Thursday, December 23, 2010

Things you should know about me if we're going to be BFFs

I've seen this on a couple of the blogs I read and thought it would be fun to do. It's always nice to learn weird little tidbits about your friends. :)

Thanks to Little Miss Momma for the idea!

Here we go. If we're going to be BFFs you need to know:

I am a huge fan of the Twilight series and very much team Edward. The writing may leave something to be desired and book four may be the strangest plot line in literary history, but for some reason I love it anyway.

I daydream of being a guest on morning shows like Regis & Kelly and Good Morning America.

When I want to cheer myself up I make cinnimon coffee and drink it from my green NASA mug.
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This particular mug is also my academic good luck charm while working on papers and projects.

I only like hockey for the fights and the zamboni.

You've Got Mail is pretty much my all time favorite movie ever. Yes, I realize how cheesy it is. That's part of what I like most about it.

I really really do not like tomatoes. I like tomato sauce, ketchup and other tomato based foods, but fresh tomatoes make me gag.

Cucumber skin is also really gross. I'll happily munch on fresh cucumbers or pickles, but only if they don't have skin on them.

When I was little someone convinced me that monsters are afraid of music. To this day I can't handle being alone in the dark unless there is music playing.

If I could only eat one kind of food for the rest of my life it would be peanut butter and jelly. It's one of my all time favorite foods and the only one I have never gotten tired of or sick from.

Epcot is my favorite Disney park. I could spend days there just exploring.

My dream vacation destination is Venice, Italy. Although Spain is a close second on that list fo dream destinations.

I am really afraid of confrontation and will avoid it as much as humanly possible.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tuesday ramblings

It's a bit crazy at our place lately. I'm no longer working (yay for freedom!) and the house is slowly getting packed up. Finn is trying to figure out all the boxes and mimi is annoyed that her quiet days to herself have been interrupted.

Today I am doing laundry and packing up our closet. Sounds like fun, I know.

It's amazing how much stuff two people can accumulate. We did a huge clearing out of crap when we moved to Savannah 18 months ago and now that we are packing again it seems like the amount of stuff to pack has tripled. I sense another big Goodwill donation is in order once we get to the new place.

I hope everyone is enjoying these last few days leading up to Christmas!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

sunshine, lollipops and rainbows

Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but I really do feel amazing!

I still have the cold that I caught shortly after surgery. I still have some pain in my abdomen where the incisions were made. I'm still having to take things slowly.

However, last night I ate greek chicken for dinner and didn't feel like I was going to die! This is huge for me. I haven't had chicken in almost two months and it's been at least September since I had greek yogurt. Both tasted amazing and it made me happy to know that my body is getting back to a good place.

This mornign I tried out some regular (non-decaf) coffee in the form of a peppermint mocha from Starbucks. The experiment was not really a success considering I had to make a run to the bathroom shortly after drinking it, but I'm not going to let it get me down. It's been less than a week since surgery and as yummy as peppermint mochas are, they aren't exactly low fat or low in sugar... two things the doctor recommended I stick to for a while.

In case you couldn't tell, I'm feeling very optimistic. I feel like this surgery was a huge step in the right direction toward me being healthy again and I'm looking forward to my new beginning with this.

That being said, I sort of feel like this is a bit of a wake up call. Gallbladders go wonky for a variety of reasons, but I'm 99% sure mine was because of the abuse I had put my system through in the past few years. Between straight up starving myself in college to the increase in fatty foods over the last three years, I was not kind to my body... my digestive system in particular. I think this may be a good time for both Steve and I to make healthier choices in our lives with a focus on what we put into our bodies.

I'm really looking forward to after Christmas when I've been cleared by the doctor to start exercising again. I plan to do the couch to 5K program again and return to running as well as get back into playing tennis with Steve. The new year is bringing us a ton of changes and I am really going to give it my best to make them all positive ones.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

small victories and an ugly tummy

The recovery process is going well!

Last night I managed to sleep most of the night before I woke up needing to take more medicine for the pain. I was also able to sleep on my side without any trouble which made the evening much more enjoyable. I am not a back sleeper at all and so being pretty much forced to sleep that way the first night made me incredibly restless.

I've also been testing out some foods that used to trigger my issues and so far so good! I can have chocolate again which, to me, makes the entire surgery and recovery hassle worth it. I can also have chicken broth without feeling like I'm going to die or puke my guts out. Another small but significant victory.

Nothing against being a vegetarian, but it was getting frustrating. That is not the kind of lifestyle choice you want to be forced into.

Last night I did take the band aids on my incisions off. The tape stuff had to stay on, but I could see what was going on and it made me a bit sad. My stomach looks so ugly right now. This may be TMI, but they put one of the instruments in through my belly button and, clearly, had to sew it up when they were done. So now my belly button is all smooshed and sewn shut. I don't like it.

I guess if this is the only negative aspect of the surgery so far then I should be grateful, and I am. I just wasn't expecting it to look that bad.

Over all though I think it's going to be a pretty quick and easy recovery and I'll be good to go for work in the morning.

Friday, December 10, 2010

my internal organs look like chicken breasts

At least, according to the pictures taken during my surgery they do. Check it out:
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Sorry if this picture grosses you out. I find it fascinating! That may be the percocet talking though.

My surgery today went really well. I got to the hospital around 7am to check in and then started being prepped by the nurses around 8am. Getting the IV done was just as uncomfortable as it was during my HIDA scan, but the additional prep work like getting sensors put on my skin and the massaging leg warmers was so cool. I told the nurses so and they laughed. Apparently most people don't think surgery prep is cool.

After the surgery was over Dr. Christmas informaed me that my gallbladder was really inflamed. You can see it in the picture just how bad it was looking. In the top left is the picture of the gallbladder after he moved the other internal material away and got ready to remove it. Notice how it's all pasty white and dead looking? Yeah, that's really bad. I think having it removed is going to do wonders for making em feel better.

I'm more sore than in pain right now, and the percocet is helping me get some good sleep. Steve is home from his business trip and taking good care of me. My mom and mother-in-law took care of me at the hospital and when I first came home. I'm really thankful to have people in my life that love me and are willing to help me out in situations like this.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A coincidence? I think not.

Not many people know this, but the Thursday before my wedding I had to go to an emergency care center and get checked out by the doctor because of a sudden onset of a bad cold/virus. It was bad. I could barely talk because my throat was so sore, my lymph nodes were swollen, I was congested.... pretty much the worst cold of my life and even worse because the biggest event of my life was less than 48 hours away.

At one point the doctor thought I had mono and I was terrified of having to tell all of our guests that the bride looked like death warmed over because she had felt like dancing in this fountain at her bachelorette party:
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Everythign turned out fine though. The doctor said it could be a physical manifestation of stress and told me to take it easy. He also gave me some precription strength cough syrup just in case. One dose of the medicine and taking an extra day of vacation from my job and I was good as new.

Fast forward to now, the day before my surgery, and I really think the same thing is happening. Yesterday I felt like death. My throat was sore and my nose was congested. Not a good thing while trying to get ready for surgery. So, I took the rest of the day and today off of work to let myself rest, and used my magic throat remedy just in case. 

Today I feel a million times better.

I really think I have a strange habit of letting my stress and anxiety out physically. I think my body just picks up on my emotions and decides it is going to make me face whatever the issue is or make me physically feel like crap until I do.  

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

home remedies

As of right now I'm not sick. However, Steve is sick and even though he's in Nashville I am taking a proactive stance on the issue to avoid any complications with my surgery on Friday. As soon as I noticed my throat feeling scratchy I ran right out and got the things I needed for my med-free throat remedy.

I honestly have no idea where I found this particular recipe, but it works. Not only does it work for pretty much any throat issue, but it is med-free and can be made on the cheap.

Put about 1 lemon's worth of juice into a mug (fresh if you've got it, but 1-2 tbsp of the bottled stuff works too). Then pour in boiling water and stir in about 1 tbsp honey.

Magic I tell you. Pure throat therapy magic.

I'm finishing a mug of this right now then heading off to a hot shower before bed. Between the special drink, the shower steam, and sleeping in tomorrow I think I'll be in top shape for the surgery.

Anyone else have their own special feel-better drink? Or any other type of home remedy?

Monday, December 6, 2010


As I mentioned in my last post, I have to take some classes that I'm not really jazzed about. Spanish in particular is not my favorite.

Ironically, Spanish culture, art, food, and wine ARE my favorites.

Thus my motivation was discovered.

Steve and I keep daydreaming about taking a long vacation to Europe after I graduate. We haven't been able to decide on a specific country because there is just so much we want to see and do. The only thing we can agree on is that we want to go somewhere we speak the language (at least enough to get by).

Now that I'm going to be taking four semesters of Spanish, we have tentatively decided on a destination: SPAIN!

This country has it all, castles, gorgeous architecture, beautiful coastline, and is home to one of my favorite artists! For a chance to visit I will cheerfully endure and excell in all of my classes. :)

Friday, December 3, 2010

I've got my class schedule!

