Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hello 2009!

I always enjoy doing resolutions at the beginning of each new year and this year is no different. I like it because it helps me to reflect on my life and see where improvement can be made. Self improvement is always a good thing, right?

In 2009 I would like to find a more healthy balance between extended family time and me and Michael time. I'd like to put less miles on my car and enjoy relaxing at home on the weekends a little more. I want to enjoy more pajama days and realize that some things can be put off just a little while longer. I need to make sure I make time for just me during the day and not feel so bad if I just need to be by myself for a little while.

I will try to find happiness in everything that I do even if it requires me to make some changes. I will try to "go with the flow" a little bit better and realize some things don't always go as planned. I won't beat myself up when things don't turn out perfect. I will learn to let go.

Normally my goals are more measurable, but 2008 has made me see my life in a different light. I need to relax, I need to let go, I need to be open to change. This year will be different. This year I will learn how to make my life easier and more enjoyable.

I wish everyone a happy New Year and the best of luck of keeping all of your personal resolutions.

To all of my lovely followers - thank you for supporting me in my new creative adventure of blogging. You have all been so kind and I look forward to sharing 2009 with all of you!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Farewell 2008

Around this time of year we all begin to reflect on what has transpired over the past year. Normally I look back and feel a sense of accomplishment and excitement to move forward to the next year. This time around I definitely feel the excitement to move on, but the sense of accomplishment isn't really there. Sure plenty of great things have happened in 2008 mainly being the wedding, Michael graduating, and checking off some of the home improvement projects on our to do list, but there have been a lot of not so great things as well.

I told you guys yesterday that I had seen Benjamin Button and while there were many great quotes I only found one I liked on the internet. I guess I will have to wait until the movie comes out on dvd to write down the rest of the ones I like, but for the time being I will share this one with you.

"I was thinking how nothing last and what a shame that is."

I'm not very good with change and I spend a lot of time thinking about how things used to be and how things might have turned out if this or that would have or have not happened. I consider this a not so great quality of mine because sometimes it prevents me from focusing on the goodness of the here and now and the excitement of what may be to come. I like everything to be planned out all the way to the end, but life doesn't work like that. It always throws you curve balls. Sometimes I will even try to plan out the worst case scenario, but even my mind can't come up with all the surprise attacks life can give me.

I feel like this year was the final year of my so-called youth. Maybe it's because I'm turning 25 in April or because I'm a wife now or because we are both done with school. Or maybe its because I was forced to make many grown up decisions this year. Maybe because I lost a great friend and through that process realized that you never know how much time you actually have. Whatever the reason, reflecting on this year has been a sad process for me this go around. I am looking forward to 2009 and hopefully moving past many of my sad memories of 2008.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Catching up...

Oh wow, do I feel like a slacker or what? I haven't blogged in 5 days, but even though I haven't posted in awhile I have been busy thinking of all the things I want to discuss before the new year.

First and foremost, my Christmas wrap-up.

As you all know we celebrated part of our Christmas last weekend due to work schedules. We had a wonderful time visiting with Michael's family as well as visiting my stepsister and her new baby. Michael's mom usually cooks, but she recently had surgery on her varicose veins and didn't really feel up to it so we ended up going out to eat at one of my favorite restaurants Bell Buckle Cafe which has amazing country food complete with entertainment from a local bluegrass band. The next day we went to visit my new nephew who was so adorable.

Michael had to work Christmas Eve, but I spent my time busily getting things ready for Christmas dinner. I also watched bits and pieces of The Christmas Story about 10 times since it was on marathon. The next day my dad and sister drove up to spend the weekend with us. It was awesome. I had a chance to use all of my fun entertainment stuff from my wedding as well as try out some recipes. The menu consisted of Shrimp Dip, Prime Rib Roast w/ Au Jus (which dad handled making), Sauteed Mushrooms, Sweet Potato Casserole with Caramel topping, Mashed Potatoes, Curried Fruit, Saddle Salad, Homemade Dinner Rolls with Orange Butter, and Tiramisu Toffee Trifle Pie.

After dinner we promptly proceeded to the living room to unwrap all the presents under the tree.

I think everyone enjoyed their Christmas gifts and as always, I couldn't resist taking a picture of the aftermath.

The next day we had pajama day and pretty much watched movies on AMC all day. That night we actually got out of the house and say The Curious Case of Benjamin Button which is awesome by the way. Definitely worth 10 bucks.

Now it is time to move on and get ready for the New Year. I don't know what it is, but as soon as Christmas is over I feel like it is time to rip down all the decorations and concentrate on starting anew. I love Christmas...until the day after. Maybe it's because I'm sad that it's over, or maybe because I'm excited to start something new, or just maybe I start feeling claustrophobic with all the decorations out. Anyways, the mantel and table were stripped of their decorations last night and the tree will be disposed of tonight. much better.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I won, I won!!!

My lovely blogger friend, Expat, gave me an early Christmas present: An honesty award!

Of course as with anything that seems to be too good to be true, this award comes with some fine print. The honorees are to: a) first list 10 honest things about yourself - and make it interesting, even if you have to dig deep! B) pass the award on to 7 bloggers that you feel embody the spirit of the Honest Scrap."

Ok, so first things honesty list.

1. I never win anything! Ok well I've won one thing in my life (you like how I came clean there....honesty). It was the fourth grade and I won a boom box for the annual magazine sale. Actually, my dad still has this boom box in his garage. Unfortunately it's days are numbered because we will be giving him a new Sony Xplode for Christmas tomorrow!

2. I held a baby for the first time this past weekend. I don't know why, but holding a small, helpless child really frightens me. I'm sure I will be ok with my own when I have them, I just don't want to be held responsible for breaking someone elses little bundle of joy. As for how it went this weekend - it was actually fine! Granted I was sitting down the whole time so there wasn't any dropping potential. I won't be running to hold any random babies anytime soon, but it wasn't that bad.

