Sunday, March 29, 2009

An unexpected wave of motivation, and even more to come!

In a startling turn of events, this weekend turned into wedding prep checklist EXTRAVAGANZA. Deane and I were both of on Friday, and we did some venue-hunting (set to the tune of my new OTG, all potential first dance songs!), in addition to a lot of conversation about wedding deets. We looked around at some places, and he had an idea to check out a yacht club that he had done some electrical work on about a year ago. I was a little skeptical as we made our way through the gated community, then through the construction, the glorified dirt road, and the Caterpillars and tractors, in addition to orange barrels. But when all of that parted and showed the club house in its glory, I was pretty excited.

Say hello to our dream venue. We checked this place out on Friday, and it has the makings of everything we love -- a ceremony and reception site all in one, a beautiful view of the marsh, an ideal space where I could envision everything I wanted right where I wanted it, and a caterer content to let me bring my own food! Add these essentials to a place that allows dogs and has a "pretty much whenever" end-time, and I was in lurve. The price is pretty reasonable, so I am really hoping to commit to a deposit by the end of next week.

Sunday I set out to browse some wedding dresses with Deane's mom (since my mom is so far away!). I wasn't planning on trying on anything, but I quickly learned that browsing bridal dresses is basically impossible. They're all in plastic, you can't tell what they look like, and you have no idea if you are looking over a complete gem. I lucked into an appointment cancellation and put a lovely David's Bridal associate through 1.5 hours of sheer hell (i.e. I say "I LOVE bows", so she brings me a dress with a bow, and I say, "I love everything except this sick BOW") and found 3 dresses that I was head over heels for. There was a LOT of picture taking (thanks Debi!), and those photos have been uploaded and shared with the esteemed panel of judges, so I am waiting on some input, as well as taking a few days to decompress before I decide anything.

A huge shout-out to Mom, who, even though she is 350 miles away, has been firing ideas at my BlackBerry all weekend. I especially like this one for favors. I missed you during the dress shopping, but appreciated our hours of conversations which viewing the same websites, and the pictures of my try-on sesh.

I also picked up some Save The Date prototype materials, and I am pretty excited about a few ideas that I have for those little gems. Pictures to come as ideas develop.

In other FABULOUS news, I weighed in this morning (a day early, I usually weigh on Mondays, but whatever), and I am thrilllllllllled to report that I am down a total of SIXTEEN pounds and halfway to my weight loss goal of 32! There are a lot of people and products (well, mostly products) to which I attribute my success, so look for future postings on that, as well.

Have a great week!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Bloggy Birthday!

Today is my blog's BIRTHDAY!

For one year and 108 posts, I have been bringing bloggy goodness to the world wide web. I hope that, along the way, I may have taught someone something about pop culture, inspired someone to begin (or finish) a knitting project, alerted a reader to a can't-miss television program, or provided a much-needed chuckle on a dreary day. It has been a great outlet to have an online electronic "journal", and as I browse my entries from the past 12 months, I am happy to have a record of events upon which to reflect. Though my blog rarely speaks to knitting (which is originally why it was created), it has been a great way to share my life's current events with anyone who might sort of care.

Thanks to my (5?) readers for always coming back for more. Here's to another year of K1P1!

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Friday was my day off, and I managed to accomplish quite a bit. First off, I finished the washcloth (that should have only taken me 4 hours, but somehow stretched over 4 weeks...) and donated it to Deane.
Wave if you surf!

Next, we tackled some projects on our perpetual remodel list. You may remember an older post featuring a picture of the dogs' bedroom/in-house kennel...

Roach and Lil enjoy their ScoobyDoo bedroom.

Well, I never thought I would be able to say it, but now that Roach is almost 5 and Lilly almost 4, they have really settled down and can be left to roam the house unattended when we're away. We have remodeled the spare room into a charming office and future home of VillePickle Custom Surfboards. It's not finished yet, so I will refrain from posting pictures until the built -in seating/storage solution is finished and upholstered (and I will also take that opportunity to tell you what you can do when you run out of flooring).

We had finished our bathroom several months ago, but just got around to hanging some wall decor and a towel rack.

My homemade tiki artwork.

