Monday, February 28, 2011

So Long February

Springtime is the land awakening. The March winds are the morning yawn. ~Quoted by Lewis Grizzard in Kathy Sue Loudermilk, I Love You

Look, I realize Spring officially begins later in March. However, I have always been the type that likes to start the season off at the top of the month. At least in Alabama, Spring is 100% here - and so is March (in less than 24 hours.)

I am sitting in my sun room, with my cup of coffee, my laptop, and for once - not many cares in the world. My eyes popped open at 5:43am, I decided to turn off the alarm and face the day. As I was picking out my clothes, I looked over and saw the egyptian sleeping. He had the biggest smile on his face.
I could not help but giggle and realize that was a sleeping man that felt peace. He got a job yesterday, one through a friend at the mosque. It's only part time, but it is something for him to do. We have decided for him to go back to school, and we are shooting for the summer time.

As I was bouncing around the kitchen, fixing my coffee, I began to reflect on so many things. Even as I sit here and gaze out the window - I can't help but see the possibilities. I was in such a dark place the past two weeks, and truly on shaky ground for months before. This whole time I knew he wanted to go NYC (heck, who wouldn't?) and I knew he wanted to see his family. NOW - both of those things are out of his system. Perhaps NOW we can relax.

We start a new routine this week. My family is coming up on Saturday. All very exciting things. Luckily, they will be staying in a hotel, it will help, considering we live in a one bedroom. They will stay one night, then my dad, sister and niece will travel back to Georgia - and my mom will stay here with us. I have to return to Pensacola and Mobile - so I am taking Mom with me on my work trip. We leave Tuesday morning for Pensacola, head to Mobile on Wednesday & Thursday (actually staying in a little historic coastal town called Fairhope) and then going to New Orleans on the Friday for one night. We will travel back to Birmingham on Saturday. I will drive her home (Macon, GA) on Sunday. And head to work on Monday.
That's a LOT of driving.

I am looking forward to the time with my family, and I am looking forward to the trip. Somewhere in there (Saturday to be exact) - is the Heart Ball, AND my manager will arrive on Thursday for my midyear review. That's good.. and can be nerve wracking. So far, so good at work.. but the standards are set pretty high at Heart.

I think I have pondered the week fairly well. I did not want to end without thanking each and every one of your for your support and kind words. It's amazing, on the darkest days - I heard from many of you. It reminds me that you are out there, and that generally, people are good in the world. I also thank you and respect each of you for being kind enough to allow me to heal, and not condemn for wanting to work things out with a man, who in all honesty, has been less than perfect and down right mean. If he is going to try - I just can't turn my back, just not yet. :-)

Have a beautiful week. LOL - I just saw two geese flying by and squawking (or whatever you call that noise) - it's nice to be up as the sunrises, and people are slowly moving about.

PS - I am FINALLY using Twitter more. Please follow, if you like.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Feeling the Love

How fickle that little word can be. Love. I know I have thrown it around a bit, and felt it rush into my life - only to rip my heart out.

I cannot begin to tell you how good it feels to be rebuilding.

I literally took a minute (not too long ago,) went into the dining room and told the egyptian how good it felt to be getting along again.

He smiled and agreed.

No doubt - we are not being blind to the past. We are HEALING. We are treating each other with tender loving care, and in the end - that's all I wanted.

We spent the morning grocery shopping, restocking items that he would eat. He is not the type to live off of lettuce, peppers and cheese. LOL (Yes, I will admit - I have been grazing for weeks. Not actually eating, well - not unless I was going out to eat.)

We just got back from visiting with our Russian & Jamaican friends. We go to their house about once a month for lunch. Always the same thing: goat, spicy jerk chicken, rice, salad and juice. If you did not know- most foreigners serve juice with their food. At least, it's been in my experience.

This couple, in particular, are fascinating. He is Jamaican and works as an engineer for AT&T, and she is a mail order bride from Kazakhstan. They are happily married and living in a beautiful home in a suburb of Birmingham called Helena. These two have been married at least 15 years or so. Long story on how we all met, but needless to say - it's been a joy getting to know them.