3. I prefer cats over dogs. Unfortunately my husband doesn't feel the same way because of the shedding. Dogs are great companions and very loyal, but there is just something about a cat that interests me. Maybe because it does whatever it may feel like loving you one day and biting you the next and all of that is considered ok, because that's just how cats are. If were to pick an animal to be in my next would be a cat.

4. I read my horoscope daily. I've always been into astrology although my husband thinks it's complete crap. I even ordered a book to try to do my birth chart. I think it probably the control freak in me that enjoys it the most because you can partially predict how your day is going to go and be on the lookout for pitfalls.

5. It takes me FOREVER to get ready. This is good to know if you ever want to hang out with me because I am one of those people that needs advanced notice. I have super curly hair that I straighten everyday. And of course, I am a perfectionist and need all the crinkles to be removed and that takes time ya'll! (Bonus - I always miss hyphenate ya'll...and I prefer it that way, I think it looks better. So there.)

6. I am a sugar freak! I keep a stash of sourpatch kids and a movie size box of rainbow nerds in my coffee table draw at all times so I can get my fix. When I was in high school I use to mix butter and sugar together and eat it with a spoon. Thank God for a good metabolism! I'm sure it will fail me one day, but until then I will be keeping my dentist (who happens to be my step-father) in business with all my cavities.

7. I'm blind as a bat. I'm actually considered legally blind according to my optometrist. My glasses make me look like I have a tiny face because they are so thick and concaved. If anyone wears contacts out there and wants to know just how bad I am, my contact prescription is a -8.5.
8. I always get ready to turn way ahead of time. I don't know what it is, but I will just about have a panic attack if I'm not in the right lane on the interstate a few miles ahead of my exit.

9. I am very directionally challenged. I can even get lost in my small hometown if it's been awhile since I've been to a particular place. I can't give directions worth a crap, so please never ask me. Be resourceful, use map quest.

10. If I were to collect anything, it would be china. I absolutely love china and anything to do with entertaining. It's my secret pleasure to buy plates and serve food off pretty platters and bowls. Unfortunately, it's an expensive guilty pleasure so I can't buy as much as I want, but boy do I want, want, want!

Well, hopefully you learned some interesting things about me. And without further ado, here are the lucky bloggers I have selected for this award. They are a mix of faithful followers of my own blog as well those that I faithfully follow. Congrats and thanks for producing Honest (S)crap!

1. Rhaingel: PenPusher

2. Toivoa ja Elämän: Awakening

4. Vodka Mom: I Need a Martini Mom

5. Mama Kat: Mama's Losin' It

6. Blaine: Oh Lovely Mud

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's a Wonderful Life

Every year at Christmas time I look forward to watching 3 movies....It's a Wonderful Life, The Christmas Story, and Christmas Vacation. My very favorite of these is It's a Wonderful Life, which my awesome husband purchased for me last night. It has so many useful lessons in it that I just can't resist sharing them.

The main character George Bailey is a dreamer who wants to escape the small town of Bedford Falls to travel around the world and build things. Just as he has saved up enough money to make the trip, his father passes away and he chooses to stay behind to make sure his father's building and loan business is not shut down by the towns despicable tycoon Mr. Potter. George is a guy who is liked by everyone and always comes through to help people out. The night of his wedding he is on his way to his honeymoon with a wad of cash in hand ready again to travel the world and there is a run on the bank scene that expresses his willingness to help others.

Yet again he had to give up his own dreams to save others. He reaches his breaking point Christmas Eve when his forgetful uncle accidently misplaces $8000 of the building and loans money. He madly searches the town to find the money and eventually turns to the evil Mr. Potter for help who tells him he is "worth more dead than alive." George ends up deciding to throw himself over the bridge when instead an angel named Clarence jumps in the river. George saves him and goes on to tell him that he wished he was never born. Clarence decides that showing George what life would be like if he had never existed might just be the trick to saving him. The building and loan had closed down and Bedford Falls had turn into Pottersville. The new town was filled with bars, nightclubs, and dark characters.

This is the main reason I enjoy this movie so much. We all have our dark days and sometimes feel like the world would be better off without us. It's amazing just how many lives you touch, even if it is just for a brief moment. I am sure we all make individual sacrafices for others in our lives and sometimes that can be frustrating. There is a sign in the building and loan office which I can't remember exactly, but basically it says "A man only has what he gives." I truly do believe that is the truth. In the end you will be remembered for what you did for others, not what you did for yourself.

The last scene of the movies is the most heartwarming because George realizes that he does actually live a wonderful life. When he comes home he is greeted by the bank examiner and a warrant for his arrest. He greets them cheerfully and runs upstairs to hug his children. His wife comes in and calls him down as the whole town floods in to give him money to help him out as he helped them.

Help please!

I'm an idiot and can't figure out how to post you tube videos to my blog! Any instructions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Friday, December 19, 2008

White Oleander

That's right kids - it's book review time yet again. I just finished up with White Oleander by Janet Fitch. And yes, it does happen to be written by the same author as the last book I reviewed, Paint it Black.

I loved this book for many reasons. I'm sure most of you have at least seen the movie by now (which by the way definitely doesn't do the book justice) if not read the book, but for those of you who haven't I will give you the background of the story. Basically it is a story of a young girl named Astrid who is desperately trying to figure out who she is as person as she is tossed around from one foster home to the next after her mother Ingrid is sent to jail for killing her boyfriend. It's a story about mother and daughter and a struggle for self discovery.

Ingrid is very individualistic as well as powerful in her own right. The author, in fact, refers to her as "a monster". It seems as if nothing can get in Ingrid's way until an unlikely character by the name of Barry comes into her life. At first Ingrid is not at all interested, but then she seems to settle on having him around. Astrid watches as her mother starts "to break all of her rules." Eventually Barry leaves Ingrid for someone else. Deep down Ingrid knows that he was never good enough for her in the first place. As many women do, she had settled and then been taken for granted. Unable to understand, she turns to rage and eventually kills Barry by poisoning him with Oleanders. She tells her daughter "Isn't it funny. I'm enjoying my hatred so much more than I ever enjoyed love." This ends up being a quite ironical statement as her hatred also ends up causing her to lose the love of her daughter.

