Sunday, February 27, 2011

A recipe I've been meaning to post

I made this dip for a Superbowl party earlier this month and it was a huge hit :) Now, I made the recipe as it was on the internet but in re-posting it I'm doubling it. The party we went to only had about 15-20 people there and this dip was gone within the first hour...and it was so good that I really wish there had been more!

Swiss & Bacon Dip

16 slices quality bacon, cooked and then chopped
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayonnaise (I used half mayo and half Miracle Whip)
4 rounded teaspoons stone ground mustard
3 cups shredded Swiss cheese
6 scallions, chopped
Chopped walnuts for a topping (if desired)
Cocktail rye bread for serving

-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and using a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients except the walnuts and bread.
-Grease a baking dish and transfer the mix to the dish. Bake about 20 minutes (basically until the edges are golden and bubbling). Add your walnuts now if you're using them and spread spoonfuls of the dip on the cocktail rye slices to eat :o)

Healthy? No. Delicious? Yes. I could honestly eat this as a meal, and I'm not even that big on bacon (I know, ::GASP::, right?)
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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Before it gets too warm...

Just a little outfit post to liven things up ;o)

I thought I looked really good in this outfit when I wore it back in January. I really did. Steve and I went out to a fancy dinner with my parents and then decided to catch a band at Wild Wing Cafe, a bar here in Greenville. I knew I was a bit overdressed for Wild Wing's but I have to be honest, the blatant check outs got a bit on my nerves. Hindsight is 20/20 and I don't know if I'll be wearing this sweater again...maybe it's a bit too low-cut for a 28 year old who doesn't care to attract that kind of attention :-/
Sweater & black tank: Express
Leggings: Victoria's Secret
Sparkly Silver Shoes: Baker's

 I feel like I'm standing funny in this picture, too. Oh well.

Really though...sad that the reactions I got when wearing this outfit have convinced me to probably never wear it again. Maybe it's just Greenville? Maybe if I'd worn this in Vegas or Miami or NYC or LA or even Atlanta it wouldn't have been a big deal?

Lesson learned, anyway.
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Friday, February 25, 2011

The 7 Random Facts Award :)

Many thanks to The Skinny on Me for this award! Sorry it's taken me a couple days to get to's been one hell of a week, to say the least ;o)

Basically, I'm supposed to give 7 random facts about myself and then tag 15 people...but I'm not going to tag 15 people because I only have 23 followers and a bunch of you have already done this or something similar recently. So if you want to do it, do it...and if not, don't. There, I said it. As for my facts:

  1. I love cheese. I mean, really love it. I could probably eat it for every meal of the day. And while there are a few kinds that aren't my favorites (i.e. brie) I'll try it all once. As a note, currently I'm on a huge goat cheese kick.
  2. I have now been to 33 of the 50 states in the USA. (Michigan last weekend was #33) And just as an FYI, no it doesn't count if you've had a layover in an airport. If it did I would have been to way more than 33.
  3. I have a really bad habit of not finishing most of the things I start (scrapbooks, stories, etc.) I think I inherited this "trait" from my dad.
  4. I got a full scholarship to law school in 2005 and just a few weeks before I was supposed to start I realized I was going for all the wrong I just didn't go. And yeah, sometimes I regret that. A bit.
  5. I didn't start drinking coffee until September 2008 (I was nearly 26 at the time). It was all Steve's fault.
  6. I love theme parties. Throwing them, going to them, cooking for them, dressing up for them.
  7. I want a motorcycle--like a sport bike--verymuchbadly.
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Book Review: Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen

This book was referred to me but I'm sorry to say that I wasn't overly pleased with it. I expected more amusing Mennonite stories, but it turns out that Ms. Janzen's family are more "progressive" Mennonites and other than a few quips here and there, there wasn't much for her to tell. I will say that I'm thankful the author seemed to be mostly at peace with the terrible things that happened to her--she didn't spend pages and pages whining about her troubles, especially her husband leaving her for another man--because had she done so I would have spent the entire book wanting to say "That's what you get for marrying a guy you knew was bisexual!" Instead, she seems to have accepted her lot in life and although this book was no amazingly interesting memoir it did at least have its funny moments.

Other than this book not really being as interesting as I'd hoped, Janzen does tend to jump around a lot from subject to subject and again, not include as many funny Mennonite stories as one would think. She had some great ideas but the execution just wasn't right. 2/5 stars.

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pet Intros: Rigby

I have one thing to say about our dog Rigby: we never knew what we were getting ourselves into.

Such a well-read dog.
In fact, it was almost exactly a year ago that we brought Rigby home. We had decided sometime in January 2010 that we were ready for another dog, and one day an acquaintance of mine emailed Rigby's description to me. He was on the PTS (that's "put to sleep") list at Greenville County Animal Care Services. The next day I drove over to GCACS to meet him. He was sweet and cute and I figured it couldn't hurt to bring Steve and Wendy over to meet him. So I ran home, picked them up, and went back--all in the same evening.

Rigby immediately loved Wendy, but Wendy was so freaked out that she didn't really pay him much attention (she came from GCACS so I can only figure that it was scarily familiar to her). Not that it mattered, because Wendy is the friendliest dog ever. I was waffling a bit--everything was happening so fast--but Rigby (who was named Thor [I know, right???] at the time) was scheduled to be put to sleep in about 4 days! Steve was actually the one who finally said, "We're doing it. We have to."

Problem was, we were leaving for vacation. GCACS thankfully agreed to "board" Rigby for free while we were gone and I planned to pick him up in a week.

Except then he caught kennel cough, so we had to wait for that to get better.

