Monday, March 31, 2014

Being Sick is the Worst

Did strep throat get worse and more painful from when I was a kid?  I remember having some pain when swallowing, but it was quickly forgotten with a Popsicle and an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch.  But I had a nasty case of strep throat for most of this week, and it was like the end of the world.  I'm kind of a drama queen in general, and this week I was really at my worst - not very fun times for Jared.

"Oh, you have strep throat?  No biggie, you're a badass - shake it off.  Here's some juice."  This was Jared's response, and it should have been sufficient.  But no.  Wincing while swallowing, I cried - cried - my way through a humiliating doctor's appointment.  (I heard the nurse outside the door describing me as "very tearful," but you can trust that it was worse than that.)  "Why are you crying?!" Jared whispered out of the corner of his mouth.  "I don't even know, but I can't stop," I shuddered in between breaths.  "I want to get a drink of water, but I can't, because it HURTS TOO MUCH."

I usually handle pain like a champ (eh, kind of), and this outburst of emotion surprised even me.  I was disgusted with myself for being such a wuss.  But then the pain continued.  For four days.  During this time, I tested my throat out, hoping each time it would feel okay enough so that I could eat some goddamn cookies.

Maybe if I swallow some spit again, just one more time, my throat will suddenly not hurt.  No.  This never works.  No matter how many times you swallow your spit, your throat will still hurt.

Maybe I could let some ice chips hang out down there, just right where my tonsils are, so they'll feel better.  Yeah, this is just an easy way to choke on ice chips.

What if I stick this orange Popsicle I'm eating all the way back in my throat and use it to, I don't know, numb my tonsils up or something?  Nope.  Now you're just deep-throating an orange Popsicle.

Well, I could probably drink some Tang.  Sorry.  Though Tang is normally tart and delicious and wonderfully 90s, it will burn all the way down your throat, making it totally not worth it.

I think I could manage some gluten-free pancakes.  Pancakes are soft!  Good try.  Your husband will burn them and also you will be able to handle about three small bites before your throat threatens to bleed.

Ugh.  Whatever, I'm bored.  Screens are hurting my eyes, and I'm tired of reading.  I'm going to clean the house.  Okay.  Just know that in about three minutes, you will be out of breath and dripping in sweat even though you've picked up like three socks.  Go lay down and do nothing.

Thankfully, I am finally feeling better, thanks to the wonders of Amoxicillin.  After this week, I am going to make more of an effort to consistently wash and sanitize my hands at work - I work with kids, and one of them thinks it is funny to cough directly into my face and then laugh hysterically when I recoil with disgust.  (Gotta love kids, right?  Right?!)  And yes, I know there are so many things worse than strep throat, I know.  But good Lord, being sick is never fun.  And this time, I'll remember, strep throat.  I'll remember all the horror and pain you bring so that next time, I won't be so caught off guard.

Hope you all are doing well ;)

Ooh!  Also!  My other blog was featured on a popular animal blog!  Click on over and check it out!!

Monday, March 24, 2014

My Favorite Books this Month

I know that everyone is probably getting sick of book recommendations, but I read so often and it's such a huge part of my life that I can't make myself deny you of these wonderful books!  :)  This month, I've read many different genres, so this post kind of has a little bit of everything.  (All photos from Goodreads)

Dancing With Rose - Lauren Kessler
Lauren Kessler's mom passed away after a long struggle with Alzheimer's.  Having difficulty coming to terms with her mother's death and the disease that claimed it, the author decided to become an employee at a facility for patients with Alzheimer's, known in the book as Maplewood.  The work, she discovers, is backbreaking and emotionally devastating.  The pay, she also comes to find, is not nearly enough for the things the employees do.  However, the book was rather hopeful - there was some unexpected grace, humor, and beauty the author came across while working at Maplewood.  Her patients are humorous and endearing, while the work is humbling, and I adored this memoir.  It was equal parts funny, sweet, poignant, and inspiring.  Very beautifully written with great character development.  I want to own this book!  (But if you decide to read it, have a few tissues handy!)

Back to Normal - Enrico Gnaulati
This book may be controversial for some - just a forewarning.  Back to Normal is a nonfiction book about how the big pharmaceutical companies push medications meant for adults onto children, and the way doctors go along with it.  This generation of children is more medicated than any other, and the author questions if disorders like ADHD and autism may be overdiagnosed.  The drugs most often given to children for disorders like these are usually expensive and have a variety of side effects.  He argues that many times, children are medicated for "just being children."  (His words, not mine.)  This book will be unpopular for a lot of people, I can imagine.  But it really made me think.

This book sounds like it could be dry, I know, but it really wasn't.  I found it to be super interesting, and it really gave a lot of useful information that I wasn't aware of before.  I have seen ADHD and severe autism up-close and personal, so I know that they are definitely not "fake conditions."  However, the doctor did make some good points.  I will also vouch for the fact that conditions like anxiety and depression can be misdiagnosed or overdiagnosed:  I was diagnosed with anxiety and prescribed Xanax after no testing and only a few questions (I don't have anxiety; I have a heart condition), and after telling my doctor I thought I was depressed, I was prescribed Effexor with zero questions asked.  I really do have depression, and the Effexor has helped me very much - I just thought there would be more to the appointment in order to walk out with a prescription in hand.  (I apologize for the medicine cabinet reveal - this is the kind of stuff I find really interesting :)  )

Midwives - Chris Bohjalian
This book was on my "to-read" list for about two years before I finally got around it, and I'm so glad I finally did!  Sibyl has been a dedicated midwife for 15 years, and her reputation is sparkling.  Until a woman dies under her care.  Under extreme stress and danger and unable to leave the house due to a storm, Sibyl makes the tough decision to perform an emergency Cesarean section in order to save the baby's life.  The mother appears to have died in labor.  But according to some witnesses, the mother was not dead - in which case, Sibyl would have killed her with the C-section.

