Po-tay-to po-tah-to

Let me start by saying I am a lucky girl.

To have help and companionship around the house now is making it feel like home again and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  Sorry still glowing and appreciating it all even a month into this living together thing!

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That being said, being a roommate (amongst other titles) it is an adjustment.

Communication is everything to relationships, in so many ways.

Mr Man & I decided to try to give the week nights some planning.  He works everyday til around 5 pm & 3 out of the 5 days I have to be in classes starting at 6 pm. Waiting to see what the other wants to do for dinner or if they already ate can be trying.  Then we play the “I dunno, what are you in the mood for?” game everyone plays.  We have to problem figuring out, but I feel bad those nights he waits til after 8 to hear what I want for dinner.  It can be a long time from lunch sometimes.  So we made a plan.  A lunches and couple of nights we are on our own to grab something somewhere or make sandwiches.  Then we planned out meals for the other nights.  Gives us a chance to try new recipes and show off ones we each know.

Did I mention how lucky I am?  Yes he also cooks!  So we share the duties and planning.  This alone makes me feel cared for.

I made a list of ingredients needed and since the next night was one where I had class, he offered to shop on his own.  (SCORE! I don’t have to go!)

Evidently we didn’t plan as well as I had thought.

When I woke and decided to make a sandwich for lunch, I found the turkey, the cheese, the whole wheat bread and then this….

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yup CANNED spinach.

Not quite sure how that is going to work for sandwiches!  In making the list I forgot to say FRESH spinach. Spinach that would be used for sandwiches, smoothies and then any leftover could be cooked as a side.  Big difference.

Seems as far as being domestic, I have some learning to do.

We had a good laugh about it & now I’m not sure I will ever be able to open that can.  Something seems right about tucking it into the back as a reminder that to get what I want, I have to ask clearly.  Every time I see it, it makes me giggle.

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2013 Favorite Things List

So a certain megaceleb has released their annual list of favorite things again and yet again I look through it & wonder… who is buying this stuff?  Sure some of it looks pretty & could be fun to actually use, but some of it just doesn’t hit me as anything I would be happy if someone gave me.  Sure the intent would be great & I would be thankful, but there are just other things that would be better gifts.

Seriously.  No one wants a chocolate nativity scene.  How does one even eat that? “Wise man or Mary after dinner?” Just seems bizarre.  Wonder if any of her staff pointed out all the jokes that can come from this? I’m guessing no.

Last year I got sucked into some show on how she went about picking her favorite things, so I realize a lot goes into making the list, but it just doesn’t seem realistic unless you live at Harpo.  I did enjoy how she helped to make some small businesses get recognition and gave back advice on how they could improve their exposure or products.

Since I feel pretty safe saying that neither I nor many of the people who stumble across this blog have Oprah’s annual salary, I think there should be a list for those who actually can’t justify spending $225 for a tomato server.  We do just fine passing out food with the cheap silver ones we got at Target.  When is the last time you felt bad about what the tool you used to move food was anyway?  I’m guessing this may be the first time you thought much about it.  Let me just help you out, even if you do…. probably 99.9% of your guest are just happy you are sharing food & are focused on that food.  Probably couldn’t even tell you 2 minutes later what you used to move that food to their plate.  That $225 could provide for 900 meals according to the Food Bank money requests that states they can provide 4 means for every dollar donated.  No clue what stores they are shopping, but betcha Oprah doesn’t step foot in those places in her Ugg boots with the bow ties on them!

So here is my version.  Grated these aren’t necessities either, but they are simply things I love and actually are a LOT cheaper than her favorite stuff.  I promise no $42 containers of tomato soup here.  These are affordable.  Well if you have extra cash, because none of this crap on either list is going to be anything you NEED, they are gifts.

I didn’t get paid to mention a single one of them. The makers of them probably don’t even know there is a blog here that mentions them.  My favorite things are simply just that.  Things I have that I have enjoyed at some point in 2013 that I love and think others would too.  I didn’t get freebies (except part of one, but I can explain that & will).  Sorry I can only wish I could give everyone one of each of them.  So in no particular order…

ALI’S FAVORITE THINGS 2013

Race Charms

 In 2013, I completely my first 5k.  Distance wise it wasn’t a marathon, but to me… HUGE step.  To celebrate I decided to do something special for me.  The shirt was great, but this deserved something more meaningful.  Enter etsy & a shop I have come to love.  The Run Home.  If you enjoy running and are more of a silver than gold girl like me, this is your place.  I have had them make a couple of charms custom for me & every time I have had the best service.  Feel like she is cheering me on.  The charms…STUNNING.  One of those things that is so simple it can go with everything.  She has a lot of items you don’t have to customize that are on my list to get one day.  The ones I do have are hanging there reminding me that I did it and since there are just a couple, I then think of how great it will be to add more.

