I’d like mornings better if they started later. ~Author Unknown

The other day while on Pinterest I found this hysterical photo:

 

Funny Pinterest photo

Funny Pinterest photo

 

I thought to myself that this is totally something that would happen in our house.  In fact, I know that my husband melted something to the toaster oven a few months ago but I don’t remember what it was.  Anyways, I even went home that day and told my husband about this funny picture I’d found and blah blah blah.

Do you ever have one of those mornings where you get up, something happens, and you think to yourself ‘why did I even get out of bed?’  Today was one of those days.  Why you ask?  Well, apparently one of our stove burners didn’t get turned off last night after dinner.  It was on low all night long.  Now, you wouldn’t be able to tell unless you touched it because on the low setting, it doesn’t get red.  So this morning I got up and went about my usual morning routine.  I came down and fixed my standard smoothie, put it in my favorite insulated cup and set it on the stove (where I generally set the items I’m taking to work with me).  About ten to fifteen minutes later I was grabbing my stuff to leave for work and I smelled burning plastic.  I had just started the dishwasher and thought that perhaps something had fallen on the heating element.  I checked and found nothing.  So, I started packing up again, and smelled it again.  Then, low and behold I noticed that, you guessed it, my cup was melting.  So, my stove is now covered in melted electric blue plastic.  So not cool.  Can I just go back to bed now?

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If you’re sick of starting over, you have to stop quitting. ~ quote found on Pinterest

Since I’ve put on all the weight, I find that every so often I get on a healthy kick (usually because I’m frustrated with myself) and I decide I’m going to work out and eat healthy.  Then, I either get bored with whatever routine I’ve started or don’t see changes fast enough.  I’m thoroughly enjoying walking several times a week with my friend G from work.  If you go back and look at the post I wrote when we started that process, I mentioned that I didn’t really expect to see a weight loss from it since we’re just walking (albeit a fast walk) and we’re only doing it twice a week.  That being said, I started to see some minor changes in my calves and breasts.  Sounds weird I know but I can tell.  Then yesterday, when washing my face before bed I looked in the mirror and saw these huge logs attached to my shoulders.  When the hell did my arms get so huge and how did I not notice?  Apparently when you get fat, you also get delusional.  Now, I’m not one of those wacko overweight people who still try to dress in clothes meant for a supermodel.  I’m aware that I’m overweight and I try to dress for my body type.  I’ve never been self-conscious about my arms.  I suppose that’s because after sixteen years of competitive swimming I didn’t really need to be.  However, I didn’t get self-conscious about them when I gained weight either.  I have a dear friend who is not overweight but who is still very self-conscious about her arms and I’m always telling her she’s crazy.  When I got married, I wore a strapless gown, and I felt like a princess.  We had to talk her into going strapless for her wedding (and she looked like a goddess by the way).  Anyways, when I saw my arms in the mirror, there was an honest moment of pure and simple disgust.  I don’t want to feel like that when I look in the mirror.  So, I’m turning my frustration into motivation (for the moment at least, and hopefully long-term).  I’m starting small again since making huge changes tends not to stick.  The “agreement” I’m making with myself is that every weekend, I need to do a workout DVD and take the dog on a long walk.  That’s it.  Nothing major.  I’m still going to walk with G after work and still going to slowly change my diet but for now, that’s Phase 2 of the healthier me.

Laughter is the shortest distance between two people. ~ Victor Borge

I am so incredibly lucky to have married someone who makes me laugh on a regular basis.  Yesterday when I was thinking about what I would be writing about for today’s blog, I thought I had it basically figured out.  That was until I got home and walked in on this:

 

