Saturday, March 29, 2014

Manifestations Of Our Own Blessings


"Happiness is the consequence of personal effort.  You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it.  You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings."

This is one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite books, Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.  I always try to keep a reminder to participate in my happiness in the back of my head, but these past few days I've had to keep it more in the "front" of my head.  The Mister has been away from his "home base" and unable to talk at all for a week now, which makes me worry about him more and just feel unsettled since I can't communicate with him at all.  Add to that a few long work days, constant rain, a severe thunder storm (and not the relaxing kind) going on outside right now, and two very hyper dogs who have been in the crate all day (and can't go run outside because it's raining) = instant pity party.

But when I'm tempted to feel really sorry for myself because all I want to do is bury my head in my husband's shoulder and tell him how I had a terrible, horrible, no good day, I remind myself that while I am sitting on the couch and have the day off on Monday, my Mister would probably love to come home and relax in the living room and tell me about his long work days.  Moreover, there are people in the world who don't have a roof over their heads and don't know if they'll have a meal anytime soon.  Then I feel like a brat for feeling bad for myself because my life is pretty darn good.

At that point, it would be easy to circle back into my pity party by beating myself up for being such a whiner.  Instead, I think it's easier to look for what makes me happy.  And there are tons of things that are making me happy right now.


- Decaf coffee!  I used to say, "there's a time and a place for decaf coffee, and that's never and in the trash," but my opinion on decaf has changed drastically recently.  Pretty much every night, I drink a cup of decaf with my favorite creamer of the moment.  It satisfies my sweet tooth without the fat and calorie content of dessert and makes me feel all warm and cozy inside.


 - I'm loving my off-brand Toms - unfortunately, no child got free shoes as a result of my purchase, but I did get these for $12 and their pattern makes me smile.  Too bad I got them a size too big, should have tried them on in the store, but they are perfect for hanging out around the house.


-  In a pursuit to cut some of the ridiculous amounts of caffeine I consume out of my life, I have been trying to replace a few diet sodas a day with some more nourishing options.  I've gotten to the point where I prefer the taste of G2 and Gatorade over diet coke.  Sure, it's still not the best choice, but I've accepted that I'll never be someone who loves water.


- Cross stitching has become a form of therapy for me.  The repetition of the movements is very soothing, and I love that it's a creative outlet as well.  Currently, I'm working on an Emily Bronte quote I adore.  Of course, there are times I get frustrated when threading the needle is difficult or I make a mistake and have to pull out my stitches, but the positive aspects of my new hobby far outweigh the irritating ones.


- With reduced shipping costs and the "if it fits it ships" motto, USPS Priority Mail military shipping boxes are awesome.  I can pack whatever goodies Chris needs (or I want to send him) and my packages will always ship for a flat, cheap rate.  Even better, the mailman delivered a free 10-pack of the boxes to me.  All I had to do was order them online!  I could even schedule pickups so I wouldn't have to take my packages to the post office, but I'm not that lazy.


- Since Chris left, I have developed a greeting card obsession.  I can't go into a store that carries them now without looking through the "Miss You" and "Thinking of You" sections looking for cards that may make him laugh or look like "us."  Sorry I had to keep these kind of hidden - I don't want Chris to see them until I mail them!


-  Chris is unable to download and stream music where he is, so I've been going old school and burning him CDs of all the new music I think he might like.  I've discovered they can be mailed easily inside the greeting cards I mentioned above.  Listening to music has been even more fun than usual, as I'm always trying to keep my ears open for something Chris might enjoy on the next CD I send him.  (Sorry, I couldn't resist the cuteness of having the sleeping Lulu beside me serve as a background for this picture.)


- Seriously, there's not much that can make me happier than this 10-day forecast is making me right now.  Do you see all those 70 degree days??  Not to mention Wednesday!  Oh, I can't wait to soak up some Vitamin D.  I can wait to put on last year's bathing suit though.