Then he had a seizure, and they wouldn't fix him until we had him checked out by a vet.

So when we brought Rigby home at the end of February last year, he was still intact. And he peed on everything. It was maddening. It took us weeks to get him diagnosed with epilepsy, on the proper medication, and finally, finally, neutered.

Yup, he loves me.
The great things about Rigby are that (a) he is completely enamored with Wendy and (b) he is the only dog I've ever owned who comes when he is called. I can take him outside without a leash and he will not run off. The other day the fence blew down in our backyard (don't ask) and I didn't notice until after I'd let the dogs out. Wendy took off (she's back now though, thank God) but Rigby came to me as soon as I called his name.

Unfortunately, Rigby is extremely jealous/overprotective. He's weird about other dogs...sometimes he's okay with them and sometimes he's just not, for no good reason, no matter how friendly they are. And he gets after the cats sometimes.

But he is also my sweet needy boy and he's kind of obsessed with me, which can be cute when it's not too much. Regardless, I'm glad that we took him in and gave him a good home, because although epilepsy isn't an extremely costly problem to treat, it's not a walk in the park either and most people probably wouldn't want to deal with it. Thankfully Steve and I aren't those people ;o)
Best buds. And no, we have no idea what kind of dog Rigby is.
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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pet Intros: Marmalade

Oh, Marmalade...or, as some of our friends like to call her, "The Real Lady Marmalade". She was a surprise addition to our little family, but honestly, how could we not take in a cat that looks like this:
When we moved to South Carolina in October 2009 we had to stay with my parents for a few weeks. At the time, Marmalade was named Pocahontas and she was technically my niece's cat...and also supposed to be a barn cat. But you see, Marmalade didn't want to be a barn cat. She wanted to be inside. And she kept sneaking into the basement apartment where Steve and I were staying. We were surprised that she put up with Wendy and almost got along with our when my mom mentioned that they were trying to cut down on the number of animals at the farm (and that my sister couldn't take Marmalade because her douche-y husband was supposedly allergic to cats ::cough::LIE::cough::) didn't take long for Steve and I to give in and make her ours.

Marmalade's name actually came to us on a whim. We didn't like the name Pocahontas so we hemmed and hawed over what name to give her...until one evening we were watching The Office and one of the characters--I think Michael or Dwight--was complaining about how there was no marmalade for the bagels. It was like an epiphany...we knew we just had to name her Marmalade!

I can't believe I'm saying this, because for so long Stitch was my favorite cat...but no more. Marmalade is my favorite. She's nearly two years old now and she's still tiny, compact, barely bigger than a large kitten. And she loves to cuddle. And she's just super sweet...she puts up with any and everything and I really can't imagine her biting or scratching a person. Plus she's one hell of a tree climber.

And seriously, our friends love her so much that she gets her own Christmas cards in the mail from them. No lie. Pin It

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Not feeling it today.

I know, I know, I need to pick back up with the pet introductions...I've got two more! But I'm so freaking exhausted from this weekend. I went to Michigan for a wedding and I think I maybe got an average of four and a half hours of sleep a night between Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. I went to bed at 9:30 last night and got up at 7 AM this morning and I'm still so overtired that I'm nauseated :-/

I basically just wanted my readers to know that I'm still alive and once I actually feel like myself again I'll pick back up where I left off.

Did anyone else do anything interesting this weekend? Pin It

Friday, February 18, 2011

Pet Intros: Ducky

Ducky is actually the only pet of ours that came to me via Steve and Steve alone. I don't know the entire story, really, but I do know that Steve adopted Ducky with one of his prior girlfriends back in the fall of 2005. I think. The story [that I've heard] goes that they went to a shelter to get the girl a cat, Ducky was there with his brother, and the shelter offered them a two for one deal. Needless to say, it was a good decision for them to take the deal because Ducky really is a sweet, handsome boy :o)
As Steve says, Ducky is "VERY sensitive...but VERY special". And yes, he's sensitive. When we brought him to our house in Enfield back at the end of 2008, he hid in one of the back rooms for months. Funny thing though, when we moved down south it was as if nothing maybe he's just meant to be a Southern Cat ;o)

Ducky is known for his "good noises" (seriously, you should hear the quacks and chirps that come out of this cat), his super soft fur and his general good attitude. Currently he is locked in the back bathroom of our house and wearing The Cone of Shame due to an injury he sustained outside, and I've honestly never seen such a well-behaved cat considering how uncomfortable he must be. Only such a sweet kitty as Ducky would put up with such torture without complaint.

Also, he loves Wendy and she loves him, so that makes him tops in my book! Pin It

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pet Intros: Wendy

I am in dire need of a Zen moment in my life right now, so it's perfect that today, I get to introduce you to one of the most important creatures in my life:
This is Wendy, Wendy Pie, Miss Wendy Darling...I could go on and on ;o)

She is the light of my life, the most amazing dog--no, the most amazing pet--I've ever owned. She is great with all other dogs, with people, with cats, and she loves children and is amazingly gentle with them.

She is, however, scared of horses.

But seriously, how could you not love this face?
It all began in June 2008. At this point I had quit my job as a travel agent (or rather, quit working at the agency) and was working part-time at a doggie day care and part-time at a horse barn. What can I say, I was tired of working behind a desk! Of course, working at the doggie day care made me long for another dog, since the husky Ex and I owned together was far more his than mine.

One day I mentioned to a co-worker my desire for a dog of "my own" and she suggested I check out the adoption booklet up front as a few dogs had been added recently. I had always been planning on adopting so I thought nothing of opening that binder.