After Ingrid is taken to jail Astrid's trip through foster home begins. Every home is different and each teaches her something about life. Astrid could almost be compared to a chameleon as she tries on each different life to see which one suits her. Among other things she tries on the life as a Christian, as a lover of an older man, as someone who knew how to "figure out what men want and how to give it to them. And how not to. And when to do which.", as a person who knew how to work the system and look out for herself, as someone who knew how to be loved, and how to ask "what's in it for me?". She was shot, malled by dogs, starved, and constantly losing people.

It is a memorable journey and was a very easy read. Towards the end it did tend to drag a bit, but overall it kept me entertained. The only thing that bothers me about this book is that in the end it seemed that Astrid still wasn't confident in who she was and what she wanted. I would have liked a little bit more closure after such a long journey. Maybe the authors point is that you never really stop finding out who you are - each event in life brings on a new discovery to who you are.

Other commentary is welcome - let me know what you thought of this book if you have read it!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dear Santa

I decided to join Mama Kat's weekly writing assignments. If you would like to start you should check it out here. She gives you several topics to choose from and the one I choose this time around was the letter to Santa.

Dear Santa,

As I'm sure you know, the economy is bad and I'm assuming your workshop has been experiencing the financial struggles itself. Seeing as how you might be unable to deliver all the material goods that many people are asking for this year, I would like to ask for something different. This year, I ask of you to open people's eyes to the true meaning of Christmas. Please help them to feel the spirit of the season and remember why we all celebrate it in the first place. Help them to be aware of others around them who might be suffering more difficult times than themselves. Encourage them to give to those who are less fortunate, even if all they have to give is just a little spare change or a helping hand. Open their eyes to see how important family and friends are as they make their rounds of visits. Although people might not have as much to give materially this year, please help them to remember that there is more to life than just stuff and maybe people will remember what this season is all about.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ring, Ring....

Ok so Mulled Vine, a new found blogger friend which I found through Toivoa's lovely post about her favorite blogs (shew - long explanation there) made a comment about having phone phobia and I thought I would share my own certain dislikes of it as well. Thanks for the idea by the way - I couldn't think of anything to talk about today.

This fear is almost comical to me because my job actually requires me to be on the phone all day. Maybe I was secretly trying to help myself get more comfortable with the phone situation or possibly I'm just a gluten for punishment. Anyways, I have never been a fan of the phone. There are a select few people that I can talk to for a length of time and actually like when they call. As for others, the thought of a phone conversation actually makes me somewhat nervous. I am a fairly direct person. I will call you if I have information to relay but I never call anyone just to chit chat. Reason being is that I'm not so great on my feet...I actually feel the need to think of topics to talk about before I call. And you're lucky if I do ever call - it's not that I don't enjoy talking to people, it's just I'd rather see you face to face where the conversation can actually have the natural pauses.

As I've just mentioned, I spend the my day on the phone calling customers and I run into a lot of strange phone etiquette. Here is my list of pet peeves...
  1. Answering the phone by saying "What?" - this is very unfriendly and starts the convesation so akwardly, at least try to pretend like you have some class.

  2. Nosey secretaries...Secretary: "May I tell them what it's regarding." Me: "It's a personal call." Secretary: "Well I need to know what this is about." - I mean, really it's personal...I guess they aren't called gatekeepers for nothing.

  3. People that answer their phones when they can't talk....Don't get mad at me because you answered your phone during a meeting. Ever heard of letting it go to voicemail?

  4. When this happens.....Me: "Hello, may I speak with John." Other: "This is Sally." Me: "Hi Sally, may I speak with John." Other: "This is Sally what do you need?" Me: "Well, I need to speak with John." Other: " Well this is Sally, you can talk to me." - Really? Because I swear I needed to speak with John.

  5. People who get completely ticked off because I accidentally dialed the wrong number. Mistakes happen people.

  6. When people tell you they are too busy to talk, but before they let you go they want to know what you are calling about anyways...can't I just call you back?

  7. People that call in with a problem that are all ready to raise hell. Can't you at least try to handle the problem nicely at first? Give me a chance to piss you off at least - then by all means - let me have it.

  8. People who hang up on you - HOW OLD ARE YOU!

  9. People who totally blow up on you and end the call with "Have a blessed day." - Does that really excuse you for your complete ungodly like behaviour? Where is your W.W.J.D. bracelet - did you forget to wear it today?

  10. When people answer the question "How are you doing today?" by saying not well and going on to list and describe in full detail all of their physical ailments. Seriously, I don't really care - it's just something you are suppose to ask. You don't know me - I don't need to know all that.

I have more - but I think its best to stop with 10. Any other phone pet peeves out there?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

5 Things About Me

Today I decided I would share a little bit about myself. I'm sure everyone has little quirks about themselves and I am no different. Here are 5 that came to mind...

  1. I become very anxious in crowded places. Places like Wal-Mart, the Cracker Barrel waiting room, and stadium crowds drive me absolutely crazy. I can hardly stand to be there and I tend to get very frustrated and angry quite quickly. I hate feeling like I am in the way and you always feel that way in places like that. Not to mention that people are completely blind apparently when it comes to being in a rush and don't mind running right over you. My husband and I use to get into arguments every time we went into Wal-Mart because I would take my anxiety out on him. Now we know if I get to that state, it's better just to leave and go elsewhere.
  2. I am very meticulous at everything I do. Basically this means that I'm slow and it takes me longer than most people to get things done. Not slow in the sense that I don't get it and am incapable of doing something, but more in the sense that I'm a perfectionist. Anything I enjoy I tend to want to take my time with whether it's cooking, cleaning, organizing, wrapping gifts, or making photo books. Most of the time they turn out to my liking, if they don't I usually get very frustrated with myself. I am trying to learn that things don't always turn out as planned, but you can't help wanting to be perfect, right?
  3. I have a terrible memory. Basically anything that has happened to me in my life that has been bad I have blocked out for the most part, or well at least the details. For example, I can hardly remember anything before my freshman year of high school. If I ever get into an argument with someone, I will quickly forget the details. This is a huge disadvantage to me in since of winning the argument, but it's also harder for me to hold grudges that way. Unless of course it is an on going argument, that's a different story.
  4. I am a very honest person. If you ask me my opinion, I will give it. If I am late to work because I overslept, that will be the story I give my manager. Unfortunately, I have found that honesty is not always a well liked quality. Some people actually prefer that you lie to mom is one of those people. She finally learned that if you don't want to know the truth, then don't ask. It works for us...mostly. I am trying to learn to keep some comments to myself for the good of others. Apparently not everyone needs to hear my thoughts.
  5. I am a To Do List freak! I make To Do Lists every single day. It's my thing. I actually enjoy making them and get pure joy crossing things off my list as I get things done. If I'm every stressed about all the things I need to do, my solution is to make a list and prioritize it. Unfortunately, my husband doesn't find it so endearing when I leave him little lists of the things I need him to do and the order I need him to do them. That's just the control freak in me.

