Sunday, December 27, 2009

Meet Murphy

Before I post an official Christmas blog, I wanted to introduce the newest member of our family...a new dog! Almost 2 weeks ago, my sister rescued a Boston Terrier from the side of the road. She called me feeling terribly guilty for taking him to the Nashville animal shelter. He had a sweet temperament, he knew a few words like "sit" and "treat" and he seemed to be comfortable in a crate. I told her she did the right thing by saving him and turning him in. Surely someone would come looking for him, right? But her story tugged at my heart strings, and then I started thinking, "...maybe I want that dog..." I always talk myself out of getting a dog because I think they're too much trouble (and they are). But I really love Boston Terriers, and I was glad to hear that he was comfortable in a crate. After thinking about it for approximately .02 seconds, I decided to adopt him! A week after sister dropped him off, still no one had claimed him. It was 2 days before Christmas, so I decided to go ahead with it. I wanted to surprise Sean on Christmas morning, so the dog lived with my sister for a couple of days.

The anticipation of having a new dog was killing me, and my stomach was in knots for days. On Christmas morning before we woke up, sister delivered the surprise to our house. Sean heard something rustling at the door, and he shot out of bed. My sister opened our bedroom door, and here came the puppy wearing a Santa suit and hat. Sean couldn't believe it! Later that day he came up with the name Murphy, which I think is perfect. We wanted something that sounded a little "Irish Catholic" since the breed originates from Boston.

So far Murphy has been a delight. He's about 1 year old so he's got lots of energy, but he's sweet as can be. He tries to obey, and I think we'll be able to train him fairly easily. He hasn't had any accidents in the house (except for marking my bra on the floor). He's just the right size - not too big, and not too small. He's 28 lbs. - we're not sure if he's going to grow any more. So far we think he's pure bred because he doesn't resemble anything but a Boston. He's already showing interest in Frisbee catching, so I can't wait until he's trained a little more and the weather gets warmer. We're going to have so much fun at the park! He loves to suck on his fuzzy pillow, and he's obsessed with licking every part of Sean's face.


video

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Don't forget Thanksgiving

Is it really almost Christmas? For the past 3 weeks I've been meaning to write my blog about THANKSGIVING! I can't believe how quickly time has gotten away from me. As I'm typing this tonight, my eyes are closing and my back is aching. Life has been busy for us, especially this weekend. I traveled a little bit for work after Thanksgiving, so it took me a little while to get back into a routine. We've also been busy trying to prep for Christmas; shopping, decorating, parties, etc. I would love to write a long blog about the wonderful Thanksgiving holiday we had in New Jersey. I just don't think I have the energy to do it right now, but I don't want to withhold the pictures any longer. In short, Sean and I decided somewhat last minute to drive to NJ for Thanksgiving with the Carroll family. We had a great time with everyone, and we are so thankful for the time we got to spend with them. Here's a peek at our trip:


Sean and his father Tom. Both of these men could spend 24 straight hours on the Internet and never get bored for 1 minute.

On Thanksgiving Day, Uncle Brian organized a Wii Bowling Tournament.
Aunt Jolyn whipped all of us and took home the winning crown. Here she is in action. Just look at the concentration on her face!



Aunt Judi opened her home and her kitchen to all of us Carrolls. She prepared a delicious Thanksgiving dinner, and somehow she managed to fit us all around the same table. It was quite a feast. Thank you, Judi! We played games with each other all weekend - Wii bowling, Left-Center-Right (LCR), and Catchphrase - and spent a lot of time laughing.

Here Uncle Brian tries to take the lead in bowling, but he wasn't as good as Jolyn.

After Thanksgiving (on Saturday, I think) the family reunited at MomMom and PopPop's house for more visiting. The boys raked all the leaves for MomMom. Awwww, how sweet. I know she was very happy to have that big chore out of the way.
MomMom loves puzzles, and she had been working on a hard one. Here are Emily and Alissa helping her out with the puzzle. We all got in on the puzzle action and enjoyed the challenge. It had been years since I tried a puzzle! We got to the very last piece of the 1000 piece puzzle and it was MISSING! Turns out, MomMom had been hiding a piece in her pocket. She wanted to place the final piece on the board.


Friday night the whole family headed down to Stone Harbor for the street festival. We had a fun time roaming the streets and looking for Christmas gifts in all the shops. The wind was frightful, but we found some adult beverages to keep us warm. I especially enjoyed the string band playing music on the street corner in their brightly colored costumes. Later that night, Sean spotted this charming hat at an Irish store and we all FORCED him to buy it. It suits him to a tee, and I think he looks totally handsome in his new green hat.






Monday, November 16, 2009

Planning and List making

***Be warned: I was so excited about this entry that I got carried away. This is a looong blog entry. I didn't realize how much I felt like talking about my planning and list-making. You don't have to read it. Plus, it makes me seem like a crazy person.***

I love my planner. It's a beautiful red leather book from Franklin Covey. Sean gave it to me for Christmas in 2007, and each year he supplies me with a new calendar insert. The red planner stays a home because it's my Life Planner...not to be mistaken with my Work Planner. Anyway, the feelings I get when I crack open my planner are comfort, peace, and calmness. Even if there are a million things for me to do, I find comfort in seeing them all laid out for me. Ahhhhhhhhhh...I love planning.

My planning is not a mental thought process. Well, obviously that's where it all starts...but really, my planning consists of one thing and one thing only: LISTS. Lists, lists, and more lists. Sometimes, even when I have the list squared away in my head, I still want to write its contents down on paper so I can look at the list...and be proud of the list...and feel comforted by the list. Wow, I am an honest-to-God crazy person, aren't I? It's just that, I have a major fear - Forgetting. What if my brain forgets the list? Or forgets one piece of the list? If I write the list down then I can see it. And if I can see it, I can't forget it. (unless, of course, I forget what I did with the list, but that's another story...)

Oh, I make lists of everything. Here is a list of some lists that I like:

- Weekend plans, which can include everything from cleaning to errands to dinner plans. On busy weekends I have to fight myself from doing and hour by hour agenda...because that would be TOO crazy.
- Christmas Lists - things I want, things I want to buy for other people. It's pretty straightforward.
- Party Planning Lists. There's nothing that makes me happier than planning a party! Listing out the menu is my favorite. I've gotten quite good at mapping out the buffet, showing exactly where each dish should go on the table. And I always list out the guests. You know, just so that I can SEE their name and so I don't FORGET anyone.
- Budget List - a spreadsheet of all our monthly expenses, estimated gas, eating out, groceries, etc. I check our bank balance almost daily...it's more of a compulsion. I know what it's going to say, but I check it anyway. And I try to balance the checkbook once a week. I edit the budget quite frequently. Each time we pay a bill, I mark it BOLD so that I know we're paid up.
- Purse List. This is the ongoing list of to-do items and tiny reminders that lives in my purse. Current contents of the Purse List are as follows:
. Scarf for ____
. Hat for ___
. Target - CD for ____
.www.mysoulsoup.com for ___
. Drywall repair @ Yellow house
. Paint stairwell @ Yellow house
.401k vs IRA
. Carroll address card
. Dad's videos
. Ann's pictures
. new ___ for Sean
. Transmission - replace a gasket on the pan (whatever that means...)
. Rent Public Enemies
. T-shirts for Alfred A.
. Etsy bridesmaid dress - 'amandaarcher' pleated collar dress
. yellow shoes
. replacement seal for under the doors
. socks
. CK free
. black shoes

BUT - the best list of all...the list I've kept going on a weekly basis for the past 2 years is my beloved List of Meals. I owe my sanity to the meal planning list! After a crazy day at work, I can stumble through the door and go straight to my List of Meals. Everything is there for me in black and white. No worrying about what to cook. No wondering what random items are waiting for me in the pantry. I know exactly what to make for dinner, I know that I have everything for the recipe, and I don't have to think twice about it. I don't even think ONCE about it! I don't think about it at all...it's so wonderful.

