Friday, December 31, 2010

Reverb10, 12/31: Core Story

What central story is at the core of you, and how do you share it with the world?

This is going to be a very difficult question for me to answer. Because I really do consider myself a multi-faceted being. It's why I have so many blogs ;) I have so much to write about travel and I also enjoy reviewing restaurants and activities in Greenville , not to mention the general everyday musings of someone who has lived all over the east coast, worked at Walt Disney World, been to hell and back in her relationship life, and is trying to balance eating right and working out and wearing the proper clothes and cooking and reading and learning new things, all in order to be a more well-rounded woman.

So in general, I guess I share myself, my story (or stories), and my life through blogging. But what is my central story? I suppose the best I can come up with is the story of my resilience. I have been told that I don't pat myself on the back enough for what I've been through, and for the fact that my troubles haven't had much of a negative impact. Well...why should I pat myself on the back? I'm a fairly attractive, healthy Caucasian woman who was raised in a middle class suburban home. My parents are still married. I was never beaten or abused in any way by them or anyone else while growing up. Anything problematic that has cropped up in my life was more a result of my own bad decisions and mistakes than anything else. But still, over the years I have learned to know when to let go as well as when to adapt. And those lessons, and the way they have shaped my life, are my core story. However...I'm not going to go into a lot of detail about them right now...because those stories are for another time. But trust me, I will share them...because as I've quoted before, “Experience, when it cannot be communicated to another, must wither within and be worst than lost.” Pin It

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Change Your Life Challenge #2

Well folks, I've been meaning to post about this...but between almost getting stuck in New England after spending Christmas there (watch as I shake my fist madly at nor'easters in general), coming back and being slammed with work (because my boss broke her hand and will be out for who knows how long), and still dealing with Reverb10 (trying not to get bored...trying...trying...), I haven't had a moment's rest. However, despite my inclinations to the contrary...I am participating in the second Change Your Life Challenge, which technically started on Monday the 27th and ends this coming Sunday.

Why did I have second thoughts about participating? Well, this challenge is a
Basically, I'm supposed to get rid of 20 items, at least half of which have to be donated. Personally, I'm going to try to donate far more than I ditch, but 20 items is going to be rough for me at the moment. Mainly because I went through my closet and got rid of three large shopping bags full of clothes, purses, and shoes just last month :-/

Still, I'm going to try. I've hardly had a moment to really go through my crap, and I've already found three things to ditch and I think four things to donate. Not too shabby. I think if I really sit myself down, I'll easily find 13 more things to get rid of.

And who knows, maybe I'll find more! Pin It

Reverb10, 12/30: Gift

This month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable. What’s the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year? 

Hmmm...

I don't know if this counts as a "gift", per se, but I think the most memorable emotional thing someone gave me this year were the vows Steve wrote for our wedding. I prefer to remember emotional/intangible gifts more than tangible ones, so I have to say that the words he spoke to me on that day were by far the most memorable "gift" not just from this year, but for quite some time.

I will, however, give an honorable mention to my lovely girl friends: my sister Christy, my best friend Jenna, and my gals Melissa, Emily, Dana, Jamie, and Annie for an absolutely amazing bachelorette party. It was the perfect mix of people and I don't think I paid for but a couple drinks that night, so that's a gift, right? It was just so awesome to see my friends all like each other and have a blast together, on top of all those drinks they purchased for me ;o) Pin It

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Book Review: Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen

Pages read so far for 2010: 12,050

I don't really feel myself qualified to review Austen novels, so this is less a book review and more me extolling the virtues of what I perceive to be the best book Jane Austen wrote. (or at least, the best one she published)

Why is this my favorite Austen tale? Simply because I believe it to be the most realistic. Yes, there is a happy ending, but not the all-around perfect ending such as one finds in Pride & Prejudice and Mansfield Park. I won't go into details for those who haven't read it, but I will say that if you haven't, you should ;o). As always, Austen has made her characters maddeningly memorable and I think any woman in her right mind will be left wondering...am I an Elinor, or a Marianne? In short, this is one of the few novels I will rate 5 out of 5 stars and not waver in the decision to do so.

"'We have neither of us anything to tell; you, because you communicate, and I, because I conceal nothing.'"

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Reverb10, 12/29: Defining Moment

Describe a defining moment or series of events that has affected your life this year.

Wait...didn't I already answer a question like this? Oh no, I'm sorry, that was the moment I felt "most alive". Still...these questions are a bit repetitive, no?

Anyway. I guess my defining moment/series of events this year was when Steve asked me to marry him. Yeah, sure, I've been there before, but that was at 19 and the guy who asked was someone I barely knew. In this case...I've known Steve since October 1998 and when he asked, we'd not only lived together for a year and a half but we'd moved nearly 900 miles together. Still...I had gotten into this groove where I really didn't care so much about being married, and as much as I knew that Steve loved me and probably meant to spend the rest of his life with me, I didn't picture him as the type to commit to marriage so quickly. Which made the question and the ring and the subsequent wedding a bunch of very pleasant surprises.

Just goes to show you that you never really know where things will lead, I guess...because if you had asked me a year ago if I would be married at this time, I likely would have shrugged and said "Don't know, don't care" (as in--not that I didn't WANT to be married, it just wasn't a necessity in my book). Pin It

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Book Review: The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig

Pages read so far for 2010: 11,735

I've mentioned it before, although not on this blog: the Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig is my guilty pleasure. For some girls it's supermarket romance novels or the Twilight "saga"; for me it's these mystery/romance novels set in England during the Regency period.

The Mischief of the Mistletoe veers a bit off course from Willig's other novels--partly because it takes place during the fifth book in the series, despite it being the seventh Pink Carnation novel published. Also, this book introduces a very much real life person into the mix--none other than Miss Jane Austen. It follows Arabella Dempsey, a friend of Miss Austen's, but does bring back "Turnip" Fitzhugh, formerly the cuckold of the series but now the [albeit unlikely] hero of Mistletoe.

This book could have easily been a disaster, and while I do think that the addition of Jane Austen as a "character" was a bit unnecessary, I have to say that Mistletoe is actually my favorite Pink Carnation addition since Deception of the Emerald Ring. The lack of the "real time" Eloise/Colin story did it more justice than I expected ;o) 4/5 stars.

"'To teach and to practice are two very different things. One may discuss what one might never do.'" Pin It

Reverb10, 12/28: Achieve

What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today. 

I want to do more with crafts next year--namely knitting, sewing and making my own jewelry. I think mostly, if I achieve learning how to do these things, I will feel accomplished. God knows I'll save some money ;o)

Unfortunately, I can't exactly learn how to do any of these things in one day, especially today (as it's already seven in the evening). But this is the most focused I've been on learning how to do these things, and I have my mom to teach me sewing (now that she has picked it back up) and Steve to teach me how to knit (I know, right?) so there ya go! Pin It

Monday, December 27, 2010

Reverb10, 12/27: Ordinary Joy

Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year?

I don't think I'm the best person to answer this question ;) I had an extremely extraordinary year in 2010, and although I can name plenty of joyful moments, most of them have to do with either traveling, or getting engaged and getting married...none of which are particularly ordinary.


I guess I have to say that after years of dealing with my dog Wendy, who is a great dog but who also will take any chance to run off and not return when I call for her, one "ordinary" joyful moment for me was realizing that our dog Rigby will do nothing of the sort ;) He's so darn obsessed with me that he won't wander more than 10-20 feet away regardless of whether or not he's on a leash. Doesn't sound like much, but the fact that he won't run away and will come when called was a huge relief and joy to someone who has consistently dealt with dogs who do exactly the opposite.
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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Reverb10, 12/26: Soul Food

What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth & touched your soul?

