Sunday, May 31, 2009

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

Sunday gratitude:
  • paisley seat cushions on my rocking chairs.
  • new herbs to my collection - chives and cilantro!
  • "You've Got Mail" being aired over and over on Lifetime.
  • feeding squirrels apples in the backyard (much to Nick's dismay).
  • my reality television guilty pleasures coming up this week - The Real Housewives of New Jersey and Jon and Kate Plus 8.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

He is the happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I'm participating in Kelly's "Show Us Where You Live Friday." This week's theme is children's bedrooms and nurseries.

Well, if you haven't figured it out, I don't have children. But I wanted to participate, so here is Bella's space.

Bella is the cat.

In the guest room/den/office, Bellas has a little nook for her kitty litter box, toys, food and water. The "fountain" was a Christmas gift from Grammy (a.k.a. my mom) and Bella loves it. She will not drink out of a regular water bowl, only the fountain!

The sign was a gift from my college/grad school roommate, RaeAnna, who lived with Bella for some time. She knew "Beware! Crazy Cat" was appropriate!

Bella's main source of entertainment is the bird feeder right outside the window. She spends her entire day sitting on the back of the couch (notice the classy pillow cases draped over the back to protect the couch from a coating of fresh fur). It gets very exciting with a lot of birds, squirrels, chipmunks and the cat next door.

Bella says, "thanks for visiting, now let's take a nap!"

You can't deny the fact that you like me! You like me!
Sally Field

Thanks to Perfectly Pleasant for this lovely award:

...and to Est. 3.31.07 for this one!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Men are like wine. Some turn to vinegar,
but the best improve with age.

C.E.M. Joad

Happy 30th birthday to my wonderful husband!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Everything I know I learned after I was thirty.
Georges Clemenceau

On Sunday we hosted a 30th birthday party for Nick! Even in the rain we had a lovely time with his parents, old friends and new.

It was also a special treat to have Nick's old friend Chad, the best man in our wedding, and his wife Billi come down from Iowa to celebrate. They made a weekend of it and saw a Cardinals game and the St. Louis sites. We enjoyed dinner with them on Saturday night and provided their first Ted Drewes experience!

At Amigos, our favorite Mexican restaurant

Field trip to Ted Drewes!
I was picturing a sunny day and summer evening on Sunday to grill and sit outside for Nick's party. Unfortunately it poured rain about an hour before the party and continued to be humid and damp the rest of the night.

My hair was a frizzy mess and my feet were wet but good thing everyone didn't really care and even in the little drizzle we sat around inside and out.

Yummy spread of food

It's not a birthday without balloons (that promptly were covered with rain and fell into a heap on the front porch - boo.)

With my fellow Tri Delta from the St. Louis alumnae chapter

St. Louis blogger friends, Angie and Heidi

With the birthday boy!

A rousing game of bean bags

Happy birthday to my Nick!

Monday, May 25, 2009

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.
Joseph Campbell

Thank you all of those that sacrificed their lives for the freedoms that I can enjoy each day.

Here are some wonderful photos that I think really capture the realities of what Memorial Day stands for to me.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

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

Sunday gratitude:
  • Nick's 30th birthday party today!
  • shredded chicken tacos with guacamole.
  • vases of fresh Peonies all over my house.
  • rocking chairs sitting pretty on my back porch - finally!
  • Dunkin Donuts hazelnut coffee.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

He is the happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I'm participating in Kelly's "Show Us Where You Live Friday."

In continuation of the "my house is really small" theme, here is the cozy dining room. We don't have an eat-in kitchen so this is the only dining spot in the house. It also becomes a craft table, a Christmas-card-writing-table and a dump-my-stuff-from-work-table.

This is the view from the hallway to the bed rooms, looking over to the kitchen on the other side. The French doors open out to the back porch. One of my favorite part of the house are the rounded entry ways.

View from the kitchen back across to the bedrooms. Notice my decor in the dining room is mainly "Clint Eastwood." It is a reminant of my husband's bachelor days. I actually like it but it is a lot of Clint for one little house (there is another on the opposite wall).