Any of you have funny quirks? I'd love to hear them!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Holiday Treats

I have been busy baking up a storm this week for my friends Christmas party tomorrow night. I make these particular recipes every year around this time and I'm excited to share them with you.
The first recipe is my Peppermint Bark. I decided to try to come up with my own recipe (which I don't do very often) after having a sampling of Williams-Sonoma's. It is absolutely delicious and I recommend you go by there and try some. The downside is that it costs about $30 for a pound of it. So if you don't have $30 to blow on candy try my recipe below.

Laura's Peppermint Bark
36oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
36oz white chocolate chips
Peppermint extract to taste (I used about 3t it's best to taste as you go though)
Peppermint candy, crushed

Use a double boiler to melt the semi-sweet chocolate chips. Add in peppermint extract to the desired taste. Pour onto a large sheet pan lined with aluminum foil and spread into a fairly thin layer. Put in the fridge for about 10 minutes (you want it to still be a little sticky to the touch). Melt the white chocolate chips and spread onto of the chocolate layer. Crush peppermints in a zip lock bag using a hammer or a meat mallet and sprinkle on top. Put in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. Break into pieces when firm.

My next holiday treat is a tried and true family favorite. I got this recipe from my mom who also makes it every year. It's not sweet, but completely addicting.

Chex Mix
2 cups Snyder's butter pretzels (if you can't find these regular ones will work)
4 cups Cheerios
6oz. Bugles
5 cups Rice Chex
3 cups Wheat Chex
4.5oz Cashews
4.5 oz Pecans
3T Worchestershire sauce
2t garlic salt
1t seasoned salt
3 sticks butter, melted

Melt butter. Mix in Worchestershire sauce and salts. Pour the rest of the ingredients into a large roasting pan (I buy an aluminum one from the grocery store). Pour butter mixture over the cereals and mix. Bake in a 250 degree oven for 2 hours stirring every 20 minutes. Basically bake it until all of the buttery goodness is absorbed.

Hopefully you won't run into any trouble finding Bugles. The last 2 years I haven't been able to find them in the grocery stores and it is my absolute favorite part of this recipe. I searched everywhere and finally found a truck stop that carried small bags of them. Of course it cost me about $6 to get the amount I needed and I really think they were expired but it was well worth it. On the bright side, I have seen Bugles everywhere this year. Maybe I asked enough stores that they decided it was a product worth stocking.

And finally - what you have all been waiting for (or well at least Expat) my Tiramisu Toffee Trifle Pie. It is much different from her recipe that she posted here. Obviously I don't have access to a family owned Italian restaurant, but never fear I have Southern Living on my side. They never let me down. This recipe happened to be a Grand Prize winner in 2000. I have been making it several years for my dad's side Christmas Eve dinner. It's a light desert that is perfect after a heavy meal. The following recipe serves 8-10 people and is actually put in a pie dish. I always double the recipe though and put it in a regular sized trifle bowl. For the Christmas party I decided to put them into individual sized trifle dishes so they would be easier to just pick up and try.

Tiramisu Toffee Trifle Pie
1 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
3/4 cup warm water
1 (10.75-ounce) frozen pound cake, thawed
1 (8-ounce) package mascarpone or cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup chocolate syrup
1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed and divided
2 (1.4-ounce) English toffee candy bars, coarsely chopped

Stir together coffee and 3/4 cup warm water until coffee is dissolved. Cool.
Cut cake into 14 slices. Cut each slice in half diagonally. Place triangles in bottom and up sides of a 9-inch deep-dish pieplate. Drizzle coffee mixture over cake.
Beat mascarpone cheese, sugar, and chocolate syrup at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add 2 1/2 cups whipped topping, and beat until light and fluffy.
Spread cheese mixture evenly over cake. Dollop remaining whipped topping around edges of pie. Sprinkle with candy. Chill 8 hours.

I will definitely have to try out Expat's true Tiramisu recipe in order to decide which is really the best! Although I think I will probably like them both in their own unique ways. Do you all have any holiday recipes you make every year? Please share!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Opposite Schedules...

There have been some major adjustments in my house lately. My husband was just switched to night shift about two weeks ago and ever since we have had to do some major adjusting to both of our schedules. I work from 8:30-5:30 sometimes 6:30 and he works now from 1:00 to supposedly 1:00, but more often than not he has been at work until 3AM. Needless to say we hardly ever see each other anymore.

I wake him up about 30 minutes before I go to work and we try to talk while I'm straightening my hair and putting on my face. Mostly our conversation just consists of crap that has to get done that we haven't had time to talk about. He does write me notes though before he leaves the house and we try to text throughout the day. I do miss him terribly. Unfortunately it is going to be this way at least until the end of March.

However, in the mean time I have been trying to keep myself busy with all kinds of projects, reading and obviously blogging. I am a person who needs her space every now and then, but this much space is a little too much. I think the things I miss the most when I get home from work is having someone to share my day with and someone to cook with.

I honestly have to say that I have never lived alone so this is a whole new experience for me. I have found that I take terrible care of myself. I stay up way too late and eat McDonald's more than I should. I have turned into a very lazy cook as well. I now try to find the simplest of recipes instead of being more daring and trying new things.