After some confusion about the status of my English 1101 credit, I decided to just go ahead and register for the other - non-english - courses I need.

The good news is that I am taking two courses that sound incredibly interesting: History of Film and Intro to Women's Studies.

The bad news is that Georgia State requires me to fulfill my two science courses with lab requirement as a sequence rather than just any two lab sciences. They also require four semesters of a foreign language of which I have completed zero.

To put it simply, I have to take Chemistry II (since the biology class I have credit for is only open in a sequence to biology majors) and revisit Spanish. Neither of these subjects are particularly strong suits for me. Chemistry could seriously be considered cruel and unusual punishment and my Spanish is fine as long as I don't need to use verbs.

This semester should be interesting to say the least. I'm going to have to study my ass off to pull decent grades, but the idea of being full time at school again has me so excited. In two years I should finally be done with this degree and able to move on to teaching!

Now, if I coudl only find a part time job....

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Advice from 1915

A few weeks ago (maybe a bit more, I'm not quite sure) my mom found out that a distant cousin had some items that had belogned to my great-great-great grandmother. Yes, that's three greats. If I've got my family history correct, and since my mom reads this blog she could let me know whether or not I do, I'm pretty sure this is the same woman who was the original owner of the watch I wore pinned to my dress on my wedding day. The mother of my grandma Nora.

Anyway, of course the family wanted these things of hers so the guy dropped them off with my uncle in Pennsylvania and they made their way south.

There were some really neat things included in the mix of items (like my g-g-g grandmother's DAR application which filled in some gaps in our family geneology) and a beautiful dining room table that I currently have dibs on. I'm not exactly sure how I would get it here from Pennsylvania or how I would get it refinished, but it's gorgeous and in great condition... not to metion over 100 years old and full fo family history.

By far the most interesting item to me is a famer's wife handbook from 1915 that I have inherited. This book was published to help wives figure out how to solve any problem that may come up on the farm or in the home including medical, veterinary and homekeeping advice. It is fascinating to read the advice!

Some of my favorites:
- clearing pimply skin is as simple as washing the face with borax and lye soap each night.
- snorting borax also works as a wonderful decongestant
- recipes for baking a cake in a woodstove

If I ever go back in time I am set for life!

In all seriousness though, there are a few great recipes that I'm definitely going to try. There are also some strange but useful solutions to household issues that I certainly intend to try the next time they come up.

Oh, and my baking soda and white vinegar cleaner is in there! I feel vindicated. :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

To whom it may concern...

As of this afternoon I have given my notice and quit my job! December 17th is my last day and I am very much looking forward to the things that await me in Atlanta.

In other, mostly unrelated, news.... I am having my gallbladder removed next friday. I discussed the results of my HIDA scan with my doctor this morning and we both agreed that it needs to come out.

Although the results of my HIDA scan were in the "normal" percentile range, the fact that I experienced symptoms during the test points to my gallbladder being the main cause of my issues. The doctor explained it to me like this: my gallbladder is running like an old beat up truck. It will still get you from point A to point B, but it's going to gunk up everything around it in the process.

So, Friday December 10th I am leaving behind my gallbladder. The next friday, December 17th, I am leaving my job. Approximately ten days later I am leaving Savannah for our new home.

Clearly December is all about shedding the things that cause me pain and stress. Hopefully this new year in a new city will be better than the last one.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

not the best way to start the day

This morning at 7am I had my HIDA scan. It wasn't what I was expecting (no getting naked) but it still wasn't really a pleasant experience.

If you've never had an IV before (like me prior to this morning) I'll let you in on a little secret... they hurt! I am typically pretty good with needles. Getting blood drawn isn't an issue. I just don't look at the needle and I'm fine. Umm, yeah. That strategy did not work today. The radiologist did a great job and only had to stick me once, but that one time still felt like my arm was being ripped open. I blame it on the fact that they have to use a big needle.

Anyway, the proceedure itself wasn't too bad since I was just laying there for an hour. The worst part was after the 30 minute mark the radiologist woudl inject this stuff into my IV that was essentially the test material. It would show whether or not my gallbladder is doing its job. However, this test fluid has the crappy side effect of making me feel like I'm going to vomit. Every 3 minutes I would get another dose of "thank god I haven't eaten anythign or it would be all over yoru shoes".

After it was all over I got my super cool arm bandage and permission to eat and drink as much as I want.

This would be much better news if I wasn't still feeling nauseous and didn't have this funky metallic taste in my mouth. I coudl also do without looking jaundiced and feeling ridiculously bloated.

My results should be in tomorrow. Hopefully the doctor will at least have something constructive to go on.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I need a minute....

Yesterday my twin/best friend got a huge bomb dropped on her. I had no idea what to say except that I'll be there for her no matter what. And that was and is the God's honest truth.

However, today was my day to process all of the information. My brain handles stuff like this at dial-up speed and I need a good chunk of uninterrupted time to fully process it all.

So, after work and a suprise 40th birthday party for my aunt-in-law, I was able to come home and process. I grabbed cozy pajamas, tummy friendly home made pumpkin spice coffee, and turned Shrek on for comedic relief should it prove necessary. After a few hours I think I'm in the place I need to be in to be able to be there for my BFF.

I honestly feel like the move to Atlanta is even more meant to be now since it will afford me the opportunity to physically be there for her more often than I would be able to if we were still in Savannah. For this, I am thankful.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

hello nausea, it's been a while

As of yesterday pretty much all of my symptoms from September/ October are back in full force. I feel too nauseous to eat and when I force myself to have something so I don't get dizzy I get stabbing pain, bloating, and less than glamorous other issues.

Seriously, last night I was only able to eat a few spoonfuls of mashed potatoes before my body reminded me that it hates me. Mashed potatoes. Probably the least offensive food ever created after dry toast. Which I tried this morning with very poor results. So I'm just sitting here sipping some ginger ale, praying that things calm down a bit.

BTW, whoever made nausea pills that make you even more nauseous if you don't take them with food is a cruel and evil jerk. Same goes for the mouthbreathing creeper who made the pills to relieve stomach pains that must be taken with food or they cause crazy blurred vision and dizziness. Dizziness + nausea = a bad idea.

I'm pretty convinced that my anxiety only serves to worsen my stomach condition (whatever it may be). Yesterday was a terrible day at work... tears, yelling, stress, the works.... and it just seems suspicious to me that my issues flared up immediately after it happened when none of my other triggers (meat, dairy, fried stuff etc.) have so much as looked at me sideways for weeks.

Add this to the list of reasons to get the heck out of dodge.

Last thing I swear: I'm losing followers. This makes me sad. Last time I checked it said 25 and now I'm down to 23. I guess some people are tired of hearing about my weird medical issues and how much I hate my job. I really can't argue with that. I'm gettign pretty sick of it too. But this is my life for now. Maybe I'll be more entertaining/ interesting/ informative when life settles down again.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The naked test?

I had a discussion with ym doctor today to go over my ultrasound results again. After looking at it again the doctor noticed that my galbladder was slightly inflamed so he has scheduled me to go in for what is called a HIDA scan.

As a good patient, I made my way over to google after I got off the phone with him and found this helpful page on the MAYO Clinic website which explains what that particular test involves.

Basically, I have to fast for about 8 hours prior to the test and then a radiologist will hook me up to an IV of a mild radioactive indicator fluid. The fluid will be absorbed into my liver and pass through the galbladder on its way to my small intestine. While this is going on, I will be laying on a table while a gamma ray camera takes images of the indicator fluid's progress. It typically takes about 1.5 - 2 hours during which I'll have to lay completely still so I don't blur the images.

The test will show whether the bile ducts attached to my galbladder are functioning correctly and give an indication as to why it was inflamed on the ultrasound.

My appointment is scheduled for one week from today at 7am.

I'm a little nervous about it, but mostly just because I have to be almost completely naked for the duration of the test. Knowing some complete stranger is going to be sitting next to me while I hang out (pun definitely intended) on their table for 2 hours in nothing but my undies is slightly unsettling.

Still, this test will provide some important information and I'm all for gathering information that could help figure out what's going on with me. I should have the results back when I come back from Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 12, 2010

some answers

The rest of my bloodwork came back yesterday. I don't have Celiac's disease, which is comforting to know.

I also got the results from my abdominal ultrasound. I don't have gallstones or any visible complications on my gllbladder, liver or kidneys.

This is good news. It's a definitive answer that eliminates a lot of potential issues and brings us closer to a diagnosis. However, it also means more tests. As much as I want to know what's wrong, I feel like I need a break from seeing doctors and being poked and prodded all the time.

The vegetarian thing has been working out well with managing my symptoms. The stabbing pain in my stomach is gone as is the nausea and other symptoms. It's difficult to deal with when I get a craving for fried chicken, but I'll skip the chicken if it means I'm not doubled over in pain.