My hero

My hero

That’s my husband ladies and gentlemen, and I love him and his silliness dearly.  See, the day before yesterday I needed 5 cups of onion chopped and I absolutely detest chopping onion.  It makes my eyes burn so bad that I cry so much I cannot see what I am doing (not a good thing when there’s a sharp knife in your hands).  So, I put my husband through that torture instead.  Actually, he doesn’t mind doing it and says he likes feeling helpful.  However, when I told him I needed 5 cups of chopped onion, he groaned (understandably so).  In a fit of genius I bolted up the stairs and came back down with my goggles that I use for swimming.  Now, I’m not going to lie, he looked ridiculous wearing them while chopping onion but he had nary an onion fume in his eyes while I, meanwhile, on the other side of the kitchen, was tearing up.  Then, last night I called him and said I was going walking and when he got home, I needed one more onion chopped.  When I finally got home I walked in the door and he was standing in the kitchen chopping the onion wearing the goggles again, and this time, a cape.  I totally cracked up.  It brought such joy to my rather ‘blah’ day.  I absolutely had to share this with you all because it’s just too freaking adorable. 

On another note, G and I walked our three miles again yesterday.  I have no idea why but I got my first ‘stitch’ in my side.  It was strange because we walked last week so it wasn’t as though my body wasn’t prepared, and we didn’t walk any faster than normal either.  Nonetheless, it took hold and held on for about the first mile and a half and then finally subsided only to be replaced by some wacko pain in the toes on my left foot.  This morning, the toes are still sore.  I have no earthly idea what’s going on there.  Hopefully it’ll pass soon. 

Last night was also a baking night in our house.  It turns out that three people in my department have birthdays next week but they’re ALL on vacation.  Personally, I think birthdays are ignored in the work place all too often.  Long ago, I worked for a company where we went all out for birthdays.  I remember saran wrapping one girls cubicle and stuffing it with balloons.  We even foiled my bosses office (for those of you out of the loop, you take several rolls of aluminum foil and wrap it around EVERYTHING individually).  We also baked cakes and cupcakes or whatever for everyone’s birthdays.  It was fun.  Since I’m new here at the company I work for and it doesn’t appear so far that anyone else shares my birthday idea, I decided to tone it waaaay down and do something simple.  So, I baked cornbread.  Broccoli cheese cornbread to be exact.  If you want the recipe, it’s in a previous post somewhere.  I made one for us at home and three for my three coworkers with birthdays.  It took about 3 hours to get them all prepped and baked.  I’m exhausted today.  Hopefully though, it was worth it and they’ll enjoy.  I don’t even know if they like cornbread but it’s the gesture that counts right?

One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating. ~Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti, My Own Story

This morning I thought I’d do things differently and write my blog first thing.  That way, I don’t have to worry about getting distracted.

Last night I tried a new dish called Baked Chicken and Rice with Black Beans.  I’m not a fan of the precooked chicken that you can buy in the grocery store near the lunch meat so I chose to defrost and bake my chicken the night before.  However, if you don’t mind the precooked and packaged chicken, you could definitely use it.  You could also probably use one of the rotisserie chickens that grocery stores carry these days.

Anyways, we made the dish exactly as the recipe says (ingredient wise) and it turned out fabulous.  However, I did mix in all of my cheese instead of leaving some to sprinkle on top. 

The link to the recipe is:
http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/baked-chicken-rice-with-black-beans-10000001873369/

The hubs said that this was going on his “favorite list” and that I should make it frequently.  If you used frozen vegetables (i.e. chopped bell pepper and chopped onion) it makes this a breeze.  The only chopping you have to do is the carrot – and that’s only half a cup!  Definitely an easy weeknight meal.

On another note, we had a concrete contractor come out last night to give us a bid on redoing our driveway.  It caved in on one side a while back due to the drought that we experienced.  It’s not pretty.  We can’t even use that side of the driveway (and therefore, that garage bay).  Hopefully we’ll be able to come up with the greenbacks to get it fixed.  Fingers crossed!

“New Orleans food is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin.” ~ Mark Twain

Wow, I haven’t blogged in a while.  So much for keeping up with this.  It’s been a busy couple of weeks and quite frankly, I found Pinterest.  If you haven’t found it yet, get ready… it’s insanely addicting.  Over the past week or so I keep thinking “I need to write my blog” which is then followed by “right after I see what’s on Pinterest.”  Needless to say I haven’t gotten to the blog.  So, this will be rather disjointed but nonetheless, here we go.