Umm...I consider myself something of a "foodie" (especially after working in the restaurant industry for over four years) and I still don't know as if I've ever had food "touch my soul". That said, I definitely had the pleasure of eating some amazing food this year and mainly while on vacation. I would say that as a whole, despite the great things I tried in New Orleans, Chicago was the place with the food that touched my soul. Possibly because I'm an absolute NUT over pizza and fell in complete love with Lou Malnotti's (sp?). Honorable mention goes to the Pear Gorgonzola Pizza at California Pizza Kitchen in the Mirage, though ;)
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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Reverb10, 12/25: Photo

Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.

Ahhh...with all of the pictures that I take, this one was bound to be difficult. In the end, I think this one probably says it best:


I think one of my best friends Mike took this picture. It was taken at the Star Wars Celebration V convention in Orlando, FL in August of this year. I think it just showcases who I am: a total geek (especially when it comes to Star Wars) and also someone who never passes up a chance to dress silly and make a fool out of herself (what can I say, I love costumes!). It also shows that I'm not afraid to be just who I am (although of course it's a bit of a coincidence that in doing so, I'm dressed up as someone else, haha). Pin It

Playing Catchup with Reverb10, 12/21: Future Self

Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead?

Five years from now I would like to be fully prepared to take over as CFO of the company I work for.

In order to do that, I need to focus more at work and ask to be trained on the things I don't know yet (i.e. how to make budgets for upcoming years).

I would like to have not gained any weight. I'm happy with my body right now.

In order to do that, I'll have to continue my current eating habits and workout regimen at the very least--but if I have kids I will have to really focus because God knows I'll be one of those women who will have a very hard time losing the baby weight.

I want to have a 401k started.

In order to do that, I'll need to budget better throughout the next couple of years.

And...I want to check at least 10 places off my must-see list.

In order to do that, I'll have to continue to travel and be better about going to new places rather than returning to places like Vegas and Disney every.single.year. Pin It

Friday, December 24, 2010

Reverb10, 12/24: Everything's OK

What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?

Oh, wow, I have no idea. It could be the moment I realized that I could budget my finances to do everything I want to next year and yet not rack up any credit card debt (as well as pay off the small amount that I have right now). That's probably the closest I can come to a moment where I knew everything would be alright, as money and finances were my main questionable issues this year. Pin It

Playing catchup with Reverb10, 12/20: Beyond Avoidance

What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? 

 Take yoga classes and run a 5k (or longer). Too busy and lazy more than anything else. Pin It

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Reverb10, 12/23: New Name

If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why?

Ohhhhkay. Now I have to admit that I'm getting a bit jaded with these questions.


I will say that had you asked me this question when I was younger (say, up until college) I probably would have jumped at the chance to give people a name other than my own, more because I hated my name than anything else.

But I have long since grown out of that. I love my name, I love its origins, I love that it's unique. Strangers or not, one day or not, I would never introduce myself by anything other than the name on my driver's license/passport/whatever. Pin It

Playing Catchup with Reverb10, 12/19: Healing

What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011?

What healed me? Really?

The answer is that I didn't need to be "healed". Not to say I've never needed that; I just didn't this year. My healing was done at the end of 2008 and thank God for that. My life may not be perfect but the most that happened this year is that a lot of bullshit from 2009 was at least resolved to the point of not plaguing me anymore. Still, I wouldn't say that involved healing on my part. Pin It

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Reverb10, 12/22: Travel

How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year? 

Ha, finally a question that I both CAN answer and WANT to answer.

This probably belongs in my travel blog, but whatever.

So, how did I travel in 2010? I would say it was about a half-and-half mix between returning to places that I love (Disney, Las Vegas, Roatan) and visiting places I've never been (New Orleans, Chicago, the Bahamas). With the exception of our honeymoon cruise, I traveled in small groups of four to eight friends. Don't get me wrong, I love my husband and he's quite fun to travel with, but personally I think it's far more enjoyable to travel in a group of people.

As for next year, we already have plans to return to Vegas and Disney (both are "musts" in my book!) as well as see some new places, including San Francisco (Steve has been, but it's new to me!) and eastern Europe. That's right, I'll be returning to Europe (finally!) for the first time since 2007! To be completely honest, Steve and I have been talking about going since we first started dating in late 2008. The trip has taken on many forms, from a "do it yourself" tour of England and France, to a Mediterranean cruise, to the final and already booked version: a Contiki tour that stops in Berlin, Prague, Vienna and Budapest; followed by a few days in France to appease Steve (who did a year abroad in Marseilles when we were in high school).

I travel quite a bit, for sure, and this year was another one for the history books...but I have a feeling that next year will be practically epic ;o) Pin It

Playing Catchup with Reverb10, 12/18: Try

What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it?

Hmm. I think next year I want to try a few things: pay more than the monthly payment on my car, start a 401k (finally), and run (at least) a 5k race.

I really wanted to run a 5k this year, but I just...didn't. Not because I can't, mind you, but because I just hate the idea of getting up super early on a weekend morning and pay money just to go run, when I could sleep in and run 5k around my neighborhood for free ;) Pin It

Friday, December 17, 2010

Reverb10, 12/17: Lesson Learned

What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

 That when I've been bored with life in a place, it has almost always been because I  chose to be bored there.

Now, I say "almost always" because there were actually times in the past when I did try--and fail--to make a place one that I enjoyed. I became involved in a local theater group, went to the same restaurant for karaoke every week, tried to get out and discover the area by hiking and going to wine festivals and whatnot. But the only place I made friends was (somewhat surprisingly?) at karaoke, and the list of different things to do quickly dwindled, and this place was just so chock full of closed-minded people and failing businesses and lack of job opportunities that in the end, the best thing for me to do was leave.

However, I gave a lot of flak to my hometown and the surrounding areas growing up, but really, north-central Connecticut isn't all that bad. I went back for a year and whereas it would never be my first choice of place to live (due to expense and cold weather), I enjoyed much of my time there. And had I put myself out there and joined local interest groups and made new friends and had a constant stream of fun things to do, as I have here, I think I would have enjoyed, well, all of my time there. But I didn't do those things, and that's no one's fault but my own.

Even while living in Orlando all those years ago--I complained about the tourists (especially the tourist-caused traffic) and the expense of living--but I could have moved outside of the general Lake Buena Vista area and rented a much cheaper apartment, or even bought a house. I didn't because I was afraid that being too far away from my workplace (Disney) and my work friends would make for a lonely life. But had I been willing to put myself out there and try activities other than those revolving around Disney, I'm sure I would have found a thriving life in many--shoot, in any--other area of Orlando.

Moving to Greenville and not really knowing that many people here forced us to step out on our own. I put out a plea on an old blog of mine for ideas as to how to meet people, and by far the best one came from a friend who had moved to Arizona for grad school and used Meetup to put himself out there and befriend like-minded people. Fast forward nearly a year (because we joined in January 2010) and although I think it's safe to say that Steve and I have only met a couple true good friends through Meetup, we do have a [very large] handful of great acquaintances thanks to the site. But even better than that, we have a constant stream of great activities introduced to us! Whether it be a private wine tasting on a Saturday evening, a night in Asheville (North Carolina) for a brews cruise, an all-day hike in the Blue Ridge mountains or a "Yappy Hour" at a downtown pet store for us and our pups...there is never a lack of things to do. And trust me, we have taken advantage of that!

That said, as for applying this lesson as I go forward...I think that, so long as we continue to keep abreast of local activities and keep in touch with those local acquaintances we've made, over time some of those people may become friends, and we will continue to have a constant flow of tried and true things to do...as well as some great new entertainment options :o) Pin It

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Oof.

I am home sick from work today.

This is actually a very, very strange thing. I literally cannot recall the last time I called in sick from work. I think back in the fall of 2008 I took a half day because I was feeling too awful to get through a whole one. If that even counts as "calling in sick".

But today, I feel awful. I have the chills, I can't get warm, my throat is scratchy, my head aches, I'm so weak I don't want to eat or even stand up.I rarely get sick so this has simply floored me, and it doesn't help that I'm scheduled to travel to Las Vegas this weekend as a belated birthday trip :-/

So I'm trying to shock my body back into health. I left work early yesterday, came home, downed some NyQuil and slept for about three hours. I forced myself to eat dinner and walk my dogs, then my hubby and I peeled some clementines and juiced them and I had a true fresh glass of OJ. I followed this by lazing on the couch, drinking Sleepytime tea with honey, downing more NyQuil and going to bed at 10.