I take time on Saturdays (or sometimes Friday night...such a party animal!) to think about proteins, carbs and vegetables. What type of fish do I feel like eating? Will we have red meat this week? What's a good meatless meal? Is asparagus in season? Can I sneak in some cous cous into the menu without Sean noticing? Do we have pre-arranged dinner plans already? After I've thought it all out then I start building my grocery list (another favorite list of mine). My grocery list is categorized by department. I would never list broccoli next to butter or frozen brussels sprouts next to bread. No siree! The list must be in sequential order based on the store layout. I mean, why would you do it any other way?

Not too long ago, I had my trusty grocery list with me at Publix. A man actually said to me, "You're using a list? Now there's a concept!" Um, hello Jerk - who DOESN'T use a grocery list?

My favorite magazine REAL SIMPLE stole my heart when they featured an article on One Month of Dinners. What? You're kidding me! One month of meals already planned out for me? Yes, and complete with a grocery list. I was in hog heaven...

My List of Meals is never set in stone. Just ask Sean - I cross things out and rearrange them all the time. Sometimes unexpected things come up that interfere with dinner - an emergency, a last-minute invite from a friend, or I just don't feel like cooking after a bad day at work. And so, I stay flexible with the meals. Here's what we're looking at for the next week or so:

. Perogies w/ warm apple & onion slaw
. Cranberry stuffed pork chops w/ roasted carrots and red onion
. Salmon w/ cous cous (Yes, I did it!) & lemon-cilantro vinaigrette
. Cuban braised beef w/ red peppers and rice
. Beef soft tacos w/ Spanish rice
. Italian-herb sauteed chicken w/ pasta marinara
. Date night - Dinner & Movie (We're going to see The Blind Side...and I'm going to cry...)
. Trey's Birthday dinner - bring a salad and rolls to go w/ the steaks
. Nonnie's Thanksgiving Feast - can't wait!

If you made it this far, then God bless you...and thank you for reading about my lists. I really do love them. If you aren't a list person, then maybe I inspired you to start a list of your own. It can change your life!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

heavy heart

I've been living with a heavy heart for the past month. Sad about my grandparents dying, obviously. Sad about my family - my mom, my aunt, and even my uncle. Just sad. Being so up close and personal with death makes you think weird things. Makes you ponder life, and worry, and wonder...

Life goes on, and my days have been normal for the most part. It's not like I'm crying every waking minute of the day. I'm just living with a heavy heart. That's the best way I can describe it. The sweet moments are bittersweet. The chilly days are just a little too cold.

Also, someone I work with lost their job, and it makes me sad and scared. I have been worrying about that person (and about my job) all weekend.

Even though it's not very exciting or happy news, I still wanted to post an update this weekend. There have been some bright moments in the midst of my gray clouds. One of my dear friends Crystal is expecting her first baby. It hasn't really sunk in for me yet. I'm in a state of disbelief - Crystal can't be pregnant! But hopefully her belly will keep growing, and that baby will be here soon enough. Crystal will be the first in my small group of three friends to be a mommy. Ugh, let the aging begin...

Nashville has been experiencing beautiful weather, and I'm so thankful for it - the blue skies keep my spirits higher. Sadly, yesterday was a very lazy Saturday at the Carrolls, and we didn't get outside to enjoy any fresh air! I was so disappointed in us. But, for some reason I just wanted to lay around in pj's ALLLLL day. We didn't even get showers. But, we did brush our teeth and wash up enough to go Christmas shopping at the mall. Today we got in gear and spent some time outside. Sean worked on his car, and I went for a run. I said hi to strangers, and stopped to watch the kids at the skate park. It was nice. I've been trying to slow down and savor those small moments of beauty.

We watched the last part of Dexter Season 3 last night and it was AWESOME! I also made a hemp bracelet for my brother. His 11th birthday is next week (ah! He's getting so old). I don't know why I wanted to make it for him, but I really hope he likes the bracelet. I've been wearing it and washing it so that it'll be nice and soft for him.

One week from today is the Hargis Family Thanksgiving Feast, and I'm really looking forward to a fun day and GOOD FOOD! All 18 of us (minus my cousin Adam because he's away at camp), will be at Nonnie's house. It's sad to think that she's the only living grandparent I have left. I'm glad that I only live 2 minutes from her (or an 8 min. jog if I'm feeling like some exercise). I just can't believe it's time for turkey already. Where has the year gone!?!? Also, a week from Wednesday we'll be making the 14 hour drive up to South Jersey to see the Carrolls for Turkey Day. While we're dreading the long car ride, we can't wait to see everyone. I'm really excited! I didn't expect to be going, but Sean surprised me and said that he wanted to make the trip.

Well, with these last 30 minutes before bed, I'm going to work on some Christmas knitting...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

For My Grandparents...

Me and Mimi in 2007

Papa in 2007. He was sick at this time, but hadn't been moved to a home yet. He had difficulty making basic conversation, and he barely knew who we were.

My sweet Papa passed away tonight. I'm sad that he's gone...but really, it was a blessing. He had suffered from Alzheimer's for the past 4 (?) years. He wasn't really living...he was just existing. Almost like a vegetable. It was terribly sad to see him suffer like that for so many years, and so, I'm relieved that he's moved on.
The timing of his death is no surprise. It's common for couples to pass within a few weeks of each other (at least I think it's common. Maybe I only believe that because of The Notebook.) Mimi visited Papa every day in the nursing home. And since her death just 3 weeks ago, his health diminished incredibly quickly. I know that Mimi's presence, her love and her care is what kept him hanging on.
Some people say that Papa was a saint. No doubt, he was a good man. Saint? I don't know...I think they only say that because he put up with Mimi for the majority of his life. The man had patience, that's for sure. He was a quiet man. I regret that I didn't know him very well, but he wasn't the kind of person that really opened up. Maybe he would've opened up, but Mimi was always talking, so he never really had a chance. He was a thinker and a doer. She was a talker and a lay-arounder.
Papa loved to label things and make lists. (An obsession that I'm positive I inherited from him.) He was brilliant - an engineer, I think. His handwriting was small and perfect. He enjoyed taking pictures...almost too much! He had tons and tons and tons of photo albums (all labeled, of course). He would document every detail of Thanksgiving pictures, right down to a picture of the dinner rolls. He loved sweets, and coffee ice cream was one of his favorites. He treated my Mimi like the princess she believed she was. He cleaned, cooked and did all of the grocery shopping while he was still able.
I hope that he lived a happy life. I really don't know...it wasn't an easy life by any means. The family drama had to have taken a toll on him. From what I could see, he tried to be the calm, steady voice of reason in the family...and he was there to pick up the pieces. I guess it's all he could do.
It was a hard decision for Mimi when she chose to place him in a nursing home, but we all encouraged her to do it. It really was the best place for him, even though it seemed to increase the symptoms of his disease. Their home life with Roger was getting too strenuous. Plus, Mimi had trouble meeting Papa's needs (he couldn't do anything for himself like eat, shave or get dressed), and she had zero patience for his illness. Papa bounced from home to home, and was moved in and out of different facilities. His disease caused him to lash out at people, throw things, bite, etc. The nursing homes couldn't tolerate him after he became a danger to other residence. And so, they would kick him out. A lot of his behaviors were upsetting, but some of them were funny...like the time he strolled buck naked through the halls! He was the most quiet, respectful, well-mannered man that ever lived. He spent most of his life being overshadowed by my Mimi. And so, even thought he didn't realize what he was doing as he streaked the nursing home, I was proud of him. "You go, Papa! Let it all hang out!" I thought.