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They are completely affordable and will make you feel like a million bucks.  Seriously, your dinner last night probably cost more unless you also shop where the Food Bank shops… in which case, tell the rest of us your secrets!

Chalk (in hair) Trend

So fun, so easy, so cheap, so temporary you can change it with your outfits…. so why haven’t you tried it? Chalk up the hair & have fun in life.

much better.

much better.

Fitbit

When it comes to pedometers, I have been obsessed for several years now.  There are probably more days that I wear one than not.  Bad thing is sometimes I end up changing clothes and forget to change it over to the new outfit.  That happens way more than I would like to admit.  It can be an eye opener to see how many steps you take every day.  Plus when setting a goal, you have to know how you are going to measure and see improvement.  Wearing a pedometer is not enough.  You have to be able to compare each day and make sure you are doing better day by day.  Fitbit ROCKS at this!  No longer will you need to jot down your daily totals.  All you need to do is plug it in.  Actually you don’t even have to do that.  It is wireless!  If the computer is on & the charging station is plugged into the computer, it will update your totals!  When the battery gets low (every couple of days or so) you just slip it on to the base & it charges right up.  Ok here is my one confession.  Some how my charging station went kaput.  Still no clue how or why.  What I do know is that their customer service is amazing!  No hassle at all.  They walked me through a couple of quick checks to see what the problem was and then after figuring out it was the base, simply mailed me a new one.  No having to send anything back or waiting.  Easy peasy fixing the issue.  Made me a very happy girl!  So while the actual Fitbit Ultra was not free, the new base I use to charge it up was.  There online tracking system is free to everyone & gives you more information than you even know what to do with.  They offer premium memberships to giving training advice, etc. but there is a lot that comes with the free membership.  When they first came out there was one design in a couple of colors.  Now they have several different designs to fit your budget and style.

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Ssekos

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Yes I am in major love with these cute and comfy shoes.  From the look, to the way the money goes on to assist women attend college, to the artistic feeling you get when you try new ties…. they just rock! I see more straps in my future.  Thankfully this crazy hot and cold weather has enabled me to wear them once in a while so I haven’t had to deal with withdrawals, but they are THAT addictive.  

TERVIS

I know I was late to the party on this one.   While I used to shake my head at the people carrying around the overpriced plastic cups, I now get it.  They are convenient and fit perfectly.  I know that plastic isn’t the most ecofriendly material, but these have literally saved me from going for a quick drive thru run to get a drink for class or to take to the beach.  I just need to locate a glass straw to fit through the  top and I will be good to go.  Thankful to my cousin for springing for my first one, a Carolina Panthers one of course!

Googly EyeS

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Do I even need to explain this one? Seriously get some.  Get the ones with the self stick backs that you just peel & stick.  Share a smile with the world.  Everything is more funny with googly eyes.

Glynne’s lip balm

Lips need love too.  Mine seems to go thru spells of being fine one day & super chapped the next.  While I love the color of lipsticks some days you just want something to make them feel better.  My sister swears by something from the drugstore, but honestly it tasted like wax.  I don’t go for another popular brand because it tingles on my lips.  I don’t want to irritate them, just make them feel better and don’t make me nauseous in the process.  

I was resolved to just suck it up and deal when the perfect solution presented itself.  A local company run by 2 amazing ladies and their 2 dalmations (one may work slightly harder than the other greeting everyone weekly at the local farmers markets) had just the thing! Glynne’s Soaps is known for having incredibly delicious smelling soaps and scrubs, but the real secret is their lip balm line! Feels heavenly.  Light but consistent coverage that last in flavors that are sure to make you smile.  My personal favorite is a tie… blueberry or dreamsicle.  All are all natural and petroluem free and are perfect for stocking stuffers, as long as you plan ahead & get your own as well to prevent them not making it to the stockings!  