This morning, I slept until 9, had another glass of that OJ, walked my dogs and came home to drink some hot cocoa (as a little treat). I then forced about 20 minutes of yoga out of myself, lay down, watched part of a movie, and fell asleep for about an hour or so. Upon waking I finished watching the movie and now I'm drinking some Gypsy ColdCare tea with honey (umm...and eating tea biscuits with Nutella, but that's beside the point I guess). I'll have to let you guys know tomorrow whether or not this mix of remedies works ;o) Let's hope so, because I really don't want to go to Vegas feeling like crap. Ugh.

Now, another Change Your Life Challenge is coming up and I've somewhat reluctantly joined. Why reluctantly? Well, because this one is a




Basically, we are supposed to throw/give away at least 20 items. The reason this one may be a bit difficult for me is that I just went through my things and gave away about three bags of clothes and accessories...last month. Still, I'm going to try, and starting with the dress I wore yesterday:
Me, bundled up because I Can't. Get. Warm.

Brown Cloche-style winter hat: Ugg, from Nordstrom's
Brown Sweater: from Victoria's Secret catalogue
Cream sweater dress: from Victoria's Secret catalogue
Tights: Merona, from Target
Boots: from Old Navy

This is me wearing a sweater over the dress because I couldn't get warm yesterday. Again, no makeup and my hair isn't "done". Am I scaring you yet?

I do love my hat (courtesy of Steve), tights (courtesy of my mom) and boots...the brown sweater is comfy and cozy, if not attractive...but the dress. Ohhh, the dress.

I think the main problem with this dress is that it simply doesn't fit my body. First, it's a large and slightly too baggy around the waist and hip area. However, I'm afraid a medium would have been too tight in other areas, if you catch my drift. Also, the dress has these little tabs with buttons on the front. Cute in the magazine, but on me they accentuate what I deem the worst part of my body: my extra-wide hips (seriously: hate. them.) I tried to take a picture that would make this dress actually look somewhat decent on me/decent period and came up with this:
So from the side, not so bad. I think they have had it modeled like this in the catalogue. I don't know.

Anyway, though, this dress is numero uno on my list of things to "ditch or donate". As it's a perfectly nice dress in good condition (I've seriously worn it twice, maybe three times max) I'm sure I'll donate this one. So this is the only outfit you will see, ever, regarding this dress, but I will definitely come back around to my disdain for Victoria's Secret clothing. I bought a handful of things from their catalogue last year and really never was impressed, especially for the prices I was paying.

Ah well, another time! Pin It

Reverb10, 12/16: Friendship

How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?

Umm...to be completely honest, I don't think any of my friends have changed me or my perspectives...at least not this year. In the past, I've lost friends and through those losses been changed myself, but this year...not so much. I guess the closest thing would be some new friends that we made. They are great people, tons of fun to hang out with, but to be honest they are the "cool kids" type, while we're the "geeky kids" type. Were we in high school or even college, we wouldn't have fallen into each other's paths. But because we are all out making our own ways in the world, we were easily able to become friends. Still, I wouldn't say this changed me or my perspective...it was more of just an interesting realization, and one that I've probably made before--that once you're out of school and doing your own thing, all those old stereotypes and, well, "types", don't much matter when it comes to making friends. Pin It

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Reverb10, 12/15: 5 Minutes

Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010. 

The things I want to remember most about this year? I guess that's best summed up in the things we put on our Christmas card!

The number one thing is absolutely our wedding weekend :o) I won't go into detail because I've already written about it for reverb10, but it was three days of fun with most of our favorite people and I want to remember as much about it as possible!

Number two would be our trip to New Orleans, but most specifically being on Bourbon Street when the Saints won their first Superbowl. Again, though, I've already written about this for reverb10.

Also, can't forget the rest of our vacations! Tops for the remaining ones would be our "Geekend" in Orlando--we visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal, drank around the world at EPCOT, and went to Star Wars Celebration V. Amazing! Also don't want to forget Chicago, our Disney cruise to the Bahamas, my trip to Vegas (which was technically for work but ended up being a total blast), and our honeymoon cruise on the Carnival Dream.

The Muse concert Steve took me to in February needs to be on this list as well. They are by far my favorite [current] band and they were absolutely amazing live. Also, the other concerts I attended--Phish, Lady GaGa and Lady Antebellum. (But Muse was tops!)

Steve's proposal. How it was surprising and sweet and very "us"...just taking the dogs for a usual walk in the park and suddenly we're engaged!

Adopting Rigby is up there too. I know he would still be around even if I forgot my memories of this year, but considering what we went through with him in the beginning it would behoove me to remember how we got to where we are with him today.

There are so many other little moments, too. Probably namely ones spent with my niece and nephew. Quiet nights at home with Steve, watching TV re-runs or movies. But as of this moment my five minutes up and I guess I'll have to forget the rest. Pin It

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Reverb10, 12/14: Appreciate

What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?

My job.

Not that I necessarily didn't appreciate it--but with the economy the way it is, and having had a few points throughout the year where I had to seriously think about the possibility of job searching again, it's hard not to have learned to appreciate it that much more. Not to mention the fact that I have numerous friends who are either out of work or working menial jobs, not through any fault of their own--just because things are so crappy out there right now.

How do I express my gratitude? By doing my work, doing it thoroughly and to the best of my ability (which is apparently pretty darn good, as my boss has made numerous comments about how quickly I get things done and whatnot). By helping out other departments (namely sales, as I'm in finance) when they need the help. And this all without any sort of chance at a bonus or raise (thanks to that aforementioned crappy economy).

Is my job the most interesting or fun job I've ever held? No. But more often than not I like it, I make good money and get great vacation time, and hey...it's a job! ;o) Pin It

Monday, December 13, 2010

Happy Birthday to me.

When did birthdays start feeling like just regular old days? I mean, in high school when your birthday was on a weekday you got balloons from your friends and free dessert at lunch and they said "Happy Birthday" to you during the morning announcements. In college, so what if you had classes the next day? You were in college, you could just skip them! And it was college, so you likely lived in a college town, which meant that there was always something going on!

So yeah, I guess my last birthday that was both on a weekday and a big deal was the birthday I had the same month I graduated college (December '04). But the thing is...I don't much mind. We had a pub crawl on Saturday and tonight was perfectly fine with presents and beer and pizza :o) We watched a Gilmore Girls rerun and now I'm cuddling on the couch with Stitch (one of my cats) and Wendy (my best favorite puppy) and enjoying Sense & Sensibility (the 1995 version). Perfect night :o)

But still...party of me misses those younger birthdays. Not for the age--I don't mind turning 28 at all--but for the excitement.

Although the presents are better, nowadays ;o) Especially as I usually buy myself something special too. So there's that! Pin It

Reverb10, 12/13: Action

When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step?

I guess the biggest "aspiration" I have right now is to finish at least one of the things I've been writing. There were a whirlwind couple of weeks back in September during which I wrote a lot...but I have unfortunately been hit with writer's block since then :-/ I guess my next step is to pull out the few worthwhile chunks of writing I have, choose which one to work on and just pull it out and try to add something, even a few lines, every day. Either that or make a few edits on days that I have nothing to write. Something, anything, would be better than nothing. Sigh. Pin It

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Review: The Reese Chronological Bible

Pages read so far in 2010: 11,396

My mom purchased a couple volumes of The Reese Chronological Bible toward the end of last year and gave me one of them. I started reading it on January 1st, a few pages each day, and just finished yesterday (my goal was to finish by the end of the year, so yay me!). I'm not going to review the contents of the Bible (and as an FYI I would not appreciate rude comments about the Bible in general as I don't shove my beliefs in others' faces), but rather my thoughts on this chronological version.

