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Friday, January 30, 2015

My 2015 Super Bowl Prediction

Those of you not familiar with my...ahem...unconventional method of picking football teams and winners, might want to familiarize yourself first.

Then take a look at the handy chart I made below to pick this year's winner. :)


Okay, so whenever I don't have a horse in the race, I usually resort to picking a team to root for based on the above (very complex) system. I compare both teams based on the criteria and the one with the most "wins" is the team I root for. If there is a tie, I will add the category of best coach.

This one was kind of a no-brainer...but I really loathe the Patriots so I'm glad my formula worked out. HA! I'll explain each briefly below...

1. Best colors - well duh. Navy and lime green are so cute! I love it!
2. Best home city - give me a west coast city over Foxborough (Boston) any day. And Seattle is one of the cities I absolutely want to visit someday!
3. Cutest QB - while most will probably disagree with me...Tom Brady just doesn't do it for me. I think Russell Wilson is cute. AND he's a good guy.
4. Hottest players overall - While Russell Wilson is a cutie, the Patriots have quite an abundance of hot players like Danny Amendola, The Gronk and Jimmy Garoppolo.
5. If there were a war between the two team's mascots and they had to fight each other, the Patriot would clearly win. It's a human. With a musket. No match for a bird of prey.
6. Fans - This one was clear. Patriots fans are some of the most annoying in the NFL. They would probably never win in this category unless they were up against...maybe Philly...or Dallas. But still...it would be hard.

Based on my highly scientific formula, the Seattle Seahawks will win the Super Bowl. Who do you think will win?



Thursday, January 29, 2015

Things I Love Thursday


I really like the idea of this...maybe in more neutral fabrics though. It looks easy and would be great to cover a large wall.


Most of the best Office pranks were in early seasons but this one was one of my favorites from the latter half of the show.

au6

Tuesday marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. It's estimated that this camp killed upwards of 1.1 million people. These photos captured some of the survivors of the camp.


Someone needs to make this a meme. Please?


These amazingly colorful shells should live in my house, no?

mermaid sequins and dark lips!

I love this look! It's like mermaid sequins. Oh, and she is definitely an awesome new fashion blogger to follow!

Links:
This amazing legs workout! | I laughed for about 10 minutes when I saw this pin yesterday. | Kind of obsessed with this navy dress...too bad the price tag is more than my rent. :) | This is an awesome site that shows you how a word looks in a ton of different fonts. For all of my fellow font snobs. | What if you were the art designer for a celebrity music video? Bri was. | Do you like offbeat or unusual cold weather gear like me? Check these out. | Here's the new Budweiser Super Bowl puppy commercial. Get your tissues.

Monday, January 26, 2015

You Can't Keep a Good B and Her Fruit Basket Down

Grab your binky and gather on the carpet squares because it is story time.

January 2014
I saw this amazing fruit basket whilst registering for my wedding at Target. Because I've never owned a fruit basket before, I figured I'd fancify my life by registering for one.

March 2014
I had my one and only bridal shower. I didn't get the fruit basket. It's okay, because we still had the wedding to go to.

April 2014
We got married and we didn't get the fruit basket as a wedding gift.

November 2014
Since I didn't get it for my wedding, I figured I'd put it on my Christmas list to my parents. I put the fruit basket along with a cake stand from my wedding on there.

December 2014
Christmas came. I got the cake stand...but no fruit basket.

January 2015 (in bullet points)
  • For my birthday, I asked my dad to get me the fruit basket.
  • My dad goes to 2 Targets in an attempt to track down the basket. He finds one "floor model" at a Target but it's bent. They don't have any in stock.
  • Dad decides to get me a gift card to Target with which to buy said fruit basket.
  • I attempt to purchase the fruit basket online since it wasn't available at any nearby stores.
  • While going through the online purchase process, inventory for the fruit basket kept showing zero and then that it was only available for store pickup.
  • When I attempted to put in my zip code to find a store for pickup, the Target site kept having errors.
  • I finally went through the order process on my phone and it worked.
  • I went to pick up the fruit basket on Saturday and when I walked up to customer service she couldn't find it. After a bit of looking, we determined that for whatever reason it showed up under my maiden name and not my married name.
January 24, 2015
The fruit basket is now in my possession and is stocked with produce. It sits proudly on my kitchen countertop. The moral of the story, as my friend Luis says, "You can't keep a good b and her fruit basket down."




