Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 9: Future

Day 09 ⇝ How you hope your future will be like

Err...didn't I already sort of answer this one?

Honestly, outside of planning vacations SUPER far in advance, I really don't think much about my future. Maybe, at 28, I should...but I don't. Again, not outside of travel. I mean, sure, I hope to be in the same house but have it fixed up a bit. I hope to be at the same company, but not in the same position and hopefully making more money. Maybe I'll have kids, maybe I won't.

And there I go, basically re-summarizing the "ten years from now" post that came from this same meme thing ::rolls eyes::

Though I will add that I'd also like some more vacation days in my future, so that I can continue to travel, hopefully travel more, and eventually finish my travel bucket list(s)!

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day 8: Satisfaction

Day 08 ⇝ A moment you felt the most satisfied with your life

This one was far easier to answer than I expected it would be.

The moment I felt most satisfied with my life - not *a* moment, THE moment - was when I told Ex that it was over. Us, our marriage, our relationship...over.

Why? Well, because that conversation should have happened so many times before. In fact, it came so close to happening at least twice before...but those times, I wasn't quite ready. So when I was ready, when I did say "I'm sorry, I can't do this anymore, I'm tired of trying so hard and feeling nothing"...when I refused to let him change my mind, when I felt bad but not bad enough to take back those words, it was like this awful oppressive weight had been lifted. I remember that it was summer, hot and dry and dusty and everything was dead or dormant from the lack of rain...but as cheesy as it sounds, all I saw was potential.

I think I can say that I was most satisfied with my life right then because I had worked so hard and pushed myself so much to finally get to that point of letting go. It was both scary and exhilarating and I was proud of myself for making that decision, for knowing that I would stick to it, for refusing to stay in a loveless, sexless, abusive relationship just because leaving would mean hurting him and pissing off certain friends and family members. It was one of very few times in my life that I did something completely for yeah, why wouldn't I have been satisfied? ;o)

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day 7: Zodiac, Schmodiac

Day 07 ⇝ Your zodiac sign and if you think it fits your personality

Okay. So a few months ago there was all that back and forth, "ZOMG MY SIGN IS DIFFERENT NOOOOO"...and all I could think was, people really care that much about this stuff?

I mean, excuse me for sounding rude, but I've never really known anyone that into the whole zodiac thing. And as it turns out, apparently the new signs only affect you if you were born after a certain year or something like that? Goes to show ya how much I know/care about this stuff.

That said, if I just go by what I've known most of my life I'm a Sagittarius. I looked up a description just for hahas this entry, and I've bolded the things that actually apply to me. In my warped version of myself, anyway. Heh.

"The symbols for Sagittarius are the hunter and the centaur, a mythical half-man, half-horse. This sign symbolizes the search for wisdom; this is the sign of the philosopher and the explorer. They have an appetite for learning and travel.

They concentrate all their attention on whatever they are doing at the moment, and seem to see no other way but theirs until their effort is made.

They are often the great workers; such people never seem to tire until they drop with fatigue. They would rather learn on their own, through travel and experience, than endure structured classroom environments and routine work assignments.

These people are usually successful in business, but never feel themselves confined to any one line. They follow the rule if they have been successful in some one thing there is no reason whatever that they must follow it through life.

To have an open minded and intellectual curiosity means that these people are willing to learn about other people in an effort to understand them, while being trusting and open. High spirited and congenial, they are a gifted conversationalist, a wonderful storyteller, and a born entertainer.

Nearly all of them are devoted to music. They often make brilliant musicians.

These people are, however, inclined to go to extremes in all things, and make sudden decisions, or change their minds rapidly, for which they may have regrets, but they are too proud to acknowledge their error.

One of their great difficulties lies within relationships. <--I had to clarify this and found a couple other links that word it better; for example:
Visionary, optimistic, freedom-loving, adventurous
Ruled by far-sighted and visionary Jupiter, your horsy, passionate sign is the free spirit of the zodiac, and although you chuck love and loyalty around freely, you chafe at the bit if you're trapped by commitment. To be faithful to a man he's got to inspire you, but when he finally loses his twinkle and his winkle, you can't wave goodbye quick enough.
And: to Sagittarius, faithfulness is a mere concept and morality is questionable because people created it...Sagittarius' principle is freedom.

The women born in this to make their husbands successful and will sacrifice everything to that end. They are usually great church-goers. On the other hand both men and women when they settle down they usually treat themselves strictly. They refuse to let the relationship get stale and always look for ways to bring excitement into the union. 

Frank Sagittarius does not hesitate to give an honest opinion, which can seem tactless.

People born in this period, even when successful, should never cease to be actively employed inactivity for them would mean despondency and an early decay."

"They are the nicest friends in the zodiac. These people are not a meet-for-coffee friend. They are doers and they make the best travel companions."

However, personally I think that the descriptions of these zodiac signs as well as the horoscopes gleaned from them are so general that it would be difficult to not be able to find any way at all to associate oneself with one's "sign". I mean, what I copied and pasted above is just a portion of the full description...shoot, there was something about "being a great mother" in there and I outright deleted that because I still don't know if I want kids, and if I have them I have serious concerns about how good of a parent I would be.

And again, this is just my opinion and I don't mean to offend anyone who may be into this stuff. I just don't really believe it, myself.

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Day 6: Random

Day 06 ⇝ Write 30 interesting facts about yourself

Honestly, I hate these "write a ton of random crap about yourself" things...but I'll try.

