Thursday, March 31, 2011

Chump Change

Unfortunately, I am not the winner of the $300+ million lottery. Could you even imagine? Dude... the lump sum payment was $203 million. Unfathomable!
So, of course with all the buzz in the news about this major jackpot, I couldn't resist asking Puff what he thought we should do with the money. Houses, cars, and travel were on the list, of course. But more on that in a minute. The funniest thing of all was when Puff said, "Yeah, I'd probably get a nicer used BMW." Um... see. The thought of $203 million is so unfathomable, my dear husband still thinks he'd have to buy a USED car!
The general consensus seemed to be to pay off our current house and use it as an investment property. Then, we'd buy another house on our most coveted street, but we'd still probably top out about $700,000 on that one. We still haven't even spent our first million and we've got a rock star house AND one to rent out! As for cars, I would get a Nissan Murano (dreaming big, people, dreaming big) and Puff would get a 4-door BMW 3 series. A new one! And probably some kind of convertible that has a backseat. That would be our little splurge.
Oh, and did I mention that both of us said we would go back to work? I would be the worst stay-at-home wife/mother imaginable. I'd go insane! Even with all that money, you can't be traveling the world all the damn time. And that down-time would be a good time to have a job to eat up some of those hours. Speaking of travel, you can bet we'd be finally taking an African safari, a trip around New Zealand and Australia, spending some time on a beach in the Caribbean, stalking moose in Alaska, and driving through Croatia & Slovenia. Sounds good, doesn't it?
And yes, we're not idiots... we'd be putting aside money for retirement and for our unconceived children's future. And we'd probably dump some in the stock market, just to see how it plays out and if we can make wise investments. I'd even offer to help my mom with her medical bills. But we did decide we were NOT going to start paying off family member's debts or helping them pay off their mortgages. The second you start into that crap, the second you lose control and people start coming out of the woodwork wanting you to help. And yeah, I'm not really one for helping people. (I try. I really do. But it's just not in me a lot of the time. Sorry to disappoint you.)
So... what would you do with that kind of money?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Respect in Death

Last week, a dear co-worker of mine passed away suddenly.

It wasn't until after the fact that I even realized he was in his 70s. That's how much it never occurred to me that he might be nearing the end. His girlfriend (lady friend?) also works with us. And for that reason, mostly, I decided to attend his funeral. I was glad to have about 10 other co-workers attend with me, so I didn't feel totally out of place.

Death is never an easy thing. Especially to someone you know personally. Thankfully, the last 2 funerals I have been to, have not been for a dear friend or close family member. That's not to discount the grieving. Or my sincerest condolences to the families and friends of the people who passed. When the MIL's man-friend passed in December, I barely knew him. So it was basically a funeral of a stranger. I expected this most recent one to be a bit more hard-hitting. Especially when the family walked in and the woman I knew almost fell to her knees sobbing at his casket. It was a tender, true, and heart-wrenching moment.

I had never been to a black funeral before. It wasn't all that different from any other I had been to before, minus the clapping after someone sang and the chorus of "Amen"s from the attendees when the preacher would say something they thought profound. The service was, overall, nice. But I guess my issues stem from some of the attendees (whom I thought were disrespectful) and from the preacher (whom I also thought was very disrespectful.)

I suppose I should elaborate?

It's hard to go anywhere in this world without judging others. And I truly try my best not to, especially just for sport, but when there is a glaring offense, I can't ignore it. Now, I'm not saying you need to wear your Sunday best to a funeral (I had on a blouse and dress pants) but I also think you should show a little bit of respect and dress, I don't know, presentably? Never mind the lady who had pink, orange, and purple hair. I could look past that, actually, because she was dressed appropriately. What I couldn't get over? The teenage boys who were all in jeans, t-shirts, and Air Jordans. When my grandfather passed away, had my male cousins been dressed that way, they would have never made it out of the driveway! And then... my biggest issue... were the young women, some teenagers, some in their mid-20s, who were dressed like they were going to a club. Seriously... low cut shirts, hooker heels, and skin tight leggings, with their ass basically out for everyone to see. C'mon. I know you've got some church clothes SOMEWHERE!