After leaving there, and the egyptian having to endure the "I told you sos" about NYC from our friends, we came home and began discussing the Oscars. Another cool thing about marrying someone from a different country (and I don't know what it is about people from the other side of the pond - they are more in tune with fashion) - he and I can sit and watch something like this and admire the fashion, the art, the beauty of it all. I doubt very seriously I could get that out of my american male counterparts.. well.. at least not the straight ones.

Another big storm is a-brewing soon, got to batten down the hatch and prepare to tough out these strong spring storms. The trees are already blooming with flowers - and with more rain, comes more flowers. This also means, soon we will have more pollen. Need to invest in more Nasanex and Kleenex for the days to come.

I hope everyone else had as good a weekend as I have.

I am relieved. I am relaxed. I feel massive healing and love. FINALLY.

Sure.. my arm is extended, not letting him too close.. but not being my own worst enemy either. ;-)

A few more for you!

I am busy planning meals for the week, and again - going through my "Family Recipe Notebook." (Which essentially are recipes I have collected from random sources for the past 20 years or so.)

I just want to share those with you, and will try to get as many as I can up (a few each week.) I don't know about you, but I have begun to LOVE cooking. I am always inspired by my friend LBR and Yenta Mary. They always share their culinary journey.

Here are a few more I have tried and love. I hope you find these helpful and as delish as I do! (Again, I will post these in the recipe tab after posting!)

Herb Spinach Bake
**This was one of the first recipes I ever tried when I first got married back in 2000. It came from an Old Fashioned Herb Cookbook.

1 lb. fresh spinach or 1 10oz okg frozen spinach
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup milk
1 cup grated Cheddar Cheese
1 cup cooked rice
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 Tbsp. Butter
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme

Cook and drain spinach, set aside. Combine the remaining ingredients. Stir in Spinach. Pour into a casserole dish and bake at 350 F for 20 - 25 minutes.
** So easy and great dish for the family. Worked great when I had exchange students.

Broiled Tarragon Chicken with Lime
**This is a staple around this house!

4 chicken breasts
1/2 tsp salt
2 twists freshly ground black pepper
2 shallots or onion finely chopped
1 cup veggie oil
1 cup fresh lime juice
4 tbsp fresh tarragon or 4 tsp dried

Sprinkle each chicken breast with salt and pepper.
In a medium bowl stir together shallots, oil, juice and tarragon.
Immerse chicken in marinade, cover bowl and refrigerate for 4-6 hours.
Remove bowl from frig an hour before broiling chicken. Arrange chicken in shallow baking dish and baste with marinade.
Place under broiler approximately 4 minutes. Then turn chicken pieces. Baste again with marinade and broil 4 more minutes. Sever immediately!

**easy and yummy**

Grandma's Black Eyed Peas
**southern recipe

3 cups dry black eyed peas
12 cups of water
3 pounds smoke ham hocks
1 1/4 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
1 (10 ounce) pkg frozen cut okra

Rinse peas and drain. In a 6-qt dutch oven, combine water and peas. Bring to a boil and simmer about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and cover and let stand 1 hour (or combine and soak overnight.)

Stir in all ingredients, except okra, and bring to a boil. Cover; simmer until hocks are tender and peas are done, about 1 1/2 hour. Stir in okra; cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Discard bay leaf.

Patty's Beer Bread
**a recipe given to me from a fellow southerner
5 tbsp sugar
1 (12 o) can of beer
3 cups self rising flour
1 stick of butter, melted.

Mix sugar, beer and flour well. Pour into a loaf pan, no need to oil pan. Bake at 350F for 40 minutes, then pour butter over bread and bake at 375F 15 minutes longer.

Georgia Pecan Squares
**every girl from GA knows how to make these!

6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 egg, separated
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup pecans, finely chopped

Using an electric mixer, cream butter until light. Add dry ingredients, sifted together. Add egg yolk and vanilla, mix well. Spread in an 18 x 13 inch pyrex dish. Brush with egg whites, sprinkle liberally with pecans. Bake 350F 20 to 25 minutes , or until lightly brown. Cut into small squares. Cool on a rack.

Tater Candy
**talk about southern country.. lol but oh so good.. Try it!

1 large potato
1 box confectioners sugar
peanut butter

Peel and boil potato. When done, mash up with a fork, add a pinch of salt and pour in the box of sugar. This makes a stiff dough.

Roll out on dough board that has been floured really good.. in a layer 1/4 inch thick. Spread peanut butter all over the top and roll up like a jelly roll. Put this in the frig and chill. Cut and serve. LOL

I swear!