I am trying to look on the bright side of things. I think I am going to take advantage of this new found alone time and immerse myself in doing things I personally love to do. I am going to try to start and finish more projects and read the books I thought I had no time to read. I am sure I will continue to miss my husband, but hopefully it will make us appreciate each other even more in the end.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I've been infected!

So, Expat tagged me in a blogging challenge. Or well, it's a challenge for me. I can write about life experiences, but as for writing creatively (not so confident). Here's my best shot at it though!

Here are the instructions. And here is the story:

The bus was more crowded than usual. It was bitterly cold outside, and I hadn't prepared for it. I noticed that a fair number of the riders were dressed curiously. As I glanced around, I stretched my feet and kicked up against a large, heavy cardboard box laying under the seat in front of me. (Splotchy)

I hunched down to see what it was, but as I did, the bus violently veered to left. I was thrown up against a heavyset Asian woman with blond hair. I pardoned myself, but she faced forward with no reply. Just then, a man wearing a jumpsuit of silver and gold stood up at the front of the bus. He was holding a megaphone and a box of graham crackers. He held the megaphone up to his face and began to speak... (Some Guy)

"Ladies and Gentlemen...please do not be afraid! I am here to help you" he said in a mighty booming voice. As he began to step towards me I felt a hand creep its way around my throat and all of a sudden I was pressed against the mighty bosom of the Asian woman as she she hauled me to my feet. She began to back away from the costumed crusader all the while holding me, feet dangling in the air. I panicked and my eyes searched the bus, hoping to connect with someone, anyone who would be able to help me. My eyes met those of the hero in gold and just as I began to gasp for air he yelled...(~E)

„Put her down and no one gets hurt“, he yelled at the Asian woman. All the passengers turned to see what was going on and, as they did, I noticed they were more panicked than I was. A small bespectacled man closest to us hissed at my captor and said in a low voice „Take me, just don't hurt her.“ My fear gave way to curiosity. Who were all these people, and why were they so concerned for my well being?The Asian blonde's back was now pressed against the back of the bus, and she increased her grip on me as the megaphone man crept slowly towards us. As he passed through the bus people started getting up, and now they formed a small army behind him. He raised the box of graham crackers above his head and put his lips to the megaphone... (That Damn Expat)

"Since you refuse to cooperate, I will have to use my secret weapon!" Suddenly a laser like light shot out of the box of graham crackers and everything went black. I don't know how much time passed, but I awoke in a mysterious room with a terrible headache. Immediately I assumed that I had been captured and began wondering why me? Why not the Asian lady who seemed to be the source of trouble? Just then, a woman walked into the room wearing a gold lame' dress, she said...(Laura)

Ok, since I only have 3 followers and Expat is one of them I will tag Maki and Purge. I expect great things :) Keep it going! Yay, now I can go back and read all the other people that Expat tagged and see what they came up with.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Just Add Water

Okay so I have one task completed that I would like to share with you all. I found this idea in a magazine and thought it would be a perfect gift for my 4 grandmothers. It's actually pretty cheap and easy as well. I took pictures in order to make the instructions a little more enjoyable!

1. Purchase a tall vase...I got mine at Target for $9. (You could probably find cheaper ones than this, I was in a hurry and like thick glass vases.)

2. Fill the bottom few inches of the vase with a festive material. I bought 1 strand of silver beaded garland at Hobby Lobby for $2.50.

3. Add a Paperwhite or Amaryllis bulb with the pointed end sticking up. I bought a box of 4 Paperwhite bulbs at Home Depot for $5. Paperwhites bloom in 4-6 weeks, while Amaryllis pretty much bloom whenever they decide.

4. Finally tie on a ribbon and and ornament of your choice to make it fun! I had left over ribbon from the wedding (I'm sure you have some around the house as well). I got the ornament at Target for $1.

5. Don't forget to add a note! I got a pack of blank cards at Hobby Lobby for $1.00 and these cute snowflake stickers for $1.50.

All in all it cost me about $12 for 1 gift, the bulk of that being the vase. Here are pictures of a Paperwhite plant and Amaryllis if you aren't familiar with them.

***Also, Expat has challenged me to a Tiramisu war! She posted her recipe today. I will be posting my recipe on Friday. Which one is the best? You guys will have to be the judge!

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Fun Kind of Busy

This weeks schedule is very busy for me. I am a little stressed (although that is completely normal for me) but on the upside I am excited about everything that I have to do. This week we are turning our office into a much needed guest bedroom which means a lot of dismantling furniture, throwing things out, and reorganizing the house. Up until now our office has been the catch all room so you can imagine the disaster area we had to clear out. I have been racking my brain on where we will put all of the stuff we have in there from books, to files, to wedding presents and projects. It seems as though after the wedding we have outgrown our fairly newly purchased condo. Excitingly enough I was able to find a mattress, comforter, sheets, and a coverlet this weekend without too much trouble. The bed has just been delivered to the house and I'm excited to get everything put together and see the finished product!

Also this weekend my friend is throwing a dessert and cocktail Christmas party. I am helping her with some of the desserts so I will be getting to make some of my favorite holiday recipes this week as well. I'm bringing tiramisu and peppermint bark - I'll share these recipes later on in the week!

As for the rest of this week, I will be busy finishing my book for book club, mailing out Christmas cards, wrapping presents, and finishing up some Christmas shopping. I also have a cute Christmas project that I am doing for the grandmothers of the family that hopefully I can share with you all this week for a pretty cheap and easy Christmas gift.

Thanks to my new found crack the Starbucks Espresso Truffle (which I am currently drinking if you couldn't tell) I believe I can get this all completed. Hopefully this feeling of "I can conquer the world" will continue throughout the week. Go, Go, Go!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Wanna Talk?




Just email me -

I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Hello World!

Parker Alan finally decided to come into the world today at 2:05 CST. He weighs 8lbs 5oz and is 21.5 inches long. Both mom and baby are doing wonderful....tired but wonderful!