This novel was narrated by Sibyl's 14-year-old daughter; I loved this point of view.  The plot is all about the aftermath of this terrible accident, and the ending was a huge surprise that I thought about for days afterward.  This was an awesome read - highly recommended!

Sisterland - Curtis Sittenfeld
Curtis Sittenfeld hasn't disappointed me yet!  In this novel, Kate and her twin sister Violet have "senses" - premonitions of sorts - and they have since they were very young.  But where Kate tries to repress her senses, Violet embraces them, even to the point of embarrassment - like when she predicts that a huge, unlikely earthquake is going to destroy their hometown.  Kate doesn't know for sure if this is really going to happen...but her sister's predictions haven't been wrong yet.  Exploring the bonds between twins and sisters, Sisterland was very thought-provoking and intriguing.

Mother, Mother - Koren Zailckas
Josephine is the mother of three children:  one has run away from home, one has been checked into a mental facility, and the last one absolutely adores her.  When a terrible incident occurs, Josephine wonders if she can hold her family together.  An out-of-control mother and her autistic son are two of the main characters in this disturbing and haunting novel.

Raising my Rainbow - Lori Duron
I have been reading the blog called Raising my Rainbow for about the past year or so.  It follows the life of Lori, her husband, her oldest son, and, most importantly, her youngest son CJ.  CJ is known as "gender creative" - he is a boy who likes "girl" toys, colors, and clothes.  CJ wears tutus and has Disney Princess theme parties; he likes to watch the Oscars for the fabulous gowns and the Olympics for the dazzling ice skaters.  He's not too interested in the things his big brother is, like sports or getting dirty or Transformers.  This book is about parenting such a child - the ups and downs, the confusion of other parents, the question of whether or not this should be encouraged.  I found it absolutely fascinating, and I think they are wonderful parents - this was a sweet and fun read.

Happy reading!  (Also, Cyber Saturday was skipped this week, so I'm was a busy weekend!  :) )

Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring Shopping List

The first day of spring was this week, and for once, it actually felt appropriate!  Normally, the first day of spring will roll around, and it will dump down loads of snow or the roads will ice over.  But not this year - it was a beautiful day.  The sun was shining and the birds were chirping, and I finally got to break out the cuffed jeans + boat shoes and take Riley on a walk.  Yeah, there was still snow on the ground...but it wasn't annoyingly covering the road like it usually is this time of year.

Of course, by saying this, I'm probably jinxing the nice weather and we'll end up having a huge blizzard over the weekend.  But such is life :)  Anyway, the few first nice days of the season got me in the mood to shop.  I'm not sure what this says about me, but I always immediately think about shopping for clothes whenever the season changes.  It probably has something to do with the extra-thick fashion magazines that are issued, announcing the "newest trends" ("Florals for spring?  Groundbreaking." - Meryl Streep in Devil Wears Prada).  Whatever the case, Jared and I are going on a miniature trip this weekend, and I'm hoping to score lots of great deals!  Here's what's on my list of things to look for:

1.  Steve Madden Pony Hair Flat - I don't think I would be a fan of wearing legit pony hair on my feet (although let's not kid ourselves; I wear leather all the time and I know perfectly well where it comes from :/ ), but I do have to admit that these slip-on sneakers are very cute and on-trend.  They would go really well with some cuffed, distressed jeans and a plain V-neck tee.  They look super comfy too!

2.  Floral jeans pinned by this site - If anyone has any more information about these pants, please let me know!  I love them!  I know, I know, florals come into style EVERY spring.  But I think printed pants are so fun, and I love the color combo of this screen-printed pair.  (I have a green floral pair that my sister says makes me look like a grandma on vacation in Florida.  I don't completely disagree.  But I'm okay with it.)

3.  Neon multicolor earrings (found on Etsy via Pinterest, no longer available) - There are a lot of bright, sparkly earrings out there right now, and I love these neon ones.  I also like these from J. Crew, but that store is too damn expensive for me.  I wear my fanciest earrings with a plain white top, jeans, and a messy high ponytail.  I'm not sure why, I just really like how they can make a casual outfit look like "fashion".

4.  Turquoise nail polish like Essie's Hide and Go Chic - I'm not big on manicures, mostly because I suck at painting my own nails and they chip literally within five minutes.  But I always have my toes painted, and in the spring/summer, the brighter the better.  I'm looking for a bright, swimming pool blue to wear on my toes this summer.