Country Blackberry Cobbler
**This reminds me of my Great Grandmother.

2 cups fresh blackberries
1/2 cup sugar
6 tbsp butter
3/4 cup flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350F. Stir in 1/2 sugar into fruit and set aside. Melt butter in baking pan. Sift next 4 ingredients together, then add milk. Pour batter into pan of melted butter, do not mix! Pour fruit over batter. Bake 50 minutes!!

Southern Fried Chicken
*if you have a different recipe - then it's not authentic southern. ;-)

9-10 pieces of fresh chicken (never frozen)
2 cups buttermilk (to tenderize and flavor)
lard or oil (soybean, peanut or corn)
1 tbsp bacon grease
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

1. Wash chicken in cold water, dry with towels, place in a large bowl, and add buttermilk. Turn all pieces to coat with buttermilk and place in frig for one hour.

2.Chicken is crispiest when fried in 2 inches of oil. Heat oil to 350F and 360F. This is the right temperature to brown the outside while sealing in moisture inside. Bacon grease can be added at this time to add flavor.

3. Remove chicken from buttermilk and dredge in the mix of flour, salt and pepper. Place in hot oil, cover. Chicken should be turned just once while cooking. Fry 10 minutes.

Decorating Dilemma

If this is my biggest problem - I'll take it.

We have decided to actually make Bham our home, at least for another year or so. Finally, we can relax.

BUT - the egyptian is ready to get new furniture. (Which really was the plan once we got to NYC.)

He is modern with clean straight lines (think Ikea meets NYC loft.) I am shabby chic meets bohemian babe. We both like Zen.

What we decided to do was to get a few magazines and cut out styles or items we like. We will report back and share with each other, and circle the basic "look." We will come up with a theme for each room, and go through the process.

(See - communication and compromise.) ;-)

If you know of any great decorating sites, please let me know!

Project time!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Wonder Woman Philosophy

Courage doesn't always roar.

Sometimes courage is the quiet voice

at the end of the day saying,

"I will try again tomorrow."

- Mary Anne Radmacher

I have accomplished the impossible. I have single handily faced my greatest love and greatest enemy with grace, strength, as well as kindness.

This is something that is hard doing all at one time. Each one, individually, has always been easy. But together - absolutely not.

But I have, and the benefits are amazing.

I have been joking about the whole Wonder Woman themed birthday party, etc - but the truth is - it gave me permission to stand up for me. To openly say, "Hey, things are not going well. But I have hope - and here is what I plan to do."

I have been very strategic and careful with my actions as well as my words. Again, a feat that is not easy for me.

I kept thinking, "What is the right thing to do?"

And I would choose to do it.

Many friends and family members may be lifting their eyebrows. Most people I know would like to see me end things with the egyptian. But then I asked myself, "What should I do?"

There was a song that I used to listen to years ago when times got tough. I would sometimes want to just throw in the towel and run away, but I listened very closely to the lyrics and it gave me strength to just dig in and face what needed to be faced and make the necessary changes.

I am doing it again, and I gotta tell ya, the rewards are like prayers being answered.

If you can.. take a moment and listen to the lyrics. It might inspire you also. I think we should view it as the unofficial Wonder Woman theme song.

Honestly, this song got me through some tough times. Heck, I have it on one of my quick picks on my Ipod. I pull it out and crank it up and sing it at the top of my lungs when the day gets tough.

I always leave (after listening to the lyrics) a little bit more empowered and a little bit more happy.

With what I am dealing with now, and what I hope for in the future - I am embracing my inner Wonder Woman.

If you chose to do the same (and I hope you do) - what do YOU need to "Dig In" and embrace?
In closing.. as I move forward with my egyptian, I am taking this little piece of advice and using it with him:

"As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others."

- Marianne Williamson

Recipes You Will LOVE

It has been far too long since I have added any recipes on here. If you did not know, I have a BIG notebook my mother gave me one Christmas years ago.. and in this notebooks are all of my FAVORITE recipes of all time.

Most of the items I really, really like that I believe are not "common" recipes - I have put in the recipe tab.

The new recipes I am adding will head there also - but first - let me feature them!

Again, these are recipes I whip up from time to time. I would love for you to give them a try, and tell me what you liked best, what worked and what did not work.

