Saturday, April 28, 2012

Saturdays Are for Weddings: 22 Weeks

Weddings are supposed to be all about the fun little details, right? Well, no, weddings are *supposed* to be about the commitment of two people to one another. It sure seems like that "little" fact gets lost in the To Do Lists and the party planning and the sorting out of a hundred little decisions every time I turn around, though. For the most part, planning a wedding is fun, I guess. Until it's not. Until the first time in this whole process that I completely psych myself out.

I hate to disappoint people. It's a fundamental piece of who I am. I would rather "go without" or compromise my own preferences than to put someone else out. That may the core reason why I rarely entertain. Really, only those in my closest circle visit me where I live. People for whom I am certain I can provide and relaxing and enjoyable visit. People that are comfortable enough to walk over to my refrigerator for something to drink and not be offended if I don't catch their empty glass in time to do it myself. People who will take me seriously when I say "the snacks are here and here and here so please rifle through any time you're feeling munchy," because I mean it. I am a grazer and there is nothing worse than being a little hungry when you're in someone else's home and not being able to grab a snack when you need one.

I digress. Wedding planning. It has become startlingly obvious to me that attending a wedding comes with expectations on the part of the guests. And I am asking nearly *all* of our guests to do some traveling if they wish to attend. And now I am starting to put pressure on myself. What if the party I am capable of putting together falls short in their eyes? What if they travel all this way and feel...short-changed? I don't believe very many would ever reveal it to *me*...and that worries me too, because I may be disappointing people AND NOT EVEN BE AWARE and that right there is going to be the subject of several nightmares over the next five months, mark my words.

And, holy cow, this whole thing just really weighed me down this past week. Is it even normal for the "cold feet" to have nothing to do with the ceremony and everything to do with the reception?

The bottom line is that I have an exact vision of what I want, and it's enough for me. (And thankfully, T, who has just been the right amount of agreeable with what I say and offering opinions when he needs to.) But sometimes I pause and I wonder what everyone else is expecting, and if what is enough for me will come up short for them. And then I feel badly for thinking that this carefully selected group of people, people I love dearly, people who have seen me through some of my worst days, would be anything other than happy to celebrate this day for what it is.

See? I've done it. I've pysched myself out. Brains need off-switches.

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Friday, April 27, 2012

In which I wish I were lying under a tree.

I was puttering on Facebook, and one of the companies I "like" there (Aveeno) posed the following question: "It's Arbor Day! What's your favorite type of tree and why?" I very nearly added this to my arsenal of "20 Questions" ideas, but then I thought that perhaps I would like to give this one a bit more thought than just a rapid-fire, quick response.

I love trees. A yard entirely devoid of them always feels vacant and lonely to me. Despite all my grousing when I lived in the apartment (let me refresh your memory: two windows in the apartment, facing directly into the trunks of mature trees, made me feel as if we were cave dwellers), I loved them too. They shaded my apartment through the long (looooong) Summer months, keeping my electric bill a little lower. They provided privacy and protection (except when I worried, during particularly violent thunder storms, that they would drop one of their hefty limbs on my roof--and subsequently my head). I loved watching the squirrels race through and around them, and catching glimpses of hawks, owls and woodpeckers perched on their branches. So many reasons to love a tree.

But to pick just one? (Have we met before? Do I ever pick just one favorite anything?)

I recently shared how I feel about the magnificent sequoias.

I've sung the praises of orange trees. In March, their sweet, white blossoms perfume my whole world with their heavenly fragrance. I am not even joking when I say that I stand in my wide-open windows or stop dead in my tracks outdoors to breathe their scent deep into myself, trying to burn it into my soul. I get this mental image like I am a cartoon and if I inhaled enough, I would suck everything around me into my head. (Which is weird, because surely that would cause some congestion, but I never claimed I was normal, so there you have it.) But they aren't my only favorite trees.

There are the stately evergreens. I love them in the winter, edged in snow. Though they quietly blended into the background most of the year, during the drab New England winter, with its muted neutral palette, they became a more obvious pop of color, but when it would snow, they would transform into the stuff of Christmas card images, the sparkling puffs of white like garland, their needles shimmering with a frosting of ice. And when the snow fell heavy, driven by icy gusts of wind, one whole side would be coated in white diamonds, looking so much like the branches Gram would flock for decorating her home.

I have long been fascinated with the cherry trees in Washington DC. One day, I would love to see them proclaiming "It's Spring!!" (I imagine them with cheerful voices, like cousins to the Easter lily.) (I am starting to wonder if I should maybe stop sharing my imagination, before you start thinking I spend my evenings pretending to be the caterpillar from Alice's Wonderland...Ahem. I don't. I swear.)

Another harbinger of spring that I always found so lovely were the dogwoods. We had one in our front yard, right next to our driveway, when I was growing up. Every spring, it would flower. Its petals were creamy, edges tinged with the softest pink, like the color inside a bunny's ears. With each gentle breeze, a shower of petals would flutter to the ground. My dad would grumble (Lord only knows what adult aggravation this may have caused, but my child's mind knew nothing of such things, so my memory remains innocent) but I still dream of planting one in my own yard.