Now, my issue with the preacher. As a speaker, he was articulate and made some good points. But there was never ANY discussion about the person who had passed. No real personal mentions or touches about his life. I literally sat through an hour long sermon about how we're all on our way to our "homecoming" and how we need to accept Jesus as our savior. He actually had the balls to say, "It's too late for Joe to accept Jesus as his savior, if he didn't already." WHAT THE BLEEP?!?!?! I'm sorry, but if I had been a family member and the preacher at the funeral said something that offensive, I probably would have stood up and taken the microphone away from him. I understood the overall point... get ready to die, this life is temporary, we all go on to a better life at the end. OK... fine. Put a little bit of that in there and move on. Talk about how much he loved his children and his grandchildren. Talk about his favorite things to do. Talk about his love of Redskins football. But, for the love of Troy Aikman, don't tell the family, basically, that Joe might be going to Hell if he didn't accept Jesus in time. Idiot.

Oh yeah... last minute addition here, that I had completely forgotten... but the preacher waited at the end of the line when friends were greeting the family after the service, so he could hand out business cards to his BBQ restaurant. Yes, seriously. Because the 3 mentions of the restaurant (complete with address) in the middle of his speech during the funeral wasn't enough. Double idiot.

It does sting a little bit that I won't get to see Joe anymore at work on long days. I won't have him to rag on about his poor football choices. He was a good, hard-working man, and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family and close friends. There were about 8 people there from his high school class of 1958. I can only dream of being so blessed that my high school friends will stick around that long and come to my funeral someday. I just politely request they don't wear booty shorts or see-thru shirts. And since I don't like BBQ, please find a preacher with a pizza joint to promote during the service.

Is that too much to ask?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Man Candy Monday

Dude... we totally need some man candy around here.
While I love Puff beyond words, sometimes it's just kinda inevitable that you'll check out other men. And if this fine specimen is out there for the world to see, then dammit, I'm looking.
Pardon that puddle of drool on my keyboard...

Friday, March 25, 2011

Flash Bulb Friday

I couldn't go an entire month of Ireland photos and not post a thatched roof cottage!
Our first day after showering (meaning, after a good night's rest not on an airplane) we popped into the Bunratty Historical Park for the morning. We toured the castle and then meandered the rest of the park, which is basically a place where historic buildings come to live on, instead of being torn down in their original location.
I fell in love with this one... probably because of the amazing color. And the thatched roof! It's totally to die for! Look how perfect it is cut!
Oh, the charms of an easier life!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Skool Me

Recently, the topic of homeschooling got brought up. I do have to say, it's not my schtick.
Now, I will preface this entry with saying that while it's not my thing, I can appreciate the reasoning behind it for some people and understand that there are certain circumstances where it may best suit the needs of the child. However, I'm definitely against it for my own children. No matter how hard a homeschooler tries to convince me otherwise, children miss out on a part of the real world by being couped up in their own home for "school."
I also could rant and rave about how there are parents who are homeschooling who definitely are not qualified. Heck, I consider myself an intelligent and articulate woman, but I wouldn't even dare attempt to teach my children high school math or science! That's why there are TEACHERS. I'd say my disdain for unqualified homeschool parents comes from the ex's cousins who were homeschooled for a few years. The parents tried to convince the kids it was the best option, but the reality was that they just wanted the older children home during the day to help entertain the younger ones. What a selfish, ill-advised move.
All that being said, there are problems with public schools too. I'm not naive to that, even though I don't even have children to even be fully aware of our local schools. I was fortunate enough to grow up in, what I consider to be, one of the best school districts in the state. I always felt completely prepared to advance to the next grade, and when I was a senior, I had teachers that better prepared me for the real world than college professors. I think my high school had something like a 95% rate as to the number of students who would go on to graduate college. Or something ridiculously high like that. And I'm proud of that. Granted, I've been out of that school district for 11 years now, but I like to think not much has changed in that regard.
Recently, my boss left work early to go to a meeting at his son's school with the counselor, so they could pick his freshman curriculum. SERIOUSLY? My parents weren't called into the school to pick my classes. There were mandatory classes for freshman, with maybe 2 electives, and I was able to check that box on my own accord. (This is quickly steering toward a blog about my disdain for parents these days and how they hold their children's hands through life and think they're entitled to everything. Gah!) You don't need to be in basket weaving or film critique class or whatever nonsense they have these days. Want to know what I took freshman year? I took classes like advanced English, conceptual physics, geometry, Spanish, and the required health & PE class. That was that. There were real & legitimate requirements to graduate. I'm starting to think a lot of schools have forgotten about that. Electives? We barely knew what those were! And when we did get to pick, our options were things like psychology or creative writing or computer programming. Classes that weren't a total joke. (Unless you count multimedia publishing. In that case, it was a total joke. But gosh we made some good memories!)
I like to think that I'll be able to raise my unconceived children in a good public school system. And I won't let my kids slack off and take slackass classes all the time. School isn't meant to be easy and fun all the time. It's in place for a reason. And that reason isn't just to babysit while the parents go off to work. A lot of it has to do with the parenting too. I will be involved in teaching my child at home as well. (Just not full time, since I don't know everything!) We intend to travel the world with our children to expose them to different cultures and experiences, just like Puff and I were fortunate enough to be able to do.
Here's hoping the school system where we live holds up to my expectations. If not, I'd have to say that even though I hate snow more than anything, I'd be very tempted to pack up and move back home so they can get the quality education I received. Fingers crossed SC schools aren't all as bad as I suspect.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Respect Me. Don't Touch My Shit.

