Monday, August 25, 2008

Three Things

1. With the exception of one shameful afternoon spent with a pint of Banana Split ice cream (which is truly a miracle of science)... the diet seems to be going OK. I've lost six pounds so far and no longer feel the need to unbutton my pants after dinner. That's huge folks.

2. The office clean-up is going more slowly than expected. I spent most of the weekend with a can of putty, plugging hundreds of nail holes and realizing that repainting on a small scale is inevitable. I've never in my whole life been so thankful to have white walls.

Wield your hammers carefully ladies... this putty stuff is hell on the nails.

3. And lastly, I'm going offline for a while. I'm going to be spending some quality time with family... which was why I could not resist posting this picture of my mom (the little one) and my aunt (the older one) when they were kids. Ahh... family love.

I'm looking forward to down time, some travel and lastly (but most importantly), time with my precious niece. It's a little daunting to think of two weeks away from blogging, it's such an ingrained part of the day. But, I think it's important to step away from the computer and do some living. Forgive me if I don't return emails or comments as I'll be computer-less for most of the time.

See you soon.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Seeing the Light

The big office throw-away-reorganization is coming along, slowly but surely. Last night I was able to stand in the middle of the room without impaling myself or falling down. That last sentence would probably make Martha Stewart cringe, but in my world it's cause for celebration.

The funny thing about this is I've managed to do most of it during a work week. Usually, I save these kinds of back breaking projects for the weekend; which is insane. Why save work for the two days of free time in my week? Working for a few hours each night after dinner is really a new concept, but very exciting. And besides, anything is better than losing three hours a night to tv. Yikes.

Anyway, thanks for all the many well wishes. Hopefully after I spackle (the walls look like swiss cheese) and grab a couple new items, I'll share the end result with you. It's nothing stupendous or Domino-worthy, but I think the office will finally be complete. Thank goodness, I'm exhausted and the trash men are going to be furious with the extra items on the curb today.

Don't worry, it wasn't anything good.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Clean House

I realized last week that my office is completely claustrophobic. It's the smallest room in the house, and arranging it has driven me crazy for the past two years. But the problem is not the small room, or even my lack of decorating funds. The problem is that there's TOO MUCH STUFF in it. So after reading this extremely simple, yet informative, article, I decided to take some serious action.
I'm pretending that Clean House has come to visit and that Niecy Nash is bribing me with fabulous promises to get me to clean out the clutter in my office. Except she's not... but since I'm two trash bags full and counting, this delusional fantasy seems to be working.
Wish me luck!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New Bird and An Ouch

I spied this little bird planter recently and fell in love with it. I fell in love with it even more when I spied the $3 price tag on the bottom. It reminded me of something from Anthropologie, except without the "holy smokes I cant pay my mortgage now" price tag.

And I've also discovered that I'm physically falling apart.

I walk everyday on my lunch hour at a nearby gym. One solid hour of brisk walking, iPod music blaring, a spritz of Coconut Lime Verbena body spray afterwards so I don't smell like "recess" when I go back to work. It's really turned into a habit that I love, if for no other reason than the stress relief. It truly makes the last few hours of the workday fly by. Last week I started doing some light arm weights and a few sit ups.

So last week I noticed that my lungs hurt when I took deep breaths. Not an overall hurt, but especially on my right side. Day one passed, it still hurt.

I said to Matt, "Gosh, the right side of my chest hurts."

Day two passed, it felt worse.

I said to Matt, "Ow! This really hurts."

Day three passed, I was popping Advil every four hours.

I said to Matt, "OK, something is really wrong! I need x-rays! I need a doctor!"

Matt paused midchew (we were at dinner) and said in a very calm, deadpan voice, "You don't need a doctor. You need to give those sit ups a rest... you've pulled a muscle."

Old lady town right here. I was so mad that I stopped doing the sit ups all together.. and guess what. Yep, no more pain. At least I have a sweet new bird planter to console me, because I certainly cant look forward to being consoled by a six pack of ab muscles.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Great Chocolate-Pumpkin Muffin Fiasco

First of all, just let me say that I'm ready to jump in the air and click my heels. It's raining, again! Beautiful dark green weather, cool temps, pure heaven. I haven't seen an August like this in years, but around here we know not to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Moving on. When I found this recipe, I was so excited. How easy can it get?

1 box of chocolate cake mix
1 can of pumpkin
1/2 cup of water

I eagerly gathered my supplies, smiling to myself at the thought of smelling the faint hint of pumpkin in the house during cooler weather. Mmmm... fall.