1) I love hummus but can't stand whole chick peas. It's a texture thing.
2) I also love shellfish (well, shrimp and crab and lobster) but am something like allergic and can't eat it. Or shouldn't...sometimes I do even though it makes me sick, heh.
3) Hmm. To continue with the food thing, cooking is kind of my zen thing. At the end of a long day, even if I'm tired and my feet hurt, I can spend an hour or more in the kitchen making dinner and know that when I'm done I'll have something I can be proud of.
4) I never thought one could have too many pets, but we do. If I could go back to 2 cats and 1 dog, I would...even though I love all of our animals. It's a lot of work and a lot of mess and whatnot.
5) Other than an espresso martini once in a while, I'm not really a "girly drink" type of person. When it comes to mixed drinks, give me a bourbon & coke or a gin & tonic anyday ;)
6) I changed my major twice in college - originally I was a Fine & Performing Arts: Performance major; I switched from that to a double major in History and Secondary Education; and then a year before I graduated I dropped my Secondary Education major and just got a degree in History :)
7) I'm really picky about pizza. I have yet to find a pizza place in SC that compares to the pizza I grew up with at The Pizza Shoppe (East Longmeadow MA) and Willington Pizza (Willington CT).
8) I can type really fast. Like...over a hundred words a minute, usually.
9) I spend entirely too much money on traveling, but hey, you only live once, right?
10) I'm 28 and I still go back and forth about whether I want children. I feel like that would cramp my style. (refer to #9)
11) Personally I think 10 random facts about myself is quite enough. That, and I'm bored with this. So I'll leave you with a picture from this past weekend, no?
At the Beacon Lounge in Traverse City, MI (a.k.a. "the top of the Park") - not the best picture because of the lighting, but this place was really cool with great views of TC/Lake Michigan :)

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Happy Post!

Hay girl haaaayyy!

Told you I'd make a random happy post today :)

I've honestly had a REALLY crappy week/week and a half. Life as a whole has been stressful. The only solidarity in mine right now is Steve, and thank God for him.

However, I'm getting away this weekend. Sort of on a whim. There was some trip planning, then some things fell through, but I still had the option to go somewhere a plane ticket to use so off I go! And I get to see this fine lady, Kelly:
I'm on the left, she's on the right. Circa summer 2002.
Kelly and I met on my second/her first Walt Disney World College Program in the summer of 2002. She was neighbors with some dudes I knew from my Fall 2001 program, and we became good friends and even pseudo-roomies (because most of my apartment-mates SUCKED that summer).

Then we didn't see each other until October 2007 - over five years! Boo to that.
Back at Disney! Again, October '07.
We vowed we wouldn't do that again - go five years without seeing each other - so now it's only been three and a half! Go us! (sort of)

And yeah, we both still have those shorts. I'm thinking they'll make the perfect costume for a reunion pic, no?

So that's why you probably won't hear from me for a few days. Hope y'all have a great weekend! I know I'm gonna try to do so ;) Pin It

Day 5: Ending

Day 05 ⇝ A time you thought about ending your own life

I've been through some really rough times, but let's be honest here - my rough times are nothing compared to what some others have been through. Including members of my family and several of my best friends. Has the fleeting thought of ending my own life crossed my mind? Sure. Several times. But it was only ever that - a fleeting thought. Something that passed across my brain like a light breeze and was gone the absolute moment I realized that there were people out there who would genuinely mourn me. How selfish of me it would be to leave this world on purpose simply because my heart was broken and/or my life was in shambles. All it took was thinking of these people and telling myself to pick up and move on. Tough love, baby. Things can only get better from here. That kind of thing.

I really don't mean to sound pretentious or full of myself about this. Depression, one's life falling apart, these things are serious business. But I would be lying if I said that I had ever really seriously considered committing suicide, so there ya go. And this is a super depressing subject so I'll probably be posting something fun in a little while, as I'll be away this weekend and likely won't get to Day 6 until Monday.

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Book Review of Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters by Marilyn Monroe; compiled by Stanley Buchthal et al.

There is honestly no way to truly "rate" this compilation. Because that's what it is: a compilation, not a "book" or a "memoir" or an "autobiography/biography". If you are a fan of Marilyn Monroe and wish to know more about her--in her own words--then this is a must-read. But it's not an easy read. In fact, it's downright difficult. Difficult to see how truly sad this amazing woman was, and difficult because these are mostly random thoughts and therefore do not have the best grammar. I'm not harping on Marilyn's grammar by any means - this is just a warning that some of the notes are a bit tough to wade through.

I rate this compilation 4/5 stars, my qualm with it being that I just can't help but think that Marilyn Monroe would have wanted many of these notes published. Pin It

Day 4: Religion

Day 04 ⇝ Your views on religion

My thoughts/views on religion can be summed up in two quotes:

“I am not Baptist or Presbyterian. Not Catholic or Episcopalian. Not Charismatic or Lutheran. Not Armenian or Methodist. Not right and not wrong. I am a believer in what unites us all: the God of our salvation, who reconciles us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit, the God of all creation who gives us mercy, hope, music, laughter, wine, chocolate, sex, dancing, miracles and Himself. The God of the universe, who is a mystery we will never figure out with our limited theology and finite minds.”

"I want to have a lasting experience of God...Sometimes I feel like I understand the divinity of this world, but then I lose it because I get distracted by my petty desires and fears. I want to be with God all the time. But I don't want to be a monk, or totally give u...p worldly pleasures. I guess what I want to learn is to live in this world and enjoy its delights, but also devote myself to God." - eat pray love
To make a long story short, I was raised Baptist but do not prefer the general Baptist sect's hatred-inspired views at the moment. Jesus was a man of compassion and I don't believe he'd be too happy with the Bible-thumping hellfire that spews from the mouths of so many so-called "men of God" nowadays.

All that said, I also don't proselytize. If someone wants to ask me about my faith and beliefs in private I will certainly have that conversation, but I'm of the mindset that trying to shove my ideas on religion and spirituality down people's throats is not the way to convince them that my beliefs are "right".

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Book Review: Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

I'm having a really hard time trying to figure out how I feel about this book.

To be completely honest, it was a bit too disjointed for me. There was some skipping around time-wise as well as one moment Nafisi writing about her "secret class", the next writing about being a teacher, then suddenly delving into Iranian politics. It's simply not well-organized.

I have to find myself at fault a bit because while I've read some Henry James, all but one Austen novel and of course The Great Gatsby, I have not read Lolita and yes, you probably need to read that novel - as well as Daisy Miller and Washington Square - to get the full scope of Reading Lolita in Tehran.