- WE is really making my night with this Will & Grace marathon that's been on since I got home from work.  While Chris is away, I'm soaking up all the W & G I can, as he is not a fan (in his defense, I don't think many guys are).  In my humble opinion, the comedic timing and fantastic one-liners of this show cannot be beat.  It's just classic, and I love it.

Shine On

- My beautiful, talented cousin Molly opened her Etsy shop today!  And I want to own everything in it.  Unfortunately, I don't think I have enough walls in my house.  I'm so proud of her and crazy about her artwork!


- Although I'm sure you're tired of hearing it at this point (I'm right on the verge of "crazy dog lady" here), my dogs never cease to make me happy.  Even on our worst days, when they are hyper and it's raining and Hank's obnoxiously loud barks are echoing off the walls, I'm thankful for them.  They keep me company and they keep me sane.

I am also forever grateful for the support system of family and friends Chris and I have around us.  We're two lucky people for a lot of different reasons.

And, as it always does, participating relentlessly in the manifestations of my own blessings has significantly improved my mood this evening.  I know the "count your blessings" phrase is overused at times, but it holds value.

Bonus video:

Hank needed to count his blessings yesterday.  For some reason I could not understand, he was super sad and cried for about ten minutes straight.  Here is a little snippet of the pitifulness:


video

I think someone misses his dad.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The State of Country Music - Part 2 - "Rolling"

I had to post a follow up to The State of Country Music after noticing the "rolling" epidemic in country music.  There are currently three country singles about "rolling" that are receiving a whole lot of airplay (as in I can't turn on the radio in my car without hearing one of these songs).

What do I mean by "rolling," you ask?  According to UrbanDictionary.com, the slang verb "roll" can mean two things:

- The way you behave based on your philosophical stance in regard to a certain situation (or in regard to the world in general).

- To go somewhere by car.

(There is also a third definition for the verb on Urban Dictionary, but it has to do with heavy illegal drug use, so I'm hoping that's not the subject matter of these country songs.)

Image from www.gactv.com.

Most popular of these three singles (judging by its rank on the Top 30/Top 40 charts online) is a team effort by Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan entitled "This Is How We Roll."  The song was written by Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard (the FGL duo), along with Luke Bryan and rising star Cole Swindell.  Here are the lyrics of the first chorus (the words change slightly in each chorus throughout the song, but this is the basic idea):

This is how we roll.
We hanging 'round, singing out everything on the radio.
We light it up with our hands up.
This is how we roll.
This is how we do.
We're burning down the night, shooting bullets at the moon.
Baby, this is how we roll.

Maybe it's just because I'm 23 and out of the youth culture, but I really don't even know what most of that chorus means.  I guess they sing loud and hold their hands up a lot and that's just "how they do."  The verses are mostly about drinking, cruising in a "jacked-up," "tinted-out" truck, having a hot girlfriend in the passenger seat, etc.  Toward the end of the song (after the rap break, of course), Luke Bryan sings a few philosophical verses about how they're "proud to be young" and they "love who they love and wanna have fun."  Deep, I know.  

Image from www.bigmachinelabelgroup.com.

The second most played of the three "rolling" songs is Justin Moore's "Lettin' the Night Roll."  This one is a little different because it's the night that's doing the "rolling."  Written by Moore, Jeremy Stover, and Rodney Clawson, the song has more of a romantic vibe.  The lyrics of the chorus are below:

Got the Kenwoods banging that rock 'n' roll,
whisper to me baby where you wanna go.
I can ride you 'round town or drive you down some ol' back road.
I love the way you lean that seat back, steal my ball cap,
pull it down over your blue eyes.
Watchin' your hair fly out the window, just lettin' the night roll,
and I can't wait to see where it goes.

Although it's a little cliche, a like "Lettin' the Night Roll" much more than I like "This Is How We Roll," mostly just because the lyrics make a little more sense and there is no mention of flat billed hats.