I've also found some great vegetarian recipes that even Steve enjoys! I mastered Spanakopita last week and this week I made a spinach and pasta casserole that was to die for. I'll post recipes later if I can remember. The leftovers made for a delicious lunch. :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

in transition

This weekend was not the best. Yesterday being one of the most frustrating days spent away from work that I've experienced in a very long time. This weekend Steve and I got a chance to see exactly how much our lives, and those of our friends, have changed in the 18 months since we moved away. We got a chance to experience the change in those relationships that we have worked so hard to maintain at their initial awesomeness. The changes are not good in pretty much all but one case.

The worst part is that there is no one to blame. There is no "bad guy" in the situation at all no matter how much I want to place blame on someone. This is just what happens when people with different dreams and different lives make choices which move them toward acheiving those dreams. This is what happens when you choose to live your life. It's what happens when the bonds that secure your friendships aren't as strong as those that pull you toward your dreams.

It's sad. It's frustrating. Regardless, there is nobody really to blame and you have to choose whether to keep moving forward, or try and go back to salvage something of the past.

That's the most difficult part, determining if going back is even an option. Because sometimes no matter how incredible the past was, no part of it was meant to accompany you into the future. Sometimes you have to be grateful for what was and hope for something equally as good in the future.

In this case there is no going back, not now anyway. Steve and I have decided to just stick together through this transition and hope for the best in Atlanta in the new year. Thankfully I still have my twin and we have our families. Other than that it's just us moving together confidently in the direction of our dreams and toward the life we've imagined.

Monday, November 1, 2010

trying something new

For the last week I have been eating a vegetarian diet in order to give my poor digestive system the opportunity to chill out a bit. The last month and a half has been miserable and I needed to find some way to make it even a tiny bit better. Eliminating meat and dairy was a suggestion from my doctor since those things can be rough on the tummy sometimes and I reluctantly gave in and gave it a try. At least, mostly. I still refuse to give up cheese.

Amazingly enough, it's working! I'm not 100% feeling better, but it's enough to allow me to function semi-normal again which feels like heaven after so many weeks of hell. I'm no longer feeling queasy in the morning when I wake up. The stabbing pain after I eat is mostly gone. It's still there when I eat too much and when I try and run, but if I watch myself I can go several hours without being in pain which is a huge improvement!

The down side is that I'm saying goodbye to some of my favorite foods for the time being. I have no idea if this is something that will become a permanent change in my life, but a lot of that decision rests on what news the doctor has for me once my tests all come back. Either way, it's looking like this will be a turkey-free Thanksgiving for me this year. :(

Speaking of tests, my consultation with the gastroenterologist is on Thursday afternoon and the results of my bloodwork should be back any day now. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers that whatever is causing these problems will be easily identified and treated.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

the results are in...

This morning was kind of crazy since my alarm didn't go off. I ended up being about 20 minutes late to my appointment because I didn't wake up until 9am.

It worked out though and the salon/stylist were great about it. If I were going to be in town after December I would definitely go back considering how friendly and talented the stylist was. The place has a great concept. It's not just a salon, it's a day spa, salon and boutique! It's the type of place you could go to and get a complete head to toe makeover, which is always exciting. I've always wanted to do something like that.

Anyway, without further delay, here is the new 'do!

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I ended going with a bit of a combo of numbers 1 and 3 and I love it! The picture isn't that great (what photo taken in a bathroom ever is?) but you can see how it frames my face and just sort of has a bit more personality than before.

Thanks for all the input and get ready.... I'm just a few motnhs shy of chopping it all off to donate and I'll need input on which short look to go with. :)

Friday, October 29, 2010


I have an appointment tomorrow to get my hair cut - just a trim really - at the salon down the road. My only issue is, I still haven't figured out what style I want.

Right now my hair is long and boring. Seriously, it has no personality. Just straight, brown, and full of potential. I'm trying to grow it out long enough to donate and it's pretty close. I could probably go ahead and chop it all off now and still have enough length to not look crazy, but I kind of want to wait until I get to Atlanta. Call me dramatic, but I want the hair change to happen when all of the other exciting changes happen. However, I'd like at least a tiny bit of style worked in there for the next two months.

So... here are my top three options. Please leave a comment with your vote!

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Option 1 - face framing layers with versatility

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Option 2 - simplicity and traditional bangs

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Option 3 - sort of a mix of the two

My appointment is at 9am tomorrow so vote while you can and I'll post a picture of the new 'do this weekend!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

little things

This morning I went in and had my bloodwork done. The good news is, I should have some answers from that tomorrow. The unpleasant news is that getting the bloodwork done required me to spend the morning in the hospital (waiting, getting my veins stabbed....etc.) which completely creeped me out. I hate hospitals. They're creepy and they scare me.

It sort of started my day off on a weird note. So, in an effort to brighten my own day, I picked the puppy up from daycare (he spent the night with his friends last night), picked up some incredibly cute fabric at Joanne's to make my friend's baby quilt, and gave myself a manicure!

I bought a dark purple a while ago on a whim and never used it. I never had the guts to rock such a dark color... no matter how much I really love it. Today is the day I chose to take the plunge. For those who are curious, here is a picture of the color - midnight in moscow.
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(note, these are not my hands)

I think I'll add it to my toes too since it's Halloween.

Also, for those interested in celebrating along with Steve and I, Steve will be officially smoke free for a year on Halloween! I plan to make lasagna and something really good for dessert to reward him. He gets major props!

Monday, October 25, 2010

nice suprises

The last time Steve and I went shopping I found this great skirt. It was cut beautifully and the fabric was perfect for fall and winter. It was the perfect length and I could imagine wearing it with a million different things. It was also on sale, so I bought it.

However, since bringing it home I haven't been able to put together an outfit I like. I couldn't find the right shoes or the right top. I didn't want to wear this great skirt until I knew I could do it some justice.

The day has come my friends. I was looking through some old pictures yesterday and noticed a pair of shoes I had forgotten I had. I looked in the closet this morning and was incredibly happy to find that they survived the mass Goodwill donation when we moved. They work perfectly with my skirt and the outfit I'm rocking today makes me feel fabulous.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

playing the waiting game

I'm not so good with the keeping up with things anymore. This translates into being a bad blogger. Sorry.

I promise, it isn't just the blog either. I've noticed lately that I'm getting pretty forgetful in all aspects of my life. I'm just going to blame that issue on stress.

My doctor and I discussed my issues, both new and old, and we have come up with a game plan. I've got to go in and have some bloodwork done and have a colonoscopy (potentially an endoscopy as well), but for now that's it. I'm not thrilled about being sedated and prodded during the colonoscopy, but it's a necessary tool in figuring out how to help me feel better so I'm going to deal.

The situation has me a bit stressed. Between all of this mess, work mess, and the craziness that is school right now, I'm just trying to take it one day at a time. I'm at a point where all I can really do is head in for the tests, wait for results and pray for a good outcome.

In other news:
The puppy has learned several new commands including wait, leave it, and spin. Some of those are more useful than others. :)

Also, I ahve been accepted to Georgia State for the spring semester! Woohoo! Looks like some parts of my life are abotu to become awesome.

**woudl anyone else like to join in on the positive news bandwagon? I would love to hear some. :)

Monday, October 18, 2010

weird issues

This weekend I made some beautiful, vegan blueberry muffins. I had one yesterday and loved it... even Steve was a fan. This mornign I went to grab one for breakfast and as I opened the storage tupperware I caught a whiff of them and almost immediately gagged. Like... ran to the sink because I didn't think I'd make it to the bathroom type of gagging.

Sadly, this is becoming sort of a new routine for me. The whole gagging at things that never bothered me before and random waves of nausea. It's awesome. (notice the sarcasm).

That new issue is bad enough, but it's not the only one.

This weekend I went for a run. Just my usual route, pace and distance. Not 5 minutes in I had to stop because there were sharp pains in my stomach. Not crampy type pains, stabbing pain. This is not normal. I decided to walk it out for a bit and see if they went away if I toned down the workout and they did for the most part. I ended up stopping after 1.5 miles because I still got them suddenly and randomly all over my stomach area and didn't want to make anything worse by pushing too hard. I was still winded and sweaty like I'd just done my normal run though which I thought was weird.

Both of these new issues, on top of the digestive issues I've had since freshman year of college, are really annoying.

Speaking of which... those issues have developed some new trigger foods. We can officially add chocolate to the list along with red meat in any quantity, pork, anything with caffine, and dairy.

I'm headed to the doctor for more tests tomorrow morning. I have an idea of something to test for and I hope the doctor listens and gets me the necessary tests/screenings. More than anything else I just hope he can tell me something more than "It's just severe IBS and you'll have to find a way to deal with it". Any thoughts and prayers you could send my way would be much appreciated.

And just to get it out of the way for anyone thinking I drank the water around my friends lately.... no, I'm not pregnant. I can 100% garauntee that much. :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

date night and dinner inspiration

Last night Steve and I met up with my friend/sorority sister/former roomate and her new husband for dinner while they were in town for their honeymoon (they were the ones we went to Atlanta for last weekend). We decided to try out a cute little Greek place on River Street called the Olympic Cafe and it ended up being a great choice!

