Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Internet Treasures

I have a social media problem, but I think that 95% of human beings who own smart phones would admit to having this problem as well.  Whenever I'm in bed at night trying to make myself sleepy, or when I have five minutes to spare with nothing to do, or when I'm waiting on someone, or when I'm on the couch and I need to leave for the gym but I can't quite make myself walk out the door, I scroll through Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest (or all three).  It's amazing the amount of time that can fly by when I get distracted by my newsfeed.  And usually the stuff I'm looking at is not at all worth my time (e.g. a random rant about how much one of my high school classmates hates Verizon's customer service, stupid memes that aren't even funny).  But this week I've stumbled upon a few internet treasures I've really enjoyed, and it's made me reconsider whether or not my social media scrolling is really a bad habit after all.

Miranda Lambert PlatinumCover Art
Album cover from MirandaLambert.com

This Rolling Stone article about Miranda Lambert's upcoming album makes me even more excited than I already was for her June 3rd release of "Platinum."  I can't believe she's been around long enough to have FIVE studio albums, totally makes me feel old, but I am so stoked for new music from one of my favorite artists.  There are too many things I love about this article, so I thought I would just make a list:

- Miranda says she would never buy a Gucci bag for herself.  Even though she could pretty much buy whatever she wanted at this point, she wouldn't splurge on an expensive brand name purse just because.  But then she admits to loving her Gucci bag she was given as a gift and "flashes a big wink."  She's so perfect.

- The song "Platinum," the title track for the album, is about "platinum records, but also the color of an Airstream" and the color of Miranda's hair.  She says the song is "campy and fun."  My favorite songs of Miranda's are her campiest!  And my all time favorite song (of Miranda's and probably in general) is "Airstream Song," a short tune about living in an Airstream that perfectly captures the restlessness of human nature.

Miranda doesn't have an official lyrics video for "Airstream Song," but here's one I found on YouTube made by a fan.

- This quote is awesome - "I'm not burning down houses anymore.  I have more to sing about."  Early in her career, Miranda was labeled as the crazy, gun-totin' girl, due to her hits "Kerosene" and "Gunpowder and Lead."  Not saying she didn't perpetuate that reputation, she had a whole album titled "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend."  But anyone who has listened to Miranda's albums knows there's so much more to her than the singles she's released.  In many of her songs, the lyrics are poignant and poetic and "hit the nail on the head" describing emotions and situations that are rarely sung about.  I truly believe her writing is genius.  She's a wonderful representative of authentic country music, and I'm so glad she's dedicating this album to showing a different side of herself.

- On the note of how great a representative of country music Miranda is to the world, I also love that she points out, "for a minute there it felt like girls ran the show.  We have to save this thing we've made - Carrie, Taylor, and me."  Firstly, I love how Miranda is encouraging instead of competitive with other female country singers.  Secondly, she is completely correct.  For a few years, it felt like every number one song was by one of these three ladies.  I especially love how Miranda calls what's on the radio right now "bro country."  And thank you to Josh Eels, the Rolling Stones writer of the article, who says, "Lambert's songs are a corrective to Nashville's proliferation of babe-and-truck jams."  We are so on the same page.

- She is hoping an Applebee's or Chili's will come to the town where her and Blake live.  Even better, she is excited they are building a Dollar General near her house.  The next place the Mister will be stationed is Oklahoma, and I have this wonderful fantasy where Miranda and I meet at a Petsmart or something (she's a dog freak too) and she invites Chris and I over to the Shelton residence for a bonfire and beer.  A girl can dream.  I always tell the Mister I'm totally okay with living in Oklahoma because any place where Miranda lives is good enough for me.  This girl crush is so real.

- Honestly, the only thing I didn't love about this article is that the writer thinks Miranda and Blake are the Beyonce and Jay-Z of country music.  Nah-nah-nah - correction - Beyonce and Jay-Z are the Miranda and Blake of hip-hop.  And that's a compliment to Beyonce and Jay-Z that I'm not sure they deserve.