Gram and Gramp had a pair of white birch trees in their front yard, and I was always drawn to their uniqueness. The ringed stripes. The narrow trunks. The way their soft bark would peel away in strips. The golden leaves in the autumn. But what struck me most was how, no matter the amount of snow and ice Mother Nature heaped on them, they would just bend gracefully beneath the burden. Sometimes their tops would bend all the way down to the ground, but when the wintry mix would melt, they would bounce right back up toward the sky. It amazed me that they never snapped in two or were any worse for the wear.

And then there is the more ambiguous "Autumn in New England," when I love all the trees in their symphony of color. Hues from soft brown to flaming red, golds and oranges, varying in vibrancy, the whole world on fire with warm colors. One last joyful blast before the hibernation of winter. Leaves ablaze overhead. Leaves crunching underfoot. Big old shade trees, under which I whiled away the summer afternoons, and wee-but-spunky saplings all joining in the game. One of the things I miss most about no longer living in the northeast.

Happy Arbor Day, friends. Today, I am going to be thankful for trees.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

20 Questions: April 24, 2012

1. Have you ever ridden in a limo?
A few times. At least three times for weddings (that I can recall). Once for my senior prom. Once for my friend, Gosia's, bachelorette party. And I think I rode in one from the church to the cemetery following my Gram's funeral...?

2. When is the last time you slept at someone else's home?
This past December when I visited Nichole and Daniel.

3. What was the last thing you spilled?
It scares me a little that I can't think of anything, which means I am overdue. Now I'm going to be paranoid every time I drink my evening glass of grape juice, because that stuff stains.

4. Would you rather have a nanny, a housekeeper, a cook, or a chauffeur?
I have no use for a nanny. I just don't think I could get used to having a housekeeper (I had one for a little while when I lived in a furnished apartment and I cleaned before she arrived--defeats the purpose, no?). I like to cook and T easily does at least half the cooking anyway. I could do without the hassles of driving though, so it appears the winner is chauffeur.

5. What is your favorite holiday cookie?
Nichole makes these really awesome cookies.


6. Name the best television sit-com.
Currently airing new episodes: The Big Bang Theory. Ever? Friends. Honorable mention: Frasier and Everybody Loves Raymond.

7. Do you have a love/hate relationship with anyone?
Carl Crawford (Red Sox - great effort...and then he starts speaking).

8. How good are you at keeping secrets?
The best. I am a vault.

9. What was the mode of transit for your last trip?
Airplane.

10. Five foods I refuse to eat:
Bananas. Spam. Bologna. Lamb. Veal.

11. Do you have a short fuse?
Not at all. In fact, I probably should reach my limit long before I actually do. However, if you push me far enough to reach it? There's a mighty explosion.

12. The only thing better than a cookie is:
A whole box of them! Or See's...

13. What do you usually order when you go out for breakfast?
I always check to see if they have waffles. If not, then either a veggie omelet or the very standard scrambled eggs, toast and either (crispy) bacon or hashbrowns.

14. What color is your car?
White.

15. Someone holds out a box containing a dozen donuts, offering you one. Which one do you choose? What was your second choice?
Unless they are Dunkin, I'm probably not interested. If they are though, Apple and Spice is always my first choice. Second would be either, Chocolate Glazed, Lemon-Filled, Chocolate Frosted or an Old Fashioned. (Oh come on. I picked a favorite. Asking me to pick a second choice, there was no choice I could limit it to one.)

16. What is your favorite kind of muffin?
The pumpkin muffin from Dunkin that they only sell in the autumn.

17. Do you get distracted easily?
I can't even joke about this. I am very easily distracted much of the time. And the more mentally taxed I feel, the more susceptible I am. Unless I'm watching the Red Sox.

18. Have you ever been so mad that you cried?
This is one of things that annoys me most about myself. When I get really ticked off, I cry, which makes me *more* mad, and well, vicious circle, as you can see.

19. What websites do you visit on a regular basis?
Gmail. Facebook. Google Reader. Blogger. Google Docs. Picasa Web Albums. Twitter (via Tweetdeck). Miso. My bank. TV.com. Goodreads. Mint. ESPN Fantasy Sports. Pinterest. The Knot (that's where my wedding planning checklist is).

20. If you could have personally witnessed one event in history, what would you want to have seen?
Either the birth of Christ, the first Easter morning at the tomb, or the creation of the Declaration of Independence.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Menu Plan Monday: April 23, 2012

Monday: We had a dozen eggs in the refrigerator (because we always have eggs on hand) and T suggested egg salad sandwiches. Sometimes a light, easy dinner is the way to go.

Tuesday: T is going to make some fish sandwiches so we can use up the last of the buns from last week's burgers. I have been craving some fresh summer squash. And since we had half a head of cabbage leftover from last week, I asked T if he would shred it up for me so I could try my hand at homemade cole slaw.

Wednesday: I am going to try the Creamy Pesto Stuffed Shells again. This time hopefully without all the drama. We almost always have a salad and some garlic bread with pasta, so we likely will with this as well. That's just how we roll here.

Thursday: Grilled ham and cheese sandwiches. We haven't had them in ages and they are so yummy...and easy.

Friday: T is going to marinate some chicken to grill, and we'll steam some fresh broccoli and have some wild rice on the side.

