Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Plaid Shorts

I hate shorts.  It is pretty rare that I wear shorts, or pants of any sort, in the summer time.  Most of the time, in the summer, I can be found wearing dresses.  Usually light cotton sundresses, nothing fancy, just comfortable.  But, when preparing for my Ice Cream Social, I found the cutest blue and brown plaid shorts, so I got them, in the hopes I could wear them for the party.  Well, I hate to try on clothes, so I just got a size I hoped would fit, and brought them home.  The day before the party, which would have been the last day of July, I tried them on.  Bad news.  There was no way I could wear them.  I could not get them all the way on, much less buttoned and zipped.  I was so so sad.  I put them in my drawer, determined to be into them before the summer was over.

Yesterday, I wore those plaid shorts.  They fit me perfectly.  I was pretty stoked.  I am finally starting to see progress.  My first weight loss goal was to have lost 25 pounds by Labor Day.  I am confidant I will achieve that goal on time, if not early.  My biggest concern now is I know I am going to get to a point where I stop losing, but all I can do is keep trying.  And keep thinking about those plaid shorts.  Because the next time I go to put those things on, they had better be way too big for me.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Word Filled Wednesday: Acts of Charity

Hebrews 13:16 

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

One of the ways we can show our love of God and of mankind is to do acts of charity.  When one thinks of acts of charity, I think one often thinks of grand gestures, such as donating large sums of money, or volunteering one's time, and while these are wonderful acts, they are not always possible.  There are simple ways to perform acts of charity in everyday life.  Sometimes, it is a mere kind word, a smile, a thank you.  I am astounded how many people do not say thank you anymore.

My mom was always one to perform great acts of charity in ways you would not expect people to in this day and age.  A perfect example is this:  when my niece was a baby, my mom would go to my sister's house to take my nephew to the school bus stop, so my sister would not have to take the baby out in the cold.  She noticed a neighbor woman who had her kids at the bus stop, and none of the kids had hats or gloves.  My mom struck up a conversation with the woman one day, and the woman mentioned that she had fallen on hard times, so, my mom went and bought each child a hat and glove set, as well as a small toy, and wrapped them up for Christmas.  More than likely, those were the only toys those kids got that year.  What a tremendous act of Christian charity that was.  My parents always taught us to perform these types of acts of charity.

But, what happens when you offer such kindness to someone, only to have it refused?  Last week, this happened to Hubby and me.  Without going into too much personal detail, some people in our lives with whom we were not on the greatest of terms had a terrible situation befall them.  In the name of charity, we decided to set aside the differences, and offered to help in any way that we could, only to have this offer pretty much thrown back in our faces.  Were we wrong to offer?  I do not think so, I stand by my decision to offer assistance, particularly because there was a child involved.  I think it was a shame that our offer was refused in the manner it was, but there is little I can do about that.  I know I did the right thing by trying to help, as my parents taught me to do.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hot new hair

Anyone who knows me knows that I am constantly doing something to my hair.  Cutting, coloring, something.  So, the fact that my hair stayed pretty much the same all summer is miraculous.  I guess that is part of growing up.  Yesterday, I went to get it touched up, and was going to do the same exact thing, but at the last minute, I changed my mind, and told her to stick to mostly the red highlights instead, and only a few blonde highlights.  The results?

My hair looks like flames.  It is flipping awesome.  I a superhero.

What should my super hero name be?

In other news, my quest for healthiness continues to go well, yesterday I did my weigh in and had lost another 3 pounds, bringing the total to 21.5 pounds lost!!! I hope I can keep this up, because I am finally starting to see the difference.

I am going to my first ever blogger event on Friday.  From what I understand it is a pretty low key event, but I am still pretty excited, and am wondering if I will look like a big dork if I wear my custom made I love Tiffany's Blogs t shirt.  Thoughts?

My summer reading challenge is winding down for my book review blog, so hopefully that means I will have a little more time to blog on a regular basis.  Here is hoping!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Too Health Conscious?

Is it possible to become too health conscious, or at least too much too fast?  I had yet another moment of food revelation last night.

