Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Yes, I know there are starving children in the world and yes I know that there are much bigger problems than mine but in my tiny sphere of the world it seems everything has turned against me today. So, all of you that like to trivialize other people's problems, in the words of my froworker Luis, Let Me Live.

The day started out earlier than 4:30 am when Hewitt decides to wake me up whining. After I let him out and come back in and try to fall asleep my lady cramps woke me up at 5 am. Once I finally started to drift off back to sleep, my alarm went off at 5:31 am...the time it normally does in the morning.


Now I feel like poo and am tired. Great. I went to put my facial moisturizer on and I dropped the glass jar and it broke. Great. This day is getting off to a wonderful start.

I'm about to walk out the door when I realize I have a doctor's appointment that morning at 8 am. I leave my house at 6:50 and decide I'll go by work and drop off my stuff then head to the doctor (which is right across the street from work). Three-fourths of the way through my route to work I hear a pop.

Then I hear a rubbing/thumping sound. Rrruubbbb, thump, rrrruuuubbbb thump. I toggle to the tire pressure screen on my dashboard and see one tire at 16psi and the other at 5...4....3...

I've blown a tire! DANG IT! I'm in a part of town I'm not very familiar with and it's 7:15 am. Great. I slowed down and put my hazards on (I was on a fast moving 4 lane road) and I turned off into the first neighborhood I encountered. Luckily for me (note the sarcasm) it was a very busy gated retirement community. So there's a guard in the guardhouse literally watching me. I park, get out and survey the damage. It's bad. My wheel well is actually touching the ground. Eff.

I get back in my car and sit there for a minute. What do I do? I let my roadside assistance expire and I don't have a AAA membership. So...I think about who to call. My dad taught me how to change a tire and I briefly consider changing the tire myself...even though I've never actually done looking it up on Youtube. However, I soon found out with a bit of research that my car has these weird locking lugnuts that you need special equipment to remove. Or something like that. I may or may not have sat in my car and just cried for a second. There's nothing in the world that can describe that utterly hopeless feeling.

So, I called my dad. My husband works in an environment where he can't answer his phone and it's about an hour away from where I was at that time. My dad was far away but told me to call AAA. I ended up purchasing a membership right there on the phone and 30 minutes later, someone came out and changed my tire.

As he put the old tire in my car he said, "you won't be able to patch this one. It's worn completely through" and he showed me a huge gash in the tire. Great. So I drive with my doughnut tire to work. I completely missed my doctor appointment and had to frantically call them and try to reschedule while I was waiting on the AAA guy. I was told to be 15 min early for my 8 am appointment...but they don't open until 8. Y'all figure that one out.

I needed new tires. I knew this. I'd prepared for this and planned to do it in the spring. So when he said I needed to replace the flat one, it just made sense to replace them all. This is why I have savings...but it still stinks to pay for boring things like tires. Also, I opted for a front-end wheel alignment since that's probably what killed my tires in the first place. Yeah, so there's $700 down the drain.

Fast forward a few hours and my coworkers were going to a team lunch. Every place we tried was busy and had a 25 minute wait. The place they suggested to go is this gross Mexican restaurant that I do not enjoy. So I have to wait really long to eat at this nasty restaurant. Hokay.

So let me summarize...

1. Whining dog = lack of sleep
2. Cramps
3. Broken moisturizer
4. Tire blowout, resulting in $700 worth of new tires
5. Bad Mexican restaurant
6. Missed doctor's appointment (and probably a resulting charge for no-show...even though I called)
7. Cramps

And it's only 4pm. Lord, give me strength.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Our 2016 Vacation Destination

There's a quasi back story to our 2016 vacation destination. I'll explain it briefly in a moment. First, I should tell you that I am 100% envious of others that I see who travel a lot. I've not really been one of those people. I travel some for work, but that's about it. M and I may take a few long weekends or local vacations but the only real vacation we've been on is our honeymoon.

All that is about to change. And here's the brief story of how it came to be.