Friday, January 23, 2015

Hewitt's Brush with Death

Hey now, how's THAT for a dramatic blog post title?

To be honest, I struggled with what to name this post for a long time. I thought about something like "When Dogs Can't Tell You They are Sick" or "Why Dogs are More Difficult Than Kids" but they either seemed to sad or inciteful. So, you get the dramatic title. Anywho, the story...



On Christmas Day (Thursday) M and I noticed that Hewitt didn't have much of an appetite. We thought maybe he was just pouting because we were gone most of the day and had a lot of company the night before. All weekend I tried enticing him with rice, chicken, treats, fruit and even baby food! By Monday, he wasn't eating and was even refusing apples (his absolute favorite treat) so I called my vet and took him in. He was acting pretty lethargic most of the weekend, which I figured was because he hadn't really eaten anything. My vet did some blood work and gave me some meds thinking he might have some back pain. They said they'd call me the next day with blood work results.

I didn't hear from them on Tuesday and when I called, they said the results were incomplete so they needed to wait another day to give me results. (At this was I a little skeptical. I've worked in this industry before and I couldn't understand how you could only have partial results back when you said it would only take 1 day. But I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. Deep down, a nasty little seed started growing that there was something really wrong with him.)

Wednesday (New Year's Eve), my vet called me around noon and gave me the test results. He said that Hewitt's blood platelet counts were dangerously low and he was at immediate risk of internal hemmorhage or spontaneous bleeding due to thrombocytopenia. Basically he had almost no platelets so his blood couldn't clot. He was a very high risk of bleeding out or severe internal bleeding. My vet said this thrombocytopenia is a result of an autoimmune disease where the body starts attacking and destroying its own blood platelets. He also said that there were three known causes of this disease: late stage cancer/abdominal tumor, tick-borne infectious disease or a spontaneous version that just starts to occur in the body.

My vet "strongly recommended" that I take Hewitt to the emergency vet immediately for ultrasound, xrays, additional bloodwork and potentially a blood transfusion and hospitalization.

Of course at this point, I'm freaking out. I ran downstairs to tell M what the vet said and fell down the stairs. (I was that jarred!) I was so upset that Hewitt was so ill. He's really not had a lot of health problems except for his tendency to eat gum and trash...and a Sharpie or two. How could he be so sick all of a sudden?

The next few hours were a blur. We rushed him to the vet and they took him and did more tests and the ultrasound/x rays. After what seemed like forever, the vet came out to see us and gave us good news AND bad news. Good news, it wasn't cancer or a tick-borne infectious disease. Bad news, he had ITP (Immune-Mediated Thrombocytopenia). This is an incurable disease but it does go into "remission" if treatment works.

Honestly, when we took him into the vet, I thought we might not leave with him alive so hearing that while he was very sick, there was hope, was amazing. He really had exhibited no other symptoms besides lethargy and not eating (to my knowledge...but now I realize that the petechial rash on his belly was actually internal bleeding and not just brusing) so I had no way of knowing how sick he really was. Normal dog blood platelet levels around around 300,000 to 500,000 and Hewitt's was 13,000. Diagnosis was to start with a very high dose of steroids to suppress the immune system that was attacking his platelets and see how he responded.

Instead of hospitalization my vet recommended he go home with us and come back daily for platelet checks until they stabilized. (Hewitt is very stressed in cages and has been very anxious when he's been hospitalized at the emergency vet before...for eating gum. Long story. So, my vet said in this case him being there and away from home would actually make him worse.) One of the only things Hewitt showed an interest in was french fries from Cookout so he became accustomed to getting some after he went to the vet for platelet check. Poor little guy...


H, going to get some French fries with M.