The food was delicious, the restaurant had a very romantic atmosphere, and the service was better than many of the places Steve and I have been to in Savannah. I finally got to try Spanakopita (pretty good) and Steve was thrilled to be able to get a plate of feta cheese as an appetizer.

Interestingly enough, the star of the evening turned out to be the lemon potatoes served as a side dish with our dinners! They were these tender, lemony bits of heaven. I even asked our waitress for the recipe so I could attempt them at home! Unfortunately, they wouldn't share. So I hopped on google in an attempt to find something similar.

To our incredible excitement, the recipe was very easy to find. Apparently everyone loves these potatoes as much as we did! We decided to try it out tonight in combination with the lemon roast chicken dish I have made before with great success. The dish is currently roasting away in my red polka dot pan and making the house smell incredible. :)

Last night's dinner was great, but the evening continued and got even better after we left the restaurant and went our seperate ways. There is a little place in the city market downtown that sells gelato. Steve and I love this place.... they always have delicious home made flavors and the people who work there are so friendly.

We stopped in last night and ate our little bowls of the creamy goodness while people watching in the square. It was just the kind of casual, quiet, happy evening that ends up being effortlessly romantic. By the time we made it back to the car I was humming show tunes.

I'm so grateful to finally feel like I could be breaking out of this terrible funk I've been in for months. It's weird, nothing is really different except my perception. Clearly that makes all the difference in the world.

Friday, October 15, 2010

days like today

My medical issues are still acting up and today is one of the worst I've had to date. I'm suprised since Steve and I got such good news yesterday - the thing we've been hoping for - and on top of that it's a Friday. If my issues are being brought on and intensified by stress then today would probably be the least likely day for such terrible issues.

Yet another fact which makes me believe it isn't in my head and it isn't just because of stress. Hopefully my doctor will listen to me at my appointment on Tuesday, really look at the research I'm bringing him, and I'll get the tests necessary to figure out if somethign treatable is causing this nightmare.

Days like today are the ones when I wonder if it is practical to become a teacher. What will happen if all of the tests come back negative and they find that this truly is just severe IBS and I'll just have to "deal with it" for the rest of my life? What happens if, for the rest of my life, I'll have days or weeks at a time where I'm unable to eat because my nausea is so strong, or I'm unable to be away from the bathroom for longer than ten minutes.

I love the idea of teaching and being able to help students see material in new and interesting ways, but is that type of career something even remotely possible when my medical issues prevent me from properly functioning at my current job? At my job now I have the ability to run to the bathroom whenever I need to. When I need a minute to collect myself or take a break while the nausea passes I am able to do that without it interfering too much with my job. People I work with and for don't particularly like it, but it's possible. I don't think these things would be possible in a classroom. Especially if there isn't anythign I can do to prevent the symptoms from occuring.

It's frustrating to think this way, but I can't help thinking about how this pain and discomfort is going to effect me in the future. There are a lot of things I need to "just deal with" in the next few years and I really don't want these awful symptoms to become a part of that list.

I could deal when it was just a random stomach ache or the runs after eating a trigger food. There was a plan and I could at least do somethign to try and prevent it. For the last month I feel so out of control of my body that it's hard to function day-to-day. I'm so tired of it.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I promise I'm not dead

Life has been strange lately. My IBS has not gotten much better and I'm just generally trying to adjust to what my doctor says is probably my new "normal" due to the fact that I can't really change any of the external factors which are causing my issues.

I've started going to therapy in an attempt to help me work through and find ways to deal with some of the most stressful aspects of my life right now.... to help me find coping strategies and vent my feelings in an impartial and safe place. It's going well. I like the therapist I'm working with and I feel that I'm already handling things better even if my medical issues aren't quite seeing results yet.

This whole process has left me exhausted.

What is particularly causing frustrations is my diet. If my food journal is anything to go by (which all involved medical professionals agree it is) red meat isn't the only food that is on my "do not eat" list anymore. In order to keep my IBS under control again I am going to have to cut out dairy and pretty much all meat besides organic chicken. It is a sad day. I'm beginning the search for delicious vegetarian foods that could make up for the fact that macaroni and cheese is no longer an option for me.

Monday, October 4, 2010

a mini-vacation and chocolate cake.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to meet up with my parents, my brothers and my sister-in-law at the beach for a much needed mini-vacation. I was only there for one night, but just the few hours by the ocean helped me get back to a good place.

My body is completely out of whack right now due to various factors so I am doing my best to find ways of relaxing and calming myself down in order to avoid major complications.

Tonight for example, I had an insane day at work so I grabbed a hot bath, put on my comfy clothes (chenille socks included), made some emergency chocolate cake and settled on the couch with the hubs and my favorite crazy dog.

Tomorrow said dog goes in to be neutered so please send some happy thoughts his way!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I went home from work today sick. Granted, those of us with chronic conditions have different definitions for the word sick - today is one of those days where "sick" means "not contageous but can't function properly in polite society".

I started feeling awful on Sunday during my 8 hour shift in a 90 degree building with no windows or anything. Then, the next day I felt bad too and was actually physically ill.

Tuesday I managed to get it together and make it through the day/night fairly well. I even managed to go on my morning run without any issues.

Then I woke up this morning. Just as sick, if not worse, than I felt on Monday and still tried to make it through work. Bad idea.

So now I'm home- rockin my leggings and oversized sweater - cuddling with a worn out pup home from daycare early and the cat. I look awful since I'm so bloated I have my own gravitational pull, but whatever. At this point I don't care.

The whole situation is annoying because it's just a really bad episode of my IBS and it's causing me all this trouble. I feel terrible but I don't look "sick" so my coworkers think I'm a big fat faker. At least I have an appointment with the doctor on Friday and we can try and figure out how to deal. At the very least I'll get some documentation on my condition so nobody at work can say anything.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Settle in, this is a long one

It's been a bit of a crazy weekend, and it's only mid day on Sunday still.

Yesterday included a few errands, obedience school for Finn, grocery shopping and LOTS of baking on my part.

Steve requested strawberry cupcakes after reading a facebook status about strawberry buttercream frosting. So, being the loving wife that I am, I looked up a recipe (thank you!) and made sure to add the inngredients we didn't already have to my grocery list. After quite a long and involved process, we had success!

The cake part is just a vanilla cupcake with chunks of fresh strawberries, and the frosting is homemade strawberry buttercream. It was first time using cheesecloth and ended up being a huge mess... but a fun one! The end result was some really good treats! I'm taking the excess to work since I really don't need a dozen cupcakes just for myself.

After the cupcakes were finished I got inspired to go ahead and try the other recipe I have been sitting on for a few days, cranberry orange scones.

(I'll be adding pictures of both of these soon)

I got this recipe from after searching for weeks to find a good one that wasn't loaded with tons of fats and calories. I have gotten into the habit of taking a muffin and tea for breakfast at work in and effort to curb my desire to stop at starbucks on my way in. Their cranberry orange scone is my kryptonite... especially when paired with a chai tea latte. I had hoped that by finding a good recipe for a mufffin version I could avoid the extra calories.

Low and behold, this recipe definitely fits the bill! It has a great texture, only about 160 calories each (according to's recipe calculator), and is full of the flavor I love so much in the scones. I will definitely be making these again and will not be sharing them with my coworkers.

Finally, this morning I made some changes to my running playlist and got out for a couple miles in the neighborhood. I've had a really hard time lately being able to deal with things around me and running has become like therapy. Pushing my body to move like that pretty much forces my mind to leave everythign else and focus on the task at hand. As a result, the music I listen to as I work through my stuff has gotten a bit harder and more intense. Some of the old favorites are still there, but there has been a distinct shift in tone as a whole. Notice the list on the left.

This past week was really difficult for me. This weekend was a bit of a recharge (although it's being cut short by a day) and next weekend is a three day weekend for me with my family at the beach. :)

Friday, September 24, 2010

a new mantra

I've seen some posters and shirts around that say "keep calm and carry on". It looks cute and I kept wondering what it was all about.

Being the nosy person I am, I took it to Google and found out that it's actually a propaganda slogan from the British government during WW2. They were trying to get the public to stay calm even in the face of almost certain Nazi invasion.

I really like the back story on the slogan. It sort of speaks to me where I'm at right now in life.

Today was a particularly rough day at the end of an especially rough and hellish week. I needed this slogan today.

And so... I have adopted this as my new mantra. No matter how awful things seem or how difficult it is in the coming months I will keep calm and carry on.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

tales from the archives

For those who don't know, I work for a historically black university, in the library. I recently was given the responsibility of taking care of the university archives in addition to my current job and this morning I got my first taste of what that will be like.

One of the university's previous presidents passed away yesterday and, as the go-to person, I was asked to search the archives for information, pictures, and any other materials we may have regarding this man and his time here at the university.

