy with work, church, kids (babysitting in my case), feeding you and/or your husband/kids, and life in general? And things that you want to be a certain way end up not being that way at all because, well, life just happens? That's where I'm at. My apartment is in serious disarray and its making me a bit crazy. Okay, it seriously stresses me out. So this weekend I am set out to get my apartment back under control. I plan to make 2 lasagnas (thanks to Pioneer Woman for the recipe) and an amazing garlic herb bread for the church potluck and maybe an apple pie (thanks to Pamela for making me crave it) for Ben me to enjoy.