I might just be an Aunt!

Today might be a big day! My step-sister is in the hospital hoping to give birth today to my very first human nephew (I have a cat as a nephew currently that is verbally willed to me haha). I will of course post his first blogosphere picture as soon as he comes! Everyone, please keep her in your thoughts. She was originally due on Thanksgiving and went into the hospital last night around 9 with contractions...they are hoping he will be here by noon. From all the updates I'm getting - giving birth doesn't sound like much fun...maybe I'll adopt instead (I'm not big on pain!)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Quote of the day...

"The world is a comedy to those who think, a tragedy to those who feel." - Horace Walpole

My sister actually has this quote, along with several others, written on her bedroom wall. I happened to read it when I was home over Thanksgiving and it has really just stuck with me. I know both thinkers and feelers (and even some who do neither) and I was trying to figure out which category might be the best to fall into and how each come into play.

As for myself, I believe I fall into the thinker category. As a thinker, I tend to find humor in things even if they might not be so funny. A lot of times this causes me to make sarcastic remarks or even look a little cold. I think it is mostly a way of protecting myself from...I don't really know....from being sad, stressed, or hating life. Thinkers also tend to be very logical and somewhat removed from the situation. It's not that they don't have "feelings" - it's just that they tend to feel with their head instead of their heart.

I have several feelers in my life as well. Feelers also think of course, but I believe they think with their heart instead of their brain. I believe Walpole describes feelers as seeing the world as a tragedy because if you really look at it, there is a lot of suffering and heart wrenching things happening. Thinkers brush it off and say "oh, well - of course this or that would happen..." and shake their heads. Feelers, on the other hand, tend to get caught up in the emotion of it all. I believe that feelers have more intense emotions than thinkers. Although this might make them take life just a little too seriously, it also gives them the heart to care about what is going on in the world and feel the need to do something about it.

As for those that do neither - I would describe them as just floaters. Mostly caught up in their own world and unattached from what is happening to others. I think we all have some of those in our lives.

I believe that each different group is necessary in life because it allows you to see things in different lights. The feelers are able to open up the thinkers hearts and the thinkers are there to help the feelers see the comedy in all of life's twists and turns. As for the floaters, who knows...I guess they help themselves by getting through life with their blinders on.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Christmas Tree Adventure....

For whatever reason, my husband and I tend to have fairly regular unplanned adventures. Christmas trees tend to be a pretty consistent adventure for us. This year we only had a mild scare of the tree flying off the car into interstate traffic and impelling some unfortunate soul on their way home from Thanksgiving weekend. Don't worry, no one was injured - we held tight to our nylon clothesline that we had used to tie the tree to the car (way too slippery to hold a tight knot by the way).

But as for our very first Christmas tree adventure we will have to go back two years. (Yeah, yeah we lived in sin...blah blah blah - we're married now.) We lived in a townhouse that was built in the 1920's. It was a major pain (very small kitchen and bathroom) but had great character with hardwood floors and radiator heaters. In the end, we had to move because Michael kept getting sick and we think unfortunately it had mold, but I will always miss it.

Anyways, it was our first Christmas together and I really wanted to decorate the house all nice. I had decorated the table with Christmas plates, made a wreath, and wrapped fake holly around the banister of the stairs. For me, it is a requirement to get a real tree. I grew up with real trees and can't stand the thought of buying a fake one. So we went to the local Christmas tree stand and tied one on top of the Cavalier to take home.

We arrived safely and set it up in the living room. Thankfully we decided not to decorate it that night because the very next day we got a notice saying that in our particular county it was illegal to have real trees in apartments. Normally, I would have suggested we just risk it and leave it be - it's only a month right? Well our landlords came in once a month to check the smoke detectors. Where was the one and only smoke detector in our house??? Can you find it in the picture below?

Yep...and they were scheduled to come in that week. Crap. We decided the only safe place to hide it would be in our bedroom - upstairs. So, Michael manhandles the tree and takes it upstairs by himself. Yes, I should be in aw of such a strong man who can drag an 8 foot Christmas tree up the stairs, but in the process he managed to pop off pretty much all of the holly berries I had so painstakingly wrapped around the banister as well as break a lamp and get pine needles absolutely everywhere! Ugghhh! So, of course I yelled - then I cried. On top of it all, the only place we could put the tree happened to be right by the radiator.

So, in the spirit of Christmas, we had to live without heat in the bedroom for an entire month in fear the tree might catch on fire if we turned on the radiator. We pretty much slept in sweatshirts, toboggans, gloves, and heavy socks until it was finally time to remove the tree.

Hopefully, this year our only adventure will be the one already had on the interstate.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Holy Shiitake!

There's a slug on my mushroom!!! I bought some not so cheap shiitake mushrooms at the store and found a stowaway....Has this ever happened to anyone else?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Family Traditions

On our drive back home tonight, my husband and I were discussing how different families can be. We actually have 4 sets of family (well really 5, but 2 really blend into one) and each has their own little quirks, traditions, and ways of interacting with each other. Most of the differences in interactions come with the amount of time they actually get to see each other; but no matter the distance, baggage, or age differences, we found that it is really the traditions that bond a family together and make them who they are.

My dad's side is probably abnormally close. Not in any weird sort of way, but more in the way that they are extremely large and still manage to see each other on a weekly basis. Thanksgiving day starts early with a 6 AM breakfast at the Huddle House with the men of the family. My dad didn't have any sons, so I filled in on the tradition throughout the years and it really is my favorite part of the day mostly because I get to listen to my uncles and cousins tell all their crazy stories that aren't normally told at the Sunday dinner table. The early morning tradition actually started because they use to go bird hunting (quail/dove/both - I forget) every Thanksgiving. This came to an end after my granddaddy accidentally shot my Uncle in the rear one year. After that we switched to playing cards after breakfast. However, after my granddaddy passed away and the fear of being shot by one of your own family members had subsided, we got back into the guns with some good ole skeet shooting and target practice with the pistols. Although, I do notice that my Uncle stands very far away from anyone holding a gun. Some years we get lazy though and just do breakfast and head back home for a quick nap before lunch.