Basically, it was really great to read the Bible chronologically. It did, however, get a bit frustrating to read the same genealogical lists back to back. Still, the only really major complaint I have about the Reese Chronological Bible in particular is the way the parallel passages were printed. At times they were just back to back, as mentioned above, but in other places each column of a page would be devoted to a completely separate chapter/book. It made for some frustrating back and forths and I just think that these passages could and should have been simply printed back to back to keep things a bit more simple/easier to follow. Pin It

Reverb10, 12/12: Body Integration

This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?

Umm...I don't really know how to answer this.

I can say that today, my body hates me, because we went on a 12 Bars of Christmas pub crawl. 'Nough said. Pin It

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Reverb10, 12/11: 11 Things

What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Reverb10, 12/10: Wisdom

What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?

This one is going to be short and sweet. The wisest decision I made this year was to not fall prey to the baiting of immature people on Facebook. Not that I've really done so a lot before, but in this case the baiting was so obvious, so off the wall that I don't think many would have faulted me for lashing out/lashing back. But I didn't, and I'm glad I didn't, and I won't go into anymore detail on this because it's all best left as is. Pin It

Book Review: Dear American Airlines by Jonathan Miles

Pages read so far in 2010: 9,796

The first and foremost comment I have to make about this novel is that I couldn't wait to finish it--and not because I enjoyed it. Because I wanted to be done with it and push it off to the side like I'd never seen it in the first place.

Honestly, the only reason I finished Dear American Airlines at all is that it is fairly short. Had it been 200 pages, or more, I would have given up halfway through. But I plowed on 'till the end, hoping this novel would redeem itself. It didn't.

Admittedly, I bought Dear American Airlines at a book sale, assuming that it really was a long complaint letter to American Airlines. I didn't notice the tiny words "A Novel" inserted beneath the giant title, and I was rushing through the sale with no time to read the blurb on the back cover. When I finally picked it up to read it and noticed that it was a novel, and I did read the blurb on the back cover, I thought "hey, this could still be good".

It wasn't. The writing, which other reviewers complained about, I could deal with. It was after all sort of supposed to be a "complaint letter to American Airlines", written at the spur of the moment, if you will. But the jumping back and forth in Bennie Ford's pathetic, whiny history and the absolutely pointless additions of the Polish translation blurbs were simply maddening. In the end, I was left hanging (spoiler alert: sure, he got on the plane, but what happened when he finally saw his ex and his daughter for the first time in decades???) and thinking that this novel wasn't worth my time or the $2 it cost me at the book sale. 1/5 stars.
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Playing Catchup with Reverb10, 12/6: Make; Also, my final (?) day as a vegetarian!

What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

Well, this question goes hand in hand with yesterday being my final day as a vegetarian. (Question mark in the title because there's a chance I won't end up eating meat today either, more because I didn't bring any for lunch or take any out for dinner than because I really want to go another day without it.)

Anyway, chances are that if you ask me the above question on any given day, the answer is going to be something to do with food. Whether it's the pan of brownies that I bake for my husband every two or three days (yes, he really goes through them that fast!) or the dinner I cooked, it's rare that I go more than a day or two without making something in the kitchen--last night being no exception ;o)

First, breakfast yesterday: cereal. Lunch yesterday: I surprised myself with a veggie sub from Subway! I'm not a huge fan of Subway but I have to be honest, that veggie sub (double provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, green pepper, pickles, oil and vinegar, salt and pepper, and a bit of mayo on wheat) was freaking delicious. I didn't miss the meat at all and there's a darn good chance that I will forevermore only order veggie subs when forced to eat Subway.

And for dinner, I made (hence this being the answer to the reverb10 question) the toasted ravioli via another Every Little Thing recipe! Except that I couldn't find anything other than cheese-stuffed fresh ravioli (hers were spinach and cheese). She was right, they are a bit messy to make, but they were worth everything! Absolutely freaking delicious. I used slightly different brands and whatnot--I know that not all of what I made these ravs with was organic--but I haven't completely converted to the organic movement yet, so...deal with it. Haha. Anyway, I will be making these again, especially once Steve commented "these are awesome, make them all the time." (He says that often and obviously doesn't mean it literally, obviously)

So there you go...my last official day as a vegetarian, and my answer to the reverb10 question (which, if I had actually answered it on the 6th, would have been answered with "stuffed zucchini for dinner", so there ya go). As for what I would like to make if I had the time...I don't know. I'd like to write, is the proper answer. A novel. And I guess technically that would be making something. But whereas time is an issue, the bigger issue with that is writer's blog. Boo. Pin It

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Reverb10, 12/9: Party

What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

Umm...I'm sorry, I have to say "our wedding"! ;o) Really, the entire weekend was a party, but the wedding itself was just amazing. I've already detailed this in so many other places...so this will be short and sweet. Basically, there were only about 50 people at our ceremony/reception. Although many people couldn't make it (unfortunately), we had an amazing group of some of our closest friends visiting for the entire weekend, the center point of which was our suite at the Greenville Drive game (our local Red Sox farm team). We rented this and had the baseball game as our entertainment rather than having a formal reception :o) Hot dogs, burgers, popcorn, pretzels, peanuts...a "Southern Dessert Bar" consisting of Red Velvet Cake, Pecan Pie and Peach Bourbon Pound cake...champagne for toasting and plenty of beer! To top it all off, the Drive won the game in the 10th inning!
After the game we continued the party in downtown Greenville, visiting a couple of different bars and not ending up in bed until sometime around 4 or 5 AM. It was the perfect night...laid back but also crazy, with a great bunch of people...and of course the whole "yay we're married now!" thing ;o) Pin It

Playing Catchup with Reverb10, 12/5: Let Go

What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

For whatever reason, it's hard for me to let go of things and easy for me to let go of people (when they hurt me, that is). The funny thing is, earlier this year I wrote about letting go (and later copied what I wrote onto this blog). But I wrote that before I had to let go of...well, a sort of relationship, one I'd been hanging on to for far too long. Thing is, I didn't let go of this person of my own accord...but once she forced me out of our relationship, at least it was pretty darn easy for me to say "so long, chica".

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Vegetarian Days 5 & 6

As I mentioned yesterday, we've been eating leftovers (the spinach gruyere quiche from Sunday and the stuffed zucchini from yesterday)...so I don't have any new dinner recipes to share. Therefore, before I get on with the food in my life, I'll show you what I wore to work yesterday. Because I'm just not sure how I feel about it, and that may sound like a weird reason to share something, but if what I did looks horrid maybe someone out there will tell me and I'll know not to do it again ;o)




Purple sweater: from Target
Gray leggings: my sister gave them to me which means they're probably from Walmart
Purple and gray argyle knee-highs: from Target (for $2! love!)
Black lacy flats: Rocket Dog, from Off Broadway Shoes
(Also note that my hair hasn't been straightened or blow-dried, and I'm not wearing any makeup. I pretty much only wear makeup if I'm going "out out", as I say, or if I'm on vacation and know that my picture will be taken left and right ;o) Same goes for doing my hair...part of me is just too lazy to get up early enough to do my hair and makeup every day, and part of me just knows it's better for my hair and skin to have some good relaxation time)
Now, note that I'm wearing these awesome socks OVER my leggings. I don't really have any good thought-out reason as to why I decided to do this, other than the socks were my favorite part of the outfit and I wanted to show them off. I mean, come on, wouldn't you?

Beyond not being sure about the whole socks-over-the-leggings thing, I also don't know if I love the fit of my sweater. It's a large, where normally I would have purchased a medium. I decided on the bigger size because with the fit of the medium and the way the cables lay, it just didn't look right on me. And the sleeves on the medium didn't seem long enough. But now I feel that the large makes me look like a giant purple blob. Sigh.

Ahh, to be a fashion-challenged woman, right?