As it turns out, this man was president of the university during the majority of the 1970's. Imagine for a moment all of the events and issues facing a historically black university in the deep south during that particular time in history. Now consider how interesting it would be to be able to read through the student newspaper from that time period.

It was a very interesting and eye opening experience for me. It is such a unique perspective and I found myself completely engrossed in the various poems, articles and letter to the editor. The opinions weren't always things I agreed with, but just the opportunity to read them was thought provoking.

slightly unrelated - as I looked through the yearbooks I found that the candid section was actually called "bullshit". That's how it's listed in the index and the table of contents. I think my mom would have a heart attack if her yearbook students pulled something like that! lol

Monday, September 20, 2010

In case you aren't aware...

This week is banned books week.

As someone who works in a library and aspires to teach English, I feel that it is important for me to make sure everyone knows about this noteworthy week.

I could go on and on about the various issues I have with banning books and literary censorship, but there happens to be a good website that makes some great points in a much more eloquent way than I would likely accomplish. If you have time, please check out the section of the American Library Association's website regarding banned books.

I would like to challenge those that read my blog to read a banned book this week, or at least a portion of one. Chances are you've read one before since the list gets longer every year.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

a productive weekend

I'm currently sitting on my couch waiting for the dough for the dinner rolls to rise and my mother-in-law to arrive. She's coming over to the apartment for the first time since we moved in and we're all having dinner together. As a result, Steve and I pretty much spent the day cleaning and getting things ready.

The menu for tonight is balsamic marinated chicken (from my DAR cook book), sweet steamed peas and whole wheat dinner rolls (from my Taste of Home cookbook). It's all very easy and simple, but great for a lazy indian summer evening.

Also accomplished today were a batch of Vegan Lemon Wheat Muffins that I found over on PreventionRD's blog. I may not be a vegan, but I am a fan of delicious muffins that are also fairly good for you. These came out really good, but I think next time I might try adding blueberries since the lemon is really subtle. Although I will say, if you like lemon cake as much as Steve and I do, these muffins are right up your alley. They're really moist and have a great texture with a hint of refreshing lemon flavor.

Between the muffins and the dinner rolls I've kept my kitchen pretty busy as of late.... not to mention all the new recipes I've been trying during the week for dinner. I'm finding that I really enjoy taking part of my weekend to bake. I spend a lot fo time cooking, but baking is not something I usually take time to do even though I have tons of great recipes to try. I'm thinking that I may make these weekend baking efforts a part of my routine when I don't have to work.

By the way, the new Taste of Home magazine came in the mail yesterday with all the incredible fall recipes inside. I've dog-eared several recipes to try out in the coming weeks, most of which include cranberries (which I love!). There was a recipe for pumpkin and cranberry cakes that sounds like heaven.

I hoep everyone else had a great weekend and enjoys the rest of their Sunday!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

a few of my favorite things

I am channeling a bit of my inner Maria from the Sound of Music this morning. The day started out kind of rough with the dog jumping on me wanting to play at 4am (after not letting me get to sleep until after 11pm). The hot water for my shower lasted a grand total of 5 minutes for some reason and the hem of my pants fell as I was getting into the car for work (5 minutes late).

BUT, like I said, I'm channeling my inner Sister Maria this morning so I'm going to list some of my favorite things in hopes that I won't feel so bad. :)

1) Twinings Earl Grey tea - Did you know they make this in decaf? I did not. At least until about two weeks ago while I was browsing Kroger. Since I'm supposed to stay away from caffeine but I love me some Earl Grey, this became my new favorite thing. And it's from Twinings... which only makes it better.

2) Noxeema - The kind that comes in the blue tub... not the new "reformulated" crap in a tube. This stuff seriously makes my face glow. It's the only thing (besides some witch hazel) that has ever allowed me to have nice skin. Thanks to my mothe rin law, I also found out that it works sort of like aloe to soothe burns too. Who knew?

3) shasta daisies - To quote Meg Ryan from You've Got Mail, "Aren't daisies just the friendliest flower?" It's true, they are. Nothing makes me smile quite like a big bouquet of white shasta daisies. I almost used them in my wedding bouquets, but my florist would have had a heart attack lol.

4) Fage greek yogurt with honey - This is a relatively new discovery, but I'm finding that I may not be able to survive without it for long periods of time. Greek yogurt is pretty much just liek regular yogurt, except with more protein per serving and I think less fat? I don't know. What I go know is that Fage brand is incredibly creamy and the honey mixed with the yogurt is one of the most delicious little treats I can eat at my office. It's pretty much always in my lunch now.

5) blueberry pancakes - Speaking of delicious food, I would be remiss if I did not include blueberry pancakes on this list. I've considered growing a blueberry bush just for the ability to have more blueberry pancakes in my life. You can't help but be in a good mood while eating them... they are delicious!

6) Project Runway - Oh, how I love this show. Tim Gunn is completely adorable and watching the designers panic every week is pretty much addicting. I DVR it every week so I can watch it when I'm not distracted or working on homework.

7) Glee! - Yes, I'm a Gleek. This show is completely adorable. Then again, I am a complete fan of musicals and cheesiness so this is pretty much right up my alley. I'll be so happy when it starts back up again.

That's all I've got for today.

Tomorrow I'm taking Finn to daycare for his evaluation! If he passes then he will get to stay the rest of the day and start full day daycare next week for three days each week! I'm so excited for him. He is always so upset when we leave him during the day. He's also starting his puppy classes on Saturday, so there will be plenty to update about this weekend!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

this weekend so far

I've been struggling to find something to say on here lately. Nothing particularly interesting or spectacular happened this week or this weekend. In fact, it was all quite a bit frustrating.

However, this weekend I have done a few things that I consider note worthy so I'll go ahead and share them with you. If you are bored to tears I am sorry.

I started journaling on again in hopes of actually making healthy changes for myself. With Steve's heart condition and both of us being more than a little overweight it's time I start becoming more aware of my body and the food I put into it.

This morning I made Goat cheese and honey stuffed fig muffins for breakfast. They came out pretty good. I think that if I coupled one of them with a cup of Earl Grey it would make for a great week day breakfast I could enjoy at my desk. This was my first time working with whole wheat flour but I was really happy with the results. I may venture into actual whole wheat bread late if I have the time and energy.

Yesterday I went for a run. I did this last saturday as well. Hopefully I can get into a routine where exercising isn't a once-per-week activity. Then again, once-per-week is better than nothing at all. Maybe I should just be happy I'm making any sort of progress?

Monday, September 6, 2010

weekend recap and menu planning at it's finest

What a great weekend!

Steve, Finn and I got home last night form our little trip up to north Georgia to see my family. We had a great time! Friday night's tailgate was low key and relaxing, exactly what we needed after almost 6 hours of driving (thank you I-75 AND I-285 for the traffic). We got to see a lot of people we don't get a chance to see very often and we had some great food!

One thing my family pretty much is known for, you never leave our house hungry and the food is always good.

I managed to fit in a run Saturday morning and did the plyometrics workout from P90X with my brother Sunday morning in an attempt to stay balanced. All I can say is that P90X is no joke! I'm so sore today... cerrying groceries up 3 flights of stairs today got a bit interesting. Steve had to help me out.

Speaking of groceries, I'm pretty excited about the menu I planned for this week. My grocery cart looked so good and healthy when I set it all on the check out counter. :)

tonight: pasta with roasted garlic, white cheddar and wine sauce from Annie's Eats
Tuesday: greek salad (from Annie's Eats) and leftover penne alla vodka
Wednesday: Italian sausage and tomato pasta from Real Simple
Thursday: Balsamic marinated chicken from my DAR cookbook with steamed green beans
Friday: chicken tostadas from Elly Says Opa!
Saturday: Spanakopita from David Lebovitz

And we can't forget dessert: I combined sliced strawberries with blieberries and raspberries, tossed them with a little sugar and about 1/2 cup of moscato. They're marinating in the fridge right now and I'll serve them over pound cake and fresh whipped cream.

As you can see.... it's going to be a week full of delicious food around our house! I'm really excited to try all the new recipes. It's so easy to gets stuck in a dinner rut when you have a busy schedule. I'm glad to have the chance to mix it up lately!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

getting away

Today is my Friday!!! Woo hoo!

Steve, Finn and I are headed up to my parents' house for the Labor Day weekend, and what promises to be a fun time for all. My grandma Westfall and Grandpa Bob will be in for the weekend too so it will be a full house.

Friday night we are going to the football game at the high school where my mom works. My whole family is pretty invested in the school and they've made a lot of friends there so it's always fun heading over. Not to mention, they always host an amazing tailgate prior to the game. Steve has never tailgated before, so I'm particularly looking forward to this. :)

Saturday is my dad's birthday and birthday party with my parents' friends, most of whom have known me for several years.

We'll definitely make time to head to the mall of Georgia for a bit and bask in the retail goodness. I've been saving up some shopping for a couple weeks so I could do it in the big Macy's there. I seriously miss being able to shop at well maintained and fully stocked stores that don't cater to tourists.