Still, this memoir was just a bit slow, a bit plodding, at times. I am glad I read it - glad I've learned more about living in Iran during the revolution and whatnot - but I think that people should know what they're getting into before reading this. If you're not interested in Middle Eastern politics; if you haven't read the aforementioned novels; and if you really don't care for time-skipping in any book, I can't suggest Reading Lolita. However, if you can forgive the disjointed writing and would care to know more about Middle Eastern (specifically Iranian) politics and have read most of the novels I mentioned (but especially, especially Lolita) I say go for it and form your own opinion :) Because there are at least a lot of insightful points in this memoir. 3.5/5 stars.

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Day 3: Drugs & Alcohol

Day 03 ⇝ Your views on drugs and alcohol

Honestly, this isn't something that I need to go into detail about on a public blog, so I'll sum it up in one sentence:

Everything in moderation.

(Though I'll also say that I'm 28 and far past the age for any sort of experimentation or drug use, thank you very much.)

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day 2: 10 Years from Now

Day 02 ⇝ Where you'd like to be in 10 years

Well, here as in Greenville, though hopefully we'll have had the money to fix up our house a bit...
And here as in my current company, though by then I'd like to be CFO (sounds crazy, but hey, my boss has been trying to retire for years now so it could be on the horizon!)
Of course "here" also means in this same relationship, though maybe by that time I'll have given in to Steve, my parents, his parents, my sisters, and my own ticking clock and had a kid or two. Maybe. ;o)

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Monday, March 21, 2011

It's been over a month...

So how about another 30-day meme/challenge thing? Yes? No? Well if you said no, too bad because I'm doing it anyway :op

It appears that most of the subjects for this one are different from the previous two 30 day challenges I've participated in. Although to be honest I'm traveling a lot over the next couple of weeks so this may not be the best time to start one of these, in that respect...but I will anyway because I'm crazy like that. And because it's finally spring and that means a sort of fresh start with things, right?


Day 01 ⇝ Your current relationship.

A fun picture of us :) My hair is mussed because monkeys were climbing all over my head, for real.
Okay, so this one is kind of redundant. Of course I've already written about Steve. So I'll keep this short and sweet: My current relationship is great. He's a wonderful man, I love him, I probably don't really deserve him. As of yesterday we've "officially" been together two and a half years, though we dated for about a month before we had the whole relationship talk. (Or rather, before we expressed our undying love for each other while, err, hanging out in the backseat of a friend's car at a party. How high school does that sound?) On the 28th of this month we'll have been married for seven months. He's my Very Good Cat ;o)

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Another guitar video attempt :)

Again, I make some mistakes and whatnot but what can you do? :) If you watch I hope you enjoy, I do what I can...haha

Here's the link to my youtube channel in case you want to subscribe - I don't upload a LOT of stuff to it, but I also don't post everything that I upload here on my blog. Pin It

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I get excited about geek things.

I have reviewed 158 things - mostly books, but there are is at least one movie and some other random products in there as well - on I started reviewing on Amazon back in June 2005.

And I finally, finally got The Email today.

What email is that? Why, the Amazon Vine invite, of course!

If you don't know what Amazon Vine is, basically they send free products (books, movies, and more) to people like myself, products that we read/watch/use and then review. And I've been waiting for this invite for a couple years now. Well, maybe not waiting for it--but certainly hoping for it! I'm not 100% sure how they choose the Vine participants, but I think it has to do with the number of reviews you post in direct correlation to the number of helpful votes you get on those reviews. Regardless, it's a good thing and I'm psyched.

It's been a really shitty week for me and this is my bit of good news so...thanks for sharing in it with me, I guess? ;) Pin It

Friday, March 18, 2011

This has not been my week: Let me count the ways.

No, I'm not really going to recount every single crappy thing that happened to me this week. Let's just say that work has been really difficult, I made a snap decision without really thinking about it and it turned out to be a bad one, aaannnnddd both things we were thinking about doing tomorrow night ended up canceled.

But...I did okay with the Facebook thing! Although I did have to reactivate and in turn had to reply to some urgent messages earlier this week (from people who don't have my phone number anymore, though they likely have my email address...hmmm) I didn't actually "use" the site (in terms of commenting on things, making wall posts or uploading pictures) until yesterday. I allowed myself a status update because I hadn't made one in two weeks and I've just had an overall crappy past few days. But I'm still not really having any issue limiting my signing on or interacting with people, and I like it. Apparently all I needed was a quick break to change my habits. Thank God.

I wish I had something else for you today, but I don't. I'm struggling through a book on my Kindle (the font size is terribly tiny! but hey, it was free...?), we've been eating leftovers all week, and I've been too busy playing Red Dead Redemption on the PS3 to practice guitar. So no reviews, no recipes, no videos. I suck at life.

(No, I don't really think that ;o) In fact, even after having such a craptastic week I'm not in that bad of a mood. I'm just not myself and too lazy to think of anything else to post.) Pin It

Thursday, March 17, 2011

10 Years of St. Patty's Days

This post popped into my head this morning when I was walking my dogs. Probably because 10 years ago was the first year St. Patty's Day really meant anything to me...though I didn't really get to celebrate it.

Why? Because I was on a plane. Flying to Ireland.

Yup, that's right, I flew to Ireland ON St. Patrick's Day in 2001. So I didn't get there until the 18th of March. Sad, I know, but I didn't have much choice due to the schedule of my college spring break. You know what though? I still celebrated. On the 18th, the 19th, the 20th, the get the picture ;o)
Tara's first Guinness. In Dublin. 3/18/2001
2002 was another year where I didn't really have a choice but to put off my St. Patty's day celebrations a bit. It also didn't help that I was only 19. But I did end up in Norman/Oklahoma City with these fine boys, and made sure to make up for having a slow St. Patrick's Day earlier that week!
Keystone Light, the official beer of slow-pitch softball. March 2002.
I have no picture for any sort of official St. Patrick's Day celebrations in 2003! Sad, bad Tara. But for good reason. I still wasn't 21 (boo) and I was also knee deep in 18 credits worth of college courses, organizing the V-Day Campaign (to end violence against women and girls) at my school, pledging a sorority, being a campus rep for the Walt Disney World College Program, and starring as Magenta & the Usherette in Rocky Horror. Phew! So I'll leave you with this, to show that I will take any excuse to dress like an idiot. Even if it's not officially St. Patrick's Day yet.
Sorority pride. March 2003.
2004. Finally 21. And this semester I had a little. She knew how much I loved green...stuff.
With m y new AST little Jessica, March 2004
But then I was out of school, and one would think that this is where I calmed down a bit. No can do, not for this girl! If anything this is when things got really good ;o) I may have been living in Lynchburg in March 2005 (blurgh) but we went out for green beer and Irish food with--as I recall--Stacy of Every Little Thing!
Yay green beer! 3/17/2005
I'm wearing a Claddagh necklace in that picture. Said necklace has since disappeared. And as I bought it in Ireland on my trip there in 2001, I'm still pissed about that :o(

