Monday, June 30, 2008

Shopping is a woman thing. It's a contact sport like football. Women enjoy the scrimmage, the noisy crowds, the danger of being trampled to death, and the ecstasy of the purchase.
Erma Bombeck

In just 11 days I will be back in St. Louis visiting my Nick! My first, and most recent, trip up there we just enjoyed each others company... this time, however, we have to get down to business. The biggest task fast approaching is registering for the wedding and I have to admit that I'm really excited about it.

And Nick, well, not so much.

But out of all the wedding stuff that I am handling on my own this is one thing that I would like to do with him. It will be his stuff too and although he generally nods his head at whatever I show him and says, "Yes, princess, it's nice" I'm hoping that he will be that second opinion we need when making some choices.

So we will be headed to Bed, Bath & Beyond and Crate & Barrel to get it all taken care of in St. Louis.

In reality, I know the man isn't concerned that the stiching in the duvet cover will match the accent color of the throw pillows. But for a few hours he will be. And it won't be my fault if things like this (or this, or this) end up on the registry because Nick got a hold of the scanner unattended.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone.
G.B. Stern

Sunday gratitude:

  • Front porches with fans and hanging ferns
  • My future in laws
  • Chips and salsa on the table at Mexican restaurants
  • Good Housekeeping magazine
  • Vera Bradley travel accessories

Friday, June 27, 2008

It's finally Friday, I'm outta control
Forget the workin' blues, and let the good times roll.
George Jones

Courtesy of Friday Fill-Ins:

1. Birthdays are meant to be celebrated!

2. Winter is my favorite season because of the Christmas season and my birthday.

3. I feel my best when I have a good nights sleep.

4. Ice cream is my favorite food!

5. First impressions are very important.

6. The best piece of advice I ever received was "In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock."-Thomas Jefferson.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to enjoying dinner with Melissa, tomorrow my plans include going on a little getaway to Orlando with my mom and Sunday, I want to see my Aunt Toni and Uncle Wally!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

May the sun in his course visit no land more free, more happy,
more lovely, than this our own country!
Daniel Webster

Unlike most past years I have some special plans for the Fourth of July. With Nick in St. Louis I made my friend Melissa promise not leave me home alone sniffling into strawberry shortcake watching fireworks from my lanai. So when her family made plans to come over to our area for the long weekend I was graciously included! They are spending a few days on a mini-vaca but I will be joining them on July 4th for pool lounging, lunch and then later fireworks on the beach at The Ritz in Naples. I can' wait!

A special Fourth of July treat called for a cute and patriotic outfit, of course. I picked up this navy and white top at Ann Taylor Loft for a steal compared to its original price. I'm going to pair it with white capris, silver sandals and sun kissed skin from a day at the pool.

God Bless America and new red, white and blue outfits!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

You know you've read a good book when you turn the last page
and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.
Paul Sweeney

I love to read just about anything.

Now that grad school is over it has been wonderful to pick up a great book just for the fun of it and enjoy it from cover to cover. I'm sort of moving past the lighter "chick lit" stuff right now and trying out new authors and genres.

My summer reads so far have been:

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
Easy read with sweet advice. Interesting man with a fascinating life that makes you appreciate the world around you a little more. I'm still quoting some of his words of wisdom.

Lipstick Jungle by Candace Bushnell
Written by the same author as Sex and the City and the basis for the ABC drama. It was good and entertaining, if not predictible, but really it is just Sex and the City with different names.

The Same Sweet Girls by Cassandra King
Very similar to Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood about a group of women who have been friends since college. Great summer read, lovely descriptive writing and quirky characters that anyone can relate to.

If I Am Missing or Dead by Janine Latus
A memoir chronicling the cycle of domestic abuse of the author from childhood to now. Deeply distrubing and shocking but so poetically expressed I couldn't put it down. I wrote the author an e-mail to tell her how much I loved the book and she wrote me back! I'll be a fan of hers for life and will be on the lookout for her future books.

Right now I am reading and really enjoying Sweetwater Creek by Anne Rivers Siddons which leads into the realization thatt I'm also on this Southern women book kick now (I did a New York thing before with The Devil Wears Prada and the Shopaholic series).