The placemats and napkins were a gift from my mom who wanted to get me some new table linens. I looked all over and actually picked it out right from Wal-Mart - I love them! The napkin rings and wicker balls are from Pier One.

The quickest way to know a woman is to go shopping with her.
Marcelene Cox

Ever since moving to St. Louis and living in a neighborhood with a lot of history, locals and wonderful traditions I have really understood the importance of buying locally.

The 350 Project is an initiative to support local businesses has some great resources and listings.
Just to share, some of my favorite local stores I've visiting during my short time in St. Louis include:

The Cat's Meow

The Bug Store

Down By The Station

O.K. Hatchery Feed and Garden Store


Summa Jewelers

So take the time and your money to frequent your local stores. It will not only support your local economy but walking into a great local business with free handmade soap samples, a store cat on the counter or Vera Bradley on sale is far more fun than shopping online!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The belly rules the mind.
Spanish Proverb

Last night I went with Nick to Sam's Club to get some of the food for his (30th!) birthday party this weekend. We're not doing anything fancy but just needed to pick up ground beef for hamburgers, hotdogs, buns, chips, etc.

Do you know what ten pounds of ground beef looks like? Ew.

Anyway, Sam's Club is dangerous place with Nick. While I'm carefully selecting hamburger buns that are most economical by unit price, he finds it necessary to include things in the cart like:
  • a triple box package of Honey Nut Cheerios ("Randall, I eat a lot of cereal. It's a fact. It's divided out so it won't go stale. See?")
  • a gallon of salsa ("Who doesn't love chips and salsa?")
  • 5 lbs. of organic baby carrots ("Carrots are good for your eyes")
  • a 16" pecan pie ("Randall, it's delicious. Look at it. You should give it a chance.") - he had to put that one back.

So in addition to grilled burgers and yummy red potato salad party guests will also be able to enjoy a bag of twelve limes or a tub of white cheddar dip.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made and forgot to put a soul to.
Henry Ward Beckford

I know I mentioned it before but I am just enamored by the Peonies blooming in our front yard. I've always seen the flowers in weddings and such but not growing beautifully right outside my window.

The first bud opened this weekend and there are probably forty or more waiting to bloom. I just couldn't resist snipping this flower off (she was already drooping over) and she is now happily residing in a vase in my bathroom (and is about twice the size of this photo now).

Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

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

Sunday gratitude:
  • my first Peony flower finally bloomed!
  • new friends, new stories, new laughs.
  • finally finding a bedside lamp (for $7!).
  • being able to pull out all of my "Florida" clothes to wear in this warm weather.
  • cooking with my homegrown basil for the first time.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Let's get together, right away.We'll be having twice the fun.
Hayley Mills, The Parent Trap

I had a wonderful time last night chit-chatting at J. Buck's in Clayton with my fellow St. Louis bloggers! We enjoyed some appetizers and just talked and talked and talked. I hope to do it again soon and maybe add some others too!

Fabulous in the STL, Tattooed Dorothy, me, My Husband's Watching TV and Damask is Divine

Thursday, May 14, 2009

He is the happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I'm participating in Kelly's "Show Us Where You Live Friday."

This week the topic is guest rooms. As I said last week, our home is small. With two bedrooms, one is ours and the other is our guest room/office/den. It's amazing what you can cram in one little room if you need to!

Since I can actually use this room for two more hypothetical "Show Us Where You Live Friday" weeks I'll save some details for later!

This is the view when you walk in the room. I think it's my favorite nook in the house. It just came together how I pictured. The couch is a pull out queen bed and voila, guest room!

The corner from the other side of the room. Now you can see all of Nick's sports stuff. I think it looks a litte cluttered but Nick says it's a den, it's supposed to look like that!

Other corner with a TV connected to the Dish (very important for Nick when baseball and The Real Housewives of New Jersey are on at the same time).

The desk is more of a storage and filing center since both of our laptops are in the living rom. But it keeps me organized.

If you really want to be depressed, weigh yourself in grams.
Jason Love

Changing it up a bit this week kicked me off my plateau with a 1.2 pound weight loss! The loss bumped my total weight loss to 8.2 pounds and past my 5% goal.