In 2006 I really embraced my Irish side (yes, I am Irish, even if it is only a very small fraction...I have about the same amount of Irish and Native American blood in me). I had the green shirt, a silly hat...and brown hair.
Out at Bennigans in LBV (Orlando) 3/17/2006
The brown hair didn't last long (what can I say, blondes have more fun and that's my natural hair color anyway)...but I found other ways to continue the fun St. Patrick's Day theme. Always a green shirt, of course, and the hat you see above makes more than one appearance ;o) For instance, 2007:
St. Patty's day in Myrtle Beach! 2007
Oh hey, wait, my hair's still kind of brown! In fact, it was red just a few weeks before this picture was taken. Probably should have stayed red for the holiday? But I was raring to be a blonde again. St. Patty's Day in Myrtle Beach was crazy; in fact probably my craziest St. Patty's Day compared to previous years. But we've still got a few years to go and my outfit in 2008 takes the cake!
I earned those bills for singing karaoke, I swear. 3/15/2008
I double celebrated St. Patty's in 2008, folks. I went to a weekend party at a bar on the 15th (as pictured above) and then donned that same outfit and went out to a club with my sisters on the actual holiday. Ahh, quarter century crisis Tara, how I miss thee.

Unfortunately (sort of), in 2009 things were a bit more subdued. We had a pre-St. Patrick's Day party with our favorite people...but hey, I wore the outfit again!
3/14/2009 house party with my besties
And when the actual holiday came around in 2009...we just hung out at home, drank a beer or two and ate beer & beef stew. Being an adult blows sometimes, no?

Of course, last year we were back in Greenville and I remembered how fun it had been to go out on St. Patty's day down here. So out we went. And this was the third (and sadly, probably the last) year that I put on my full St. Patty's day gear. I'm approaching 30, you know? I actually felt...sigh...a bit weird last year going out dressed like that. Oh to be young again.
Now, I know that technically, that right there is 10 years of St. Patty's days, but I've got one more picture for you! We went on a "Who's Your Paddy" pub crawl over the weekend. kind of sucked. But I think I looked cute, at least, and I'll be wearing this same ensemble when we grab some food and drinks at a local bar called Fitzpatrick's tonight. We won't stay out late - I feel like ass if I have to get up and go to work after drinking more than three beers the previous night - but I still feel like I've gotta do something! Can't break tradition, and all.
Silver clover necklace: Tiffany's
Black mock turtleneck: Express
Tartan mini skirt: Hot Topic (and the matching shirt in the pictures above is the other part of the outfit, obviously also from Hot Topic)
Lace leggings: from Baker's Shoes
Knee-high riding boots: from DSW, and yes, they're flats and I <3 them!

And there ya go! Ten  I guess technically eleven years of St. Patrick's Days! (we'll call it "ten and a bonus, maybe?) So have a great one today - especially if you're going to be out celebrating! In fact...what are you doing for St. Patrick's Day?
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

It's just one of them days...

Do you ever have one of those days when nothing feels right?

That's me today. For no good reason I'm in a crappy mood. Everything about my job is getting on my last nerve and I do not want to be here. Which I hate, because normally I'm very appreciative of my job.

And today is supposed to be Wellness Wednesday...but I just don't feel any sort of "well" today. Sigh.

You don't get to see her very often, but this is the Melancholy Me.

(if it makes you feel any better, more often than not I look and act like this:
party girl!) Pin It

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Book Review: Strays by Jeanne Webster

It's difficult for me to decide how to begin this review. To be honest, this is a novel but it is also something of a self-help book. As I read it I felt that many of the amazing lessons Jane was learning are ones that I learned throughout the past five to ten years of my life...they were just worded better than I could probably ever write myself.

Although much of the writing was a bit simple for my taste, this book was a quick read and as mentioned above contained many amazing lessons. It is a combination of modern culture and folklore--namely Native American folklore--and has a specifically memorable character in Max the dog.

My only real complaint with this book was that in this particular edition there were a lot of grammatical/structural errors; however I have been told that a new edition is forthcoming and surely these will be fixed.

Honestly, for anyone out there who loves animals, and/or who has questioned their purpose in life, I suggest this over any blase run of the mill self-help book out there. Because while there are plenty of lessons taught in this book, there is also a solid story behind it. 4/5 stars.

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Monday, March 14, 2011

My account is there, but I'm not.

Yeah yeah yeah, back to the Facebook thing.

I'm still avoiding it, you know. Just because my account is reactivated doesn't mean that everyone needs to go back to using it as the only means of contacting me.


As I mentioned on Saturday, I reactivated my account because deactivating it turned out to be fairly negative for my "professional" life. Whatever. But no sooner had I reactivated it--while I was still signed on and making sure my security preferences were all still set properly (because Facebook warned me that some of my preferences had changed when I deactivated? I don't know, I checked and everything seemed fine) and cleaning up my friend list, people were already writing on my wall "oh, you're back huh?" Honestly!

NO, I'm not "back". My account is there but I'm still avoiding the damn site. In fact, I've only signed in once since reactivating and that only to update the viewing preferences for many of my older photo albums, since I decided there were certain times of my life that just needed to go undocumented. At least on Facebook.