CHIROPRACTOR:
I love my chiropractor.  If you have frequent headaches or back pain, you really need to find a good, reputable chiropractor.  About a week and a half ago I was in serious pain so I went and had a scan.  This is where they run a little machine down your neck and spine and it does muscle, joint, and nervous system readings.  Turns out my muscles are good but I have nerve and joint issues in my high-upper neck and my low back.  The neck thing is new and driving me insane.  It’s causing some very frequent and very painful migraines.  I’m not a fan.  So, since we were leaving for vacation I went ahead and had a pretty substantial adjustment followed up with what’s called an E-stem.  I’ve had the E-stems done before, both at my chiropractor and when I blew my knee out in college.  Basically they strap electrodes to you and turn up the juice.  You get this buzzy, vibrating, tingly sensation (not really the good kind) and somehow, someway, this is supposed to help the nerves in the area.  It worked, and I felt great for the duration of our vacation.

VACATION:
We left on Thursday and drove to Lake Charles to stay the night at the Isle of Capris.  It was just a stop-over since we got there late and left early.  I do recommend the Isle of Capri Inn (approx. $69 for a weeknight) if you need a hotel.  It was clean (my main concern), didn’t smell (another huge plus), right off the freeway, and had access to the actual Isle of Capris if you wanted to eat or gamble or whatever. 

On Friday we headed on in to New Orleans and checked into our “hotel.”  It’s not really a hotel per-say as my dad & stepmom own a timeshare here.  Technically they own one room for one week a year but the rest of us can go and stay at any other time of year in any room and get a “family discount.”  It was great – we paid $59 for a weeknight and $79 or $89 for the weekends.  We were a block from Bourbon in the French Quarter.  You couldn’t ask for better.  The only downside was the matchbox-sized bathroom.  Needless to say there were adventures to be had when there’s zero clearance on either side of the toilet and the shower had zero water pressure.  It was like trying to take a shower with someone spitting on you.  We think this was due to construction going on in the condo though as it’s not a typical occurrence.  We did have fabulous weather.  It was between 50 and 80 all weekend.  My kind of temperatures!  In addition, it appears that the weekend after Halloween is the time to go if you don’t like crowds.  Halloween is HUGE in New Orleans, second only to Mardis Gras and followed closely by JazzFest.  Not only is it Halloween but they also have Voodoo Fest which is a huge music concert that goes on for days.  Basically, if you want to party, dress up, act crazy, and get trampled on by zillions of strangers, you want to go during Halloween.  But, if you like I am and you’d rather not do any of those things, the weekend after Halloween proved to be quiet and peaceful.  We had a late lunch/early dinner at a restaurant called La Bayou.  I had their eggplant muffaletta (fabulous but HUGE) and the hubs had some sort of traditional Cajun food (i.e. gumbo, jambalaya, etc).  I sort of wish we’d gone back to this restaurant later because their menu had LOTS of items on it that I wanted to try.  Afterwards we wandered around the quarter and went into a bunch of shops.  We stopped at a few coffee bars and actual bars (Pat O’s, The Old Absinthe House, Crescent City Coffee, etc) and just relaxed and took in the scenery.  Much later on that evening we went back to the hotel room and had a pizza delivered and hung out and watched movies. 