I don't ask for much from Puff. But I do have 2 major rules for The Bungalow:

1) If there are guests coming, the house needs to be cleaned & picked up
2) If there are guests, they are not to touch anything on our shelves... especially children

One recent Saturday, we had friends in town with their kids. Except, I was stuck working 10 hours. Puff and I discussed what their plan was for the beautiful sunny day and he promised me that they were NOT coming to the house. This was a total relief, since I had worked 15 hours the day before and 13 the day before that. I didn't have time to worry about the house being presentable. After my long day, I called Puff and found out they were still downtown. I was so ready to throw myself into bed and nap the afternoon away. Except, when I turned down our street, I saw our friend's car in our driveway.

Uh oh.

I immediately called Puff who reassured me they just met in the driveway to consolidate cars. Since he's my husband, I trusted him. I was so thankful too, since the house was a mess. A sweater I had washed was still laying on a table to dry. There was a jacket thrown over the back of a dining room chair. The blanket in the living room wasn't folded. And there were pj pants laying next to the bed. Totally embarrassing! Except then I noticed a glass on our dining room table that we don't normally use. And I knew he had lied about them being in the house. My blood started to boil and the disappointment in his lies made me sigh. Oh... but then I rounded the corner into the living room and saw my replica of Texas Stadium sitting on the coffee table. And that's not where it lives.

The total and utter rage that spread from my toes to my ears was unbearable. I raced to my cell phone. Not only had he broken BOTH rules I have about the house, but then he flat out lied to me about it. He basically blew me off on the phone and didn't think he did anything wrong. That made me even more mad. Of course, I was so mad that I couldn't get to sleep and sat there and stewed for 2 hours before he finally came home. I battled myself on how to confront him, or if to even confront him at all, but there was no choice. He had to know how disappointed and upset he made me.

The letting people in the house, was really a minor offense. I could have even ultimately forgiven him about lying to me about it. Had that been the end of the story, we would've made up by the end of the night and moved on. The thing I was having trouble with was his total disregard for my personal property. What he fails to comprehend is that when I moved into The Bungalow, I basically got rid of anything and everything that didn't have real sentimental value to me. Our house is too small for random knick knacks. So every bit of memorabilia that I have on display is 10,000% irreplaceable. And I just couldn't look past the fact that my ill mother had searched to find me that stadium replica, when it's so hard for her to shop (or do anything for that matter) and I just burst into tears thinking how my heart would've been totally crushed had it been broken.

After some choice words were exchanged, we sat in silence and watched TV, while I honestly had to tell myself that punching him in the face was a bad idea. Eventually, I went to bed, with a note in the back of my mind that I would need to re-learn to trust Puff, but was hopeful it would happen quickly and easily. Except around 3:30am, I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep. And in the frustration of total exhaustion, my mind went right back to the entire situation and I tossed and turned, getting madder and madder. No, nothing had gotten broken, but what would he have done if the hand-carved cross from Ireland would have fallen and shattered to pieces? What would he have done if the plate we bought in Mexico on our honeymoon would have gotten broken? What would he have done if they walked off with the surfer I have from my my trip to Hawaii, which was the last trip I took as a family with my biological parents?

He couldn't have done ANYTHING to make it right. I'm just grateful it didn't come to that. And hopefully he'll realize his mistake and never, ever, make it again.

I just know that when I was a child, if I touched anything without asking in someone else's home, I would've gotten scolded and probably spanked. The total disregard for my wishes and the total disrespect for me and my things is just hard to stomach. Especially from the man I love.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Country Luxury?