Spotlight: Ex-'Survivor' Star Chase Rice Debuts Big With 'Dirt Road Communion'
Image from www.billboard.com

But don't forget - there's another "rolling" song!  Chase Rice's "Ready Set Roll" was written by Rice, Rhett Akins, and Chris Destefano.  A mixture of FGL and Moore's songs, here's Rice's chorus:

Ready set let's roll.
Ready set let's ride.
Get ya little fine ass on the step.  Shimmy up inside,
and slide girl, by my side girl.
Yeah, we can run this town.  I can rock your world.
We can roll 'em down, fog 'em up,
cruise around, get stuck,
pedal to the medal till the sun comes up.
I made a deal with the man on the moon.
He's gonna put in some overtime.  We got all night.
Ready set let's roll.
Ready set let's ride.

So it seems in this song the people are doing the "rolling," but they are "rolling" in a vehicle.  "Ready Set Roll" has the romantic side of "Lettin' the Night Roll" (although it's a little more sexual than Moore's lyrics), but the party energy of "This Is How We Roll" - in the second verse the couple rolls to "where the Goodyears and good times meet."

As an avid country music fan, I sometimes get these three songs confused when scanning stations.  I can only imagine that someone who does not pay as much obsessive attention to country music as I do would think they were all the same song.  Honestly, in my opinion, they basically are.  We get it - you like to drive your truck, your girlfriend is attractive, she rides in the shotgun seat (duh), you really enjoy her company, and you "roll."  Listen to all three songs below to decide if you agree.

"This Is How We Roll" - Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan - Official Music Video

"Lettin' the Night Roll" - Justin Moore - Official Music Video

"Ready Set Roll" - Chase Rice - Official Lyric Video

Thanks for humoring my cynicism and linguistic curiosity.  Also, has anyone noticed that Tim McGraw followed up his hit "Southern Girl" with the single "Lookin' For That Girl" - just another song about the virtues of the country girl of his dreams?  I guess it's a recipe for success, but seriously?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Few Little Changes


Spring is here!  And Luellen is obviously excited about it.  I sure am too.  We have officially made it though one month of deployment - only eleven more to go.  Of course, we are choosing to celebrate the one month accomplishment rather than focus on the eleven month challenge ahead of us.  If we've made it through one month, the next eleven should be a breeze, right?

I will admit that I haven't even considered any spring cleaning yet.  Eventually I'll make myself vacuum under all the furniture and get to work cleaning out the "office" (a.k.a. room full of papers that need to be shredded, army gear, and Christmas decorations)... but until I have the time and energy to do that, I thought I would use the change of seasons as an excuse to change a few things up around here.

Target had a ton of rugs on clearance this past week, so I considered that a sign I needed to replace the rugs I bought (at Target, on clearance) for the kitchen this time last year.  The old rugs were made out of a stiff, thin fabric that caught every piece of dog hair and dried grass they came in contact with.  And because they were so thin, they got pushed around super easily.  The one by the back door was forever getting caught in the door, so I was beyond ready for something thicker that wouldn't slide around so easily.  Both new rugs are much more sturdy and also larger, adding a little more warmth to the otherwise a little boring, gray kitchen floor.

Before:


After:


Before:


After:


Although I was happy to replace the dark red rug under the sink with the gray one above, I do love the pattern on the old rug.  I wasn't quite ready to totally do away with it.  On the other side of the kitchen, the dogs' water bowl usually sits on an absorbent cloth against the wall.  The Mister and I thought we were geniuses for buying a towel made to sit under a dish drainer and soak up the water to prevent the dogs' mess from ruining our floor.  However, what we didn't anticipate was that the terry cloth material would stay covered in all kinds of dried grass and stick pieces that the dogs brought in from the backyard, and that even the washer machine would not remove the mess.  See below:


Gross, right?  So I moved the red rug over to serve as a replacement.


Much better... And I can now fit their food bowls on the rug with the water bowl, making for a little more organization in the kitchen area.  Win, win!

