February 27, 2011

Confessions from a Fiance-less Weekend

I have been a complete waste of space so far this weekend. Luckily no one has been around to witness my laziness, and I am of the belief that once in a while, everyone deserves a few days off from... well, the whole world. As much as I miss Dan when he is gone, especially on the weekends, after several crazy weeks in a row it has been nice to be a total slacker. Hopefully the cat isn't judging me too much.
Because the boring weekend has given me absolutely nothing to write about (except terrible commercials and the exact contours of my couch), I figured I'd share some brutally honest confessions about what life is like when your fiance is gone all weekend... hopefully all of you won't judge me too much either:
Confession 1: I changed into shorts and a t-shirt when I got home on Friday, and even though I did shower yesterday, I have yet to put on "real" clothes.
Confession 2: I woke up at 9 yesterday morning (which was blissfully late for this girl), but did not get out of bed until 12... and then it was only to move to the couch.
Confession 3: I did not eat a real meal yesterday, unless you count Thin Mints. As much as I love to cook, it's so nice to take a day off from figuring out how to cook a recipe without that one necessary ingredient I don't have in the pantry (there's always one).
Confession 4: I've watched at least 7 episodes of Sex in the City.
Confession 5: I didn't even open the shades yesterday, much less actually go outside at all.
Confession 6: My idea of productivity? One load of laundry and emptying the dishwasher.
Confession 7: After such an exciting day, I sat down on the couch to watch a movie... and fell asleep. Guess where I slept all night?
Pretty bad, huh? Thankfully I have plans to act like a real person today in hopes of making up for yesterday. It's nice outside so I'm heading to one of my favorite places to run, and then I'm meeting up with my future MIL for a movie this afternoon. Dan comes home tonight to rescue me from empty-house syndrome!




February 25, 2011

Friday Favorites

Oh goodness, words can't even describe how thrilled I am that it is Friday. I have absolutely nothing planned this weekend: Dan will be at drill until Sunday evening, and although I will miss him, I am looking forward to two days full of sleeping late, bonding with the cat, a few good runs, finally getting through that book I've been trying to finish all week, and cleaning our home sweet home. I might even tackle the piles of laundry that threaten to swallow Toby every time he ventures into our closet. After several super busy weekends in a row, I am really excited to take one off and just relax. In celebration, I'm here to share a few more of the wonderful things that have made my week...

Teddy Grahams! I haven't eaten one of these little guys in probably 15 years. I bought two boxes recently to use in recipes (honey to go with the cookie dough dip and chocolate for one of the cheesecake crusts) and have been snacking on the leftovers all week. They are the perfect cure for my mid-afternoon cravings for something sweet, and they actually aren't too bad for you (as cookies go). Plus it's been fun to relive my childhood as I bite their little heads off.... yep, terrible. You should see me with a gingerbread man.

I love the original "Keep Calm and Carry On" quote with the crown image and unique historic feel, but I can't help but fall in love with some of the adorable new adaptations of it as well. This has to be my favorite variation and I am so tempted to buy one to hang up in our kitchen. It's kind of the perfect little life motto for me right now -- after all, what problem can't be solved with a cupcake... or 3?

I know I'm a few months late on this craze (I'm used to being just a little bit behind the curve), but in my defense, I've been wanting to play forever and they just rolled out the Android app about 2 weeks ago. It is everything I dreamed of and more. My father takes his Scrabble very seriously and I seem to have inherited his passion... as well as a little bit of his fierce determination to win. every. game. Dan is slightly frustrating to play with because he takes approximately 3 days to come up with each word, but I've been playing with his little brother's girlfriend and luckily she maintains a much more desirable pace (and is quite a challenging opponent). Here's my question for all of you out there in blog-land: do any of you play words with friends? I'd love to play with you... I promise I'm not actually as competitive as it sounds!

I've been running into this new song from Zac Brown Band for at least a week in all kinds of places (including a few blogs, although of course I don't remember which ones now), but for some reason I didn't get around to listening to it until yesterday. Since then it has been on repeat, and I'm not kidding when I say that I must have played it at least 50 times. I love so much of their music -- they have amazing voices that blend well together and create some really incredible harmony. This new single is haunting and sad but oh so wonderful. The lyrics are also pretty great:  
When I close my eyes I see you, no matter where I am
I can smell your perfume through these whispering pines
I'm with your ghost again, it's a shame about the weather
But I know soon we'll be together, and I can't wait 'til then...

Does this even surprise you? Sometimes the promise of Dunkin' Donuts iced coffee, even when it's freezing outside, is enough to get me through a day... or even a week. I have to run over to that side of town after work today and I am so excited to have the perfect excuse to pick up a treat on the way home. Plus I went to the gym this morning, so I'd say I've earned this one.
Happy weekend everyone!