Hubby and I were out to dinner last night at one of our favorite places, in part to celebrate our anniversary of our very first date.  In fact, the place we were eating was where we held our rehearsal dinner for our wedding.  It is an awesome little Italian place.  We had both skipped lunch, because we had been busy all day, so I had an abundance of points to use up, and could have had pretty much anything I wanted.  Still, I ordered a steak salad, no cheese, raspberry vinaigrette on the side, with a tall glass of water.  Hubby ordered a sandwich and fries, and an appetizer of fried ravioli.

When the fried ravioli came out, he looked at me, frowned, and immediately apologized for tempting me.  I said, honey, it is fine, I can have 1.  And that is what I did.  I had 1.  And I savored it.  I ate it in 6 slow, sumptuous bites, dipped in a bit of ranch dressing.  It was 3 points, with the dressing, and totally worth it.  A tiny splurge, which I allowed myself.  And I stopped after 1.

While waiting for my dinner salad, I noticed people sitting at a table near us being served their dinner course.  They had already eaten ranch dressing laden salads.  Now they were eating large cuts of prime rib, baked potatoes with butter and sour cream, butter laden green beans, pasta with meat sauce, and bread. That menu was repeated for EACH PERSON!!!  It made me a little bit nauseated, actually, how much food was brought out for just 3 people.  Probably more points were on that table than I consume in a whole week.  Hubby noticed a frown on my face, and asked me what I was thinking about, and I could not help but blurt out "I am thinking about how many points they are eating".  I did not say it loudly, and I let it go, but in the car ride home, I decided to clarify, and this is what I explained.

How other people eat is totally their business.  But it really hits home to me now how badly I have been eating for so long.  I did not put this weight on or develop these bad habits overnight, and the situation will not reverse itself overnight either, but I am almost appalled at how terrible I have eaten in the past.  Knowing that in the past one trip to a fast food place would equal the same about of nutrition I now can account for over the course of a whole day is almost shameful.  I am starting to really learn to think about what I am putting into my body, and why I chose to put those things into my body.  And to be honest, I enjoy the food I eat so much more now, because it makes me feel so much better. 

I asked Hubby if he thought it was weird that it bothered me how many points those other people were eating, and he said no, but it would have been weird if I had said something to them about it.  I do not think I will ever get to that place, at least I hope not, because it is not my business what other people do, it more bothered me how it made me reflect on my past behavior.  Where I am at right now is I am actually struggling to force myself to get all my points in each day.  I have a tendency to store my points up and have a lot left over at the end of each day.  This week I have been using more than I had in the past and as a result, I am losing a lot slower than I had been in previous weeks, so it is frustrating, but everyone is telling me this is what I should be doing, so I guess that is what I should do.  All I can do is keep plugging along.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Word Filled Wednesday: Husband As Head

Ephesians 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. (NASB)

It never fails to baffle me how angry people get at me for choices my husband makes.  As if my husband has no mind or will of his own.  In case people do not notice, my husband is a grown man, with free will.  If he makes a choice, it is with his free will, that he makes this choice.  To assume that his choices are my doing, by my feminine wiles alone, is to accuse my husband of being weak.  My husband is not weak.  My husband is the head of my household.

I think that people often mistake kindness, or being easygoing, as weakness.  But everyone has a breaking point.  And as far as my family, meaning me and my husband, goes, he is in charge.  Never for a moment think otherwise.  Because, seriously, if I had my way, we would have at least ten times the pets we do now, including this adorable little puppy that I desperately want to adopt and name Chocolate Chip Nixon Harkleroad (Hubby says no).
But I digress.  My point here is, my husband is the head of our household, the head of our family.  He is the decision maker for himself.  He is the joint decision maker for our family.  When it comes to things that affect us both, like finances, and household decisions, we discuss them, though we are almost always in agreement.  But when it comes to him, he makes his own decisions.  I might make suggestions, like, gee, don't you think you should get a hair cut soon, or, would you like to go away next weekend, but I never say, hey, you, DO THIS.  So, if he decides to not go somewhere, or not attend some function, or not wear some piece of clothing, or not drink alcohol, or not eat some type of food, that is his doing, and nothing I am going to do or say will change it.  Trust me.  I will never, ever, in a million years get this man to eat sushi.  I will never ever get him to put gravy on his mashed potatoes.  Stripes will not be entering his wardrobe.  Rest assured, he does things by his own bidding.

