Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The War on...FLEAS.

To be completely honest, I've struggled over whether or not to write about this. Because I feel like a bad pet mommy. And I feel like a flea epidemic in my home makes me sound...dirty, I guess. But I'm not. My pets are clean, my house is clean [enough]. The problem is, Frontline simply doesn't work like it used to.

Of course, I called Frontline and they explained that their product was too working. But I just don't understand how I've applied the stuff every.single.month. for years and years now, on all sorts of pets, and only now do I suddenly have a problem. A big problem. My poor babies are itchy and uncomfortable and I hate it.

The vet's office can't guarantee that garlic - being a member of the onion family and onions being toxic to dogs - is safe, though many people swear by it.

We spent our one year wedding anniversary scouring the house and spraying Sentry everywhere. Steve cut the lawn to the quick and sprayed it down with the Sentry yard spray, as well. We bathed the dogs with Dawn dish soap - only to find out that not only does Dawn kill fleas, but it washes away any and all traces of whatever flea medicine they've been on. Nice to know. We even steeped a bunch of lemons in water and have been misting the dogs with it twice a day because it is supposed to repel fleas...but it doesn't appear to be doing anything of the sort.

Combing for fleas (and dumping the ones I find into a glass of water, which is then flushed down the toilet) helps for an hour, but soon enough the little buggers (excuse the pun) are attacking again. A flea dip at the end of July didn't do anything at all. And because of our cats we are limited on the types of flea meds we can use...i.e. the vet warned against switching to Advantix because it's extremely toxic to cats.

This has been my week upon returning from Europe. UGH. Pin It

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Happy Anniversary to Us :)

It's hard to believe that it's been an entire year since our baseball wedding. It was an amazing weekend populated with awesome friends and I wouldn't have done it any other way! And though this year has at times been too busy and too stressful, in general it's been a great one with a wonderful man by my side, and I'm ready for many, many more years like this one :)

That said, since I haven't posted many pictures from our wedding, here are a few for you to enjoy ;)
(yes, this picture was a joke)
Two of the best men I know :) :) :)

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Book Review: Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

I read this book because I wanted to do so before seeing the movie. I have to be up front and say that I'm not really a "chick lit" person and I didn't expect to LOVE Something Borrowed. However, I'd heard a lot of positive things about how it portrays the gray areas of having an affair (blah blah blah). Unfortunately, I have to disagree with all of the glowing reviews that say as much. This story was unrealistic - the good characters were too good, the bad characters too bad, and (spoiler alert!) everything worked out far too perfectly in the end. Some say the ending was predictable. I disagree...it wasn't. But that doesn't mean it was GOOD. I think Giffin had a great premise with this story and could have made this a far better novel, but the entire thing just felt lifeless to me. 1.5/5 stars

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

*Awesome* Recipe!

I seriously can't say enough good things about this recipe. It was originally mentioned on Every Little Thing but I never saw Stacy post the recipe (though I could have missed it)...so I searched it out on Google and found it on the Real Simple site :)

BACON GRUYERE MEATLOAF...

We did not eat this out of the pan...I just didn't take a picture before we'd started slicing it. Oops.
1 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup ketchup, plus more for serving
11 coarsely grated red onions
2 slices bacon, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large egg
3/4 cup grated Gruyère
Salt & Pepper

- Heat oven to 400° F. In a medium bowl, combine the beef, bread crumbs, ketchup, grated onion, bacon, garlic, egg, ½ cup of the Gruyère, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Transfer the mixture to an 8-by-4-inch loaf pan and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup of Gruyère.
- Roast the meat loaf until cooked through, 40 to 45 minutes. Pour off any accumulated fat and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

...WITH ROASTED CARROTS & ONIONS

2 red onions, cut into wedges
1 1/4 pounds carrots, cut into 3-inch lengths and halved lengthwise if large
Olive oil

- Right after you put the meatloaf into the oven, toss the onion wedges and carrots on a large rimmed baking sheet with the oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
- Roast the vegetables until tender, tossing once, 35 to 40 minutes.

The title of this entry says it all...I could eat this meal (all of it) over and over and over again. I love my mom's meatloaf but this one takes the cake!
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Blogs from the Past: 2/4/2004

This blog is exactly how I wrote it in February 2004, with the exception of a few small edits (some information in it was outdated). I was highly involved with the Longwood University productions of The Vagina Monologues in 2003 & 2004 and doing so taught me more about myself and other women than I could ever have hoped to learn otherwise.

The Vagina Monologues is a play written and performed by Eve Ensler (Off-Broadway). It has also been performed all over the country by many famous actresses, including Calista Flockhart and Glenn Close. Many years ago now, Eve started V-Day, a campaign centered around The Vagina Monologues which moves to end violence against women and girls. She decided as a part of this campaign to allow colleges to produce the Monologues free of charge, asking only that the proceeds benefit local charities and centers that deal specifically with women.