February 24, 2011

First Name Toby, Middle Name Garfield

When Dan and I first got our dear little furry friend, we joked that his middle name should be "Waldo" because every time we turned around, we were asking "Where's Toby?" He was such a curious little character that we were constantly having to track him down and would find him in increasingly odd places... under the couch, in one of the bookshelves, behind the dryer, inching along between the kitchen cabinet tops and the ceiling, in the little hole in the wall (literally) that houses the heat pump. That is, until we installed the sweet little bell on his collar that tinkles all day and all the way through my dreams and drives me crazy and maybe that's the reason my eye is twitching? Ah well, another story for another day...
Anyhow, this morning I realized that Toby should probably, in fact, be named after another of my favorite orange cats... Garfield. This creates a slight problem, because my dad and stepmom actually have a very fat, very lazy, very antisocial cat who I have affectionately referred to as Garfield in the past. They also have a puppy with about the same IQ as Odie. And another cat who is the spitting image of Nermal. Thankfully, my father bears no resemblance to Jon... apparently I got lucky there.
Anywayyyy (off topic much today?) this morning when I got out of the shower, I found Toby running circles around our bathroom, chasing a teeny tiny spider. At first I was really proud of him for stepping up into the role of In-House Spider Killer, since his dad seems to have vacated those duties during the week. I was all set to congratulate him for recognizing the need to take care of his seriously arachnophobic mother, when I looked a little more closely and realized that he wasn't making any attempt to kill the spider... he was playing with it. Pouncing and then letting it go, batting it around, attacking and then retreating, and doing anything but actually rid our home of the intruder. I was a little bit miffed and felt sort of bad for the poor little spider, so I picked up a kleenex, grumbled something about "doing it my damn self," and put him out of his misery. Toby spent the next ten minutes (I kid you not) frantically searching for his playmate, absolutely bewildered by his sudden disappearance.
It figures that I, of all people, would adopt a cat who prefers to play with creatures beneath him on the food chain rather than eat them. It looks like I will need to add spider extermination to my own list of responsibilities from now on. Toby just reminded me so much of Garfield, who befriends mice and torments spiders, that I had to laugh (although Toby has not yet met a mouse... and if he does he'd better have enough sense to kill it quickly because I will have our stuff packed and ready to move out within the hour). So: Toby Waldo Garfield anyone? Sounds distinguished. Or something.
I have to leave you with another wonderful strip I found while browsing today....
{comics via}


February 22, 2011

Long Weekend... No Really.

