Monday, November 15, 2010

Pugfest: The Happiest Place on Earth

It doesn’t even matter that this post is like two months overdue. You’re about to forget it because I am going to blow your mind with the cutest pictures you’ve ever seen. EVER!


Last month we attended, for the second year in a row, Pugfest, our local Pug Rescue’s annual festival, celebrating the most unconditionally happy, loving, affectionate and interesting creatures in all of the world. I am the proud person of such a being, Murphy the Pug Extraordinaire. He also happens to be the most handsome of his breed and though he only holds one beauty title – 2007 Runner up for Cutest Dog in Hillcrest (he was robbed), I think you can only agree with me. Here he is with all of his Pugfest 2010 pals:

Murphy's the ferocious one. He's pretending, of course.

Tucker the baby pug. Just as cute sideways.

Pug lady, with some of her pugs, plus Murphy. Later, for the costume contest, they all dressed up like pumpkins and went as a pugkin patch. Cute overload.
 
This sweet guy looks like Yoda in a sweater, with his little dark face. Sometimes Murph gets this grumpy, embarrassed face when I try to dress him up. Not a fan.
 
Murphy in his Razorback sweater. Aside from any day he gets people food or a treat, Pugfest is his favorite day. He loves communing with his kind.

Pugfest was super fun and we all enjoyed hanging out with these super loving and affectionate dogs, but there were also several sweet animals - some with health issues, some who had been abused and some who's owners didn't want to or couldn't care for them anymore. The NWA Pug Rescue is run by a group of really generous, hardworking people who really love these animals and want to find them loving, caring people to live with. If you are interested, you can learn more at http://pugrescuenwa.typepad.com/.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Euro-Bound

T minus 8 days until the Great Hensley-Nichols’ European Adventure 2010. That’s right, folks, Huzbo and I fly out of XNA next Saturday bright and early at 6 a.m. Yes, it’s early and yes, we do have a nine hour layover in Atlanta, but let’s focus on the important stuff, here. Like German beer and Czech beer and Austrian beer. And all of that other fun Euro-cool stuff.


So we’ll arrive in Munich on Sunday and have reservations at the Wombat City Hostel for the first two nights. I’ve stayed there before and love it. Super fun, clean and two blocks from the train station. I love hostels, mostly because I love the possibility, even probability, of meeting super interesting, open-minded people from around the world. Steven thinks it’s going to be sketchy and uncomfortable. He’s lame, though, so I don’t listen to him.

While in Munich, we’ll definitely have to spend some time at the Hofbrauhaus and I really want to visit the remains of the Nazi concentration/death camp, Dachau. I missed visiting any Holocaust memorials on my last trip, but will definitely be going this time around. It’s not exciting at all, but I think it’s super important to go, pay tribute and recognize the people that lived through and died during that horrible time in history.

Tuesday we’ll leave Munich for Prague and I cannot be more excited. It’s been on the top of my travel list for awhile now and I’ve heard super fantastic things about the city. Also, they have fantastic cheap beer. Gotta love that they haven’t converted to the Euro yet, which means our American dollars might actually buy us something. Score!

We don’t have a Czech place to stay picked out, but they have great hostels and super, SUPER cheap hotels. Like, five star for $100. For realz. We also don’t yet have a to do list for the city, but all suggestions are appreciated. I’m thinking pub crawl, for sure.

Then on to Salzburg, Austria. This will probably be only a day trip, but Steven’s never been and I think he will love the Festung Hohensalzburg, a giant fortress built on a mountain in the middle of the city. It’s wicked. I also want to check out the market held every Thursday. There are thousands of sauerkraut options, and you can even buy sauerkraut juice. Hello, Heaven.

We plan on leaving Austria for Munich on Thursday or Friday, depending on what’s shaking at the time. Unfortunately, our plane flies out of Munich Sunday morning and we’re scheduled to rejoin the working world the next day. Lame, I know. But I really can’t complain about an eight day vacation. Yeah, we’re cool.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Get Your Giveaway On

Ms. Alli Walker, longtime friend and fabulous blog writer, posted a lovely in-home date giveaway today. Check it out!

http://www.alliwalker.com/

Monday, October 18, 2010

Oh, the Updates

I am shamefully behind on my blog updates. I admit it, but I have very, very good reasons (isn’t that how all excuses begin?).

The first and most exciting is that I started a new job last week! I’ve moved from a purely marketing communication role into project management for a specialized marketing company. As you can probably tell, I’m still trying to pick up the lingo, but I think it will keep me busy and engaged, which is a definitely plus for me. Boredom is toxic. If I’m not 100% engaged and challenged by what I’m doing, then I’m probably 100% useless. I fully expect this new venture to fulfill that need and the people and environment are both fantastic. Everyone is professional, yet friendly and they do a great job of making you feel welcome and appreciated. Key, very key.

Huzbo and I have also been exploring a bit, both in our city and outside it. We took the pug to Pugfest not last Saturday, but the one before (photos to come, of course) and have made an effort to find a couple of few new restaurants (mixed reviews, more to come).

We also just got back, meaning at midnight last night, from a whirlwind trip to DC. I had never before visit the District, but Stevo had been a couple of times before. We were also lucky enough to meet up with a few friends who have recently relocated. Knowing folks in whatever town you visit is generally the key to making a good trip into a great one and our friends definitely did not disappoint in this case. Mitchell and Alisha gave us the tour of the DuPont circle and even let us crash on their air mattress the first night. Since our flight got in super late, I couldn’t stomach an extra $150 for a hotel room. We relocated to the Omni Shoreham in Woodley Park for the next two nights and I must say that this famous hotel did not disappoint. It was quite fancy, especially considering that we “rolled the dice” on Priceline and got a FABULOUS rate. This is really the only way to go in DC, as hotels are generally waaaaay too expensive. Some people can’t handle not knowing the hotel their booking beforehand, but it’s really not an issue if you specify the area and star rating that you require. Seriously. 

View of the hotel from across the river.

Stock photo, but our room looked pretty much the same, minus the super fancy wine and fruit and cheese plate. We Pricelined it, we're obviously not ballers.

We did so, so much walking. I literally have a strained knee or something and even had to buy a more comfortable pair of boots at the Urban Outfitters in Georgetown. Before you condemn me for my impulse buy, you should know that I’ve been searching for a suitable pair of gray, low-heeled boots for sometime now. I found a pair of Frye’s that I loved, but couldn’t bear to pay the requisite $350. So when I spied the $68 price tag on these perfect boots, I snatched them up, fought my way through the throngs of Saturday afternoon Georgetown tourists/shoppers and happily parted with my $70ish bucks. So worth it.
Anyway, we hit up all of the usual monuments and even got to watch the Razorbacks get completely screwed out of the Auburn game at the official DC Arkansas Alumni bar. Disgusting, seriously, but the bar, Trusty’s on Capitol Hill, offered the perfect dive bar atmosphere that I much prefer over snooty places. A good time was had by all and I randomly met a guy that went to the same high school as me. Weird, but awesome.


Overall, it was a fantastic trip with perfect weather and great friends. Thank you Lisa for the wonderful recommendations – I think we hit like 70% of the spots that you suggested and thoroughly enjoyed them all. While I’m happy to check DC off of my travel to do list, I definitely wouldn’t mind a follow up trip sometime soon.

Pics to follow. I’m so behind, I know…
 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Travel Extravaganza

If there’s anything you should know about me, it’s that I am always, ALWAYS up for a trip somewhere. And I’m always planning a trip somewhere. I don’t know what it is, but I was bitten with the travel bug early and just can’t seem to see enough of the world. I’m not discriminate, either. I can appreciate a random trip to Memphis for Rendevous’ barbeque just as much as an overseas trip to Paris. I love to learn and no matter where you go, there’s always something new to explore and learn about.