Roku

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This little baby has been a sanity saver.  I honestly never thought I could be one of those people who could cut the cable cord and still not feel like I was one step away from living in a cardboard box.  With Roku, channels stream over the wifi right into my TV.  Bonus – massively reduced commercial time.  Instead of 5 or 6 per break, there may be a total of 2 per show!  Love Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime and Plex for allowing me to still feel connected without the constant dollar drain on my account.  Feels great playing Live 365 or Pandora when I just want some background sound.  Over all this may have been the best change financially ever.  Savings without suffering.

Dole Frozen Banana Slices

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This by far is the best food item found this year.  Dark chocolate discs covered in dark chocolate.  Decadent treat at just 100 calories.  Check the frozen food section for these and keep them handy.  They also have frozen strawberries covered in chocolate.

 

So there you go.  My favorites for now.  There is so much I could go on about, but will stop there.  So what have you discovered in 2013?  Any favorites I should know about in 2014?

Not Going Back There

One thing about dealing with anxiety is that it seems to always be lurking.  When you think you are finally back on your feet and doing good, it slips a trip wire in your path.  You are too busy enjoying life to notice then next thing you know you are down.  That quickly sometimes.

Friday night I met up with a few friends for dinner and to see a free concert downtown.  As the sun set, the crowd grew.

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Still I had fun.  I even dared to think how awesome it was to be in a crowd that size.  How at one point not long ago, this would never happen.  Felt so accomplished in dealing with the attacks and thought maybe the agoraphobic part of my life was finally over.

Course shopping the next day reminded me that it can strike back harder any time it wants.  A simple bit of clothing shopping had me in full blown panic in less than 15 minutes with maybe an eighth of the size crowd. Unfortunately I didn’t have my trusty back up to call on (klonpain) so it progressed & I ended up staying inside the rest of the day exhausted & a little depressed that I was back to this. Frustrating.  Still I knew I had been here before and survived.

So next time I went with a friend.  (one who knew about my anxiety issues)  We shopped a little, had lunch then went to another store…. where it hit again.  Even with the klonapin, it hit hard.  Still I was determined.  We changed locations and still no good.  Getting dog food was necessary though so I fought on.  But I was done. Over it.  Lost the fight, but I will win this war.

What happened at the pet store got me thinking though.  Interaction with a seriously rude know it all cashier.  As she rang up the bag of dog food (& I focused on breathing & not subcoming to the urge to dash out the door and just keep running away), she judged my purchase.  Judged as she rang it up.  Asked if my dog liked this food.  Um… well he eats it & has yet to learn english and complain or leave any comment cards, so yeah I guess so.  Then she goes on to say “You know this is the most expensive food in here? ……. and it isn’t the best.”  Who asked you b*tch? nearly escaped my lips but in the attack all I wanted to do was pay & leave so I just looked at her with I’m sure a look that said “Is this happening?”  She then gives me my receipt and a final “well I guess if he loves it”.

Bizarre.  Just really bizarre.

Back home it pissed me off the more and more I thought about it.  The former retail manager in me thought that she really needs to learn to just sell the products from the shelf.  If it isn’t any good, why are they selling it there?  and telling a customer it is the most expensive food in the store just makes the customer feel like they are being ripped off.  Just as two dog people, I have to think she feels like she is trying to help, but really wrong approach for me.  I could see it maybe if we knew each other or if I had asked for her help with something prior, but she didn’t know me.  Just burned me.

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Got me wondering though.  Honestly I hadn’t given his food much thought since we got him & the vet suggested that brand & type.  Maybe there was something to what she said.

So I went online to a couple of pug rescue groups that interact with and posed the question about what they feed their pugs.  The information I got back was overwhelming but really appreciated.  Lots of people knew a lot about their dogs’ diets and what brand foods were good or bad.  Sadly Baxter’s food, not so great.

He has had a few issues that I assumed were just part of being a pug.  Turns out he could very likely have a food allergy.  Seems they are common.

Hit me that I am currently more aware of what I am eating and trying to eat healthier, why shouldn’t his diet get a revision?

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So I did research and yesterday he started a higher quality food that is grain-free and more protein based, less fillers…. and joy of joys cheaper for me!  His treats also are getting switched up.  We will try it and see how he does.  So far he LOVES the new food.  Acts like I have served up a bowl of treats for his meal.

So evidently we all are getting healthier around here.  The parrots better watch out!  Kidding, though they are enjoying the increase in fresh fruits & veggies from my salad making.