This will be our first road trip with the puppy, but I think it's going to be just fine. On our 45 minute drives to Petsmart he just sort of hangs out in the back seat and sleeps. I think he'll do the same thing most of the 5 hours to Atlanta.

I hope everyone has a great holiday weekend!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Water for Elephants

I'll admit, pretty much my sole reason for choosing to read this book was because I heard my favorite actor was playing the lead in the movie adaptation. Coincidentally, it's the same reason I read the Twilight series.....

But I digress.....

My mom loaned me her copy of the book, and I started reading a few chapters whenever I had time. About half way in the story really picked up and I found myself really excited to see what happened next. It was never a stay-up-all-night nail-biter or anything, but the plot certainly grabbed me.

Today, while waiting for my car to get it's oil changed, I finished. I was really pleased with the ending too. The way the writer wrapped it all up was nice and pretty much exactly how I wanted it to end.

I'm now looking forward to April (when the movie is set to be released) with even more excitement. My mom and I have plans to go see it when it comes out.

Warning: reading this book will make you want to go to the circus! I pretty much begged Steve to take me when Ringling Bros. comes to town. :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

why I love Petsmart

I called Petsmart today to register Finn for his first training course. He's going to be taking their puppy class to learn some basic manners and get some socialization. He gets some with the neighborhood dogs, but more is always good too.

So I called the store to register him and this is how the conversation went:

Me: Hi! I'd like to register my puppy for the puppy training course starting on September 18th.

Petsmart guy: Ok, great! Let me pull up the form and get some information from you. What's your baby's name?

Maybe this means I'm one of those crazy pet mommies, but I absolutely loved that the guy referred to Finn as my baby throughout the conversation. He also talked to me about all of my concerns about his size in relation to other dogs in the class, his mouthing habit and even what treats are best for training.

Finn truly is my baby, he's my sweet furbaby and he's been a complete blessing to me ever since we got him. I feel safe and protected while Steve is away and taking him on walks is helping me to be much more active. Playing with him is making me feel much happier than I was before too.

I guess it was just nice to have a conversation about my dog where the person I was speaking to seemed to inherantly understand how much my pup means to me. I'm so excited to bring Finn into the store for his first class! I know we will both be in good hands.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

attack of the ducks

On Tuesdays I don't go into work until later in the day. So, after sleeping in a bit, I try to take Finn out for a long walk to get him good and tired before he goes into his crate while I'm at work.

This morning we're doing our thing when all of a sudden, we get dive bombed by the two ducks that live in the neighborhood pond. I seriously had to duck my head (no pun intended) to avoid getting hit. Then, they landed about three feet in front of us and started waddling our direction like we were going to feed them or something.

Finn has a plush duck squeaky toy that he ADORES... so in his mind these duckies are just walking chew toys and he wants to play. He starts lunging at them and alternating between barking at them and whimpering at me. All while I'm struggling to keep him a safe distance and move around them to avoid a ducky massacre.

So I manage to get around them so they are no longer blocking our path home. This is when the ducks start to CHASE US! They are quacking and waddling like I'm running off with their BFF.

This is when I realize the ducks are suicidal and I'm about five seconds away from becoming known as the crazy girl with the duck murdering dog.

Thankfully, before the ducks could catch up to us, the neighborhood maintenance guy drives up on his golf cart, jumps out and starts shooing the ducks away from us. I yelled a quick thanks over my shoulder and took off toward home.

Needless to say, I think Finn's duck toy is going to be replaced with a squeaky dinosaur. If the day comes when one of those is chasing us on our morning walk we'll have bigger problems than what the neighbors will think.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

simple pleasures and new adventures

I'm in the middle of a break up with my grocery store. Food Lion just isn't working for me anymore and I've been scoping out my options. Walmart and I had a nasty break up in November after the ground beef incident. The closest Publix is about 30 minutes away (without traffic). This left me with Kroger and Piggly Wiggly. I remember Kroger being pretty good when I visit my parents so I figured I'd try it out.


I think I'm in love. Their natural and organic food section is HUGE! They carry several varieties of veggie burgers and Greek yogurt. The organic produce section is just as big as the regular produce section!

I've been wanting to try a few different all natural and organic products but couldn't find them before. Kroger definitely has them and I picked up one or two to try this week.

exhibit #1 Purely Decadent dairy free ice cream
Image and video hosting by TinyPic
I've been trying to limit my dairy intake lately since it bothers my stomach. I've switched to almond milk in my cereal and coffee, but I was still looking for an ice cream substitute. This brand is made with coconut milk and has some really delicious looking flavors. I'm testing out the Pomagranet Chip flavor first.

I also picked up a package of all natural pad thai to try out. It sounds like it would be really good. More on that later.

Last but not least... the store's floral department was having a buge sale on gladiolas! I got a big bunch of pink ones for $2.50. They are in a vase on the counter so I see this as soon as I walk in the door:
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Between all my delicious finds at the grocery store and my happy bunch of flowers, this week looks like it will be a good one. :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

feeling accomplished

It's Friday and although I have to work this weekend (boo!) I am feeling pretty darn good.

I completed and submitted my mini research paper on the Park 51 project in NYC, finished all discussions and reading required as well.

Somehow I had forgotten how much I enjoy research papers. Call me crazy, but there is something very satisfying about finding tangible support for your opinion and then arranging those sources among your own voice to make a unique and valid argument.

This particular paper was interesting to me because the subject is such a hot topic for debate as of late. Park 51 is much better known in the media as the "Ground Zero Mosque". It's the Islamic cultural center that is planned to be built two blocks from where the World Trade Center towers stood.

I don't want to get into a debate via blog, so I'll just say that my research caused me to completely change my opinion. It is amazing what you learn when you check every resource you can fund.

Monday, August 16, 2010

rainy days and Mondays....

For a variety of reasons, I'm not feeling quite myself today.

Nothing is seriously wrong.... I'm just a bit sad. I'm a bit lonely. I'm a bit tired.

Good things have happened today:
- I woke up with my sweet hubby and our puppy, safe and healthy
- I started back to school
- I put together an awesome presentation for work

Still.... it's raining... it's Monday.... and life has left me feeling a bit down.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Ready to Run

I've really been missing my morning run lately. For a few months I would wake up every morning, go to the gym, and just go on the treadmill for about 30 minutes. Of course, not all of that time was completely running. I did the run/walk thing and I felt really good.

Running the Fallen Heroes of Georgia 5K in April felt incredible. I felt like super woman at the end of that race.

Then for some reason, my morning exercise tapered off to non-existance. I miss it.

As part of my 101 in 1001 I decided to run another 5K in the hopes that another event to train for will get me back into my previous routine. After browsing, I have two strong contenders:

  • 2010 Enmark Savannah Bridge Run - the course takes you across the main bridge spanning the Savannah River. It's the most difficult bridge run in the south as the entire course is at a 5.5% grade incline. Definitely a challenge for me considering I'm definitely a beginner. However, part of me wants to do this because I feel that running across that bridge will help me get closure on all of the issues I've had to deal with since moving here. I heard about this race when they did it last year and I was first starting the c25k program. I remember thinking I'd never be able to do it and then getting annoyed with myself for thinking that.
  • Chateau Elan Vineyard Run for Hope 5K - A run through the vineyard to benefit the Gwinnett County Children's Shelter. If you know me at all, you know how much I love kids. All kids. I'll do pretty much anything to help out a kid and I've got the experiences to back up that statement. If running a few miles will benefit not just kids, but kids in the community where I grew up? I'm there.
The bridge race is in early December and the vineyard race is right around Thanksgiving. I'd have plenty of time to prepare for either of them... or both. Who knows. We'll see how training goes. I might even get Finn to come with me.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

back to school

My advisor informed me today that I'm registered and ready to go for my courses this fall! I'm only taking two online courses for now, but two classes is better than nothing.

I feel an incredible sense of relief knowing that I really am going to be making progress toward my degree again. The circumstances that caused me to leave school in the first place came up so suddenly I really had no time to figure out my options and before I knew it I had been out of school for over a year.

I'm so happy to be going back.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Chicken Souvlaki

Tonight I attempted the first of the new recipes from my post below. I had never made any sort of Greek food and, although we had both had similar foods at Great Wraps, this meal had some new territory for both Steve and I. He had never had feta cheese and I had never had calamata olives. He wasn't completely jazzed about the onion and I wasn't so sure about the dill/cucumber/yogurt sauce.

In the end, it came out REALLY good! Both of us were sort of suprised at how much we enjoyed it. The combination of flavors was completely different than anything I would normally eat, but it was a welcome change.

The recipe is one I found in the Real Simple recipe index under "meals made easy".