Anyway, I've continued with my cereal breakfasts and lunches of hummus, crackers and drunken goat cheese. But because I didn't have to cook yesterday, I was able to come home, wrap Steve's presents and bake these yummy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins! (courtesy of a blog friend, though I left out/off the frosting in that link). Seriously though, they're to die for. All moist on the inside with a lovely crusty top (spare me the rude comments, please! haha) and absolutely delicious, a great mix of flavors.

So there you have it. I'm now at the end of day six as a vegetarian and let me tell you...although I don't really mind not eating meat, I'm ready to do so again. That's right, I'm still counting down to that cheeseburger on Friday ;o) Pin It

Reverb10, 12/8: Beautifully Different

Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful.

Hmm.


I find it difficult to respond to this prompt without sounding...stuck up, maybe?

I guess the things that make me different are the following:

1) My geekiness. I'm a geek and I'm proud of it! And I'm not just talking about the likes-to-read, good-in-school geekiness...I am a Star Wars geek, a Lord of the Rings geek, a Harry Potter geek. One of my top three 2010 experiences was attending the Star Wars Celebration V Conference in Orlando...and dressing up for it as well!

2) My honesty and loyalty to my friends (at least since...let's say late 2004). I, like most people, did some talking behind backs and all that lovely stuff that comes with being in high school, being a girl, being in a sorority...you know. But thankfully I learned my lesson, learned it quick, and since then I've been unfailingly honest and up front with those I love. After all, what's the point in spreading your opinions behind someone's back?

3) My open-mindedness. Back in high school a friend of mine (who was known to be gay) spent the first few months of our friendship insisting that he was straight. I didn't want to believe that he'd lie to me, so I simply tried not to think about it at all. Eventually the whole story came out, and with it the fact that he had been "scared to tell me". The only thing I can figure is that it had something to do with my being religious (nowadays I tend to think of myself as more "spiritual" than "religious" but back then...what I practiced was probably more like religion), but I have never wavered in the fact that could really care less either way if someone is gay or straight or ugly or attractive or a geek or a jock. As I've become more open about my thoughts and opinions I've made sure that my feelings on these things are known. My very best friends in the world would probably never have been thought of as "The Cool Kids", but they are wonderful people and regardless of the way they look or act I am proud to call them my loved ones. Pin It

Playing Catchup with Reverb10, 12/4: Wonder

How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?


I think it goes without saying that the easiest way to cultivate wonder in one's life is to surround yourself with people (and in my case, pets--haha) that inspire you. This year I have continued to be amazed and inspired by my amazing friends and family, most especially my [now] husband Steve and my beautiful 4-year-old niece and 1-year-old nephew. But I also have to give credit to my little dog Rigby. We adopted Rigby in February--he had been dropped off at our local humane society, given up by his previous owners, and had we not signed those adoption papers there is a good chance he would have been put to sleep within just a few days. Especially as he is epileptic and to be completely honest, the most annoyingly hyperactive dog I've ever owned ;o) But despite his sickness and the fact that at 5 years old he had to adapt to a completely new life (including getting neutered!) he has wormed his way into our hearts and showed us just how resilient he can be.
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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Vegetarian Day #4

My perfect banana.
Yesterday was my fourth day as a vegetarian. I think the fact that I'm counting them like this is proof that this will not last longer than the required week ;o) Especially since yesterday was the first day that I was truly missing meat. Yes, on Friday I will have a giant cheeseburger to reward myself!

Breakfast yesterday was another bowl of cereal (my norm, really, and I switch between Special K Chocolatey Delight, Corn Pops and the aforementioned childish cereal that won't be named, lately). For lunch, plain Chobani Greek yogurt with strawberries and original Heartland granola cereal, followed by a banana. A still-partially-green banana, because that's how I like 'em. Such a healthy lunch sandwiched between not-so-healthy other meals...

I made stuffed zucchini boats for dinner last night--another recipe that I've cooked a few times before. I think that technically the recipe is supposed to be made as an appetizer or side dish, but I think these are hearty enough for a meal, especially if you eat two or three of them.


CHEESY ZUCCHINI BOATS

4 zucchini, halved lengthwise
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ red onion, chopped
5 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
Salt and pepper
6 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

-Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Using a small spoon, scoop out the zucchini flesh, leaving a shell approximately 1/8 inch thick on all sides. Wrap the zucchini flesh in a paper towel and squeeze out any excess liquid; discard the liquid and set the flesh aside. Place the zucchini shells cut side down on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.
-Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over high heat. Add the zucchini flesh and onion and cook, stirring, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook 5 minutes more. Push the vegetables to the side of the pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and the bread crumbs, and toast the bread crumbs for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and mix the breadcrumbs with the vegetables; season with salt and pepper.
-Flip over the zucchini shells and line the bottoms with the mozzarella. Pack in the vegetable & bread crumb filling. Sprinkle the Parmesan on top. Bake 20-25 minutes.

It was only a couple of years ago that I discovered my love for zucchini, and I can't believe what I missed out on for so long!

Anyway, tomorrow I'll post about days five and six of my vegetarian week, as most of what I'm eating involves leftovers and I have only a recipe link to share with you...but have no fear, I do have an outfit! And one I'm not sure of, at that, so plan your jibes now ;o)
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Reverb10, 12/7: Community

Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011? 

Sadly enough, I would probably count 2010 (and for that matter, 2009) as the year(s) when I lost what used to be a great online community--that being Livejournal. However, although I can't say much for my experiences with online communities in 2010, I can speak very highly of a physical community that I discovered this year--that being the community of Greenville, South Carolina.

Although I lived in this area previously and technically moved back in 2009, it wasn't until this year that I truly put myself out there and discovered how amazing Greenville really is and how the residents' strong sense of community has gone a long way toward making it so amazing. I've been told that twenty years ago this was something like a dead (or at least dying) city, but with an influx of new blood and ideas came the revitalization of our beautiful downtown and people who would eat, drink, and shop in that area.

I guess that part of the reason I am so impressed with the Greenville community is that I'm from New England, where people aren't exactly friendly. Especially to strangers. And I've lived in other places ::cough::Lynchburg Virginia::cough::, where outsiders were ignored or frowned upon but very, very rarely accepted. The people in Greenville love their city, but to have that love work they also have to be more than just tolerant of each other.

In 2011, I would like to become more a part of this community than I already am. I'd like to make new friends--or rather, more new friends--and give back to this city that has given me so much :o)
(photo from www.thebestkeptsecretofthesouth.com)
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Playing Catchup with Reverb10, 12/3: Moment

First of all...I think I'm going about this the wrong way. I'll never really catch up doing a couple posts on this each day until I get to the proper date. Instead, today being the 7th I will do the posts from the 3rd (to catch up) and the 7th. Tomorrow will be the 4th and the 8th...and etc. until I've caught up and only have to do one each day. Which will take a while, but right now it's the best I've got ;o)

Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).

 Oh man. I had a few that came to mind, really, but I think the one single moment I truly felt most alive was when the Saints won the Superbowl. I still remember everything about that moment and I want to continue to remember it. Because no, I'm not a Saints "fan" per se...I'm a Patriots fan. But I don't like the Colts. And we happened (literally, by complete chance) to be in New Orleans on Super Bowl Sunday.

We had watched kick off from one bar in the French Quarter...a place filled with locals. Then we rushed back to the hotel to mix some drinks and change before heading over to Bourbon Street. We ended up in a bar I'd wanted to visit anyway--the Old Absinthe House--and proceeded to watch the game and make friends with some locals (including one of the bartenders). Toward the end of the fourth quarter when they decided to let those last seconds of the game run out, it was as if a blanket had been thrown over the city for a moment. Everyone wanted to believe it, you see, but there was that split second of being unsure.

And then everything seemed to explode.

A cheer, the likes of which I've never before heard in person (and doubt I ever will again) erupted from what seemed like the very earth of New Orleans. Even if we'd wanted to remain in the bar, that would have been an impossible feat. We were carried out onto Bourbon Street by a warm, welcoming, friendly swell of locals and tourists alike. We were jostled, but it was the jostle of pure excitement and amazement and joy. I was hugged by more random strangers than I can recall. I felt the wring of sweaty palms and the embrace of exuberant arms over and over and over again. Of course I wasn't about to explain the truth--that I was just a Patriots fan in the right place at the right time. I let the ecstasy, the elation of the people of New Orleans wash over me like a beautiful flood.