With this little bit of personal information, along with the fact that I’m a crazy list maker, it should be of no surprise that right after Steven and I got hitched, I forced him to sit down and make a list of Places We Want to Travel Before We Procreate. It just makes planning smoother when you have a list to go by, no?

Anyway, Germany was on the top of his list. Ever since I’ve known him, he’s wanted to go. I even bought a guidebook to Munich for his 25th birthday, the first one that I was around for. The two top cities on my list were Washington D.C. (I know, it’s despicable that I’ve never been) and Prague. So, in my very extreme bout of summer restlessness, I decided that we must visit these places and soon. I’m still surprised at myself for not just booking a ticket for the following weekend (ok, I can be a tad impulsive at times). But, I was able to hold off until….next weekend!

You heard it right. We are beginning our mini-travel extravaganza with my very first trip to D.C. next Thursday and I am super stoked. Thanks to a couple of friends either from or now living in the area, we have a very ambitious to do list, but I’m most excited about the Natural History Museum and the Holocaust Museum. I cannot wait to see all of the amazing memorials, statues, buildings, etc. I’m just really afraid that I’ll fall in love and never want to leave. But would that really be so bad?

Don’t be worried about Steven, folks. We’re following up our D.C. trip with one to Munich, Prague and Salzburg in November, over the week of Thanksgiving week. Though it’s sort of like a belated honeymoon, the romance will be kept to a minimum, considering my sister is meeting and travelling with us and we’re staying in 10-bed hostels. I don’t think our companions would appreciate a lot of kissy face.

Either way, I’m so freaking excited about the food, the beer and seeing the sights in Prague. I’ve been to Munich and Salzburg before as part of a much longer backpacking trip, but didn’t get to really explore since we were only in Munich for a couple of days and just passed through Salzburg on a day trip. Huzbo was a little bummed that we couldn’t make if for Oktoberfest, but we’ll definitely get to enjoy the Christmas fairs and whatnot. And come on, you can ALWAYS get tasty beer and brats in Munich. But between you and me, I’m way more excited about Czech beer.

So what’s the point of travelling if you don’t have a camera? Ok, there might be sort of a point to it, but a camera is nonetheless essential. Sadly, my little point and shoot Lumix has died and until Monday we were without camera, which is a definite issue if you’re planning to visit super photo-worthy cities. After tons of research and debate, we settled on a camera that we thought would serve our travel needs now and our family-building needs later (assuming that any piece of technology will last more than 3 years these days). We picked the Sony Cybershot H55 with a ginormo for a point and click 10x zoom. We also got a 16 gig memory card which is admittedly too big, but nonetheless impressive to photo-challenged me. I’m excited. I was sold when I played with the sweep panorama in the store. You can take 360 panoramic pictures. At first I didn’t think we would ever need it, but how could you not want to take a 360 picture of Paris from Sacre Couer (Paris is next on Steven’s list)? I know you guys can’t even handle the anticipation of my fantastic photos. I’ll be sure to share.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H55 14.1 MP Digital Camera (Silver)
Isn't it cute? It's not super small, but still compact enough to comfortably travel with. We ordered it at Walmart.com because it's like $30 cheaper than anywhere else, even Walmart stores, and because Huzbo gets an employee discount (a baller 10%). It is scheduled to come in tomorrow, just in time for documenting Friday's home improvement projects and Pugfest Saturday.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Birth Control

Let’s talk about sex, friends. Specifically, let’s talk about contraceptives and their risks. Actually, let’s just talk about one in particular – hormonal birth control.

Now, to begin, let’s clear up a little piece of misinformation that I’ve heard buzzing around recently: All feminists do not think all women should be on birth control (I’m talking about “the pill”). Sadly, our culture just loves to stereotype entire groups of people into believing or being this thing or that thing. It makes people that exist outside of our comfort zone seem less threatening. Like a “know thy enemy” approach, except the little boxes we try to put people in are generally far too small to contain them.

Anyway, I digress. Basically, what I’m saying is that many people, including those committed to learning about and educating folks about women’s interests, see the dangers that birth control poses. I include myself in this category.

Now, much of what I have to say is anecdotal and comes from personal experience. One reason for this is that not enough research has been conducted on the long term effects of birth control on women’s health. The other is that this is my blog and I can talk about issues from my perspective. That said, look here and here and here and here for more medical information about birth control.

So I’ll begin with my own experiences. I suspect other women can relate to how I’ve felt.
I started having sex at a relatively young age. The pluses and minuses of that choice are not to be debated in this particular forum because, well, it’s my bizness. Anyway, I was very much not into repeating the mistakes of those around me by having a baby at a young age, so I sought various means of contraception. This is all to say that I’ve been around the block when it comes to contraception and I’ve seen a fairly representative sampling (for one person) of primary care physicians and gynecologists. Hey, this body is a wonderland and I’m set to protect it. I get my annual exams.

I’ve also experienced migraines with aura since I was in fifth grade. Yeah, feel very sorry for me because they suck a lot of ass. I’ve tried various drugs, stopped drinking caffeine for periods, tried to avoid sleep exhaustion, etc. The only real connection that I’ve found is that they’re related to hormones and stress, and I’m guessing that those two items are also related to one another, so I boil it down to hormones. What is the justification for my educated guess, you ask? Well, each time that I’ve ever had a migraine, since I was 16 or so, I have been on a hormonal birth control of some sort. Each time I get off of the birth control, the migraines stop. To be clear, I was not on birth control in fifth grade, but I was going through puberty, which I’d call a pretty hormonal experience).

Each time I went to the doctor and confessed (because it always feels like a dirty confession) that I was sexually active, they would tell me that I needed to get on birth control. I’d say I didn’t like taking pills daily or that it made me have my period constantly or that it made me have headaches and they’d tell me to try something else. Finally, at 25, I wised up and told the doctor to fuck off and to quit trying to push her pills down my throat. Condoms are just fine with me, thankyouverymuch. Ok, so I’m not that rude. I didn’t actually tell her to fuck off, but I did tell her I wasn’t interested. She said I should try an IUD. I said hell no. Then, to her credit, she made the connection. She asked me about my migraines and told me that I should have never, ever been on a hormonal birth control because, since I got migraines with aura, my risk of stroke was super high.

STROKE? Wait, wait, wait. This can’t be, I thought. Surely someone would have told me before now. I have been to doctors, even headache ones. I ALWAYS fill out my medical history questionnaires completely and the migraine thing is front and center. Why the hell had someone not mentioned this before? Turns out, people, even doctors are irresponsible. It also turns out that some doctors love to pass out birth control like candy without considering or discussing the risks. Why doesn’t every woman know – why aren’t they telling us in schools – that birth control (among other things) can cause strokes, breast cancer and a whole host of other things? My hypothesis is simple – people don’t really give a shit about women’s health. Which is why they’re constantly pushing this untested Guardasil shot on us, why they don’t educate men on how to prevent diseases such as HPV and why there is tons fewer research dollars for issues affecting women than those affecting men.

We all love “my friend” stories, so I’ll share a couple in brief to back up what I’m saying about birth control. My friend had crippling migraines for years. She quit taking birth control. She stopped having migraines. My other friend has taken birth control for a couple of years. She had a stroke two weeks ago. She’s 24. No one told her about the risks. She figured her doctor would, being a doctor and all. She doesn’t have healthcare and is having to foot the bill for the MRI, etc. to see if permanent damage has been done to her body. There’s no way to know for sure that it was from birth control, but, ya know. Another friend works at a hospital and told me about a 17 year old girl who came in with traumatic brain injuries. She had a massive stroke. The only cause they could figure out was birth control. This is insane.