Caramel Flan Frappuccino
Photo from Starbucks.com

Okay, I'll keep this one shorter.  But this Betches Love This article about "having like a lot of beverages" is the story of my life.  I only call drinks "beverages," and it really confuses my friends and family.  If I'm not actively drinking something, I whine to the Mister about how I'm "parched" (so much worse than being hungry).  I never leave for work without at least two beverages and a dollar for the vending machine.  Of course this article is satirical, but there are some very true points.  I told Chris while we were Skyping yesterday that I only like drinks flavored cherry, grape, or aspartame.  And coffee... lots and lots of coffee

Like the beverages article, I find this Open Letter from Introverts very reassuring.  There are other people in the world like me! - people who don't like talking on the phone, are completely awkward conversationalists, and depend on extroverts to have meaningful relationships (I even married one!).  I think the best thing for extroverts to gather from this letter is that most introverts are probably inwardly kind, we're just not the best at being friendly (but we do try).  Please try to assume the best about everyone! I've been attempting to do that lately and it really does change the way I see the world sometimes.

I came across this blog post on Pinterest a while back, and it came back on my radar this week.  Ever since reading this post, hardly a day passes by that I don't think about it.  I won't try to paraphrase it, as I think every woman needs to read it all the way through on her own.  The main issue it points out is that women and men are marketed two completely different types of fitness, when we are all human beings with the basically the same bodies.  Every women's health magazine cover is about eating less food and burning more calories, where as men's health magazines market building muscle and eating foods that are rich in what humans need instead of just eating less.  Women who eat 1200 calories a day and only do cardio may very well be putting their bodies into starvation mode.

After reading this post, Special K, Yoplait, and all other companies whose commercials advertise to women that their products have less calories and are therefore better for them disgust me.  For the four or five months directly before our wedding, I did a big-name calorie counting weight loss program (I won't name names, but you can probably guess which one I'm talking about) and I did lose about 15 pounds that had been plaguing me for quite some time.  But I did not feel well.  I had no energy and was pretty much always in a bad mood.  Chris has asked me to never cut calories again because of how terrible it made me feel and sometimes act.  This winter, I started going to lift with Chris.  And now I go to the gym almost every day to lift heavy, and I'm working on focusing on the weight I lift going up and not my body weight going down.  Body weight is just a number and how you feel about your body is so much more important.  Like I said, ladies, please, please read this post.  It's an eye opener.

Speaking of, it's gym time!  I've been waiting around to see if Chris would be able to message or Skype, but he was traveling today and must not be settled into his new location yet.  Working out helps me turn my worrier off (or at least turn down its volume), so the gym it is.  Talk to you soon!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels...

It's been a very long time since I've done a Sunday favorite things post, so I thought I'd rectify that situation tonight!  I focused on my most loved items in our master bedroom for this edition.

All I wanted for Christmas the year after I graduated from college was a real, grown-up bed.  And my parents came through in a big way.  I don't know if it's normal for a bed to be one of a person's most prized possessions, but our bed is totally one of mine.  As far as I'm concerned, we'll be keeping it forever.

My favorite detail may be the flowers carved into the headboard.  They just make me happy.  If you're curious, my parents purchased the bed consignment at Bella's House in Burlington, NC.

Honestly, I think the reason the Mister and I love our English fox hunt prints is that we wish we lived at Downton Abbey and were classy enough to ride horses through the countryside wearing beautifully tailored red coats.  Also, the spotted hounds remind us of Hank.  I bought the large print that hangs over our bed the first year we were together as a birthday present for the Mister when he had an apartment in Fayetteville.  Not long after, we went back for the matching smaller one.  For some reason, we love the obnoxious pretentiousness that is associated with these images.  It's like our little inside joke that is confined to our bedroom.  These are also from Bella's.  (Can you tell it's one of our favorite stores?)

Although we were lucky that we didn't have to buy much for the bedroom, as the Mister and I already had most of the furniture we needed between the two of us, we did have to purchase a TV stand.  For a long time, the TV sat on a plastic container turned upside-down because I had very high standards for this piece of furniture.  I knew I wanted something with glass doors and a pop of color and that it would need to be the perfect height for the TV to be visible from the bed.  Finally, I saw this cabinet at Target and knew it was just right.  The blue gives the room a little more personality without looking totally out of place.  What I especially love is how it serves as a shadow box for some things that are important to us, like my beloved "Nala" stuffed animal and a few mementos from our wedding.

Threshold™ Windham Accent Cabinet with Drawer

Now I'm really wanting the yellow version with drawers to use as a china cabinet in the kitchen.  We have two different hand-me-down china patterns that are beautiful and need to be where people can see them instead of hidden in the kitchen cabinet.  The official name of the cabinet style is the Treshold Windham Accent Cabinet if you like it as much as I do.  It comes in a ton of different colors in both the drawer and no-drawer option!