I see this all the time, people blaming wives or girlfriends for the choices men make.  I was unaware there was such a widespread epidemic of weak minded men out there.  Maybe there are a lot of men who let their wives make all their decisions for them, but, sorry to tell you, my husband is not one of them, and that is the way I like it.  He makes his own choices when it comes to him, I make choices when it comes to me, when it comes to our family we have a partnership, and at the end of the day, he is the head of our household.

And I will always stand by his choices, after all, he chose me.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Summer Discovery: Grilled Peaches

A few weeks ago, one of my friends mentioned on facebook that she and her husband were grilling peaches.  I had never heard of such a thing, and she assured me they were delicious.  I did not give it much more thought, then today, I was at the Farmer's Market.  I try to go every Friday, and every Friday, I seem to get something different, plus my standard dozen ears of corn.  Today, I among the things I got were some peaches.  When I get produce at the market, I am never sure what I will do with it during the week, but on the drive home, I decided to try grilling peaches, or at least looking it up to see how involved it was.

I found several different recipes online, some complicated involving blue cheese and balsamic vinegar (which sounds amazing but I had neither of those things), and some fairly simple, so I decided to just wing it.  I took two peaches, cut them along the cleft, twisted them apart, and pitted them.  Then I sprinkled just a bit of brown sugar and cinnamon on them, then put them on a warm grill, cut side down.  I grilled them, cut side down, for about 7 minutes, then I turned them over, and sprinkled them liberally with more brown sugar and cinnamon.  I then let them grill for another 15 minutes or so.  Look how awesomely delicious they look!
I decided to serve them up with some chocolate ice cream, since we do not like vanilla.
Hubby got the be the first to try it and he pronounced it pure deliciousness in a bowl!

Happy Friday the 13th!

I have never been one to buy into the whole Friday the 13th superstition really.  I know there is a whole history behind the day, one I will not recount here, but it never really got to me.  Until now that is.  My day has gone smashingly, and it is not even noon yet.

It started off at 3 am.  Hubby and I had gone to sleep at about 11:30, and all seemed normal in the neighborhood.  So, when I woke up at 3 am smelling smoke, I was alarmed to say the least.  I woke up Hubs, who at first could not smell it.  Finally, he realized that the smell of smoke was indeed wafting through our house.  Yet, no smoke detector was going off.  My concern was for the outlet in our bedroom, with which we previously had trouble, and just had replaced on Monday.  Quickly, we realized someone in the neighborhood had a bonfire.  How late must their little party have started, since it was after we went to bed?  Also, are bonfires even allowed in town?  I was annoyed to say the least.  Waking up to the smell of smoke is so scary!

I finally got back to sleep, and was only half awake when Hubs was getting ready for work this morning.  He kissed me goodbye, and went downstairs.  I heard him let out a noise.  Now, it is not unusual for him to have skirmishes with the cat, and that is what I figured was happening, so I yelled out, "What is going on down there?" more as a warning to the two of them to settle down than as an actual question.  Imagine my surprise when Hubs yells out "There is a BIRD in here!!!".

I threw on my robe and went down the steps, and before I got to the bottom, I was greeted by the site of Hubby, broom in right hand, dust pan in left, chasing this flying thing around our living room.  He says it was a bird, I say it was a bat.  We have decided to compromise and determined it was Edward Cullen.
So, Hubby was trying desperately to get this bird bat Edward to leave our house, and it just kept flying round and round.  Then, I heard him shriek unlike anything I have ever heard before.  Apparently, it landed on him.  At that point, we lost sight of the enemy, and we think it slunk out the back door, but for all we know, it could be sleeping in the basement, preparing for a second air attack at 2200 hours.

Hubby asked what I wanted to do, and like a big baby I of course wanted him to stay home from work and protect me, but I knew I could not ask him to do that, because I knew if I asked, he totally would, and then I would feel bad for making him miss work over something so silly.  So, I am hiding out in the bedroom for the most part.  I did go downstairs to feed the dog and grab a turkey sandwich for breakfast (it was faster than making cereal or oatmeal, DON'T JUDGE ME!).