This weekend was super long (and not just because it had an extra day in it), but packed full of some of my favorite things... family, friends, cooking, excellent food and wine, gorgeous weather, and spending lots of time with my sweet fiance! I really couldn't ask for more. Here's what we've been up to the past few days:
It sort of felt like my weekend started on Thursday, because Dan finished up work for the week that morning and was waiting for me when I got home! It was a beautiful day so I went out for a run, but I quickly learned that our new neighborhood is really not the best place to run after dark. There are very few sidewalks, some pretty beastly hills, and before long I basically ran out of road, so I just turned around and came home. It was great to run outside for the first time this season, but I was a little disappointed. After that, Dan and I headed out to Bonefish Grill for a belated valentine date. We had a fantastic meal and picked up a gift certificate for his parents, who were celebrating their wedding anniversary that day, so we ran by their house to visit quickly after dinner.
Friday I woke up at the crack of dawn so that I could get to work early and therefore leave early. Luckily it was a quiet day and my sleepy self was able to lay low at my desk. As is typical, a major problem exploded across the phone lines about 15 minutes before I was scheduled to leave, but thank goodness it turned out to be a quick fix and by 4 my butt was scootin' out into the sunshine.... and right back into the car. Dan picked me up and we swung by Dunkin' Donuts (the perfect start to a weekend) before driving about two hours to meet up with his family, who had just left the first day of his brother's state wrestling meet. We went out to a wings place with them for what turned out to be a very long and interesting dinner, and then Dan and I drove to our good friends' apartment to hang out with them for a while and crash on their futon. I was so glad to see my bestie for the second weekend in a row!
Sunday morning we headed out for another day of high school wrestling. Dan's brother Z won his first two matches of the day but sadly lost his second two (both by just a few points). He ended up taking 6th place in his weight class in the whole entire state -- we were so proud of him! We had a few hours before the championship match/medal ceremony, so we headed out for a really great meal at... brace yourself... Hooters (unsurprisingly, a choice made by the 17 year old male in our midst). I've never been a huge fan of their wings, but hand me a basket of ribs and a beer and I'm a pretty happy camper.  We went back to get pictures of Z with his medal:
sorry for the terrible pic -- I forgot my camera and had to use my phone (Z is on the far right)
... and then a very tired seven people made our way back home. I for one made a crash landing into bed that night.
Sunday started off slowly: after sleeping late, I grocery shopped and then came home to make two cheesecakes while Dan cleaned the entire apartment (aren't I such a lucky girl?). Dan's parent's, Z and his girlfriend, and Z's wrestling coach and his wife (who are close family friends) came over for dinner that night, and we made our go-to pasta with chicken dish, homemade garlic bread, and a salad. The cheesecakes turned out really well... so well that I don't even have pictures! The first was a chocolate marble cheesecake (I did it without all the whipped cream on top) that tasted great and looked so fancy with the marbling, and the other was just a simple recipe that I topped with fresh strawberries. The best part? These were both of the "no-bake" variety, so I had enough time to make the crusts myself. Homemade graham cracker crust -- or chocolate teddy graham crust for the marble one, which worked surprisingly well -- is simple but so so good! After everyone else left, Z and Dan and I played Mario Kart on the Wii, which was a perfect way to finish off an evening of wonderful food, wine, and family.
Yesterday, Dan and I took full advantage of our day off by relaxing in the morning and then heading out to shop. I was in desperate need of more clothes for work, so my patient and wonderful fiance was tired of hearing me whimper when I go into the closet to get dressed every morning agreed to take me out. I stopped first at Ann Taylor Loft (aka my favorite place to buy clothes) and picked up a pair of black pants, a few sleeveless tops, and this sweater:
It's pretty colorful but so perfect for spring! We also headed across the street to Banana Republic, where I picked up a couple more tops and this great skirt:
So cute and on sale! Can't wait for the weather to finally get warm so I can wear all the lovely spring outfits sitting in my closet (because right now? It. is. SNOWING. outside. Last week was glorious, but apparently Old Man Winter isn't quite done with us yet).
Dan and I finished our shopping spree at Target, where we picked up several odds and ends and I finally caved and let Dan buy the knife set that he has been lusting over for months (don't tell him, but I really like it too!). We picked up dinner and headed home to watch a movie and go to bed early, since he had to leave for work at 4:30 this morning... boo.
Just thinking back over the past weekend wears me out, but luckily this week and upcoming weekend will leave me lots of time to relax, since Dan is working all week and through the weekend. Luckily I have a few things planned to keep me from getting too bored, including a long overdue dinner with my dad, stepmom, and grandmother, as well as helping my future-mother-in-law paint several rooms of her house, which I am way too excited for. Call me crazy, but I love me some painting. The rest of my week/weekend will also be filled with catching up for all the workouts I missed this weekend, finishing a book and hopefully starting a new one, a few good movies, and some quality time with my pillow. Can't wait!


February 21, 2011

Silent Sundays: Gettin' to Know You

Yesterday and Friday were the longest of days. More on that some other time. In the interest of having more time to take a recovery nap before we have to go to the grocery store and start cleaning before Dan's family gets here for dinner, I'm going to keep this one short and sweet. I've seen this cute Sunday idea all over the blogosphere lately, so I'm hopping on the bandwagon, since I realized that while I try to include lots of pictures in my posts, I rarely share many of the most important people in my life... except for Toby. As you can see already though, I have a hard time being "silent" (ask anyone in my family), so forgive me for breaking the rules...

meet my family:
from left to right: my mom and dad and I on the morning I graduated from college; my mom and stepdad; my dad and one of our beagles (apparently I don't have a single picture of my stepmom, I'll have to work on that); my "brothers" -- my dad's beagles; my stepbrother C and I

meet my "other" family -- my future in-laws:
I'm so excited to be marrying into this fantastic family: Dan's parents pinning him when he commissioned as a second lieutenant; Dan's dad (on the left) and uncle; his two little brothers: T on the left and Z on the right; Dan's older sister T and her adorable little girl, my niece S; her oldest, the handsome A

meet a few of my wonderful friends:
left to right and top to bottom: my wonderful freshman roomie, K; K and I four years later on graduation day -- still roommates!; my dear friend from high school, L; one of my wonderful friends who shares my name (M, in case you need a little reminder); two fantastic ladies from my fraternity, C and C; another fraternity brother and friend, T; my two amazing littles, A and E; a lovely "couple" of friends -- A and her boyfriend E; and my fabulous "wifey," who also happens to share my name
(enough letters in there for you? for now I'm doing my best to respect the privacy of my closest friends without making things too confusing!)

Two of my dearest friends: A on the left and M on the right. I love these girls so so much and I'm sooo lucky to have them in my life!

and last, but certainly not least, someone you already know...
...my best friend, high school sweetheart, roommate, fashion critic, personal chef, cuddle buddy, fellow cat parent, hero, soulmate, and love of my life! Wouldn't want to leave him out!