My mom, my aunt Susan, and my Mimi visited with Papa regularly. They did the best they could to keep him comfortable and cared for. I admire their dedication. I have to say, I shied away from visiting him because it was so difficult to see him like that. But, they faced it head on. The 3 of them fought over him...fought about his well-being, where he should say, what kind of medicine he needed. They even fought against doctors' bad decisions, and fought with directors of nursing homes. It wasn't easy for any of them, but they were there with him until the end.
I hope that I'm so blessed to have a family fighting for me and staying by my side when it's my time to pass. I know you probably hear things like this all the time, but each and every day that we're living right now is a gift.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloweentime

Sean made an excellent point this morning: Rolling the clocks back should ALWAYS happen on a weekday. Who cares about sleeping an extra hour on the weekend? NO ONE. We didn't have a chance to truly appreciate that extra hour of sleep. The experience would've been much sweeter if the extra hour fell on a Monday morning. Anyway, it doesn't matter - my internal clock is still all out of whack.
This past week was busy and long, but it ended with a bang! I traveled to Springfield, MO to visit a customer on Tues/Wed. Four flights + a business meeting caused for a bit of mid-week anxiety. And because of my bereavement day and the business trip, things have been piling up on me at the office. I don't much like it. No one has complained and nothing has fallen through the cracks. Yet, I still feel like I'm doing a bad job because I haven't been 100% focused.
Still life is good. Here are some highlights from this week:
- The stupid Titans finally won their first game of the season.
- Sean is the proud owner of an iPhone! (he hasn't put it down...) He's been asking for an iPhone since it hit the shelves, so I encouraged him to go for it. I was happy for him and also quite relieved. If he didn't buy it for his birthday, it was bound to be a Christmas present...and I can't tell you how much I hate shopping for technology. ICK! I was dreading the day that I had to walk into the AT&T store. So, a big THANK YOU goes out to those who contributed to the birthday funds.
- I've been reading "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman, and I really enjoy it. It's a quick and easy read, but it's full of wonderful relationship advice. I think every couple should read it! And in case you were wondering how to speak my love language, I think I'm an "Acts of Service" person.
- Let's not forget the biggest highlight of all - HALLOWEEN! We hosted a little gathering at our house, and enjoyed seeing all of our best friends decked out in costume. We didn't have as many trick-or-treaters as I expected, but the ones that we had were very polite! First, everyone said "trick-or-treat" so I was thrilled. You don't get candy at my house if you don't say the magic words. And almost everyone said "Thank you!" It was a major upgrade compared to those heathens in the city. Also, no one came dressed as a slut or a "student with a knife." (Yes, that was an actual costume one year.) Sean and I missed a lot of the kids because we were busy putting on makeup, but thankfully my sister was there to pass out the candy. She was a huge help! She reported that one kid was too scared of our house, so he passed us up. I was so proud...I think a tear came to my eye. Wait until next year, scaredy pants...It's only going to get better!!! Mwahahaha! But I digress...the party was lots of fun. I love costumes and I love our friends. And I even love my friends that didn't come in costume. Everyone gets a free pass...just don't let it happen again!
I wish I had more pictures to share because there were lots of fun costumes. With scissors for hands I was a bit handicapped. Even though we didn't have a dance-off, I hope everyone had a great time.
Sean wanted the house to look like a massacre, so I let him bloody up the front door. Don't worry, it washed off easily. I thought our yard decorations were killer (pun intended).

Our "mature" friends decided to capture their youth by dressing as hippies. Aren't they cute?


Sean was a magnificent Zombie Billy Mays. The costume is even better when you can hear his Billy Mays voice. It's spot on!

Sisters - Pink and Edward Scissorhands.


Me and my girls - Sherri as "Peyton from One Tree Hill going as the Angel of Death." It's a costume within a costume, and it makes my brain hurt. But she's hot! And Crystal as Scary Dead Doll. Doesn't she give you the creeps? Other popular guesses for Crystal's costume were Wendy's girl, Raggedy Anne, and a pirate. Wrong, wrong, and more wrong.


I truly loved Bobby's Bob Ross costume.

Our Boys: Keith as Mario, Sean as Zombie Billy Mays, and Bobby as Bob Ross

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Mixed Emotions

Readers,

The past 2 weeks have been full of mixed emotions like none other. A very devastating and embarrassing incident happened within my extended family last week. Even though it was all over the local news for 1 day, I don't quite feel like sharing the details in this blog. If you don't already know what it is, then just ask me offline. The events of that "incident" (which is what I will call it for now) and the people involved in it have been weighing heavy on my heart. Even though life continues to be full of blessings for me, the incident has kept me on an emotional roller coaster...going back and forth between peaceful and sad and angry quite frequently.

We had to bury my Mimi (my maternal grandmother) yesterday. In some ways it doesn't seem real. It just can't be real. She was such a lively person, and she had many more good years left in her. Even though she spent most of her time lying on the couch and talking on the phone (haha), her personality was bold and vibrant. Everyone kept saying "She was so in tact for an 81 year old." And she was! Her mind was very strong, and her body was holding up well. This was no way for her to go...I have to push those frightening images out of my mind from "that day" or else I will start to cry.

She paid the ultimate sacrifice for taking care of her mentally ill son for all those years. She knew that no one else could or would take care of him. He couldn't care of himself, and so there she was...stuck with him. She love him, yet hated him. She wanted him to be taken care of, but she hated the burdens that came with her responsibility. He was so sick in the head. It was draining to be around him for 1 hour...even when he was on meds. He had been off meds for about 1 year, and he was starting to lose it BIG TIME. In fact, he had just been released on bail and was awaiting a court date (for a separate charge) when the "incident" happened. I can't imagine how painful her daily life was with him. Not that she was an angel...but who is? I don't have kids, but I will one day (as long as my one, lonely ovary pulls through for me...) I just can't comprehend any of those mother-child emotions that must've been going through her heart and mind for all those long, tough years.

It's just sickening...I don't want to think about it anymore. Just know that it has been very hard, very surreal, hurtful, crazy, emotional...and yet, I knew this was going to happen. I said this was going to happen. I actually spoke the words, and we all knew it might come to this. There was just nothing we could do to stop it. She didn't deserve to go this way, no matter how mean she was at times. I learned yesterday during the funeral service that she touched many lives. I learned that she was a fun and very loving friend to many people. It made my heart so happy to hear those things. I NEEDED to hear those things because that wasn't my experience with her.

We should all live life to the fullest and be the best people we can possibly be. If there's anything good at all that could come of this, it has reminded me to cherish every moment and every waking breath. Life goes on for us right now, and we need to make the most of it.

The past few days have been tough, but like I said...life goes on. We've done some "normal" things around the house. Holding on to a routine is comforting through these times.


Yard Sale @ The Carroll's'! Sean mans the driveway while we wait for my dad to arrive.
Our neighborhood hosts community yard sale only twice a year. We have been waiting to unload our junk for 6 months. Of course, we had to go to Murfreesboro for the funeral, so my dad came over and negotiated with all the greedy buyers for us. I was so thankful for his help!!! Dad helped us make about $160, so now we can go buy a heater for Sean's car. He's going to need it very soon! The cold winter weather is creeping in on us.

After a day of mourning, you need something to cheer you up. Why not a ZOMBIE!? Next week is Halloween - my favorite holiday. We each have costumes that require special makeup, so we decided to test out my makeup applying skills. I think Sean is going to look like the best zombie ever.