I promised myself a treat when I hit a 5% loss of my body weight so I purchased OPI Sweet Heart online this afternoon. It's not much but it is a splurge compared to my usual Sally Hansen polish from Walgreens!

This week I'm working on "moving more" again and have some new recipes from Weight Watchers magazine, like macaroni and cheese, that I'm looking forward to trying.

Here's my favorite Weight Watchers-friendly recipe from this week:

Meatloaf Muffins

1 (6 ounce) box Stove Top stuffing mix
2 eggs
1 cup water
2 lbs lean ground beef

Mix all ingredients; spray muffin pan with cooking spray; and fill muffin tins to top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

I served them with smashed yukon gold potatoes and mixed vegetables.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Be like the flower, turn your faces to the sun.
Kahlil Gibran

The other evening after work I met Nick at his golf club to play nine holes. I wasn't feeling well but "the fresh air well make you feel better" tactic was used so I joined him. It really was a lovely evening, sunny and cool, and I walked most of the course while Nick played. I hit a few balls but was mostly distracted by the beautiful gardens.

I haven't been out on the course for more than a month so now all the beautiful flowers were blooming everywhere. Nick told me they have an employee that handles the flowers, not including the entire landscaping and maintenance crew, but a seperate position that does just the flowers.

In front of the golf shop

At the tee of the 15th hole (you can see Nick teeing off in red)

Close up of planting in front of the 15th hole
All the gardening goodies near the cart barn - they wouldn't notice a missing Begonia or two, right?

...and the cutest golf pro I know!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Good things come to those who wait

Remember my poor tire that couldn't be repaired?

Well, we thought we should have someone take a second look to make sure that it really couldn't be fixed before we bought new tires. I took it to Sam's Club, where the tires were originally purchased, and the technician took one look at it, pulled out the screw with pliers and patched it immediately.

He laughed when I told him the other tire place said it couldn't be repaired. They lied. Jerks! The Sam's Club tire staff didn't even charge me. So we didn't have to buy two new tires for my car after all.

Do you know what that means? Rocking chairs!

We did some shopping around and the best price for what we want is at Lowe's.

...and the story gets better.

Nick was named employee of the month at work and received a $50 gift card to the store of his choice. He picked Lowe's so we added that to the balance.

Then at my staff meeting yesterday afternoon one the partners thanked us all for working so hard, pulled out his wallet and handed each account executive a $100 bill. Sweet!

So my rocking chairs that I thought I'd have to put off until later this summer are actually only going to cost us about $30 out of pocket.

I can't wait to put them on the back porch and enjoy the summer!

Monday, May 11, 2009

It is a wise mans part, rather to avoid sickness, than to wish for medicines.
Thomas More

I'm sick.

It's the beginning of a cold and I feel gross. I'm not sick enough to stay in bed all day, just sick enough to feel awful while at work. Sore throat, stuffy nose and a headache. I thought I was doing so well with my hand washing, Purel-ing and all but here I am, sick.

IB Profen is helping and I'm doing Zicam swabs which took out my cold in December in about a day and a half. I'm hoping it will do the same this time.

Last night Nick brought me flowers and fat free fudgesicles (gotta keep on track with Weight Watchers!) so it was nice snuggling on the couch with him, a quilt and Bella. We watched Seven Pounds from Netflix which wasn't nearly as good as I thought it would be but it was a nice distraction.

Here's to feeling better soon!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

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

Sunday gratitude:
  • my wonderful mother...

Assisi, Italy

College honor society initiation

Cherokee National Forest
Master's degree graduation
Wedding rehearsal

My wedding day

Thursday, May 7, 2009

He is the happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I'm participating in Kelly's "Show Us Where You Live Friday." This week the topic is living rooms. I love looking not only at decor magazines and sites but especially other people's real homes. It's fun to see what actual people, not necesarrily designers, can do with their spaces.

To start, our home is tiny. I can vacuum the entire house just being plugged into one outlet. It's cozy, for sure! Our living room is in the front of the house, right when you walk in the front door. It's the largest room of the house and where we spend most of our time watching television, on our laptops or enjoying the fireplace.