Saturday: We don't know what we'll feel like. Maybe we'll go have dinner out somewhere.

Sunday: Breaded bay scallops and some Mini Farfalle with Tomatoes and Corn.

Notes from last week's menu: We followed the menu exactly, although I realized I need to add the recipe T uses for the cabbage.

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Saturdays Are for Weddings: 23 Weeks

I was so excited when September 30 fell on a Friday in 2011...until I remembered that 2012 had a Leap Year, causing September 30 to jump over Saturday to Sunday.

Why the fascination with September 30?

My beloved Gram and Gramp were married on September 30, 1940. I thought I would get the opportunity to honor these two amazing people, who were a model marriage from which to learn, by making my own vows 72 years later. Alas (aside: the word 'alas' does not get used nearly enough!), the calendar would not cooperate, and due to the fact that nearly all our guests will be traveling to attend, one day shy of September 30 will have to do.

I only wish my Gram and Gramp were still here to share in this day. Instead, I will feel them in my heart and know they are looking down on me, and I will find small ways to weave small tributes to their memories into this day.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Small.

This past December, I visited my friends, Nichole and Daniel, in California between Christmas and New Year. They took me to Sequoia National Forest to see the trees. And while you might not think there is anything truly noteworthy about trees on a mountain, it's taken me nearly four months to put it into words.

We spend a lot of time worrying about things we can't control, things that feel overwhelming. We spend a lot of time rushing around, making mountains out of molehills. We spend a lot of time focused on self, but not really looking inward, not really seeing ourselves. Our priorities often get skewed. Our thoughts often get sidetracked. We feel like these moments we live in are enormous and pivotal, and we whirl through our days, not taking the time to see more than the blur rushing past.

Here in this forest, even with many people present, it is hushed. There is a stillness. And with the stillness, comes peace. Because when you stand at the base of these giants, gazing up and up...and up even more, you can't stop the quiet gasp of awe. It happened to me each time I stopped and looked heavenward, to the faraway tops of trees that seemed to touch the sky. I took hundreds of photos, attempting to capture the feeling, but I've come to believe it just isn't possible, because a photo, no matter how large you make it, is never going to duplicate the largeness, and it is in the largeness that the secret lies. Even the trees who have fallen, victim to time and the elements, still tower over heads, the trunk bases and roots with wide circumference, long trunks stretching away into the woods for hundreds of feet.

We started out on the General Sherman Trail.  General Sherman is the largest volume living tree on Earth. That statement means very little in print, mostly because I just don't believe it is possible to imagine the reality without standing beneath it. What gave me even more pause, though, was coming to the realization that I was standing in the shadow of a tree that was already between 300 and 700 years old when Christ was born, and still thriving. It humbled me. I keep trying to elaborate on it, but the truth is as simple and pure as that. It humbled me.

We continued wandering among these regal giants along the Congress Trail. There is no racing among the sequoias. The altitude steals your breath, forces a slower, more deliberate pace.

So I walked, taking it all in. Marveling as I passed beneath a fallen tree. Stopping to enjoy a handful of snow. Taking in the sight of The Congress and The Senate. Standing solitary or in dignified clusters, these trees are magnificent and astoundingly beautiful.

Most poignant for me were the trees scarred by fires. The trunks are blackened, some with spaces burned clear through, large enough for a man to pass through with ease. They stand tall, strong, defying the fury of fires. Fires which ravage nearly everything. And yet these trees, they survive. They go on as if it didn't happen, more of their mass unaffected and alive than the parts that bear evidence, even when those very parts dwarf a grown person. What's more, these trees *need* the fires. Without them, they would eventually cease to exist. Only the heat of the fires is capable of opening the cones, releasing the tiny seeds from which these giants grow. It's a lot to ponder. Not being consumed by the events assumed to devour you. Holding yourself proud, head held high, even as the scars show what's been endured. Seeing that being held to ferocious heat can be the key to growth and new life, that sometimes that is the only way these may come about.

So many lessons lie among these rich, red trunks, their green branches a serene canopy overhead. Lessons to be learned in the hushed stillness, surrounded by important reminders of how fleeting our lives, what specks we are within the scope of a much grander world, spanning space and time.

There is much to be gained from feeling small.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I Want Wednesday: April 18, 2012

**This artist is so awesome, she is booked all the way through 2012. I think these custom illustrated home portraits are wonderful. I Want one of our new house and one of my Gram and Gramp's house. I bet they would look awesome hanging in the hallway, surrounded by framed photos, new and old, of us and our loved ones.


**I keep trying to envision what the den will look like. A combination of cozy and functional. It's not crystallizing in my mind quite yet, but I know that, over the desk, I Want four or six squares for posting and pinning various things. I think a couple like this would be perfect, since you can use pins or magnets. Still not sure what the others would be. It's a work-in-progress in my head.

**I Want this bracelet from Ann Taylor. It would match with, like, a third of my wardrobe. I could actually justify an accessory that would go with more than one outfit. However, I am using all my spare pennies for a wedding, so no fun splurges for me. (And yes, I do consider "$65-on-sale" to be a splurge.)


**I haven't had a non-weekend day off since New Year. I Want to be sitting right here with a book and my iPod.


**I Want one of those necklaces. But not only are they a bit above what I'm willing to spend, they are also sold out online and only available in stores now. I don't even care which color. They are just so happy!