So if you have any great book recommendations I would love to hear them. I'm always looking for my next read!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The proof of the pudding is in the eating.
Miguel de Cervantes

I am really trying to watch what I eat and increase my physical activity these days. I have a big motivation - a wedding dress! I'm always looking for new alternatives to include in my diet that satisfy a craving but aren't going to kill me with calories and fat.

For sweets, I really like having a little something after dinner. I love the Weight Watchers Giant Fudge Bars but I am sort of burned out on them. So I've been poking around the grocery store for something different that will curb my chocolate desires... and I found it!

Take one 100 Calorie Pack Jello Pudding (I purchased Devil's Food this time but what ever you like would work). I'm warning you that the sugar-free versions have a terrible aftertaste. Stick with the fat free or "100 Calorie" labels instead.

Then my new find is the Cool Whip in a can. Still a light option but so much more fun and fluffy than the Cool Whip in a tub:

Open the pudding cup - don't forget to lick the lid:

Add the Cool Whip to the top of the pudding cup (extra points for a nice swirl)

And enjoy the cool and creamy treat (a little bit of Cool Whip and a little bit of pudding in every bite):

Monday, June 23, 2008

A true scrapbook addict is one who stages
photographs to match paper she likes.
Author Unknown

I consider my self a pretty crafty person.

Crafty as in scrapbooking... not witch-like crafty [insert cackle here].

I spent two hours in Joann Fabrics yesterday afternoon (I know they changed their name to just "Joann" but it will always be Joann Fabrics to me) checking out the sales, cardstock, albums, beads, fabrics, ribbon and frames... I was like a kid in a fleece and puffy paint filled candy store.

Now that I have no fiance in town to distract me with baseball, DVR'd movies and grilling on the porch I have much more time to get caught up on my scrapbooking. I was behind on some bigger sections but after this weekend I have just two trips - when Nick and I went to San Diego and my sorority convention in Los Angeles - to finish and I am all up to date.

So by scouting the sales and with my 40% off coupons in hand I did some highly productive damage at Joann Fabrics yesterday - page refills, new album, adhesive refill, book of cardstock, a few miscellaneous paper patterns and (my new favorite thing) a big sunburst punch.

Can't wait to get home this evening, turn on some bad entertainment shows, tear the cute cardstock out of Bella's mouth and get scrapbookin'!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone.
G.B. Stern

Sunday gratitude:

  • Reading trashy tabloid magazines by the pool
  • Bleached white linens
  • Monogrammed totes
  • Bright and funky scrapbooking papers
  • Applying deep conditioner and then letting my hair air dry

Friday, June 20, 2008

You could totally shorten it and wear it again!
27 Dresses

This is my first official help-me-pick-something-for-my-wedding post!

I need another pair of eyes to assist in selecting which dress my matron of honor will be wearing. I am not having a full wedding party, just Casey, so this is the only dress.

A few things:

The fabric is silk shantung and the color of the dress will be "aloe" as seen here. Ignore the colors in the dress options below.

My matron of honor is about 5'7" with a thin build. Basically, she looks fabulous in everything. However, she said she thinks her shoulders aren't as flattering in halter style dresses with too square necklines. And... let's all understand how pretty she is and how I really say that she can wear anything:

Casey at her wedding

With her husband James at a fundraiser

Here is dress option one. Her choice, I like the sweatheart neckline but have a feeling my mom won't be crazy about it being strapless. But I could always do a pashmina over her shoulders if someone throws a fit about it in the church.

Here is dress option two. My choice, I love the bow in the back but worry that it looks to "bridesmaidy" and don't want her to feel uncomfortable in the halter.

The dresses are both from Aria if you want to see more.

Which would be your pick?

I have fallen in love with American names,
the sharp, gaunt names that never get fat.
Stephen Vincent Benet

I find all sorts of fun, time-wasting Internet sites that allow me to successfully procrastinate emptying the dishwasher, working out or doing laundry. One of my new favorite finds is the Name Voyager at Baby Name Wizard.

...and no, I'm not actually looking for a baby name. There are no babies in our near future.

All you do is type in any name and it zooms around to pop up the basic life cycle of the name. You can see what year it was most popular and how high its "rank" was.

Here are a few of my favorites stats...

RANDALL (me!):
For a girl, it has never been in the top 1,000 names in any decade since the 1800's. Hmmmm... maybe that is why people look at my funny when I tell them my name.