Our so-perfect-I-could've-sworn-it-was-custom towel rack.

And the most satisfying result of all, a response to my customer complaint submitted via the ChickFilA website on Thursday:

"Dear Ms. McCusty:
Thank you for taking the time to contact Chick-fil-A. You are very important to us, and we appreciate your comments regarding the service you recently received from our Amelia Island restaurant. We also regret to hear that the Unsweet Iced Tea was not available during your recent visit. We apologize for this as our aim is to provide the highest quality food in a clean restaurant with excellent service.
Because most Chick-fil-A Restaurants are independently operated, I have forwarded your comments to Lita Fannin, Operator of the Amelia Island Restaurant, so that she is aware of your dissatisfaction.
As a token of appreciation for contacting us, I'll be sending you two Chick-fil-A CARES Guest Cards which should arrive at your provided mailing address in 7 to 10 business days. Again, thank you for your time and interest in Chick-fil-A. We appreciate your loyalty, and we look forward to serving you for many years to come.

Thank you, Tamara! I look forward to receiving my coupons. Frankly, I don't know how I would have survived if I had to swear off CFA for good.

I also am happy to report that, on my mission to replace my most raging addiction, I have discovered two new stops on the Yum Train to HydrationTown. Sobe LifeWater has come out with a 0 calorie version of their popular beverage, and I am in LOVE with FujiApple Pear. It also has citrimax, which is supposed to help you lose weight, but I really just chug it by the bottle because it tastes like yummy, delicious apple juice -- and it's ZERO calories! I have also tried the "yumberry pomegranate", which is equally refreshing.

These little beauties were on sale 10/$10 last week at Target, along with their slightly-higher-calorie counterpart, VitaminWater10. It has 10 calories per serving (25 per bottle), and comes in 4 flavors. Never a huge fan of VityWats to begin with (I never had it, because I was afraid I would love it, and I knew it packed 120+ cals per bottle), I tried the multi-v, a daily vitamin dose lemonade flavor. It is delicious and I would definitely recommend trying it.

I'm hoping these new discoveries, in conjunction with my 3 face-to-face sessions with Jillian this past week, will lead to some great results tomorrow morning on the scale. I'll let you know!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

My pleasure.

I was unable to locate specific email addresses for CFA executives, but I just submitted this dialogue through their website. I'll let you know if I end up with any coupons.

"I love Chick-Fil-A and frequent your restaurants in various locations throughout the Jacksonville area several times per week. I have always received exemplary service and quality food, which is why I keep coming back.

This morning was my first negative experience in several years of dining with CFA. I went to the drivethru at your Yulee, FL location at approximately 6:20 am (this location opens at 6 am). I ordered a large unsweet tea, was told my total, and waited in line to get to the window. About 5 minutes later, when I pull up, the young lady at the window says, "Oh, we don't have any unsweet tea right now." I was shocked, so I replied, "Really?". I expected to be offered another beverage, or perhaps to wait a few more minutes, but instead of an apology, the employee said, "Well, you know, we JUST opened, so...". I waited a few more moments, but she said nothing else -- just stared at me -- so I drove away. No beverage, no apology, no thank you.
I have been in the customer service industry myself for over ten years, and I value honest feedback from my customers. I attempted to contact the location; twice the phone rang with no answer, the third time I was told the GM was not available and the employee on the phone "was not quite sure" when she would be in (nor did she offer to take a message or refer me to another member of management). If I could have reached this location's manager, I would like to tell them that customers should never hear excuses. Your business opens at 6 am, and it should be ready to serve its customers at the opening hour. Not only was it twenty minutes PAST the opening time, but the employee seemed to think I was in the wrong for ordering an unsweet tea! I was also offended that I was not told upon ordering that my beverage was not available; instead, I had to wait in line to learn that fact.
This is the first negative experience I have had with your restaurant, but it is one that will stay with me for several years. In this struggling economy, patrons may be fewer and fewer, but good service is free. I still cannot believe that not a single employee attempted to resolve this situation for me. I hope that this information can be passed along as a training tool that is useful for this particular franchise location. Thank You."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A REEEEEEALLY close second.

Lindsey, I love you dearly, and there is no other way I would have rather spent this past weekend.