Daily rechecks turned into weekly rechecks as his platelet levels climbed back up towards normal. He is responding to the steroids and we are now in the process of decreasing him down to a maintenance dose. At the vet last week, his platelets were over 500,000. I'm so happy he's on the mend.

He's had a few setbacks and med side effects but we've been able to remedy them for the most part. I'm so happy he is getting better. He's 12 years old and I wasn't ready to make that decision of treatment vs. age/quality of life quite yet. If he'd not responded so well to treatment, that would be a whole other issue. He's eating again and acting almost completely normal. (the meds he is on causes some weakness, so he's not quite as active, but he's still "Hewitt")

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Insta-Outfits v.3

In our current townhome, we really don't have a good place for me to take outfit shots. Well, of course we have room, but not really the ideal empty wall or doorway that gets enough light...so I've resorted to instaselfies in the mirror and posting them on Instagram. They aren't ideal, but they get the job done, you know?

Here are some insta-outfits of late...






Do you follow me on Instagram? (thestripedflamingo) It may be the only way you see outfits for another couple of months. :)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Statement Necklaces: Picking the Right Pieces

It's no secret that I love statement necklaces. And, I'm learning that I'm not the only one. I've seen them everywhere! However, if you are attracted to shiny and sparkly things it's easy to purchase the first that catches your eye. Then, if you're like me, that gorgeous necklace may just sit in your closet unworn forever because you have nothing to wear it with.

There are some important factors that you should weigh in on your statement necklace purchases. Hopefully, these will ensure you purchase good pieces that actually get WORN and don't just sit in your jewelry box.

Tips for Picking the Right Statement Necklaces

1. Choose the right colors
Take a survey of your wardrobe and your closet. Is there a general color family that you wear? Do you mostly wear neutral colors? Do you have lots of different colors? If you tend to wear cooler colors, you'll want to stick with necklaces in neutrals or cool tones. If you wear warmer colors, go with neutrals and warm tones. If you mostly wear neutrals, you can go with any color.

Use the color wheel for help.

Generally, stay on your "side" of the color wheel, except for neutrals...which goes with anything. If you wear cools, you can go with anything on the left side of the wheel, for example. 

The yellow necklace and the aqua cardigan are both on the same side of the color wheel.


2. Choose the right style
There are lots of different styles of statement necklaces. The easiest ones to incorporate into your wardrobe are solid statement necklaces. A solid red necklace can go with lots of color and lots of prints. A red, white, blue and gray necklace is a bit more difficult to wear. 

Again, survey your wardrobe. If you have lots of solids, you can get away with necklaces that have multiple colors or styles in it. If you tend to wear prints, you may want to stick with necklaces that are just one color.



Both of these are examples of solid, neutral necklaces. They can go with prints and a variety of colors.

3. Splurge on neutrals
Unless you are a color-matching pro, neutral statement necklaces are your best friend. Black, gray, tan, taupe, crystal, white, brown, etc. will go with virtually any color. A solid black statement necklace could literally be worn with almost anything. I got a crystal/silver statement necklace for Christmas that I wear almost weekly. 

4. Organize
I have my statement necklaces organized by color. I know it sounds weird, but it's helpful to know where to look on my necklace rack depending on the color. Organization is helpful when it comes to outfit planning!


It does look jumbled...if the wall was bigger I would expand the hooks out a bit more...but it works for me. Reds and pinks to yellow/greens, blues, teals, clear/crystal, black, browns and whites.

Now, you should feel empowered to go forth and shop!

Monday, January 19, 2015

A 30th Birthday to Remember

On Saturday I had a wonderful "controlled surprise" birthday party to celebrate me entering my 3rd decade of life. (Controlled surprise means I knew the date, time and attire...but knew nothing else.) It was a great time to gather with friends and celebrate.

There were a few party games and themes. First, the color theme was pink, black and white and, of course, 30. Then, there were two fun party games that weren't lame. HA! First was Pin the Statement Necklace on April...just like Pin the Tail on the Donkey...only it was on a picture of me. Then there was April Trivia...multiple choice questions about me that everyone had to answer. It was a lot of fun.