But for a boy, Randall was ranked highest at #58 in the early 1950s (hence why my father's name is Randall... it was actually popular then).

NICK (my fiance):
Highest rank was in the early 1900s, at #188 (I always thought it was more common than that) and then it peaked again in the early 1970s. It has been in a downward decline since... bye "Nick!"

KATE (hypothetical future daughter name):
Most popular in the 1800s at #97, huge downward slump through the rest of the century (#793 in the 1940s) and now on its way back up (#136 in 2007).

JOSEPH (hypothetical future son name):
Most popular in 1910 at #5 and then peaked again in the 1980s at #10. It has always be in the top twenty names.

LUKE (hypothetical future son name... I can only have one daughter, I only have one girl name picked out):
Looks like no one really liked the name until 2005 when it peaked at #41. Now on its way back down so hopefully if I have a Luke, say in ten years, he won't be one of four in his class.

Super fun and highly successful procrastinating tool. You'll thank me later for all of your dirty dishes and unmopped floors.

You're welcome.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Why is the alphabet in that order? Is it because of that song?
The guy who wrote that song wrote everything.
Stephen Wright

I've been tagged for an A - Z list:

A. Attached or Single? attached

B. Best Friend? Casey

C. Cake or pie? homemade white cake with my mom's chocolate frosting

D. Day of choice? Friday

E. Essential item? iPod

F. Favorite color? red but also sage green because of my wedding... I'm drawn to everything green now.

G. Gummy bears or worms? worms... better for pulling and chewing!

H. Home town? Sarasota, Florida

I. Favorite indulgence? big bowl of cookie dough ice cream

J. January or July? January - especially in Florida!

K. Kids? not any time soon for us!

L. Life isn't complete without? my Nick

M. Marriage date? it's coming up... November 8, 2008

N. Number of brothers and sisters? nope, I'm an only child

O. Oranges or Apples? I love Gala and Jonagold apples - yum!

P. Phobias? frogs! I can't stand to be anywhere near one!

Q. Quotes? See blog title. Courtesy of Omar Khayyam.

R. Reasons to smile? too many to count right now!

S. Season of choice? Fall

T. Tag 5 people: Old Georgia House, Are You Willing to Change, TinkersWhimsy, KBecky07 and... I have no other blog friends. Oh well.

U. Unknown fact about me? I can do a perfect french mani/pedi on myself... I look a lot more high maintenance than I really am!

V. Vegetable? Broccoli

W. Worst habit? I tweeze my eyebrows all the time... not making them thinner, just looking for "strays."

X. Xray or Ultrasound? I'll pass on both, thanks.

Y. Your favorite food? I love ice cream, as noted before, but also love a steak grilled by Nick with a baked potato from the oven.

Z. Zodiac sign? Capricorn

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Pesto is the quiche of the '80s.
Nora Ephron

One of my favorite things to eat and make from scratch is basil pesto. I endulged throughout Italy and can still tell you the best I've ever had was in a sidewalk cafe near the Spanish Steps in Rome. If I ever go back I'm going to track that little place down.

I have a really easy, no fail Rachael Ray receipe for making pesto. I get raves about it even from foodie friends. It is great over a thick spaghetti or any random noodle you have in your pantry. Also delish to scoop from the bowl with breadsticks.

1 bunch of basil (about 40-50 leaves)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 whole cloves garlic
4 oz. parmesean cheese
1 handful pine nuts

1. Give the basil a good rinse, pull the leaves from the stems.
2. Pour olive oil in a microwave safe dish, add cloves are garlic and microwave for 20 seconds.
3. Place pine nuts in a small frying pan on medium heat and toast until light brown. Just enough heat to give them some color.

Put basil leaves, warmed olive oil with garlic, toasted pine nuts and cheese into a food processor. Pulse until well mixed. Done!

You may want to add a little more cheese or oil to get the pesto to a consistency you like.

Give it a try and I hope you'll love your own homemade pesto as much as I do..."Yum-o," as Rachael would say!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Great floods have flown from simple sources.
William Shakespeare

Some of you may know that Nick is from Iowa and all of his family still lives throughout the state. So when the storms started rolling in and the river levels rising our concerns were growing. His immediate family is fine. His parent's home is not near the cresting Cedar River and neither is his brother and soon-to-be sister in law's home. A round of phone calls by Nick cleared college friends as well. Everyone, and their homes, are safe and sound.
The biggest thing at this point is that everyone is stranded at home with washed out roads and fields that are now lakes.