Except, maybe, MAYBE, at Sloppy Joe's in Key West.

Where Kenny Chesney played to a full house.

Including Peyton Manning.



This is the kind of stuff I would have told my grandkids about. I mean, if I had been there.

My favorite part is that Peyton is three feet taller than Kenny. And that article also lists Jim Sorgi as an attendee -- in case anyone cares.


This weekend was the afore-blogged-about trip to Orlando to visit with Lindsey and see "Legally Blonde: The Musical". Let's just say that this weekend was *so* much fun, it took me until Wednesday night to even gather the energy to blog about it (and another 45 minutes to recovery from cackling hysteria after looking at the pictures).

Friday morning I left at the crack of sunrise to drive to O-Town and pick up Linds at the airport. Lots of highway and 14 toll booths later, I found her, and our adventure began! We were having some hotel worries going in to the weekend, but everything worked out pretty well. We enjoyed a delicious lunch at Friday's (where I, of course, ordered an Ultimate Recipe Showdown dish), Linds' creddy probably got charged about 300 bucks, and we found our place of residence for the weekend -- the Buena Vista Palace, right across from Downtown Disney. We lucked into an early check-in, hit the pool for a few hours, and made our way to the main event -- LB the Musical! We had been jamming the soundtrack alllll day (much to the dismay of other pool patrons), and we were soooo excited. We scored some directions from the concierge and hit the road.

Despite our concierge's apparent misunderstanding of right from left, we finally found the Bob Carr Center for the Performing Arts and the big blinking PINK sign! (We were also surrounded by 20,000 NKOTB fans, as they were having a show at the next door Amway Arena). Sadly, our slight detour had caused us to be just in time for the show, and we weren't able to get a little snack on the way as originally planned. We purchased a champpy split and a cheese and fruit tray, which ended up being 6 crackers and a 2 pound log of cheddar (which we devoured). Here's me and L at intermission in our "Elle-inspired" attire:
And did I mention that our seats were in rows L-R? Linds points out the obvious fate of our seating:

The show was absolutely phenomenal, better than I *ever* imagined -- it even made me love the songs on the soundtrack I had previously ignored and skipped over. We spent the rest of the night revelling in the positive message, singing in our heads and at the top of our lungs, and reliving every glorious moment.

Saturday was a DREAM. We woke semi-early, clocked 5 solid hours of UV exposure, and did some serious shopping. Although the Orlando traffic threatened to rob me of my sanity on more than one occasion, we managed to find our way to the greatest outlet malls and the love of my life, Mall at Millenia. Linds and I both scored some great deals and adorable pieces (you can see me sporty her new Juicy jewels in the following pics)! We got back to the hotel around 9:30 pm, armed with Miller Lite, Sparks, and chips and salsa. It was all we needed to get the pre-party rolling! We had planned on going over to CityWalk at Universal, but decided the bars across the street were a better option.

If anyone has ever had the joy of experiencing Pleasure Island at Downtown Disney, consider yourself lucky. It used to be a FABULOUS strip of bars and dance clubs, serving mixed drinks in sand pails, blaring great dance tracks, and bouncing beach balls around. We were sad to discover that almost ALL of DTown Dis has been shut down! Only Raglan Road, a cigar bar, and Planet Hollywood were still open. We made our way to all three. Let's let the photos do the talking:

Starting the night with my Irish buddy at Raglan Road...

Freezing our tails off at the "ice bar" (it wasn't ice, of course, but we couldn't resist the photo op)...
We couldn't seem to get a draft beer to save our lives, so we went with G&T's. WITH A PLASTIC SWORD.

At our last stop, PHollywood, I couldn't *believe* the drink prices (at least I think that's what I am trying to convey...)

L Money was much more at ease with the bill:
And, natch, when we got back to the hotel, a drunken photo sesh was in order. We stumbled upon some phone booths, which we promptly used to have fake conversations with our stupid, stupid concierge (the directions weren't the only thing she was wrong about):

Lindsey's favorite feature of the hotel was the "carwash"-like fountain effect in the elevator. Here she is channelling Rhianna and waiting for the lift:

And MY favorite feature was the lion sculpture in the indoor courtyard:

All in all, a beyond super-fun weekend. I was so glad to be able to see Lindsey and catch up! As much as I miss her and Em on a daily, I'm glad we have a reason to get together for mini-breaks a few times each year. Next up, Em's wedding in May, then mine in November, and hopefully a bachelorette party in-between! I better start resting up...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Ohmigod, you guys!