I was Head Organizer of the Monologues when they were performed at my school in 2003, but needless to say that was nothing short of a disaster. I made some bad decisions when I chose certain people to help me and I got screwed over big time. Won't get into that, though, in 2004 I directed and my good friend Alexis organized.

If you were a student at my school, Longwood University, or if you wondered why we would produce the same play two years in a row, let me first say that the 2004 production was extremely different from the one put on in 2003. Why did we bring it back, though? Basically, after the overwhelming support from the Longwood community in 2003, we decided to bring The Vagina Monologues back in 2004 so that we could continue to promote awareness about ending violence against women and girls.

Anyway, I know many people (especially guys) wonder why they should go see a play called The Vagina Monologues. Here is what I came up with: This is far from an event produced exclusively for females, but more a production that combines comedy and drama into a performance that is eye-opening, educational, and entertaining for all. Not only does it promote the end of violence against women and girls, but all proceeds go to benefit local groups and/or shelters who work with women and girls who have been victims of rape and/or abuse. Whether you are a woman, know a woman, or have ever fantasized about one, this event is definitely worth attending!

Please check out the official V-Day website and try to find a production near you.

I suppose now you're wondering what made me so gung-ho about this. I will put it bluntly. I was raped by an acquaintance of mine in 2001. When it happened, it was something that I thought was my fault. I wouldn't talk about it to anyone, and even though my mom noticed that something was severely wrong with me and sent me to a psychiatrist/psychologist (not sure which one it was, I get confused over those two words), I was very careful, in talking to the psychiatrist/psychologist, not to mention what happened. I didn't want to be thought of as just some slut - because remember, I was thinking that what happened was my fault.

Then someone mentioned The Vagina Monologues to me and not long after hearing about them I was browsing in Barnes & Noble and came across a V-Day special edition of the book. I purchased and read it and began to realize that what had happened to me was not my fault.

The first person I told the whole truth to was actually Ex.. I told him sometime during September of 2002. After that, it began getting easier and easier to tell people, and nowadays I'm as "comfortable" as I'll ever be, talking about it. I have experienced denial, depression, and anger. I confronted myself, and now I am okay with what happened. What happened is part of what made me the person I am today, and I like that person.

When I read The Vagina Monologues, I also read the extra material in the back of it. This is where I found out about the College Campaign and how I came to be involved in it. I am proud of the work that I did, and I hope that my influence prevented at least one woman from going through what I want through, prevented one man from raping or striking a woman, prevented one woman from thinking herself not good enough because of her sexual preference or the fact that she don't want to shave her cooch, made one woman laugh in the face of someone who calls her a "cunt".

So yeah, in my own way, I am a feminist. In my own *small* way, I am a Vagina Warrior.

And I am damn proud of it :o) . Pin It

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Houses that Built Me: Vista Way Apartment 909, Orlando FL

<Today really is the perfect day to post this, as it was exactly ten years ago that I checked in for my Walt Disney World College Program. I really can't believe it has been that long. It feels almost surreal.>

Vista Lay--I mean, Way.

This was simultaneously the place where I lost myself, and found myself.

Of course being 1300 miles from my family and friends played a big part in this, as did working at Disney...but out of all of the aspects of the College Program, the "living" aspect - and more specifically, living at Vista Way - is what changed me the most. In so many ways, Vista 909 is where I grew up; unfortunately, I didn't grow up enough. Vista was both the site of some of my biggest accomplishments, and the site of some of my biggest mistakes, some of my lessons learned a little too late.

Living at Vista taught me that one can have a sister who isn't actually a sister. Although years have passed and things have changed drastically, in four and a half months a girl I'd never met and never would have met became as much my family as an unrelated person could. She - my roommate - was there for me. To worry about September 11th, to gush about guys, to sigh over missed loved ones, to party with and even be annoyed with (once in a great while). Having had two sisters, having had a handful of very close female friends throughout my entire adult life, and having also been a part of a sorority - my roommate at Vista is to this day the closest thing I've had to a friend who became something like a sister to me. I think this was mostly because of our living situation - maybe not Vista 909 specifically, but being thrown into an apartment with two other girls who we didn't exactly care for, knowing no one in Orlando except other interns and Disney employees, and being so far from the people who populated our pasts. I don't know many College Program participants who lived at Vista or Chatham who didn't find another person to latch onto - it's how we survived, I guess.

Living at Vista taught me to appreciate how my mother had cooked me decent meals and done my laundry all my life. After living off Burger King, Wendy's, frozen pizza, grilled cheeses and Ramen noodles...after ruining God knows how many bras, not to mention making that usual colors-with-whites mistake...one can't help but look back with fondness and wish for the days when there was someone there to feed you chicken pot pie and roast beef; to painstakingly separate your clothes into normals and delicates, darks and lights.