So, I like nice things. Sue me.
Following my meltdown about being a house guest, Puff and I decided staying at a hotel when we visit his family in Michigan this summer was the best route. I say "meltdown" but really it was just a moment of feeling uncomfortable, followed by an easy solution. The problem became that his family lives in Podunk. And when I say Podunk, I totally mean a town with one blinking light. Oh yeah... and NO hotels. (Ok, I'm exaggerating, because there's a Days Inn, but really, there might as well be no hotels if that's your only option!)
So I had to put my expert InterGoogle search skills to the test to find a place within a reasonable distance (30 minutes max) and that would be comfortable for us. Here's where I insert a tidbit of information you may or may not know: I'm a travel snob. Yup... flat out. And I'm not ashamed to admit it. I've been to 42 states and 25 countries (to be 44 states and 30 countries by mid-October) and I choose to spend my money on travel. I've learned over the years that a crappy hotel can put a stain on an otherwise nice vacation.
And don't even get me started on people who take the same vacation every year to the same place and stay at the same condo and never experience the world! Gah! Such a pet peeve! But I digress... that's a good topic for another day.
So... back to the hotel/bed & breakfast search. I wasn't having much luck. The first place kinda gave the whole "You might get chopped into tiny pieces and some backwoods investigator will find your left ear and a baby toe wrapped in a flannel shirt in some ditch 10 years down the road" vibe. Or maybe that's just me...
Fishing Parlor

And the next place gave me a vibe akin to someone's crazy grandma finding a sale at Michael's on fake flowers and taping them to every single surface in the house she could possibly find.
Yes, at this point, pure & utter frustration was setting in. Until I broadened my search. If we're driving a gazillion hours to visit them, we might as well be happy with the place we stay, right? And what's another 15 minutes when your ass is already going to be numb? Exactly. No big deal! So... I expanded the search radius and found the perfect place. The description was a "luxury country inn." And after looking at pictures, they weren't kidding. (You know some fool would totally put that in the description line and then you click on the link and a picture of a lamb pops up and you find yourself booking a room in some child molester's basement.)
(I would totally insert a picture here, but their website only has a slideshow and I can't figure out how to capture an image! Woops!)
Alas, we found it! I emailed the proprietor immediately to check on the availability and she wrote me right back with good news. Sure, I never intended to drop $160+ a night on a hotel in rural Michigan, but really, it'll be worth it. After long days spent hanging out with the family, we'll be anxious to crawl into our own big king sized bed in our quiet room, overlooking a garden, with a giant spa shower awaiting us in the morning. Oh yeah, with a fresh, made-to-order breakfast. Dude... my grandma doesn't even offer that when I stay at her house!
I'll admit it; I wasn't exactly looking forward to the trip to Michigan. Puff hasn't exactly hyped it up to be the most exciting place in the world. And that long ass car ride makes me cringe. But when you get married, you learn to make sacrifices for the happiness of the other person. And so, with that being said, I'm completely willing to take this trip, since he does so many other things for me all the time.
But I've got to be honest... this swanky B&B certainly makes me dislike the trip a whole lot less.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Be Our Guest... But Preferably Not