This morning, I am hitting the road to Orlando! The plan is to pick up Lindsey at the airport, clock several hours of UV exposure, and go see the Broadway cast of "Legally Blonde: The Musical" perform tonight (as we sing along to every single number).

This weekend will surely lead to an extensive blog recap. As of this moment, I'm not exactly sure which hotel we will be staying at, or what kind of "special upgrade due to a sold out situation" we may or may not have received. All I can say is that Kelly from Royal Plaza better understand my blogging readership; I can make or break you, lady! Linds and I haven't planned much of an itinerary -- just a sprinkle of shopping, some serious sunning, and sips of Sparks (still available in Florida!).

Emily, we will miss you greatly. Everyone else, look for a recap early next week. Enjoy the weekend!

**Preparation for the trip, combined with several other events, have pinned me in a 70% full DVR sitch. Promise to remedy as soon as possible, and blog about "Idol'', "Loser", and any other worthy news.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pardon my French...

...but are you fucking kidding me with this shit?

I think I remember a girl wearing a tux to *my* high school prom, and that was -- I'll say it -- TEN YEARS AGO.

The (obviously v. worldly and understanding) principal says, "There's a longstanding policy: Men wear tuxedos and women wear formal dresses."

State of Indiana, this is the second time you've disappointed me gravely this week. Let's not make this a habit.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I Do It All For You.

I was just hit with my first ever blog request. Thanks, Libby, for suggesting -- nay, demanding! -- that I blog about this week's "Biggest Loser". Sadly, that particular blog entry will have to wait, as the show is trapped in my DVR and probably will not be viewed until tomorrow night, at the earliest (no spoilers, please).

I would like to take this opportunity to open the floor for requests from all blog readers. If ever you find yourself craving my commentary on a particular topic, news story, television program, movie, album, etc., please do not hesitate to request a blog based on that subject matter. Just leave a comment anytime!

Speaking of DVRs, has anyone been hit with the fastforward spoiler? Let me explain, using last week's "Loser" as an example. When I fastforwarded the commercials during the weigh-in portion of the show, I already knew one of two things: either no one was going to be eliminated, or the results were going to be continued into the next week. How did I know this? I was already at 1 hour, 54 minutes of programming! Of course, bef0re I realized it, I was terrified that I had once again fallen victim to the horrendous DVR cutoff. I am speaking of those terrible times when a show runs past its allotted 30 or 60 minutes, and you miss the end (most recently, I missed a pivotal point of "er", and although I had watched the episode, was completely unable to understand someone telling me Carter was on dialysis. It took the recap of the next week's episode to fill in the blanks!), or even worse, scenes from the next. NBC is always a culprit, making their shows start at ridiculous times such as 9:02 or 10:58, ruining my DVR lineups and forcing me to find later showings of first-run eps. Also, producers/writers are always saving the good and juicy stuff for the bitter closing seconds (take the discovery of Carter's dialysis as an example).

Well, that was quite the little rant. And so my love/hate relationship with the DVR continues. Have I mentioned I can set it from my phone now? Insanity. And pure love.

And as long as we're being random, a big blogger shoutout to SNAIL MAIL today! I came home to two lovely little packages, one from Lindsey with a fabulous (and helpful!) game/book, "How Well Do You Know Your Groom?". V. excited to get started on that one. And then, a card and LILLY PULITZER post-its from Emily! This was a huge one, because I have been drooling all over the Lilly stationary collection since I noticed it at Swoozie's about a week ago. So exciting. Love you both more than you even know.

Let's get those requests rolling!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Why I Need a Wii.

Reason #317. I am willing to shell out the cash for this "game", despite its horrendous reviews. Too bad I lack the gaming system on which to play it.

Meanwhile, I will keep waiting for the UPS man so I can start banishing fat and boosting metabolism.

Side Effects.