Below are some photos of the night. I took the liberty of putting them into a collage for ease of viewing. :)




There was also a photo backdrop for photos. It was a lot of fun and I loved seeing everyone's serious and ridiculous photos. Side note - there were a number of people taking pictures with a REAL camera and it was so nice to have everything documented. There's nothing wrong with cell phone cameras, but there is something awesome about having photos with a real camera. You know what I mean?

One of the other themes was, of course, 30. My friends who threw the party (pictured below) asked everyone to bring 30 of something. It could be 30 different things or even 30 attributes about me. I got such an awesome assortment of gifts. I got 30 York peppermint patties, 15 pairs of sock (so 30 socks), 30 hair ties, $30 gift cards, 30 My Little Pony drawings, a 30 piece MLP puzzle, 30 chocolate truffles, and even a really awesome handmade scrapbook of 30 memories from my friend. It was a lot of fun! 


Other highlights from my 30th Birthday weekend included:
  • A family lunch on Sunday
  • Trying out a new Italian restaurant with M on Sunday night (it was great!)
Hope your weekend was awesome as well! 


Friday, January 16, 2015

Reflections on Turning 30

birthday animated GIF  

I'm turning 30 on Sunday.

30. Yes, 3-0. THIRTY! Part of me honestly can't really believe it. I think of myself as perpetually 25ish, even though I have an old soul. I figured I'd spend the better part of this post reflecting on some of the things I've experienced or some major milestones in my [almost] 30 years on this planet.

1. Being born. (it is kind of a big deal)
2. Having not one, but TWO My Little Pony birthday cakes.
3. Surviving a Category 5 hurricane and the 2 weeks of no power afterwards.
4. Having my photo on a billboard. (17 years old)
5. Travel highlights: Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Chicago, Colorado, Texas.
6. Packing up and moving to a completely different city by myself.
7. Moving back to the city I call home.
8. Going camping and actually enjoying it.
9. Traveling to my first international destination. (Jamaica)
10. Getting married. (And meeting the most amazing man TO marry...of course.)
11. Being diagnosed with the first case of Lyme Disease in the Southeast in like 30 years. (5 years old)
12. Discovering my love for owls, flamingos, sea lions and miniature animals.
13. Being crowned with the following titles: Military Ball Queen, Military Ball Princess and 1st Runner Up in the Carrousel Pageant. (Ages 16-18)
14. Advancing to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in JROTC and LOVING IT.
15. Trying many things once (and never again): deep-sea fishing, asparagus, roller skating birthday parties, wasabi, etc.
16. Being a redhead, brunette and blonde.
17. Settled into a career in marketing/PR/communications.
18. Learned to play guitar and keyboard
19. Made income doing the following things in addition to my regular jobs: theatrical lighting and stage design consultation, singing at weddings and funerals, photography, marketing consulting, dog sitting/walking, pageant coaching (poor girls) and organizing people's closets. :)
20. Accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior (age 13).
21. Adopted the weirdest, yet most precious puppy ever. (Hewitt)
22. Never owning a normal "sedan" car. I've had a stationwagon, 2-door hatchbook and an SUV.
23. Developed a [what I anticipate to be] life-long love for cardigans and statement necklaces.
24. Trying and liking the following foods: greek yogurt, spaghetti squash, zucchini and yellow squash
25. Owned a fish named Puppy that lived for 5 years. I also owned a fish named Leon who lived for 5 days. He committed fishicide.
26. Discovered I am allergic to feathers...which explains my great mistrust for birds that fly.
27. Ran 2 5k races.
28. Developed life-long friendships.
29. Learned that I favor cool, airy, light colors over dark and warm tones.
30. Learned to embrace the things I'm good at or have a knack for and let others do what they are good at. I don't need to master everything and be good at all things. Each one has their own special gifts and talents.