Sean also grilled amazing steaks last night, as usual! We had bone-in ribeye steak seasoned with Cavendar's (for you dad!) and roasted asparagus sprinkled with parmesan, all paired with a delicious Cabernet. The cab was a gift from our housewarming party back in June. I wish I knew who gave us the bottle! It was a 2002 Oberon from Napa. No joke - It was quite possibly the best wine I've ever tasted. Bless you and thank you, whoever gave us that bottle! I want to go buy a whole case of it, but I'm scared of the price. Sean needs a new heater...I can't blow our money on booze.

Speaking of Booze...come to our Halloween party (cleverly titled BOOZEFEST - get it?) on Saturday @ 8:00.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Gifts

Gift-giving is a weird thing. It comes with so many expectations. I LOVE to give gifts, as I'm sure we all do. But there are many things that factor into this simple act of kindness.



1) Money - "I would love to buy _____ for my mom, but it's just too darn expensive."
2) Relevance - "Will he/she like what I'm giving them? Or will they think it's useless and stuipd?"
3) Fairness - "Well, I didn't get something this nice for his/her spouse, so I need to find something cheaper."
4)...and my all-time favorite...Do they already have it? - "Does my dad already own ____?" No matter what the item is, the answer to that question is usually YES. He does own it. But this question also applies to other people.



The month of October is a big gift-giving month for me. I have 4 birthdays to support this month. Not to mention, Christmas is right around the corner. (Have you started shopping yet? Because I have!)

Anwyay, the whole point that I wanted to make is that buying gifts can be stressful even if we have the best of intentions.

My sister-in-law Emily is one of the easiest people to buy gifts for. For starters, I know her very well (and I'm married to her brother, so that gives me an advantage). If you are close to Emily at all, you probably know everything there is to know about her, as I do...and this makes it very easy when shopping for Emily. Actually, I never have to make a specific trip to the mall for Emily. Usually, I'm already out shopping at a store, and I'll see something very "Emily-ish" that catches my eye. She is always the first person I check off my Christmas shopping list every year because I pack away gifts for her all year. In fact, we already have 4 presents waiting for her in The Christmas Closet. She is always WAY ahead of everyone else. (Sorry, other relatives. I wish you were all this easy to shop for, but you just aren't...)

The Easy Gifters (like Emily) are a blessing and a curse at the same time. You see, I find so many things for Emily that I actually have to STOP myself from buying gifts for her. During Christmas season when we're out hunting for the Dad gifts (which are by far the most difficult to shop for), I'll spot yet another gift for Emily! It's very distracting and frustrating, and not very fair to the dads or to anyone else.

October 9 is Emily's birthday, and like I said before, we already have a pile of gifts packed away for her. I also had a few gift ideas tucked away in my brain. But for some reason, I thought to myself "Oh goodness...what if she HATES everything that we give her? And what if she dreads our presents every year?" Poor thing, we have never stopped to ask her what she actually WANTS. And so that's exactly what I did this year. I asked her what she wanted, and she kindly told me about a necklace that she found on Etsy.com.


**Sidenote** If you haven't been to Etsy.com then please do so IMMEDIATELY. Give yourself about 30-60 min to browse the website. The site offers handmade gifts from crafters and artists all over the country. This stuff is way better than anything you'd find at Target. Think of your favorite boutique on Main Street, and then multiply it by 1,000 and put it online. Voila! You have Etsy - a site full of brilliant, beautiful arts and crafts. The items are reasonably priced, and if they aren't, you can simply ask for a discount. The beauty about buying directly from the artist is that you can make custom requests and hopefully negotiate a price. And readers, this isn't the kind of crap you find at the flea market. These handmade items will blow your mind! I've found gorgeous dresses, jackets jewelry, pottery and pictures that are all one-of-a-kind. I also love the idea of supporting starving artists (mostly because I wish that I were one myself...) It's a comfort to me knowing that I'm paying someone directly rather than giving my money to a big corporate mess.



So, here is the necklace that I purchased from ChellasCollection.etsy.com. It's a chain with 2 map pendants. The one for Emily had a map of CMCH, New Jersey (where Emily was born) and one of Chicago (where she lives now).




Not only was the gift perfect, but my online transaction with the artist behind Chellas Collection was spectacular. We sent each other messages using Etsy's online messaging system, and Julie was so responsive and thoughtful. She personalized Emily's gift, handled the shipping and timed it with her birthday, and included a personalized note. She even sent me a follow up thank you note in the mail! For someone who shys away from online shopping, I truly enjoyed this experience, and I was glad to give Emily a gift that she really wanted.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Pumpkins and Stuff

Hello, again! How about those Vols, huh? I couldn't believe their win over Georgia this weekend.. More importantly, I can't believe I'm talking about football like this. But, it was EXCITING to see one of our teams WIN! (You hear that, Titans? W-I-N? Let that word sink in for a while, Collins....) I was also glad to see Tebow back at it this week, cleaning up some tiger blood in Death Valley. Poor baby bonked his head...but I think he's better now.

Saturday was cold and cloudy. I started off the day by going to Jessica's baby shower. It was a really nice shower, and I was glad to see Jess and her baby bump. They drove down to Tennessee for the weekend. Jessica's mom and Ryan were at the shower, too, so that was a nice treat. I am so happy that Jess and Ryan are expecting. I think I've mentioned this before, but I don't usually care when people are pregnant (I'm sorry, that seems so heartless...but true) So, I actually care about this one! Also, seeing Jessica during her pregnancy makes it seem a little less terrifying to me. She is happy, healthy and carefree - just like her normal self! (only with a little guy in her tummy). I still didn't work up the nerve to touch her stomach.

After the baby shower, Sean and I had ZERO plans. None. Nada. The afternoon was ours for the taking, which never really happens to us. We were thrilled! We ran errands around town, shopped for our Halloween costumes, and even got a milkshake! Sean has chosen to be the zombie version of Billy Mays (the OxyClean infomercial man who died earlier this year), and I will be going as Edward Scissorhands (one of my favorite Johnny Depp characters). Both costumes will require a great deal of makeup to create that "living dead" look, so we'll have to do a dress rehearsal one night.

In addition to costume shopping, I also pulled out the decorations and started transforming our home into a creepy haunted mansion. Ok, not really...I only DREAM about turning our house into a haunted mansion for Halloween. Maybe one day it will happen. For now, I'll have to settle for this cute little tablescape.



We were lucky to have my brother Trey spend Sunday afternoon with us. In addition to the decorating, we carved pumpkins and baked some delicious gingerbread snaps.

Trey's pumpkin is on the left. Look closely and you'll see that it's a pumpkin chomping on a smaller baby pumpkin. Sean's is the while pumpkin with the evil, toothy grin. And mine is at the bottom - the skeleton silhouette.

Check them out in the dark!








Saturday, October 3, 2009

What a Wonderful Week!

So many great things happened over this past week, and I can't wait to share them with you. For starters, the weather has been gorgeous. (A teeny big chilly at times, but I can't complain...) It's hard to be in a bad mood when the sun is shining and there's not a cloud in the sky.

Sunday I enjoyed the weather by going on a 3 mile jog. I ran by my Nonnie's house and had a nice visit with her. She had been to Gatlinburg for a weekend retreat with her church group, so she shared some old-people travel stories with me.