So, that is how my Friday the 13th is going.  How is yours?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Word Filled Wednesday: Heartfelt Counsel

Proverbs 27:9
The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.

These are my girlies.  The ones I can turn to with reports of pounds lost (4.2 this week, woohoo!!!!), pounds gained, frustrations, triumphs, woman troubles, everything.  And they can do the same to me.  These are the friends who have become like family to me. 

I have always had a close relationship with my family, and when I first moved away from home, I still went home pretty much every week.  When I moved from Ohio to Pennsylvania, it slowed a little, but it was still pretty regular.  However, when I got engaged, and we bought the house in Kittanning, it became clear that I would not get to visit home nearly as often as I had once enjoyed.  Luckily, Hubby came packaged with a great set of friends, who included some of the most fabulous women I met in my life.  The two lovely ladies you see with me above are E and J, whom I so often rave about.  They have helped fill the gap, keep me from missing my family as much as I would have, and helped me feel more at home in my new town.

These days, when something happens, I usually call my mom (I know my sister is uber busy, what with working, full time school raising two kids, oh yeah and moving into a new house, so I figure she will get the low down from my mom), and then E and J.  I still remember the first time we all really hung out, which was just before my wedding.  Both girls helped me decorate the hall too, and then for many months, we did not really hang out much or get to know each other.  Then, one day, things just fell into place, and wonderful life long friendships were forged.  I am so blessed to have these women in my life.

I love that these women feel they can turn to me for advice or encouragement, and I can do the same with them.  So often I think women see each other as competition, and feel the need to be catty, but this never occurs with these ladies.  We feel real joy for each others' successes, and sorrow for each others' losses. 

Thank you ladies, for the blessing of your friendship.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

CSN Review- Bookcase

I know it has been a bit since I said I was going to have a review but there is a reason for that.  Let me explain.

I got approached by CSN Stores to do another review for their products.  I was super excited, and decided I needed another bookshelf, to accommodate all the books I get from doing book reviews.  So, after some discussion with Hubby, we settled on this bookshelf:
So, I ordered it online, as always a very easy process, and within just a few days we had it.  I am always impressed with how fast the shipping from is from CSN. 

However, when we opened the box to start assembling the bookshelf, we noticed each piece of the bookshelf had some damage on it, crushed corners and such.  I decided to call the Customer Service line, to report the damage.  The Customer Service representative was so helpful and apologetic!  He immediately placed an order for a new bookshelf to be sent out to us!!  I asked him if we needed to send the damaged one back, and he said he would check with the warehouse, but if we did have to send it back, they would pay the shipping.  The next morning, I received word that we did not need to send it back, and we could discard the damaged bookshelf.  Within just a couple of days, we received the replacement bookcase, and it was perfect!

Hubby willingly put it together for me.  He said the assembly was very easy.  In fact, he put it together while we were watching an episode of Mad Men (which explains my shocking lack of photos of the process).  He had it together and upstairs before the episode was finished.

I decided to put the bookshelf in our bedroom, to put some of Hubby's books on.  It matches our bedroom furniture perfectly, and it a good size for his books.  It is of good construction for the price, and overall, I am quite happy with it.  I am especially happy with the overall experience with the Customer Service representatives, who helped make a trying situation completely painless!

Monday, August 9, 2010

In the Big City: Grand Opening

On Saturday, Hubby and I once again found ourselves venturing into Pittsburgh, full of excitement.  For those of my readers who may be hockey fans, I am sure you are aware that the Pittsburgh Penguins are getting a new arena.  Well, on Saturday, the grand opening was held, and we got to attend.  It was pure awesome.  You see, because the new arena is called the Consol Energy Center, the grand opening was primarily for Consol employees and affiliates.  Some friends of ours, M and J, are in that category and had tickets, but were leaving for vacation that morning, so they offered the tickets to us (a million thanks M and J!).  We readily accepted them. 

We got into town, and it was a gorgeous day.  The Consol Energy Center is located right across the street from Mellon Arena.