**Now that we finally have a house, I spend an inordinate amount of time daydreaming about how I'd like to decorate it. In today's musing, I Want to use a set of these Red and Gold Ceramic Pillar Holders, a Glass Luster Vase with an Iron Stand, and a couple Amber Luster Scroll Hurricanes in the living room, thanks to a sale email I received from Pier 1.




**Our new couch and loveseat came with throw pillows but they aren't really my favorite pattern. I Want new ones eventually. I think either of these -- the Aari Embroidered Flowers or the Brown Aviva -- would look really nice with the colors in the room. (They're from Pier 1 as well. Drat that email!)



**I have no idea where I would possibly fit them, but these Coastal Mosaic Hurricanes would go really well with the look I Want for the hall bathroom.


**I have a couple of these Perfect Tanks from J Jill, and they don't lie. They *are* perfect and I love them. They layer so well. I Want some more! Maybe in Apricot, Celery, Leaf, Phlox and Shale.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Menu Plan Monday: April 16, 2012

Monday: There just a little bit of sauerkraut left in the jar, so we're going to have some hot dogs, with some baked beans (I'm partial to Bush's Boston Style) and some Zesty Potato Salad.

Tuesday: I'm going out to dinner with a friend so T will fend for himself.

Wednesday: We're going with the old-school classic: spaghetti and meatballs, with a salad and some garlic bread. As a side note, I've been buying pre-made frozen meatballs, which are tasty and convenient, but I am determined to make and freeze my own when this bag is done. I'm tired of paying for convenience on something that really cannot be that difficult.

Thursday: T is going to grill some burgers and we're going to have some corn on the cob and more Creamy Cucumbers, because they were such a tasty side dish last week.

Friday: T requested Tortellini Florentine Soup. Some warm crusty bread, maybe a little salad. Nice light yummy dinner.

Saturday: T has dinner plans so I'm going to either eat up some leftovers and find something to cook on the fly.

Sunday: Pork steaks, some boiled potatoes (a little butter, a dash of salt--maybe my favorite way to have potatoes!) and some cabbage (T had a craving).

Notes from last week's menu: We ate all the meals on our menu, but we shuffled Friday's meal to Saturday, Sunday's meal to Friday, and then ate leftovers on Sunday.

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Saturdays Are for Weddings: 24 Weeks

I cannot even believe there are only 24 weeks left until the wedding. That is pure craziness. CRAZY, I TELL YOU.

The details are falling nicely into place, despite the distance. The ideas in my head are translating into reality. This pleases me tremendously. I knew, very early on, that I wanted a healthy dose of originality blended with tradition. I wanted this day to be deeply meaningful, but not cliched. For it to be fun, memorable. For people to be caught a little off-guard, and then nod slowly, realizing they are not at all surprised. And yet there are many traditional elements I want as well.

When I saw my save-the-dates, I *knew* I had to have them. I fell immediately in love with them. Every time I returned to the page, I grinned. They are the perfect little preview to this wedding. (I'll let you ponder that.) A little voice in my head thought people might think they were silly. But then I thought about the people who would be receiving them and remembered that (other than T's family) not a single one of them wouldn't laugh, because, well, they *know* me.

The reactions that came in were perfect. The joy, the excitement...the affirmation that the guest list was well-chosen. I have one on the table next to me, where I sit in the evenings. It still makes me smile.

A wedding reminds you again and again: Listen to your heart.

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

I am not.

I am not a fan of the color yellow, even though it makes me smile, because it was Gram's favorite color and it makes me think of her.

I am not unable to make decisions. I am unable to make "unimportant" decisions. Like where to eat. What movie to watch. Which pair of shoes to buy. Put a big decision in front of me, though, and I know exactly what I need to do.

I am not a pushover just because I am quiet.

I am not able to tolerate people who laugh at me condescendingly. Don't get me wrong. I can and do laugh at myself. Often. And I invite you to join the chuckle. But if your laugh implies you are somehow putting me down? I'm moving on. Because mean isn't funny.

I am not going to shop at Walmart again, if I can help it. I loathe that store for so many reasons.

I am not "just a receptionist." If I were, I would just be answering phones and directing traffic. I wish that was the scope of my responsibilities every time I hear someone call me "just the receptionist."

I am not going to root for "the local team." No matter how long I live here.My body changed location, my loyalty did not.

I am not above the silent treatment. Chalk it up as me practicing the adage "If you don't have anything nice to say..."

I am not ever going to stop believing in Santa Claus, watching Charlie Brown holiday specials or getting excited over going to a Disney Park. My inner child is alive and well. It's one piece of the secret to my happiness.

I am not perfect. But every day, I try harder to be a better person than I was yesterday.

I am not the sad stories from my past, but the sum of each passing phase of my life, composed of the minutes filled with the sunshine and blessings of laughter and love. These, which far outweigh the storm clouds and fill the once shadowed spaces with light, are what define me. A faint scar is not who I am, but what I have overcome.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

If it's good enough for them...


A while back, I tagged a bunch of fellow bloggers to answer some questions. I was thinking it's only fair I answer them myself!