Now if only I can get these panic attacks under control again so that I can go get the food.  Will happen.  I have done it before and will do it again.

Can’t wait to go back downtown for another show…. that pet shop, not so much!

Stepping Out

Feels like the moments in life lately just keep zooming by.

“I kept looking for happiness, and then I realized, this is it. It’s a moment, and it comes, and it goes, and it’ll come back again.” – Nicole Kidman

Had a few ideas over the weekend that give me hope and although life may not be what I expected, why not make it what I can? But those will have to wait for now.

Surprisingly I got in some IKEA time this weekend!  Even with the parents in tow.  Mom got a new wheelchair, which means she can do more without worrying about wearing herself out & not being able to get around as much.  Just what I needed – time dreaming in IKEA without the guilt of not spending time with them!

oh to come home to relax here

Feel in love with a few looks, but only one came home with me.

YES the night stand.  Which of course being IKEA needs to be put together.  Perhaps tomorrow.  Baby step towards the room I want but steps.  Ideas are blooming & hopefully one day I will walk in the garden I dream of.  Until then I have hope.

My One Night Stand

Dream mode again.

Another long day at work followed by wishing.  Spent a little while browsing houses online & wondering why on earth some people are allowed to use wall paper.  Some of its is just so wrong.

Still I have white walls.  No room to toss the stones here.  At least they attempted to make the statement with more than just a few things nailed to the walls.

Feeling stuck again.  Now that I am more secure job wise (can’t believe its been a year since I left my old job!) I feel like I should be working toward making more of a dream.  Still do I move? or do I redo?  Investing in one or the other.  Not both.  Focus.

Haven’t found the dream house (at a price that is reasonably in my limits) & haven’t found a dream bedroom (IKEA discontinued a couple of pieces in the other one I had in mind).  So for now dream.  Spread the wings & entertain all ideas.

this had a lavendar inside! too cute! love Home Goods.

Nightstand?

loving this look still.

can you imagine how much I would need to clean this?

maybe?

much better... or at least practical glam

or maybe I should just keep imagining & see where my dreams will lead.

keep the purchases small & easy to move if need be.

loving these! May need to go back & snag at least one.

Who knows what life has in store.

Heart is true, you’re a pal & a confidant

If I had to do this week over, well it wouldn’t happen! But its Saturday night & I’m hoping that starting tomorrow the SUPER week will begin.  Ok I would settle for calm, cool and mediocre.

Still amidst all the chaos & frustration, looking back there are some moments I wouldn’t trade for the world.  Funny how sometimes the things you need most just appear.  In addition to the retail therapy, I stumbled into catching up with a few great people and getting in some much needed face to face time with some of the people I trust most.

For starters Thursday’s shopping discovered that Shadow was also shopping in the same area. After a few text we realized this & decided to snag dinner together.  I know how toxic we can be, but there is certainly a kindred spirit between us.  Turns out neither of us was having the best luck, but at least we had dinner & a few purchases by the end of the night.  I ended up with a couple of shirts that were too cheap to pass up when they easily go from work to play, then it was lingerie time.  When I need support most, I turn to bras, two new ones & a couple of new panties for good measure since they also were on sale dirt cheap. Left out that knowledge in chatting with Shadow! Yeah no pictures of that either.

nearly bought this, but then decided I was just attracted to it since it had a bird on it… I don’t need another coffee mug, or do I?

Friday I set myself up with more interviews in the day than I ever had before & actually ended up feeling less stressed and more confident than I expected.  Distractions work.  Part way through the day I found myself thinking about a pair of shoes I had debated on the night before.  I’m a pretty basic girl & learned that if you get simple basic pieces you can combine them for more looks & just spice them up with accessories.  These shoes were anything but basic! I decided the night before that even though the price was right, I didn’t own a thing that they would go with & passed.  Sitting at my desk I realized the very outfit I was wearing was perfect for the shoes.  Texted a picture I had taken of them to a friend & asked a simple “Do I love these?” to which it was immediately decided that I certainly did! So at lunch I bought them!