I have a Pinterest board about travel. A long time ago I pinned a couple pins from a gorgeous location I'd love to visit someday. Never thinking it would be possible. It was kind of a random, not-very-well-known place (or so it seemed) to me. But it was beautiful.

Fast forward to yesterday when I was around M's extended family for a funeral and his aunt (who loves hiking and outdoors) mentioned they were going on a trip in August and asked if we'd like to go with them. We'd pay our own way, of course, but we'd have a few other people to hang out with and share the cost of meals, rental cars, etc. Then she really caught my attention when she said where she was going.


One of the most beautiful places on Earth! This was my pin! This was one of my dream places! And she actually said it!

After spending the afternoon thinking and discussing with M, we decided to go for it. Banff, Alberta, Canada is in the Canadian Rockies and is a lot cheaper to visit than some of the destinations we were looking at in Wyoming/Jackson area. There are gorgeous lakes, mountain views, hot springs and tons of outdoor activities like fishing, canoeing, etc. that we will love! I am over the moon to be going and so excited I could hardly sleep last night. I've been madly working on my Excel spreadsheet this morning to get our budget and everything in order. This is going to be an EPIC trip!

In case you aren't familiar with Banff, I'll leave you with a few pictures...


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

My Favorite Books

Books have always been and will always be a part of my life. I absolutely love reading...whether it be an actual book, an electronic book, a magazine...any and all please. I realize that though I've blogged about some of my favorite children's books, I've never shared my overall favorite books.

So without further adieu, I share them with you today.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Probably my #1 favorite. It has mystery, family drama, romance and is set in Regency England. What more could you ask for in a book? Plus the heroine is what I call "earthy". She seems normal. The book doesn't say she's especially beautiful but she is wise and witty.

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
I'm sure this book tops many other readers' favorite books list as well. But Jane Austen just gets it. This book, though also set in Regency England, still is very relevant to today's society. Timeless truths and themes are what gives a book staying power. Side note: I saw Pride + Prejudice + Zombies over the weekend and loved it! Seriously it was really good. It stayed with the original plot very closely and had a whole other level of the zombies. The women are all trained in Asian combat arts and are basically like warriors. Loved it! 

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
I still vividly remember the plot of this book and my reactions while reading it. This was my first Jodi Picoult book and by far, in my opinion, the best. A lot of her books tend to have the same sort of storyline but reading this one first it absolutely got and held my attention. I loved how this book's twists and turns emphasized familial relationships and tests of bonds. So good!

Night by Elie Wiesel
It's hard to say that a book has changed you permanently. But when I read this book in 8th grade it sparked a holocaust fascination phase that has continued into my adult life. It's one of those books you read when you need a little perspective on life. This will forever be a favorite of mine.

What are some of your favorite books?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Grammy Fashion Roundup

Ah the Grammys. One of the best awards shows for crazy fashion because it's not as pretentious as the Oscars. People love taking risks at the Grammys and this year was no different. But there were some obvious trends in this year's fashion choices. Let's review...

Pink and Red

Though I love this color combo I hate both of these executions. Swifty is too skinny and it's too revealing for her. The other girl (name?) from Little Big Town has always freaked me out with her Mugatu-esque hair...but the skirt of her dress is the worst. If it went straight down and didn't do that tafetta trumpet thing I'd like it more. BOTH outfits remind me of Bianca's prom outfit in 10 Things I Hate About You.

Black & Long, Black & Cut-Outs or Black & High Slit

And this isn't even all of them! But when paired together you can see how many similarities there are with these outfits. Don't get me wrong, I love a long, slim, black dress. There's nothing more classic than that. And the only ones that really did the classic black dress are Adele (bottom second from left) and Meghan Trainor (top left). Demi's was almost there except for the really low neckline. (far right bottom) Those are the stand-outs. Everything else kind of bored me. But really...there must have been a black dress memo going out...right?

The Weird

All of these, for one reason or another, are just weird. The pink ensembles are all strange and ol' girl with the yellow dress on looks like big bird died to make her dress. Gaga is always weird. She embraces it. I almost didn't include her except I hate her shoes.