5.  Exercise tanks like this geeky one - If you have read my blog, you'll know that my husband and I are super-nerds.  While Jared is more of the computer-geek type and I tend to be more of a book-nerd, we both love old-school video games.  This vintage-Nintendo-inspired workout tank (that says "Training to be a Legend") goes all the way back to the very first Legend of Zelda.  I hate working out, but God knows I need to start, and cute workout clothes might get me more in the mood to actually use them.

6.  Summery hat like this one from J.Crew - Let me first just say that I would never be able to pull this off.  I like to picture myself wearing a big straw hat on the beach with some sort of pretty, patterned maxi dress...but I own a straw fedora that I have worn like twice and took it off both times because I felt so stupid.  I am just way too self-aware to wear something that could potentially make me look dumb.  Plus my husband would never stop laughing at me.  But it's nice to dream :)

7.  American Eagle lace baseball hat - I actually just purchased almost this exact hat yesterday, except my version is eyelet instead of lace.  This is a hat that actually doesn't look too silly on me...I like the way it makes a dressy and feminine outfit look less so.  It's sporty but still very girly.

8.  Etsy tribal-print scarf - I'm one of those people that wear scarves in the spring/summer.  I know it doesn't make sense, and sure, the back of my neck frequently gets sweaty.  But I think a lightweight, gauzy scarf looks great over a solid-color tank, and it can really add a lot to an outfit.  I bought a scarf like this yesterday as well; the neon colors plus an Aztec-y print makes it pretty trendy.

9.  Anthropologie mint watch - I will admit that I don't need this.  I have one like it in white already...but I loooove mint green!  The gold face gives this watch an extra something special.

What's on your spring shopping list?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Definitive Proof I Was At My Coolest in Kindergarten

Okay, so you'll have to indulge me for this post.  I just started making real use of our new printer/copier/scanner, and I have had so much fun scanning old photos into my computer.  While looking through a box of crap for photos, I found some real gems....which led me to the realization that I was the coolest gee-dee kindergartner there ever was.  (If you knew me in kindergarten, you will know that this is, in fact, not true.  I wore overalls and clogs, I pretended to really be sleeping at naptime and the teacher would get pissed, and I often bypassed playing with friends in order to read a book.)  But check these out:

There was a boy who sat in front of Deb (my mom).  He farted!  It vibrated on his chair!  He turned around to Deb and said, "Flapjack!"  I turned this in to my teacher.  Like, for an assignment.  My mom must have told me this story and the pure hilarity of it stuck in my head - so much so that I found it appropriate to report to my teacher.  (Also, the irony that this is written all in brown does not escape me.)

So.  In my kindergarten class, we were told to create an alphabet book, in which we would collect photos from magazines that all started with the same letter.  After it had already been turned in and perused by the teacher, my brother thought it would be hilarious to make some illustrated additions of his own.  I fancied myself a rebel and decided to discreetly copy his drawings...this particular page includes All, the alphabet, Annie, and "ass".  I was five.

Friends, fruit, fireworks, flowers, and, of course, fart.

Betcha can't tell which drawings are the five-year-old's and which ones are the 16-year-old's... ;)

Shit was an especially naughty word, so I had to be extra careful copying this one down.  I figured the lighter I wrote it, the safer I'd be.

Dear Angie, Tell Mom to come upstairs.  I need to talk to her.  I need to ask her how a baby gets out of wombs.  REMEMBER!  Chelsea.  This is one of my favorite things ever.
And this happened.  I was inspired by a photo in my sister's jewelry box of her photo pasted next to...I don't know, was it Scott Speedman?  Luke Perry?  I decided to make my own.  I had impeccable cutting/gluing skills, as you can see. (And Chris Kirkpatrick, I'm sorry - looks like you got your ass kicked.  See what I did there?)

Also, I had some pretty serious swag:
Blossom-esque hat, check!  Snarky, too cool for school attitude, check!  Sears catalog...CHECK!

And I'm not even sure what this is.  A romper that looks like the opening credits of Saved by the Bell, a Blair Waldorf headband, and a pearl necklace?  Whatever it is...I love it.  Good job dressin' me, Mom!

Also, Jared was super cool when he was younger, too.  See?:

Hey, girl.  Just got my braces off.  Wanna make out?

But I think his sexiest time of all was his senior year of high school:


In other news, I wrote a post over on my other blog about how much good shelters do for animals, as well as particular animals that are in serious need of a forever home.  Please check it out and share - it's important.  Thanks for reading <3

Talk to you soon, unless my husband kills me for those photos first!  :)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Cyber Saturday!

I've got a little bit of everything here for you today - it's been a particularly inspiring week Internet-wise.  :)  Enjoy, and don't forget to check out my everything-animal round-up over on my other blog!

I'm sure everyone has seen this video already - and honestly, we're all getting a little sick of the Frozen soundtrack by now - but this is pretty wonderful.  I especially love their daughter in the backseat, yawning and generally paying no attention to her dorky parents.  (Also, if anyone figures out where the wife got her glittery shirt from, could ya let me know?  That'd be great. :)  )  

Huffington Post has a great round-up of easy and quick St Patrick's day crafts that are great for kids too.  I love this paint chip-inspired one!

Little Free Libraries are spreading around cities like wildfire.  This writer over on Book Riot loved the local-lending-library idea so much, she decided to build one in her own front yard!  It was built to mimic her house's appearance, and the neighborhood seems to love it.  If I lived in a more metropolitan area (as opposed to population 400, give or take a few senior citizens), this is definitely something I would do.