February 17, 2011

A Snail's Pace: How I Learned to Like Yogurt

Food at our house is in short supply right now, ladies and gentlemen. I have to admit, on weeks like this when Dan is gone and I have plans almost every evening, I kind of forget to cook... or even grocery shop. When I opened my fridge this morning to scrounge up today's lunch, my choices were pretty limited: it was either a bagel or some leftovers that were just barely this side of too old. I opted for the bagel (and threw away the leftovers) and grabbed the butter as well, since apparently we're out of cream cheese, too.
As the morning went on, though, I started to crave a Starbucks drink. I was up late last night and started to crash, so by lunchtime I figured I'd grab one to go with my bagel and hoped it would wake me up a little. It was gorgeous outside, so I was happy to have an excuse to head out into the sunshine for a while. As I was waiting in line for my mocha frappuccino, I noticed that they had one of those fancy parfait things with greek yogurt with honey and granola. I've been trying to convince myself to try greek yogurt for a while now, so I knew that I should purchase this cute little package:
Let's start at the beginning here: my own little relationship history with yogurt. When I was little, I hated the stuff. I hated the texture, I hated the taste, I hated all the pieces of fruit in it, and try as my mother might (it was a valiant effort, mom!) I just couldn't eat the stuff. While all my friends sucked down their go-gurt at lunch, I shuddered at the thought of blueberry goo (I don't think I'll ever be able to stomach one of those). While I was in college, however, I launched a major campaign to get myself to like yogurt. I knew it was good for me, it was a quick and easy breakfast/snack/late-night indulgence, and, perhaps mostly importantly, the stuff was cheap!
After forcing myself to eat it for several months, I started to figure out which flavors I could handle and which were out of the question. I'm still really picky: I can't do any of the ones with bits of fruit, so I've memorized the few flavors that come sans chunks. Years later, however, I've been surprised to find that I actually really enjoy these few. My favorite thing to do is to mix in some raw oatmeal -- it gives it a little crunch and makes it feel a little more substantial.
Recently, it seems like everywhere I go people are raving about greek yogurt. It's in recipes and all over the shelves at the grocery stores, and I feel like I must be missing out on something big, but I have been sooooo hesitant. I mean, I finally just finished convincing myself to like regular yogurt, and now you want to take out all the flavor and change up the texture on me? I'm skeptical. Nevertheless, I've been slowly working up the courage to trying this new and scary product. I even bought a few little packages recently at the store, but I've been too scared to try one yet. (Note: I love food and am usually pretty willing to try anything. I'm not sure exactly why yogurt is different, but I think it has to do with the texture. I'm really not as horribly picky as I sound, though.)
So flash forward to Starbucks today, when I decided that if anyone can make greek yogurt yummy, it would be them. Plus I guess I was feeling a little extra brave today, because I scooped that cup right up and placed it confidently on the counter, trying to hide the fact that inside I was totally freaked out. I opened it slowly when I got back to my desk and took a sniff. Not promising. I'm kind of ashamed to admit that I added a little bit of honey. I love honey and happened to have some with me at work, so I figured that might ease my first experience. I stirred in the granola and took a few tentative bites, and I was absolutely shocked to find that I actually didn't hate it. In fact, it was pretty good. The granola was really amazing and totally helped with the whole texture thing. The honey was the perfect addition. I couldn't believe it when I looked down and I had finished the whole thing, while my drink sat there melting, completely forgotten.
I think I may have found a new breakfast... although I'm not  planning on spending almost $4 every morning so I'm going to do my best to recreate the magic. I'm a little behind this bandwagon, but I'm sprinting to catch up: does anybody else out there love greek yogurt? Do you have a favorite brand or something great to mix in? I'd love to hear your suggestions!