I thought I was handling this whole Diet Coke cutback pretty well, but I think it may be affecting me more than I realized...

Exhibit A: Tuesday, I was leaving Wendy's at lunchtime, looking at my PinkBerry as I was walking to my truck. I hit the unlock button on my keyfob repeatedly, and happily climbed in the driver's side. Upon settling into my seat, I went to put my water bottle in the cup holder, when I noticed it was already occupied -- by a Diet Mountain Dew can!! I have never, ever, EVER purchased or consumed this product. I took a quick glance around, and, sure enough - NOT MY TRUCK. Same year, make, model, and color, but no little chrome surfer girl on the back. I sheepishly backed out of the truck, hoped no one would notice (2 girls at the drivethru were cackling at me), and proceeded to my own truck, 2 spaces away.

Exhibit B: Yesterday I tried to use 'warmth' as concealer and mineral veil as foundation. If you're a bareminerals fan, you understand the disparity of this situation. I had to wash my face and start all over -- twice.

Exhibit C: Last night, I was having issues setting the alarm at work. I had to go find some phone numbers to resolve the sitch, and in the meantime, I misplaced my store keys. We (thanks for being such a trooper, Seth!) looked high and low and couldn't find them. Then I realized -- I must have accidently locked them in the office (don't even ask me why this is a possibility, the lock scene at this place drives me insane). I had to call my boss to drive the 20 minute trek from her house to the store to open the office for me. She opened the door - and there were no keys. The 3 of us began a new search, and about 10 minutes in, my boss picks them up, right from atop the ottoman on which I had left them. RIGHT NEXT TO THE FRONT DOOR. I felt like a total fool, apologized profusely to all parties involved, didn't get home until after 11pm, and had to be back at work at 7 am this morning.

Exhibit D: Because I was functioning on less than 5 hours of sleep, I swung in ChikFilA this morning for a large unsweet tea (not a DC, but a source of caffeine). I stirred in my 4 splendas and took a huge sip, when I quickly realized that they had given me already sweetened tea. It was a disgusting mess and I had to throw the entire thing out.

What is going on with my brain? I have always had the random ditzy moment, but this string of atrocities leads me to believe that I have cut back too much, too fast.

What a ridiculously embarrassing week.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Breaking Up is Hard to Do.

I'm Mary Ann... and I'm a Diet Coke-aholic. I will down a DC at any time, any day, any occasion. My love for this carbonated wonderland cannot be replaced or supplemented by any other diet soda (though the short-lived Diet Pomegranate 7Up gave it a run for its money). I am a connoisseur of the differences between cans, bottles, and fountain DC, and I recognize the subtleties between them. Raging hangover? A can won't cut it (I find Sonic's SonicSize DC, with best-ever ice crumbles and a splash of cherry is the best cure). Road trip? 20 oz. bottle it is. 2 liter? Never stands a chance of lasting over a day in my fridge. 12 oz. aluminum silver bullet? A staple that I reach for every morning.

I've always thought my love for DC was totally justified -- I never developed a taste for coffee (unless it's smothered in things that are horribly bad for you, like sugar, caramel, sugar, whipped cream, more sugar, and broken candy cane pieces), and (just like the rest of America) I need a caffeine fix to get me started in the morning. I think a lot of my friends "grew out" of their love for soda and embraced coffee, but I guess my tastebuds never matured. I am as reliant on DC today as I was at 3 am in Fellows, writing a ridiculously procrastinated paper on any given night at Denison.

Lately, I've come to realize the realities of my addiction. As my hatred for Diet Pepsi increases, I found myself refusing to eat at Taco Bell (despite their yummy 150 calorie fresco grilled chicken taco) unless we could go somewhere to get a DC first. I am becoming a raging b on wheels in the morning if I don't get a DC within one hour of waking up. I will give up other (necessary) grocery items, such as milk or bread, to make sure I have a 12 can surplus of my little lover on hand.

That said, I recognize that this love affair is past the point of obsession. Having "plateaued" at a 12 pound weight loss, I have to 'fess up and admit that the amount of caramely cola coursing through my bloodstream (calorie free or not) cannot be helping the battle of the bulge. I know that being hydrated is one of the number one keys to weight loss and overall health, and although I do manage to down 10 8 oz. servings a day (thanks, Brita "Filter For Good" bottle!), the dehydrating effects of DC must be counteracting that.

