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Monday, December 31, 2012

On 2012...

So this has been a pretty interesting year for yours truly (but really, aren't all years interesting?). Much has happened - I have moved, completely immersed myself in a new job (that I'd actually started at the end of 2011), and discovered a new appreciation for kale. I've had quite a few over-the-top rants and many fun, magical moments. Here are some of the more meaningful things I've learned this year:

1) Kale is the best vegetable ever. Nobody can argue this. It is delicious when cooked with brown sugar and apple cider vinegar and also amazing in a salad, with lots of avocado. This wonderful veggie has LOADS of health benefits and is jam packed with calcium, potassium and other super-awesome things.

2) I can rock fur. Not real fur, fake fur of course. But I can rock it. Especially furry legwarmer boot things. Didn't buy any yet but I have tried them on at the stripper store. Yes, the stripper store. (Let me note that this revelation came far earlier than 2012 but it was so incredibly meaningful I could not resist sharing in this post).

3) Immersion experiences are awesome, but don't push it too hard when it comes to work. Taking care of oneself should always come first. This is, of course, much easier said than done. Yoga helps A LOT (unfortunately, discovered this at the END of 2012 - should have started much earlier). That said, my job rocks and I've met some of the greatest people EVER through my work!

4) It's okay to put up lights year round, as long as it is done in a tasteful way (the extent of "tasteful" being defined by said decorator, of course. For example, if you live in a camper - go nuts). Lights are sparkly, therefore ALWAYS acceptable. In my sparkly world, one of the first things I did in when we moved into our condo was to string white lights around our curtain rod in the living room, globe lights around our hutch, and starry lights around our bedroom curtains. It really makes for a fun atmosphere!

5) Reading for pleasure definitely pleases and sparkles. I read, like, 5 books this year for pure pleasure!!! And not one of them was 50 Shades of Grey (although I hear it is, um, quite pleasurable). After spending 5 years reading for educational purposes, it was nice to actually enjoy books for the sake of enjoyment.

6) It's important to reward oneself on a daily basis with little treats. SO important. You want the cupcake? Eat the cupcake. And quit your bitching about it sitting on your hips and ass (this is really relevant to yours truly) - I GUARANTEE you one cupcake will not expand your waistline.

7) Don't exercise because you have to, do it because you want to, and not to excess. For much of this year I obsessed over logging at least 30 miles of running a week. Not really sure why - I only ran one half marathon and a bunch of 5K's, but for whatever reason felt it was an absolute necessity that I logged a certain number of weekly miles (and if I didn't log some weeks would beat myself up over it and then try to log extra miles the following week). There's some real awesome self-care, Lady. Well, guess what ended up happening? I sprained my ankle twice this year AND ran through a stress fracture in my shin. RAN THROUGH IT. So because of my awesome decisions I ended up doing PT and NOT running for the last 2 months of the year. And ya know what, it wasn't that bad. As mentioned in #3, yoga helps. A lot. 

8) I don't care what you say, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo is amazing. I watched every episode and LOVED each one. Anyone who plays games like "guess who's breath" and is creative enough to make spaghetti sauce using butter, ketchup and road kill is cool in my book. Calling lady parts "biscuits"? Wish I'd thought of it first. And shopping at the dump? Hey, it's smart AND economical. Haters gonna hate.


That's all I got - stay tuned for more sparkly things in 2013. Happy New Year!!!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Do it yo'self - Make something old kinda funky!

So this old hutch is one that has been in my family for 3 generations. My mom began to stain it several years back but never finished, so basically Chris and I have had a crappy, unfinished hutch in our apartments for 10 years. Can you believe it took me 10 YEARS to do ANYTHING to this old thing? I'd had every intention of staining it but just kept coming up with excuses. Well I finally made a move!

This was the before (completed the sanding - just as I was starting the first coat of paint). See how crappy it looks? There's even a knob missing.