I blame these for the strut in the 2nd half of my day

Later that day I decided than rather than just rushing home to sweats & a bottle of comfort, I would go see my gbff.  He proudly announced to the room when I arrived that “this is Ali, my blonde bff!” as he does anytime there are new faces when we get together.  He had ventured in town for the night and frankly I needed the chance to hear the familiar laughter!  There is ALWAYS laughter when we get together, as rare as it is.  Thankfully we were all in chill mode so there was no talk of going out to the cha cha palace or polishing off a few bottles of bubbly… well there was talk, but it was more remembering the good times!  FYI popping open bottles of pink champagne to drink in the parking deck before going to the cha cha palace, DOES slightly sound like a gun shot BUT we didn’t drive drunk & we did save cash on drinks! We are just good like that.

On to today.  Plans t0 get up & do something dissolved when I discovered I was actually able to sleep for more than a couple of hours. When I woke at 8 and had some oatmeal I had the urge to snuggle with Baxter & go back to sleep, so I did. TIL NOON!  Had debated on rushing in to Charlotte to attend the funeral for a great aunt, but it was too late when I woke.  Hadn’t seen her in years anyway.  She hid away the last few years of her life.  Didn’t want anyone around even though the years before she seemed to be all up in anyone & everyone else’s business.  She meant well & I doubt she had much else to do.

Luckily I learned another friend was out & about and we ended up shopping & chatting all over town.  Thankfully I didn’t spend a ton, bought couple of pieces of fabric that needs to become a bag soon & another supply I thought would be fun.  Stuffed myself silly on chicken teriyaki while discussing guys and other trouble makers in our world.  Much needed although totally unexpected.

Hoping things are on the mend.  Grateful for the friends I have made over the years who choose to still stay in touch and some how turn out there when I need to see them most.

General goalsfor the coming year & next few months…

  • 100 Days challenge – 100 days straight of intentional moving 30 minutes each day – FAIL
  • 10 on 10 – give $10 to a non-profit each month on the 10th – looking forward to this month’s giving, although I have no idea what I am doing. Still time.
  • Read more! – haven’t really read in the past few days, but soon
  • Budget each month prior to the month & stick with it – still doesn’t feel natural, but its working. Savings still where I want it & even paying down the debt. Food cost a lot.

As for the more traditional resolutions:

  • Try one new thing each week – does new medication count? I think so.
  • Cook something each week – maybe tomorrow
  • Take one photo I love each week – after the drama this week regarding a photo, I am frustrated with photography. Also noticing through the food pictures just how awful the phone cam is!
  • Continue my love affair with Post Crossing I’ve received over 50 at this point & really need to figure out what I am going to do with them. Just in a box for now, but there has to be a better idea.
  • Floss daily – admit that I did skip a couple of days but back on the horse
  • Meditate more – at least weekly – does just thinking in silence count. no really meditation.
  • Daily food picture –  366 dishes – still fun. still doing. ’nuff said.
  • Spend an hour with someone else outside of work each week – sometime friends are the best medicine

PIER ONE GIVE AWAY WINNER!!!

In honor of my recent bout with the Sinister Sinus Infection, I should give away these adorable tissues to everyone who read thru the sniffy complaining & whining.

But unfortunately I won’t be.  Lets just move right past that whole illness thing & go on to better days! I know I am ready.  The stuffy nose may still be here, but I am feeling better.  Soon back to normal.

Oh & if you really are in love with those tissues, you can easily snag a package at Pier One Imports.  Seriously they are too cute to use, but I would anyway!

pier one dreaming

I am lucky enough to have a couple of Pier Ones in town & there isn’t a time I go in there where I don’t feel like a kid in a toy store – wishing I could at least pick one thing to take with me since I’ve been such a good girl.  More often than not, my wishes exceed my checking account, but the dreaming is always fun.

Yesterday I made it through the entire day of work and all the chaos of being out most of the week.  Came home, checked my personal email &  felt like that kid being rewarded for being good! I won a gift card to Pier One!  Not even joking here.  One of my favorite blogs to dream with Courtney Out Loud, was doing a contest & of course I entered.  One of the ways to enter was to comment with what you would buy if you won.  Which lead to a couple of hours of dreaming & the verdict was either the new bed I have been wanting or a chair to replace the ottoman that has been pulling double duty as both the intended ottoman & sewing stool at my desk.  Both choices would be MAJOR improvements.  Imagine my surprise when I won!

So now the fun challenge begins.  Do I keep dreaming about ideas or hold myself to the two choices? Whatever I end up doing, its going to be GREAT!  Spending the $50 prize and more cash will not be a problem in Pier One!

So a BIG THANK YOU to Courtney Out Load & Pier One.

You have truly made a cruddy week wonderful!