Living at Vista taught me how to live as an adult. I had to buy toilet paper and garbage bags, do dishes, clean kitchens and toilets and showers, take out the trash. Of course I'd had chores back at home, but to be completely honest they were few and far between and I'd never had to worry about being the one stuck doing all the work while the others let shit just pile up, get dusty, mold over. The one thing I will say is that in this particular apartment, although it got a little dirtier than I would have liked and although at times certain roommates were doing more of the work than others, things weren't so bad. That was a problem I dealt with a bit later in life.

Living at Vista taught me how to balance partying and work. This wasn't college. This wasn't getting to sleep in and then sit through a few hours' worth of classes and then go to a couple activity meetings, maybe study for an hour or two before going out or going to bed. This was a different party in a different apartment every night, and then having to get up and be on my feet for seven to fourteen hours dealing with guests and co-workers for minimum wage. There were nights I didn't go to bed until 6 AM and somehow got up at 10 AM and worked a nine or ten hour shift at the Magic Kingdom, then did it all over again. Looking back, I can't understand how I made it through those four and a half months. If I had wanted, I could have partied every single night - there was always something going on. I've been in college, I've lived in a dorm, and that was nothing - nothing - compared to living at Vista. Yet somehow I found a way to trudge through it, parties, late nights, little sleep, long work days and all.

I won't get into how and why I regressed at Vista. What matters is that I made it through living there. Even if I lost a part of myself, I gained so much more. And that's probably the biggest part of growing up, of becoming an adult...that's what made Vista Way, Apartment 909 so important to me. That's the part of me that it built. Pin It

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Who am I?

If you Google my name you get plenty of hits. I'm not going to tell you my last name but I will say that I Googled my maiden name...because that's who I was for most of my life. Apparently, that Tara

was an actress, ballet dancer, & violinist
has 25 profiles on LinkedIn
teaches vocal lessons in California
writes a business blog with her husband David
has her own line of botanical skin products
plays women's basketball
and is a poet, jewelry designer and art educator in Chicago.

To be honest, other than being one of those profiles on LinkedIn, none of this fits me. Really, I'm just

a singer in a band...
a wife, dog lover, blogger...
with one profile on LinkedIn..
a practicer of yoga and a runner....
struggling to keep up with my own life...
but loving [almost] every minute of it ;)

How do you stack up when you Google your name?
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Saturday, August 13, 2011

A different sort of pasta dish

FARFALLE WITH PESTO, GOAT CHEESE & GRAPE TOMATOES


1 lb farfalle (bow tie) pasta
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
Salt
4 oz fresh goat cheese
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

-Cook the pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, drain the rest and return the pasta to the pot.
-Meanwhile use a food processor or blender to pulse the walnuts, oil, basil, garlic, crushed red pepper and 1/2 tsp salt until finely chopped (not totally pureed!)
-Add the basil mixture and half the goat cheese to the pot; toss to coat. When well mixed fold in the tomatoes and remaining goat cheese.

I have tweaked this recipe a bit because originally they used way too much crushed red pepper and half of the goat cheese was for "sprinkling" rather than mixing in and it just wasn't cheesy enough ;)
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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Blogs from the Past: 1/27/2004

For those of you who don't know, I've actually been "blogging" in some form or another since January 2004. Although a lot of what I wrote in my early years as a blogger was, well, questionable, there were also some interesting entries and I don't want them to get lost in the shuffle now that I have this totally separate, completely public blog. Therefore, I've decided to start a series called "Blogs from the Past" and this will be the first one I share with you! This may end up being a weekly series but for now I think I'll leave it sporadic...because it's easier for me to not have to follow a blogging "schedule" every day of the week :)

"I've realized that when you truly love, you have no freedom." - Le Divorce

I can't remember whether this quote is in both the book and the movie Le Divorce (neither of which was a big favorite of mine), but I read the book and saw the movie in late 2003/early 2004 and this particular line really resonated with me at the time. I had been married to Ex for nearly eight months and we had just started getting into arguments about whether we would move back to Orlando when I finished school in the fall of 2004. I posted this quote in my old blog with a comment about how well I understood it.

And to be honest, that scares me even now. That, having just turned 21 and having been married less than a year, I already knew deep down that that marriage would cause me to lose so much of who I was.

What do you think of this quote? Pin It

Monday, August 8, 2011

Book Review of New Atlantis: Musicians Battle for the Survival of New Orleans by John Swenson

Just a note that Monday Confessions will be back in a few weeks - I ran out of my free subscription on Linky Tools and need to find a replacement...and do some research about how to promote bloghops, I suppose :)

Now on to the book review! 