Ask questions before putting things in your body. Don’t ever let yourself be pressured to take something by a physician without tons of information. Find a physician that doesn’t pressure you (I finally did and I’m sticking with her, despite the grueling time spent in the waiting room). Use condoms. Tell people to talk about these issues – with their doctors, with other women, with the bum on the street, it doesn’t matter.

This is a rant, I know. And you might disagree with me or believe that because I didn’t provide numbers and charts that what I’m saying is bullshit, which is all totally fine. You might love your birth control and never experience any problems. Either way, do some research of your own and listen to your body. Protect your body.

If you have other sites or books or whatever resources for information to share, I invite you to post it in your comments.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Thaner's Wedding In Photos

Since I've misplaced my dumb ol' camera, I had to steal all of these photo from the couple's sister-in-law, Jenae Turley. Thank you, Jenae!

Smoochy, smooch - the couple gets their kiss on to seal the deal. It was an absolutely beautiful day for a wedding at St. Catherine's at Bell Gable in Fayetteville.

Thaner and her dad, David, rode down to the ceremony very stylishly in this 1902 Mercedes. Baller! So of course we all had to strike a pose with it after the ceremony. I'm the short, awkward girl hidden in the middle. Wah, wah.

Now, on to the important part - the party! This was the loveliest and tastiest cake display that I've ever seen. For realz. Thank you, Rick's Bakery, for forcing me to try every single cake and thus adding an unwanted 5 lbs to my already voluptuous ass. My fave was the peanut butter-filled chocolate.


Gorgeous feather table displays! The tablecloths were also pretty sexy. Tables alternated these tablecloths and displays with white and roses, I think (paid attention to the decor up until my first glass of champagne, then it was full on fun focus).


Maybe they were carnations?

There was a photo booth. We got to wear silly hats and whatnot, take pictures and make scrapbook pages for the couple. Mine were all inappropriate. Shocker, I know. Steven really liked the costumes. I really liked the champagne (as evidenced in next photo.)


Ok, so, I can only tell myself over and over again that I'm not really this pudgy and the dress was all scrunched up from dancing up a storm. Normally I wouldn't share with the world such an unflattering photo, but come on, we're having a really, really good time. Sometimes you take one for the team in order to accurately communicate a message. This is mine: Annslee, I'm so very happy that you had the beautiful, super fun wedding that you've always wanted and that I was able to watch my best friend marry the person that she loves. I'm so blessed and proud that you asked me to be a part of it. I love you. Also, doesn't her booty look good in that dress?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ready for the Weekend

The week has flown by. I swear to you that Monday was only a few hours ago. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely not complaining, I just hate feeling like life is rushing by and that I might be missing something.

That said, I am ready for the weekend. More than ready. Brimming with excitement. Here’s why:

1. Tomorrow I have a big presentaito that I just want to put behind me. Public speaking is so not my forte.
2. Gretchen is coming up Friday and I feel like it’s been 100 years since I’ve seen her. Half of my best girlfriends are in Little Rock and, even though it’s just two and a half hours away, I hate that we’re not a part of each other’s everyday lives.
3. Sadie gets her stitches out Saturday morning and we get to ask the doctor why the hell she has taken to peeing all over the house. Sick, I know, but a disgusting reality.

And the drum roll please….

4. We’re hosting a Beers Around the World Brunch Tailgate and I can’t wait to cook brunch, hang out with friends, try the international brews that everyone brings and watch my first Razorback game of the season.

I’ve been wrapped up in wedding events the past two weekends and have totally missed out on my favorite time of year. But don’t get the wrong idea, I enjoy watching college football as much as the other guy, but I really love drinking beer outside with friends and the amazing weather that comes with the season. So mostly I love football by association.

In case you’re as nosy as I am, you’ll want to know what I’m serving. Here’s my menu:

• Sausage hash brown casserole
• Overnight French toast (I’ve never made it before, but it’s like a French toast casserole)
• Tons of bacon
• Salsa and chips (post brunch, during game snack)
• French onion dip
• Bacon cheddar dip (Gretchen’s making – I’m excited to try it because really, who doesn’t love creamy bacon and cheddar?)

It’s super simple and designed to be prepared mostly the night before. The last thing I want to do is be stuck in the kitchen while everyone else is having fun, watching the game and trying beers from around the world. I also made up some super cute scorecards so that everyone could keep track of their favorite and least favorite beers. Razorback themed, of course!

Everyone have a fantastic weekend and if you’re in Fayetteville Saturday morning, grab a sixer of your favorite brew and come on over.

P.S. – do you guys think the menu is appropriate for 20 ish people? I tend to go overboard and have tried to rein myself in on this particular event.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Bachelorette Takes KC - Part 1

So my best friend and partner in crime got married yesterday. The wedding was gorgeous and a total blast. I didn't take pictures. I'm stupid :(

But....as the Matron of Honor, I worked with her cousin, our former roommate and the Maid of Honor, Sarah, to plan a fabulous bachelorette party in Kansas City, MO. It was a pretty classic Annslee-themed weekend, complete with mini to go margaritas for the drive up (I drove and I am the vision of responsibility, I did not participate in the roadtrip boozing. Drink responsibly, kids), Boulevard Brewery tour, Arthur Bryant's beyond delicious ribs, Belvedere and Moet table service and unlimited mimosas throughout the weekend. What more could group of party girls ask for?

The weekend recap, in photos:
More party pics to follow!



Thursday, September 9, 2010

Busy, Busy Bee

I have not abandonded you. I know you are concerned because I know that you live and breathe by each paragraph I post. But alas, it's been a very, very busy couple of weeks. With the BFF's wedding, work picking up, the start of football season, Sadie's cancer removal, my treasure hunt and the myriad other daily distractions, I haven't been able to muster up the energy or time to build a proper post. I promise to do better after this weekend. Swear.

You have to look forward to the following recaps:
- Annslee's Kansas City Bachelorette Blowout
- Annslee's Rehearsal Dinner and Wedding Review
- Sadie's Tumor Removal
- Ragan's Extreme Excitement for the Upcoming Football Season
- Beers Around the World Brunch Tailgate

That little preview should tied you over, my adoring fans.

P.S. - I'm really not kidding myself. I know that you only check my blog to avoid work and that's ok. I live in my own world, anyway.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

In Love with Overstock

I just purchased the most perfect barstools for the cheaps. Now, normally, this thrifty lover of second hand furniture would not consider $50/barstool a steal, but they are fabulous and were double the price on CB2's website. And I received a mysterious $10 off my total purchase at checkout, bringing the grand total with shipping to $46 per stool. Not sure where the discount came from, but I also really don't care. Overstock is my hero.

Here are my fantastic new stools:


And the search continues for the perfect dining chairs...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Too Tasty

You probably wouldn't even like it. Most people hate tasty things.

These little guys were literally the best turkey burgers I've ever had. The egg and cheese are key in keeping the from falling through the grill grates, but we all decided that the recipe needed a bit more of a kick. Next time I'm going to add Siracha or cayenne pepper. Also, to keep it super healthy we used toasted sandwhich rounds instead of buns.

Deliciousness:

The weather has been absolutely fantastic and we have yet to purchase an outdoor table, so we just moved the coffee table outside. It works. Our friend Amy came over to help us with the difficult job of taste testing.

Also, mimosas are good.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Breaking News: Turkey Curry Burgers are Probably Good

You heard it here first: I'm makin' me some turkey boogers. Turkey curry boogers, even.