1. You have been awarded the time off from work and an all-expenses paid week anywhere in the United States. The catch is that it must be somewhere you have not been before. Where do you choose to visit?
Hands down, Hawaii. Every time I see photos of it, it looks so amazingly beautiful. I would love to relax there, walk on the beach, play with my camera...

2. Name three of your guilty pleasures.
Magazines - there's something about the non-commitment of a magazine, the fact that you can pick it up and put it down whenever the mood strikes you and not have to worry you'll forget what happens if a long time passes before you pick it up again. Yankee Candles - my inability to choose just a couple leads to an obscene stash of votives in the closet, but they all smell so wonderful and I just can't help but to restock with the new scents that come out each season. Cafe World - It is a silly game on Facebook but it allows me to interact with some of my friends on a nearly daily basis and interaction with friends is never a bad thing.

3. The best kind of Girl Scout Cookie is:
Thin Mints are great, especially chilled. And I love the simplicity of Trefoils (shortbread is so underrated!). But if I had to choose just one to to have for the rest of my life, it would have to be Tagalongs. I am powerless to the lure of peanut butter and chocolate.

4. What do you value most in other people?
Accountability. As the years go by, more and more, I find that accountability is the root of all the other characteristics I value. When people are accountable, they make the effort to nurture their relationships. They don't make promises they won't try their very best to keep. They show up and they don't bail out. They own their choices, good or bad, without making excuses. They realize the importance of sincerity, of kindness, of hard work. When I look at those I choose to fill my life now, each of them is accountable, and they are all awesome people.

5. Be honest. Do you sneak some raw cookie dough when you're baking cookies?
I really don't. The texture just doesn't appeal to me. I prefer cookies warm & chewy from the oven.

6. Have you ever looked back at your life and realized that something you thought was a bad thing was actually a blessing in disguise?
Plenty of times. Some big, some (in retrospective) small. It doesn't always show itself right away. Or maybe that sometimes it just takes a while before we're ready to see it. I don't necessarily think bad things happen "for a reason" but I do believe good things can come from the bad, whether it's a lesson I learn about myself, the new strength I gain as a result of enduring, or an unbelievable gift that I wouldn't have been able to receive otherwise.

7. What is the most beautiful place you've ever visited?
Sequoia National Forest is awe-inspiring. Autumn in New England is glorious. But the most beautiful thing I have ever seen is the Pacific Ocean.

8. Are you more of a thinker or a feeler? 
I'm not sure how exactly to answer this. I am a thinker, but I often find myself thinking about my feelings...

9. Name three things you are thankful for right now.
My fiance, who is thoughtful, funny, protective, responsible, and smarter than he gives himself credit for. My friends - I have, absolutely, the greatest group of friends a girl could ask for, people who listen when I'm ready to talk, jump at the chance to celebrate with me, and they make me laugh all the time. This life - and I am not just saying that. I look around at all I have and I get so overwhelmed with gratitude, because there was a time, not that long ago, that I thought I would never reach this place.

10. Have you ever participated in a three-legged race?
Many many years ago, at the annual church picnic. To this day, I have no idea how I didn't injure myself, given my lack of...errr...grace.

11. When you are at an event that plays the National Anthem, do you place your hand over your heart?
Absolutely. And I keep my eyes on the flag. And I sing along. And I get very very annoyed by people who keep their hats on or don't stand up or who talk through the whole thing. No wonder the rest of the world thinks we're spoiled, self-centered, arrogant brats.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tangled.

There are many things I don't understand. Math. How machinery works. What all those lines on the ice mean in hockey. Add this to the list:



I've been using Aveeno shampoo and conditioner for a couple of years now. It gets my hair clean. It smells really good. And my personal preference, the "Living Color" formula, really does preserve and prolong the life of my highlights. It must be popular, though, because sometimes its little spot on the shelves at Target or CVS are forlorn and empty, little tumbleweeds rolling through, for weeks at a time. And if my backup supply is running on empty--I try to stock up when they run sales, but it doesn't really go on sale that often, and occasionally I find myself coaxing the last remnants of product from the bottle desperately, shaking it furiously and pounding it against the palm of my hand--leaving me with no choice but to stop somewhere that day for new bottles and finding myself in a situation where I must "settle" for a different formula.

I've made do with "moisturize," "volumize," and "strengthen" formulas at various times in the past. My hair was still clean. The products still smelled nice. The only thing I lost was the protection for my highlights. (And yes, they really did fade more quickly. Having short hair with a naturally dark color makes it easy for me to tell how quickly my blonde highlights start to fade.) I digress. My point is that I had no real complaints about any formula I've tried when my preference is out of stock. So when I picked up some from the "Pure Renewal" line, I was unconcerned. I was out of shampoo and conditioner, and this was on the shelf.

I swear to you, I do not know what happens with this shampoo when I put it on my hair--it looks the same, it has a scent I would expect from an Aveeno haircare product--but the second I apply it to my wet hair and start to work up a lather, my hair turns into one giant tangled knot. At first, I thought it was the result of a day I had used more styling product than usual in my hair, but it has happened on days I've stayed home and given my hair a rest from all styling implements and goo. Then I thought that maybe my longer hair style was getting more snarled while I slept, but even if I brush my hair right before jumping into the shower, it still tangles up when I start working the shampoo into it.