I honestly feel that three stars is a somewhat low rating for this book, while four stars would be too much. Rather, it probably sits in the 3.5 star range. It's riveting and I didn't want to put it down; I've visited New Orleans once and have always wanted to go back, but reading New Atlantis made me want to officially plan my second trip. Swenson introduces the reader to musicians who seem bigger than life but in fact exist and people this amazing city, and he should be commended for that.

However, the lack of organization in this book is astounding - to the point where I found myself losing my place and having to go back a page, only to realize that Swenson had jumped from one topic (for example, Helen Gillet and her organization of the January 2007 protest against the violence in New Orleans) to another (the background of James and Trombone Shorty Andrews) with a segway that may or may not have fit into the chapter (in this case, Andrews' brother Glen David's speech at the protest). As a warning,t he author can also get a bit preachy at times - while I understand the issues the government and FEMA caused in the repopulating and rebuilding of New Orleans, some of Swenson's comments on this matter fit while others decidedly did not. My hope is that eventually this book will be reorganized (or rather, organized in the first place) and a second edition will be released, because again - New Atlantis is filled to the brim with interesting material and amazing potential.

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Thirsty Thursday is the Bee's Knees!

And so is this drink recipe!

No, really, the name of the recipe is The Bee's Knees.

And it's delicious.


THE BEE'S KNEES

1 cup gin
18 oz. pineapple juice
22-24 oz grapefruit juice
4-5 oz REAL honey

-Pour everything into a blender and pulse until frothy.
-Store in a pitcher.

Now, I'm a gin person but I prefer it in light drinks like gin & tonics. And I'm not a grapefruit juice person. Literally, hate the stuff. Hate the fruit too. And while I love fresh pineapple, pineapple juice is a bit of a stretch.

All that said, this drink is delicious. I actually found the recipe somewhere in the blogosphere and tailored it to my needs when I made it (i.e. cutting it in half because 116-ish ounces of liquid sounded a bit over the top and cutting the amount of pineapple juice because I didn't want it to be quite so sweet)...so don't be scared to tinker with it a bit! Enjoy :)
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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Monthly 101 update: July

Phew. This 101 thing is starting to concern me. Why, you ask? Because despite the fact that I'm making progress...it's on all of the easy stuff! Here are some goals that I started in July:

-Improve photography by reading Scott Kelby book and taking a class (took class on 7/23; started reading Scott Kelby book 7/24)
One of the new pictures I've taken! Not a *huge* improvement but I'm practicing, practicing, practicing :)
-Go skiing again (bought plane tickets for Idaho in 7/2011) (I decided that paying over $800 for two plane tickets to Sun Valley, Idaho during ski season in early 2012 was progress on this one!)
-Learn to sew, knit, or crochet (started teaching myself to knit 7/2011) (to be fair I'm not sure if simply learning how to "cast on" counts as progress with knitting, but whatever)

I actually completed more goals than I thought I would in July. In fact, I think I'll complete more than I planned on in August as well but we'll see.

Go to the first showing of a movie on its opening night in the theaters (again)  As you may have seen, I went to the midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 on 7/15 :) I think that going to a weeknight early screening of Cowboys and Aliens last week should give me extra points for this one, as well!

Watch an entire TV series (started The Tudors in June 2011 and finished in July 2011) I was a bit hesitant for this one to count, because The Tudors only had 4 seasons. That's a short-lived TV show. However...the episodes were close to an hour long and hey, it was an entire series! So it counts. Plus I watched the first seven seasons of Entourage in June/July as well; not an entire series but most of it!

Visit the farmer's market in downtown Greenville (7/9)
Every Saturday morning from May - September (or October?) they run this market. Isn't downtown Greenville beautiful? I love this city SO much.
Try 5 new restaurants in the Greenville area (5/5 - Lazy Goat, Mojo's, The Green Room, The Trappe Door, Ford's Oyster House & Cajun Kitchen as of 7/9)

Get rid of 10 things I've been hanging on to for no good reason (I went through my closet on 7/29/2011 and got rid of WAY more than 10 items!)

So yes, I completed 5 goals last month, but see what I mean about them all being easy ones? :-/
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Monday, August 1, 2011

Monday Confessions: Short & Sweet

Sorry I'm a bit late with this today...let's just say it's going to be one heck of a crazy week.


I confess...that my dogs still have fleas. As in, I keep randomly finding them on my dogs. Not a ton of dander, and only one flea at a time, but they're there. I've scoured my house, paid for flea dips, Steve mowed the lawn, and they are on Frontline...I don't know what else to do :(

I confess...that I am terrible about folding my laundry. Seriously, I did some of it close to two weeks ago and it's still hanging out in my clothes hamper. Oops.

I confess...that I really, really liked Captain America. I may have been a bit more cynical about it had I not gotten the rundown from this review beforehand, though.

That's about all for today...boring, I know. The problem is that I'm super duper busy and have some things to get/put together throughout the next few days...so Monday Confessions is taking a sort of backseat this week.

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