But after speaking with his mother the other evening I could hear just how terrible the floods were for the area. "Just devastating," she repeated. "Devastating." Especially with the tornadoes the floods have wiped out so much. She said it is going to take years to recover.

The town Nick went to college in, Cedar Rapids, has eight feet of water in its downtown streets.

Count that out... 8 feet. That is higher than my office ceiling I'm sitting in right now.

His mom also said how awful it was for all of the farmers whose crops, which are supposed to be about waist high by now, are under water. There are some areas where all you can see from the sky are the tippy-tops of the grain silos.

While watching it on TV can be sad enough, please remember to keep the Midwest, especially our beloved Iowa, in your thoughts and prayers. Because once to water is pumped away everyone is going to have to face the cleanup and rebuilding.

Downtown Cedar Rapids Flooding

Credit: New York Times

Rural Iowa Flooding

Credit: The Gazette, Cedar Rapids

Downtown Cedar Rapids Flooding (the building on the right, City Hall, is actually on an island in the middle of the Cedar River)

Credit: The Gazette, Cedar Rapids

Monday, June 16, 2008

There aren't enough days in the weekend.
Rod Schmidt

I spent the weekend at in my hometown with my mom. It was a much needed shopping, lunching, errand running, wedding planning break away from work and cleaning my bathroom type activities.

We got a lot done on the wedding front (out of town hotel room blocks, the tent and most of the rentals) and had a yummy dinner on out Saturday night. Homemade blueberry pancakes on Sunday morning and a great shoe find at Marshall's.

It is weekends like these with my mom that are going to make me miss her quick availability and hour drive once we move to St. Louis. So now I'll just have to take advantage of it as often as possible between now and then!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone.
G.B. Stern

Sunday gratitude:
  • Homemade Blueberry pancakes with real Vermont maple syrup.
  • Talking to Nick on the phone in the morning while still laying in bed with Bella.
  • Fannie Flagg books.
  • Bright cotton skirts for summer.
  • Hot roller curls in my hair.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Don't get too fancy. Don't talk that Washington talk.
You've got to talk so people can understand you.
Tim Russert's father "Big Russ," Big Russ & Me

Sunday mornings on the couch with a cup of coffee and Bella will never be the same...

Tim Russert


Friday, June 13, 2008

It's finally Friday, I'm outta control
Forget the workin' blues, and let the good times roll.
George Jones

Courtesy of Friday Fill-Ins:

1. Standing on the cliffs of Ireland is high up on my bucket list.

2. My favorite quote is "be happy for this moment, this moment is your life;" it's from
Omar Khayyam.

3. inspired me to start blogging.

4. Strawberries are best on top of shortcake!

5. Nick was in the last dream I remember having.

6. The most enjoyable time to go for a walk is twilight.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to dinner with Melissa, tomorrow my plans include lots 'o wedding errands with my mom in Sarasota and Sunday, I want to relax!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

If I'm on the course and lightning starts, I get inside fast.
If God wants to play through, let him.
Bob Hope

My condo faces the eleventh tee on my community's golf course.

It makes for great entertainment as you watch all different types of people pull up in their golf carts - single playing guys still in their work clothes, drunken foursomes of college guys, groups of women in pink polka dots. It's fun people watching. It also makes you never want to adjust your bra or sweaty shorts ever again while playing in front of homes and condos. It doesn't look like anyone can clearly see out but WE CAN.

Now that summer has arrived the afternoon thunderstorms are rolling through like clockwork. You may know Florida has the charming nickname of "Lightning Capital of the World." Of course, golfers tend to be the first to forget that black clouds, whistling wind and rumbling thunder mean big time lightning even when there is no rain. Warning sirens, schmirens... they are still playing!

So yesterday evening while spending some time with NBC and Brian Williams I watched a foursome pull up in the middle of a nasty storm and tee up their shots.

No rain, though, no rain... that means it isn't really a storm you know *eyeroll*

All of a sudden a FLASH of light and frightening CRACK shook my windows. It was the closest strike I have seen in a while and I haven't heard a grown man scream like that in a long while either. And I couldn't stop laughing.