And I'm still going to avoid status updating, using Facebook as a means to contact people, uploading photos, or putting the app back on my phone. At least until after St. Patrick's day and again, hopefully until the end of the month. So honestly, if you're my friend on Facebook but have my email or phone number, please bear with me and don't use that as our only point of contact for a little while longer? Please? Pin It

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I really, really need to clean my house. And I really, really don't want to. So I'm procrastinating by doing an outfit post! I figured it had been a couple weeks :)

I love, love, love this picture. Props to Steve for taking it :)
Hat: Scala, from The Mad Hatter store in Charleston
Dress: Converse, from Target
Belt: No idea, I've had it for like 5 or 6 years.
Jeggings: Old Navy
Boots: Old Navy
Purse: $5 special from Target!
Earrings: You can't really see them, but I won them in a giveaway from Fashion Momma; they're from Tree Round Designs

I wore this outfit in Charleston last weekend. I meant to put on something else at some point that day but our plans, err, changed and I wore this out, all night long. It was comfy and cute and I'm in love with my hat!
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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Reactivating Facebook, because

I was so concerned about Facebook taking over my personal life that I didn't realize it had taken over my professional life as well.


I had to reactivate my page yesterday, because I am the admin for my company's Facebook page. With my page deactivated, our Facebook page was defunct.

To top that off, as I mentioned on Thursday the badge for my travel blog was also nonexistent because my account was deactivated. Which means the fan site for my startup business/website was also not there. And considering I just built this website last month and have been promoting it all over town...not good.

That said, my Facebook is up and running and all my pages are reinstated. I had to stay on for a bit last night to make sure my privacy settings were the same, and I also deleted about 100 "friends". I'm still going to have rules for myself though - until the end of March I'm going to limit my sign-ins to as few as possible (literally, unless I have to get on there for work or my website I won't sign on at all) and after that there will be no daily status updates or whatever. I'm also seriously considering getting rid of or making some of my photo albums private.

It just kills me that as much as I wanted to get away from Facebook, it turns out that the thing that dragged me back was my professional life rather than my personal life.

Sigh. Pin It

Friday, March 11, 2011

One heck of a great meal :)

So I want to give props to one of the blogs I read for this, but I can't remember who I got the idea from! Basically...someone mentioned that they had a dinner of chicken, roasted broccoli and sundried tomatoes. There was no specific recipe, though, so I improvised. Therefore, the idea for this meal came from a fellow blogger, but the actual full-on recipe is mine-all-mine :)

ETA: That fellow blogger has stepped up and I remembered as soon as she did! It was my girl Philly Girl Runs so thanks to her for this meal idea!

(And it was a hit, by the way! Steve will eat pretty much anything I put in front of him, but once in a while I find a recipe that he rants and raves about, and this is one of them. Note, though, that he is nothing like any other man I've ever met and you may not get the same reaction from the men in your life.)

The following recipe feeds 2 with no leftovers. I roasted my chicken and broccoli at the same time so keep that in mind during your preparations.

For the Broccoli

 1 large head broccoli (DO NOT use frozen. DO. NOT.)
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper (fresh ground if possible)
4+ cloves garlic, chopped (but don't make the pieces too small)
Lemon juice
Grated parmesan cheese

-As a note, you do not have to wash your broccoli. Trust me, the heat will kill anything that's in there. But if you insist on washing it, make *absolutely certain* that you dry it. Completely. Otherwise it won't roast properly.
-Preheat your oven to 425 and chop your broccoli into decent-sized florets. Spread on a baking tray and sprinkle the chopped garlic in/among the broccoli florets.
-Drizzle the olive oil generously over the broccoli and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and roast about 25 minutes. When it's finished roasting, pull the tray from the oven and drizzle a little more olive oil over the broccoli. Then sprinkle as much lemon juice and Parmesan cheese as you desire. Note: I actually used a tablespoon, maybe less, of both the lemon juice and Parmesan, and the broccoli was perfect.
 For the Chicken

2 very large chicken breasts, sliced down the middle into two large strips
1 jar sundried tomatoes (mine was a medium to large sized jar)
Montreal chicken seasoning

-Place the chicken "strips" on a small baking sheet and pour the jar of sundried tomatoes WITH THEIR OIL over the chicken. Make sure to pick the strips up/rub them with the oil to ensure that they are covered in it. Season as you like with the montreal chicken seasoning and roast with the broccoli. (Same temperature and amount of time and everything). 
-However, you may want to keep an eye on the sundried tomatoes and remove them from the baking sheet with a slotted spoon at about 15 minutes, depending on your oven. My oven is weird/cheap and some of the sundried tomatoes did burn a bit, though were still for the most part edible.

To be completely honest, I've never been a big fan of broccoli. I'll eat it in casseroles when it's smothered in cheese and spices and whatnot, but plain? Eh. However, this particular recipe has made me more of a broccoli lover...and come on, that stuff's good for you! ;o)
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Thursday, March 10, 2011

One week many to go?

Well, it's been a full week since I deactivated my Facebook account.

Honestly, it's only difficult when I'm really bored, or when I have something that I want to say to a friend that probably doesn't justify a text or a phone call.

The problem is, I really don't think I can go until the end of the month. Not because I don't want to; I do. And trust me when I say that I can certainly be stubborn enough to not give up on this goal. The issue is, I use Facebook more for organizing social events and publicizing my Greenville website and my travel blog than for anything else...and I realized today that my badge on my travel blog is null, void, because my Facebook account is no longer there to host it :-/ Maybe this shouldn't bother me as much as it does, but it does. It does.

That, and I'm having to lug my laptop around with me for the purposes of making any sort of posts with [personal] pictures. Because normally I would just grab said pictures off Facebook. And my laptop is over four years old. It's bulky and heavy. Boo to that.

Therefore, it's going to be hard enough making it to the two week mark. But at least then I'll have met the minimum goal I set myself, right?

Eh. Because I'm not a "minimum goal" type of person. I'm the type of person who has to achieve things, because if I don't, I regret it for far longer than I probably should. My first marriage--which lasted 5 years when it probably shouldn't have made it much past one/one and a half and certainly shouldn't have made it past two/two and a half--is the perfect example of this.

So I guess we'll see. Pin It

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wellness Wednesday: Fast Food Nation? Not this girl.

Let me get one thing straight: my momma raised me well, and growing up any sort of fast food was a special treat for me rather than a weekly occurrence.