Saturday we got up and walked down to the French Market to have breakfast at The Magnolia Grill.  I actually think that breakfast was my favorite meal this entire trip which is really weird since I’m not a “normal breakfast food” eater.  However, we kept finding this hole-in-the-wall places where we saw a lot of the real New Orleans people (i.e. not tourists like ourselves).  It was interesting.  Right outside their backdoor was the market and we spent the next few hours wandering around.  We purchased some amazing photographs of doors of the Quarter, an angel statue, and old trees covered in snow from this wonderful photographer.  The hubs bought some cheap-o sunglasses too.  After several hours of wandering and once our feet started to hurt we headed to the Café du Monde.  If you ever go to New Orleans you have to go here.  Let me give you a tip though – you don’t have to stand in line.  That’s right folks, if you go here (especially on a weekend) it’s likely that the line will stretch at least one block if not too.  Unless you just really feel like waiting, grab the first empty (and dirty) table you see.  Turns out, only the tourists and/or uninformed wait in line.  If you notice, the signs on the building say “please seat yourself.”  I was told by my stepmom about this so when we got there, we just walked in and parked it at the first dirty, empty table we saw.  Within 3 minutes the waiter came, cleared & cleaned the table and took our orders.  We sat and munched on beignets and café au lait.  It was the first time the hubs had ever eaten a beignet and he loved it.  It was really cute to watch him try to eat it without ending up covered in powdered sugar.  Although, that’s half the fun.  There was this funny old couple at the table next to us and they were covered head to toe in powdered sugar.  I couldn’t help looking at them and thinking “that’ll be us in 40 years.”  It made me smile.  We people watched for a bit and then wandered slowly through Jackson Square and other parts of the Quarter until making it back to our room.  We rested, showered, changed, got gussied up, and went to dinner at Mr. B’s Bistro.  It was amazing.  We started off with these Garlic Truffle French Fries that were nearly orgasm-inducing.  The hubs didn’t know that a truffle could be anything other than a chocolate-covered ball so he was expecting garlic & chocolate French fries.  It was really funny.  The hubs had their filet mignon (which is smothered in truffle butter) and I had their grilled red fish.  Both were yummy.  We finished up the meal with profiteroles and chocolate sauce (they’re basically hand-made cream puffs smothered in chocolate sauce).  It was all delicious.  Then we wandered around until we found a quiet-ish bar where we could watch the LSU v. Alabama game.  Sidenote: I really don’t like LSU and I’m a HUGE Alabama fan.  I had told the hubs earlier in the evening that I’d have to keep my Alabama cheering to a minimum lest I get us in trouble.  Funnily enough, we wandered into the only bar with a sizeable Alabama cheering section.  The group in front of us had about 8 people in it all cheering (LOUDLY!) for Alabama.  I didn’t feel so worried after that.  When the game ended (Alabama lost btw) we wandered back to our hotel and crashed. 

Sunday we got up and wandered to breakfast but I honestly can’t tell you where because it wasn’t one of the places we’d originally thought we would go.  We just sort of landed there.  It was fabulous.  They have the biggest sausage biscuits!  OMG, everything was so yummy.  Once we were thoroughly stuffed we walked to the Aquarium of the Americas.  We especially enjoyed the sea turtle (since the hubs and I have a thing about turtles) and the otters (because I have a love of anything furry and cute).  We were pretty tired from all our walking so we headed to lunch at Huck Finn’s Café.  We sat and watched the first half of the Saints game while I noshed on a vegetarian vegetable wrap (sooo good) and the hubs, again, had Cajun food.  We were too tired to do much more walking so we headed a few blocks over to the local movie theatre and decided to just see whatever was coming on next.  Turns out it was this obscure Sundance-Film-Festival-esque movie called Take Shelter.   It’s about this guy who has visions/hallucinations of the end of the world (by storm).  However, his mom was diagnosed with schizophrenia in her thirties and he is, you guessed it, in his mid-thirties.  So, there’s this whole struggle with is the world really ending or is he going nuts?  It was really interesting but definitely not a movie I would have normally watched.  Afterwards we wandered back to the hotel and the hubs said he wanted to spend our last night in New Orleans just snuggled up watching movies… so we did just that.  We ordered pizza and a Greek salad (for me) and just hung out all night.  It was fun. 