I felt energized all week, and even made it into work super early one day. I've been challenging myself to stay away from sugars and dairy. I'm not a sweets person, but just having a piece of bread, cereal or even salad dressing can secretly add a lot of sugar to your diet. So, I'm choosing things that have no sugars or just 1 or 2 grams. Remember when I did that insanely healthy Gwenyth Paltrow diet? Well, I noticed that throughout the entire week, I never got shaky. By "shaky" I mean that feeling I get when I haven't eaten in a while. I was eating very little during the diet week, but never once did I feel like I was going to pass out. My guess is that I felt OK because I wasn't crashing - my blood sugar level was perfectly consistent (meaning ZERO). So, this week I focused on no sugars and no dairy in hopes that those elements would keep me feeling good. And I think it worked! Well, it worked until Thursday...but I'll tell you more about that in a minute.

First I want to tell you about our softball game. Tuesday night was frightfully cold. I think it got down to 42 degrees, and I was NOT in the mood to play softball. I had been spoiled by having 3 weeks off in a row (1 vacation and 2 rain-outs). We play 2 games each week, and this week was at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. I really just wanted to go home, clean house, hang out with Sean, knit and go to bed early. We lost the first game 16 to 6, but came back in the 2nd game for our FIRST WIN of the season. I don't know how it happened, but it was kind of exciting. Thank goodness I decided to stay for the games because otherwise our team would've had to forfeit!

Wednesday night we received an email that the rental house was in need of more repairs. The fridge wasn't cooling properly, and there's a NEW leak (separate from the one we repaired earlier this year). Wasn't I just saying that there's always something to spend money on??? One of us - either me or Sean - has done something to offend the Rental House Gods. We have GREAT tenants, though, so at least we aren't having to deal with collections or damages.

Thursday was Sherri's 30th birthday, and about 20 of us went to Dan McGuinness to celebrate with her. No sugars? No dairy? HA - I blew it. Cheeseburger, french fries, 4 beers, 1 lemon drop, and a bite of chocolate cake. By the end of the night I was bent over in pain from intense indigestion. And need I say, I did NOT feel good on Friday either...

Friday was busy at work, and don't forget that I had to leave the office to go meet the refrigerator repair man (who was 30 min late). But thankfully, he fixed the fridge while he was there, and we don't have to buy a new one. I worked late that night, and then headed home to my hubby where we shared a delicious dinner and had a fire in the back yard. We sat outside for about an hour. I was knitting, and we talked and stared at the glow of the flames. All of a sudden, the fox appeared! Sean and I looked at the fox, and he (or she) looked back at us. It was quiet for a moment while we sat there in anticipation of his next move, but then he quietly popped back into the woods. He never made a peep or a sudden move. It was haunting in a way, mostly because we could only see him by the firelight.

This morning the alarm went off at 6:50 a.m. Too early for a Saturday, I know, but not if you're going to a GARAGE SALE! Yes, we did it and I'm so proud of us. There's a sickeningly fancy neighborhood called Westhaven just up the road from where we live. They were having a multi-family garage sale, so it seemed like a good opportunity for our first garage sale go-round. I mean, who doesn't want to rummage through rich people's stuff? Westhaven is perfect...almost too perfect. With it's charming streetscapes, perfectly manicured lawns and quaint neighborhood shops, you feel like you've entered a Hollywood movie set. Their website actually says, "...it looked out of a storybook." No kidding! Go here if you don't believe me...but be warned: you'll end up feeling like a piece of shit. But hey, maybe I'm being too hard on ole Westhaven. Nice homes, nice people, nice garage sale...I'd probably live there if I could afford it. WHO AM I KIDDING!? OF COURSE I WOULD LIVE THERE! The garage sale ended up being a success - we scored a pair of lamps for $10, which we needed for our bedroom. We spotted lots of other great buys, but we just didn't need them: like-new strollers, couches that looked un-used, fashionable dining tables, rugs, Pottery Barn dishes, curtains, and table linens, Coach bags, designer clothes (all too small for me)...It was the most surreal garage sale I've ever been to. One of the sellers was dealing change out of a Coach fanny pack.

Sherri's Top 30

Since Thursday was Sherri's 30th birthday, I thought I should give her a little shout out. After all, she is one of the greatest friends of all time. I've known her for 6 years, but it seems like we've been buds since forever. I'm bummed that I forgot to take pictures at her happy-hour birthday party, but I'm sure you can visualize the pink silly string that was stuck in her long brown hair!

Thirty Things About Sherri:
1. She has a great laugh
2. Her handwriting is really small
3. She can never remember how old her younger brother is
4. She's allergic to foods that resemble private parts (melons, nuts, and cucumbers)
5. She likes chocolate cake
6. She appreciates good linens
7. She has pretty hair, which she meticulously styles every morning
8. She doesn't like to call people on the phone
9. She has a giant umbrella. No really, it's the biggest one I've ever seen. People call it a tent.
10. She likes Neal Diamond
11. She does not like concerts
12. She has the TV guide memorized
13. She is missing her gallbladder
14. One time she licked my face
15. One day she decided to quit smoking
16. She also stopped biting her finger nails
17. And she lost 50 lbs.
18. She was born in Wyoming
19. She loves the beach
20. Her dog is Mobie
21. Her 2 best friends are named Jennifer
22. We share the same middle name
23. She is a good listener
24. She loves white cheese dip
25. She's very tidy
26. She's a great storyteller
27. She is loyal
28. She hates Vincent
29. She went to a David Hasslehoff concert
30. She's addicted to peppermints

Monday, September 28, 2009

New season, new things...

After all the rain we've had for the past 2 weeks, the clouds finally moved on and the sky is clear once again. The air is crisp and clean, and was actually CHILLY when I left work tonight. I had on short sleeves, and I definitely could have used a sweater. Hello, Fall...I guess you've officially arrived...and I'm ok with that.

Sean and I took advantage of the cool evening and had our first backyard fire of the season. It was the perfect end to our wonderful weekend (except for the Vols and the Titans BOTH losing...) Other than the losses, we had a fun and productive weekend.

Here are a few of the things we've been up to lately:

#1. Watching our budget. There's always a repair, a need, a gift...something to spend money on, but we've been doing a pretty good job of managing our funds. It helps that I'm mildly obsessive about balancing our checkbook and updating our budget spreadsheet (at least twice a week). Thanks for the finance gene, mom! Sean and I know that we're blessed to still have 2 incomes (unlike some of our friends and neighbors), so we try to be as responsible as possible. Some days I fear that we're going to lose everything all at once. I tend to get caught up in worrying...so much so that I keep myself awake at night, and my stomach stays in knots. But, I need to remember that we're doing well and that all of our needs are met. It gets tricky when your wants outweigh your needs, which is pretty much 100% of the time. Right now I'm trying to avoid my WANT for a new washer and dryer, pretty home furnishings from Pottery Barn, curtains and blinds, new carpet, patio furniture, professional tree trimming, and new clothes. I'm sure that Sean has a full list of his own WANTS. I guess the good thing about 'Wants' is that when they don't come to fruition, you're not exactly screwed. You're just stuck with your old crappy stuff, and that's ok.

I recently stumbled across this blog which inspired me to start second-hand shopping. I've got to overcome my need for instant-gratification. I'm good at exercising "delayed-gratification" (as in, saving up, or only shopping when we have extra funds), but my delayed-gratification eventually becomes instant-gratification once I'm ready to pull the trigger. Make sense? I've got to start training myself to find those bargains! My new mantra has become: I can always find it cheaper. I'm trying to drill this into my brain. My biggest challenge will be waking up early on Saturdays to scour the garage sales. I only have a couple of more weeks left before it becomes too cold. Wish me luck!

A final note about budgets...I've also been trying to keep the grocery bill as low as possible (a never ending challenge). Well, this week we only spent $90 on a week's worth of groceries. SCORE!!! I have meals for every night of the week...except Saturday...and I'm hoping one of our family members will feed us for the night. If not, we can treat ourselves to eating out!