I spent most of last week in what can only be described as a first-class funk. I was easily annoyed, cranky, perpetually sleepy, and just uncharacteristically down-in-the-dumps. Part of it was Dan being gone and part was the stress of the past few weeks catching up with me, but I think it was mostly brought on by the fact that I knew I had to wear a bikini this past weekend.
Go ahead, laugh. Judge me for being overly sensitive and insecure. Chuckle at the fact that I let a piece of clothing ruin my week. It's ok, I can take it. It's all true: even though I work out a lot, try to eat right, and struggle to keep my self-image at a healthy level, the thought of this body in a bikini in February is enough to make me want to head for the hills. May? Perhaps. June? Definitely. February? Absolutely not.
This handy little rule of thumb created a problem, though: Dan's grandparents have a glorious hot tub on their back porch, and one of our favorite things to do when we visit them is enjoy a little late-night dip -- a glass of wine (for me), a perfect view of the lake, and the two of us relaxing under the stars. It doesn't get much better than that. This time around, however, I knew that things would be a little different. Dan's entire family would also be with us. In the hot tub.
Don't get me wrong, I am marrying into one of the nicest and most welcoming families you could ever find. From the day Dan and I started to date, his family treated me as one of their own, and I have never once felt out of place or awkward spending time with them. It's really not that I feel uncomfortable wearing a bikini in February around them specifically, but that I would feel uncomfortable wearing a bikini in February around anyone. Ever. I would hate to cause anyone, especially a future family member, to become prematurely blind.
The reality of this situation hit me like cold gust of air last Monday morning. A bikini. February. (I know, I know. But really, I don't think it can be stated enough.) I immediately knew that I was going to have to be on my best behavior all week. I'm definitely not a crash-diet, starve-myself-skinny kind of girl, but I was prepared to up the exercise and shrink my portions a little bit in an effort to make this hot tub thing as painless as possible. So Monday, I went to the gym. Tuesday, as you may recall, I went back to the gym. Wednesday, believe it or not (I sure didn't), I went to the gym for a third day in a row (definitely a first around these parts). All week, I tried to eat well and avoided all the good stuff -- chocolate, pasta, baked goods (hold me). I worked hard to only eat when I was actually hungry, and I cut way back on the mindless munching that takes place at my desk on a regular basis. I skipped my Starbucks and opted for salads at dinner.
By Thursday, I was doing really well, but my little funk was in full swing. Usually when I'm trying so hard to be good, I will occasionally just give in and splurge, but last week I stuck with it and instead seemed to get progressively angrier and angrier with myself. I knew all my efforts were good for me and would help in the long run, but I was seriously ticked off at myself for putting myself through this. I was annoyed that it mattered so much to me and got a little more resentful each time I denied myself something I knew I shouldn't have. So Thursday after work, I resolved to go out and treat myself to something as: 1. a reward for doing pretty well all week and 2. an attempt to drag myself out of my bad mood. I headed to one of my favorite places to shop: Target. No matter what I go in for, I always leave this store with several items that I never knew I needed (but clearly do). So I searched. I browsed through the clothes, looked at their scarves, searched through electronics and shoes. I picked up a Valentine's day card and a small gift for Dan. I doubled back around and walked through the clothes section again. Nothing. I have never in my life not found a single thing I wanted to purchase in Target, but apparently I was so deep into my funk that nothing looked good to me. This realization only made me more angry. I did make one purchase for myself (more on that later), but it was exercise-related and I didn't think it was really fair to reward myself for a good week of exercise with the threat of more exercise (or at least that's what I told myself).
Frustrated and dejected, I left Target and drove down the street to Dunkin Donut's to buy myself an iced coffee. I knew that this was my last line of defense before slipping deeper into my pit of grouchiness and angst, and luckily it did the trick. Of course, all night I felt a little guilty for those extra calories, but I was really happy to be feeling more like my normal self. Lesson learned: next time, instead of wasting time searching for something I don't need, I will skip straight to the $3 cup of coffee.
The kicker? When we got down to Dan's grandparents' house on Saturday night.... the hot tub was broken.


February 15, 2011

Be Mine

Hope everyone had a lovely Valentine's Day yesterday! Mine was full of ups and downs (I'd say my blog title was especially pertinent), but luckily the day evened out ok in the end. We had a very busy weekend with lots of traveling and a few high-stress moments, but yesterday I had the day off work so Dan and I were able to sleep in a little bit. We went out to a great breakfast at one of our favorite little local spots and stuffed ourselves with eggs, hash browns, ham (for Dan), and toast (for me). Then we headed over to my grandfather's to get ready for my grandmother's memorial service. It's a long and relatively inconsequential story as to why we waited so long and why we decided to hold it on Valentine's Day... in the beginning it seemed like it was such a long time away, but there it was on the calendar yesterday, staring me in the face. Luckily Dan has Mondays off, so he was able to be there with me. It turned out to be a gorgeous and very short service -- a few songs, a few readings (one of which I read and through sheer force of will and a lot of luck did not cry during), and a few stories about my amazing grandmother. It was quick, celebratory, and uplifting: exactly what she would have wanted. Over 200 people came, and it was so nice to greet her friends and hear their kind words about how much they missed her and how carefully they were planning to keep an eye on my grandfather for all of us. The two of them have an incredible amount of wonderful friends.
Dan and I were exhausted by the time we left and since we had enjoyed a really great dinner out with our friends Sunday evening, we decided to grab takeout and head home for a quiet evening in. We exchanged gifts, and boy was I spoiled this year: Dan got me a nice new TV for our bedroom (to make the nights that he's gone a little less quiet), new speakers for our big TV, a few DVDs, and the promise of a pair of concert tickets.... I'm still deciding which one! Oh and the most adorable stuffed elephant (that he vehemently insisted I name "Horton." Sometimes we are only 5 years old.) It's been so long since I had a TV in the bedroom, and I am ridiculously excited to get home tonight, curl up in bed (with Horton), and watch something particularly girly.
Lest you think that I received all that great stuff and gave nothing in return, I have to tell you that Dan also got some pretty awesome gifts, including Godiva chocolate strawberries, a self-filtering water bottle, and the promise of a few nights at a great local bed and breakfast (except I've found several and have to decide which one) before he deploys. Actually, I'm as excited about that as he is. I am so ready to get away for a few days!
This week is another busy one, full of family dinners, long days at work, a concert tomorrow night, and the state wrestling match this Friday and Saturday. As much as I love keeping busy during the week, I am emotionally drained from this weekend and so ready for next Sunday, when things slow down. I'm really grateful to have another long weekend coming up too!