Yep, that is me with a gun doing a pretty decent job at skeet shooting for a girl who normally doesn't shoot.

Hunting is one of the highlights of the weekend for most of the men in both families. Dad has always been a loyal duck hunter and has recently gotten Michael into the action as well. Sadly, dad decided this was the year to retire Maggie (his Golden Retriever) due to her age.

She is about 11 years old and although she still acts like a puppy, she has been losing weight and isn't in the best of health. The last couple of years she has been coming home from hunting and has been so sore she can barely move around for the rest of the day. Don't feel too sorry for her though - she lives for hunting.

This morning was so terribly sad, after dad and Michael headed out at 4AM Maggie sat in the garage and howled for over half an hour because she couldn't go. I think dad may at least have to take her once or twice. The poor dog just doesn't understand why she is being left behind even if it is for her own good.

On a happier note, hunting brings us to another one of our lovely traditions - dad's appetizers. Duck and geese wrapped in bacon - yum! These usually go pretty quick!

As for Michael's side of the family, their main interest is deer hunting on the farm. He has family spread out from Michigan to New Orleans and a good number of them come down every year to celebrate Thanksgiving at his mom's house here in Tennessee. They start out their day early in the morning as well, skipping breakfast and going straight into the woods. Sometimes they are lucky, sometimes not. Here is a picture of a lucky year (don't worry, I cropped out all the goriness).

After two sessions of hunting (one in the morning and one in the late afternoon) they head on in to eat Thanksgiving dinner that Michael's mom has prepared. My lovely husband is always in charge of carving the turkey. I usually supervise (well, really it's more like taste test) as he puts the freshly oven baked goodness on the platter.

The next morning the women in his family head out to all of the big sales. They do the crazy circuit of the mall, Wal-Mart, JC Penny and all of those other top sale places. I however choose to pass on this tradition. I'm not very good with crowds and can hardly come out of Wal-Mart on a normal day without having a panic attack! I swear when people go into Wal-Mart they turn into complete zombies, but that is a whole other blog post that I should save for another day. As for me, I like to spend Black Friday with my mom and just shop at the local small stores.

Overall, this Thanksgiving was just as wonderful as all the others I can remember. I hope everyone else out there in the blog world played their own quirky part in their family and shared the traditions that make the family bond so close and unique.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

White Noise

For the past month, I have decided to relinquish the need to keep up with my strict T.V. schedule. My old schedule use to consist of:
  • Monday: Jon & Kate plus 8

  • Tuesday: House

  • Wednesday: Private Practice and Dirty Sexy Money

  • Thursday: Grey's Anatomy and whatever that new show is that comes on after it...

  • Sunday: Desperate Housewives and Brothers and Sisters

  • Plus, of course, some good ole reruns in between and the Today show every morning

I kept telling my husband that I didn't have time do anything besides come home, cook, watch a little T.V. and go to sleep. I finally added it up and realized I was watching hours upon hours of T.V. that honestly added nothing to my life except mere entertainment. So I cut down considerably - I now just keep up with Jon & Kate (I mean I can't turn away those precious kids!), Grey's Anatomy (although it is on the list to be dropped if they don't figure out what they are doing with this Denny ghost), and of course the Today show (that's where I get all my info people!).

Anyways - the whole point of this is to tell you how much I have accomplished with the T.V. turned off and no strict schedule to keep me home bound at certain times each night. The house is cleaner, more reading has been done, and more creative projects have been finished! It is a great life with no T.V. - it's amazing how much you can accomplish!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Reasons to be thankful...

One of the topics of this past Sunday's sermon was about being thankful. There have been many things that have happened in my life over this past year (some wonderful, some I would rather not recall), but through it all (the good, the bad, and the ugly) it seems as if I can always think of a reason to be thankful.
  • I am thankful for my wonderful husband who can see me through everything even though I can be a major pain in the behind.
  • I am thankful for my sister who has all the sudden become more of a friend and a source of support than a little sister.
  • I am thankful for friends who are there for me even if we aren't able to stay in touch as often as we might like.
  • I am thankful for hard times because they often reveal all the good you have in your life.
  • I am thankful for family (even though it may be messy at times) it always reminds you of who you are and where you came from.
  • I am thankful my husband and I still have jobs and are able to put food on the table and have the things we want and need.
  • Most of all I am thankful for a healthy life and getting the opportunity to live it.

This year has been a hard year for many people, but no matter what I think everyone has a reason to be thankful. I hope everyone takes a chance to reflect on things this Thanksgiving. So many times we take the good things in our lives for granted. It's a shame that most of us do not realize what we have until it's gone.

***Also, on a less serious note (or more serious depending on how you look at it), another point in the sermon was that apparently your body starts dying at 25.......seriously 25?!?!? I have tried to find research on this, but have yet to find anything. I will keep looking but until then, one more bullet point on the reasons I'm thankful list....

  • I am thankful that I am 24 and my body has not yet started to decompose!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Holiday Rush...

Rush, rush, rush - that's usually the feeling that the holidays bring along. Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday and I feel like everyone just wants to rush it along and jump straight to Christmas. I've seen lights out in front yards and trees through living room windows (I won't even get started on the commercials and the rest of the mass media). Why can't people just see how wonderful Thanksgiving is? Basically all you have to do is eat delicious food, enjoy time with family and friends, and reflect on all the things you have to be thankful for. There are no hassles of figuring out what present everyone will want, no stress of an overblown budget, and the only crowds you have to face are the ones at the grocery store. Come on people - give Thanksgiving its allotted time in the year! Enjoy this week before the Christmas rush really does begin!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Weekend of Bliss Back On!