Monday we got up and walked to breakfast at this tiny diner called The Clover Grill – again not a place that many tourists would go to have breakfast.  It was a nice, relaxed breakfast with a real New Orleans feel.  Then we walked a few more blocks to visit the house of my step-aunt and uncle.  They live in this AMAZING house in the Quarter that is a historic building (it’s the site of the first integrated school in New Orleans).  They have refurbished it with a few modern touches here and there but most of the original architecture is still intact.  They’ve also decorated it in antiques, amazing paintings, and styling’s typical of the era in which it was built.  It’s an exquisite place.  If I could stand New Orleans on a full time basis I wouldn’t mind living there at all.  After a tour of the house and some time spent conversing with my aunt we headed back to the room to check out and head home.  We drove the next six hours back to Houston (this was the least enjoyable part of all) and crashed when we got home.  All in all, it was a great trip and we really enjoyed ourselves.  I’m glad that we got to go and especially happy that I got to introduce my husband to New Orleans for the first time. 

WORKOUTS:
When my friend G and I decided that we were going to start this 5k training we talked about the timing – did we really want to start this right before the holidays when everyone’s schedules tend to go wonky?  We decided we’d try it…and, two weeks in, we’ve decided it’s not the greatest idea.  We’re definitely not getting in as many workouts as we’re supposed to and that leaves us feeling like we’re not doing anything at all.  So, it’s back to walking 3 miles a day on the days that we can (usually 1-2 days per week) and hopefully, Lord willing, we’ll start the 5k training up in January once life slows down from the holidays. 

DENTIST:
I had my teeth cleaned the other day.  I’m totally and completely OCD about this.  I go to the dentist every 6 months like clockwork.  I did even when I didn’t have insurance.  I’m pretty sure that this has a LOT to do with the fact that I had braces for something crazy like 6 years and it makes you incredibly conscious of your oral health.  Have you been for your cleaning recently?  If not, get that on the schedule before the end of the year!

OBGYN:
I also had my annual “lady checkup.”  Actually, it was a rather “enjoyable” experience in the sense that I went to see a new doc, and I’m thrilled by my change in doctors!  She’s very nice and took quite a long time to sit and talk with me about everything.  She didn’t pop in, say hi, and toss my skirt up.  She also is making me go for blood work which I’ve been needing to do but avoiding because I hate needles.  I finally agreed and went last week to get it done.  I’m not a fan but I will say that I didn’t cry, although I was seriously biting back tears, and I had the best blood-draw technician I’ve ever had.  She was fantastic.  So, progress.  Now we’re just waiting on the results of the tests.

LAST WEEKEND:
I had dinner with some girlfriends on Friday night and it was fabulous.  They came over and we had a super simple dinner and just spent most of our time laughing and catching up.  Usually I stress about get together at my house even though I love throwing them.  I menu plan for weeks in advance, prep the house for days, and then kill myself the day-of getting everything ready and am generally too exhausted to actually enjoy my company.  I definitely didn’t do that this time.  I cooked a simple meal and the girls brought bread and desserts.  It was a blast and I cant wait for the next one.

Saturday I went garage sale shopping with my friend G.  The neighborhood I live in only allows garage sales once a quarter so usually there are LOTS of them going on.  We left the house before 8am and didn’t get home until nearly 2pm.  We had to come home and unload my car TWICE!  It was crazy.  She got lots of stuff for her adorable granddaughter who was with us (and extremely well behaved!) and I got lots of stuff for future craftiness.  I’m excited.  I also purchased several movies on VHS.  I love having a VHS player because everyone sells their old VHS movies at garage sales for insanely low prices.  It’s great.  We watched Scream 2 and Alien Resurrection. 

Sunday the hubs and I got up and went to see the matinee of Immortals.  The first two-thirds of the movie were pretty good – better than I expected actually.  But, I honestly cannot tell you what the hell happened during the last third of the movie or, for that matter, really how the movie ended.  Why?  Because about two-thirds of the way through the movie, something FLEW across the theatre.  Several minutes later, I saw a reflection off a “shiny” surface MOVING on the seat in front of me.  That’s right folks – to my complete and utter horror, it was a cockroach.  Honestly I wanted to leave – or at least move seats – but I didn’t want to ruin the movie for my husband.  I was completely and utterly terrified though.  I just KNEW it was going to crawl on me.  So, I spent the next 30 or so minutes clutching my husband’s hand for dear life and keeping a sharp eye out for anything that moved.  Post movie, I complained to management and told them that they needed to call an exterminator.  It will be quite a while before we go back to that theatre.  Yuck yuck yuck.  Afterwards we grabbed lunch at Café Adobe (roasted poblano corn chowder & fajitas…yum yum yum) and then went to Lowe’s to pick up a new dishwasher.  I sort of feel like the house is falling down.  In the last two months we’ve had to replace the water heater, sliding glass shower door, dishwasher, get the roof patched, and something else I can’t think of off the top of my head.  It’s busy at our house.  So, we went home and the hubs installed a dishwasher while I escaped to get a pedicure.  I came home and we popped in Lost Souls and followed it up with The Talented Mr. Ripley and then it was off to beddy-bye.