Chicken Souvlaki

.Serves 4
Hands-On Time: 25m
Total Time: 30m (this time estimate is very accurate)

4 pieces flat bread or pitas
2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
3/4 cup crumbled Feta
1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into pieces
1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used Fage brand greek yogurt)
1 small cucumber, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh dill

1.Heat oven to 200° F. Wrap the bread in foil and place in oven.
2.In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, Feta, and olives.
3.In a large bowl, combine the oregano, thyme, pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the vinegar, and the lemon juice. Slowly add 4 tablespoons of the oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly until incorporated.
4.Pour 2 1/2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette over the tomato mixture, toss, and set aside. Add the chicken to the remaining vinaigrette, toss, and set aside.
5.Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Transfer the chicken but not the liquid to the skillet and heat, turning occasionally, until cooked through, about 5 minutes.
6.Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the yogurt, cucumber, dill, and the remaining vinegar. Spread the bread with some of the yogurt sauce and top with the chicken. Add the tomato salad and fold.

This is how it looks on the plate:

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We are definitely going to include this into our dinner rotation for when we need something relatively light and easy. I'm already planning on using the leftovers mixed with some romaine lettuce as my lunch tomorrow. YUM!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

menu planning - shaking it up a bit

Lately our dinner rotation has seemed a bit boring and lacking in all the yummy fresh produce that's available in the summer time. We're in a bit of a rut really.

So, in the spirit of my 101 in 1001, I am trying FIVE new recipes this week. They are all from the Real Simple recipe index under the "meals made easy" category.

Our planned menu consits of the following (links to the recipes are included for the new ones):
Saturday - pancakes
Sunday - chicken souvlaki
Monday - five spice pork chops with grilled mangoes (edited because Steve doesn't like plumbs)
Tuesday - BLT pasta
Wednesday - ginger chicken with sesame spinach
Thursday - hot italian sausage and tomato pasta
Friday - roast beef and cheddar paninis and baked shoestring fries
Saturday - cheese ravioli in marinara sauce

When I read the planned menu to Steve he seemed really jazzed about all the tomatoes. I'm pretty excited to try these out as well.

Monday, August 2, 2010

One of THOSE people

You know those people who go into Starbucks and their order sounds like an essay? It takes them forever to spit it out and by the time the barista is done writing the order on the side of the cup all of the little boxes are filled in?

I've always given those people the side eye. Seriously, how hard is it to order a cup of coffee?

However, this morning, as I stopped into the Starbucks near my office and placed my order, one of the people waiting in line with me gave ME the side eye. I couldn't figure out why until the barista delivered my drink to the counter and said it back to me:

grande decaf skinny cinnimon dolce latte with soy milk.

It's official.... I am one of THOSE people.

The whole thing made me think of something Tom Hanks says as Joe Fox in You've Got Mail (potentially the best movie of all time in my book):

"The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don't know what the hell they're doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self: Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino."

Clearly, that movie is from the 90's. MY "absolutely defining sense of self" was closer to $4. It sure is good though. :)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

101 in 1001

I'm sure most of you have heard of a "bucket List" or the idea of making a list of things to do before you kick the bucket. 101 in 1001 is a very similar idea. It's essentially a list of goals you hope to accomplish in the next 1001 days.

Why 1001 days? It's a firm deadline. It gives you enough time to make accomodations for financial aspects of big goals, and really work on each item without being so long that you procrastinate or forget about the list completely. The number itself also looks catchy. :)

Why now? It's an extention of the feeling that finally led me to decide to go back to school full time... I want to find joy in my day to day routine again. I've spent months being miserable, so now I plan to spend the next 1001 days doing things that I've either never done, or that I like to do but don't make time for. I'm hoping that after the 1001 days I'll be able to look in the mirror and see the happy, healthy person I remember being.

The deadline: April 27, 2013

The complete list of items I hope to accomplish by that date can be found HERE and you can go back and see my progress at any time by clicking the 101 in 1001 icon on the left.

Friday, July 30, 2010

a little help from a radio preacher

This morning I was listening to the daily devotion on the radio (a really cool feature for a top 40 station to have btw... only in the south) and I felt like the preacher was talking directly to me. He might as well have started his talk with "I wrote this specifically because you need to hear it, Bekkah".

He was discussing how, in life, we really have two things we need to find joy in to be able to enjoy our lives fully - our loved ones and our daily routine. If we can love what we do and love the people around us, then it stands to reason that we will be happy with our lives. He also said that if you are in a place where you are not happy with either one of those things, you need to seriously think about what you can do to improve the situation.

This led to quite a bit of introspection on my part.

It's no secret that I hate my job. If you asked me to name something positive about it I might be able to think of something if you gave me a while and caught me on a good day... but probably not. Just the thought of coming in to the office puts me in a bad mood. This is no way to live. Nobody wants to be miserable for 10 hours per day (yes, I said 10 hours... the hour commute each way and then 8 hours at a desk. ew).

Luckily, this particular position is ending in a few weeks and I have the opportunity to make some changes. However, just what those changes will entail, I wasn't sure... until today. I've finally made up my mind.

Steve and I have thrown around quite a few scenarios, but we keep coming back to the idea of me going back to working only part time and attending school full time. I've been resisting because it feels like a step back. I've been applying the "If you're going through hell, keep going" mentality to my situation, so the idea of throwing it all out the window and starting over made me sick to my stomach. This morning the lightbulb came on though. I'm beginning to see that the part time option isn't a step back, it's like hitting the shortcut bridge in Candyland.... I get to skip over the swamp and get closer to the candy castle.

I want to be a teacher. It's taken me a long time to finally make up my mind, but I really want to teach high school English. I've known this for months. I'll be amazing at it too. I don't want to trudge through years of jobs that I hate and pick my way through school on the side to get there. I have the opportunity to make school a top priority again. I need to take it.

So, a decision has been made. Once this job is over, I'm going to rock the student life again... minus the sorority shenanigans, plus a husband. It may not be glamorous and it may not be where I thought I would be after a year of marriage, but it will be the direction of my dreams. I will go confidently in that direction and eventually find the life I've always imagined. Thoreau would be proud. :)

Thank you Rev. Creede Hinshaw for the incredibly helpful installment of "Morning by Morning".

Thursday, July 29, 2010

set your DVR

My craptastic week just got about a million times better!

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The new season of Project Runway starts tonight! Until yesterday I had no idea that this was happening.

So tonight Steve, Finn, and I are going to relax on the couch and watch the awesomeness that is Tim Gunn attempt to impart wisdom to the designer wannabes.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What a day for a daydream

This week is proving to be incredibly trying.

I'm not even going to go into it all here because I don't want to think about it right now. Right now, I'm going to pull up pictures of the English countryside and daydream about taking a trip to

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and London
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I hope your day and week is going better than mine!

Monday, July 26, 2010

a case of the Mondays

I hate that saying, but it is the closest description I can find to properly describe how I feel today.

I'm incredibly annoyed and irritated but the only remotely acceptable reason I have for feeling this way is the fact that today is Monday.

In an effort to keep myself from developing a permanent scowl, here are some things that make me smile:

1. our sweet boy, Finn.

2. wildflowers growing on the side of the road

3. the huge sunflowers for sale in front of Food Lion.

4. Finally figuring out what to make for my friend/ little sister's baby

5. Finding these instructions on how to make these beautiful babies for cheap!
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6. the picture on my desk from my wedding.

What helps you pull yourself from the edge of a craptastic day?

Friday, July 23, 2010

menu planning and grocery line pride

Steve and I sat down today and planned out our menu for the next week or so. I'm really excited about what we have planned as it's all relatively simple recipes but healthy and well balanced (for the most part).

Tonight, for example, we're having the chicken we learned how to make on our honeymoon last year and a mixed green salad. The chicken is really simple but includes tons of veggies and a tiny bit of white wine.

Later in the week we have balsamic green beans and mashed sweet potatoes... all kinds of yummy "Treats" that are actually pretty good for us.

All of these good food choices led to a very healthy looking grocery list of course. This made me so happy.

Maybe I'm the only one... (this would not suprise me since 1) I'm incredibly weird, and 2) I care WAY too much what other people think about me) but when I go to the grocery store I strive to be able to be proud of every item I put on the checkout belt.

When I have junk food or a bunch of processed food in my cart I feel like the cashier is judging me. Probably because I am judging myself. I feel so much better when I leave the store if I have a lot of fresh ingradient-looking stuff rather than pre-made stuff.

Again... maybe I'm just weird. Today was a great grocery day though.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

puppy love

Steve and I are quickly finding out that new puppy = no sleep, very little quiet time to ourselves and a new appreciation for plastic bags and hand sanitizer. It also means our cat currently hates us.

I was dragging quite a bit at 5am when my alarm went off and I took Finn out for our morning walk. Thank God he is so good on a leash because I was fairly zombie-ish walking around the apartment complex with him.

Poor Steve is desperately trying to get over a sensitive nose so he doesn't gag when he picks up after Finn outside. Our apartment complex has pet stations in the grassy areas so nobody has an excuse for not picking up after their pet, which is incredibly effective and convenient. However, Steve has never had to do the plastic bag trick before and I would say that, over all, he is not adjusting to the practice very well. He still looks absolutely green when he comes in from walks.