They quickly scurried for their carts and turned back toward the clubhouse. Poor guy, almost strike by lightning while playing in a THUNDERSTORM. Imagine that.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

You've got mail! You've got mail! Yaaaaayyyy!
Special Ed, Crank Yankers

I love getting mail. Okay, maybe not the junk circular flyers but a crisp, thick envelope from a greeting card or glossy new magazine is the best. I especially enjoy when I open my PO Box and it is busting at the seems with mail. Poor little PO Box.

So it was fun yesterday when I headed out to Nick's house to pick up his mail that has come since he has been in St. Louis.

Of course, the man cannot forward mail ("My address now is only temporary, I don't want to change this all again after you move up here...etc., etc.") so there was literally a cardboard box full of credit card offers, PGA magazines, insurance papers and Arbor Day Foundation offers. His old roommate, who is now renting the house from him, was nice enough to set it all aside.

Last night on the phone I got to open all of Nick's mail with him on the phone. It is even more fun opening mail that isn't yours! We made a send-to-Nick-now pile, a bring-on-next-trip-to-St.-Louis pile and a trash pile (the largest).

The best find was by far his vacation payout from his old job - hooray for found money in a big fabulous pile of mail. He is definitely buying my next plane ticket to St. Louis!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Random: lacking any definite plan or order or purpose.

  • I received the lab results back from my surgery and everything is a-ok! It is such a relief With my stiches out and Mederma in my medicine cabinet I'm ready to be done with this.
  • I'm watching Sex and the City on DVD (Season 3, Disc 1) and they are having cupcakes and coffee at The Magnolia Bakery - now I desperately need baked goods.
  • We booked the band for our wedding - yay!
  • I am really looking forward to watching Hillary Clinton concede the presidential nomination at noon - goodbye, so long, game over.
  • Hopefully Big Brown will win the Belmost Stakes today to clinch the Triple Crown (can you tell I'm going to marry a thoroughbred horseracing fan?).
  • I booked my second airline ticket to St. Louis - 34 days, 827 hours until I see my Nick again!

Friday, June 6, 2008

It's finally Friday, I'm outta control
Forget the workin' blues, and let the good times roll.

George Jones

Courtesy of Friday Fill-Ins:

1. Idle hands are Devil's handywork (thank you Leann Rimes).

2. I love Bath & Body Works Mango Mandarin in the shower (this could be a very dirty answer but I kept it PG!).

3. My favorite time of the day is when the sun drops below the trees about 7 p.m. and everything is golden and the air is cooler.

4. The last tea I drank was iced tea with lots of lemon.

5. I like to go to the pool and read in the Summer.

6. My mother always said you get more bees with honey than vinegar.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to relaxing at home with NetFlix, tomorrow my plans include running errands and getting my life back in order and Sunday, I want to go shopping!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Meet me in St. Louis, Louis, meet me at the fair
Don't tell me the lights are shining any place but there
Judy Garland, Meet Me in St. Louis

As I said before my first trip to St. Louis to see Nick went really well (and we had fun!). Here are some pictures:

Finally back with my Nick again (at dinner on Friday night)!

On Saturday while Nick was at work I explored the historic Central West End - beautiful homes, treelined streets and fun shopping.

We bought this quaint, wrap around two blocks home in St. Louis where we'll be living... hahaha, just kidding!

Really silly, lazy cat in the middle of a Central West End bookstore.

Dinner on Saturday night in Kirkwood.

Cardinals game on Sunday (bought my first scalped tickets!)

Beautiful day for a baseball game!

The Gateway to the West!

On Monday Nick showed me around his club.

My favorite golf pro!

Driving to the airport - boo!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.
Billy Crystal as Harry Burns, When Harry Met Sally

Home safe and sound from St. Louis! The trip went really well and it was of course to spend so much time with my darling Nick. It was also nice to see where he lives, works and does his grocery shopping - now I can picture where he is.

We went to a yummy steak dinner, Cardinals game, explored the fancy neighborhoods in the Central West End and took a look at the charming homes (more in our price range, of course) in Kirkwood - pictures to come!

It is funny to keep realizing that this is where I am going to be living. Not in a bad way, just different. There is plenty to do, great areas to live and the best part is that we will be together! I am looking forward to our new life there, now I just can't wait to get started!
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