This video makes me appreciate Sarah Jessica Parker and her wit just a little bit more.  Prior to viewing this video (and her adorable little brownstone), I just sort of associated her with her character Carrie Bradshaw and that annoying little squeal she always did.  But this Vogue interview was snappy (if obviously rehearsed) and fun.

Penny Pincher Fashion did a great round-up of the sporty-chic trend that's popping up everywhere.  (I really like the fashionable sneaker trend, but I don't know about track pants as evening-wear.  Haven't warmed up to that one yet.)  But blinged-out sweatshirts and sneakers are definitely right up my alley; I love the embellished black ones in the second row and the Converse slip-ons in the bottom right corner.  Click the link to see where you can buy these shoes!

Ellen Seidman wrote an amazing article for Huffington Post about her son, who has cerebral palsy but is not defined by it.  " 'Oh, poor thing,' she said, as if I had just mentioned that he had three weeks left to live.  'He's just your average awesome kid,' I responded."  She writes about how, though the sympathy always comes from a good place, she wants her son to be treated with equality rather than sympathy.  I work as a paraprofessional with students with various special needs, and while other people might think of them as unfortunate or disabled, I only see kids - really awesome kids.

Buzzfeed featured a list of the various popular songs that Vitamin String Quartet has covered.  Though I love them all, I especially appreciate how they managed to transform the much-overplayed "Royals" into something new and different.  (I love the Vitamin String Quartet so much, I even walked down the aisle to their version of "Chasing Cars".)

And finally, Huffington Post also put in their two cents about the top 5 paint colors for renters, according to Apartment Guide and Benjamin Moore.  While the authors of the post seemed to find the colors a bit bland, I love them all, especially this icy blue, which is Benjamin Moore's Breath of Fresh Air.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark: Music Nostalgia Part 3

And this brings us to 2007.  (Confused?  You can catch up here and here.)  (Also, I'm sorry about the title; I had to continue with the previously unintentional Fall Out Boy theme.)  If you'll recall, we left off in the gymnasium, where I was bitching out of every activity that could cause me to sweat, accompanied by various Nelly songs.  2007 was my favorite year of high school; when I'm feeling all nostalgic and sad about being almost a quarter-century old, this is the year I always remember most.  I was taking easy classes (photography and graphic design?  Hell yes!), staying skinny while eating whatever the hell I wanted (thanks to cheerleading, dance, and a 17-year-old metabolism), and my friends and I would walk around our small town at night, screaming and laughing and doing Beavis and Butthead impressions.  It was the year I started sharing my writing and singing with other people besides my current boyfriend, the year I thought I was super trendy and wore tights and high heels all the damn time, the year I ruined my My Chemical Romance cd by playing it too much in my purple van.  (Sing-screaming "Teenagers scare!  The living shit out of me!" on my way to school.)  Sigh.  Okay.  We need to move on here or I might cry.  (All videos from YouTube)

2007:  Here (In Your Arms) - Hellogoodbye

My friends and I loved this song before it was cool.  (I know all the hipsters say that about everything, but really.  We did.)  We had a choreographed dance to it and everything, and even though most of that dance involved pumping our arms up and down like the Numa Numa guy, we did it all the time, usually in the aforementioned purple van I drove around.  This song puts me right back there, driving slowly past our crushes' houses with the radio cranked, hoping they would hear us and come out.  They usually didn't, but when they did, they would just follow us around in their car until we all got bored.  We would listen to this song to get us pumped up before cheering at a football game (also the Ying Yang Twins) and after coming out of the restaurant on Main Street, fingers greasy and smelling like french fries.  I just can't listen to this song and be in a bad mood; it's impossible.

2008:  I Kissed a Girl - Katy Perry

I first heard this song when I visited my sister for a weekend; we had never heard of Katy Perry before, but that weekend, we heard I Kissed a Girl probably about ten times on the radio.  "What the hell is this?" we laughed, listening to the lyrics about the taste of the girl's cherry Chapstick.  That night, we went to a movie in the park (why don't more towns have this?!) - The Wizard of Oz - and I learned that Angie had always thought Professor Marvel was saying, "That's all; the crystal's gone doc," instead of "dark."  "What does that mean, when he says 'the crystal's gone doc'?" she asked me.  "Does that mean like it's broken, like it needs to go to the doctor?"  I just stared at her.  My sister is like twelve years older than me, and since childhood, she had thought the crystal went 'doc'.  Good Lord.  BUT ANYWAY.  That weekend, we were hoping to hear that song every time we changed the station, not knowing how sick of it we would eventually get.  Until, of course, they sang it on that amazing episode of Glee and I fell in love with it all over again!