And there she was, right on the first page, in all of her orange floppy-eared glory--"Nell". And I knew that I had to have her. I asked my co-worker if she thought this dog was still available and she said probably, as Susan of Speak for Animals had only recently added her to the book.

I called Susan and the rest was history. Of course, adopting from a rescue organization isn't really like picking out a dog at the humane society. I had to fill out a lengthy application, give vet references and sign a contract promising that if I adopted a dog from SFA and ever had to give him or her up, I would contact Susan before doing so. And of course there was a home visit, but with our fenced-in yard and friendly dog Meeka, plus the knowledge that I worked for Camp Bow Wow (Susan knew the owner), we passed with flying colors. And on Tuesday June 17, 2008 I brought home "Nell" (and immediately renamed her Wendy, as Nell had only been a temporary name that Susan gave her, anyway).

Wendy's origins are questionable. We do know that she was an owner surrender to Greenville County Animal Care Services and that she was likely a "chain dog" kept outside for most if not all of her life. When she was dropped off she had already been spayed but there was evidence that she'd had puppies. As she was only about two, though, it was probably only one litter. And Susan was told that a couple of days after dropping her off, the man who brought her to GCACS came back and tried to take her home again because "his kids missed her". Upon questioning this person and realizing that Wendy had been and would continue to be kept on a chain, and knowing that Susan was already planning on rescuing her from the PTS (put to sleep) list, they refused to give her back. And now she's mine :o)

The thing is, it was actually Steve who made me fully appreciate Wendy, and it was Wendy who turned Steve into a "dog person". Because she's just that awesome. Sure, she doesn't fetch. Sometimes she eats cat litter (I'll never understand that). And if it's between coming to me when I call and taking off after a squirrel, I damn well better hope she's fenced in or I won't see her for hours (and I'll spend that entire time dreading that she's been hit by a car). But considering what she went through in the first two or so years of her life, she has a friendliness, an openness, a lust for life and so much love for everything and everyone that it's hard not to be amazed. Amazed at her resilience and her sweetness and her lack of prejudice.

Yes, I know she's only a dog and I'm talking about her as if she's a human. But she's a hell of a lot more human than some people I know, and she is absolutely one of The Loves of My Life.

And if you want to know what breed she is, the technical answer is that I don't know. We even had one of those dog DNA tests done on her and it came back inconclusive (though she does have something like 10% Golden Retriever in her, apparently). However, my mother-in-law took her to the dog park once and a man stopped to tell her what a beautiful Novia Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Wendy was. Of course the M.I.L. didn't have any idea what a Novia Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever was, but she was pretty sure that Wendy wasn't one. She told the man as much but he insisted that she look up this breed when she got home. She did, then we did, and well. yeah:
Seriously. Wendy has the size/weight, the specific coloring (orange/red with white chest and feet and possibly some white on the face and the tip of the tail), coat type and even the webbed feet! Currently I'm saving up my pennies to get another DNA test done as I found one that includes the Toller! I know she's not purebred because of her ears, but still. Pin It

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My version of the "Slim Fast Plan"

No, I'm not going to sell you Slim Fast, though I have to admit that sometimes I'll buy those things and drink them as treats ;o) But as meals? No thanks.

Still, Slim Fast knows what they're talking about. But instead of drinking Slim Fasts for breakfast and lunch, I have other (and probably healthier, if not quite as low in calories) options. I've talked about my favorite breakfasts before--cold cereal (Special K, Mini Wheats, Cheerios, Corn Pops, etc.) with 2% milk or yogurt (plain or plain Greek) with fruit and granola. And I've also mentioned my "snack" of pita chips, goat cheese and hummus--which more often than not serves as a meal, that being lunch.

Of course, I go through food phases and currently my favorite lunch is something along these lines:
Although my favorite Trader Joe Ming's noodle box is actually the Pad Thai. Followed by the Kung Pao. The Satay are actually my least favorite, but the only ones I took a picture of. I love these noodle boxes because they're tasty and filling and only something like 300 calories!

The Stoned Wheat crackers? Freaking delicious. I usually eat about 4-6 of those along with one noodle box for lunch, and that keeps me full for a good six hours.

While I completely agree that eating a bunch of small meals throughout the day is probably the best way to go, I only did that for an extended period of time back in 2008, and then only because I didn't have time for three meals a day. So if you're going to eat three meals a day, sticking with some healthier, slightly smaller-portioned options for breakfast and lunch and following it up with a "sensible" dinner is my version of the Slim Fast Plan :o) More than anything, though, this entry is about giving you some lunch ideas that don't involve deli meats soaked in salt baths and fast food fried in vats of oil.
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Pet Intros: Lilo

Poor Pretty Lilo has a bit of a sad story to her.

(And yes, the first two pets I adopted on my own are named Lilo & Stitch, and of course it was on purpose. Didntcha know I worked for Disney?)

Anyway, originally Ex and I were only going to adopt one cat, because my dad was supposed to bring a cat I already owned--Abby--down from Connecticut to live with us in Virginia.

Long story short, Abby was also "poor Abby". She was deathly afraid of most men. She refused to go outside. And she was kind of sickly (which resulted in her being put to sleep at about 6 or 7 years old, sadly). So despite my father's best efforts, Abby never made it to Virginia. Which meant that Stitch (who we had only had for a day and was as yet unnamed) needed a companion. And that's how we ended up with this [not-so-] little gal:
The elusive Lilo Loaf.
When Ex and I adopted Lilo, she was mainly his choice. He wanted a gray cat. She and her sister were the only gray cats at PetCo (or PetSmart, whatever) and I said fine, if he insisted on a gray cat I wanted the one with the pretty colors. Hence, Pretty Lilo.