I am a faithful reader of my horoscope everyday and today's horoscope predicted that my luck would change and it most certainly did! We found out today that we do not have to work tomorrow so the weekend of bliss has begun. I have already been to Hobby Lobby to buy my canvases as well some things I needed for a Christmas project. I am looking forward to starting my paintings tomorrow, but for now I will be cuddled up on the couch watching Love Actually.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Paint It Black

Ok, so I was a complete slacker yesterday and did not post a single thing. Instead of blogging I decided to go out and have a much needed margarita with friends...yes, I said much needed. Obviously Wednesday was no better than Tuesday. Today is going to be better though, right? Right. On a brighter note, I did finish reading my book. So today you get the enjoyment of reading my very first book review!

Paint it Black, by Janet Fitch was set in the early 1980's in LA. It details the grieving process of the main character Josie Tyrell after her boyfriend Michael commits suicide. Josie had escaped her small town life in Bakersville by running away to LA to be an art model and actress. She meets Michael while modeling for a local art class and they strike up a relationship.

Michael and Josie happen to be complete opposites. He was raised by his mother, Meredith, a famous pianist who took him all over the world on concert tours. Michael had recently dropped out of Harvard to become an artist, which of course displeased his mother. His relationship with Josie was also something that displeased his mother who couldn't understand what he would see in a girl such as her. After his death, Meredith and Josie actually seek each other out and begin an odd relationship. They both see each other as their last tie to Michael and want to learn as much as possible about his past.

I really enjoyed reading this book and recommend that you all give it a chance. If you have ever unexpectedly lost someone you care about, you will easily be able to relate to some of the feelings that Josie has. She goes completely through the grieving process from disbelief, to anger, to feeling as though she needs to be surrounded by his things as well as trying to find a way to move on and make life normal again. And yes, as you might have noticed the title of the book is also a title of a Rolling Stones song.....

I see a red door and I want it painted black
No colors anymore I want them to turn black
I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes
I have to turn my head until my darkness goes
I see a line of cars and they're all painted black
With flowers and my love, both never to come back
I see people turn their heads and quickly look away
Like a newborn baby it just happens ev'ryday
I look inside myself and see my heart is black
I see my red door and it has been painted black
Maybe then I'll fade away and not have to face the facts
It's not easy facing up when your whole world is black
No more will my green sea go turn a deeper blue
I could not forsee this thing happening to you
If I look hard enough into the setting sun
My love will laugh with me before the morning comes
I see a red door and I want it painted black
No colors anymore I want them to turn black
I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes
I have to turn my head until my darkness goes
Hmm, hmm, hmm...
I wanna see it painted black, painted black
Black as night, black as coal
I wanna see the sun, blotted out from the sky
I wanna see it painted, painted, painted, painted black

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Potentially Foiled Plan

Ever just have one of those days where everything just goes wrong? So maybe I am exaggerating just a touch - it wasn't all that terrible. I believe I am mostly upset because my weekend of solitary bliss is now potentially foiled. I was hoping to have a weekend spent painting, reading and just hanging out with my husband. Now there is a possibility that I may spend it working instead. Blah - only time will tell though. It might all still work out. For now I will cheer myself up by thinking of a Christmas list and all the packages I will get to wrap with the fabulous wrapping paper I picked up this weekend.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Come Back!

So I was just bragging on fall and how wonderful it was and low and behold it is now 43 degrees outside. Blah! I jinxed it! Even so, I have found a way to enjoy this annoying turn of events. Yesterday after church I decided to do absolutely nothing except cozy up in pajamas and read a book. To top it all off we found a great new recipe for Chicken and Wild Rice Soup. I definitely recommend trying it out - it's super easy and very filling! Recommendations: use canned chicken and the Near East Wild Rice box mix with the seasoning. As for fall - I hope it returns soon. I am definitely not ready for winter weather. I think it is suppose to remain in the 40's this week, but you never know with East Tennessee - next week it could be back in the 50's and 60's. Oh well, at least maybe I will get my book finished up this week and be able to give you guys a review of it!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Nice Little Weekend

This weekend has been a great weekend - and the best part is that it's not over just yet. My mom came to visit Friday night and we went out to eat at Season's (a great little restaurant in Farragut). Everything was absolutely delicious as always. I love little places like that - you know, where the chef greats you at the door and everything is so intimate and well thought out. It just says to me -this guy really loves what he's doing and wants to keep it special. Saturday we spent the day going through all the boxed up wedding gifts I have just been too lazy to go through. We hung plates on the wall and redecorated my shelves in the living room with all the little fun things people were so gracious to give me and my husband.

She also brought me some of my paintings I did several years ago. I hung one on my wall and now I am inspired to do some more. Maybe that will be my next project. I have only done flowers, but I'm envisioning a lemon in the kitchen and a bird in my bathroom...

And how do you ask did I get pictures on my blog if my camera is on the fritz??? Well, after more than a month of not working we FINALLY got ready to pack up the camera and mail it off to Kodak and my husband decided to give it just one more try and voila! I guess the camera was so scared of the US Postal Service that it decided to work for us. I'm sure it will die again just before the holidays and right when the warranty is up.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Ok so all of the html code stuff is way above my head, but I felt I needed to somehow spruce up my very basic blogspot. Luckily the other day I found a nifty little way to transform normal digital pictures into polaroids and I think that might just do the trick for now. Here is the site if you want to make some for yourself as well as a link for instructions on how to do it.

So I should also share my inspiration for the polaroid idea. I have been trying to find other people's blogs to read for both enjoyment and ideas for my own and my favorite one I have come across is huffmania. She has actually been blogging since 2004 and I have really enjoyed reading about her life adventures and all of the crafty projects she's into. I'm more than a little envious of her artistic abilities and hope to venture to recreate some of her fun projects. But anyways, getting to my point....she is a photographer featured in a book titled "For the love of light: A tribute to the art of Polaroid." You can check out all of her lovely photographs here. She has such a great talent of turning everyday life into something almost magical. I don't know about you, but I had a polaroid camera when I was about 10 and had totally forgotten how much I love the vintage feel of a polaroid.

As for me - my camera is actually on the fritz for now. So sadly I will not be able to feed my creative urge to try to recreate some of her lovely photos for now. Hopefully one day I will actually be able to invest in a nice camera and take some lessons, but for now I will have to satisfy my love of photography through other people's work.
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