Overall I liked Tori Kelly and Kaley Cuoco. They both killed it. Also Ellie Goulding looked great. Did you notice any Grammy trends in fashion this year?

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Casual Valentine's Style: A Roundup of Best Looks

Valentine's Day is right around the corner and regardless of your relationship status, everyone can celebrate Valentine's Day...with the right outfit. Since the actual day is on a Sunday this year, most people won't celebrate it while in the office, so this allows for a lot more casual outfits to make an appearance.

Valentine's Day Outfit 1


I love this sweet chambray + floral pairing. It's reminiscent of Vday without being over the top.

Valentine's Day Outfit 2

Pink + Pink Polka Dots ~ What an adorable Belle outfit!:

Pink is one of my fave colors to wear on Vday. This pink polka dot look is just whimsical enough for Vday without being too kitsch.

Valentine's Day Outfit 3

What To Wear On Valentine's Day -Outfits Ideas:

I totally love those red boots! If you have red boots, you MUST wear them on Vday. A slouchy tunic sweater makes this look casual instead of super fancy. 

Valentine's Day Outfit 4

I Heart You. Valentine's Day outfit idea.  Over the knee boots and faux fur vest on Peaches In A Pod Blog. #overthekneeboots:

I love, love, love those mittens! The furry vest is the right amount of texture for an otherwise basic outfit. 

Valetine's Day Outfit 5

How to Stay Stylish All Winter: ADD A POP OF COLOR TO YOUR LOOK – we tend to gravitate more towards darker colors in the winter and often, that gives us a very boring look so to avoid that, make sure to add at least a pop of color somewhere in your outfit. It could be a bright cami underneath that thick and heavy coat or a cute and colorful beanie to top off a head to toe black look.:

This would be just perfect for lounging but also for a casual date. I love the pop of dark red in the scarf!

Would you try any of these looks for Valentine's Day?

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Show Us Your Books: What I Read in January

I've started this year off with a reading bang, which included finding a few new authors I like and discovering (and finishing) an incredible mystery/crime series. I'm linking up with Steph and Jana for this month's  Show Us Your Books linkup.

A few thoughts about this month's books. First, I only read 2 standalone books that weren't part of a series I was already on. Understandably, those were my least favorites.

This is book #7 in the Miss Fortune series about a CIA operative who goes undercover in rural, small town Louisiana. This book didn't disappoint! We are finally getting to the meat of the story in book 7 and lots of secrets are revealed! I can't say more in case you decide to read it. I gave this one three out of five salted caramels simply because it ends without a lot of resolution...which will hopefully come in book 8. If you are a fan of the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich, you will enjoy this series.

This is book 4 of the Rewinding Time series about a girl who has a computer software program that allows her to look back in time at what was happening at whatever location she's in. This time, she's researching when Charles Dickens visited America (Illinois) and it was a great 4th book. This is an inspirational series, so beware that it's slightly religious. It doesn't bother me at all and I really enjoyed this book. Four out of five salted caramels.

This was book one of a series and while it "passed the time fine" as Steph says, it's not something I'd choose to read more of. I did enjoy the depth of characterization. More than a few times the book reminded me of Harry Potter, though there was no magic in this book. Three out of five salted caramels.

Again, this was another first of a series books that I probably won't continue on. The premise is that a guy is robbed and beaten and had a tramautic head injury that causes him to see visions that eventually help him solve crimes. It was interesting but not enough for me to pay for the subsequent books. Two out of five salted caramels. 