This was the midpoint (first color done - a pale pink)

After the pale pink, I tried using a "weathering" glaze, but when I painted on the top coat (a chocolate brown), the weathering didn't really show up (boo!!!!) so I gave it a weathered look by beating it up a bit with a screwdriver (quite cathartic) and sanding a lot of the edges. I also got some super cute crystal knobs from Hobby Lobby that worked out pretty well :) and YES, that is Gizmo.

AND to boot, I reupholstered the dining room chairs (also very old) in a pink and chocolate damask fabric that sorta matches the hutch!!

How fun was this??!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

It's my first CAT-URDAY!!

In honor of my first Caturday post, I wanted to share a few pics I made with this amazing app called "Cat Effects." Yes, I know, it's completely lame that I've poured ANY time into this but I've found it to be terribly addictive. The best is when Chris and I are in a room together and I send him a picture of himself with a mountain lion in the background and I'm all, "hey, hon, be careful going to the bathroom because, ya know, there's a mountain lion chilling in the hallway right behind you."

So in the spirit of this, thought I'd share a few of my most proudest creations:

Chris thinks he's just enjoying a cold one, but little does he know, he's being stalked from behind...

My dad is one hard-core dude! To get this close to a tiger (and a pissed off one at that) takes GUTS.

David (brother-in-law) enjoyed the company of more than just yours truly after his slice of pizza. Cuteness overload alert WHAT??!!

The guys and Simba, waiting for a concert.

So I apologize profusely for this post. Please don't unsubscribe from me for this. Please.

Friday, December 7, 2012

On holiday junk food...

So Chris and I started this experiment that involves "testing" a whole bunch of unhealthy holiday treats and reviewing them. It was TOTALLY his idea and I really couldn't say no. I mean, come on, he came home with the biggest grin on his face and had arms full of holiday treats, for "experimental purposes," he said. How could I say no?

Not to mention the fact that I can't run for like a month due to tendonitis that just won't go away, so the calories I take in from this experiment, well, they have nowhere to go but my hips and ass. Yay. But.....this is all for the sake of love. And bloggery.

So here's my philosophy on junk food - I LOVE sweets. There is no doubt that I have got a horrific sweet tooth. As a tween/teen, I noshed on Little Debbie snack cakes for lunch, giant chocolate chip cookies that they served at my school cafeteria (they were pretty frickkin' amazing), and my parents and I would usually have a half gallon of Breyers in the freezer that we'd go through in, oh, 2 days. It was horrible.

So oddly enough, when I got to college I actually lost 15 pounds my freshman year, mainly because the food choices on campus were, um, sub-par. Plus I walked. A lot. And somewhere in the midst of all of this, I started to develop healthy eating habits. As an adult, I get giddy over health food stores, especially ones that serve tofu wraps and fresh sides like tabbouli and bean salads - YUM. When Chris is out of town and I'm a one-woman show, I could go nuts and eat at the restaurants Chris doesn't like. But instead, I cook roasted veggies and nosh on quinoa and kale.

I love the way healthy food makes me feel. I can't imagine going back to junk food. Even when we order pizza (a rarity), I always accompany my 2 slices with a giant kale salad.

So you can imagine how difficult this experiment is for me. My greatest fear is that I will go back there again. I'm afraid that the memories conjured up by this will make me go nuts, and should things get stressful enough over the next few weeks, I may go into the kitchen and have a snack cake binge. Especially since I work from home 2 days a hips and ass will double in size by 2013. Oh dear...

Here's how I typically handle sweets. I WILL allow myself to have dessert if we're out at a nice restaurant and they serve something I really love. Just because this is such a rarity, I think it's really good to do things like that. And each day, I typically allow myself one sweet treat (usually well under 200 calories). Because I've found that so often, one cookie is actually enough. Or even a spoonful of nutella. But it's usually a cookie that's made with very few ingredients, or if we do ice cream I get plan vanilla bean (the one with like 5 ingredients). Wow, I'm such a control freak. This is borderline nutty, right?

So now I'm relinquishing control to the snack cakes. Wish me luck.

Here's a link to our experiment.

 I'm dying to know your thoughts!

