Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Happy Birthday!

A big, rousing round of Happy Birthday goes out to fellow blogger (and esteemed member of DLO, not to mention one of my very best friends!) Emily as she turns 28 today. Emily's birthday also marks my first foray into knitting FOOD, as demonstrated by the cupcake shown here and delivered to her doorstep yesterday afternoon. Here's hoping my little knit (sugar free!) goodie can provide all the birthday hugs and love I am not able to give in person (sadly, no surprises in a big red bow on the front porch this year).

I must also throw a birthday shoutout to Tabitha, with whom I will be celebrating this evening with wings and beer (is there any other way?).

And *both* of these lovely ladies are lucky enough to share their special day with National Pancake Day. Visit your local IHOP for a free shortstack today, and donate the money you would have spent on it to the Children's Miracle Network. Fluffy buttermilk drenched in delicious syrup is totally calorie free, when it's for a good cause.

Happy birthday, Emily! Hope 28 is the best year yet!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Broken Promises.

I know I SWORE to not knit any more boring, horrible scarves in '09, but I am super inspired by this gem on etsy. Clearly, the cashmere is out of my budget, but I love the look and idea of the leaves and the darling rosette. And I've never made flowers before, so it would sort of be like learning a new technique. Justified? I think so.

Friday, February 20, 2009

My iTunes Library Would Suck Without You.

For the next three weeks, my music listening will be almost 100% devoted to the original Broadway cast recording of Legally Blonde, as I prepare to meet up with Lindsey in Orlando and see the show as it tours the US (sadly, the musical's last Broadway show *ever* was in October of last year). I will devote every listening opportunity (other than the socially unacceptable blaring over the sound system at work) until March 13th to full lyric (refresh) memorization.

I had been looking forward to March 17th (the Tuesday after the show) as the release date for Kelly Clarkson's third album, "All I Ever Wanted". I can shamelessly say that Clarkson is a permanent fixture on my top 5 favorite artists of all time. Though I love certain gems more than others, there is not a song of hers I *don't* like, and I have been a fan of hers since the day she auditioned for Idol (although there was a brief delusional moment in my life where I was pulling for Guarini to take season one). My fandom has led embarrassing admissions such as custom tees for the first Idol season tour (Don't Mess With Clarkson, can any of my readers produce an old school picture of this?), attending 3 concerts (one with Clay Aiken, and yes, I loved it), and downloads of every Idol performance (still on a playlist, thankyouverymuch). Clarkson is the love, and the new album looks awesome. I have been rocking the single on a running playlist since its release, and I am still not tired of it (maybe because I haven't actually been running that much lately?). I have done some snooping around for info on the new album, and today I read (and confirmed via several news sources) that the album release date has been pushed up to March 10th! Now, this presents a few problems. One, I like to do a thorough recap of her previous albums before listening to the new, and with 3 already under her belt, that means a couple solid days of all Clarkson, all the time. I can't do *that* AND devote my time to the LB sountrack. I'm not sure how everything will pan out, but I have been faced with great new music all at once before (couldn't stop listening to Gaga and get started on Dierks), and basically what happens is just a ton of musical love. I am just happy that we will be able to blare Clarkson, windows down, throughout Orlando during LB weekend. I am half excited, half terrified that 2 tracks on the new album have actually been written and already recorded by Katy Perry (with whom I have a love/hate relationship), but I am certain they will be phenomenal.

In other release date news, Keith Urban's "Defying Gravity" drops March 31st, giving me just enough time to let go of KC and move on to Urban listening. I was also happy to read today that, on a literary front, we can expect new gems from both Jane Green *and* Jennifer Weiner this year ("Dune Road" on June 16th, and "Best Friends Forever" on September 8th, respectively). Hurrah!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

"It's a love story, baby just say yes..."

Ahhhhh!! Deane and I are ENGAGED. I didn't know how to start this post, so there it is.