All of the Rose Gardner Mysteries (there are 8 so far)
I had no idea what I was in for when I  saw this book for free on Kindle. (Kindle frequently puts the first of series for free download to hook you!) Needless to say I loved this book so much that I paid $4.99 for each additional book in the series that's been released. It starts with a girl who lives in a small town in Arkansas, works at the DMV and has "visions". The book starts right out with explaining this girl's family drama/background and she's thrust right into a crime scene unintentionally pretty quickly. This girl-turned-unintentional-crime solver tries to make a life as a single woman in a small town and throughout each book solves a crime/mystery in her town. There are overarching plot lines that go outside of one book that help tie everything together. I quickly fell in love with the characters and the main character...though she was a little frustrating at some parts. This series is an NY Times Bestseller series and it will hook you for sure! It's got crime, mystery, romance, family dynamic/drama and small-town/Southern quirkiness. This is my favorite new author and series and I can't wait until the next installment comes out in May. Five out of five salted caramels.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Five Reasons You Should Cheer for the Panthers

In case you live under a rock, there's a "big football game" this Sunday (it's called the Super Bowl but the NFL is a huge baby and has trademarked that crap...and they hunt down people who use it without their permission...anywho) between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos. I've also heard it humorously referred to as the "black cats" and the "ghost horses". HAHAHA.

Anywho, being from Charlotte and being a Panther fan, I am absolutely pulling for the Panthers. You should too. Here's why...

1. They have been underdogs and faced adversity all season.
No team seems to have been underestimated and under appreciated all season than the Panthers. They are rarely picked to win and when they do win it's because the other team had injuries or bad tablets or bad coaching. Because of this, they play with a chip on their shoulders. Last year the head coach's house caught on fire and burned, our starting quarterback broke his back in a car accident and their number 1 wide receiver was injured in a pre-season practice that sidelined him for the entire season. I mean, c'mon!

2. They have never won a Super Bowl.
Peyton Manning (Denver QB) has already won a Super Bowl and the Broncos as a franchise have won 2 Super Bowls. The Panthers made 1 appearance in their 20 years of existence and lost.

3. They are an incredibly exciting and fun team to watch.
From touchdown celebrations, to overall game excitement, the Panthers are fun to watch and they have fun playing the game!

4. Because this. 
The QB Cam Newton hands touchdown balls to kids in the stands EVERY. TIME. He even will go as far as to run and track down the ball to give it to a kid. Even when other team's players are jerks about it.

5. Because Blue and Black are prettier than Blue and Orange.
My last reason may be selfish but the Panthers colors are WAY better. And everyone looks good in black. #amiright

Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

So, if you're looking for a team to root for on Sunday, how about you throw some good vibes towards the Panthers?!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

An Ode to a Shelter Dog

[Hewitt's "Gotcha Day" anniversary was Monday. It's been 9 years since I adopted him from a local shelter. Below is an ode to him.]

It's been said that all things happen for a reason,
For good and for the benefit of all.
I believe that this happened
nine years ago, when I answered that call

"We've got one that's been hit by a car.
He's recovering...but chances are slim
He's going to need a lot of work
since the owners decided they don't want him"

"He's not very socialized
and he's not 100 percent.
He'll probably have behavioral issues
and will most likely walk with a limp."

"He wasn't cared for well before
and his owners allowed him to roam
Then someone hit him with their car
and left him all alone."

"A broken femur, a fractured pelvis;
head trauma too.
He's almost died three times
But he pulled through."

"He probably won't jump and may not run
and will need to be sedated to be groomed.
But even with all of that
he definitely sure is cute."

As soon as I saw his photos
I knew I had to go
To see this zombie shelter dog
that needed a good home

And on that fateful trip down
we looked around to find
a Petsmart store for food and a crate
because I knew he would be mine

Nine years later, I will say
My life has forever changed
A little kindness goes very far
and what a huge difference love made!

This dog, he jumps, he runs, he hops
He gets around just fine
I'll forever remember that fateful day
This shelter dog became mine.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Things That Make Me Panic

Here's another edition in the series of blog posts that are probably a little TMI but I post anyway. They started with "Things That Make Me Low-Key Stalkerish" and today's post is "Things That Make Me Panic". Because we all know that sphincter-curling, heart-racing, adrenaline pumping feeling...

1. When I'm driving and I hear sirens
Instant panic...not so much because I'm doing something wrong, but because I'm deathly afraid of being that one car that the ambulance/fire truck is behind and I'm unable to move out of the way because of other traffic.