#2. Friends & Events:
- Last Thursday we attended An Evening of Reflection featuring designer Van Hoang from O'More College of Design. What an amazing designer! I just know that Tim Gunn would have the biggest fit over her gorgeous dresses if he ever met her.
- We were also able to stop by The Franklin Bridal Ball at The Factory to see Bonnie's booth.
- Saturday we hosted a dinner party and invited Sherri & Keith and Bobby & Crystal over for spaghetti and meatballs. I had never made meatballs before, but was inspired to give them a try since hearing about the new movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. YUM YUM! The recipe was a hit, and Keith said they were the best meatballs he'd ever had. Now, I don't know if that was a true statement, but I sure appreciate the compliment. The 6 of us had a lovely time. The boys watched football while the girls gossiped in the living room. It was very "grown up" of us.
- Sunday we stopped by dad's bachelor bad to watch the Titans game with him and Trey. We snacked on some good game-day food, and watched the boys lose big time. It sucked, but it was fun visiting with my dad and brother. Trey has been taking guitar lessons, and he played a couple of chords for us. He also got his spacers to make room for BRACES. He's really growing up, and I can't believe he's going to be 11 in less than 2 months. Baby brothers grow up fast.

#3. Knitting. I'm working on 2 projects, with about 3 more in the hopper. I can't reveal my projects because they're all gifts so I can't spoil any secrets for anyone. Sometimes I worry that people dread receiving gifts from me because they're probably thinking "ugh. another damn scarf or hat."

#4. Work. I have some busy times ahead of me, and a lot of responsibility to tackle. Work has been great though, and I still LOVE my new boss. LOVE LOVE LOVE. Sean says that I'm a new person because of her. She makes me want to be the world's biggest suck up, and I have to stop myself from hugging her every day and screaming "THANK YOU! YOU ROCK! YOU'RE THE BEST BOSS EVER!" Otherwise, she might think I'm crazy. Anyway, I have some upcoming travel, but I think they'll be nice visits. I'm probably heading to PA the first week of December, so I hope the winter weather holds off for me.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

what a day...

Tuesday. A harmless day, right? No more 'case of the Mondays,' but not yet burnt out from a week full of work.

Surprisingly, this unsuspecting Tuesday has been quite entertaining for me. My day started with an invitation to join a local college's advisory board. I know, right??? That never happens! Well, at least it doesn't seem to happen to people like me. And in case you're wondering...no, I don't have any qualifications. But, someone out there believed in me enough to reccomend me to the president of the school. I'll hear from him in the next couple of days. I'm quite nervous about it, but also very excited about this opportunity.

Then, while I was talking to Sherri at work (probably gabbing about the advisory board thing) my high heel broke right off my shoe! I tossed the spare high heel on to her desk, and we both shared a good laugh. I spent the rest of the day awkwardly limping around the office.

And for those of you who know me well, this next item won't really come as a suprise -- I spilled food on my brand new shirt. I picked up some new fall clothes from Kohl's a couple of weeks ago, and decided to wear one of the shirts today. I got lots of compliments on it, but then I trashed it by spilling some healthy-GwenythPaltrow-Cleanse dressing crap all over it. I sure hope the oil stains come out!

After lunch, about 1:30, a helicoptor started circling our office building. Come to find out, the Franklin and Nashville Metro police were searching for a bank robber. Yes, a robbery in Franklin in the middle of the day! Gasp.

Speaking of robbery, I am positive that Sean and I spotted a would-be car theif on Sunday afternoon. We were walking back to our car after church, which was parked in the Franklin parking garage on 4th ave (across from Puckett's grocery). Some punk with AWFUL acne (seriously, it was the worst case of pizza face I have ever seen in my life...) was suspiciously walking through the garage. He was alone, and I couldn't help but stare at him #1. Because of the acne, and #2. He's too young to drive, so why is he walking through the parking garage, and #3. He kept his right hand stuffed in his right pocket the entire time. It just wasn't a natural walking stride. I've spotted people stealing stuff from the mall before simply because they were walking awkwardly. Anyway, back to the car theif...I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, thinking "Well, maybe he's meeting his mom in the parking garage???" But no, that was not the case. I should always trust my instincts - and my instincts were telling me that this kid was up to NO GOOD. He disappeared behind a black BMW...but then someone spotted him, so he quickly came out from behind the car and waved at them. It was really bizarre. Clearly, the BMW didn't belong to him. Like I said, he wasn't old enough to drive. After he was spotted, Pizza Face sped up his pace and quickly walked out of the parking garge. His plan to steal stuff out of fancy Franklin cars was ruined by the hundreds of church goers picking up their vehicles in the garage. Next time he sets up a job, I'm sure he'll check the local church schedules first.

So...where was I? Oh yes, weird things that happened today. I think I shared everything with you. Of course, the day isn't over just yet. I still have a softball game at 8:00, and another one at 9. I'm hoping that the games are rained out. I've had a mild headache all day (probably because the rain is moving in), and I just don't feel like playing. I never really feel like playing, but I especially don't feel like playing tonight. A 9:00 game? That shouldn't be legal. It's way too late for old people like me.

Also, I owe you an update on the diet. I haven't fallen off the wagon yet. Still no sugar, fat or dairy. I lost 5 lbs in 5 days. Keep in mind, I started with my "vacation" weight. I think that my body would've naturally dropped 1 or 2 lbs after vacation. But still, I feel really proud that I found the will power to eat so clean (even for a short amount of time). I was scared that depriving my body of so much food and junk would make me feel weak. Yes, I've noticed a difference in the way I feel (mostly hungry), but I was still able to do a decent workout last night. I haven't had any fainting spells due to a lack of eating. I call it a success.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Gwenyth Paltrow is trying to kill me

It's about 10 p.m. on Saturday night. Sean mowed the yard and spent the rest of the day watching football. I did a bit of kitting with my friend Bethany this morning. We went to Bliss Yarns in Brentwood - always a wonderful experience! I taught her how to knit, and I started working on a hat to wear this fall. I spent the rest of the day doing domestic chores (and Sean pitched in, too!).

Last night we went to see Trevor sing with his new band. He is a total rockstar, and really knows how to work a crowd. It's not really my style of music, but I enjoyed his singing. Boy's got a great pair of pipes!

Tomorrow will probably be more domestic stuff, like getting organized for the week, paying bills, finishing laundry, etc. We've been playing it low-key since we got home from the beach. We enjoyed the better part of last week sunning on the beach, gorging on delicious seafood, and doing a little bit of shopping. Because of our recent over-indulging (ok, maybe "recent" isn't the right word - we've been doing this all summer), I decided it was time to clean up my act. More specifically, I wanted to clean up up my eating act. While we were in Destin, I noticed that my jeans were snug, I was bloated and having indigestion (sexy, i know...) So, I made up my mind to go on a 7 day diet called Cleanse.

A few months ago, I caught a late night show with Gwenyth Paltrow as a guest. I really like Gwenyth, and I'd like to think we'd be friends if I, too, were a famous movie star. Of course, Gwenyth was perfectly lovely throughout the interview, and she was promoting her website Goop.com. She also recommended this Cleanse diet that she tried, and said it was successful for her. So, I don't know why, but I wanted to try it, and I thought now would be the perfect time.

First, you should know that I modified the diet to suit my taste and lifestyle. The 7 day menu requires lots of blender use. Instead of making a different soup every day, I decided to stick to 1 soup - homemade miso soup. And instead of the various "breakfasts" they suggested, I'm sticking to the Blueberry Smoothie. Other than that, the diet is basically lots and lots of veggies and liquids. No sugars, no breads, no animal fat, no fruit (except for the blueberries), no caffine, no added salt, and no dairy. The dinners each night are steamed tilapia and steamed greens.