2009:  Poker Face - Lady Gaga

I first heard of Lady Gaga on Perez Hilton, when he posted her song 'Just Dance.'  I thought it was meh.  Then my sister burned me a cd with a few of her songs on it, and I didn't get it.  "It just sounds like shitty dance music," I thought, "and why the hell does she keep saying 'cherry cherry boom boom'?!"  Then I started hanging out with a group of "cool" people (this was my first year of college) and finally understood the Legacy of Gaga.  (A legacy that would peak when I went to her concert (in like the fifth row!!) a year later, and that would end after 'Judas.'  Sigh.)  They would play it in the car on our way to eat at Cancun, sing it in choir practice, ALL THE TIME poker face and "muh muh muh mah."  One night, we all went to a party in someone's apartment, where the birthday boy got absolutely shitfaced and went around the room making people spank his bare butt.  My then-boyfriend (who sucked) left me there, though I was only acquaintances with most of the people there, and the birthday boy then proceeded to vomit every-fuckin-where.  (Have I mentioned I have a very strange phobia involving vomit?)  With Poker Face, of course, playing in the background.  That's when I decided, yeah, drinking's not for me, and I called someone to come pick me up.  :)  I'm so lame.

2010:  Your Love is My Drug - Ke$ha

2010, my second year of college, was simultaneously the best and most difficult year of college.  I listened to this song all the damn time - on the way to dance team practice, on an airplane on the way to go on a Caribbean cruise for show choir, and mostly after leaving the disgusting dorms after a late night.  What I remember most is when I was laying out at a local pool, and this song came on the radio.  I hummed along and waited for the last line, which I for some reason thought was hilarious.  A preteen girl walked by in time to the music and said to her friend, in unison with Ke$ha, "I like your beard!"  And that's when I realized I have the taste of a 13-year-old, and I was ashamed.

2011:  Forget You - Cee-Lo Green

When my niece Audrey was very little, this was the first song she ever loved.  (The edited version!)  She would sing along with the music video, even moving her hands to mimic the back-up singers.  I can't hear the song now without hearing her little voice singing, "Whyyyyy!  Whyyyy!" and copying Cee-Lo's little 'ah's and 'uh's in between verses.  Now she prefers Miley Cyrus' Wrecking Ball, anything Michael Jackson (though she prefers 'Beat It'), and, unfortunately, Gorilla by Bruno Mars, though her dad has taught her to say "you and me, baby, throwin' poop like gorillas," which, I think we can all agree, is at least better than the actual words.  (Say what you will about my brother's parenting, but my niece is the coolest and most well-behaved four-year-old there is.)

2012:  Rack City - Tyga (this song is filthy; you have been warned!)

This was the year Jared and I got married, and though the songs that could be used to better (and more appropriately) describe our relationship and wedding would be Tim McGraw's My Best Friend, Blake Shelton's Honeybee, and Chris Brown's Forever, this one is what we listened to the most.  We also liked to jam to Hey by Blake Shelton (the twangier we sang it, the better), Dance (Ass) with Nicki Minaj, and Amazing by T.I.  We would make up dances and rap along as well as we could, and people would stare at us when they drove by, probably impressed with our gangsta dancing skillz.  It's too bad that the DJ didn't think it appropriate to dance to Rack City for our first dance, because we would've killed it.

2013:  Wrecking Ball - Miley Cyrus

I know.  I know.  I was as skeptical as everyone else, and I rolled my eyes just as hard as you did at the tongue-thrusting, pelvis-grinding performance heard round the world.  But I love Bangerz.  I love it.  It's in my car's cd player as we speak, and I have a Miley Cyrus station on Pandora that I listen to quite frequently.  And as I said before, this is currently Audrey's favorite song (hopefully she hasn't seen the video), and whenever I ask her what her favorite song is, she yells happily, "Wecking Ball!"  She has also named one of the Barbies at my mom's house "Miley Cywus," which I should probably find horrifying, but I just think it's cute.  PLUS, Miley has THREE adorable rescue dogs, so I approve!  :)  Hatas gon' hate!

Well, we've come to the end!  I hope you've enjoyed my nostalgic, musical journey!  :)  I sure have!  Thanks for reading.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Ikea Hack-spiration

Ikea is a godsend.  Thank goodness it is located about two hours away from me, because my wallet would be constantly empty if it was any closer...or at least, emptier than it is now, if that's possible.  Ikea is always sort of poked fun at because it's like, for people who can't afford real furniture or something, but I love it and I'm not ashamed!  When I'm in there, I go nuts:  Plastic rainbow-colored eating utensils that look like a toddler's first fork and spoon?!  I NEED THOSE!!  Fake flowers for 97 cents apiece?  YES PLEASE.  A tray with birds on it?!  HELL YES!!!  (I'm a sucker for the 'put a bird on it' trend - Portlandia?  Anyone?)

Jared promised me an Ikea trip next month - poor sucker has no idea what he's in for - and I've been researching some Ikea hacks so I can get the best bang for my buck!  Who needs to search for pricey antique side tables or pay a buttload for built-in shelving when they can save a fortune by Ikea-hacking?!  My mama didn't raise no fool.  It makes my life feel complete when I can save money through DIY - it's possible that that's a sign I need to get more of a life, but let's just move on.  :)

I hope to one day have the moolah and plumbing skills necessary to turn a dresser into a chic bathroom vanity (or maybe Dad can help me :) ), and this one from Apartment Therapy is absolutely fantastic.  This is a reasonably-priced kitchen island from Ikea repurposed into twin sinks.  Unfortunately, Ikea no longer makes this exact kitchen island, but there are very similar pieces there.  I also love the iridescent tile backsplash.