Unfortunately, when 2001 rolled around and I was living on my own for the first time and working at Disney, I gave myself a million excuses as to why I ate fast food anywhere from 3-5 times a week. Usually Burger King or Wendy's, because BK was on my way home from work and Wendy's was within walking distance of my apartment.

I ate it because it was quick (duh). I ate it because it was yummy. I ate it because I was constantly hungover, and I definitely subscribe to the whole "greasy food makes hangovers less potent" philosophy. I ate it because it was cheap. I ate it because I really didn't know how to cook outside of grilled cheese sandwiches, pasta, frozen pizza and toasting a bagel. Etc, etc, etc, blah blah blah.

There are numerous reasons as to why I gained 25 pounds between August 2001 and January 2002, not the least of which were my drinking habits. But yeah, fast food played a part in it, and when I returned home from my internship and felt heavy, lethargic, and disgusted with myself, I knew something had to change. Of course, I'm not much for "diets". Especially fad ones. Therefore, I challenged myself to give up fast food.

That was over 9 years ago (obviously) and to this day I may eat fast food (note that despite recent arguments, I don't really count a veggie sub on wheat from Subway as fast food) once every month or month and a half. Sometimes it's even less often than that--really it depends on whether I can stave off that hungover craving for a McDonald's cheeseburger. And how much traveling I'm doing, because although I try to eat healthy on the road, sometimes I don't have much choice.

And yes, I think that my aversion to fast food plays a HUGE part in how I generally feel...and how I feel about myself. Hence it getting its own Wellness Wednesday post ;o) Seriously though--half the time I guarantee you that you don't even know what you're putting in your body when you grab a burger from a fast food joint. Yuck. And it probably contains half the amount of calories you should eat in an entire day. Double yuck. So here's the word from an anti-dieter: you want to lose weight? The first thing you should drop is the fast food. Pin It

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Houses that Built Me: 10 Stein Road, Ellington CT

When I did the intro post for this series, I named this house--the first house I have any memory of--the one that "taught me how best to build a snow fort". While that is absolutely one thing I learned during the approximately 13 years that I lived here, I was really just trying to be amusing. Because how could I ever pick just one thing that I learned here? How can I ever pick just one memory? 10 Stein Road, or "the house in the hole", was where I grew up. Literally. Figuratively...I did a lot more growing up in other homes, other places.
-source- Please note that the addition on the left wasn't there until I was about 13 years old. The porch on the far right was screened in after we sold the house...I just don't have any pictures of this home :o(
When my parents built this house, they built what they could afford--which wasn't much. I want to say that for the first ten years that we lived here, this house was maybe 1500 square feet? That probably sounds large to some of you. Shit, it sounds large to me, considering I've spent most of my adult life in apartments and houses far smaller than that. But 1500 square feet packed with two adults, three growing children, on average two dogs and two cats...well, things got a bit full.

What I really learned at 10 Stein Road is this--that a family doesn't need money to be happy. That in all actuality, my family was probably far happier when there was no money to be had. Our home was small, but it was well built. We had a roof over our head and thanks to my amazing cook of a mother, a decent meal on the table every night. My father worked five and sometimes six days a week. He had to travel a lot. He left before I got up in the morning and many times barely made it home for a 6 or 6:30 PM dinner. My mom stayed at home during the day, which meant a loss of income. That loss of income was made up by her cleaning other people's houses and doctor's offices during the day when we were at school, or many times in the evening and having to drag us along with her.

I'm not ashamed of any of this. In fact, I am proud of it. Proud of them. My parents worked hard and they always, always took care of us. I know that I appreciate what I have now so much more because I remember watching them struggle. And as cheesy as it sounds, the lack of expendable funds made us that much more affectionate with each other, I think. Seeing them work so hard to give us what we needed made me respect them more than I think they will ever know. Seeing them start their company from the corner of that basement on 10 Stein Road and build it from next to nothing to a business that not only supported us, but made them something akin to wealthy--this, I will never forget.

I wish I had more pictures of this house. I'm sure my dad does, somewhere. It wasn't much to see, anyway. A little cape built into a hillside and surrounded by woods and fields. Eventually, when my parents' company took off and there was money, they expanded the house to include probably another 600 or 700 square feet. It was great having my own room, for sure, but I think I could have been a-okay with leaving the house just the way it was. I never spent much time in it anyway, and that takes me back to my original point--learning to build a snow fort.

10 Stein Road was the perfect home for a tomboy. We had sledding hills right there in our yard. The forest was mere steps away, with plenty of opportunities for hiking and exploring. We stole our dad's hammer and dragged some plywood into the woods and built our own fort. We used our bare hands to tear down stalks of this wheat-looking stuff and pretend that it was in fact wheat, that it was our food, that it was eighteen hundred something and our bicycles were horses and the storage shed was our one-room cabin. And that snow fort? One year my father helped us build a snow fort that was unrivaled. It was nearly big enough for an average 10-year-old to stand in, and built and packed so well that it lasted for the majority of the winter. It was perfect in every way.

For the majority of the time I lived at this house, I was carefree and innocent and naive and so many things that part of me would love to feel again.

Of course, none of that could last forever...because I didn't move out of 10 Stein until I was nearly 16, and everyone knows what comes with those teenage years. I had [what I thought was] my first heartbreak, my first kiss, and my first real boyfriend (yes, in that order) at 10 Stein Road. I made friends, lost them, made more, lost them too, and finally found myself my own little "crew" during my sophomore year of high school.

And at the end, when I was starting my junior year of high school and my parents forced us to move (not even to a new town! just a new house, also in Ellington), I was devastated. At the ever-mature and knowledgeable age of 15, I swore that I would never be able to call another place "home". Funny to think now that at 28 years old, I've spent less than half my time on this Earth living at 10 Stein Road...but at 15, I couldn't imagine living anywhere else. And I hated my parents for tearing me away from this, my comfort zone.

Little did I know how much more there was to come... Pin It

Monday, March 7, 2011

Now Comes the Hard Part.

(that's what she said)

Steve and I got back from an awesome weekend in Charleston yesterday. I put all of the photos I took on my computer, and then realized...I have nowhere to post them! I don't have a tumblr or a flickr (and can someone tell me why they've left the "e's" out of those words?) and of course, I'm off Facebook for the moment. Huh.