I don't mean it gets a little tangled and I can work through it either. The more I touch my hair, the worse it gets. To the point that I can't even run my fingers through the smallest section to disentangle the knots. Nothing helps, not rinsing it, not attempting to "comb" it with my fingers, not lathering the shampoo in my hands before applying it to my head--and my hair is not the type that is prone to tangling at all, even when I ride in the car with the windows down. The only thing that fixes the issue is applying the conditioner. Suddenly, tangle-free! Like magic. Which is great except...I don't feel like I ever really get to wash my hair properly because of the knots that form when I start to lather it. It *acts* like it's clean, but mentally? I don't know. It just doesn't feel like I've given it a good scrubbing.

Thank God this bottle is more than half gone. It's too early in the morning to find myself baffled and it's ruining the zen of my beautiful bathroom. But seriously. What is the deal with this shampoo??

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Monday, April 9, 2012

Menu Plan Monday: April 9, 2012

Monday: T is improvising some lettuce wraps. I wish I could wing a meal off the top of my head but I need a recipe.

Tuesday: Kielbasa, sauerkraut and pierogies. We have some kraut and sour cream that will need to be used, so two birds, one stone, right here.

Wednesday: T requested my Meatloaf Patties, and when someone compliments a meal you make the way he does this one, you make it whenever they ask. (Mashed potatoes and French-cut green beans on the side.)

Thursday: Barbecue chicken with some corn and some Creamy Cucumbers. I was really just craving the salad, so we constructed the rest of the meal around that.

Friday: We have leftover ham from Easter dinner, which means it gets followed by a round of Scalloped Potatoes and Ham.

Saturday: Leftover Roulette. As in: maybe we'll have some...maybe we won't.

Sunday: Stuffed chicken from the freezer. Maybe some noodles or rice, haven't decided yet.

Notes from last week's menu: Last Wednesday's new recipe needs some...something. The sauce was too sticky. The pasta was too much for the dish. We needed different veggies. I may attempt this one again (with some milk to thin the sauce, a smaller "shaped" pasta, more veggies, fresh this time)...and I may not. The rest of the week went according to plan. We even had plenty of leftovers, enough to cover both of Saturday's meals!

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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Today, the angels ask "Why do you look for the living among the dead?"



He lives triumphant from the grave
He lives eternally to save
He lives all glorious in the sky
He lives exalted there on high
("I Know That My Redeemer Lives," v 2)


Now all the vault of heav'n resounds
In praise of love that still abounds
"Christ has triumphed! He is living!"
Sing choirs of angels, loud and clear!
Repeat their song of glory here
"Christ has triumphed! Christ has triumphed!"
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
("Now All the Vault of Heaven Resounds," v 1)


O where is thy sting, death?
We fear thee no more
Christ rose and now open
Is fair Eden's door
For all our transgressions
His blood does atone
Redeemed and forgiven
We now are His own
("He's Risen, He's Risen," v 4)


Crown Him the Lord of life
Who triumphed o'er the grave
And rose victorious in the strife
For those He came to save
His glories now we sing
Who died and rose on high
Who died eternal life to bring
And lives that death may die
("Crown Him with Many Crowns," v 4)

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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Today, it is silent...



In life, no house, no home
My Lord on earth might have
In death, no friendly tomb
But what a stranger gave
What may I say?
Heav'n was His home
But mine the tomb wherein He lay
("My Song Is Love Unknown," v 6)

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Friday, April 6, 2012

Today, they shout "Crucify!"...and He says "Father, forgive them..."



Sometimes they strew His way
And His sweet praises sing
Resounding all the day
Hosannas to their King
Then "Crucify!" is all their breath
And for His death they thirst and cry
("My Song Is Love Unknown," v 3)


What fading flow'rs His road adorn
The palms, how soon laid down!
No bloom or leaf but only thorn
The King of Glory's crown
The soldiers mock
The rabble cries
The streets with tumult ring
As Pilate to the mob replies,
"Behold, behold your King!"
("No Tramp of Soldiers' Marching Feet," v 3)



The Lamb, the Lamb
One perfect final offering...

The Lamb, the Lamb
As wayward sheep their shepherd kill
So still His will
On our behalf the Law to fill
Worthy is the Lamb
Whose blood makes me His own...
(from "The Lamb," v 2 and 3)

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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Today, He says "Do this in remembrance,,,"



Draw near and take the body of the Lord
And drink the holy blood for you out-poured
Offered was He for greatest and for least
Himself the victim and Himself the priest.
("Draw Near and Take the Body of the Lord," v 1)


Never so alone and lonely
Longing with tormented heart
To be with Your dear ones only
For a quiet hour apart:
Sinless Lamb and fallen creature
One last paschal meal to eat
One last lesson as their teacher
Washing your disciples' feet
("When You Woke That Thursday Morning," v 2)

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Monday, April 2, 2012

A Day in the Life: April 2, 2012

G & I made a pact that we would blog more regularly. And then we decided to both do "a day in the life" posts. G did hers, so it's my turn now!

5:50am - I am awake. Exactly six hours after I fell asleep. My internal clock is so predictable.

5:57am - Out of bed to brush my teeth.