Also, here's a cute picture of owl kisses. This is me and Chris (d'awwwww):

Wishing everyone peace, love and sparkly things today!!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

So let's talk about the Rockafire Explosion.

Okay, so I grew up in the 80's and lived in a small-ish town called Macon, GA. While many things about Macon were not so great (humidity, a downtown that did the opposite of thrive, very traditional local officials who were not fans of progression), there were a few key things about the town that were quite charming. The one that spoke most to me as a kiddo was Showbiz Pizza. Any Maconites who grew up in the 80's should definitely be able to remember this place. And from what I understand, the place was a franchise with restaurants in other parts of the country as well.

Showbiz was just magical. There was an arcade with skee ball, video games and of course the ball pit where kids would sometimes pee (not me - ewww gross, but I sure did overlook that - come on, the ball pit was FUN and a little pee never hurt anybody). BUT, you guys, the arcade had NOTHING on the Rock-afire Explosion. That was the name of Billy Bob's animatronic band!!

So I may have been a tiny bit afraid of Billy Bob. He was the giant bear that sang Beach Boys tunes onstage with Fats the Gorilla (even scarier than Billy Bob), Dook, the drummer (a dog with floppy ears), a beach bear that was kind of an airhead, and a mouse cheerleader named Mitzi. (There were other characters as well, but these are the ones I choose to remember - and it's my blog, so deal with it). Billy Bob was GREAT onstage, but after the shows, he would sometimes come out into the audience to meet the kids. Thank God Fats the Gorilla never did that. Billy Bob was scary enough. After being entertained by fun music and pizza, the last thing I needed was to throw up all over a giant gorilla out of sheer fear.

Fats the Gorilla - OMG so creepy - thank you for staying on stage!!

I remember when they closed Showbiz down, replacing it with an Olive Garden. It was hands down one of the most devastating experiences of my life. When you have that connection with a place, one that is both awesome and kind of scary, it changes you, ya know? The Olive Garden will never do that for me.

Showbiz, thank you for teaching me these life lessons:

1. The Rockafire Explosion makes any food (even TERRIBLE pizza) taste so good.
2. Ignore the pee. Just have fun!
3. Giant bears are magnificent creatures. One should both fear and respect them. And NEVER get too close.

Several years ago, when Chris and I were at the Brunswick fair, we heard it. Help Me Rhonda. We looked at each other with wide eyes. No way. But yes, it was true. The Rock-afire Explosion was just around the corner. We were so excited and mesmerized (and maybe just a tiny bit scared) by it all that we just stood and watched, our mouths gaping open. It was, hands down, one of the most beautiful moments of our marriage. We both knew, right then and there, that we shared that same feeling - that same fondness, respect and nostalgia for the big country bear and his pals.

The whole group - one big happy, kinda creepy family :)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

On Chinese food, life and goats...

About a week ago I had a complete breakdown over Chinese food. Well, it wasn't actually OVER Chinese food; however that was the said catalyst of this breakdown. After an especially stressful week, I stopped by one of very few Chinese takeout places on the way home and wanted tofu and vegetables, expecting to pay maybe $5 or $6 for a small order. The cheapest version on the menu was $10.50 and it included all these extras (egg roll, soup, a kitchen sink, etc.). I didn't want all the freaking extras - I JUST WANTED TOFU AND VEGETABLES!!! They wouldn't even consider doing that for me, so I stormed out and had a complete freakout in my car.

When I finally calmed down (and my husband confronted me about my complete withdrawal and moodiness, over the past few weeks; not to mention the fact that I hadn't gotten a decent night's sleep in a while due to 1, 2, or 3AM anxiety attacks), it finally occurred to me that I was in the midst of a depressive episode. I hadn't had one for quite some time, and being a social worker, I should be able to identify these things, right? Maybe in others, but not so much in myself. Coming to this realization did not excuse my behavior, however it was a wake-up call that some things in my life need to change.