I'm one of those people who cannot get ready in the morning without music.  Thankfully, a friend of ours got us this awesome Crosley Trio Stereo system as a wedding present.  With a radio antenna, Bluetooth, and an auxiliary input, I can listen to whatever my heart desires in our bedroom and bathroom.  Plus, the vintage vibe is great.  Someday, Chris and I want to purchase a nice turntable and start collecting vinyl.  But until then, I can definitely make due with this stylish sound system.

Lastly, I completely adore all of the artwork in our master bathroom.  This Uncle Sam poster of Chris's is the coolest, even if he does sometimes make me uncomfortable when he's staring and pointing at me while I'm doing my bathroom business.

My super talented cousin Molly gave me this beautiful sketch of my wedding bouquet for Christmas.  It has a ton of sentimental value for a lot of reasons, and I love that it hangs right by my sink so it's one of the first things I see every morning.

And these Remington puppies that hang over the potty... I think they speak for themselves.

There you have it.  Our bedroom is filled with favorite things, and that's how I like it.

The only loose end I still really want to tie up in the master bedroom is getting some paint on the walls.  I know all white walls are in style right now, but my house is full of white walls, and I'm just not into it, especially in our bedroom.  I want a warmer color to make the space more homey.

Butcher Block by Valspar

Molera Garden Ochre by Valspar

Lioness by Valspar

My dream color is darker than tan but lighter than brown, with maybe the tiniest touch of copper, but I haven't quite put my finger on it yet.  We'll get there!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Along Came a Spider

I knew it was going to happen.  But that still doesn't mean I'm happy about it.

Before the Mister left, I told him I didn't know what I was going to do when spiders got in the house.  I'm completely terrified of arachnids, much more than I am scared of snakes or mice or any other creatures of which women are typically afraid.  Whenever there is one in the house, even a "small" one, I am frozen and yell for the Mister until he can come take care of it.  I honestly don't know if I have the courage to conquer a spider more than an inch in size, but I also know I can't live in a house where I know I've seen a spider and not killed it.  So as the days have gotten warmer and I've seen those terrible eight-legged creatures starting to scurry around outside, I've been living in constant fear of the moment a big one will end up in the house and I'll have to face my fears head on.

Around five o'clock this evening, this four-inch-long visitor appeared on the back door.  And he hasn't left.  No, he's not technically IN the house.  But the dogs ask to go out at least one time an hour, and every time I open the back door, I worry it's going to run in the house or jump off the door onto one of the dogs or one of a hundred other horrible scenarios I've imagined.  Although I'm dismayed every time I walk up to the door and see he's still hanging out there, I'll be even more upset when he's NOT visible anymore and I have to try to determine if he's crawled to the very edge before I open the door.  There is one scene I've imagined in which I open the door and he lands directly on top of my head.

After about two hours of staring at my new archenemy, I decided to do some research.  I do believe he is a nursery web spider, of the male gender.

Photo from wildlifetrusts.org

According to WikiHow, they aren't venomous, but their bite is painful and can produce swelling.  Apparently, they don't make webs to hunt; instead they overpower other bugs with sheer force.  That's comforting.

For the past few hours, I've been attempting to distract myself from Mr. Spider.  I finished my second cross stitch project:

The quote is Emily Bronte, and I'm loving that little pink heart.  I temporarily placed it on the subwoofer by the fireplace in the living room, and I really like the way it dresses up that plain black box.  Unfortunately, I know it's not a wise decision to leave it there because it won't be long before a doggy race through the living room knocks it down and breaks the frame.  I'm enjoying looking at it tonight though, until I find an alternate location for it.  Maybe I'll hang it in our bedroom?

I've exhausted all possible means of distraction and I've got to be up early in the morning, so I'm going to face Mr. Spider one more time to let the dogs out and then go to bed.  I'm sure I'll have nightmares about all of the Google images of NC native spiders I perused through.  Perhaps the spider research was not the best idea...

Oh, he's still there.  And he's scarier in the dark.

Lord help me.  Please say a prayer he doesn't end up in my house.

Goodnight folks!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Fence Stain, Spring Cleaning, Sunflower Seeds, and a Sunset

Hi pals!  I'm sorry I've been such a slacker lately about posting.  BUT I was very productive around the house this week.

My parents came for the day on Thursday to help me work in the backyard.  We concentrated on staining the fence, and the new color has made a HUGE difference.