Unfortunately, Lilo was far too young to be adopted, let alone fixed! They swore she was 8 weeks old but when she got sick a few days later and we took her to the vet, the vet said she wasn't more than 6 weeks and that no way should she have been spayed already. Poor Pretty Lilo :o( Of course we took great care of her, though. She got shots and fluids and medicine and within a week, she was all better!

Except that she didn't know how to use the litter box. Oh yeah, that was the other thing they told us--that she was litter box trained. She wasn't. That took another couple of weeks, because we tried everything we possibly could until finally it came down to one choice (according to our vet)--to shut her in a small bathroom or closet with food, water, and a litter box. The vet said she'd make a mess for a few days, end up disgusted with herself, and start using the box. We hated doing it, but what can I say? It worked.

Nowadays Lilo is a little too healthy. As you can tell by the picture above, she's overweight. And she's the only one of our four cats who is, so we aren't really sure what to do about it. Lilo is very shy. She is, in fact, a "scaredy-cat". She will not go outside. We try to engage her in play but she gets bored easily. And yes, we already cut back on their food...but it's next to impossible to make sure that she's not eating more than she should, with four cats.

Other than her weight, Lilo's other issue is that she terrorizes our cat Ducky. Funny, because I'm pretty sure Ducky could beat her up good, but at least Stitch is around to mediate when things get really bad ;o)

Still, Pretty Lilo is pretty. And when she comes out of hiding she's very, very sweet--she's never bitten or scratched a person. So maybe we'll just let her be fat and happy. Pin It

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pet Intros: Stitch

I think it's pretty obvious, considering I have six pets, that I love animals. Last month another blogger friend dedicated a post--or at least, most of one--to her dog, and I had the idea to introduce you to each of my babies, one by one. Because my pets are [for now] the only children I have, and I love them very, very much.

I'm going to introduce my cats and dogs to you in the order they came into my life, which means that we will begin with my nearly-eight-year-old cat Stitch!
Isn't he super handsome? I only wish this picture showed how big he is! He's very thin but very long. And he is a nearly perfect tuxedo cat with his white chest and white paws...except for one black toe on his front right paw. Hence one of his many nicknames, "Black Toe". There's also "Stitchy Parks" but I'll refrain from telling that story. For numerous reasons. ;o)

Stitch was the first pet that Ex and I adopted together, from a group in the Lynchburg VA area called CARE Inc. (I think)...way back in June 2003. Of course they said he was about 10 weeks old at the time, which means he was born sometime in April 2003. And he was the fluffiest, most mischievous little kitten. I had to have him.

Unfortunately, that mischievous little kitten grew into kind of an asshole of a cat. He wants to play, really he does, but his "playing" often involves lots of teeth and claws. Ouch. He also terrorizes our dogs. However, he's great with other cats. In fact, he's kind of the "mediator" of the four cats. He never starts fights or allows the others to pick on him, but instead runs off to break up the tiffs that erupt between the other three. He also has very soft fur, sheds in clumps (which makes it way easier to pick up, trust me), and his whiskers are the longest, most luxurious and beautiful whiskers I've ever seen on a cat.

Now if only he'd stop clawing at the carpet to go outside in the middle of the night... Pin It

Monday, February 14, 2011

Why a Happy Woman in a Healthy Relationship...Does *NOT* Celebrate Valentine's Day

Just a note: I wrote this last year and posted it in my friends-only journal, the one I no longer write in. Many of you have never seen that journal so I don't feel bad about copping out a bit and re-posting this here.

Let's face it...most people who refuse to celebrate Valentine's Day do it because they're single. Or miserable. Or both. Now, don't freak out on me and say I'm stereotyping...I said MOST, not ALL. And I could sit here and give you the usual terse "it's a Hallmark Holiday" excuse. That originally, it was a day set aside to honor a bunch of Christian martyrs with the name "Valentine" attached to them. That it was some bitch in Worcester, Massachusetts (it would be a Masshole) who brought a half-assed British fashion to our country and made it de rigueur. Because all of the above are completely and utterly true.

Buuut...I think it's a bit more poignant to tell my own story. Because it's mine. And to each and every one of us, our story is always the most interesting one there is.

Once upon a 1998, I was 15 years old and had my first real boyfriend. Not to say I hadn't had "boyfriends" before that--this was just the first one who (a) lasted over a month and (b) did more than just talk to me on the phone and hang out, say, twice. This boyfriend wasn't a perfect boyfriend, but he wasn't outright horrible either (at least, not at that point in time). And of course my imagination had run wild (as that of young girls is wont to do) about all the amazingly romantic things my 15-year-old boyfriend of three months would do for me for Valentine's Day.

And he tried, he really did. I vaguely remember hanging out, maybe watching movies? I know for sure that there was a ridiculous, ugly, three-foot-tall white teddy bear involved (which I later ripped the head off of in a fit of anger once this first boyfriend was my first EX-boyfriend--have I mentioned that i have quite the temper?). He did his best, anyway, and I was still disappointed. The next two years, there was a different boyfriend, and although he tried as well--with little gifts, flowers, dinners out--nothing ever added up to the Valentine's Day that I had created in my mind. And I know for a fact that I'm not the only woman who does or has done this!

So after his second attempt at creating a super-romantic Valentine's Day, it was with little to no trepidation that my [now ex] *E* and I decided that we would no longer celebrate that blasted Hallmark "holiday". Don't get me wrong, I was very thankful that he spent the evening with me, bought me flowers, took me out to dinner...but something that would have seemed amazing (to a then-17-year-old) any other day of the year seemed just ordinary on Valentine's Day. And I didn't like that. I didn't like the expectations I'd put on this holiday that had been created just to push men to take their girlfriends/fiancees/wives out to dinner and buy them gifts that die or get eaten. And don't even get me started about the ugly jewelry that is pushed on them in the weeks leading up to the "big day".