This week, I've limited myself to one serving of DC a day. Since I am still living a normal life, and do not want my co-workers to suffer, that one serving may be a 12 oz. can, but it may also be a 32 oz. fountain. As I work my way out of this caffeine-obsessed spiral, I'm bound to hit some roadblocks, and I figure baby steps is the way to go. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A lot of emotion for one lunch hour.

Enjoying my 5 piece nugget and side salad at Wendy's today, I noticed an advertisement for the concerts at 'Mardi Gras at Universal Studios', now through April 18th. I know these concerts happen every year, but hadn't been able to find a finalized schedule. When I saw Clarkson at the top of the list (on my tray liner), my thumbs went into lightning mode. After a LOT of browser frustration (f-ing flash!) and almost-very-public-tantrums, I discovered what I was looking for: the performer for Saturday, March 14th, when Linds and I rendezvous in Orlando for "Legally Blonde: The Musical". By this point, my Clarkson hopes were high, so it was a super slam back to reality when I uncovered this fact... Montgomery Gentry is the headliner for March 14th. It may be a slight bit better than some of the other possibilities (MC Hammer, Barenaked Ladies, NELLY), but still a total dis (particularly after seeing them spilling pools of sweat all over the stage before shitfaced Toby Keith played Riverbend this past fall).

Who will come to Orlando on March 28th for Kelly's show? I am going back to work with a heavy heart this afternoon.

Monday, March 2, 2009

90% Sure.

After looking at paint chips, magazines, and countless websites, I'm fairly certain that we have settled on our wedding color palette...I know I was initially leaning towards yellow, charcoal, and white, but how could I abandon my love of beautiful, beautiful green? With a almost-sort-of-in-stone-kinda date set of November 7th (yes, *this* year), yellow just seemed too summery, and I love how adding a pop of deep purple (that I've claimed would be my wedding color since the age of 4, thanks for the reminder Mom) makes it winter-inspired without screaming Christmas.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

February: Failure.

February's over. And, admittedly, a lot happened this past month. But there's also a lot that *didn't* happen: knitting.

This month, I managed to produce one birthday cupcake, another half-finished bday present, and HALF of a washcloth with a wave motif: I couldn't even get it together enough to finish a WASHCLOTH. I remember once, in high school, my crazy asthma-induced art teacher said she was going to draw a single line on a piece of paper, sign it, have it framed, and hang it in the entryway of her house in January. That way, every day that she looked at that measly little line, she would be reminded that, if she didn't get to it, it would be the only art she produced that year. Will this half-finished 8"x8" square be the only thing I manage to crank out in '09?

The answer will be a boisterous "NO!". Truth is, since I got my PinkBerry, I hardly get on the "real" computer anymore, and when I do, I no longer surf my favorite knitting blogs and check out ravelry for new fun ideas. Instead, I search potential wedding color palettes, dresses, venues, and desserts (not necessarily in that order). Don't get me wrong, I am feeling 0% stressed about the wedding, and I am really excited to get down to planning it all, but there is so much out there, I can look at budgets/table linens/bouquets for 4 hours without realizing time has passed. Between working, attempting to work out regularly, my rigorous television viewing schedule, and aforementioned Web addiction, there is little time left for knitting. Not to mention blogging about knitting.

What's the answer? I've always been most productive in my life when I am over-extending myself; conversely, if I have little to nothing going on, I do little to nothing. I'm thinking Excel spreadsheets, color coded into hourly segments, tailored to fit the needs of each week, may be the way to go. Can someone out there help me format my BlackBerry to tell me everything I need? Do I need to set task reminders to TELL me to (*Blogger's note: In the middle of this sentence, Deane stopped me to show me a table centerpiece idea he liked in a wedding magazine, which got us started on the color thing again, which led to me showing him about 197658 wedding color inspiration boards online -- do you see what I'm talking about?!) start knitting? I love this hobby, I want to make more time for it, and in March, I am resolving to do so. But first, I'm off to finish that washcloth...!