So that was a difficult realization, but the bigger issue is that we had some great times with a couple we know that lives in Charleston and yet we do not have each others' phone numbers/emails! We've always just kind of kept in touch through Facebook. So now I'd love to follow up on some of the discussions we had with them Saturday night, but can't because I can't sign into Facebook. This is exactly the problem I want to avoid in the future!

I've now had a few people contact me because they've noticed I'm not on Facebook anymore. Most of them are good friends who assumed I deleted my page because...well, because they know that I wouldn't defriend them. But I have gotten one "did you defriend me?" text. The "did you delete your page" question I expected, but what I didn't expect are the "BUT WHY?"'s. Seriously, no one can understand why I wouldn't want to be on Facebook! It's almost like me deleting my page is worse than the idea of my having defriended them.

And can I also mention that I hate the words "un-friend" and "defriend"? THEY AREN'T REAL WORDS. Yet you see me using them because there really isn't a better term for removing someone from your friend's list on Facebook. Not a concise one, anyway.

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Is it easier or harder than I expected?

It's weird that I don't really miss Facebook. I know it's only been a day and a half or so, but the only times I think about signing in is when I'm bored. Then I remind myself that I can't and find something else to do, no big deal.

Thankfully I'm going out of town for a bit and will be extremely busy the next few days because of that, though ;o)

Anyway. The one issue with not allowing myself on Facebook is that it makes it more difficult for me to post pictures on here, especially when--like now--I don't have my laptop with me. So here's a meme (found on my girl Stacy's blog) and please bear with all my textalicious updates for the next few weeks? Pretty please?

@Age: I turned 28 in December. And I keep forgetting I'm 28. Seriously, someone asked me how old I was recently and I said "27. No, wait, shit, I'm 28 now." Oops.

@Bed: King, baby! And we need it considering we can have anywhere from 1 to 6 pets cuddling with us at a time ;o)

@Chore you hate: Dusting. I mean, I don't like any chore, but dusting is the absolute worst because it messes with my asthma :-/

@Dogs: I just went over, this, so...My boy Rigby and the [animal] love of my life, Miss Wendy Darling

@Essential to start your day: Going for a run (or at the very least, a walk) with my pups!

@Favorite Color: I suppose I prefer blue.

@Gold or Silver: general white gold, but I have a few pieces of gold jewelry to wear with certain outfits :o) I can't really wear silver, not even sterling, I'm like...allergic? It's weird.

@Height: 5'8". I know I'm not gargantuan or anything, but sometimes I wish I was a couple inches shorter. Such as when I'm buying pants.

@Instrument: I play the guitar. Not very well, but as per my 2011 goals I have been practicing more and I've noticed some well as a slight loss of feeling in the tips of my left fingers.

@Job Title: My boss says it's "Finance Manager". My position write-up says "Business Manager". So...?

@Kids: None yet. Maybe none ever. Some days I want them, some days I really really don't, so I call myself "on the fence" with this issue and we'll revisit it in a couple years. I'm only 28, after all!

@Live: Greenville, South Carolina. And I love Love LOVE it :o) I grew up in Ellington, Connecticut, though...lived at school in Longmeadow, Massachusetts for a bit...finished school in Farmville, Virginia...also lived in both Orlando, Florida and Lynchburg, Virginia over the years...eventually ended up back in Enfield, Connecticut...but Greenville truly is "my place".

@Mom's Name: Bonnie. And she's awesome.

@Nickname: Umm...I've had a bunch but the long term ones that have stuck over the years are "TaraKins" and "T". Oh, and "Pookie", but that's a specific nickname from one person ;o) And my husband calls me "Baby Pie" and depending on how nice I'm being, "Good Cat" or "Bad Cat". How's that for too much info?

@Overnight hospital stays: Never! And I'm kind of proud of that. So ::knock on wood::

@Pet Peeve: I probably have more of these than is generally healthy. People who don't pay attention when they drive. People who hate dogs for no good reason. People who say cats are crappy pets when they've never even had a cat before. People who think they know what they're talking about when it comes to traveling and try to give advice that generally sucks. I really could go on and on.

@Quote from a movie: "This is my family. I found it, all on my own. Is little, and broken, but still good. Yeah, still good." -Stitch, from Lilo & Stitch. Why? Because the people I call my family is a small group of people, and broken in that I'm not even related to most of them. But they are the best people I know :o)

@Righty or Lefty: Righty. But I bat lefty. And I think I do a few other things lefty as well...maybe arch? Can't quite recall.

@Siblings: Two younger sisters, Christy and Jenni
Oh hey, I found a picture! I'm on the far left and I'm 9 here and obviously the coolest kid on the block with that hair and that bathing suit. That's Christy (7) and Jenni all separated because we were mean to her (she's just about to turn 5 here).

@Time you wake up: Weekdays, 7 AM. Weekends...depends what time I went to bed, whether or not I was out drinking, etc. 

@Underwear: ? I own all types and wear them often. More often than not. How's that? 

@Vegetable you don't like: Honestly, I'll force just about anything down even if I don't really LIKE it...but I can't stand green beans (no matter how they are cooked, they taste too earthy for me) or peas (it's a texture thing). 

@What makes you run late: More often than not, dealing with my animals. 

@X-rays you've had: Uhh I've had a couple...I mean I have them every year at the dentist and I've sprained my ankle a couple times and they x-rayed it just to be sure. 

@Yummy food you make: I pride myself on being a pretty damn good cook. One of my favorite recipes that I make is a beef & beer stew over mashed potatoes, though. SOOO yummy and it always turns out well. In fact, I'd cook it far more often if it didn't take hours to prepare :-/ 

@Zoo animal: I love the big cats and the apes best. Most. Whatever. Pin It

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Giving up Facebook

I deactivated my Facebook account last night.

Now, it's not a permanent thing. Come on, we all know how difficult it is to keep up with people nowadays if you don't use Facebook!