6:00am - Shut off the alarm on my phone. I can't even remember the last time I actually needed it to wake me. I just feel better, knowing it's set. Head out to the living room to snuggle with T and watch the morning news til he leaves at 6:15.

6:15am - Say goodbye to T. Start an episode of Rachael Ray on the DVR (I can only take so much news first thing in the morning and Rachael is so cheerful). Check my email, Twitter and Facebook while I finish waking up.

6:45am - Pause Rachael and head to the bedroom to get ready for the day. I have the best view while I shower, but it's a bit foggy this morning.

7:00am - Put The Today Show on the bedroom tv while I dress, make the bed,

do my hair

and put on my makeup.

Wash my makeup brushes. (I wash my loose powder/blush brush once a week, because I am blessed with oily skin, but I wash my eye makeup brushes on the first of every month. I forgot yesterday, so I am doing it today.)

7:15am - Ready for work! Bedroom tv off. Back to the living room to un-pause Rachael. Pour my morning glass of juice. Always pure unsweetened cranberry mixed with something else. Right now, it's no-sugar-added 100% apple juice. (I switch it up between apple and pineapple.) And I can't drink it any earlier, because pure cranberry juice, even mixed with something else, tastes terrible with freshly brushed teeth. Like "spit it out" terrible.

7:40am - Power down the tv and my laptop. Pull my lunch out of the refrigerator. Set the alarm and head out the door. Still foggy!

7:57am - Woohoo! Easy commute despite the (seriously dense) fog! Power up the work computer and put my lunch in the refrigerator.

8:15am - Eat breakfast at my desk while I get my computer set up for work.

8:30am-Noon - Answer the phone. File some paperwork. Get interrupted. Check my email, Facebook, Twitter. Print delivery tickets. Play Words With Friends. Ask a co-worker to please wait before printing a new order. Clean up the subsequent mess when he does not listen to me. Reload a printer with more paper. Process payment for a customer making a pick-up. Repeat repeat repeat.

(insert) 10:00am - Time for the third phase of my breakfast! (What am I? A hobbit?) But I have all my important food groups covered now: fruit (juice), dairy (yogurt), and now grains. What can I say? I graze.

Noon - Lunch!

12:05pm - Lunch interrupted.

12:15pm - Second attempt at lunch. Answer the phone every time I take a bite. Read some blogs.

12:55pm-3:00pm - Back to work. Answer the phone. Answer questions. Answer texts. Tell a sales rep how to make a photo copy. Un-jam the copier. Print delivery tickets. Input approved time off into the calendar. Get interrupted. Check my email, Facebook, Twitter. Repeat repeat repeat.

3:00pm - Print the new orders. Match them with the corresponding purchase orders, prints and other assorted documentation. File. Put copies in the production manager's mailbox. Print a report. Put a copy in the shipping manager's mail box. Get interrupted by the phone.

3:40pm - Match up office copies of the delivery tickets for the day's shipments. Cross check them with the shipping log spreadsheet. Set up each shipment with an invoice and enter any shipping charges. Run the batch of invoices. Match the invoices with the corresponding delivery ticket and the hard copy of the paperwork from my files. Get interrupted by the phone.

4:10pm - Stuff invoices into envelopes. Run them through the postage meter. Laugh at how boring my day is going to sound. Post the day's new orders and invoices to close out the day. Gather the invoice packets and reports and stick them in the general manager's mailbox.

4:25pm - Power down my computer and head out for the post office.

5:05pm - Pull into the driveway. Am greeted at the door by this lovely. (And T, on the couch.)

5:15pm - Start putting away my things. Get changed into comfy clothes. Power up my laptop. Take a couple of photos (Photo of the Day!). Relax for a few minutes with T while we watch some Around the Horn on ESPN.

5:50pm - Check my daily tasks checklist to see what the day's housecleaning project will be. (I use a method called "Clean House in 30 Minutes a Day" that gives a couple of tasks each day. The idea is that if you follow the list, you never have to spend a whole weekend cleaning endlessly.) Oh goody. It's bathroom cleaning day. (Careful. Don't slip in that puddle of sarcasm.) I clean the bathrooms while T works on dinner.

6:20pm - Eat dinner while watching the news.

6:45pm - T cooked so I take care of cleaning up the kitchen.

7:15pm-9:45pm - Crash on the couch. TV is on (Big Bang Theory rerun. Jeopardy. Marlins/Yankees Spring Training game). Laptop is at hand. Play on Facebook. Play Words With Friends. Chat with T. Read some blogs. Chat on Twitter. Start building this blog post. Have my evening glass of grape juice.

9:50pm - T heads to bed. Time to watch one of my shows from the DVR (Private Practice, time to get to this one, it was from March 15. I make it 49 minutes into the episode before it has me crying.).

11:10pm - Finish this blog post and schedule it to publish. Read my evening devotion. Get my lunch bag ready for morning. Shut the house down for the night. Wash my face, brush my teeth, get into pajamas.

11:20pm - Climb into bed with my book.

11:50pm (or sooner) - Lights out. Sleepy girl.

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Menu Plan Monday: April 2, 2012

Monday: We have some Hamburger Helper in the pantry that needs using, and we'll "freshen it up" with a salad on the side.