OTHER:
I feel like there was more I wanted to tell you about (shocking right?) but I can’t think of what it is offhand.  I’m feeling unproductive because I’m not keeping up with this blog and because my “want-to” pile is piling up.  You know, the pile of things you want to get to.  With the holidays coming up I’m sure that pile will get even bigger and further behind.  Tonight I’m off to pick up a few things I need to make birthday presents with (3 co-workers have birthdays in the next week) and then have to meet a concrete contractor at the house to talk about getting a new driveway poured.  Exciting times.

No one is more cherished in this world than someone who lightens the burden of another. ~Author Unknown

Want to help end world hunger?  

Want to help give food and care to homeless animals?

Want to help get a homeless veteran a free meal?

Want to help provide therapy for a child with autism and their family?

Want to help provide a child with lifesaving healthcare?

Want to teach a child to read?

Want to save the rainforests?

Want to provide mammograms for a woman who otherwise would never receive one?

 

No matter who you are, it’s likely that there’s a cause listed above that you believe in.  Perhaps, you believe in all of them or maybe just one or two.  Either way, if you could help, you would wouldn’t you? 

The reality is that in this day and age with the economy being the way it is most of us don’t have an overflow of cash to donate.  True, we could probably all skimp on that daily Starbuck’s run and donate the money instead, but how many people would sustain their donations for long?  Probably not many.  In addition, many of us have crazy busy lives and we spend nearly every waking hour of every day cramming in as much as we possibly can.  That doesn’t leave much time for helping out your fellow man (or animal, or forest).  It’d be great if we’d all spare a few hours a month to a cause we believe is worthy.  Again though, how many people would keep that up for long? 

So, while I’d love to espouse the necessities of volunteering and donating to worthy causes, I figure I’ll keep it simple and sustainable. 

The other day while searching for Christmas gifts I stumbled upon the following websites.  They’re all operated by a group called Charity USA.  We’ve all seen things like this before where you go to a website, click on the “button” that’s there and the charities sponsors will donate something to their cause.  What if we all did this every day?  How much help could we provide for the causes listed above?  I challenge you to spend a whopping minute each day to click on the buttons on the websites below to help with the causes I listed at the top of this post.  I timed myself today to see how long it would take to click on the buttons for ALL of the causes listed below… it was just over a minute.  Now, tell me, who doesn’t have one minute to spare each day?  None of us.  The great part is, you don’t have to spend any money either – it’s all donated from sponsors.  You don’t even have to give them your name or address or email.  Nada.  Just click. 

Also – if you’re looking for great gifts, each of these sites has a store associated with it that you can purchase items from online.  They range in price and proceeds are donated to the cause.  Some of these items would make fantastic stocking stuffers.

So – get clicking everyone, and remember to do this once a day, every day!

http://www.thehungersite.com/clickToGive/home.faces?siteId=1

http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/clickToGive/home.faces?siteId=2

http://www.theanimalrescuesite.com/clickToGive/home.faces?siteId=3

http://www.theveteranssite.com/clickToGive/home.faces?siteId=10

http://www.theautismsite.com/clickToGive/home.faces?siteId=11

http://www.thechildhealthsite.com/clickToGive/home.faces?siteId=5

http://www.theliteracysite.com/clickToGive/home.faces?siteId=6

http://www.therainforestsite.com/clickToGive/home.faces?siteId=4