 The front of the center is all glass, and the cityscape reflects off of it so beautifully.

We got inside, and we got a little swag bag with a schedule of the day's events, and a commemorative puck.  You immediately notice all the high tech gadgets all around.  A virtual Stanley cup.  Scrolling LED banners.  Flat screen t.v. EVERYWHERE.  This place is the ultimate mancave.

Hubby excitedly spotted Iceburgh, the mascot, and requested a photo, which was quickly arranged.

Finally we were all corralled into one seating area.  The number of people there filled about a quarter of the arena.  We sat and waited for the presentation.  The place is just spectacular, so we had no problem just sitting and looking.

Finally, there was a short presentation, mostly geared toward Consol employees, which I thought was pretty awesome.  Then two employees got to do the ceremonial first official face off in the arena.  It was quickly followed by a cheer of LETS GO PENS!

After that we got to explore the place for the next 3.5 hours.  There was tons to do.  They had a station where you could get a free t shirt made (it was my first stop, I was ridiculously excited).
There was also a chance to skate on the ice (we did not), get temporary tattoos (nope), meet and greet retired Pens players (the line was ridiculously long, so, no go there), but mostly we just wondered around and drank in the sites.  The tickets for admission were also good for $12 worth of concessions, which Hubby used, but I did not, as that would not have been good for my weight loss goals.  The food all looked and smelled amazing though!

We got to go into the ultra swank Lexus Club, which had an actual Lexus convertible in it.  Sit in it and try it out?  Don't mind if I do!

We also got to tour a Party Suite.  Very cool, having your own private party at a Pens game.  A girl can dream, I suppose!

There is all kinds of Pens pictures and artwork lining the walls of each level, but this was one of my favorites.  Who doesn't love Geno?

There is a great Kids Zone, with activities for the kids, including some Wii interactive sports deals and this cool little Crosby Dryer Challenge.

As you can imagine, I took a ton of pictures, and we had a blast!  It was so cool being part of the first few to really get to experience the arena.  We had a wonderful day!

Now we just need to wait a little while longer to hear those magic words.....


Friday, August 6, 2010

The One Where I Get to Know my Readers

Yesterday, I was busy pretty much all afternoon, so I did not get a chance to read any of the blogs I follow.  I use Google Reader for reading blogs, because then I can organize them, or mark some to re-read or get recipes from, stuff like that.  Right now I subscribe to 300 + blogs.  So, organization is key.  Anywho, it had been about 12 hours since I check my Google Reader, and when I logged on last night, I was scared to see that the number of unread entries was about 425.

As I was going through them all, I was a little annoyed at the excessive posting some bloggers had done in that 12 hour time frame.  At least 3 people had posted 12 posts, and one person had posted 24 posts.  I will tell you, I did not read a single one of those posts.  Then, I started wondering, what do I do that annoys my readers?  What would they like to see more of?

So here is your chance to give me some feedback, and help make my blog better.

First off, multiple posts in a day...I do this occasionally, but I am sure that I have never posted more than 4 posts on a blog in a singe day.  So, how do you feel about multiple posts?  How many is too many?

Next, reviews and giveaways....I know many blogs focus on just these two things, and have thousands of followers.  Do you wish I did more?  What is the right balance between review/giveaway driven posts and actual content driven posts?

Next, blog hops.....I will admit, for a while, I was pretty addicted, but I hate that every week you have to write a specific post about blog hops just to participate.  Do you blog hop?  Why or why not?  Do you really read all the blogs you find in a hop, or is it just a convenient way to boost reader numbers?

Next, memes and schedule.....I do not really do memes as you may notice.  I  do a weekly Word Filled Wednesdays, not as part of a meme, but a way to make myself focus at least once a week on how God is working in my life.  I do not have any other regularly scheduled or weekly topical features.  Do you think I should?  I pretty much fly by the seat of my pants, and write what comes to mind.  I do have specific topical series, but no schedule for them.  Would you like more structured posting schedules?

Finally, what makes you follow blog?  Why did you follow mine?  And what would make you stop following a blog you already follow?