I remember the smells of hot dogs and alcohol and people. That's really all there was to that night--a hot dog card on the corner nearby, the sidewalks and road sticky with beer and liquor as Bourbon Street probably always is. But I've heard tell that Bourbon Street was as crowded--or possibly even more crowded--that night than it is even on Mardi Gras.

The noise lasted long into the night. We headed back to our hotel sometime after 2 AM and there were still people cheering, singing "When the Saints Go Marching In" and chanting "Who Dat!" as we stumbled, in a bleary drunken jubilant haze, back to our room.

To be completely honest, I'm not sure I'll ever again feel the same amazing wave of sensations that I felt that night. I can only be happy that I did feel those things, once in my lifetime.
Sorry for the blurriness--as you can imagine things were a bit crazy, as this is what Bourbon Street looked like about 30 seconds after the Super Bowl was called and it was obvious that the Saints had won!
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Monday, December 6, 2010

Vegetarian Day #3

Yesterday was my third day without meat. I know that's not much, but whereas I've gone without meat for a day (or maybe two) many a time...three days is either a rarity or has possibly never happened before, period. But day three really wasn't that difficult :o) I had a giant bowl of cereal for breakfast (and it's such a childish cereal that I'm embarrassed to say which kind, haha) and snacked on some more of that hummus and goat cheese with pita bites for "lunch".

And dinner was a dish I've made many times before. A completely unhealthy (but at least, entirely vegetarian) quiche that I adapted from a Paula Dean recipe years ago.In fact, this quiche is what turned me on to gruyere cheese!

SPINACH GRUYERE QUICHE
1 pie crust (half of a 15 oz. pkg containing 2 crusts)
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, minced
Approx. 12-15 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained (depending on how spinach-y you want it)
½ cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
2 large eggs
½ cup heavy whipping cream
4 cloves pressed/minced garlic
1 ½ cup Gruyere cheese, grated
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pie crust. Line either a 9x9x2 inch baking dish OR an 8x8 (2 quart) baking dish with pie crust. Prick with a fork. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
-Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add minced onion and garlic and cook 5 minutes. Add spinach and cook about 10 minutes; set aside to cool.
-In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper.
-In a large bowl, beat eggs with heavy whipping cream. Add flour mixture to egg mixture and combine thoroughly. Add garlic, onion-spinach mixture, and grated Gruyere, mixing after each addition. Spoon mixture into crust and sprinkle the grated and shredded Parmesan cheese evenly over it.
-Bake 40 minutes or until set. Remove from oven and let cool for 45 minutes before cutting.

Unfortunately this quiche doesn't look extremely pretty, but I've made it as a meal and also cut it into small squares to serve as an appetizer...and it's always a hit!
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Playing Catchup with Reverb10, 12/2: Writing

What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?

The first thought that comes to mind is work. My job. But obviously I can't eliminate that...at least not right now ;o)

When I'm home in the evenings, I definitely do a combination of TV watching and reading that sort of interfere with the amount of time I have to write...however, the TV watching more than the reading is the thing that doesn't contribute to my writing at all. Still, in the past when I've truly wanted to write and had things to write about, I've made time for it. I guess lately I just haven't had much of interest to say :-/ Pin It

Playing Catchup with Reverb10, 12/1: One Word

Well, it's not like I have anyone really reading this blog right now (my own fault for refusing to "advertise" it, I guess)...so I don't feel too bad overflowing it with catchup posts for Reverb10. Which I just discovered today. Sigh.

On December 1st, those participating in reverb10 were asked to describe this year in one word. To be honest, it took me all of a few seconds to come up with my word for 2010:

WHIRLWIND.

When 2010 began, we had just relocated from Connecticut to Greenville and had honestly spent our first couple of months here doing, well, nothing. That quickly became a thing of the past as our year kicked off with amazing vacations, concerts, an engagement, a mere three months of wedding planning, a wedding itself, more vacations, and now it's suddenly the holiday season and I can't understand where this year went!

For 2011, then? I would like my word to be ACHIEVE. Why? Because although this year has been amazing and crazy, I don't much feel as if I accomplished anything real. I want next year to be different! Pin It

Book Review: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Pages read so far in 2010: 9,616

I suppose that this being an Austen novel makes what I'm about to write less of a review and more of a "here's my thoughts on a classic novel" blog.

The thing is, I love me some Austen and therefore...I liked Mansfield Park just fine. I liked it the way I liked Emma...that being, I'm glad I read it, I may read it again, but it didn't hold sway with me the way Sense & Sensibility (by far my favorite Austen novel) did.

Part of my problem was, I think, that I read the introduction included in my version of the novel before I read the novel itself--and this particular introduction basically revealed the entire plot! Had it not been for reading this, I think I may have liked this novel more because I would have maybe been a bit surprised at the goings-on in the last 100-150 pages. Still, I rate the novel 4/5 stars because if it weren't for having read the introduction first, I would have enjoyed it more (considering the introduction would push it down to 3/5 stars, but I can't blame Austen for what some modern-day woman wrote about her book).

As is, I do feel that the ending of Mansfield Park was a bit of a cop-out. I have to admit that I wish this particular Austen novel had taken a different road. At the risk of putting a spoiler out there for anyone who hasn't read this novel or seen the movies based on it--I really was hoping that in this case, a rake wasn't always a rake and that for once Austen would go a different way with some of her characters. Ah well.

Now, I always include quotes that I like in my book reviews. Therefore, the following is cut for length and yes, there may be spoilers in these quotes!

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Outfits AND Food!

Well, I'm nearing the end of day 3 of my vegetarian challenge, and so far it's been about as easy as I expected ;o) The hubby cooked himself some bacon to supplement our dinner last night, though, and despite not being a big bacon person...yes, it was hard to say "no"!

I actually don't have a recipe from yesterday. I woke up in the morning and had a very yummy (and pretty healthy) breakfast of plain Chobani Greek yogurt, Heartland original granola cereal and fresh strawberries. I eat a lot of yogurt and granola, but normally I stick with honey-flavored Chobani Greek yogurt and don't add any fruit, so this was a welcome change!

The rest of the morning and first part of the afternoon was spent dying my roots. Thus is life as a platinum blonde :-/ I really can't afford to go to the salon every time I need to get my roots done, so I do them at home every four or five weeks and at eight to ten weeks (from my last appointment) I go see my colorist. But I do love my hair color, so for now it's still worth it.

I donned a crazy Christmas sweater to go downtown for some festivities, then we came home pretty early and made a dinner of leftover sciue sciue. We actually just ate it cold and it was still delicious! I was afraid to reheat it and have the fresh basil end up any more wilted than it already was. Later on I supplemented my dinner with pita chips, tomato and veggie hummus and drunken goat cheese, as I hadn't eaten any sort of lunch.

That was day two of the vegetarian challenge, and tomorrow I will have a recipe for day three, I promise :o) But I will leave you with my fun Christmas outfit!

Hideous Christmas Sweater: from Steinmart. And it jingles!
Red sweater underneath: Merona, from Target
Skinny Jeans: Mossimo, from Target
Black ankle boots with plaid accents: from Baker's
Green & Gray gloves in left-hand picture: from Target
Red scarf in left-hand picture: pashmina-style, from Target
Earrings: Red & Green guitar pics with "Naughty" and "Nice" written on them, locally purchased

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Too excited to wait!

Not only did I make it through one day as a vegetarian (which I guarantee I've done before, though not on purpose), but I tried a new recipe tonight...and it was absolutely delicious!

This recipe is actually thanks to Smiling is Good for your Teeth - I saw it on her blog a while back and I've wanted to try it!