My mom was lucky enough to get her hands on a full-sized, standing library card catalog - she went to pick it up this weekend.  Grrr!  I have wanted one of these for a long time too, and while the full-sized ones are hard to find and usually very expensive, this one was created using a cheap, plain wood Ikea piece that (AAARGH!!!) has been discontinued, some stain, and brass pulls.  I love the vintagey look this has, even though it's a brand new piece.

Everyone knows the Ikea "Lack" table.  It is not very well made, shiny, and comes in several different colors.  But since it is TEN DOLLARS (!!!!), tons of hacks have been done using it (I even did one!).  Jared loves this lighted Lack, which was made using frosted glass and Christmas twinkle lights.  I like how it looks for sure - very pretty and luminous - but couldn't this be a fire hazard?  I'm also not sure about the cord that seems to be coming out of it - that would be kind of an eyesore.  It's a nice idea, though!

These lovely O'Verlays again!!!  The Malm dresser from Ikea was used in this case, given a glass top, and decorated with some gold-painted Greek Key O'Verlays.  Looks very glam; the styling in this room is impeccable, too - love the rug!

It's the Lack again, this time a slightly larger version.  I love the looks of mid-century furniture, particularly Eames pieces.  Ikea pieces, of course, don't have that.  So this blogger took the matter into her own hands by purchasing these legs from eBay and replacing the plain white legs with these babies!  Easy peasy!

I adore the Simple Details blog - so many good ideas there, and this Ikea hack is no exception.  These nesting tables are $60 for a set of two, and they come with all black trim.  Using gold spray paint and some drawer pulls, she created this luxe-looking piece!

Lots of the kitchen decor ideas I bookmark on the Internet involve either a butcher block island OR an island that includes shelving for recipe books.  But I've never seen an island with BOTH!!!  This blogger used several Billy bookshelves from Ikea (which are relatively cheap and come in many different sizes) and a slab of butcher block, which was also at Ikea (not so cheap), to create a genius island for her kitchen.

Rugs are so so so expensive.  Why do they have to be?!?!  If I couldn't have a Moroccan wedding blanket or the Souk rug from West Elm, I would want a Greek Key-patterned rug, and this DIY makes it actually possible.  This blogger used a plain cotton rug from Ikea, painter's tape, and plain old paint to create this masterpiece!

One day, I WILL have wall-to-wall bookcases in my house, and I don't care if they're built-ins or if they're faux built-ins created using Billy bookcases from Ikea!  These look pretty convincing to me, and they are wonderfully styled with all those pretty splashes of yellow.  Love this!

And one more from me:
(Yes, yes, I apologize for the shitty photo, unmade bed, etc.)  To make this headboard, I used two Lack tables (for $10 each from Ikea), and drilled/screwed/whatever all the pieces together using 2x4s laid horizontally across the back.  The shorter pieces are the legs laid side by side.  I don't love it...but I do love the shininess of it, and it'll do for now.  :)

Also, if you'd like to make your own Ikea hacks, the tutorials for each of these are shown in the blog they're linked to.  Happy hacking!  :)


Who Needs Mexico?

So during one of my ridiculously long absences from blogging, I got married.  And then went on a honeymoon.  And then forgot to write about any of it or share photos.  While doing a little web-surfing for our trip to Florida this October (Disney World), I got all nostalgic over the things we did on our honeymoon.  Rather than getting passports, booking a flight, and leaving the country, we decided to keep it low-key and relaxed by road-trippin' it to Florida to go to Universal Studios.  There were several reasons for this:  1.) I have only flown once in my life and am, to be honest, a little afraid of it.  2.)  I have also only been out of the country once, and due to a (funny in retrospect, but terrifying in the moment) little incident where we were stranded in Belize, I am a little hesitant to travel to unfamiliar places.  3.) I was still in college, on a college-student budget.  In other words, we were broke-ass po'.  4.)  We are really just children in grown-up bodies.  Jared and I like video games, cartoons, and amusement parks.  Our favorite dates involve rollerskating and pizza.  My 21st birthday festivities included Chuck E. Cheese and painting pottery.  I mean...

Our wedding night was spent in a hotel only about 30 miles from our reception venue.  Regardless, when we got there, we were exhausted.  Nick at Nite was playing a Friends marathon (Score!!!!), and we got in the hot tub and did a Magic Towel just for shits and gigs.  (Am I the only person over the age of 10 who thinks these things are awesome?!  I have like six of them.  The one we did that night was Batman.  No big deal.)  Then we opened the three gifts that I had managed to sneak along even though Jared said no, played a round of Cranium that was inside one gift (Hey, thanks, Guitar Jon!), and fell asleep on top of the covers with The One Where Everybody Finds Out playing in the background.  It was both the lamest and most epically cool wedding night in history, I believe.

The next day, we drove....and drove....and drove.  If you're prone to fighting with your significant other when tired or stressed out, avoid long drives.  Particularly when one of you doesn't want to drive and chooses instead to read books and sing loudly to songs from Moulin Rouge.  It was a hell of a drive.  Interrupted by a trip to a huge outlet mall, which Jared was thrilled to see included both a Hurley AND a Michael Kors.  Our hotel, when we finally reached it, was beautiful.