So I mixed all the ingredients together. Sure, it had an odd consistency that resembled clumpy brown concrete, but I remained cheerful and unfazed while Jillian mixed the batter. I then spooned it out as the directions said, one teaspoon per muffin cup. Sure, it was so sticky and hard that I had to use my fingers to push the dollop off the spoon. Still I whistled a merry tune.

And then the baking commenced. 10 minutes passed. Then 20. Then 30. Those little 'dollops' never rose. They began to crust over, but time after time my toothpick came out sticky. They refused to bake.

Finally, my whistling stopped. My smile vanished. I shrieked the shriek of a thoroughly disgruntled banshee and pulled them out of the oven with a bang. As you can see... they had the same appearance and consistency of mud pies. These were the most impossible, infuriating little things I'd ever laid eyes on.

I eyed the batter for the second batch and threw the rules out the window. First, I fired the oven up to about 425. The flames inside mirrored my failing temper as tiny beads of sweat appeared on my forehead. Then I put two teaspoons of that monstrous batter into the cups.... hoping to acquire something more than the first batch of 'mud rocks.'

Round two was OK. Edible, less ugly, but just OK. We could barely taste the pumpkin. But I suppose this is what I get. It's payback for my backsliding diet.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Family Time

This weekend we visited with family. We laughed and watched football and ate (dieting went out the window after two slices of carrot cake); it was a wonderful time. I didn't take any 'blog' photos. I didn't berate myself for not finishing projects or writing or doing the laundry, which led me to ask the question; why don't I do this more often?

But I apologize for not having anything interesting to post today.

Thanks for all your hilarious and supportive comments regarding those evil, tempting peach preserves. I'm sure there will be many more moment of failure in the diet arena (which I'll be sure to share). Have a fabulous Monday.

Friday, August 15, 2008

How the Mighty Have Fallen

For the past week I have walked three miles a day, abstained from cokes, sugar, and anything else that falls into the enjoyable category. Apparently, my body was really excited that I had finally stopped abusing it (i.e. daily trips to the vending machine, no exercise, lethargic-half-reclined dinners in front of the television) b/c on Thursday the scales indicated I'd lost two pounds already.

Those magic numbers popped up on the scale and I high fived myself in the bathroom mirror thinking, "Wow, torturing myself is really paying off."

And then... the wall came down. Apparently, I can only deprive myself of candy for so long and my brain goes into shock. So last night I blindly stumbled into the kitchen, half out of my mind, in an aggressive search of sugar.

The clincher is... there was none. In my newly minted diet excitement, we threw out all candy. Even the standby chocolate chips.

There. Was. Nothing.

And then, I spied a jar of peach/walnut preserves in the door of the fridge. Before I knew what I was doing... my hand gripped a spoon and mindlessly shoveled the preserves down my gullet. No biscuit, not even a piece of bread. Just me, the spoon, and that poor jar of preserves.

Five giant spoon fulls into it, I blinked back to reality and yelled out loud, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" Yeah, I'm very dramatic like that.

After work I'm going to Walgreen's and buying myself a bag of sugar free mints or something. I've got to keep something sweet in the house for after dinner. If for no other reason... peach preserves would prove to be a very expensive habit.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Highschool Tales With Carrie; Part 1

Last night I started sorting through a giant box of high school photos. Hundreds of snapshots and notes and random sets of chop sticks (no doubt taken from a restaurant in a nearby town on a stealthy don't-tell-the-parents-we're-going-out-of-county trip). But the vast majority, nearly all of the pictures had my best friend Carrie in them.

Carrie currently lives on the other side of town. I count myself incredibly lucky to have her nearby (even though between my chaotic life and her super successful pharmacist job our 'girl days' are few and far between). I was born with two sisters... but when I met Carrie I'm convinced God gave me a third.

There is no limit the insane, hair-raising, our-mothers-would-still-spank us stories that Carrie and I amassed over our fourteen year friendship. One night in particular kept playing over and over in my brain as I chuckled and sorted through the box of memories last night... so I thought I'd share it with you.

June 1997

I had just finished my night shift at the local Pizza Hut. If you've ever worked in a pizza place, you never ever forget that smell. The smell of cardboard, old pizza, burned peperoni and smeared ranch dressing. It is not pleasant, and every time I got off work I could smell it in my hair, on my hands, my clothes, everywhere. Pew.