Having made my decision to no longer celebrate Valentine's Day while I was in a relationship gave me a boost, because for the next two years, I was single and spent the evening with friends who were likewise single. Unfortunately, V-Day 2003 came right on the heels of my engagement to Ex, and no matter how much I insisted that I didn't want to celebrate it, he went out, booked a hotel room, bought chocolates and rose petals and champagne...the works. I took a deep breath, sighed, and gave in.

That was stupid of me. Because when he booked the hotel, he paid no attention to the name, and we drove out of our way to a Holiday Inn Select (oh yeah, high class, but please let me remind you that we were living in the middle of nowhere, Virginia at the time), only to attempt to check in and find out that we were at the Holiday Inn Express...on the opposite side of town.

So much for a relaxing evening.

And that, dear people, is the last time I allowed anyone to convince me that Valentine's Day was worth celebrating. In 2004, Ex and I weren't even together on Valentine's Day--I flew home to visit my family. In 2005, we worked and ate McDonald's for dinner. In 2006, we were separated (for the first time--ha) and I spent the night with a female friend of mine. In 2007, he had already moved to South Carolina and I was still stuck working in Lynchburg, so again, we weren't even together. In 2008, we worked and then had Arby's for dinner. Last year, in the throes of an amazing--and new--relationship, I insisted to Steve that we were not to celebrate. On the 14th of February, we watched movies and got drunk off homemade martinis...just like every other wintry Saturday night in 2009.

Last year, there was nothing. We decided this around Christmas 2009, and the night before Valentine's Day I made sure that he knew to not even get me a card. I don't want to perpetuate this holiday in any way, shape, or form. Because it makes what are otherwise sweet, romantic gestures into less than what they should be. Because it forces men to spend gobs of money on big fancy dinners and cards and chocolates and flowers and ugly mass-produced jewelry. Because it makes people who are single--especially women--feel as if they are missing out on something, when any other day of the year they are just fine with the way they are living their lives.

Last year, one of my friends wrote the following in her blog : "what's wrong with one day out of the year being set aside for LOVE? You don't have to spend money. You don't have to make reservations at a fancy restaurant that probably isn't very good anyway. You don't even have to be dating anyone! Just show LOVE to the people in your life." While I completely respect her viewpoint, my response was, "I have no problem with having a day set aside for love...the problem is that most people don't see this the way you do. They feel that they HAVE to spend tons of money on flowers and chocolates and fancy restaurants. And too many women are miserable about spending Valentine's Day 'alone' when they are single."

In the end, it is of course easy to say that you hate Valentine's Day when you're alone and miserable, or in a relationship and still miserable. But right now, my life is good. My relationship is great. I am with a man who loves and respects me and treats me like a goddess. On a nearly daily basis he does sweet and sometimes amazing things that show me just how good I have it. So I refuse to hold him up to some shitty mass-market standard for a "holiday" that should have gone out of fashion with calling cards and pantaloons. I am better than that, and even more so, he is better than that.

I surely don't expect everyone to have the same viewpoint as I do. We were all raised with Disney princesses as role models, after all ;o) please don't take this as a sort of "come-to-Jesus" rant. It is what it story, my opinions. Just like I don't expect anyone to not celebrate Valentine's Day on my behalf, I would prefer that others don't insist that because I refuse to participate in the "holiday", I must be miserable.

However, I have to include this video. My favorite kiss starts at 2:45 :)
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Sunday, February 13, 2011

First guitar video

For those who have requested to see me singing and/or playing guitar, here you go ;o) It's probably not the best I've ever sounded, singing-wise, and I'm not that in-practice with the guitar at the moment either, but whatever :o) Pin It

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Another sort of 10 year thing.

With "Hot Steve" and "The Brain". No idea about real names.
Today is kind of an important day. Kind of, sort of. Because 10 years ago today I interviewed for my first Walt Disney World College Program.
That's right, on February 12, 2001 I finished my classes for the day, drove to a nearby college (as mine wasn't big enough to host an interview session), sat through the approximately hour-long College Program presentation and participated in an interview with the hopes of landing a great job in Operations. Or, to be more specific, Attractions.

Don't remember this kid's name at all.

Why is this so important? Well, normally I wouldn't bother talking about the whole "it's been so-many-years" thing until August 20th, which was my check in date for the internship. But this year is a little different because this year I'll be attending a ten-year reunion in May and organizing another ten-year reunion in October. And this particular week is a bit important because before this week I really wasn't considering even going to the reunion in May...but within a few days I had a couple of close friends tell me they would be there, and realized I could do the trip for next to no cost to myself and that I even had the extra vacation day to spare. So One-Two-Three and I'll be heading to Orlando sans Steve for two nights in May.

I think the girl in the middle was named Erin?
Of course, it took a bit of convincing. Me convincing myself, I mean. Because while on the CP I had two pretty distinct groups of friends. Not because I wasn't comfortable with the two groups meshing--often times, they did. But because I had close friends like Kim, Ali, Jamie, Sarai, and a few others; but I also had a giant group of people that I partied with. Sounds weird, maybe, but that's how it was--the same crowd of party goers in apartment 1501 every Sunday night and often those same people at the pool or partying elsewhere in building 15 on other nights of the week.