It had a ginormous pool, several fountains, a lake with a bridge over it, and lots of tiny little geckos everywhere you went (except in the rooms, thank Gawd).  Jared made it his goal to catch one, but they were too fast for him.  One day was spent almost entirely in the pool and the outdoor game room; that night there was a karaoke party outside by the pool, and instead of participating, we spent our time trying to catch this cute orange kitten that was hanging out in the bushes.  We are cool.

Universal Studios lived up to the hype.  Jared was especially excited about this:
and this...

But I was all about the Harry Potter.  The details here were amazing - even the music as you walk from place to place is tailored to fit the Harry Potter experience.  It was awesome.

I guess the Prices enjoy a nice, cheesy thumbs up for photos!

We ate a feast, accompanied by pumpkin juice, which was surprisingly refreshing.  After two days of Universal rides and attractions, we went to SeaWorld; it was fun, but huge and deadly hot that day.  (Also, I kept missing out on feeding the dolphins.  Pushy tourists ;) )  

And I'm not going to lie to you, at least one entire day of our honeymoon was spent just like this:
Eating and watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians in bed.  I wouldn't have wanted it any other way!  We might be boring, but we love it!

A honeymoon doesn't have to be extravagant to be special/fun.  I don't even think you have to leave your house to have a honeymoon!  Just a few days spent unplugged from the Internet and cell phones, hanging out together and having fun as a couple, is enough.  Our honeymoon was special because it was us and fit our personalities exactly.  I can't wait for our next trip together :)


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Cyber Saturdays: Awesome Things From Around the Internets!

I'm so sorry for the silence this week; I have been equal parts busy with some new projects and endeavors and also being lazy and babysitting two shi-tzus!  One of my new projects is this:  Second Chances.  A second blog dedicated to all things animals.  I'm hoping I will be able to network and get enough traffic to really be able to make a difference in the world of animal rescue.  Let me know if you have any suggestions, and please share the site to help spread the word about how important adopting animals is.

I've decided to add a new feature on the blog (and hopefully post more than once a week - yikes) - hence, Cyber Saturday, in which I post links and photos of things I have loved this week around the web.  I read at least ten blogs daily, and I am always bombarded with pretty, glittery, jealous-making inspiration from them, so I'll share some with you here.  I can't believe how equally amazing and time-sucking the Internet is.

I have only recently discovered the gorgeous time-waster that is Pinterest.  I've been pinning all morning.  It's ridiculous. Thank God I didn't make use of this tool during my wedding planning; I had a tough time making decisions from the magazine inspiration alone!  This is just one of the pins I found today (originally pinned from here), and I need to do it!  My jewelry storage is more decorative than functional (#firstworldproblems), and this stuff (all found for under $10!) would hold so! much! jewelry!!!

Some more Pin-spiration (originally from here).  Navy blue grasscloth plus chevron wainscoting!!!!  I'm in freaking love.  Hopefully this is "modern enough" for my husband's tastes.

These are fantastic.  I have been aware of O'Verlays for about a year now, but I only recently started reading one of the founders' blogs:  Gorgeous Shiny Things.  It's amazing and FULL of ideas and DIYs, and of course, she uses tons of O'Verlays to fancy up cabinets and nightstands.  It's pretty amazing what they can do to a plain old Ikea dresser.

I cannot get over this.  The Home Depot blog offers a tutorial on how to make a metallic "zebra skin" rug out of CANVAS DROPCLOTH!!!  I mean, I'm sure it's not all that pleasant to walk across, and maybe it doesn't look quite as good in person as the photo makes it look, but isn't it pretty?!  I want a faux-skin rug so badly, but they're always so pricey.  This is a nice, easy alternative.

Buzzfeed's lists on fashion and accessories are usually pretty meh, but I am obsessed with Tiffany blue, so I adored this.  The Hunter wellies on this list are so perfect, and I'm dying for a vintage refrigerator (which is, unfortunately, one of Jared's vetoes).  Everything about this color is perfect.

Simple Details blog (which is also great) featured DIY Tanzania wallpaper this week.  The real deal is very luxe and expensive, but she created this using a stencil and plain wallpaper.  Love that it's so easy to recreate a designer item!

Ikea makes a small, plain dresser called the Rast.  There are a million fun ways to spice it up; this is one of my favorites.  This blogger turned it into a faux campaign piece.  It's one of my favorite Ikea hacks that I've found - more on Ikea hacking later! :)

And here's one crappy little DIY by Jared and I, inspired by some projects on Pinterest.
Toddler art at its finest, amiright?!  Buuut we needed some St. Patty's Day art, and fingerpainting while watching the Oscars?  That's a date night that really can't be beat. :)

I'm posting a rescue-themed Cyber Saturday post over on Second Chances later on tonight, along with ANOTHER DIY I finished today, so head on over and check it out!

Thank you so much for reading <3


Monday, March 3, 2014

My Month of Gluten-Free Living

I've talked before about my illness and the annoying ways in which it affects my life.  Tired of queasy nights spent in front of the toilet, sick of passing out after a hot shower, ending up cold and shamed, lying naked on the floor (shout out to Natalie Imbruglia, hey oh!!!), I went to my regular doctor.  The dizzy episodes had increased in frequency, and the days I spent sick came on more often than the days I spent healthy, so I wondered if there could be something more going on.  "Well, we will do some blood tests to rule out something with your thyroid, and then, if they turn out to be normal, I want to try you on a gluten-free diet," she said, scribbling down some notes and being totally unaware of the huge deuce she had just dropped on me (in a manner of speaking).