2. When someone starts drama with me around
You know, because the best place to start a fight is in a staff meeting, no?

3. When someone approaches me for money.
Like when I'm alone at a gas station or restaurant or something.

4. When the same person calls my cell phone multiple times.
I always screen my calls, (that should come as no surprise since I'm 100% an introvert) but when the same person calls me multiple times in a row I instantly panic. Someone is dead. Someone is trapped in their vehicle in a ditch and I'm their last call...

5. Whenever someone starts with "Now, don't freak out but..."
Nope. Just nope. Instantly I can feel my heart start beating in my ears.

6. Networking events
Or anything where I'm forced to mingle and talk with others. Introvert, remember?

7. When Hewitt limps
I realize dogs' legs can fall asleep like humans but there's nothing more panicky than seeing your dog with a limp!

What about you? What are some things that make you instantly panic? I can't be only one with some of these.

Monday, February 1, 2016

DIY Large Wall Art For Under $50

If you've been around TSF for any length of time you may know about "the wall" in my kitchen. No, it's not just any's "the wall". It's been giving me heartache since we bought the house. It's already had a couple transformations and the latest one was, by far, my favorite. Catch up on the transformations here.

I loved how the white wall brightens up the place, but it was a little plain for my tastes. I wanted a big piece of statement art on that wall since the rest of the kitchen is a bit blah...but I don't have the budget to pay a couple hundred dollars for something. PLUS, I wasn't really finding anything that I liked. I'm pretty picky about art. I don't like to just go to Target and pick up some stock art that everyone else and their mother has in their house. I like art/wall decor that has meaning or is unique to us. Anywho, I saw this pin on Pinterest and figured I could give it a whirl.

You can follow the original pin for the step-by-step instructions. I'll just post a few pictures and give you my opinion on how easy the project was.

I knew I wanted to use different colors so I browsed around on seedbed for some color palettes I liked and then went to Home Depot. I chose the turquoise, teal and dark blue from the Behr palettes and had them mix samples for me. They didn't have a metallic gold, so I went and got the Martha Stewart metallic craft paint at Michaels. At Home Depot I also got the 4' x 2' birch plywood that I painted on and some brushes. Everything together was less than $50.

The instructions say to tape off your design and then paint. Seems pretty easy. I will say the taping off part took way longer than I thought it would. For a perfectionist like me, it bothered me that the design wasn't completely symmetrical. But then, I realized the original inspo wasn't either. Eventually I just got over it and tried to make it something I liked.

I wanted it to be a feather/leaf abstract design like the original so I patterned it after that. Again, this came out looking more leafy than feathery...but it's okay. After I taped off the main outline, I started sectioning off the interior part of the leafeather. (leaf-feather)

Then I plotted my colors out. I had 4 colors to work with (dark blue, gold, teal and turquoise) so I wrote a small b, g, t, and u where I would put the respective colors. Think of it like and adult paint by numbers. :) 

Then, get to painting! This is after 1 coat. I ended up doing two coats of the blue/teal/turquoise and 3 coats of the gold. Since the gold was craft paint and not interior paint I did an extra layer to make it as concentrated as the others. After I finished painting I had to wait an hour. The tape says to remove it immediately while the paint is still wet but that made me very nervous so M set a timer for me to wait until it dried. I waited an hour. THIS WAS THE HARDEST PART!

This is after the paint dried and I removed the tape. I like that it's imperfect and weird and a little me. :)

After we had a final product we were both flummoxed as to how to hang it. The original pin said to use Command strips (which is part of the reason I went for this art idea is because I didn't want to put nails in the walls). Except Command strips don't work on unpainted/bare wood. Hmmmm....

So after some Googling and planning, M and I bough some plastic trim from the door/trim area at Lowe's and some Gorilla Glue. M cut the trim to fit about the size of the Command strips we also bought. (heavy duty that can hold up to 16lbs) We glued the flat trim to the back of the plywood and let it sit overnight. The next morning we put on the Command strips and hung it! 

Yes, I know it's not centered on the trim work but I don't really care. I love that it brings some visual interest to this otherwise bland area. And all for less than $50!