That's Los on the far right. The rest of them...?
Table dancing. I remember about half of these chicks.
And this reunion in May is comprised mostly of those people who I partied with. Not that I had problems with or disliked any of them (weeelll...there was one, but I'll just leave that situation be for now), but I simply didn't keep in touch with most of these people. Because this was 2001 and when the College Program ended, we all went home with notebooks full of names attached to now-defunct college addresses and email addresses and cell phone numbers (if we were lucky, because I knew more than a few people who didn't have cell phones at all). The close friends and the people I've run into since the CP are now my friends on Facebook, but those were maybe half a dozen people out of the dozenS of people I partied with that semester. So yeah, I was a bit...nervous, I guess, to spend two days with a crowd of people I have rarely if ever been sober with.

But if you know me, you know that I'm not one to turn down a vacation. Especially one to Disney. And even more especially, one that involves Drinking Around the World ;o) So, I'm going.

Pretty big group of building 15 party people.
I'm a bit giddy about this upcoming reunion; a bit excited. But the fact of the matter is, as much as I return to Disney I left my College Program behind years ago. When I go down to Orlando and visit friends, fewer and fewer of them are people I knew in 2001. And I let go of the Fall 2001 WDWCP even more when I divorced Ex, considering, you know, we met on the college program.

None of this means that I didn't have some freaking amazing times on my CP. It is to this day the craziest four and a half month period of my life. And it also doesn't mean that I didn't learn a lot; I did. I also met some amazing friends, many of whom I'm still close to. But ten years is a long time and a lot has happened. Maybe more for me than for other people. I went home to Connecticut after the CP, then transferred colleges and ended up in Virginia. I got engaged, got married, continued to return to Disney for vacations and stints as a seasonal cast member--but always without Ex, despite his former CP status. Then we separated, I moved back to Orlando, I ended up as a Restaurant Manager with Disney and yet still eventually gave that up to save our marriage. Or to attempt to do so. I left Orlando again, this time for the final time--at least as a Disney employee. And then we ended up divorced anyway; I couldn't get over the bullshit and I left him, what can I say?

And of course the rest is history...getting back in touch with Steve, moving to Greenville together, falling in love with this city, getting married here. And suddenly ten years have passed and I can't even remember the names of 90% of the people I met on the College Program.

But I do remember that I had a crazy, amazing time with some crazy, amazing people. So happy 10 year WDWCP interview date anniversary for me...and let the countdown to the first reunion begin!
This kid I remember. He's putting together this reunion in May...gotta love the BONERRRRRRRRRRR!
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Thing #30: A Motto

Day 30: A motto or philosophy.

For quite some time now (since August 2004, to be exact) my motto/philosophy has been "Be honest and up front, but try to remain tactful." Now, the "tactful" portion hasn't always been possible, but in general I pride myself on speaking my mind without making others feel awful about themselves. For instance, I'm very good at telling people that they are in unhealthy relationships without alienating them or the significant other who I'm not keen on.

Since that moment where I realized that something in me--the part that allowed me to deal with sucky people and to stick up for myself and others who got the shaft--had been awakened, there have been very few times when I've kept my true thoughts and opinions censored. And those times it was only because people close to me, people I loved, begged me to do so. And in the end not one of those situations turned out well anyway! Which is something I remind myself of nowadays when others expect me to gloss things over.

And since I became this person who is honest and up front about basically everything, my friendships and relationships have become much stronger and more trustworthy. So it's a motto/philosophy that I simply can't encourage enough :o)
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Friday, February 11, 2011

Book Review: The God of Animals by Aryn Kyle

Books read in 2011: 5

First of all, this book got a lot of flack from horse lovers in its reviews on Amazon. And yes, I have to admit that much of the horse "information" was misguided, exaggerated, and possibly even outright incorrect--but it wasn't all completely falsified. A word of caution that if you are an animal lover, parts of this novel will seem graphically inhumane, and they are. But the fact of the matter is that animals in general are often mistreated, and as horses are seen by many as "beasts of burden" they probably have it worse off even than dogs and cats and other pets. People suck and yes, some of the "mean" things that happen to the horses in this novel are things that actually happen to horses in real life.

That said, I have to say that there are portions of this novel that don't flow. While trying to not give spoilers, I have to say that there are connections you wait and wait to learn more about that are never truly revealed. There are people you hope will change or not change, and your hopes are not fulfilled. And yes, it is overall a depressing book. But it's a good read nonetheless. The characters are as complex and hard to read and maddening as people are in real life. Much of the writing is superb. If you go into reading this book with an open mind, you won't be disappointed. 3.5/5 stars.

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Thing #29: Hopes, Dreams, Plans

Day 29: Hopes, dreams and plans you have for the next 365 days.
Hmm. I've kind of already touched on this in my "2011 Goals" post, but that simply outlines the things I'd like to learn/practice this year - putting more effort into blogging, learning to sew and/or knit, practicing the guitar more often.

I suppose my plans for this year are...well, a whole lot of travel. Michigan for my close friends' wedding this month, then Charleston, Nashville, San Francisco, Vegas, Europe, two trips to Orlando, and Connecticut at some point as well :o) Other than traveling, I have no long term plans and I think I'll just wing the rest of it.

Hopes? I hope that I'll end up being better at guitar, which will only come if I stick with my goal of practicing more often. I also hope that I'll be able to sew/knit by the end of the year, because that will mean another little hobby as well as maybe spending less money on clothes, but again, this will only come if I meet my goal of learning to do one or both of these things. And although I have been better about practicing guitar, I haven't started on sewing or knitting. Oops.