Carrie picked me up around 11:30 after work. Our plan was to go back to her house, take showers (she worked in a catfish restaurant... you can imagine our combined perfumes in the car), and go back to 'town.' You see, in our hometown there is no movie theatre or coffee house or club or anything of that nature. There is Main Street. And on Friday and Saturday night Main Street became a long, exciting hub of teenage activity. Everyone 'cruised' and yelled out their windows and sat on parking lots until the police broke up the party. The center of town became a veritable melting pot of rednecks, loud mufflers, preps in their sleek cars, and the average kids like Carrie and me, cruising proudly in her 1993 red Geo Prism.

So as I said, Carrie picked me up and we drove to her house, just outside city limits. We were singing to Faith Hill and Tim McGraw... changing the lyrics from "It's Your Love" to "It's Your Fudge," which is an entirely different story.

The windows were rolled down, the summer air streaming through our hair and then... BAM.

We never saw what ran under the car. But that little Prism bounced and we shrieked, wide eyed in the darkness.

Me: "Did we just hit a dog?"

Carrie: "Oh CRAP! We should go back."

Me: "Turn around!!! Maybe it's still alive!"

Carrie: "OK, wait a minute..."

Me: "Hey. What's that smell?"

And then it dawned on us. A great beacon of understanding shone down from Carrie's dome light as the toxic stench of skunk filtered through the open windows and air vents. No longer were we concerned about the smell of old pizza and catfish. We had new fears. Most particularly; the skunk we had pulverized beneath Carrie's tires.

I began to scream. Carrie began to scream. We both began to gag. We shot through the darkness toward her house, heaving and holding our heads out the windows. When we screeched into her driveway, Carrie pulled the car directly into the garage. We no sooner turned the car off and jumped out than her father (who was principle of the high school, we never caught any breaks), runs into the garage yelling, "HOLY HELL GIRLS! BACK THE CAR OUT OR WE'LL NEVER GET THE SMELL OUT OF THE HOUSE."

It was absolute pandemonium. A night of permanent olfactory damage and tomato juice and bits of skunk fur on Carrie's tires. We never made it back to 'town.' We cried a little and ate ice cream directly from the carton (even though everything that passed under our noses carried an aroma a la skunk).

I've never looked at Chocolate Mint Ice cream quite the same way again.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Blissful Rain, Thanks, and a Goodbye

It's been raining here for several days, long hours of steady rain, highs in the 70's. Not August weather, and definitely not southern weather. It was a much needed break for all of us that are baking south of the Mason Dixon line... a much needed road sign on the way to fall (which wont really get here until October). I kind of obsess about weather this time of year. I look up weather history on Farmer's Almanac online to see when we got our first cool snap last year... you know... so I can plan my first day of sweater wearing. In November.

As you can see in the picture; we took advantage of the cooler wet weather and let the front door stand open (I framed a postcard from Italy, message side up. Is that weird?).

Thank you all for the many, many encouraging comments yesterday. Sometimes I'm amazed at the fantastic blog friends I've made out there. I'm amazed at how generous you ladies are with advice, compliments, friendship. This is truly a beloved place for me. I wish we could all get together, in one room, drink coffee, eat cake (what diet?) and gab for hours. What a convention that would be.

Speaking of blog friends, I'd like to take a little pause and say goodbye to a special blog friend. Alison (To the Moon) passed away last week after a long, valiant fight with cancer. I could go on and on about her, her sweet relationship with her husband, her incredible spirit. Her funeral was last Friday. I wish I could have gone to pay my respects to a woman I never actually met, but truly admired.
Rest in peace sweet Alison. We miss you.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

When the Lord Closes a Door...

You know the rest. He opens a window. Right? I've been thinking about that phrase a lot since I bought this old window.

I bought this without a design plan. I still don't know what to do with it. I've seen all the flickr ideas; hanging it in a doorway, using it as a picture frame, etc. But, I kind of like it as is, just propped in the window. I love how old it is; the flaky paint, the splintered wood, the wavy glass.

I wonder about the little child must have breathed fog onto it on cold snowy days, the woman who read a book as wet fall leaves slapped against it in a storm, the man who watched summer nights full of lightening bugs through it.

It seems as of late, the Lord has closed a couple of pretty big doors. Disclaimer; this is not a pity party. I'm not the least bit sad as I write this. We're doing fine, we're healthy, happy, holding down jobs, etc. But in the past six months there have been two doors in particular that seemed to have closed. Not slammed, just gently pulled to.