Sciue Sciue

1 1/2 cups ditalini (you can also use elbow macaroni but I think ditalini works better)
2+ tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
8-10 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
8 large leaves fresh basil, chopped roughly

-Boil some water in a large saucepan. Salt it and add a bit of olive oil, then the pasta. Cook for about 8 minutes; drain.
-Heat the 2+ tablespoons olive oil in a deep skillet. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant (about 1-2 minutes). Add the tomatoes and saute until warmed through (about 2 minutes, maybe a little longer).
-Mix the pasta into the skillet and remove it from the heat. Add the mozzarella and basil and serve immediately, seasoning with a bit of salt.

I'm actually not a big fan of fresh basil--it's a bit too strong for my taste--but this dish really tasted like caprese, with pasta instead of bread. Speaking of bread, I do wish I'd had some nice buttery garlic bread, but alas, I did not. Ah well!

We also cracked open a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau as well and it was definitely a good, err, supplement ;o)

So, yeah, day one down...and I may treat myself with a couple of cookies or something to "celebrate"...
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Change Your Life Challenge: Vegetarian Week

Well, I was supposed to start the Vegetarian Week challenge on Monday...but we had so much food leftover from last weekend that I couldn't bring myself to do it. I'm sorry, but if I had started it on time I would have wasted four days worth of dinner food, and that's just unacceptable. So I waited until we had eaten what needed to be eaten, and then I went grocery shopping.

Which by the way, was so much fun! Because I was shopping for some things that I just don't buy normally, and because without meat--despite buying the same amount of food for meals and whatnot as I normally buy--my grocery bill was at least $50-75 cheaper than it usually is! Yay saving money! ;o)

I was also inspired to buy a lot more healthy snacks. Bananas, strawberries, apple chips, red and green and yellow peppers (although the Peppercorn Ranch I bought to dip those in isn't really healthy) and a lot of crackers and cheese (stoned wheat crackers, to be exact, with some Drunken Goat cheese, tomato & veggie hummus, etc.)

And so the challenge commences!


To be completely honest, I'm not that worried about it. I've found myself a bit jaded with chicken lately, and there just aren't as many ways to cook beef as there are to cook chicken :-/ I actually found it pretty easy to plan a week's worth of vegetarian dinners. Because although you'll notice that this is a vegan OR vegetarian challenge...I'm not quite brave enough to go Vegan. So there will still be eggs, cheese, milk, half and half, and EGG NOG in my life ;o) Just no fish, chicken, pork, beef, or broths/stocks made with those things.

Today began with a bowl of Special K Chocolatey Delight and 2% milk; for lunch I'll be having Progresso Reduced Sodium Tomato Parmesan soup with Ritz crackers (yeah, so much for reducing that sodium. whatever.) 

And tomorrow you can rest assured that I will post the new recipe I'm trying tonight, what I think of it and how difficult it was! I will continue to do this through next Friday, probably, as my vegetarian week ends with Thursday December 9th. Here goes nothing!
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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Another Piece of Me

Thankfully, my past is not something that I shy away from or refuse to talk about. As Normal Mailor said “Experience, when it cannot be communicated to another, must wither within and be worst than lost.”

Surely Mr. Mailor was talking about all kinds of experience—the good and the bad. In my life, I’ve had plenty of both, and my relationship story—or stories—both prove, and are a product of, that. So without further ado…

Once upon a time, there was a Princess. No, wait, scratch that. Once upon a time, there was a Pirate Princess. She left her hometown at the ripe old age of 18 and moved to Florida to work in a Magic Kingdom…and while she was there, she met a Prince.

A Salesman Prince.

And a mere year and eight months after they met, the Pirate Princess and her Salesman Prince were wed.

At 20 and 23, respectively.

Surely you can already begin to see how this is not a tale that ended in “happily ever after”.

The truth is (because obviously I am that “Pirate Princess”), I married someone who I barely knew, at a time when I was too young to know myself. And the next five years were the most trying of my life—definitely so far, hopefully ever.

Out of respect for what my ex-husband and I once had, I will not renumerate the many issues that led to the demise of our marriage. At least, not in a public forum. What I will say is that I tried. Tried to stay in love with him, tried to fall back in love with him, tried to make our relationship—no, more than that, our marriage—work. I won’t speak for him other than to say he didn’t not try—it was just that when he did, it was too little, too late.

Among my many attempts were the following: (1) continuing to live in a place that I despised, and putting my career dreams/goals on hold because that’s where he wanted to live (2) going to counseling by myself because he didn’t really agree with therapy on principle (3) a trial separation (4) finally getting him to agree to marriage counseling, and going maybe a dozen times together (5) moving to a completely new and different place together, to “start over” (6) constantly trying to spice up our sex life (7) letting him do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted, with whomever he wanted, and basically never “nagging” him about it (8) working on my physical self so that I was attractive to/for him (including losing weight, growing my hair long and going back to blonde, no longer wearing jeans and sneakers and t-shirts all the time, etc.)

The fact of the matter is, if my marriage was meant to work, it should have worked. Not without effort, of course—relationships and marriages aren’t supposed to be easy. “Nothing that is worthwhile is ever easy.” But sometimes, you just have to know when to throw in the towel. When I finally forced myself to take a step back and review my life, I quickly realized that although so much of it was close to being perfect, my marriage was a lie. I had the right job, lived in the right place, had amazing friends and family…but things were still “off”.

With my husband, for my husband…there was nothing.

I do not pride myself on how long it took me to reach a solid conclusion about the end of my marriage. I made a lot of bad decisions and mistakes in the months leading up to “I-Need-A-‘D’-As-In-Divorce-Day”. But once the choice was made, I was immediately up front and honest about it with him—and I never looked back.

Now, that’s not to say that I wasn’t scared to death. I was. I even started having fairly regular, very physical panic/anxiety attacks—something I had never before experienced. But no matter how many angles I viewed it from, I knew that divorce wasn’t just my best option—it was my only option. In our case (whether or not my ex ever has or ever will admit it), “giving up” was the healthiest and best option for both of us.

In my case, it also helped that I was very, very blessed to get back in touch with a former acquaintance of mine quite soon after breaking the “I’m leaving” news to my ex-husband. That “former acquaintance” is now my husband, and although the marriage is very new (as of 8/28 of this year, in fact), our history goes back. Way back. Because we actually went to high school together, and were introduced on Halloween night in 1998. So although our courtship was not very long (approximately two years), we knew each other for nearly a decade before we gave in to fate, as it were.

Steve and I were thrown into each others’ paths off and on between 1998 and 2005, mainly because we had a handful of mutual friends. In mid-2005, we became friends of our own accord—but lost touch later that year, as our very different lives pulled us in separate directions.

Falling back in touch with Steve in 2008 was absolute pure, perfect coincidence (one of those serendipitous occurrences mentioned here), and also something that wouldn’t have happened without a few mutual friends pulling strings they didn’t even know where there. However, us falling in love, deciding to be in a relationship, and moving in together a few months later all came about due to mature, conscious, adult actions, reactions, discussions and decisions. Although he had never been married before, 28-year-old Steve and 25-year-old Tara were both products of long-term relationships with the wrong people—and we had learned our lessons. From the beginning, our relationship was comprised of unfailing honesty about our pasts, our presents, and what we wanted from our futures. We kept no secrets, told no lies, played no games. That’s not to say that we didn’t have any problems or issues then, or that we don’t have them now—quite the opposite, as we are both very much human. And on top of that, the first three and a half months of our relationship were spent living 900 miles apart!

So it was never perfect, for Steve and I—but it was always amazing. And even though the timing should have been off and wrong, it all worked out. Everything came together, against terrible odds. This is the healthiest and best relationship I’ve ever been in. Without even trying to do so, Steve has consistently inspired me to be a better person and a better significant other.