Reason #1 why I'm not a fan of house guests: You can't live your life like you normally do.
Puff and I grew up very differently with regard to house guests. His house was full of out-of-town family members, foreign exchange students, and random people from church missions that needed a place to crash. On the other hand, I was lucky to ever have a friend spend the night for a slumber party when I was young. I distinctly remember a girl who came over in 5th grade and spent the night and the next morning, she wanted to take a shower. My parents wouldn't let her. That just infringed upon their unwritten rule that house guests were not really welcome and the thought of a person besides us in our shower just freaked them out.
And now that I have a house of my own... I totally get it.
Having a house guest, especially at The Bungalow, is an inconvenience and it drastically changes your normal routine. As someone who typically walks around all night in a t-shirt and no bra, I can't do that with a guest. As someone who must shower with the bathroom door open so not to get overheated, that's a very large problem with a guest. And as someone who typically gets ready every single day in the GUEST bedroom and has half my wardrobe in that room, having someone staying in that room makes me feel like a visitor in my own house. I have to pack up whatever I might need for the length of their stay and figure out where else I can do my make-up and fix my hair and get dressed. And it throws me off my game and I don't like it. Not to mention that guests don't come and ask if I need to pee before they commandeer our ONE bathroom all morning. And they all have a tendency to forget how small our house is and insist on staying up late and talking after I go to bed, except I can still hear every word! I have enough trouble sleeping as it is people! ::sigh::
I'm not saying I don't like visitors to come to town. I really don't mind having the in-laws in for a weekend and taking them around to do and see stuff and to catch up and spend time together. I just really wish they'd say good night at a certain point and drive to a hotel, rather than go into the next room. I don't like to be a house guest at other people's homes and therefore, I guess I just assume other people shouldn't like to be a house guest here. My parents don't ever stay here, and probably never will. Nor would they ever expect that to even be an option. I really am a good host though... there's always clean sheets, the house is spotless, towels are laid out on the bed so they don't have to go search for them, and sometimes I'll even sit out the cereal options and a fresh bowl for breakfast before they get to the kitchen.
I guess what Puff doesn't understand is that it's really an infringement of my ultimate comfort level. Since I'm not used to living that way, it's not something you can just automatically be OK with. I will say I'm completely fine if Kimhead or Rachel crash at the house. Why? Because there's years of friendship and comfort built into our relationship. They know me and how I function and they *WILL* come and ask if I have to pee before getting in the bathroom. But having to shower with the bathroom door open when the FIL is in town, is just a wee bit awkward. (OK, make that monumentally awkward!) I'm not trying to be rude or inhospitable about the whole issue, but I just wish Puff would understand my discomfort. Perhaps when we get a larger house with a second bathroom and the bedrooms more separated, I'll be better about the whole visiting policy. Although I'm pretty sure, deep down, the thought of a house guest will always make me cringe. (Thankfully over the years, I've managed to fake it pretty well!)
We had a great visit with the FIL recently, and I'm so glad he was able to come and visit. And I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that the MIL will probably still want to come visit even after we've turned the guest room into a nursery.
Think she'd be OK with us setting up the tent in the backyard? (Gosh that makes me smile! And I don't even have to fake it!)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Flash Bulb Friday

What is more quintessential Ireland than the Blarney Stone? Not much. Although the whole process of laying upside down over some 5 story death-plummet, held by a tiny wrinkly old man just to kiss a wall that thousands of other people have probably spit on, was just plain weird. But I never would have missed it. How do you go to Ireland and not kiss the Blarney Stone? That's like not having a Guiness while you're there. Oh, wait...
As I had previously mentioned a few weeks ago, we were in Ireland at the tail end of April, so it was still a bit chilly (definitely had to keep a sweater handy) but that also meant the hoardes of tour buses had yet to infiltrate the country. (We saw THREE buses the entire Ring of Kerry. We probably would've seen 300 had we been there in July!) That fact resonates in this picture... I have a photo of the Blarney Castle, one of the most visited places in the whole of the country, WITH NO PEOPLE IN IT! 
This photo makes me so happy that it's the background on my home computer. Not much can top a peaceful, beautiful day in the Irish country side. Especially when you have it practically to yourselves.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rock Out with your Bad Self

In case you haven't noticed, my life is a bit hectic. As in, crazy hectic. I rarely work a 40 hour week... meaning they're much longer than that. Heck, crazy busy important weeks sometimes yield a 60 hour week with no comp time to follow. (Gotta keep reminding myself that I love my job, right?) And then, outside of work, Puff and I make sure our lives stay full, enriched, and yes, busy. Our weekends are spent working on the house or traveling or hanging out with friends. Rest? What's that?
I don't even want to THINK about what life will be like once we add kids to the mix! Yikes!
And yes, sometimes all that crazy-busy-can't-stop-moving catches up with me. But I've learned over the years, since this whole ants-in-the-pants mentality isn't a new concept, how to just STOP. Even in the midst of anything and everything chaotic, you've got to take a second for yourself. Time to regain your strength and refocus and re-energize. And we all do that in different ways. My good friend, Rowdy, is an avid shopaholic. My other friend, Truck Stop Lizard, tends to hit up a bar with friends after a long day. And I know others who unwind with a good book & a glass of wine or who spend quality time with their husbands or who shut out the day by watching a mindless television show. ("Teen Mom 2", anyone?)
But what if you don't have time for that? What if there's just not a second to spare to pull out a book or pour a glass of wine or run to Target to buy something you don't need? A ha! I know those days. I know them all too well. So you know what I do? Well, besides occasionally pretending I have to pee at the office just so I can sit down and escape for 20 seconds? I sing. Yup. And I don't do it very well. How do I find time to sing in a crazy, hectic, long and insane day? Dude... you gotta get from place to place somehow, right? And it's not like I'm taking the city bus. Nope... I have my own personal car. And that comes with its own personal radio. A ha! And it even has an Ipod connector! Score!
I've mentioned before how much I love music. I will rock out to some Journey and then to some Godsmack. I know all the words to cheesy 80s Monster Ballads and know the chorus to a Ke$ha song or two. I drool over some Bon Jovi and Matchbox Twenty. And if it's been too nutty a day and I've come down with a headache, some James Blunt does the trick. And when I need that push of energy in the morning to get going, Shinedown, turned as loud as I can stand it. Oh yeah... and when days just totally suck at the end of them? Boston. "Peace of Mind" by Boston. Power chords, included. Air guitar, free of charge.
And that's the beauty of singing along to the music you love. There are so many types of music and so many ways to get it. And we've all got our favorites readily available. So, seriously, try it. Who cares if the person at the stoplight next to you thinks you're crazy when you're doing choreographed hand motions to "We Didn't Start the Fire?" They don't know you. (And if they do, you can just blame me. And if you're me, then people I know totally expect me to do stuff like that.) And for those of you who have kids in tow? Get them to join in! Some of my fondest memories of quality time with my parents was when it was just me and my mom or just me and my dad, driving home after work, jammin' to the radio.
I fully intend to pass that along to my kids as well. Here's hoping they're not as judgemental about my singing abilities as my husband.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Sunny Side