Tuesday: T is in the mood for our Mini Crab Cakes. We'll have some corn and a salad too. Nice fresh meal for the Summer-like weather we're already having.

Wednesday: New recipe on tap. I have that one remaining container of Philadelphia Cooking Creme in the refrigerator. It's a Chicken Fettuccine Primavera...or something like that. (I should have composed this from home, where I am able to check the actual name of the recipe.)

Thursday: Ah, Holy Week. Lots of church. Tonight's quick meal is Slow Cooker Stuffed Cabbage.

Friday: Church again for Good Friday, so T is stopping at the Publix deli on the way home to pick up some subs.

Saturday: We ran out of ideas, so we decided to play "Leftover Roulette." We may have plenty of leftovers hanging around to make it through dinner. If not, we will fly by the seat of our pants.

Sunday: Easter dinner! A ham, some mashed potatoes, and T has requested Classic Green Bean Casserole. I am sure there will be some warm rolls on the side as well.

Notes from last week's menu: We were so well-behaved. We followed the plan to the letter. And that new recipe for Spinach-Pesto Meatball Soup? So easy and so tasty. I mean, seriously, I was actually looking for ways the recipe couldn't possibly be accurate, that's how easy it looked, but it really was *that* easy!

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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Today, they sing "Hosanna..."



And yet He comes
The children cheer
With palms His path is strown
With ev'ry step the cross draws near
The King of Glory's throne
Astride a colt He passes by
As loud hosannas ring
Or else the very stones would cry
"Behold, behold your King!"
("No Tramp of Soldiers' Marching Feet," v 1)

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Snapshot from Along the Broken Road: March 2012

A photo of me:


1) Candle scents this month:
Sweet Violet. Clean Cotton. Garden Hideaway. Tulips. Sweet Honeysuckle. Buttercream. Blueberry Scone (one of my personal favorites!). Soft Blanket. Fluffy Towels. Buttercream.

2) What I am reading this month:
I am about a third of the way through "Love in the Time of Cholera." It was a little slow to take off, but now that I've gotten to know the characters, I am getting into the meat of their story. I just wish I could keep my eyes open for longer than 15 minutes when I start reading at night.

3) Top three songs I was drawn to:
"The Shape of Us," by Ian Britt. "I Loved Her First," by Heartland. "The Way You Look Tonight," by Steve Tyrell.

4) Movies I saw:
An old favorite, the Steve Martin remake of "Father of the Bride." "National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets" -- The first movie was fairly entertaining and I was hoping the sequel might be as well; I was not disappointed!

5) Favorite tv moments of the month:
"Remember Me, I'm the One Who Loves You," Parenthood - Oh my heck made me cry. "A Better Human Being," Fringe - Fringe has gotten crazy good, edge-of-your-seat good, with this amazing combination of action and emotion. "Leap Year," The Middle - Made me laugh so hard! "The Weekend Vortex," The Big Bang Theory - Quite possibly one of the top three funniest episodes of an insanely hilarious tv show. "My Brother's Wedding," Parenthood - I laughed, I wept happy tears, I cried for a hurting character...because this show is just that real, and you guys? I don't know how I am supposed to wait all the way until the Autumn for more time with the Bravermans. "Reagan V. Reagan," Blue Bloods - I always enjoy Danny get all hot-headed, but Erin whipped out the claws in this episode too and the fur, it was *flying*. "Red-Handed," Once Upon a Time - I am almost always impressed with the creativity of this show, the way they weave the stories together in a way that makes you believe they have always been intertwined, but, while this was a dark episode for certain, the little details they tossed in were outstanding! Frozen Planet - We've been watching this on Discovery Channel. It's by the same people who did Planet Earth and it is just plain stunning.

6) Something yummy I made:
Spinach-Pesto Meatball Soup.

7) Restaurants where I ate:
Longhorn Steak House. Bob Evans.

8) Five things I am loving this month:
1. Orange blossoms. I look forward to this time every year. The weather is just right for opening the house up wide and letting that fresh comfortable air inside, carrying the heavenly perfume of orange blossoms. I am not even tempted to light a candle when I can have a house smelling of orange blossoms. 2. Red grape juice. I have an eight-ounce glass each evening. 3. Being completely finished unpacking! 4. Sleeping with the door open. Let me rephrase that. There is a sliding glass door that opens onto the private patio off the master bedroom. There is a screen slider there as well. And the private patio is fenced in with a locked gate. I love having the fresh air all night and falling asleep listening to the crickets and peepers. I was unable to leave a window open all night in the apartment, so I plan to sleep this way for as long as it stays cool enough at night to do so. 5. The return of Mad Men!

9) A goal I had for this month:
Get all the holiday decorations streamlined, organized into totes and stored in the attic. Get the file cabinet in order. Finish unpacking the last of my boxes.

10) This month I looked forward to:
Orange blossoms. Baseball on the television (even if it doesn't count yet).

11) Something I want to be thankful for this month:
Friends who are beyond excited for the opportunity to celebrate with us later this year. There is no better feeling than carefully selecting a group of people--people who have supported and cheered you on from the start--and having their reactions confirm that you chose exactly right.

12) A photo I took this month:

This case of goodies is in the Germany pavilion at EPCOT, at Karamell-Kuche. It was so hard to choose just one...

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