Tonight I am going to try and take Finn for a bit of a run. We've done short little bursts a couple times, but never anything prolonged. I think he'll like it. And since I'll be taking him for walks anyways, I might as well get in some good exercise.

I have Friday off this week (thanks to my stint at the circulation desk on Sunday afternoon) so I plan to take Finn over to the park that morning. He's never been so it should be a lot of fun! With any luck he'll get a chance to meet my brother and sister in law on Sunday as well.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Introducing the newest member of our family...

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He is a 12 week old German Shepherd mix and we are completely in love with him.

We found him on then called the rescue group he was with (Manes & Danes in Pooler) and found out that he would be at their adoption event on Sunday at Petsmart. So we went with high hopes that he would be a good fit for us. In the past we had found dogs we loved in pictures, but didn't really connect with in person.

That was definitely not the case with Finn!

When we first got to Petsmart Finn was getting a checkup with the vet so we waited for a few minutes while he finished up. All of a sudden, the rescue worker comes through the door to the waiting area with this sweet boy running right for us with a big puppy grin on his face. He jumped right into my arms and gave Steve and I big kisses. We knew right then and there that he was ours.

After walking him around for a few minutes to makes sure we weren't completely giving in just due to cuteness, we went ahead and filled out all the necessary paperwork so he could come home with us.

Once he was officially ours, we took him on a mini shopping spree through the store for the necessities: food, food and water dishes, crate, gate to keep him out of the cat box..... and of course toys and treats. :)

So far we have discovered that he loves puzzels and treats. His treat puzzle is pretty much his favorite thing ever and it's hilarious to watch him play! He also has some funny expressions... which are only made cuter by those ridiculously adorable ears.

If you couldn't tell, I'm completely smitten with our little guy. :)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

meeting the neighbors

We have been living here, in our apartment in Savannah, for almost a year now and until yesterday we had never met our neighbors. I know we should have introduced ourselves a long time ago, but we just never did. I guess we're social wimps like that.

However, when I came home from the doctor yesterday afternoon I noticed some flowers outside of the door of our neighbors downstairs (the ones directly below our apartment) with a sign that said "just married".

Being a July bride myself, I was so excited for them and felt like maybe it was time to meet them.

So, I went upstairs and grabbed a bottle of wine (we always keep a bottle or two - or five- of our wedding wine on hand) and a little congratulatory note and headed back downstairs.

Our neighbors were so suprised! They were grateful for the wine and we ended up talking for almost an hour. They're a young couple like Steve and I, and it turns out, they got married the day before our anniversary! We agreed that we should get together for dinner sometime and I am looking forward to having them over.

It's nice to make unexpected friendships.

Monday, July 12, 2010

(not so) manic Monday

I pretty much hate Mondays. They're just so incredibly depressing after two full days of restful bliss.

Today, however, is a rare exception. Why?

I am sitting on my insanely comfortable couch, sipping Earl Grey and basking in the knowledge that I have the next two days off of work. I get to spend my Tuesday and Wednesday enjoying quality time with the man who suprises me with daisies at work and makes incredibly lame jokes just to see me smile.

Too bad more Mondays can't be like this!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

1st Anniversary

One year ago today, in front of about 110 of our closest family and friends, Steve and I promised to spend the rest of our lives together. It was the most incredible day of my life so far. As a little girl (hopeless-romantic daydreamer that I was) I often thought about how I wanted my wedding to be, what flowers I would carry, what songs would be played, and of course what my dress would look like.

I can say with absolute certainty that my wedding day was everything I had ever dreamed of and more. I can't even find the words to adequately explain how completely perfect that day was for me. However, I know that the biggest reason that day was so incredible is the person I married.

I'm lucky enough to be married to my best friend. Someone who challenges me and comforts me. Someone who supports me in absolutely everything and always encourages me to be myself. Someone who completely believes in me and loves me for exactly the person that I am.

We have faced many challenges this year... both planned and unplanned, and through it all one thing has become clear: everything will be okay as long as we hold on tight to each other.

So... today we are celebrating everything that brought the two of us together, everything we have experienced together, and everything awaiting us in our future. Who knew that the decision to attend a party almost four years ago would have brought us to where we are today.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

snack of champions... and fat kids

I go to Subway quite a bit for lunch just in an effort to escape my office. I've got my order down and rarely deviate... the ladies at my local store pretty much know it without me having to say anything.

Today though, I saw found Miss Vickie's Kettle Cooked Jalapeno chips. With my new found love of all things involving peppers, I had to try them.

All I can say is: YUM!

Please, even if you aren't a fan of chips, spicy stuff, peppers of any kind.... I don't care. You really need to try these. They are crunchy, delicious chips of pure win.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Trying not to wallow

In the last year Steve and I have made several sacrifices in order to lay a good, solid foundation for our future. We've made hard decisions and agreed to live with the immediate unpleasantness in exchange for long term benefits. Unfortunately, I'm not that great at being patient and the unpleasantness of right now is weighing on me particularly heavy this week. I actually cried at my desk this morning.

In an effort to avoid wallowing in my own "poor me" attitude this week, I am wrapping up some loose ends on something I actually have some control over. I got in touch with the people at the school I'll be attending in the fall to (finally) get back to work on my degree!

I talked with admissions to make sure I'm all set and enrolled. I checked out my financial aid award information to make sure I can pay for classes and I'm awaiting a call back from my advisor to get me registered for classes. With any luck I will finally start making some forward progress on this goal of mine and get myself that much closer to where I want to be.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy 4th!

This weekend Steve and I took a roadtrip to Columbus to see our friends/ college family for the holiday. These people are the ones who have been there for Steve and I since before there even WAS a Steve and I so having a long weekend to catch up with them and celebrate was incredible.

It was interesting too just to see how much things have changed in the last year within our group of friends. Instead of the rowdy college kids we're all settled and married... kids on the way for one of our friends too. Instead of going out to a bar or getting sloppy drunk in someone's back yard we had a pot luck supper and a couple beers. Very chill.

I swear, everything has changed except the red SOLO cups.

I hope everyone had a safe and happy 4th of July and is ready to get back to the day to day tomorrow!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Is it seriously July 2010?

This time last year I was fully immersed in wedding preparations. I was freaking out that it was already July and so many people hadn't RSVP'd. I was attending final meeting with the vendors and just generally nervous as hell.

My anniversary isn't for another 10 days (holy crap!), but the fact that July 2010 is already here simply astounds me. Apparently time flies no matter what you are doing... fun or otherwise.

Monday, June 28, 2010

thunderstorms and progress

One interesting aspect of living in the south, especially near the coast, is that evening thunderstorms are very common in the summer. The last two weeks we have had several severe thunderstorms. Last night was no exception. We were without power for almost 5 hours!

For those of you who have experienced Coastal Georgia summers, you know what I mean when I say that we ROASTED inside that house without any air conditioning! Thank god it came back on and we didn't have to try to sleep in that heat.

The heat index around here has been right around 100 degrees for the past couple weeks as well. It pretty much makes you want to lay around and do nothing. I definitely haven't found any motivation to work out. Until this morning I hadn't worked out since before our cruise the first week of the month.

However, this weekend I had the chance to spend some time with my mother in law and she really helped me get back into a good frame of mind for making good choices. She recently had bariatric surgery at the recommendation of her doctor and seeing all the sacrifices she's having to make now for the sake of her health is sobering.

I'm happy to report that I woke up and got my butt to the gym this morning. As someone on one of the fitness boards I read has said before: "I fell off the wagon, but I've got a good hold of the bumper and I'm pulling myself back up."

Friday, June 18, 2010

what a week!

This week = FAIL. Seriously.

Even running a couple miles last night didn't get me out of my post-work funk. Between the big workshop program I'm pulling together and the creepy calls my head feels like it's going to explode. I ended up making some coffee and reading for a while in an attempt to settle my thoughts.

As if the drama at work wasn't enough of a downer, I realized I haven't weighed in since before my cruise and yeah... apparently I'm up 5 pounds. I'm not a happy camper.

Luckily, I have a wonderful husband who knows how to get me out of my wonky moods. Tonight we're going to my favorite Mexican place for dinner and drinks (read: queso dip and a strawberry margarita). Then tomorrow we are going to the day spa down the road for 1 hour massages.

Between the little treats and our normal weekend activities of cleaning and laundry, I'm hoping that come Monday I'll feel semi-normal.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cinderella was right

A new pair of shoes can change your life.... or at least keep you from hating Tuesdays so much.

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Magenta. suede. pumps.

I saw these at Macy's on Saturday while Steve and I were out shopping and I fell in love. They're fabulous enough to make me feel special but practical enough to wear to work. That's a perfect combination.

Today I'm wearing them with a simple black dress and my irregular freshwater pearls. I feel so good I almost forgot it's Tuesday!

Bonus: Everyone... and I mean EVERYONE I have talked to today has complimented my shoes.