I so promise this is the last decorating update you'll get for awhile. At least until we get the bathroom painted and updated sometime hopefully in April. To be continued...
Anyway, the FIL was in town from Michigan this past weekend. (More on that later.) And with his pending arrival, I was cleaning frantically and making sure the house was in order. I had the house as perfect as I could get it with what we had. And that *should* have been good enough. But then, my stupid decorating bug hit me again, and I was convinced I could do a quick and cheap makeover to our sunroom. (Ya know, since the FIL cares about throw pillows and such!)
Here's what it looked like to start with...
It's perfectly fine, right? (Minus the chipped paint on the ceiling. I swear The Bungalow is a never-ending paint pit!) But yeah, I just wanted to jazz it up a little bit. I set my budget for $150. Mind you, I set this budget at about 10am on Thursday, when the FIL was arriving on Friday. Cue a frantic trip to TJ Maxx during my lunch break on Thursday. Cue an equally, if not more so, frantic trip to Target, 20 minutes the other direction, on the SAME lunch break since the first stop was a bust. SCORE! Target saved the day! (And I was only 15 minutes late getting back to work!)
::drumroll please::
I'm SOOOO happy with the changes! I had originally thought of a more turquoise color scheme, but I definitely got inspired by the World Market rug I had found online, and subsequently bought Thursday evening. Not bad for a 15 minute hurried dash through Target with the loudest cart in the world!
How did the budget break down?
Ottoman: $59.99
Placemat: $2.25
Large pillow: $24.99
Small pillow: $14.99
Lampshade: $7.99
Throw: FREE (gift from Grandma from Xmas)
Rug: $36.00 (Which was on sale PLUS a 10% off coupon I got for joining their rewards program!)
Total cost: $146.21
I'm pretty proud of myself, if you didn't notice! I always have thought I could create a cute room with minimal cost if just given an inspiration and motivation. A fairly blank slate didn't hurt either! And to toot my own horn for a second longer, I even had a friend email me with decorating questions! I totally hope she takes my advice... her bedroom would look stellar painted in a light sage green!
Until the big bathroom reveal, happy decorating!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Flash Bulb Friday

This photo just doesn't even do this place justice. It was the most GREEN place I have ever seen on this planet.
Farther along the Ring of Kerry (from last week's photo) we started to get into a more mountainous region between Kenmare and Killarney. Toward the bottom of it all, just outside Killarney National Park (or just inside?) was the Torc Waterfall. We had a short, easy hike to see the falls, but the pathway was just as impressive as the falls themselves.
Like I mentioned, I literally have never seen anything so green in my entire life. The moss covered the ground and the trees. There were ferns and other plants growing everywhere.It was a color overload sensation. It felt unreal.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Scrap It Up