February 11, 2011

Friday Favorites: the Video Edition

It's that time, again, folks!
This week flew by, which is lovely, but I'm sure that this weekend will as well, which is not so lovely. We have a busy and exciting weekend planned (a three-day weekend, no less) and I am so happy that it is here!
Today's edition of Friday Favorites is a little special: I've compiled a few of the short clips and videos that have been making me smile recently. I know it's a lot to ask to take the time to watch these, but I hope you will take my word for it.... these are all youtube gold and are guaranteed to brighten your afternoon (especially the last two).

I was planning to start off with my favorite commercial from last Sunday's Super Bowl. There were a few good ones (darth vader jr. was pretty cute and the monkeys and baby were humorous as always), but when I went back to watch through most of them online I just wasn't very impressed. Certainly none of them live up to my very favorite commercial of all time, which fits so nicely with the football theme that I decided to include it here instead. I've seen this one about a billion times, but every single time I laugh until there are tears streaming down my face. I actually couldn't watch more than 15 seconds when I looked it up again today, because I'm at work and I know that there's no way I could stifle this laughter. You've been warned....

Now if that's not just pee-in-your-pants funny, I don't know what is. I can never pinpoint exactly what makes it so hilarious, but oh boy that one just gets me every time.

Next I wanted to share one of my favorite music videos of all time. I love this band, I love this song, and I just can't get enough of the video. It is so simple, but it reminds me of summer and sun and childhood, and apparently there hasn't been enough of those things in my life recently.
We got to see Lady Antebellum in my hometown this summer, outside on a wonderfully warm evening with friends and a few glasses of wine, and it was a fabulous show. Those three are just so talented and it's clear that they love what they do!

If you need a little cute and cuddly in your life, I've included this next just one for you. Again it is the simplest of videos, but sure to make your heart melt. In other news, I seem to have a thing for rabbits and cups...
I have to add that when I watched this video at home, I showed Toby and I swear he sat and watched the entire thing. I mean his eyes followed the movement and everything. I'm pretty sure that this means one of two things: either he wants a little bunny for a brother, or a bunny in our house might be destined to go the way of the fish (who is still alive, by the way).

The final video I just had to share with you guys involves a little twist on a pretty great song. Perhaps it's because I attended one of the oldest universities in the nation (nope, not Harvard) and developed a healthy appreciation for this era of history, or perhaps it's just because I'm a nerd at heart, but I think this remake is absolutely brilliant.

Ok I've wasted enough of your Fridays -- I really hope you all enjoyed these little tidbits! It's always nice to end the week with a laugh.
Dan and I are headed out of town tonight for an itty-bitty vacation: we're going to his grandparent's house (about 2 hours away) for the night and then will go to his brother's regional wrestling match tomorrow (do you sense a pattern to my weekends recently?). Then we will drive home tomorrow night (hence the itty-bitty part) and are hoping to get to hang out with my best friend and her boyfriend on Sunday. I've taken the day off work on Monday for my grandmother's memorial service, and a little birdy may or may not have mentioned that Dan has made fun valentine-like plans for that evening. Hopefully I'll be able to stash away some extra sleep too -- it has taken so much willpower to keep from putting my head down on my desk and taking a nap this afternoon!
Happy weekend everyone!