This is a real-time post, so I won't have results until I throw them on the grill and nom down, but here's what I've made so far:

-Thaw a pound of very lean turkey, put in large bowl
-Add one egg (the lean turkey falls apart really easily; this and the cheese will help keep it together)
-Add approx. a quarter of one onion, diced (I measure very little when I cook, so deal with it)
-Add a fresh minced garlic clove, not powdered - no one likes a lazy girl
-Add some celery salt, Cavender's, several squirts of Worchestshire and a spoonful or so of curry powder
-Throw in a handful of feta and mozzarella cheese (mine was fat free, but the fat full definitely ups the flavor factor)

Mush together and slap on a heated grill. Yours might look like mine:

Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday's Dose of Cute

Groggy and unhappy about the start of another work week, this is what I opened my bedroom door to this morning:


Could they get any sweeter? Maybe only if this was their nap after a busy morning of cleaning the kitchen, vaccuuming the living room and brewing me a pot of coffee. But I'll take what I can get.


Fingers crossed that they're my good luck charm for a potentially exciting and fruitful week ahead.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Julia Sugarbaker is My Hero

(photo taken from http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/sf/travel/kyotos-9h-hoteltravel-124833?image_id=1700322)

You can't tell me that this 9 hour hotel in Kyoto, Japan does not immediately remind you of the Designing Women episode (season 4, episode 9) where Julia and Suzanne travel to Tokyo to visit Perky (their mother) and pick up Suzanne's car. C'mon, I'm not the only woman out there who has seen every episode at least three times, right? Their antics, grace and comraderie were every Southern woman/little girl's dream. But Julia was the best, hands down. RIP Dixie.

The Golden Girls is a whole other obsession...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Experiencing an Energy Slump? Try Some Chalky Cat Pee

It’s Tuesday and I have zero energy. This is very bad news for the huge week that I’m right smack dab in the middle of. What’s a girl to do?

Well, what she is NOT to do is consume the putrid, pointless Emergen-C concoction that the Mama swears by. Have I mentioned that she's crazy?
How many ways can I say "disgusting"?

I’ve been super draggy this afternoon and had a box left over from the cold and flu season that was this winter (see above - same flavor). I must have snotted out my good sense and memory while struggling with the debilitating sinus infection that I bought the stuff to fight off (it failed), because I do not remember it triggering such a violent gag reflex. And don’t try that “you just got the wrong flavor” business on me. It all tastes like chalky cat pee.

In an energy rut? Feeling a little under the weather? Get a Red Bull, iced coffee or a B vitamin (for the record, I don't take them because they make me nauseous, but I still believe they work). Stay away – far away – from this ineffectual poison (and don’t tell the Mama that I said she was a nutbag).

Disclaimer: This is an honest product review. Don't you dare come after me for damages or slander, because I can't help it that your product sucks.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Blog Blunder

How could I forget Jill's blog, Not So Soccer Mom? I must be on the loopy juice this week. Let the record show that www.notsosoccermom.com is amended to the list of Ragan's Blog Recs. Get it.

P.S. - Can you tell I'm feeling quite alleritive today?

Footwear Faux Pas

Today I realized that I have made an egregious oversight in regards to the material covered on this blog. It’s simply unjustifiable that I created a blog and named it Pistol in Pumps as a dual reflection of my sassy attitude and my love for fabulous footwear, yet I’ve neglected to write at all about said fabulous footwear. Well, Missies, the buck stops here.

So you’re in luck. Today I happen to be clicking around in my very favorite pair of heels. They are the pride and joy of my extensive shoe collection.


These are a few of the reasons why I love them and refuse to allow anyone in the world to borrow them:

1. They are tall, very tall – upwards of 4 inches. Keep your judgments about my future physical pain to yourself. My 5’4 stature comes nowhere close to matching my 5’11 attitude, so I enlist a little help.
2. My idol, Gwen Stefani, made them for me with her very own hands. That might be an exaggeration, but they part of her L.A.M.B. line and I feel like they were made just for me.
3. They were a gift from my mom and pretty much claim the title of the Best Gift I’ve Ever Received.
4. They are the most expensive of my collection, see item #2 (I hope that someday the pair of black patent peep toe Louboutins will claim this title, but for now I appreciate what I have).
5. They go with everything.
6. My feet are super narrow (unlike my hips) and for whatever reason (probably that high price tags correspond with narrow insteps) these are perfect. For this reason, no, you may never borrow my fabulous pair of L.A.M.B.s and you will undergo a width test for any other pair. You have been warned.

Regarding item #4, please don’t feel discouraged from donating to the Ragan Loves Louboutin Fund. All forms of payment are accepted.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Blog Sharing

As an opinion leader amongst my group (they ask me what I think sporadically, about the unimportant stuff), I’m approached by everyone (my one friend, Lauren) to share with them the list of blogs that I keep up with (stalk, more like). I thought you, my adoring readership (the four or five friends and family that find my internal banter a sort of amusing distraction from work) might be interested in checking out the list of blogs that are on my daily to read list. They are hilarious, informative, inspirational or all three (no joke). The creepy part of me just loves keeping up with these women’s lives, accomplishments and unique perspectives. I hope you also enjoy creeping on them.

Here we go, in no particular order:

• The Alli Way - http://www.alliwalker.com/
• Soule Mama – http://www.soulemama.com/
• Independent Belle – http://www.independentbelle.com/
• Angry Black Bitch - http://angryblackbitch.blogspot.com/

As part of my delusion of one day running a marathon, I’ve recently started reading Skinny Runner (http://skinnyrunner.com/).

And of course I am obsessed with Apartment Therapy (http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/), mostly because my new house is still in shambles and I like to pretend that I’m a fancy decorator type just searching for the right piece or paint color. Apartment Therapy feeds my delusion.

Do you have any fabulous blogs that you keep up with? I’m always in the market for witty banter, crafty ideas or just distractions from professional productivity.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Beer, BBQ and B.O.

Ahh….Americana.

As if I could ever forget just how gritty and eclectic home state can be, last night was a definitely reminder. But before I start, you must know that I am obsessed with fairs, carnivals, festivals, whatever you prefer to call them. If you can buy fried goods from a trailer, ravage a turkey leg in public and then pay $5 to risk your life and dinner on duct taped machine, then I’m in redneck heaven.

So we began our Tontitown Grape Festival adventure with fried chicken, spaghetti and chicken ravioli from the Venesian Inn in Tontitown. The town, right outside of Springdale, was founded by Italian immigrants some 100-plus years ago and is home of my favorite family and yours, the Duggars (I’m sorry to report that we missed them by a few hours). After a hundred years of circling for a parking spot, Huzbo, Abbles, the Jetta and I found a spot off road in what seemed to be a ravine. Don’t worry, the Jetta survived with minimal damage. Must be those new fancy tires I forked over $250 last weekend.

The half busted lights of my favorite ride, the Gravitron, called to me, but the snaking lines of teenagers and snaggle-toothed meth heads reminded me that for this Pistol, that shipped had sailed somewhere around 10th grade. Nonetheless, Abbles and I managed to talk Huzbo into holding our purses for just one little ride. We should have known it wasn’t going to be as fulfilling as we’d hoped when we noticed our ride mates were under the age of 10. The only saving grace was that the ride was called the Hustler. Seriously. Even better, we passed another called Scat. You gotta appreciate Carnie humor.


Oh, and rest assured, Ladies, that glittery eye shadow is still cool. The classics always endure.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Suck it, Prop 8

Enough said.

Shedding Those Pesky 500 Kilowatts

While I certainly cannot claim to be an environmental maven, I do consider myself a logical, socially-minded individual who derives a dangerous amount of satisfaction from saving cash on the boring stuff that you just can’t get avoid sacrificing your hard earned cash on. Like electricity. And water. And gas. I mean, how boring can it get? You can’t even entertain yourself with comparison shopping. Now, shoe shopping is a different story. There are green ones and gold ones and pointy and peep toe. That’s some good, worthwhile shopping. But I digress.