And even though it doesn't make sense to me now, I'm confident in my God. I'm confident that he'll make sense of it all later, later when he opens a window.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Diet Torture, Uh, I Mean Progress Continued

Things I Did This Weekend:

Enjoyed cooking with a lovely supply of garlic donated by our lovely neighbor.

Ate a bowl of tomato/avocado salad with saracha sauce for dinner last night. Yummmeee.

Thing I Did NOT Do This Weekend:

I most certainly did not, in any way, eat two Hostess cupcakes for a late snack on Friday.

I NEVER ate a deluxe hot dog covered in cheese and relish from Backyard Burgers for dinner Saturday night. Or a small pack of spicy fries. Never happened.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Salad Time

Thank you so much for all the well wishes. I do feel that I should relieve some fears; no, the vampire bite was not what made me ill. But thanks for asking.

You ladies are crazy.

In other news; I find myself standing upon a very dangerous precipice. The precipice of "If I Eat One More Handful of Chocolate Chips the Seams on My Pants Are Going to Explode." Yep... it's salad time.

Weight gain for me is a multi-step process. It would be nice if I could say, "Hey... I've really packed on the pounds because I eat a bag of Reece's Pieces Cups every night." At least that would a fun reason. But nope. Weight gain happens (for me) b/c :

1. A nine hour work day (not counting the hour+ commute time)

2. An overwhelming urge to recline, comatose as I watch marathons of That 70's Show each night

3. Starving all day (see #1) and then arriving at the dinner table in a completely ravenous state.

There you have it. I stand on the precipice. My clothes still fit (barely). I'm not having to walk through doors sideways or push my drivers seat all the way back in my car... yet. That's why I'm taking action now. Wish me luck ladies. I've got three weeks of working out, eating crunchy rabbit food, and bad moods. Those scary vampires will have NOTHING on me before this is over.

Poor Matt.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Under the Weather

Mabel and I are feeling a little puny today. We'll be back Friday... see you then.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Breaking Dawn Recap

What can I say? Teenage girls and their mothers united in great masses last Friday night, and I had a ball.

I met so many lovely women, and even bonded with a sweet girl named Payton who gave me a long list of teen books to read. I love good tips. She even went with me to get fake 'vampire bites' on our hands.

I'd like to say that it actually looked like a real vampire bite... but mostly it looked like we stuck Hoover Vacuum cleaners on our arms.

And as you can see, some fans were more devoted than others. For a girl who lives and breathes Halloween, I was in heaven.

Who could forget the costume contest? I'll let you draw your own conclusions on this one.

And as for my sweet man; he hung around for a little while until I finally shooed him off. I couldn't bare to see him suffer. The air in B&N was so thick with estrogen and piercing girlish squeals that even the manliest of men would have been glassy eyed after four hours. So he left, and came swooping up to the curb at midnight to pick me up... he never disappoints.

*** Mini Spoiler Alert

As for the book; um... not sure what to say. It took a distinct turn from the other three; frankly I thought there should have been a warning label on them. I'm no prude people, but good grief. No 12 year old should be reading about the intricacies of honeymooning with a vampire. The book was fascinating, but more in a "Good grief Stephenie, I cant believe you're actually going to go THERE" kind of way. Mostly, I read it through squinted eyes and in the end felt a little, for want of a better phrase, freaked out.

But, it was preceded by a vampire party for girls; complete with fake fangs and bite marks and hooded costumed teenagers. I guess I should have expected it.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Twilight Time...

OK, operation "Get Breaking Dawn Without Being Recognized or Laughed at For Being a 28 Year Old Geek" begins in 12 hours. I've got a plan people, and I'm going to the release party.

The sad news is; I have no one to go with. The midnight book release will be full of girls wearing "I love Edward" and "Forks is for Lovers" shirts. They'll be squealing and having fun, and somehow, I have no friends able to go with me. Probably because my friends are mature and grown up, where as I am, not. Therefore, I've already picked out my stealthy sunglasses and hat. The most touching part of the "plan" is Matt. He insists on going with me because, "It's not safe for you to walk to the car after midnight by yourself."

I stared at him incredulously and said, "My car wont turn into a pumpkin, I promise."
He rolled his eyes, "I'll go with you."
My jaw went slack and I continued to stare at him "Um... you do know you'll be miserable right? Two hours of sitting around with hormonal girls for a book you'll never read? That's OK, really, I'll go alone."

"Nope," he shook his head, "I'll bring my ipod and sit in the Starbucks section... I wont have to pay attention to any of it. And then, when you get your book, I'll be there to drive you home."

Sigh. Who needs Edward?