Happy Birthday Steve Carell: GIF Party! photo 1
sources: one, two

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Researching My Ancestry

I've always been a history nut. History was my favorite subject in school and I love historical/period television shows, movies and books. About 9 months ago I found some research that had been done on my dad's side of the family back in the early 90s. (this was before The Internets became popular, so it was a packet of printed information and documents)



Once I began to read, I was hooked! I started compiling a digital version of my family tree using the free version of Ancestry.com using the research I'd found and then began to explore additional research via our good friend Mr. The Internets. (always The Internets...you know...like The WalMarts and The Dollar Gentral)

Then life happened and I got married and moved and all of that jazz. I sort of stopped working on my family tree. Then I started reading a book series about someone who researches her family and the passion was reignited again. Over the last week or so I dove back into my research and found a number of interesting facts.

So far, I've been able to trace my paternal lineage (father/grandfather/great-grandfather) back to 1687 and in Saint Gallen, Switzerland. There were a family group of fathers, adult sons (along with spouses and some children) and a few others that came over to the United States from Switzerland in 1736 on the ship Price of Wales that landed in Charleston, SC. Here the family groups segmented a bit but the group from which I descended settled into the Saxegotha Township area (now Lexington County SC) and have lived in that area since.

I think that's really cool that my family basically stayed in the same area for almost 300 years! I was born in Columbia, SC (and so was my dad and his dad, etc.) which is in the same vicinity of Saxegotha Township.

Some of the other interesting people I've discovered in my parental lineage research are:
  • One of the first "bonafied" and legitimate Native American Indian traders in America. There are suspicious circumstances surrounding his death and it might have been conspired by his "trading partner".
  • A revolutionary war heroine
  • A man who lived to be 114 years old
  • A Swiss governor
I'm just now in the process of working on my maternal lineage. I know that there is Scottish and Native American ancestry on that side, but I can't wait to find out for sure!

I also discovered that originally my father's side of the family were Jewish. I do not practice Judaism, nor does anyone in my immediate family. But way far back in the line, people did. There are records that state requests from my ancestors to Switzerland for Hebrew Bibles and other materials one might need to practice Judaism. Now, there is a big debate going on about whether or not Jewish is a race, religion or ethnicity. You can read more about that here and here. It appears that my paternal family were Ashkenazic Jews, meaning they were from Germany/Eastern Europe. Somewhere, they stopped practicing Judaism and Yiddish culture and started practicing Christianity. (which is what I practice)

It's very interesting and quite intriguing. Have you ever done any genealogical research? Did you discover anything interesting?

Monday, January 12, 2015

2015 Golden Globes Best & Worst Dressed

The fashion at this year's Golden Globes sure didn't disappoint. There were the expected ridiculous fashion looks (I'm looking at you, Lena Dunham...can you maybe just try for once instead of resorting to looking like you don't have a stylist?) and there were some risks that paid off. Some of my favorite and least favorite looks are below.

BEST DRESSED

Naomi Watts, Golden Globes

Naomi Watts
I loved this yellow dress. It's a very flattering fit and the top part is a nice hint of unexpected. I'm also digging the snakey statement necklace and low-key hair.


Kate Beckinsale
I'm obsessed with the top part of this dress, especially. The color and the bling is fantastic. Kate usually always looks amazing. If it were a head-to-toe bling look it might be too pageanty but the balance of the chiffon bottom is on point.



Julia Goldani Telles
I LOVE this color and the silhouette. I'm okay with the deep neckline because there's a nude colored mesh panel and it's very narrow. This with her dark hair and lips look amazing! By the way, who is this actress??


Emily Blunt

This white dress wouldn't have even made my short list if it weren't for the way she styled it. I LOVED the turquoise accents and her hair. Fabo! 



Reese Witherspoon
Dang I just love her. So classy and elegant. I have no issues with anything in this outfit whatsoever.



Helen Mirren
Girl, GET IT! I'm obsessed with this dress. The color, the fit, the bling and the SLEEVES! (Y'all know I love sleeves!) This looks fabulous on her.

WORST DRESSED

Claire Danes, Golden Globes

Claire Danes
This is just weird. I would like it much more if the top was more simple (maybe just black with the sheer part)...but as it is...too much. 