The point is that reducing your electric, water and gas usage is a good thing in many, very measurable ways. I know this not only because I am a smarter than a doorknob, but because I recently attended a pitch at my office given by a rep from the University of Arkansas Applied Sustainability Center. Basically, you spend a good 10 minutes signing up for an Earth Aid account at www.earthaid.net. The website downloads your utility usage information for the past year (less if you’ve lived there a shorter time) and, if you’re me, you get to be astonished and ashamed that you’re more than 3.2 times above the national average. Oh, the unbearable shame…

I bet you’re thinking that the crazy high numbers were all part of my diabolical plan to create a high baseline so that I could earn extra points for my dramatic improvement. You might be right and you might be wrong. Either way, I recommend checking it out. My plan is to track our usage, brag about my highly evolved sense of environmental responsibility and spend the money I saved on a new pair of shoes. A nice give and take in my opinion – my carbon emissions shrink and my shoe collection grows.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Summer Doldrums

It’s Official. I’m in a rut. Maybe it’s the summer heat slowing life down or maybe there are other factors weighing me down, but I am undeniably bored and generally discontent with certain parts of life. It’s probably apparent through my very few recent posts. My sleepy little mountain town and the monotony that is grown up life has become disconcerting. Maybe it’s just a bump in the road. Maybe it’s something more. Am I being melodramatic? Do you ever feel like things move too slowly – like you’re constantly trying to slow yourself down to keep pace with everyone else? I think I'm just ready for some excitement. Hello vacation, where are you?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mission Repaint Dining Room: Accomplished

I must say that I am infinitely proud of myself for my newest house project. Ok, so it really only involved a very simple paint job, but our dining room now looks 1,000 times better. Goodbye putrid mauve circa 1991; hello gorgeous Patina Blue (Valspar Signature color with the primer already in it - fabulous!).

I’m gonna take my self-aggrandizement a step further. Huzbo and I finished the whole project in two and a half hours. And yes, I actually convinced him to sacrifice part of his weekend for another home improvement project. I’ve got mad persuasive skills. Snap!

Ugly, horrid before:


Gorgeous, calming after:


Now, while the room obviously is not completed, I think it's still a hell of a lot better than it was before. I'm on the lookout for some larger scale artwork (on the cheaps) and a fabulous mid-century modern buffet piece or china display. Holla if you hear of any.

You must be thinking to yourself, “Wow, Ragan, this must have been the absolute highlight of your weekend.” Well, adoring masses, you’d be wrong. The only thing that could top such an accomplishment: Food.

You know you’re old when you consider a perfect weekend eating and home improvement projects…

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dirty Little Secret

I am a wedding registry stalker and I can’t control it. The first step is admitting you have a problem, right?

I can’t explain why I find it so interesting to creep on acquaintances’ wedding registries, but if you’re getting married or have recently done so, I probably have a pretty good idea as to what you new kitchen is going to look like.

I like to think that this strange mini-obsession comes from a good, healthy place. Maybe it’s that I don’t feel quite comfortable squeezing you for details about your huge life events, but I still care. And a little part of me feels like I’ve participated in your happiness just a bit when I check out what you’re hoping people get you. Or maybe I’m just jealous that I can’t have all of your presents. Bet these folks would really appreciate it if I purchase something from their registry, rather than just perusing.

Now that I’ve gone off the creep end, I’ll close this little post down. But really, it’s not as weird as it seems, right?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Maybe it’s a Southern Thing…

I recently came upon a post on Apartment Therapy (http://ht.ly/2e631) about a particularly considerate house guest and the author requested comments on other lovely, considerate things that readers’ house guests had done for them. Reading through the comments, I was struck with an idea so foreign to me that I didn’t know how to comprehend it. Some people despise and even forbid houseguests. What?!

Like I said, maybe it’s a Southern thing, or maybe I’m an overly hospitable freak, but I simply don’t understand why someone would turn away a friend in need of a place to stay, or even a non homicidal looking stranger, from their home. I mean, I can sort of see how one can be inconvenienced or mildly uncomfortable with the cleaning, preparing and grocery shopping bit, but it is inconceivable to me that one would not derive some satisfaction from enjoying the company of their friends and helping to make their travels more comfortable. Its called karma, bitches.

Am I too Southern? Too trusting? Too much of a homebody? Is it weird that I genuinely enjoy making sure that my house is as comfortable as possible for my family, friends and friends of friends that need a free place to stay? Maybe I’ve just travelled a lot and have had to rely on others’ hospitality. Or maybe I am a little too maternal for my own good. Or maybe it’s just that I’m not an asshole like those grumpy commenters.

Granted, sometimes people aren’t the best guests – they don’t make the bed or leave like 20 peppermint wrappers scattered across the room (same guest) or eat my last chocolate-coconut Kashi bar (really I don’t mind, it was just an example) – but I am nonetheless pleased that I was able to provide them with the same comfort and friendship that so many others have shown me. I don’t know, maybe I just know how to share.

So, friends, family and non homicidal strangers: You are always welcome at my home. I have no problem washing the sheets before and after your stay, making sure that you have clean towels and preparing a meal for you. Do try to make the bed, though; this Southern girl appreciates your manners. And just for the record, I also like iced tea and football.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Dining Room SOS

It's probably no surprise that my decorating sense of style is a little different. Maybe it's my mother's aforementioned hoarding, but I prefer an eclectic, vintage and modern decor to the out of the box, prefab and pre-coordinated look any day. The upside is that when you're able to achieve that perfect balance, your living spaces are cozy, comfortable, fashionable and sentimental. The downside is that if you lack the funds, creativity, time or any combination of the three, your rooms look dumpy, sloppy and cluttered. This is my struggle.

My current room of focus is my oddly laid out, very chartreuse kitchen and eat in dining room. I’ve found a photo of the casual dining look that I want and I’ve even purchased the most perfect 1950s wooden movie theater seats, but I just don’t know where to go for the table (modern-looking chairs are easy thanks to Tracy's fantastic West Elm wedding gift). I’ve scoured Craigslist and local flea markets, but when I describe to people that I want a beat up, but solid barn work table, I get the craziest looks. Am I off on my description? Anyone have any ideas of where to go with this? Or maybe you have one of these in your garage and would like to drive over and drop off on my doorstep? I would like that a lot.

Here’s the look that I’m going for:


(photo from http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Good Goddess of Deliciousness - Crispy Creamy Avacado Fries!?!

I just came across this post on thekitchn.com and had to pass it on. This just might prove once and for all that everything is better fried (as if Oreo hadn't already cleared up that arguement).

Check it out here.

I'm so making these sometime this week and I'll get to keep them all to myself, as Huzbo is an irrational avacado hater. Sometimes I just don't get him...

Arkansas Summer Staycation

With holes still in our bank accounts from one expensive spring of nuptials and home buying, Huzbo and I are trying to tame our travel bug and find delights a little closer to home. I can’t promise that I’ll make ever event on my list, but making a list is really the first step to accomplishing things, right?

Here’s my See Arkansas First travel to do list (descriptions come from their respective websites):

27th Annual Altus Grape Fest - Friday, July 30th & Saturday July 31st, 2009
http://www.altusgrapefest.com/

Botanical Garden of the Ozarks - http://www.bgozarks.org/events/

Farmer's Market - Sunday, May 2nd 9am to 2pm

The Fayetteville Farmers Market will begin on May 2nd at 9am. There will be a variety of vendors located in the Botanical Garden Parking Lot. The Market will occur every Sunday until the end of October. Please visit http://www.fayettevillefarmersmarket.org/ for more details including vendors and other items of interest.