So coincidentally, following this breakdown/wake-up call, we are in the midst of moving into a new condo. It's smaller and much more unique than the cookie cutter apartment we currently live in (plus it's way cheaper AND it's located across the street from a really great park), so I'm just happy as a clam. Frankly, in finding a new place to live, I could care less about square footage - the only two things that matter to me are a large, walk-in closet and a big kitchen; both of which are spectacular in this condo. Yay for closets and kitchens!! But I digress.

I am taking this week off from work in order to re-evaluate/re-define/re-organize my life. Here are the promises I am making myself, starting right now:

1. I will no longer eat whatever I want on the weekends because "all bets are off" since I eat so healthy during the week. Eating unhealthy food always makes me feel like crap, so I'll continue my healthy eating choices as often as possible (weekday or weekend) and when I really crave something unhealthy, I'll eat a small-moderate amount of it (no more binging on entire bags of chex mix).

2. I will meditate for at least 10 minutes a day, NO MATTER WHAT. I will also prioritize finding a more concrete spiritual path.

3. I will make every possible effort to stop taking things personally.

4. I will indulge in experiences, not stuff. In fact, I will continue to give away as much unnecessary "excessive crap" I possibly can. Unloading and having less will undoubtedly give me so much more peace of mind and will hence impact #2.

5. I will say no when I should. I will not operate on guilt. When I begin to feel guilt, I will learn to recognize it as a sign that something is off and I need to re-evaluate things.

6. I will clean my car and I will make it a priority to keep it clean. Just because I'm by nature a messy person does not mean that I have to live that way. It's never to late to change those habits.

7. I will exercise 5-6 days a week (as I am) but will not beat myself up if I miss a workout. In fact, I will stop beating myself up in general. I will also stop apologizing for things that are not my fault.

8. I won't be hatin' on others. In fact, I will do the opposite. Through not taking things personally, I will teach myself to strengthen the relationships I have and to open myself up to new ones. It recently occurred to me that perhaps, maybe just maybe, one of the most important purposes of human existence is connection: with God (or whatever higher power you may believe in), with the universe, with EACH OTHER. And once we realize these connections and embrace them with love and acceptance, PERHAPS we can achieve a higher level of consciousness and thus, be happier and less sucky. Just a thought...

9. And most importantly - I will sparkle more. Much more.

That is it.

Now for the silly part of my post. So I've sort of got an obsession over miniature farm animals. I had previously been pretty certain I would eventually get an African Pygmy goat. Well, I've changed my mind. HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A MINIATURE NIGERIAN DWARF GOAT??


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Reflections of the summer past...

I am so excited that it is finally September. I LOVE Fall more than puppies (yah, I know) and look forward to all of the super fun, magical offerings the season has in store for me. That being said, I want to share some really cool discoveries I have made over the summer, being that it's been a minute (or two) since I posted anything.

So with that, here is a list of awesome discoveries in my life:

1. Estate Sales - WHAT? Who knew that looking through dead peoples' stuff could be so fun? Chris and I have recently jumped on this train and found it to be both incredibly depressing and quite invigorating. It's weird going through someone's house, sifting through their Christmas decorations (dead people seem to have a lot of them) and other stuff, then deciding that it's just too sad (and sometimes creepy), feeling bad and then leaving empty handed. (BTW, anyone ever heard of haunted objects? Well, if an object were to be haunted, I GUARANTEE it would have come from an estate sale). Then we always go get a beer and talk about life.

2. The connection between mind and body. I know, sounds really frickkin' deep. Well, that's because it IS DEEP. People so oftentimes have pains because - wait for it - they are experiencing some sort of emotional struggles that they don't know how to process in an effective manner, and thus, said emotional struggles manifest via physical symptoms!!! I learned this because I just kept turning my ankles, over and over again, and a dear friend pointed out that perhaps I have too many different things going on in that brilliant mind of mine and am thus struggling to effectively manage this plethora of incredibly insightful thoughts (most recent internal conflicts - which My Little Pony would I be and what type of kale should I be purchasing, organic or non-organic - side note, always go with organic kale).  The key to fixing these problems? BALANCE. Meditation and yoga is so important, you guys. OMG (I'm serious).