In conclusion, here is my advice…

…always do everything you can and try your hardest at making your relationship/marriage work, but…
…know that sometimes, it’s best to walk away, and…
…make that decision, be honest about it, and follow through with it, if/when the time comes…
…learn from the mistakes you made in that failed relationship (because the odds are really good that you made at least one mistake)…
…put that newfound knowledge into practice in any and all future relationships…
…be honest to a fault…
…don’t play games or allow someone to play them with you…
…and finally, if you find someone who inspires you to be a better person, recognize how lucky you are and just follow your instincts. Pin It

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's all about the Gamecocks, baby!

I wouldn’t say I’m a sports fanatic. But I have my teams, and I keep up with them. I have the ESPN app on my iPhone and check it almost daily. Baseball, NASCAR, football—and most recently, college football.

You see, moving from the North to the South is more than just a geographic change of location. It’s practically an entirely different lifestyle. Not that we didn’t have college football in New England—but we didn’t have college football there like they have it down here. And the first time I lived in the South, I learned two things: first, when in the South, do as Southerners do—and a big part of doing as they do is watching college football. (Which in South Carolina means you watch Clemson or USC.)

Second, I quickly learned that I just don’t take kindly to Clemson fans.

Therefore, I named myself a USC Gamecocks fan sometime back in 2007…and I never looked back.

Last year, I caught snippets of the game when USC beat Clemson over Thanksgiving weekend. This year, we made greasy Buffalo Chicken dip, brought out the Tostitos, had a few friends over and drank our fair share of beer while we watched the game...and of course, I used my outfit to show my Gamecocks spirit! (that, I've always been good at)


I'm happy--we WON! (And beat the pants off Clemson)
Please note that I am not one to wear shirts short enough so that you can see my bum...I know that looks to be the case in the picture above, but rest assured that when my arms were in a normal position my jersey covered what it needed to cover ;o) And also, yes, the way I'm standing makes the fit (or something) of these leggings look bad. But it is just the way I'm standing.

USC Gamecocks Jersey: Adidas, the biggest size from the boy's section of Kohl's
Black leggings: Yoga leggings from Victoria's Secret
Shoes: black faux patent leather ballet flats, Target
Headband: locally made, from a little gift shop in my city
Earrings: large black hoops, Forever 21

I owned everything else that I was wearing long before this particular game, but my headband was actually a special purchase made on Saturday. We were browsing downtown with some friends and it being game day, I couldn't pass it up!
And because it's pretty usual colors--a dark red, along with black and white--I already have other shirts lined up to wear it with. These are the best kind of purchases...I try not to buy accessories unless I can think of at least two different ways to wear them/outfits to match them with, off the top of my head.

(And yet somehow, I still have simply too many accessories. Not that I'm complaining.)
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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Black Wednesday: Out on the Town!

I feel as if I'm going to be using the same pose in all of these outfit pictures, but I'll try my best to change it up.

Regardless, of course we went out for Black Wednesday--especially considering we had friends in town. The outfit I wore is one I donned a few months ago and I just love the way it looks...comfortable and put together and chic. Or at least...I hope that's the way it looks ;o)

I'm not sure about my hair, but whatever.
Black sweater: from Target
Purple print shirt: Lauren Conrad, from Kohl's
Matching necklace & earrings: from Kohl's
Button Bracelet: from Holly & Sage on Etsy
Black skinny pants: Lauren Conrad, from Kohl's
Shoes: Purple faux snakeskin, Steve Madden, from Off Broadway (sorry you can't see them, it annoys me too--but this is the only picture that came out at all despite numerous attempts)

Silly picture, I know (I'm, uh, pretending to call the number of the DUI lawyer on my bar wristband) but you can see my jewelry much better!
Anyway, it was a very long long weekend. I do have another outfit post (sort of) but that will have to wait until tomorrow or the next day :o)
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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Learn to Let Go

I wrote this earlier in the year. Some things have changed since I wrote it (mainly that just a couple days after I did so, I was engaged and have since re-married), but as I ended up going through my closet last weekend (and getting rid of three large bags of clothes!) I figured it couldn't hurt to post it here :o)

"I found myself with some free time this week, which meant...LAUNDRY! Excitement abounds. (okay, not really) Unfortunately, I had so much laundry to do (thanks to my bad habit of putting it off until I'm down to my last pair of socks or I'm out of clean running clothes) that I didn't have room to hang up all of the clothes that can't go in the dryer.

And suddenly I was reminded of some friends of mine who recently mentioned the objective of cleaning out their closets and getting rid of things that they didn't need/like/wear anymore.

So I went to town. After all, who needs a blouse from 2002 that never fit properly in the first place (damn you, 36D's!)? Or a wool sweater from American Eagle that was cute in 1998 but looks mom-ish now? Or a baby-style tee from 2005 that is too short to wear with the super low-rise jeans that are all I have nowadays?

In the end, I didn't get rid of as much as I wanted to. I probably didn't get rid of as much as I should have. But the whole process certainly got me thinking.

Why do we keep things around when we know we no longer need them? For instance, I am a notorious packrat. I literally have tubs and tubs of crap that I doubt I'll ever look at again. And the worst part? Every time I move (which has been a lot in the past ten years) I get rid of trash bags and boxes full of stuff. Yet I somehow still end up with things to throw away at the next move, or clothes to send to Goodwill when I do random spring cleaning (like I did last night).

Why is it so hard to just let things go?

The thing is--this applies to people, too. Why is it so hard to let people go? I was writing about not knowing whether I was in love with my ex-husband just a couple of years into our marriage...but I was too afraid to throw him away, because if I did, then what if someone else picked him up (a la Oscar Wilde)? Yet the minute I decided that I was ready to let go, that I had to let go...in that minute, my life truly began. I never really looked back and the past year and ten or eleven months have been the happiest of my life--happier even than when I was still blissfully in love with him.

And years ago, I always tried to drag out friendships with people who treated me like shit. Sometimes for months, sometimes for years. In the end, letting go meant less drama in my life, and letting go was always for the best. I've been better about this lately. When my so-called friend--our so-called friend--Mikey screwed us over last year, wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am I was DONE. Sometimes, there is no apology that can ever be good enough for the way one is betrayed, and if that's the case, why even bother pretending to be friends with a person?

So many times, I've watched my friends let other people--be they other friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, family members--walk all over them, and I've kept my mouth shut. I don't do that anymore--keep my mouth shut, I mean. Of course, nowadays, it's still a bit about politics. I don't want to always take the harshest stand, because I know that not everyone finds it as easy as I do to just let go. And I've been there myself. I know that, especially in a long term relationship, it's hard to make the decision to walk away. But that doesn't stop me from telling my friends when I think they need to review a particular relationship in their lives and figure out where it is going...or where it is not going.

Honestly...get rid of the trash in your life! Whether it's that necklace from an ex that you never wear anymore, anyway; a boyfriend/girlfriend who you only keep around because doing so is the "easy" thing to do or because you're simply afraid to be alone; that glittery shirt that doesn't fit anymore, the one that you "can't" get rid of because you wore it to a party years ago and had a good time in it...if you can't think of at least three good, logical reasons why you are keeping something in your life, then it doesn't need to be there. Plain and simple.

As I hit my mid-20s and stopped worrying about whether or not everyone liked me, I've led a much more fulfilling life. I'd rather have an amazing boyfriend/relationship than a half-assed husband/marriage. I'd rather have a half-dozen best friends who I can trust with anything, than thirty people who talk shit about me and consistently don't include me in activities. I'd rather have a half-full closet of cute, flattering clothes than a stuffed-full closet of clothes that I don't even really like.

Some would look at my life right now and say that it's not good enough, because I'm not "popular", because I'm not married/not married anymore/divorced/"only" in a relationship, because I buy my clothes at Target and Old Navy and Kohl's rather than Guess and Banana Republic, because I'm healthy and fit but still not stick-thin, because I have allowed myself to become a spiritual person rather than a religious person, because I no longer need to smoke weed on a regular basis or experiment with God knows what other drugs in order to have a good time.

But me? My life is full. Almost too full. I am bursting with health and fun and friendship and love, love, love.

Me? I am a happy girl :o) Pin It