Firefly Fling THE Festival for Families - Saturday, July 24th 7pm - 10pm
Come join us as daylight turns into night as we celebrate nature with art, music, food and play. We will have hands on activities for children of all ages including lots of water play! Dress up as your favorite woodland creature and critters and build a fairy house in the woods. This event will provide down-to-earth experiences that will reawaken our sense of belonging to the larger community of life, and ignite deep caring and concern for the Earth.
$6 for Individuals , $20 for a Family of 4

Cocktails in the Garden - Thursday, August 12th 6:00pm
Enjoy Moonflowers & Margaritas at Cocktails in the Garden, a fundraiser for the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks. Come casually dressed and wind down with a drink and light appetizers as you stroll through eight acres of paradise while listening to surprise entertainment.
Enter the number of tickets that you would like to buy in the boxes below:
» Member tickets @ $15 each
» Non Member tickets @ $20 each

Backyard Bluegrass Concert - Friday, August 27th Begins at 7pm
Join us for a night full of fun, food and music! This free concert will feature Lonesome Road. Bring your blanket or lawn chair and a picnic basket or reserve a gourmet box dinner from The Event Group. No carry-in wine or other alcoholic beverage allowed. Soda, water, beer, and wine will be sold. This concert is the second in the Summer Concert Series.

Mozart and Beethoven in the Garden - Sunday, September 19th 5pm
The Lyrique Quintette features the music of Mozart and Beethoven. Bring your blanket or lawn chair and a picnic basket or reserve a gourmet box dinner from The Event Group. No carry-in wine or other alcoholic beverage allowed. Soda, water, beer, and wine will be sold. This concert is the third and last in the Summer Concert Series.

34th Annual Hope Watermelon Festival - Thursday, August 12, 2010 - Saturday, August 14, 2010
http://www.hopemelonfest.com/

Also, don’t judge me for taking a tiny little trip or two to Kansas City. It certainly doesn’t qualify under my Arkansas Summer Staycation, but it’s still close and you can find amazing hotel deals on Priceline or by sweet talking a certain BFF employed by Hilton. And…I’m helping to plan the BFF’s bachelorette party there, so a little recon mission is totally justified, right?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

So Decadent You Can Feel Your Ass Grow Just Reading This

As promised, here is the super simple recipe for my sister's birthday cake:

Chocolate Orange Cake

1. Box of your favorite chocolate cake mix – Brandy (the sister) chose double fudge cake, but I’ve also used Devil’s Food
2. Prepare as directed on box instructions, but sub orange juice for water
3. Bake as directed in two round pans – mine are 9 inch pans, but I’m sure 8 inch ones would also work, your cake would just be a bit taller
4. Let cool completely
5. Once cool – don’t get all excited and jump the gun, your icing will melt off - gently level the top of one cake layer by slicing off the rounded top. Nom the leftover top part as you see fit, just make sure that the cake is level so that the second layer doesn’t slide off or look crazy.
6. Cover bottom layer (the one you just cut the top off of) with the toffee cream filling.
7. Plop the second layer on top of the bottom
8. Cover with icing and enjoy
9. If you wanted to be really cute, you could add little candied oranges to the top

Toffee Cream Filling

1. Take one regular-sized can of Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk and plop it in a medium saucepan (do not open the can), ensuring that the water just barely covers the can.
2. Bring the water to a boil and keep it boiling for four hours, ensuring that the water always comes to the top of the can (you’ll have to add water).
3. Open can and find toffee cream filling

It’s seriously that easy (thanks Brandy for the recipe)

Orange and Limóncello Icing

1. Buy a container of your favorite cream cheese icing
2. Plop it into a small-medium sized bowl
3. Zest 1 orange into the icing
4. Add ½ teaspoon of orange juice
5. Add 1 teaspoon of Limóncello, an Italian lemon liqueur
6. Mix together with rubber spatula and set in freezer to stiffen for approx 30 minutes
7. Spread on cake and enjoy

I suggest enjoying this treat with a glass of champagne, because, well, everything should be enjoyed with a glass of champagne. Don't concern yourself with the quality of the bubbly, your taste buds will be so busy with the sweetness of the cake that they won't care anyway.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Family + Friends + Food = The Perfect Weekend

I am a lucky gal. This weekend I had the all-too-unusual pleasure of spending time and eating some of Fayetteville’s most spectacular food with my sister, mother, grandmother, husband and friends. This happens, umm, never.

After an impromptu visit to the Northwest Arkansas airport, aka landing strip in a cow pasture, to pick up my sister, who has been stationed in Harrogate, England for the past year, we met up with two wonderful friends for sushi. While Wasabi is sometimes hit or miss, they were certainly on point the evening. I won’t go into how much sushi I shoveled into my mouth – it’s just gross. Despite my embarrassing eating, my party took a chance in going out with me after dinner. I’m not sure I would have been so gracious, were the sushi in the other mouth. But whatevs.

At this point Brandy was patiently awaiting the arrival of her bags, particularly since she had no toothbrush, face wash, clean clothes, or any of the other essentials that one needs in order to be allowed out. Going to bed with a vehement assurance that both bags would be on my doorstep the next morning, she remained calm. But of course only one showed up in the morning. I’ll not recap the entire ludicrous situation or the 20 (minimum) phone calls to United and American Airlines. Suffice it to say that the bag is lost and may or may not be recovered.

But we would not be deterred from our commitment to a lovely weekend. Mom arrived on Saturday and we did some light flea marketing, made amazing burgers from Richard’s Meat Market (go there, now) and drank far too many Sweet Tea cocktails. Take it from me – this is an essential and totally easy summer cocktail:

• 1 part sweet tea vodka
• 1 part water
• Lemon slice
Caution – it tastes just like sweet tea and goes down as smoothly. Watch yourself and only consume around people that will be your friends in the morning despite your crazy behavior.

So after a fabulous Sunday brunch at Café Rue Orleans and a quick jaunt up to Tontitown to purchase my vintage movie theater seats, which are going to make a fabulous bench for whatever dining table we eventually purchase, we watched the World Cup at Foghorn’s and consumed copious amounts of beer and wangs. The Viva la Jalapeño sauce is where it’s at.

The Nanny came up Sunday evening and we had a shrimp and crab boil, which is so nostalgic for me. The whole weekend was, really. Maybe it’s that make very strong associations with food and memories, but it seems that nearly all of the wonderful times that I’ve had with my family or friends have been accompanied by certain wonderful, comforting foods. Now, perhaps my growing derrière is an indication that either I have an amazingly wonderful life or I take my connection with good food a little too seriously, but I think that we all celebrate a little more heartily and enjoy each other’s company a little more when good, thoughtful food is in the mix.
This woman is grateful to have such wonderful people to enjoy fantastic food with.
Me, my sister, my mom and Nanny enjoying the yummy early birthday cake I made Brandy.



The cake is orange-chocolate cake with a toffee cream middle and orange and Limóncello icing – I’ll post the recipe tomorrow. It's super easy and ridiculously tasty.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

To Change or not to Change

So I have reached the point in newlywed-dom where I have to make a decision – do I adopt my partner’s last name or keep the one that I’ve had for the last 26 years? Now, I realize that if this is my only confusion in life, then I really don’t have much to complain about, but nonetheless, it is a fairly huge hassle and certainly a decision sure to endure for quite some time.

I must begin with a little background. I am not what you might consider a traditionalist. I am a feminist and also generally very practical. These things conflict more than you might think. First, I have identified with my name for 26 years. It’s me and I like to believe that while marriage might help me evolve as a person, it will not “change” me. In other words, Ragan is essentially the same person now that she was pre-marriage. So that’s part of the Keep the Hensley argument.

The other side is probably very similar to the argument that many feminists have made throughout history, which is essentially, “Screw you patriarchy. Why should I have to abandon my identity when that asshole I married doesn’t?” Or something like that. The one you’ve heard was probably much more eloquent and diplomatic, but you get the gist. And I wholeheartedly believe it. It makes no sense that I’m expected to not only sacrifice my identify, but that I should also spend a significant amount of my time filling out all of the paperwork if he doesn’t. The aversion to paperwork is my practical side shining through. What a waste of time.