But for the past couple of years, Facebook has been a daily thing for me. Especially once I had my iPhone and had no excuse to not check it even while on vacation. Of course, I didn't touch it for a week when we were on our cruise in November (no iPhone service and I didn't feel like paying the ridiculously high internet fees on the ship)...and I was surprised at how little I missed it. But lately it's been getting worse. Prior to the past month or so, I rarely spent more than 10-15 minutes a day on Facebook (and even that is stretching it). I almost never signed on in the evenings when I got home from work.

Unfortunately, at some point recently, Facebook just...took over my life. Took over my friendships. And I needed--need--a break. It won't be easy...already I'm sitting here, itching to know what's going on in my friend's lives. But honestly? The people I really give a crap about, I can call or text or email. My goal is to go a minimum of two weeks, but I really want to hold off until the end of March. And even better, I'd like to go a true, entire month, which would mean not signing on until at least April 3rd.

So my account is deactivated, and yes, I even deleted the Facebook app from my phone. And no, this isn't some blogging gimmick. And no, I'm not going to be completely anti-social media. I'll still sporadically use Twitter as I always have, and I'll still be blogging :o)

I just need to know that my friendships can survive without Facebook interaction, if only for a month. I need to know that I don't need Facebook, need to know that even if it's available for sign in at any moment, I can say "NO, today I will call this person to tell them a funny story or just to catch up."

Facebook has really been everything from a great tool for me, to the bane of my existence. I've used it to get back in touch with old friends, to heal old wounds, to share my life with those I care about. But I've also had it used against me; when I went through my divorce I had to delete and block all mutual friends of myself and Ex just so I could live my life without listening to him bitch left and right about how I was actually OKAY with the fact that our marriage was ending. And I've actually had people who barely knew me decide that they didn't like me because of the "tone" I used in my Facebook posts or the information I had about myself on my page or the silly pictures that I posted (or whatever their lame excuse was). Shoot, last year my step-cousin blasted me on her Facebook page--without cause or reason--because...I don't know, she was chock full of pregnancy hormones or something and didn't like that I was getting married?

I'm sure that almost everyone who uses Facebook on a regular basis has the same types of stories about it--both the positive and negative ones. And the thing is, we've come to rely on it too much. We've come to care about it too much. It's not real life, you know. It's just Facebook.

So welcome to my journey, I guess, and hopefully I won't disappoint myself and will last as long as I'd like to without Facebook! Pin It

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

I missed wellness Wednesday last week because...well, I have no good excuse other than that I wasn't feeling it. Or maybe I forgot. Whatever.

Let's see--I guess this week I'll talk about my history with running. Because I started running...or maybe it's technically jogging...back at the beginning of 2007. At that time, I doubt I even "ran" an entire mile. I think I started with about three quarters of a mile and within a month or two worked my way up to a full mile. This was back when I lived in Lynchburg, Virginia and I did enjoy running across the dam at Timberlake with my dog Meeka :o) But considering that I didn't do much true working out other than running for a good 9 or 10 months after I realized I needed to lose weight, even running that one mile every other day must have done some good.

And as a side note, I hated jogging/running in high school and college. I never finished the mile on time during those fitness tests in high school and even though a friend of mine tried to get me into running in later years, it just never stuck.

Once I hit the "hey, I'm able to run a mile!" mark, it took quite some time--a good year--for me to break down and extend my run to about 1.15 miles. And I stagnated there for about 10-11 months, because I lived in a really small neighborhood just off a busy road and couldn't bring myself to run the same loop more than once.

It was when I moved to Enfield, Connecticut at the end of 2008 that I really left my running comfort zone--because I lived in a much bigger neighborhood, one that allowed me to run 1.5-1.75 miles but also required me doing so in severely cold temperatures. Still, you know it's love when you wake up to -2 degrees and still want to go out running, right?

Nowadays I run about 2 miles every other day. I could do more--physically--but I don't get myself out of bed early enough ;o) But I can't imagine not running at least three times a week. I literally love it now. Which is why I feel sad when people say that they hate running, that they can't run, etc. Because barring some serious physical issue, most people can run. A lot of times they just expect too much out of themselves. Hence the title of this entry: "Slow and Steady Wins the Race". It took me from early 2007 until late 2009 to work up to running a full 2 miles at a time. And there's nothing wrong with that. I run for my health--both physical and mental. I run to exercise my dogs. I believe that you don't have to push yourself to the limits to be a "runner". So if you think that you "can't" run, maybe it's because you're forcing yourself to run by other people's standards and you should instead find what works for you.

Plus, it makes for some good lookin' legs ;o)
I'm on the right and can only wish that I was ever as skinny as my younger sister (that's who the other girl is). However, note sexy runner's legs! ;o)
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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Houses that Built Me...

The Introduction:

I apologize for any of you who read my original blog and may have seen the first few posts in this series, this series about the places I've called home. I have been looking for another meaningful meme or challenge for this blog and there just appear to be a huge lack of them out there at the I've decided to re-visit and finally finish my own little challenge, a challenge about the places that were a part of molding and shaping who I am. The houses and apartments where I learned everything from...

how best to build a snow fort: 10 Stein Road, Ellington Connecticut. 1985-1998.


how to be a teenager: 7 Country Farm Lane, Ellington Connecticut. 1998-2003.


how to
grow up: Vista Way Apartment 909, Lake Buena Vista Florida. August 2001-January 2002.


how to be domestic: The first floor apartment of the little white house with blue shutters on Garden Street, Farmville Virginia. 2003-2004.


how to give up on dreams: 2007 Timberlake Drive, Lynchburg Virginia. 2005-2007.


how to be on my own: Broadwater Apartments, Orlando Florida. January 2006-July 2006.


how to fake happiness: 7 Kirkshire Lane, Simpsonville South Carolina. 2007-2008.


how to be in love: 34 Columbia Road, Enfield Connecticut. 2008-2009.

There were a couple other places--the house I was born into. The apartments I had during some brief summer stints in Orlando. The homes that my parents have inhabited, homes that at one point or another became my temporary residences. But I think I'm blessed enough, having lived in so many different houses and apartments. Having learned something in and from and through each one of them.

"I know they say you can't go home again...but I just had to come back one last time..." Pin It