There's something to be said about being around my people.
Yes, I have people. (I'll give you a moment to laugh.)
OK... now did you hear me saying it with a snooty accent and my nose raised? If not, I'll give you another minute.
So who are my people? Well, to be honest, I feel like I'm a bit on the fringes of my people. I'm not as addicted as some nor am I as creative as others. Regardless, scrapbookers are awesome.
Yes, this hardcore, tough girl who loves football and rum likes to scrapbook. And I have for years. I got started after a girl's whirlwind trip around Europe during college. It basically was just a bunch of maps and ticket stubs grouped with some photos, but it got me hooked. However, I didn't really start getting into it until I met Puff. Ah ha! He's the reason I scrapbook! So there bucko - now you can't fault me for my scrapbook spending! (In reality, that was just the time when digital photography got super cool and therefore, expensive and unnecssary to print every picture.) So, my decision was to make a scrapbook for each year, highlighting the highlights.
I started the first annual book in 2008, and have subsequently cut and removed any photos that contained the ex in the first month of that year. By the end of the year, the book was HUGE. All those trips to the mountains and fantasy dates with Puff yielded a lot of mementos. By 2009, I knew how to scale back on the main book... and made separate books for my 2008 cruise and my 2009 trip to Ireland. 2010 yielded even more with a honeymoon book and a wedding one too. Yes, you can feel free to judge, but when I am sitting in my rocking chair on my front porch in 40 years, I'll be super happy I have them to flip through while you don't! (Don't worry, I'll share. You can look back at my life with me. As long as you don't leave any dirty or sticky fingerprints.)
But back to "my people." I stopped at a scrapbook store recently to pick up a few sheets of fun paper and the ladies in there were NUTS. Fantastically, wonderfully nutty. They were comparing notes and techniques and talking about crinkling paper and then hand-dying it. Wow... I'm lucky to even own scissors that cut funky lines! Yes, I do wish that all my pages were super cool and fun like this:
or this:
But they're much more tame. I'm still all about cutting and pasting some maps and embellishing with a ripped ticket stub. Hey, they might not have THAT character, but they've got their own style. And until I grow tired of the effort, I'm sticking with it. Just don't expect me to sit around a table in a back room of a store with "my people."
Those people are weird.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Swanky Romance

As you know by now, Puff and I stay super busy. So when we had the opportunity to book a romantic getaway for just the two of us to relax and unwind, we jumped at the chance. It had been since last July that we'd been out of town and not had family or friends along for the ride. So this past weekend, we hopped in the car and drove to Highlands, North Carolina. Now, if you know anything at all about that part of the world, it's fully of snooty, fancy-pants people, expensive restaurants, and hoity-toity shops selling Armani clothes. Perfect, right? Ha!

Anyway, we booked a room at the ultra-swanky Old Edwards Inn & Spa and planned to take full advantage of the experience. It's a AAA 4 diamond rated hotel and was ranked by Conde Nast Traveler as the top hotel spa in the entire USA for 2010. What that means it that even in the off season, we plopped down over $200 a night for their most basic room. And it wasn't even at the actual inn in town! It was at their "Lodge" which was a few blocks off Main Street.

We got into town early enough to enjoy lunch (shrimp & scallop burger, anyone?) and check out some shops ($52 ceramic gnome, anyone?) and while we were having fun with it all, the temps plummeted and the rain continued to fall. We looked and felt like drowned rats! So I made the suggestion to see if our room was ready about 2 hours earlier than check-in. And what a brilliant idea that turned out to be! When we made it to the lodge (instead of the inn, remember) we were offered a glass of champagne. And then I heard the most brilliant words ever... "You've been upgraded to one of our suites."

It was music to our wet (and sick) ears!

Once we got inside, it was as if Puff and I had never stayed anywhere nicer than a Red Roof Inn! Let's see... what did it have? A foyer. Yup, our hotel room had a foyer. The living room had a fireplace that regulated itself to come on and off to regulate the temperature. And there were waters and cookies left for us, with a little note with our names on it. The bedroom had a flat screen TV and fluffy king sized bed with cathedral ceilings. There was a walk-in closet and a dressing room. And the bathroom. Oh, the bathroom!

Not only was the place rocking this amazing whirlpool tub (which we took full advantage of later that night) but it also had a spa shower, dual sinks, a separate toilet area, AND heated floors! From there, we ventured outside to our own private screened in porch... which lead to our own private garden & patio area!

Unfortunately, the rain prevented us from enjoying our outside space, but that didn't mean we didn't take full advantage of everything inside! After an amazing fancy-pants dinner (parmesan & rosemary encrusted chicken with a lemon caper butter sauce, anyone?) we came back to find the room turned down for the night...

Sure, we've had turn down service before, but I've never had it come with your own slippers. Or peanut butter fudge on the pillows! Heaven! The next morning, Puff sat in the living room, reading our complimentary New York Times, wearing his slippers by the fire. I curled up in the giant bed, under a down comforter, and listened to the birds and the rain.