Next, I'd been looking for something to fill in this blank space on my "wall of things" (as my sister calls it) in the kitchen:


My mom let me use this cross stitch of hers from back in the day.  I love me some retro, and the "smile" message is a good reminder to keep a positive attitude.  A great addition with spring arriving -


And of course, my winter wreath had to be replaced with something to welcome Easter.  This wreath was only $19.99 from Target, much less than I would have spent at Pier 1 for something similar, and really about the same price it would cost to make one myself.  Definitely a good buy -

Before:


After:


It's lovely how a few little changes can brighten up a house that's trying to wake up after a long, cold winter.  Unfortunately, there's apparently another winter storm headed our way next week.  Will it ever be over?  Even so, I'll enjoy this 78 degree day until I have to leave for work at 2 pm.

Oh, and I've been trying to pick up cross stitching as a hobby while the Mister is away.  I finally completed my first little project this week.


It's not perfect, but it's mine.  And the Emerson quote is one of my favorites.  I'm definitely hooked.

Now my pups and I have to get outside and enjoy this warm weather while we can.  Happy spring!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Our Life as of Late (mostly in iPhone photos)


Sorry about the quality of my pictures.  I promise some day I'll buy a nice camera so I can have decent photos for you to enjoy.

Our life lately has been a lot of this:


And this:

He was sad his internet was slow because of bad weather. : (

I love seeing my Mister, even if he is all blurry.  Unfortunately, Skyping has not been possible these past couple of days as I have had to work during our daily conversation time.  Since I'm working the same shift tomorrow, we won't be able to talk tomorrow either.  Bummer...  Not being in constant contact has been quite an adjustment.  When someone is mean to me on the phone at work, I can't send the Mister a text to complain and receive some emotional reassurance.  And when I see something online that reminds me of him, I can't take a screenshot of it on my phone and send it to him right away.  It's funny how much those small things mean, but in some ways it's good to have the reminder of how lucky I am to have a husband who enjoys (or at least tolerates) talking to me all day every day when he's in the same country as me.

When I do get to talk to him lately, he is usually returning from or getting ready to go to work, dinner, or the gym. He is loving having time to lift weights every day.  It's maybe his favorite hobby so that is definitely a plus to the whole deployment thing.

Since I had a few consecutive days off from work this week, I spent some time in Burlington with my family, and while I was there I decided to attempt to make dog-shaped chocolate chip cookies inspired by something I saw on Pinterest a while back.












As you can see, I should have used a bigger pan so the cookies wouldn't get squashed up against one another as they baked.  And I am not an expert cookie decorator.  The one that was supposed to look like Lulu looks more like an Ewok from Star Wars. (Don't ask me where that reference came from.  I don't remember the last time I watched a Star Wars movie.)  The cookies were a fun adventure though and kept my family entertained for an evening.  I think I should post a "Nailed it!" photo on Pinterest.


A few more photo tidbits from the last few days:

Lulu being a huge creep about wanting some of Caroline's lunch


Green nails for St. Patty's! (My favorite shade - "Leaf Him at the Altar" by OPI for Sephora)

Chris sent me this one all the way from his new digs.  He claims he gets better sleep in that little twin bed than he does here in our queen sized bed with the puppy dogs and me.  I actually believe him.

Some awesome snuggles Luellen and I had when we returned from our walk this evening -  It was 72 degrees out when we walked, so I wore shorts and showed off my pale legs to everyone in the neighborhood.  C'mon spring!  Folks around here are beyond ready for it to get warm and stay that way after the frigidness of this winter.


And that's about it for now!  I'm watching "About Time," a movie that made my favorites list when Chris and I went and saw it while it was in theaters.  Honestly, I really should have bought it instead of renting it from Redbox because I'm going to want to watch it again and again and again.  I highly recommend it if you haven't seen it yet!  Chris enjoyed it and that is saying A LOT for a chick flick.