I really hope you all leave me comments, because I want to become a better blogger.  It is not about the number of people following me, it is about making a real connection with the people who read my blog.  So help me know you better.  Tell me what you love, tell me what you HATE, and tell me what you would like to see me do that I am not doing now.

(Photo courtesy of TNRD Library's Blog.)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Word Filled Wednesdays: Escaped

"We have escaped like a bird out of the fowler's snare; the snare has been broken, and we have escaped."
Psalm 124:7 (NIV)

Escape.  To me, that word is filled with adventure.  As in "we made a daring escape".  Or, perhaps it is filled with hope, as in "a relaxing escape".  Many people are content with their lives and feel no need for escape.  But as Christians, as true believers, we all have escaped.  We have escaped the snares of sin.

Most people do not like to talk about sin.  We live in an "I'm ok, you're ok" culture.  But sin is a very relevant topic, no matter where or when you live.  Man is sinful by nature.  It has been that way from the beginning.  Sometimes people only want to think of the "big" sins- murder, adultery, theft.  You know, the going-against-the-commandments type sins.  The prevailing thought is "as long as I do not commit those, I am golden".  But there are other sins too.  Gossip, jealousy, bad stewardship, laziness, lack of love.  These are all sins that I have personally struggled with over the years.  There are tons more too.

I think people are afraid to own up to sin, because they think they will be judged by others (also a sin by the way, being judgmental).  But we all have a sinful nature.  Read the Bible.  Chock full of sinners.  Pay special attention to the Gospels.  Who did Jesus dine with?  Tax collectors, prostitutes, sinners.  He makes His reasons for this abundantly clear.  Jesus came to provide hope to the sinners.  He came to help us escape sin.

Faith as a means of escape is a strong theme in Scripture.  The Jews escaped from Egypt through faith.  Noah escaped the flood by faith.  Daniel escaped the lions because of, you guessed it, faith.  The point I am trying to make is, God wants to be your escape.  He wants to take your pain, suffering, addiction, poverty, gluttony, jealousy, unbelief.  He wants to make you new, free.

We will continue to struggle with sin, and continue to need faith to help us escape it.  So, profess your faith, confess your sin, and escape into the open arms of the Lord.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Ice Cream Social

Yesterday marked exactly one year since we closed on our house.  Because we moved in and got married within the same 2 month period, we never really had time to have a house warming party.  As a result, many of our friends never got to see our house.  I decided about a month ago I wanted to have a party to commemorate our first year of domestic bliss, and wanted to really plan a fun even for our friends, so, I decided to throw an Ice Cream Social.

For the past week, I have been cleaning, and making sure we had everything we needed for a successful party.  Ice cream? Check.  Cones and bowls?  Check.  Toppings galore?  Check.  Snacks?  Check.  I even made some adorable ice cream cone shaped cookies, with help from E (never again will I doubt her, she helped me make the perfect shade of brown icing for the cone portions of the cookies.  Red, yellow, and green, who knew?), as well as some delicious and Weight Watcher friendly cupcakes (2 points each, thank you very much!)

I had the house all decorated, as well as the yard.  I figured it would be easiest to dish out ice cream inside, and have all the toppings and snacks outside.  In retrospect, with the heat, this may not have been the best plan, but oh well, it worked.

Finally, it was party time and everyone was arriving.  We gave a few tours of the house, and then it was time for ice cream!!  I dished it out for people, and let them pick their own toppings.  I was surprised that the favorite ice cream by far was the Neapolitan!

We all sat outside in the backyard, enjoying the beautiful day.  Throughout the party different friends stopped by, and it was a fantastic afternoon.

I think of all the people who attended, the kids had the best time of all.  Of course, ice cream can make a kid out of all of us!

Eventually, as the sun was setting, people started to filter home, full of sugar, tired and hungry.  We hugged friends goodbye, cleaned up the yard, put away the left overs, and released our balloons.

How blessed we are to have such wonderful people in our lives.  For me, being so far away from my family, my friends hold a special place in my heart, and make me feel so at home in my small town.

When I think back on the summer of 2010, and consider what the best day of the summer was, I am pretty sure I will remember today.

Thank you dear friends for coming to our Ice Cream Social.  You made me on very happy small town girl.