In the same vein, why is it his family name that endures through generations and not mine? Chances are that I’m going to be more involved in the gestating, birthing and rearing of said posterity than he is (another conversation for another day). All this to say that I’m not comfortable with having to do all of the legwork and receive little benefit (not that carrying on one’s name is the sole benefit of parenthood).

But on the other hand…is it more practical to have just one name? Less explaining, less logistic hassle, etc. I’m just not sure that’s a good enough reason.
Our initial plan was to hyphenate both of our names, thus creating a shared family identity that recognizes both of us. But part of me, most likely the part indoctrinated by a patriarchal society, is still a little hesitant to make that move. Also, I’m not sure Hensley-Nichols would fit on most forms and would certainly be irritating as a signature…

What are your thoughts on the To Change or not to Change question?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Twilight: Take it for what it is

Twi hard fan or commited critic, you can’t open a webpage without seeing some sort of commentary on the Twilight franchise and I’m over everyone taking it so damn seriously. Let’s put the whole pop culture phenomenon in a tiny bit of perspective, shall we?

Twilight (the books and movies) are a lot of things, including, but not limited to:

•A trite, but nonetheless entertaining love story
•An excuse to either watch or visualize sexy men (while feeling creepy because one is under 18)
•Something to consume on an otherwise lazy weekend
•A recently pervasive piece of pop culture that provides a relational baseline between strangers
•Not-so-positive construction of women’s sexuality

Along the same lines, the Twilight series/saga is not a lot of things, including, but not limited to:

•Appropriate content for adolescent women to consume (do we really want young women to grow up pandering to a creepy, albeit super hot, old man?)
•Classroom literature
•Non-fiction, despite our deepest fantasies that a sexy, brooding, protective vampire is really out there waiting to find us
•To be taken too seriously

My verdict? Everyone stop taking these silly books and movies so damn seriously. Whether you’re a devoted fan or emphatic critic, take a moment to contextualize the whole hullabaloo. Accept the franchise for what it is – a relatively poorly written, but compelling fantasy romance that appeals to some women’s sexual and romantic desires. It is not real, nor is it really harmful in the scheme of things. It is not worth foul words on a message board, nor does it necessitate picking a “team” for either of the lead male characters. Wanna know why? Because they’re not real.

I say read it if you like, enjoy it for the simple piece of pool reading that it is and stop blowing up my Facebook feed with your weirdo comments.

Full disclosure: I spent an entire weekend finishing Breaking Dawn and I have read/seen the entire series.

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Tiny Little Product Endorsement, Paycheck Free

So, I’m not getting paid for this post, but I really should be.

Photo books – the gift grandmothers swoon over. Seriously.

In March the Huzbo and I got hitched, at the most amazing location, I might add. Thanks to our super creative photogs, our photos were gorgeous and deserving of much more than a sad old photo album. While the lay flat album with an acrylic cover was absolutely gorgeous, the $1000+ price tag was waaaaay too steep for these newlywed new homeowners. So, after much research, I found a company with great reviews and a BOGO deal. Sold. We started with small books to gift to those that made the wedding happen financially and holy shit, we are forever super stars. If I wasn’t my grandmother’s favorite before, there is no doubt now.

Whether you’re currently or have recently gotten hitched, or you just have tons of photos saved on your computer that could be better-enjoyed, check out MyPublisher. The software is dummy-proof and the deals are unbeatable. I recommend the book jacket to the photofinish cover, but it’s personal preference.

Hit me up for more info. And in the meantime, gawk at my beautiful photos… http://bit.ly/awoGIf

Couple Crafting: Pick up a Paintbrush you Lazy Man

Currently, I am devising a plan to ditch the whole day job idea and exclusively craft. I mean, Etsy exists, so it must be possible, right? Hrmm…

Either way, I have several projects in my immediate future that I’m pretty excited about starting, most of which involve updating and customizing our home. The rub? Huzbo has some weird aversion to any sort of home or garden improvement that involves him getting his ass off the couch or out of his silly nerdy card room. It makes no sense to me, but makes me wonder if my sense of ownership over our home, not just our house, is greater. Perhaps it is. Perhaps he’s just lazy.

I mean, I’m confident that I am not the only homeowner that derives a significant amount of satisfaction from completing projects that ultimately improve our quality of life, contribute to the increased value of our home or just make our home cuter. Am I right?

I’m going to go ahead and give the generally thoughtful, caring, sensitive man the benefit of the doubt and believe that he just doesn’t have experience with the value and joy of home-building and maintenance. He doesn’t really understand the inherent benefit, both to our home and relationship, which these projects can provide. He’s a good person, really. No really, I promise.

All this to say that I’m super stoked about my soon-to-be chartreuse kitchen and patina blue dining room. All other main areas with be a smoky brown, I think, which is a HUGE upgrade from the current blanket mauve (pausing to vomit) in every room of the house. I’m also working on a secret project for a certain friend preparing to pop out a lovely little girl. Oh, how I love productive weekends!

P.S. Painting/guilt inflicting volunteers are definitely welcome...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Summer Heat Stole my Brain

Do you ever have those days or weeks where your pistons just aren’t firing? That is my week. The little person in my head that normally provides witty internal banter is apparently on vacay, because I just can’t seem to summon up any interesting or punchy prose. Hey little person, can you please come back? You are missed and loved and I promise to take better care of you. Ice cream and cookies everyday!

It might have something to do with an upcoming minor medical procedure or maybe I’m just bored out of my mind with the monotony that is life. My only other theory is the heat, which is a pretty solid one as it is officially Summer in Arkansas. The little brain person is probably just napping through this muggy, 104 heat index weather that is killing my poor little mismanaged garden. Why can't I win the lottery and nap all day?

On the upside, Summer in Arkansas means lots o’ fresh yummies. I picked up two pounds of Arkansas peaches this weekend and they are tasty. The tomatoes were gross and not ripe – wait a couple of weeks on those. We also grabbed a watermelon, but it cannot compare to the sweet and juicy Hope watermelons that July brings. Every year I promise myself that I’ll trick someone into going to the Hope Watermelon Festival (AKA, Best Place on Earth) with me, but something always seems to come up. Go figure. Apparently Joe Nichols is performing this year. I’m not exactly sure who he is, but I presume he is a country singer of note. Any takers? August 12-14 – hit me up!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer Fun in Honor of Summer’s Solstice

I'll start by recognizing that this is oh so late. I wrote it Monday, but kept forgetting to post while at home, where I have access to my personal photos. Whatever, no excuses. I'm a bad blogger and I'm only on week two. Ugh.

Anyway...

My deep connection with Nature much have subconsciously alerted me during my weekend of classic summer fun that the Summer Solstice was today. Perhaps a more likely scenario is that this weekend was smoldering hot and humid, an effect of the “official” arrival of summer, so I reached into my Arkansas weather arsenal to battle the heat and still have fun.

With few real plans for the weekend, apart from Steven’s BFF’s going away party (his website) Saturday evening, I made some yummies for the boys – Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes – and stole Phil’s cute little sports car for the delivery. Stevo and Phil were playing in a nerdy card game tournament, so the whole nerdy crew appreciated the afternoon treat. With that task over, I wandered over to Abi’s in the cute RX-8 and begged her to help me make a rope swing. Yeah, that's right, I said rope swing. The project turned out fantastically, and I bought a sprinkler to cool me off while swinging. Good times.

Saturday night, we headed to Mitchell’s White Trash Chic going away party, which involved me in cowboy boots riding in a limo with 9 dudes dressed in their redneck finest. The costumes were ridiculous. Check out my sweet tats in tomorrows photos.