I came home after work on Saturday (Valentine's Day) to a much welcome surprise -- Deane had shaved his beard that he has been growing since the beginning of time. Basically I was super excited to see his handsome face again, and I thought that was my VDay present (never been much of a fan of this holiday, anyway). How exciting! But then I noticed that there were candles lit in our citrus trees, and he asked me to come over to the garden with him, which I did, after loving up the dogs and getting puppy slobber all over myself (in retrospect, he was probably pretty annoyed at that point. Or maybe not. He did ask me to marry him, after all). He said that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me and PROPOSED. I was so excited, clearly I said yes right away, and immediately apologized for ever saying that it was cheesy when people get engaged on Valentine's Day. I surprised myself by not instantly bawling my eyes out, but, as I explained to him, I've always known Deane and I would get married -- the timing was just a technicality. (Tears came later, after celebratory drinks and a lot of friends and family phone calls). We celebrated with yummy snacks, delicious drinks, and a ColdStone cupcake (which I never even knew existed, and is now my favorite thing in the world).

And how about the biggest surprise of all? Never did I ever know there was a family diamond ring floating around? This ring belonged to Deane's Aunt Elsa (not technically an aunt, but a close family friend), and she was married for over 40 years, which makes this ring something like, 60 years old? (I hope to get more deets on it soon). I have always wanted a round cut, small solitaire (about the only thing in my life I don't want to be huge, flashy, and extravagant), but this ring has two stones snuggled into a rectangular setting (like Deane and I will be snuggled together forever!). I LOVE it and am amazed at how sparkly it is. I am also annoyed at how impossible it is to take a picture of it. And that my fingers are the size of Shaq's. Sadly, I cannot wear the ring until it is sized up to fit my embarrassingly large ring finger. Until then, I stare a lot at its glitzy beauty.

Post engagement, all I have felt is sheer joy. I have always been happy with Deane, but I have not been able to wipe the smile off of my face for the past 24 hours! There has been lots of congratulations, a few random weepy moments, and a number of afternoon phone calls about inane wedding details, but mostly I am just thrilled that now everyone will know the extent of our love.

I have also been faced with a lot of questions, so I'll set straight what I can right now. I don't know much about my wedding, but I do know a few things for CERTAIN. Those things are, in no particular order:
  • We will be married before the end of 2009. If left to my own devices with an open-ended wedding date, I will most likely end up retired before I am wed. I must be forced to make decisions in a short amount of time.
  • Stress levels will remain at an all-time low.
  • Yellow, dark grey (or black), and white are the front runners for colors.
  • Deane and I are adamant that we uphold the tradition of pre-wedding day bachelor and bachelorette parties. That means big parties after the rehearsal dinner! Look for ceremony time to become later and later as wedding date approaches (8 pm, maybe?)
  • I will have a dessert bar. I will design it myself.
  • My dogs will be there. I have always wanted Lilly as our flower girl and Roach as the ring bearer, but that might not work out. At minimum, they will be at the reception.
  • I will be happy for the rest of my life.
Until I get started on my wedding to-do list (yes, a notebook and binder have already been assigned), I will keep my eye on priority number one -- getting this ring on my finger! Maybe writing this blog has burned some finger fat calories. I think I'll try it on again...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"Also, I checked out your website -- did you know you have a recipe for dessert nachos?"

Leave it to SNL's 'Weekend Update' to nail the commentary on the Michael Phelps-bong-photo-controversy. I have watched this roughly 18 times, and still laugh hysterically at every turn. Spot on, Seth Meyers!

Recycling rules!

This past October, a trip to Ulta changed my life. For years, I had had lukewarm feelings about makeup, wavering between a commitment to Clinique and MAC. One consultation later, I threw all pearly green and solid black compacts out the window, and became a member of the 'swirl, tap, buff' brigade (that's bareminerals, for those of you who don't know).