As for dreams, I have one thing to say: "Happy is what happens when all your dreams come true..."
Because I really don't have things that I would classify as "dreams" for this year. A few years ago I never wanted to get married again, yet here I am. I certainly didn't think I would want to work with numbers and accounting software, yet here I am. I wasn't sure if I would ever find a city that encompassed so many awesome things that I would picture myself living there forever, yet here I am.
All of the dreams I didn't even know I had have come true.
And I'm really, really happy.
So if there's more out there for me, it must be so freaking amazing that I can't even comprehend what it is.

And I don't mean to sound like I'm bragging. I've been to hell and back and while I maybe don't "deserve" to be so happy, to not have any "dreams" that I'm wishing and waiting for, I sure as hell appreciate my life right now. My amazing husband, our home, our pets, my job, the upcoming opportunities I will have to travel, [most of] my family members, and of course, always, my wonderful, wonderful friends. :o)
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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thing #26: A Scar

Day 28: A scar you have and it's story.
Honestly, my body is covered in scars. I was quite the tomboy when I was little and I've also done some silly things while drunk as an adult. But let's see...I guess the story that I remember best is about the scar on the big toe of my left foot.

It was 4th of July in 2004 and I was heading to bed after a long day at the pool. I'd had a few drinks but as is often the case, when one drinks over a very long period of time and is also swimming and eating tons of yummy holiday food, I wasn't drunk. I don't even remember feeling buzzed. Anyway, I was wearing my bathing suit, trying to keep a towel wrapped around me, and also carrying a bunch of stuff--including a very heavy CD case and a glass of water.

And of course, the glass of water--wet with sweat as it was--slipped out of my hand. The base of the glass hit the cement floor of the basement, flat, and it smashed. One nice big piece sliced open the top of my big toe.

It took forever to get the thing to stop bleeding and weeks for it to truly start healing. In hindsight, when I showed the just-barely-healing cut to an EMT friend of mine about three weeks after it happened, he said I should have gotten stitches for it...but Ex and his family wouldn't believe that I wasn't drunk when it happened and refused to call an ambulance or take me to the hospital. And honestly, even if I had been drunk...I was 21! WTF, right?

So yup, nearly seven years later I still have an inch-long awful scar across the top of my left big toe, and there's the story. Sorry it wasn't more intriguing ;o)

Day 29: Hopes, dreams and plans you have for the next 365 days.
Day 30: A motto or philosophy.
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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Thing #27: Physical Feature(s)

Day 27: A physical feature you love.
Let's be honest. I'm not an unattractive person but I'm also probably closer to the average end of the 1-10 scale. I think the only reason people see me as "hot" (because yes, I've been called that) is because I'm happy with myself; I'm confident. And it's a confidence that in no way comes entirely from looks. That said, there are a few things I love about my body and I'm going to take a moment to brag about these things, even though I'm technically--according to this meme thing--only supposed to name one.

First and foremost, I love the color of my eyes. They're with a blue rim? Whatever, it's a pretty color. A different color. I've only met one other person in my life who has an eye color close to mine (one of Steve's female cousins). To wit:
As per the usual, I am making a stupid face. Deal with it, this is the most recent picture I have that really shows my eye color nicely.
Now, this picture probably doesn't showcase my second beloved feature very well--but whatever, I like my nose. It's nice and small and cute. I have to say though, as I've gotten older and had more trouble keeping weight off, my face is a bit too...I don't know, wide, I guess...for the size of my nose. Ah well.

Last but not least, I'm going to tie this entry in with Wellness Wednesday with my final, and probably most beloved, physical feature.

My bum.

Yup, you heard that right, I love my (excuse my language for a moment) ass.

Probably because I worked hard for this ass. I rode horses from 8 years old until about 18 years old. I still do, but not often enough to say that the current shape (ha!) of my butt is due solely to that. But I seriously think it helped during those, err, "formative years" ;o)

Now, I do yoga. And according to my research, many yoga poses help with the bum thing, too.

Of course, I don't normally go around taking pictures of my butt, so the closest I can find that shows the general shape of it (HA!) is this:
It's round. It's firm. And it's all mine.

Well, and Steve's.

So there you go, your weekly Wellness Wednesday tip: If you want a great ass, ride horses and do yoga. Or ride horses, THEN do yoga. Regardless, I'm pretty sure one or the other will help ;o)
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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

TV Interview Outfit!

As mentioned in my Greenville's Southern Yankees blog, Steve and I are going to be on TV! We had the interview Saturday January 29th, and yes, I agonized over what to wear! In the end...I'm still not 100% sure if what I wore was the perfect outfit to be wearing for my first ever (and possibly only, ever) television interview...but at least it was cute!

Unfortunately...the only halfway decent picture I got of the full outfit is blurry. Sigh. So first I'll share with you a sort of close "mic-ing up!"
Jean Jacket: No idea, my sister gave it to me.
Green & glass beaded necklace, earrings & bracelet: Target (I got them on clearance!)
Cream dress with orange leopard print skirt: Charlotte Russe
Tan "lace" tights: Target
Brown lace-up boots: Again, no idea, I've had these babies for over 5 years!
Green patent purse with gold accents: Coach. 'Nough said.

And the only thing I bought especially for the occasion was the dress :o) Everything else I had, so there's that, at least.
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Thing #26: Childhood Memory

Day 26: A childhood memory.
I don't want to sound like I'm bragging or anything, but I had what many would consider an ideal childhood. As I mentioned before, my mom keeps an impeccably clean house and is an amazing cook. Although we were very much lower middle class for most of my childhood, and although there were certainly things I wanted that my parents couldn't afford (those light-up sneakers, for one; also a Super Nintendo--we had to make do with original Nintendo and even then that was the only Christmas present we got one year), we were happy.