With the heat still beating down, Stevo, Phil and I ran to Walmart and picked up a Slip-n-Slide. Keep in mind that these are made for children. 60 feet of slippery plastic doesn’t go a super long way for grown ups. To make it worse, I spaced out and forgot to take photos. I sincerely apologize, but promise to do better next time.

Check out this link for more info on the Summer Solstice.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Few Shower Photos

So after a review of the shower photos, I determined that there really aren't a ton worth showing off. Here are a few that weren't fuzzy or weird:







Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Case for the Hoarding Gene

I’m not a person that puts much stock in excusing destructive behaviors with genetics. More specifically, I think it’s a cop-out and used to excuse a person from taking responsibility. I believe that the majority of our existence is shaped by environmental and social interactions. For evidence, check out Anne Fausto-Sterling’s Myths of Gender (a fabulous and essential read, by the way).

But for this one teeny time I’m going to cite this crutch as an explanation of why I am so prone to my not-so-secret sickness – hoarding. It has to be genetic, right? I mean, there is this voice inside my head that screams at me to purchase things - all manners of things. I want furniture, paintings, glassware, tea sets (LOVE tea sets) – e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. But in my defense, I don’t want this stuff because it makes me feel good or because I have some sort of hole inside like the folks on that show. No, I want them because they’re pretty and, like a classic case of hoarding (I know, of course, because I’ve been watching the show), I believe that I will someday find the perfect use for whatever item it is that I’m compelled to buy.

Back to genetics.

I come by this honest. My mother has a collection of McDonald’s Happy Meal toys from 1983. Still in packages. She used to take me, buy two Happy Meals so that she could keep one toy and let me play with another. No joke. If I let her, she would have kept every assignment that I ever turned in or every random dried flower from a school dance. Now, she inherited this gene from her mother and I assume that it was lovingly passed down from my great grandmother. There is no other excuse – no one would willingly accumulate all of this useless crap unless there was some sort of base instinct to do so. And granted, they could have made the conscious decision to resist this genetic disposition, but then who would buy all of the pretty, someday really useful stuff?

The impetus for this post? This damn auction website that I can’t stop scrolling through: http://tiny.cc/ityme

P.S. I swear I will post Recipe Shower pics tonight – swear!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Screw You, Human Papilloma Virus

HPV is a stupid assface. Wanna know why? Because it can give you cancer. And cancer’s expensive. And requires needles and painful procedures. And can kill you. Basically, cancer sucks and by association HPV also sucks.

Props to the ladies out there that got infected with this stupid virus and dealt with having cancer. According to Planned Parenthood’s website, 1 in 4 women will get the cancer-causing version of HPV. In their honor, I’d like to remind you that there is currently no test, vaccination or treatment for men – only women. Which is odd, since I’m pretty sure these women were not infected with the virus from another woman. Also, the CDC states that “Most sexually active people in the United States (U.S.) will have HPV at some time in their lives.” Makes you say hrm…

In fact, the last time I was in the doctor’s office learning about HPV and how they were going to come far too close for comfort to my inner lady parts, a display on the wall actually stated that since the virus does really affect men, that there’s no need to develop a test for them. Um… can we say WTF? THEY SPREAD THE VIRUS TO WOMEN! Which makes me presume that if AIDS didn’t affect men, only KILLED women, would we even test them for it, much less develop a treatment?

I’d also like to point out that in no place under the “What are the health problems caused by HPV in men” does it mention that men can spread HPV to women, which can cause cancer, which can KILL them. Just saying.

Ladies, do not skip your annual exams and ask your doctor for a full STD test. Men, get your skanky penis checked so that you don’t kill someone (except for HPV, cause they can’t check you for that). And for god's sake everyone, use a fucking condom.

I hope you’re as infuriated as me. Tell everyone about it. More info at:
- CDC on men and HPV: http://tiny.cc/y4vre
- CDC on HPV in general (meaning for women): http://tiny.cc/ggkxo
- Planned Parenthood on HPV and cervical cancer: http://tiny.cc/qrma9

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Thank you, Mr. Obama, for the Lovely Check

Joy of all joys! It finally arrived….our First Time Homebuyers Tax Credit (light shines down from heaven to illuminate my angelic face).

So it turns out that being unemployed, getting engaged, getting married and buying a home is expensive. Real expensive. Consequently, we’ve been on pins and needles waiting for this tax credit to finally arrive. We filed in April, right after we closed on the house, and have been excitedly checking the mail ever since…to no avail…until yesterday.

How did we celebrate? Fancy style, that’s how.

I snuck off to Target and purchased a pair of super soft Capri lounge pants yesterday afternoon. After hubbers got home we piled in the car and deposited the check, but not after taking some under exposed cell phone photos. Then we hit up Wasabi, our local sushi joint, which was seriously off their game on this particular evening – the wine was old and the wraps fell apart in hubbo’s soy sauce. Eck. But I forgive, because there just aren’t a lot of great sushi restaurants around.

But the most important and most fancy part came after dinner. I wholeheartedly believe that any great, monumental celebration should be marked with a glass of fancy champagne. My fave is Veuve Cliquot, not only because it was for a short period of time the preferred champagne of my Sex and the City girls, but because it is so freakin’ good. For real. So we grabbed a bottle and finally toasted to being homeowners – homeowners with a lot less credit card debt as of this morning. Snap!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Bridal Shower Shindig

So my for first “official” blog post, I’m gonna keep it simple.

This weekend, I popped my bridal-shower-hostess cherry for my best friend and pledge sister, Annslee’s, recipe shower. And while many of our flaky friends neglected to RSVP, the whole event was nonetheless successful. She made out with tons of loot and family recipes, and we got to polish off six bottles of champagne after the grownups left. Not bad for a Saturday afternoon.

As no great feat is tackled alone, two other girlfriends and sorority sisters, Lauren and Heather co-hosted the event. We learned that a group can plan a successful party via e-mail and that, inevitably, you will purchase and prepare a minimum of seven times the actual amount of food that you need. Luckily, I put on my big girl panties and scarfed down at least enough to make up for six of the no-shows who were unable to read my RSVP request on the invite. Heather's chocolate covered cherries were beautiful and decadent and Lauren’s Caprese Skewers were absolutely fantastic – I ate like 75 and only stopped because they ran out. Seriously.

Speaking of invites, I designed the one for this party and it was beyond cute. I don’t care if you agree. It was, I tell you! And the recipe card that we asked attendees to bring along with their coordinating gift was attached to the invite and perforated to tear off. Genius, if I do say so myself. Even more genius was the entire idea, which was Lauren's brainchild.

And if I must continue with the bragging, I made my first successful attempt at decorating with fondant (the first batch was only good enough for the garbage can). Many of you may or may not understand the complexities of fondant, but just know that it involves crying over sugar and marshmallows at 1 o’clock in the morning the night before your party. Or maybe that’s just me, who knows? Either way, the cake eventually turned out lovely – turquoise/acqua on the outside with a layer of red velvet and another of cherry (her wedding colors are turquoise and red) – and everyone appropriately swooned over it. You know I just do this stuff to stroke my ego.

All in all, we had a great time and hopefully our blushing bride-to-be felt special and loved and like the delicate flower that she is (chuckle, snort).

I'll post more photos later, but here's one of the invite with detachable recipe card:




















And just in case you're interested, here's our full menu:

Cake - red velvet and cherry chip with acqua marshmallow fondant
Chocolate covered cherries
Miss Mae's Coffee Crisps, some dipped in dark chocolate
Margarita chicken skewers with cilantro-lime sauce
Caprese Skewers
Tzatzki with pita chips (Lauren picked this up from a Greek restaurant in Little Rock, but I'm not sure of the name)
Poinsetta Punch (Lauren's family recipe)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Welcome to My World

I admit it: I am a covetor of others' blogs. Hence, this new little endeavor. Welcome.

More coming soon....