Remember those scenes in I Love Lucy when Lucy would start obnoxiously crying? Yah, that's what I feel like doing right now. I'm not used to this dieting thing. I'm in detox mode, my body is craving EVERYTHING, and I don't like it. I've been hungry for 2 days. GWENYTH PALTROW IS TRYING TO KILL ME!!! No, not really. I've actually been eating a fair amount of calories, considering that this is a cleansing detox diet and everything...

I'm not expecting to lose weight - that's not the purpose of this exercise for me (although, a few pounds would be nice. I'll let you know the outcome). I was just feeling so icky on the inside that I wanted to rid my body of that feeling. I want to eat extremely clean food and get my focus back on healthy eating.

Day 2 is already over, and I know I can make it through day 3 tomorrow. As for days 4-7...those are going to be difficult.

I'll leave you with a few pictures from our trip to the beach. Ciao


Waiting to have dinner at Red Bar in Grayton Beach


Adrienne, Luca, and Sean are ready to dig into our homemade feast:
mussels, shrimp, steak, salad, risotto, and garlic bread


Hanging out at the beach -
we played frisbee, paddle ball (which we sucked at), people-watched,
and of course, worked on our tans


While getting 36 oysters at The Boat House, we got to hear a man play the saw.
yup - just a saw...the kind that cuts wood


View from our condo - Luau at Sandestin

Jordano's famous 3-inch-deep-toppings pizza. You want some?


Looking up at our high rise

The last sunset - it was sad times. We had a great time at the beach, and especially loved having Luca and Adrienne there with us to share in the fun.

And yes, even MORE oysters


Sunday, August 30, 2009

7 Little Happys about Fall and Winter

Only one more day left in August. Does anyone out there understand how terribly ANXIOUS I am over the arrival of fall and winter? I am a nervous wreck...frankly, I'm acting like a total crazy person about it. I'm obsessed with being sad about the end of summer.

So, in order to deal with my anxiety or hatred or whateveritis that I don't like about cold weather, I've been trying to FOCUS on things that I DO enjoy about the next coming months:

1. Backyard fires with Sean; getting bundled up in sweaters, sipping wine, and talking until way past our bedtime.
2. Making chili. I think my recipe is pretty unique and delicious. I enjoy trying to perfect it...and I think Sean enjoys it, too. I also enjoy trying stews and other recipes in the crock pot.
3. HALLOWEEN - I spent half the morning daydreaming about ways to decorate the house for Trick-or-Treters. My #1 Goal at Halloween is to scare the crap out of little kids. Seeing a terrified look on their face equals total success. I need to start planning a costume!
4. As much as I hate to admit it...College Football. Over the past 2 years, I've learned a little more about the teams, the players, and the game itself. I think I actually know what a "safety" is, and I even have a little crush on Tim Tebow. And so, I'm attempting to give College Football a full embrace this fall.
5. Harvest decorations. As soon as we get home from the beach after Labor Day, I'm pulling the fall decorations out of the attic. Pumpkins, acorns, fall leaves...I really love all the rich, golden colors of fall.
6. ...which leads me to...the trees in Tennessee - breathtaking!
7. Knitting. I'm looking forward to visiting Bliss Yarns again - it's been almost a year. The patrons there are so talented, and I love the women who work at the shop. Seeing all the bright colored yarns and watching them whip up beautiful patterns always inspires me. Now if I could just finish a project.....

Ok, that's all I could come up with for now. This was a very good exercise for me. Next time I start feeling blue about packing up my flip flops, I'll try to remember these "7 Little Happys about Fall and Winter."

P.S. For those of you who don't know me all to well, there's a reason that Thanksgiving and Chrismas were not included in this list...I don't like them.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

i need style

Dear Style,

Where are you? I've been looking for you everywhere! Ok, ok...I haven't been looking very hard. But every now and again, I decide that I miss you...no, that I NEED you...and so I keep my eyes peeled for you. I have a hard time finding you. And all the searching gets tiring. It might be difficult for some people to understand how I could miss something I never really had. But Style, I know you're out there...and I know you're waiting for me. We were meant to be together...and I promise...one day we WILL find each other. We just will.

forever yours,

Stacey

As we approach the new fall season, I'm hoping to come into about $50,000 so I can go on a killer shopping spree. There are sooooo many gorgeous things in the world of fashion right now. The SHOES, oh the shoes!!! To quote Rachel Zoe, "I DIE!" I do...I die every time I see something beautiful on the rack, and I ask, "Why God, did you give me such good taste, but with no money?"

It's like the moon without the stars...the rocky without the road...the Dolce without the Gabbana.
I'm a poor, frumpy, unstylish girl just hoping for a miracle...AT LEAST I'M NOT FAT ANYMORE. dang.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

quick update

Things going on right now:
- Project Runway season premier at 9 tonight - eek! I'm worried that I won't be able to stay awake through it. I'm really tired. If I was an hourly employee at work, I'd only have to work 2 hours tomorrow to fulfill my 40 hours. If only life were so great...

- I joined my work's co-ed softball team yesterday. What was I thinking? We had our first practice last night, and today I'm so terribly sore. My back aches like I was hauling 1000 lbs. for the past 24 hours. ouch. I don't know how I'm going to make it through the season. Did I mention I'm not the least bit atheletic???

- My cute french pedicure from last month is finally wearing off. It looks like crap, and one of my toenails cracked off today. I guess I need to do something about my ugly feet. Eh, maybe later this weekend...

- speaking of the weekend, I'm really excited about what's in store! Tomorrow I'm taking Amanda to Gojo, the Ethiopian restaurant that I love. it's going to be so delicious. After dinner we're going to see Julie & Julia. On Saturday I'm heading up to Hendersonville, and Sherri and I are going to spend the night at Crystal's. Who says 27 year olds can't have sleepovers? So what?! I think it's going to be a blast.

- Two weeks from Saturday we'll be on our way to Destin. Sean found a ridiculously cheap condo on the beach! And we're taking a Couples Vacation with Luca and Adrienne. I almost couldn't sleep last night because I was so excited about the trip.

- I need to finish folding laundry.

-One of my very favorite people, and a dear friend (Jessica) found out she's having a baby boy. I'm honestly excited for her and her husband. Normally when people say they're expecting, I say all the right things, like: "Ohhhh yaaaay, that is soooo awseome. Congratulations!" But really I'm thinking "Oh, this is awkward...I really don't care, but I don't know how to get out of this coversation." But for Jess and Ryan, I'm really truly excited for them. I've never had such a close friend have a baby before. Jess and I don't stay in touch very frequently, but we know we love each other! And I just can't wait to see them with a baby. Thank goodness for Facebook!

Monday, August 17, 2009

I'm sad...

Today was a long day at work, and I didn't leave the office until 7:15 p.m. Overall, it wasn't a bad day...just very busy. But the worst part of my day happened when I was leaving the parking lot. I turned my car on and realized that I HAD TO USE MY HEADLIGHTS!!! Yes, folks...it's that time of year again. Summer Solstice has come and gone, and we're losing our daylight. We're entering that time of year where God rips the sunshine away from us and kills everything.

Winter is so depressing to me, and I really dread it.

Turning on my headlights caused a little ache in my heart this evening.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Confessions of a Suburbanite DINK

Sometimes I fantasize about apartment dwelling…
...the energy of the city right at your front door, being cool by association, public transportation, no lawn to manicure, owning swanky West Elm furniture, coffee shops and bars within walking distance, nightlife…shopping…it all seems so glamorous!