"Gluten-free? bread?"  I was pissed.  Bread is my life.  Cinnamon toast is what I go to when I am sad instead of ice cream, and glazed doughnuts are Jared's apology of choice (so much more preferable than flowers).  Pizza crust is bread - I fucking love pizza!  What am I supposed to do without Pizza Hut stuffed crust, doctor?  And my usual order of a delightful Sierra Turkey sandwich and a cheese danish at Panera freaking Bread?

"Yes, nothing involving wheat.  But they do make some great gluten-free options of the things you'd normally eat:  bread, pizza, cookies, stuff like that."

Right.  Like anything could equal the amazingness that is a package full of mint Oreos.  " think this is what's causing my symptoms?  Or just exacerbating them?"  (I don't know why I like to use big words when interacting with doctors.)  Prior to this doctor visit, I thought going gluten-free was just a trendy fad, other than for people with celiac.  I pictured a snobby, manicured woman turning her nose up at a restaurant menu and requesting more options to accommodate her "gluten-free lifestyle."  I didn't want to be like that!  And god dammit, I had just bought a jar of Trader Joe's cookie butter!

"Well, either one, really.  You'd be surprised at the kinds of symptoms gluten intolerance can create.  I had a neurological condition, and then I went gluten-free about a year ago, and it disappeared!"  Hmm.  Well.  I couldn't argue with that.

And then she handed me a handy chart of what not to eat and gave me a book recommendation or two, and I was sent on my way.

"That is not what I have," I huffed as I met up with Jared and made my copay at the front desk.


"Gluten intolerance.  That is not what this is, and this diet is not going to help."  I was, in all honesty, being a huge bitch.  That's what the thought of eliminating all things tasty and junk-food-y from my diet did to me.

" should at least try it.  Just for two weeks or something, so you can see if it helps at all," Jared suggested, typing something into his phone.  "Look, here, it says some of the symptoms of gluten intolerance are fatigue, depression, nausea, dizziness, and migraines.  That sounds just like you!  You need to try it."

Ugh.  Fine.  "But it's not going to do anything."

That weekend was Super Bowl Sunday, so I gorged myself on cupcakes and chicken wings.  "It's like my last supper," I explained to Jared, like I usually do the day before I start a "diet."

I started the gluten-free diet the next day, and I've stuck with it since.  I'm not going to lie to you, it does sort of suck.  The gluten-free cupcakes are always the first ones to sell out at cupcake shops, and Cookies Etc doesn't offer any options for me (son of a bitch).  Gluten-free bread is freaking awful, all dry and crumbly, and the one (frozen) pizza I have tried was the same.  My Valentine's Day dinner with my husband took place at Doughy Joey's, simply because they had a gluten-free menu and most other places did not.  I miss my Campbell's soups and my Twizzlers, and I am still not letting myself think about the fact that I really can't have anything besides a salad at Panera Bread.  (Sob.  I thought about it.)

But.  Here's the thing.  It's working.

I slipped up and ate gluten when my mom said it was safe to eat a Kit Kat (no.  No it wasn't, Mom.), and the next day I had shooting pains in my fingers and hands (like I had the previous summer when my other doctor was convinced I had rheumatoid arthritis), like four canker sores in my mouth OUT OF NOWHERE, and two dizzy/fainting episodes.  I also had a good amount of gluten when I drank some cough syrup (didn't even think about that), which resulted in vomit.  I had no other episodes, no migraines (which I usually get at least twice a week), and my mood was so much better.

You guys, I can't just shrug these things off as coincidences.  I have felt better this whole month (knock on wood!) than I have for maybe the entire year.  So I suppose I am just going to have to bid adieu to PopTarts and Pizza Hut's glorious stuffed crust.  (Which, let's face it, were not being so kind to my waistline.)  I'm pretty amazed at the way the month turned out, because I was super skeptical at first.  Jared has also considered going gluten-free, but the siren song of his WonderBread and his Apple Jacks is just too irresistible at the moment.

Though many gluten-free options aren't as good, most of them are.  These are some foods that have been my savior this month.

These sort of tear up the roof of your mouth like Cap'N Crunch tends to...but oh they are good.  Like a toned-down version of Reese's Puffs.  

Gorton's Grilled Tilapia (and other fish selections)
Jared hates when I pop these in the microwave because they make the entire house smell like a fish market.  But they taste amazing.  I am partial to the lemon pepper kind.  (I should note here, most meat that isn't the lunch meat variety is gluten-free.  Thank god.  There are also some good breaded chicken strips out there that don't have gluten.)

Thank God for Pillsbury!  They make at least 3 varieties of gluten-free dough.  I love this chocolate chip cookie dough, and, though it says 'Please do not eat raw dough' on the tub, I just can't help myself.  They also make pizza dough, and Jared made me some homemade pizza with it the other night that was surprisingly awesome.

I have also loved the many gluten-free noodles there are, and rice and corn-based mixes have been very handy to have.  I am still searching, though, for a decent-tasting bread without gluten in it.  Let me know if you find any :)