Except I didn't *actually* pitch my old MAC stuff. I remembered a sales associate telling me to save my compacts, et al., when they are empty, because you can turn them in for free product later. I figured I would never use enough makeup to earn free anything, but a small plastic bag under my vanity began to fill over the years. Initially, I thought the recycling program only included compacts and lipsticks (which I don't even use), but somewhere along the way a kind (but tragically eyeshadowed) MAC employee told me to save EVERYTHING - mascaras, concealer tubes, even the tiny eyeshadow refills. I did, and today, I hit MAC with my bag of empties.

Here's the scoop: 6 empty containers equals one free full-size eyeshadow or lip color. I had 16 containers to recycle, which means I got to pick 2 things, and once my PlushLash is empty, I will only be one away from another free goodie.

I left MAC without spending a cent, and I picked a gloriously sparkly aqua eyeshadow ("steamy"), as well as a ProLongwear Lustre Lipcolor (in "jazz-y-razz"). All in all, $34.50 in free product. Not bad in today's economy!

Plus, I totally did my part to save the environment.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Small miracles.

Despite an overindulgent lunch of chicken parm yesterday at Maggiano's (thank you, co-worker Michael!), a miraculous occurrence happened today:

I am officially 10 pounds lighter than I was on December 31st.

A small milestone, but one that I feel warrants celebration, particularly after watching Tuesday's 'Biggest Loser' last night. I mean, if I had been tempted with more time with Bob and Jillian *and* a cash prize, I could have tripled my loss, easily. I found it hard to believe the 2 and 7 pound losses in 30 days.

I'm thinking that the weight loss may easily continue as I have easily burned 600 calories today in shivering. It is high noon, and the Florida temp is a balmy 24. I think I might move to the Keys.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Better Budget Bureau.

Ok, I realize that my last post involved some discussion of scrilla (or lack thereof), but it also ties into what I'm thinking about today.

Remember when I posted about how I am obsessed with making lists? I'm also slightly wacky when budgeting -- and that goes for several things besides just money. I budget my gas, calories, time, and DVR space, to name a few. A full discussion of how I budget these particular things would consume several blog posts. For now, we'll stick to the topic of my most common budget collision.

Take today, for example. I was faced with a dilemma that I struggle with more often than one may think. Free food. My wallet is empty, and so is my stomach, and Denny's was giving away free GrandSlams! But, while this meal choice would have been very helpful in my dolla dolla bills budget, it did *not* fit into my daily calorie budget. I never would have made it in my allotted one hour lunch break, anyway.

Tomorrow marks another free food milestone -- the first of 4 installments of "Free Breakfast February" at Jacksonville ChickFilAs. Tomorrow is free chicken biscuit day. At 420 calories a pop, I can make some adjustments to work this little buttered breakfast lover into my week. In fact, I'm thinking about stopping at my Fernandina CFA on my way to work, consuming my breakfast en route, then make another trip to the CFA by the store (I would save the second biscuit for lunch, natch). Yummo!

All of this discussion leads to a struggle I have faced several times in my adult life. It is So. Much. Cheaper. to eat junk! Let's think about the typical dollar menu. Double cheeseburger. Small fries. Junior Frosty. Chicken Nuggets. Want to plain baked potato or "healthy" salad? It'll cost you upwards of 6 or 7 bucks. And even if you're grocery shopping, what's more affordable? Macaroni and cheese and hot dogs, or Amy's Organic Bowls? What about the cost of produce? How come my co-workers are never bringing in fruit salads or fat free yogurts? Why, on holidays/birthdays/special occasions, am I faced with an onslaught of brownies, cookies, and cakes?

They say you can never be too rich or too thin, but it seems that more and more, you have to BE rich to BE thin. Or else eat absolutely nothing at all. I will continue to fight the good fight, and look for low calorie, affordable foods that are completely delicious. I pledge to not be tempted by a free Auntie Anne's pretzel coupon. I vow to remember: Free to my wallet does NOT equal free to my waistline!