What a wonderfully romantic weekend... coughs & sniffles aside.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Flash Bulb Friday

I've decided that the month of March is going to be "Flash Bulb Fridays from Ireland" in celebration of St. Patty's day! My first major international trip with Puff was to Ireland in April/May of 2009. We got a spectacular deal on a package that included airfare, rental car, and vouchers for bed & breakfasts all over the country. I spent hours and hours researching (and creating a spreadsheet) for the route we wanted to take, how to get from place to place, which B&B to contact, and what was cool to see in each city.
The third day we were in the Emerald Isle, we embarked on our first leg of the famed Ring of Kerry. One of my favorite stops on the entire 10 day trip was the little village of Cahersiveen. It hadn't been a very planned out day and when we stumbled across this adorable, colorful "main street" we had to stop. We wandered along a little river and had delicious pastries from a local bakery. We checked out a little church and then hopped in the car to drive across the river to the ruins of Ballycarberry Castle.
We had seen all of one mention of this place in a guidebook, and it was a small mention, but the above photo just proved to me how fantastic the unexpected can be when you're traveling. We never intended to stumble across this gem, but after driving tiny back roads through someone's farm and then trudging through mud to check it out, I finally found the Ireland I had hoped to find.
And it was amazing.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I've Caught the Decorating Bug

I never intended for this to turn into a decorating blog. And I promise it won't stay that way. I blame my OCD. Or rather, the "O" part of my personality that gets me stuck on one topic and I can't shake it until another, more shiny topic comes along. I suppose I could be writing about fashion or baby names or sex toys instead. (Remind me to totally write a blog about sex toys!)
Anyway... after my mantle obsession, which was momentarily fixed by ordering a vase from West Elm, some dried florwers from Michael's, and a promise from Puff of buying something super cool in Scandinavia to fill in the center, I let it go. But my focus shifted to our bookshelf in the hallway instead. It had been very much a "bachelor" organized bookshelf, with just a few things of mine that I crammed on the shelf when I moved in. And after plopping down our very cool new rug from West Elm (that store is newly dangerous to my wallet) I thought it needed a makeover.
So, here's what we started with... (Not sure why the pic is fuzzy!)
It just didn't have that magazine or catalog pizzazz that I wanted it to have. (Again, I totally want my shelves to look like the professionally arranged ones in a Pottery Barn catalog.) So, one day on my lunch break, I began the process of moving things around to see what looked best. A new tray from World Market and 2 new frames from Michael's and a long lunch break later, this is what I created...
And yes, I did stand there for a few minutes admiring my work... and nit-picking it as well. I'm still not 100% sure about the Cowboys book on the third shelf, but I felt like I needed some height on that shelf and it was what I had that worked best. So, for now, my "O" is satisifed with this project.
I wonder what we'll latch on to next??????

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

It's All Asia's Fault

Sorry I've been MIA for a few days. I place the blame solely on Joy of Tokyo.

Sunday night, Puff and I got back from being out of town, and we swung by for some quick fast-food hibachi. (More on our trip later.) It always upsets my stomach a little bit. But it's never anything an hour of groaning on the couch plus a handful of tums can't handle. This time, it was a bit different.

I woke up about an hour after lying down for bed and felt icky. I sent Puff into bed and set up camp in the guest room, so I could watch TV. Except about an hour later, I got that overwhelmingly sick feeling. And every hour, on the hour, all night long, I was making very good friends with the porcelain throne. And Puff? Don't worry... he got a good night's sleep since he slept through all but my first episode.

Round about 7am, I finally sent him out to get crackers, Sprite, and Gatorade. I was seriously dehydrated. He also forced me to take one of his prescription strength anti-nausea pills he had gotten last time he was sick. I'm thankful that he did, since I never got sick again, although I felt queasy the rest of the day. The pill also knocked me out, so I was able to sleep most of the day, and went down for the night around 7:30pm.

I woke up this morning not feeling sick to my stomach, which was a total blessing. Except I'm still feeling tired and a bit light-headed. The sinus headache and back pain aren't helping the situation any. I've popped pills for those and have been taking it easy this morning so far. I called in for a 1/2 day of work, so I've still got a few hours to lounge around and hopefully start to feeling a bit better on that front. I've never had food poisoning before, but I'm pretty confident that's what this was. And you can better believe I won't ever be going to Joy of Tokyo ever again!

The silver lining in all of this? I lost 3 pounds.