Tina Fey
Take out the weird table silhouette and change the color and I'd be all about this dress. The structure of the dress...which is an attempt to be edgy, I'm sure, just doesn't work. Also, I think this color sort of washes her out. Maybe a brighter shade or a lighter shade would be better. This is like a pale pinky, off white. 


Lana Del Rey
Ladies and gentlemen...Priscilla has entered the building! No, but really, this is even more Priscilla Presley looking that the Katy Perry look at the 2013 Grammys. I do like the color...but the pleats are not for me.


Keira Knightley
I have no words. This literally looks like one of the garden dresses Keira would have worn while filming Pride & Prejudice. That, plus the butterfly corsage is a risk that didn't pay off. Not at all.



Taryn Manning
This one is nominated for the worst dressed just because of styling. People - listen to me - two-tone/ombre hair (what we call as grown-out roots in the South) is not cute. It looks trashy, unfortunately.

What did you think of my picks? Agree? Disagree? Let me know! 

All images via Eonline.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Being Happy


As I scrolled through my Facebook news feed this morning, I clicked on the link to this Huffington Post article about the 7 Habits of Chronically Unhappy People. Having always thought of myself as an optimist, I expected to read the article and find nothing of use to me. I am a pretty happy person overall.

However, when I read some of the habits of unhappy people, I could definitely see some similarities in my own behavior and thinking. Now, I don't consider myself to be chronically unhappy, but I can definitely trace periods of unhappiness to some of these habits. It's a little bit of a wake-up call that I could recall specific moments when I acted in these ways...and most of them are at work. Now, I don't hate my job or coworkers...I really like it, in fact. But, I find myself a bit more susceptible to indulging in unhappy habits while at work. It's very possible that other people's attitudes or behaviors have more of an effect on me at work than in other places. This is why it's vital that I learn to recognize these habits when they start to pop up and redirect or rechannel my thinking.

Specifically, I'm talking about habits 5 and 7 in the article.

5. You strive to control your life.

I'm a total controller/planner/be-in-charge type girl. It's great for things like weddings and when trying to adhere to schedules but it's bad when I try to control things that I really cannot. Sometimes things just happen (at work, at school, in life, etc.) and sometimes people react in ways that you can't predict or plan for. I've got to be a little more "go with the flow" and be okay when the inevitable wrench is thrown in my plans. This doesn't mean I shouldn't be focused, but I shouldn't be so blindsided when things don't go my way, but be able to take it in stride and keep going forward.

7. You fill your conversations with gossip and complaints.

Man, I am a complainer. I've been one my whole life. But I've only recently noticed that complaining breeds complaining and results in frustration. If I complain about something at work, then another coworker complains...then usually it results in gossipy conversation or even anger. Similar to #5, complaining about things I can't change or can't influence really does me no good. Whenever I recognize that I am complaining (or about to start it) I really need to stop and think about what my complaining will result in. Unless it results in actual change for the better, I should just keep it to myself. The last thing I want to be known as at work is the depressive, bitter, Debbie-Downer and complaining is a sure-fire way to get that title.

If you read (or skimmed) the article, did you notice any habits of unhappy people that you recognize in your own life?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Banana Bread "Muffins"

I made a batch of these over the weekend to have around for quick breakfasts on the go and I made them in my Pampered Chef brownie pan so they were like square muffins...or mini bread loves. Y'all know I love miniature anything...mini donkeys, mini cupcakes, mini ponies...but I digress. Anyway, the recipe is below.

 
Ingredients:
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup butter, softened (or buttery spread)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
3/4 - 1 cup chocolate chips (depending on your preference)
2 cups of all-purpose flower
3/4 cup of brown sugar (substitute with Splenda brown sugar for a healthy option)
 
 
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cream butter and sugar together then combine the rest of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  • Mix until all ingredients are combined and banana is distributed evenly.
  • Pour into a greased muffin or brownie pan (fill cups about 3/4 of the way full).
  • Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

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