But there’s no point in trying to be something I’m not, right? No, this girl is not, and never will be, a city dweller. While I have a true appreciation for the city and it’s people, there’s no denying that the suburbs are where I was born to be.

Every Sunday I drive my mid-sized, American-made sedan to the grocery store, and I fill my big trunk with over $150 worth of non-organic groceries. One of our more favorite weekend pleasures is to grill a big, fatty steak and enjoy a night out on the patio. Our property backs up to a wooded area, and as you may know, we get frequent visits from wildlife. It’s virtually private if you consider the fact that one of our neighbors is always out of town and the others are hermits. I could probably walk outside in the nude if I was ever inclined to do so.

Sean and I lived in the city for three years. And while Nashville isn’t all that big, it still counts. I think I heard gun shots at least once, and I probably saw prostitutes and drug deals happening on a daily basis (although, I wouldn’t have known it…) Hearing trains, sirens, and loud barking dogs throughout the night became part of our life. But now that we’re in the suburbs, I remember how much I love the quiet. Not just the quiet, but the total silence. The first few nights we spent at the new house were so quiet that it made us laugh out loud!

The city not only comes with special sounds, it also comes with special neighbors...like the trashy people that used to live 2 doors down from us. I can't even begin to explain how absolutely disgusting their property was. Every time I looked out my window, I started singing the theme to Sanford and Son. I dreamed of codes and rules and an HOA...and now I have one! Maybe one day they'll even make me the HOA president.

I mean, Franklin isn't perfect. We do actually have 1 homeless person and a few sketchy neighborhoods. But as long as you turn your head, they don't exist.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Summer Part II (all of July)

Tennessee in July is usually a hot, humid and an overall uncomfortable experience. So when we entered this July with refreshinginly cool air, I was a little freaked out but also VERY thrilled with the breathability! Thanks to the frequent rains, our grass is green and the plants are healthy. Our tomato plant, which was one of my b-day present from Sean, finally decided to spout 3 baby tomatoes! The basil is going crazy, too. Maybe this time next year we'll be looking at squash and peppers, too.

July was full of back-to-back activities, and the entire month flew by like a flash of lightning. We were busy with work, home projects and a little bit of travel. Sean and I took off to Alabama for the 4th of July to visit my mom's cousins. Sean was suffering from a painful sunburn at the time, so we did some night swimming in Cousin Brenda's pool to avoid the sun. Even though a few bats were swooping down over my head, I had a nice and relaxing evening with the extended family. We ate our weight in BBQ ribs and reminisced about old times.

The next couple of weeks were dedicated to one thing only: FLOORS. It was time to give our bottom level a facelift, so we decided to install laminate...ourselves! (Actually, we decided to install hardwood, but our pocketbook decided that we wanted laminate instead.) Besides painting a few rooms, we'd never tackled an actualy DIY project. I'm really pleased with the final product, and I can't believe we did it! I only had one minor incident with the mitre saw, but I got to keep my left thumb, so it's all good.

The new floors were finished just in time to welcome our out-of-town visitors Jordan and Marc. They came down from North Carolina for for a weekend visit. Jordan and I have been friends since 7th grade, and even though she moved away the very next year, we've continued to stay in touch.
We showed our guests around Downtown Franklin, had a big country breakfast at Dotson's and toured the historic Carter House (site of the Civil War's Battle of Franklin).
Marc and Jordan in the Franklin square
(click on the pic to enlarge!)
Enjoying my favorite pizza from Mafioza's



One week later, Sean and I were on our way to Chicago to visit his sister Emily. She had a fun few days planned for us in the Second City. Although, if you ask me, Chicago is way better than NYC...

We spent the weekend tasting local food from Ann Sather (traditional Swedish food) and Tango Sur (Brazilian steaks and killer chimichurri), visiting the Lincoln Park street fair, catching jazz tunes at Green Mill, cheering for the Cubs, and getting dolled up for DJ Corey's White Party event.

As someone who loves good breakfast food, Ann Sather was definitely a highlight of my trip. The 3 of us each got an order of the cinnamon rolls as one of our 2 side items...and they were a big as our faces! I also enjoyed listenting to the scat singer at Green Mill. This 1920's hot spot for gangsters (namely Al Capone) is still cranking out honest-to-God jazz. There was a 3-piece organ trio playing "Girl from Impanema," and this hefty white girl was belting out tunes from all the jazz elders. Sitting there in the haunting red glow of the neon sign and hearing her scat was enough to give me chills.

The White Party was our main event, and it was quite the spectacle! A few hundred people (all wearing white, of course) turned out at Navy Pier to board a chartered cruise boat. Before we left the dock, the DJ played "I'm on a Boat!" from the famous SNL skit, and the crowd went crazy. From there, it was a night full of drinkin' and dancin', and we even got a fireworks show. Watching the sun set over the Chicgao skyline was so picturesque. And if that wasn't enough, there was an after party at the Enclave which is a high-end night club frequented by famous people such as Paris Hilton and The Black Eyed Peas. It was the most posh place I've ever set foot in, and thank goodness we all had on white. It was like a "safety uniform", so no one knew the truth about this unfashionable girl from Tennessee.

Go, Cubs, Go!




Chi-town


Emily and me at the beach...of Lake Michigan...where the water was 68 degrees...

Stacey and Sean at The White Party


Siblings!





Sunday, July 5, 2009

Summer Part I

Since we moved to Franklin in March, our Spring was dedicated to home projects. You know, unpacking, buying stuff, setting up, painting, letting my sister move in...

We watched the trees bloom and the grass grow, and once the back yard was recharged with life again it was time to throw a party! In early June we invited everyone over to eat, drink, and be merry in our new backyard. (Of course, we allowed them into the house, too.)


Sean perfects the art of Ladderball

Proud Grandpa Matt showing off one of his many grand-girls Emma Kate.
Look at those cheeks!
Carrie and her daughter Kaylee sharing a good story (and it must have stunk)


My tallented mother-in-law Bonnie Denton of Belles Fleurs Designs (http://www.bellesfleursdesigns.com/)
gave us the MOST BEAUTIFUL arrangement as a centerpiece for our buffet.
I asked her to make something "summery and fun," and boy did she ever!
The flowers were a hit, and so were the mini BBQ Burritos.



My roomie/sister with her BFF Lauren


Later in June we headed North to visit Sean's family in New Jersey. We spent a weekend celebrating Keirsten's graduation from college as well as Father's Day with Tom and Pop Pop. It's always such a treat to go visit that side of the family, and I was sorry the trip ended so quickly. The Carrolls are a fun bunch! Aunt Judi hosted a fab party where we ate delicious food and played L-C-R (left-right-center). Of course Uncle Greg won the loot because he's the luckiest man in the world.
Here we are with Keirsten at her Graduation Celebration...

...and Sean with his dad at Citizen's Bank Park after we watched the Phillies LOSE.
Happy Father's Day, Tom!

Before we hit the stadium, Sean, Dad, Ann and me went to Chickie & Pete's for some pre-game crabs. Sorry no pictures, but our hands were too messy to pick up the camera. The crabs were swimming in a delicious Maryland-style broth of butter, garlic, and Old Bay. C&P's is a hot-spot for Phillies fans since it's within walking distance of the stadium. And knowing that their crabs will dirty your paws, C&P's made sure to add a large sink in the center of the restaurant. I found this very helpful! It was a lot of hard work to break apart all those little crab legs, but it was well worth the fight.
Speaking of a fight, the Pillies put up a good one against the Orioles but ended up losing. Here I am with Ann and Dad before we realized the game was going to be a bust.

Go Phillies!

June flew by too quickly, and so did July. Here it is August 1st and I have only been to the pool TWICE!