The first memory that pops into my mind is a refrigerator box. In the winter of...I want to say dad must have gotten a bonus or a raise or something, because in one fell swoop we got cable television (!!!) and a new fridge for our kitchen. We got them on the same day, and the very next day there was a big snowstorm and school was canceled. You would think that I would have spent my day watching awesome TV shows on the TONS of channels (read: like 40) that we now had...but no. My cousin and I took the box from the new refrigerator and spent all day making it into a "submarine" and then playing in it. We drew a window looking out into the ocean, with coral reefs and fish showing in it. We drew a control panel. We stocked the sub with jugs of water and snacks and blankets. It. was. awesome.
When the box inevitably fell apart a couple of months later, I was devastated. But that remains one of my best childhood memories and proof that I was never meant to be a couch potato :o)
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Monday, February 7, 2011

Thing #25: A Recipe

Day 25: A recipe.
I was going to share this recipe anyway, so now's the perfect time! I was a bit curious when I found this in my new cookbook and honestly thought it would be bland, boring...but the chicken came out so tender and it was actually really [surprisingly] tasty!
Coconut Poached Chicken (over rice)
4 large boneless chicken breasts, sliced in half
2 cups hot chicken stock
One 14 oz can unsweetened coconut milk, shaken to blend
3 bay leaves 
3-4 large garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
salt and pepper
white basmati rice
Shredded parmesan cheese
-Put the chicken breasts in a large pan over medium heat, then pour in the stock and the coconut milk. Add the bay leaves, salt and pepper to taste, and garlic cloves and bring to a boil, then cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
-Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken from the pan and shred it using two forks. Serve the chicken and garlic cloves over the rice; spoon a couple tablespoons of the liquid over it and sprinkle with shredded parmesan cheese. Serve immediately :o)
(A note: If you have leftovers just store the chicken in/with the coconut milk/stock mix and re-heat in a pan on the stove top for 10-15 minutes; serve as explained above!)
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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Thing #24: A[nother] Movie

Day 24: A movie no one would expect you to love.

Hmm. I don't know if this is really a fair question, because my favorite movies are listed on my Facebook page, so there are at least a few hundred people out there who know my favorite movies. But I guess the one that is probably the most surprising is
I've loved this movie since I was a little girl; they used to play it on TV around or on Easter every year and my dad and I would watch it together. It's one of the true epic movies that exists. And yeah, young Charlton Heston was pretty darn sexy.
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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Book Review: Sex Wars by Marge Piercy

Books read in 2011: 4

Unfortunately, my opinion of this book is a bit...well, a bit wishy-washy.

I feel as if Sex Wars reads less like a novel and more like a history book, except for the fact that a good quarter of the main/major characters in it never really existed. Had this in fact been a work of non-fiction, I would have given it high marks for readability and interesting topics. As a novel, it's unfortunately a bit lacking. I don't care for Piercy's style--her sentences are a bit too short, too blunt, and they don't flow which to me makes it feel as if the story doesn't flow.

Also, there are simply too many characters. I understand the inclusion of Victoria Woodhull, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, but feel that Woodhull and her sister Tennessee deserved their own book, as did Anthony and Stanton. As for the Jewish immigrant character Freydeh, her story also could have stood alone and probably should have, as she didn't exist in real life and therefore didn't quite fit in with the previously mentioned women. As for Anthony Comstock, he would have sufficed as a bad guy on the side and I feel that throwing one main male character into a book with four strong female characters was a bit taxing.

The version of the novel that I have is about 405 pages long. It's not a small book, height-wise, and the text is a very small font with average to small margins. This book as it is is simply too long. As I've already mentioned, Piercy really could have made at least three separate novels using the characters and story lines she stuffed into this one book. In that case maybe the reader wouldn't have been left wanting for information about the details of the characters' lives. 2/5 stars.

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Thing #23: Remembrance

Day 23: A way in which you want to be remembered.
Ideally, I would like to be remembered as someone who made a difference, who did something important. But in reality, I would be totally fine with just being remembered as someone who was good to her family and friends, who was honest and loyal and there for those who needed her, who took care of those she loved, and who lived her life the way she wanted regardless of what others thought.

And if somewhere in there I can publish a book or something little like that, I'd be ecstatic ;o)

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Friday, February 4, 2011

Pops of color!

The weather the past two days has been awful, but it wasn't that bad earlier in the week and I felt like truly dressing up for work. A rarity for me. Recently a few blogs that I follow have been talking about how "pops of color" are really in this year and I decided to try my hand at them ;o)
Dress: Hand-me-down from my mom, I think she got it at Macy's?
Tights: Target, and they're actually footless, hence the boots
Boots: Candie's, from Kohl's

I felt cute all day long. Really. I need to give a crap about how I look more often...haha

Actually, I do have a few outfit pictures stockpiled, but I've been putting off posting them because of all the daily posts I'm doing anyway thanks to the 30 things challenge. Which I'm thankfully over two thirds done with. Phew.
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Day 22: A website.
Ooo I'm actually excited about this one!

While planning our wedding Steve and I put together gift bags for our out of town guests, and in those bags we included information packets on our favorite local restaurants, bars, stores, etc. Sometime after the wedding weekend we began to toss around the idea of building a website about the best things to do in Greenville, but it wasn't until just last month that we began putting our idea into action.

As of right now, the site is still under construction. Not all the information that will be there is there, and the current layout is simplistic to the point of being childish. But we're working on it and hope to have the full design and all of the information live by the end of February. And although there are other "to do" websites for Greenville, they are either the boring old government and convention bureau websites or the messy, not locally run Metromix page. We obviously hope to be something different and better :o)

So without further ado, the website is:

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