3. My cat really does look an awful lot like Hitler. Not sure how cool this is, but really, it's kinda creepy. Especially when you open the dryer and find THAT.  **shudder**

4. Being vegetarian-ish has made me feel incredibly empowered and the opposite of guilty. When I drive by a chicken truck now, I can just smile and wave, completely and totally guiltless. But I will NEVER, EVER judge another person for eating meat. That's ugly, and mean. And I'm still noshing on fish, so I really have no room to be judgy.

5. I think I should get a school bus, just because it would make my life much easier. Then I could take whomever I want wherever I want (within a 200 or so mile radius) without fear of not having room for everybody. That would be really nice, and people would love me even more than they do. Sigh. I would call it "The Sparkle Bus" and paint it purple. Because, really, is it THAT necessary that school buses be so darn yellow? I think I'm going to start a campaign to make school buses more sparkly. I'll call it "The Sparkly Bus Project." Who's with me?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Make it yo'self! Black Bean Burger Salad

So I know we all have our fave veggie burgers, right? I myself am a Morningstar Farms girl, but most people I know like Boca. But have you ever actually looked at the ingredient list on these puppies? It's pretty scary. Loads of long, artificall-y sounding words that CANNOT be good for our systems. And they're supposed to be healthy? Umm, no. So you'd think the black bean burgers would be the safest bet, right? Well, that was my thinking too, however I found that many black bean burgers are also loaded with crap. So I decided to make my own and let me tell you, it was a super fun, spectacularly successful culinary adventure. :)

Black Bean Burger Salad with Homemade Garlic Guacomole

Black Bean Burgers

1 can black beans
1/2 Vidalia onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 tbsp spicy mustard (I like TJ's garlic aioli mustard)
1/3 cup oats
sea salt
fresh ground pepper
1 egg

Blend everything together in a food processor. Form the mixture into four patties. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan over medium-high. Fry those puppies for 3-5 minutes per side. They may fall apart a bit when you flip them but trust me, they are worth it.

Homemade Guac

1 avocado
juice of 1 lime
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
sea salt
dash liquid smoke
handful of freshly chopped tomatoes

Mash together in a bowl. That is it.

Serve black bean burgers over a bed of butter lettuce with homemade guac, a sprinkling of jack cheese, a dab of sour cream and the dressing of your choice (I used salsa ranch - the yogurt kind that's super low in calories but sooooo delicious). Eat up!!

Friday, June 8, 2012

A vegetable that is TRULY newsworthy

So this week in the news I learned that a man ate anther man's face, PLUS another man ate his roommate's brain and heart. Sick sick eww eww gross. This is the kind of thing that keeps me awake at night.  I mean, why would ANYONE want to go eat another person's brain, or face when there's plenty of delicious, nutritious food available at your local supermarket? Like kale. Kale is one of the most delicious things out there that many people don't really know how to enjoy.  Plus it has LOADS of incredible health benefits and is power punched with vitamin C, D, tons of calcium AND iron. WHAT??!! I bet if those two fellas had more kale in their diet, they may not have gone all cannibally. Just saying. With that, I'd love to share a really great kale recipe I've recently created:

This has no title. It's just plain good. Saute kale in a tablespoonful of olive oil. Pour some apple cider vinegar and sprinkle some brown sugar on it as it's being cooked. I also added in a tiny bit of liquid smoke which really seemed to enhance the flava. Enjoy! I love this so much I've eaten it for lunch like every day for the past 2 weeks. It is THAT good.

If you're feeling frisky and really want to make it exciting, scramble in a couple of eggs, then top with a bit of sprinkled goat cheese.

Try it and tell me you don't love it. I DARE YOU.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

It's my birthday and I'll ask for a talking cat if I want to!