When you walk in the front door and look to the left, this is what you see. I've left the laptop there for full effect. It's where both of ours sit 99% of the time. There is also nothing on the walls but the mirror. I cannot decide what I want and, therefore, have never purchased anything.

I love our fireplace. It's especially cozy in the winter. Bella enjoys sitting on the mantel and watching the birds.

Standing at the fireplace looking back into the room. The front door would be on your front right.

Our "entry" table has favorite family photos, lots of books and our wedding album (in black and white with the mongram and bow). The basket holds all of Nick's horseracing handicapping notes, papers and pens. If I didn't corral it, I would have it all over the house!

If you really want to be depressed, weigh yourself in grams.
Jason Love

So gain this week at Weight Watchers I didn't lose or gain an ounce. My leader said it was great that I was eating well enough to maintain but before I get to that point I need to lose the weight I don't want!

I'm making an extra effort this weekend with my tracking and also trying new foods to change it up. After doing the program for seven weeks I've been a bit on cruise control so I'm shaking it up a bit to get me measuring again and tracking every bite, lick and taste!

I will also be "moving more" by taking longer walks and trying new exercise. Last night, Nick even went to yoga with me! It was my first time at that location and I really liked it so hope to continue once a week.

Here's my favorite Weight Watcher-friendly recipe this week:

Cashew Chicken

2 tsp peanut oil
2 medium garlic clove(s), minced
1 pound(s) uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 tsp table salt, or more to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper, or more to taste
1 1/2 cup(s) fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce, or more to taste
2 medium stalk(s) celery, chopped
8 oz canned bamboo shoots, drained
8 oz canned water chestnuts, sliced, drained
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
2 cup(s) cooked white rice, kept hot
1 3/4 oz dry-roasted cashews, chopped (about 6 Tbsp)

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper and add to skillet. Cook until browned on all sides, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes.

Add 1 cup of broth, soy sauce, celery, bamboo shoots and water chestnuts to chicken and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Dissolve cornstarch in remaining 1/2 cup of broth; add to skillet and simmer until sauce thickens, stirring constantly, about 1 minute.

To serve, divide rice among 4 shallow dishes. Spoon chicken mixture onto rice and sprinkle with cashews. Yields about 1 cup of chicken, 1/2 cup of rice and 1 1/2 tablespoons of cashews per serving.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The earth laughs in flowers.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

With everything now in full bloom it has been fun to see what is popping up in our yard out of dormant trees and plants. Since I've only been here since November everything is basically a mystery.

My landlord was out in her yard yesterday, they live next door, and I asked her to tell me what some of these plants and shrubs were. Being from Florida, I really had no idea what most of them were.

I found out they we have two Red Bud trees and a large Honeysuckle in the front. Even better, which I'm really excited about, are two huge bushes which I learned are Peonies. She said once they bloom they will droop over, especially in the rain, so we should feel free to clip them to enjoy the blooms inside while they last. We also have two large groupings that recently bloomed into large Irises, so below. They smell so sweet!

As the weeks go by I can't wait to see what else blooms!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

We make a living by what we get,
but we make a life by what we give.
Winston Churchill

By the end of the month I will officially be a member of Junior League of St. Louis! All of my new member requirements are fulfilled and we will be ratified at the May 20 meeting.

I also signed up online for my fundraising and training shifts for next year to get a head start on snagging the Saturday times and interesting community events.

"Oh excuse me, were you trying to use this?"

Even better is that I was asked to be chair of the State and Legislative Issues committee! So I don't have to rally for a position on another committee, I have my very own. It's a nice entry level committee chair position and I'm looking forward to handling it and working with the other community development committees.

Monday, May 4, 2009

An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.
Henry David Thoreau

On Saturday I joined my Weight Watchers leader and about 10 others from her various meetings at the St. Louis Heart Walk. The walk, leaving from Busch Stadium and through downtown, benefitted the American Heart Association.

It was a fun morning with a great three mile walk that finished on the field at Busch Stadium. Really neat to see it all from that angle!

Walking down Market Street

View from the walk of the Arch and Old Courthouse

Finishing on the field at Busch Stadium

All done!
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