February 9, 2011

Making Frenemies at the Gym

The weather here was forecasted to be in the 50's and sunny this past Sunday and Monday -- a dream come true after several weeks of 30's and rainy. I was so excited to finally get a chance to run outside, and the weather on Sunday did turn out to be perfect, but what with being lazy all morning and having to consume so many chicken-dip laden chips that evening, I just didn't have time to fit in anything resembling physical activity. Bummer, right? I promised myself I'd get out right after work on Monday, though, so somehow I managed to live with my sedentary self.
By 5:00 Monday, however, the temperature had again dropped and I knew that an outdoor run would be pretty miserable (that's right, I'm a wimp). After the food-fest that was Sunday night, I knew I had to do something, so I headed down to my favorite treadmill... womp womp. Four miles later, I felt a little bit better about things, even though I was still pretty sad that I missed a great day to run outside. I am beyond sick of the inside of our gym, as convenient and temperature-controlled as it may be. I hoped that after this, at least, my guilt over the curious absence of workouts from last week's calendar would be lifted for at least a day.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I got home around 8 last night and discovered that I actually kind of wanted to go back to they gym. I have no idea what kind of circuits in my brain were misfiring to cause this highly out-of-character urge, but luckily I knew enough not to question it. I threw on shorts, laced up my shoes, and headed down there just to see what might happen. I've been having some knee pain when I run that gets a lot worse if I don't give myself time to recover from each run, so I knew I wouldn't want to get right back on the treadmill. Instead, I hopped onto a machine that I've never used before but that has always seemed very popular. Apparently it's called an "Arc Trainer," but I was pretty sure it was basically a glorified elliptical, the machine that used to be my best gym friend back when I was scared of treadmills (remember? I'm a wimp!). I wasn't exactly concerned about my ability to function on this thing, so I set it for 40 minutes on level 5 (out of 9) of the "cardio" program. It started off easily enough with an "intensity" of 10 and then 15 -- it took a little while to get used to the pattern of movement, but being a seasoned elliptical user I caught on without too much trouble and was just feeling proud of myself for conquering a new machine when the intensity suddenly rocketed from 15 to 50.... and I almost fell off.
After a few minutes of moving along at a nice, easy clip, all of a sudden I was slogging through quicksand, struggling to keep my head above water. For the first time, I questioned whether I really should have followed those directions and consulted my physician before engaging in such strenuous activity. Luckily I was the only one working out at the time, so I didn't have to embarrass myself in front of any judgmental neighbors (although the thought did cross my mind that if I died, I might have had to wait a while for medical assistance).
Now I don't fool myself (or anybody else) by claiming to be superathletic. I'm struggling hard to find a place where running is easy and fun, and while some days I win that fight, more often than not I lose miserably and have to bribe myself with chocolate or wine (or both) to get through a workout. That being said, if I can make 4 miles on a treadmill, 4 minutes on an "Arc Trainer" really shouldn't kick my butt, but it totally did. It was incredibly tough, but I stuck with it for the whole 40 minutes, waiting the whole time for my heart to spontaneously burst from my chest and flop onto the floor, panting and clutching itself. 10 minutes in I was sweating from pores that I didn't even know existed, and by the end I was drenched and more exhausted than I've been in months. It was by far one of the hardest workouts I've completed, and even though I kind of wanted to die, I was so proud of myself for finishing and found myself already planning to incorporate this machine into my workout schedule. Am I crazy? Probably. Hopefully it will get easier if I continue to use it, but this looks suspiciously like the beginning of a love-hate relationship...


We Do Not Eat Family Members

When I got home from work this afternoon, I stopped to feed my fish before heading in to get ready to run out again and see Dan's family. From the bathroom, I heard an ominous noise that set off my intuitive cat radar. Toby's favorite thing to do these days is knock over the large trash can in the kitchen and pull things out of it, scattering trash all over the kitchen. I headed out to see what he had gotten into, and walked straight into the scene of a crime. Toby was sitting on top of the bookshelf that houses my dear fish, the top of the tank had been pushed off, and a certain feline had his nose INSIDE the bowl. Yep, you read that right. Pet Number One was preparing to consume Pet Number Two. I have a fratricidal cat.
The next several seconds were a blur as I rushed at Toby, swiftly replaced the poor fish's only line of defense, and then chased the offending cat around the apartment until he disappeared under the bed. I promptly called Dan threatening to "sell the cat"  (mostly still in the heat of the moment), and do you know how he reacted? HE LAUGHED. He has never really cared for the fish, and he thought it was pretty hysterical that Toby came that close to catching his own dinner. Needless to say, his response was not exactly what I'd hoped.
Lets rewind a little bit, because I've realized that on the offchance that you've read even a little bit of this blog, you had no idea that such a fish existed in this house. Please allow me to introduce you to Icarus, the aptly named beta fish...
Icarus was purchased during my senior year in college and has survived several experiences that no fish should ever have to live through. To begin with, Icarus was not named (but simply called, "fish") for the first several weeks of his life with me. He earned his name the first time I changed the water in his bowl, left my room for class, and came back an hour later to find the bowl empty. After a little bit of searching I discovered him stuck between two folders on my desk, over a foot from his (intended) home. He looked dried out and, as expected, quite dead, but as I prepared to flush the little guy he gave a tiny, halfhearted flop. I flicked him back into the bowl and he hit the water swimming... my roommate and I were nothing short of amazed. He was thereafter named for the character in this Greek myth. Icarus has also battled two separate cases of Swim Bladder Disorder, during which he floated, incredibly swollen, on his side for several days before suddenly curing himself each time. Finally, this hearty fish survived the five hour trip home with me during a huge blizzard last Christmas, braving the cold and perilous road conditions in a plastic mug wedged into my cupholder. I was positive that he was a goner by the time I skidded into my neighborhood, but clearly this guy has a steely grip on life.
The picture above was taken pre-cat adoption, hence the lovely, open-topped bowl. Now, Icarus resides in a large, round bowl with a fitted top, which was (until today) believed to be cat-proof. Really, Toby hasn't shown that much interest in Icarus since he moved in, only sometimes hopping up to look in at him and being reminded sternly that "He is your BROTHER!" Clearly, none of these warnings sunk in, and so now poor Icarus is swimming around in a bowl... with a top.... which is taped down in several places. Toby has been assured that he will be either sold or sauteed if he so much as looks at the fishbowl again. 
And me? Well, I'm just having a tough time staying mad at the most cute and cuddly little furball on the planet....
I mean really? Who could be angry at that face?