Of course we ran out of stain with about 20 feet left, but what can ya do?  It was getting late and my parents had to get back to Burlington.  Hopefully we can officially wrap this project up next time I have some helping hands.

The dark stain (Olympic's Tobacco shade, if you're wondering) has given the whole yard a more finished appearance.  Of course, having the wood protected is good for the well being of the fence over time as well.  There is still much to be done back there, but we are chugging right along.  Here's a photo of the fence before for reference:

Over the weekend, I dedicated myself to getting the "office" cleaned out.  Although there is still no furniture in the room that would cause it to be classified as an actual office, the floor is at least clean and free of the Mister's uniforms, mail that needs to be shredded, Christmas decorations, etc.  I finally made myself invest in a nice paper shredder and spent hours upon hours shredding old statements and junk mail containing personal information.   After a couple days spent searching consignment and discount stores for a storage chest that was in budget and nice looking, I threw in the towel (temporarily) and settled on a large plastic deck box for storing the Mister's work paraphernalia.  In the end, I'm glad I went with something so large because I filled it to the brim.  However, I still plan to keep my eyes open for something wooden or upholstered to look a little more "classy" and masculine for the room that will be primarily Chris's space.

The room is still pretty boring and nothing special, but I am thrilled that I can now walk from the doorway to the far wall without tripping over anything.  Even better, I wouldn't be morbidly embarrassed for company to sleep on the futon in there if the guest room was full.  Now I just can't wait to start painting, purchasing furniture, and all together making this space into a real, functional, furnished room!

The pups assume the new room is for them, naturally.  There have been quite a few doggie wrestling matches already in the newly open space.

Speaking of the dogs, here is Hank posing on the yellow comforter I decided on last week to brighten up our room for spring/summer.  I don't think Chris would be a fan of the yellow, but I figured I can get away with it while he's gone.  Hank doesn't seem to have a problem with it, although I'm sure I will find him trying to gnaw holes in it sometime soon, 'cause that's just what he does to every comforter I like.

On Saturday, I had even more assistance when Chris's parents came by for an afternoon.  We concentrated on the front yard, but my father-in-law did mostly necessary work that isn't as exciting to show in photos (mowing the lawn, fixing a gutter drainage problem, etc.)  Even though there's no evidence of it yet, Chris's mom and I spread some new soil and planted seeds in my flower bed in the side/front yard.  I can't wait to see those first little sunflower seedlings start poking through!  And I am so grateful that Chris and I have parents that are willing to come help me with all of these tasks that would be much tougher (or practically impossible) on my own.

After working all day on Monday, I headed to my family's house in Burlington.  I was totally in awe of how beautiful the scenery was during my drive.  I was riding on the edge of a rain storm and the sun was going down in front of me, so when I looked in my rear view, it was dark as night - but up ahead it was still day time lit by the warm colors of the sunset.  When this perfect country road drive was paired with new music on my iPhone, it created one of those moments that makes time stand still and reminds you to take a deep breath.  I promised my dad I wouldn't take any more photos while I was driving, but I had to capture this calming moment.  Don't worry Dad, I didn't even look at the phone.  I kept my eyes on the road, held my phone out to the side, and hoped I was pressing the right button to take the picture.

I'm heading back to my house soon for a veterinarian appointment for the doggies and a dentist appointment for me this afternoon.  I was able to talk to Chris for a long time yesterday and am happy to report he is doing just fine.  Although he is a little bored, I will take that every day of the week over him being in harm's way. We are at six weeks now (whoop, whoop!) and April seems to be flying by so far.  I am digging a Kacey Musgraves song right now called, "I Miss You," and there is one line at the very end of the song that seems to sum up my feelings about the entire world right now - "I'm as happy as half a heart can be."  I miss Chris every second, but other than that I have practically nothing to complain about.  And having someone who loves you, no matter where he is, is actually nothing to complain about either.  Life is good.

I got the sunshine on my shoulders,
got a fistful of four leaf clovers.
My cup runneth over.
My sky is blue.
Been kissed by Lady Luck,
the stars are all lined up.
Every arrow that I aim is true,
 but I miss you.

Don't you love it when a song describes exactly how you're feeling at the moment you're listening to it?  I'm working on focusing on how lucky I am to have someone to miss and on all the other tidbits of wonderfulness in my life every day.

Happy hump day! Talk to you again soon.