So it's really not my birthday. BUT it is my Birthday Month. Growing up an only child (OC), birthdays are a really big deal (sorry friends with siblings, who didn't get parties every year). I think it's grown-ups' way of making up for the fact that OC's oftentimes do not have anyone to play with and thus end up doing really sad things like having tea parties with stuffed animals and having an emotional breakdown because they won't talk to her. Becoming a grown-up and NOT having a princess/Garfield/Fraggle Rock/Muppets themed party every year is a shock to the system. Yes, I should be a bit more graceful about aging, as I will be hitting the big 32 this month. But truly I still get really excited when Birthday Month rolls around, and I'm pretty certain this will always be the case.

So in the spirit of this month, if you're wondering what to get me, here are a few possibilities:

1. Figure out a way to make my cat talk. This is truly the greatest gift you could possibly give. I look at him and wonder what he's thinking, if he really loves me or if he's just thinking about the next opportunity he will have to sit on my computer while I'm working. Yesterday he actually managed to turn it OFF with his paw while I was in the middle of putting together a pretty important email.

2. I NEED a pair of these. They're called Superman Shoes, and I'm pretty sure they could change my life.


3. A teleportation device. Anyone who knows me is probably aware that while most folks fantasize about being a celebrity or winning the mega millions, I fantasize about being able to teleport anywhere, at a whim. I would never be late for anything again. "Oh, you guys are going to Applebee's for lunch? Cool, well while I'd love a chicken finger basket, I think I'm gonna pop over to Fiji. I'll be back by 1." I'd feel guilty for about 5 minutes but would get over it because, if you had a cool superpower YOU would use it for personal gain as well. Haters gonna hate.

4. A special taser to use on people who say things like "Valentimes Day", "nucular," put "s's" on things that don't have s's (e.g., "I'm going to Kroger's"), use double negatives, slurp loudly when they eat peaches, and smack their gum. But the type of taser in which the victim immediately forgets about said tasing (and most importantly, said perpetrator) once he/she comes to. This could be quite fun...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Why Chris pleases and sparkles

So bear with me here while I talk about mushy stuff. I have been with my hubsters for over half my life. We were married in 2002 but we started dating when I was a mere 15. We've had some good times and some less good times (but NEVER bad), and have most definitely struggled with the cash flow. But despite the struggles we have faced through the course of our nearly 10 year marriage, many things remind me why I love me some Chris.

1. We do interpretive dances in the car. Okay, so let me back this up by first saying that this began when we were living in a very small, south Georgia town. There was little for us to do so we had to get creative. Hence, on the drives to the metropolis of Savannah, we began our foray into interpretive dance with Abba. It has since evolved and we have brought in new artists including Queen, Desiree AND the Spice Girls. That hasn't faltered and it makes me real happy.

2. He loves cats. It's a beautiful thing when a man gets just as excited as me when the cat purrs incessantly with its tongue hanging out of its mouth. Oh, and cats love him too. Except when they attack him. Which seems to happen a lot...

3. We can spend an entire weekend watching a whole season of Supernatural, Parks and Recreation or Downton Abbey together and will unanimously conclude that our time was "well spent" and we have "no regrets."

4. He jumped out of a plane for me.

5. He's really good at organizing things!! It's crazy, I wouldn't by any means consider him to be a "neat freak" but he complements my OCD about "the appearance of neatness" by actually putting things into some sort of order. Putting lights on the Christmas tree practically involves a frickkin' planning committee for him. It's cute.

6. He eats whatever I put in front of him. No lie. I've even seen him choke down some pretty wretched, horrific "culinary creations" of mine.

7. He just gets cuter and cuter with age. Some people don't age well. Not Chris.

8. I cannot shake him, no matter how vulgar or horrible the things that come out of my mouth may be. I love that I can just completely let loose and say the most wretched things I want and NOT feel like I'm being judged (partially because I know he's probably thinking the same thing, if not worse). It's nice, and refreshing, to have a husband who's also a BFF.

9. He gets JUST as excited about snow as I do!

9. He stops at the roadside gas station in the middle of nowhere just so that I can feed the llamas, bull and goats. Seriously, this happened.