February 7, 2011

The Morning After

Ah, the Monday after the Super Bowl. It's always so much fun to watch people drag into the office, sleepy but quite clearly displaying varied shades of "morning-after syndrome": either My-life-is-better-than-chocolate-cake-because-my-team-well-they-aren't-really-my-team-but-my-real-team-didn't-even-make-it-to-the-playoffs-so-I-adopted-this-other-team-and-they-won!!! or Please-don't-speak-to-me-and-actually-just-don't-look-at-me-even-just-the-light-in-your-eyes-is-painful-because-my-team-lost-and-I-polished-off-all-the-leftover-alcohol-to-keep-from-crying-in-front-of-the-guys. These coworkers proceed to their desks, where they stare densely at their computer, either jumping at each chance to rehash the glorious game of the century or pounding their head against the filing cabinets whenever it is mentioned. Oh the life of a (borderline-) dedicated football fan, it's never easy.
I am a huge fan of college football and cheer quite candidly for several favorites, including my alma mater and my hometown team (except for that time that they played each other when I was a senior and my typically wimpy little college team soundly trounced the big bad home team... that was a good day). I'm really not sure why, but I just can't get into the NFL. After a full day of football on fall Saturdays, I'm usually feeling a little deprived of fresh air and just can't stomach hanging around the couch another round of games on Sundays. So when the Super Bowl rolls around, I feel a little un-American, but I really don't care who wins. I hate randomly picking a team just for the sake of one evening, so I typically watch the game, chuckle at the commercials, and keep pretty quiet. This year, I spent most of the game in the kitchen, being as brilliant as I am and deciding to start cleaning or cooking around 3. Thankfully Dan helped clean the apartment, and I am so thrilled to start the week with a clean living space so that I don't have to feel guilty every night after work for not doing anything at all. 
Dan's brother and his girlfriend got there right as the game started -- about the time I popped the wings in the oven -- and luckily they weren't starving so I took my time and finally served everything during the 2nd quarter. We (as in Dan) opted for a plethora of appetizers, so our meal consisted of: crackers with fantastic cheese and sausage (our Christmas gift from my best friend), stuffed mushrooms, the incredible buffalo chicken dip from this blog that I love, homemade wings (that came out pretty well and got lots of compliments), ranch dip, baguette brushed with olive oil, and a yummy dessert dip with cookies and pretzels and a sugar coma on the side. I ate way more than I should have and even enjoyed the second half of the game before tackling my mess of a kitchen. I was so busy that I forgot to take any pictures of the food, but I'm pretty excited to have lots of leftovers for lunches this week!
The rest of the weekend was fun as well -- Dan got home late Friday evening so instead of going out, we enjoyed a nice quiet night at home. Saturday we spend most of the day at another wrestling tournament with Dan's brother and got to watch him win his district match. On to regionals next weekend! We made up for our date night Saturday evening and went to Outback with his whole family so that I could silence my craving for a bloomin' onion. I also had one two of the best margaritas I've ever tasted that night. All around I'd say it was a great weekend for my stomach (although we'll see if I still think that after my run this afternoon...)
So here we are, back to Monday, everyone shuffling around in a fog of last night's beer and tortilla chips. I'm so happy that this week should be an easy one and that we have a little mini-vacation coming up this weekend!
Hope that you all survived the weekend -- and the big game -- unscathed!



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