With out further adieu - more of my faves:

Instant Pesto & Goat Cheese Tartlets
(You guys know how I LOVE goat cheese. This is SUPER easy and great for a small party!)

7 oz. ready made puff pastry, thawed if frozen
all purpose flour (for dusting)
3 tbsp pesto
20 cherry tomatoes, each cut into 3 slices
4 oz. goat cheese
salt & pepper
fresh basil sprigs to garnish

**The tartlets are even quicker to make if you use the ready-rolled variety of the puff pastry.

1. Preheat oven to 400 F, then lightly flour a baking sheet. Roll out the pastry on a floured counter (about 1/8 inch thick.) Cut out 20 circles with a 2 inch plain cutter and arrange the pastry circles on the floured baking sheet.  **this is the hardest part. ;-)

2. Spread a little pesto on each circle, leaving a little space around the edge. Then arrange the 3 tomato slices on top of each one.

3. Crumble the goat cheese over and season to taste with S&P. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed up, crisp and golden. Garnish with basil sprigs and sere warm!

Nicole's World Famous Macaroni & Cheese
* I found this recipe years ago, and ever so often - I make it. NOT HEART HEALTHY. ;-)

2 1/2 cups milk
1 onion
8 peppercorns
1 bay leaf
4 tbsp butter
1/3 c. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/3 cup heavy cream
3 1/2 ounces sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
3 1/2 ounces Roquefort cheese, grated
12 oz. dried macaroni
3 1/2 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated

1. Put the milk, onion, peppercorns, and bay leaf in a pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand 15 minutes.

2. Melt the butter in a pan and stir in the flour until well combined and smooth. Cook over medium heat, stir occasionally, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

3. Strain the milk and stir a little into the butter and flour mixture until well incorporated. Return to the heat and gradually add the remaining milk, stir constantly, until well mixed.  Cook for an additional 3 minutes, or until the sauce is smooth and thickened, then add the nutmeg, cream, and pepper to taste.

4. Add the Cheddar and Roquefort cheeses and stir until melted.

5. Meanwhile - bring a large pan of water to a boil. Add the macaroni, then return to a boil and cool for 8-10 minutes. Drain well and add to cheese sauce. Stir well together.

6. Preheat the broiler to high. Spoon the macaroni and cheese into an ovenproof serving dish, then scatter over the Gruyere cheese and cook under the broiler until bubbling and brown.

**Can you say YUM???

Okay.. NOW - you guys KNOW I am from Georgia. And one of my dearest friends from Savannah gave me this recipe that belongs to the Chef Bernard McDonough. Everyone (who likes to fish - and likes to entertain) SWEARS by this.  (PS - Chef B. McD is executive chef with the Ford Plantation.)

Potato-Crusted Striped Bass with Spinach, Onions, Bacon, and Wild Blueberry Horseradish Vinaigrette
**apparently the recipe was created at the Plantation House for the guests that like to fish in the well-stocked lake!)


Braised Slab Bacon:
2 cups Brown Stock
10 ounces slab of bacon

Caramelized Onions:
2 tbsp unsalted butter
3 Vidalia Onions, julienned

Wild Blueberry-Horseradish Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup wild blueberries
1/4 cup blackberry or peach vinegar
1 tbsp. whole grain mustard
1 tbsp prepared horseradish
1tbsp honey
1 shallot, chopped
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp pumpkin seed oil
1/2 cup canola oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Potato Crusted Striped Bass:
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
8 (4 ounce) striped bass
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup all purpose flour
2 potatoes-grated
1/2 cup clarified butter or veggie oil

8 cups baby spinach

1. Preheat oven to 300 F. To prepare bacon, boil the stock in a saucepan over med-high heat for 6 to 8 minutes, until reduced to about 1 cup. In a small roasting pan, roast the bacon for 20 minutes. The bacon will shrink and become brown on the outside. Add the stock and cover with foil. Decrease the oven temp to 225 F and cook for 2 hours, turning every 1/2 hour, until the bacon is soft and plump. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Separate the meat from the fat and discard the fat. Shred and reserve the meat.

2. To prepare the onions, melt the butter over med-high heat in a large saute pan. Add the onions and cool, stir constantly, until they start to brown, about 12 minutes. Decrease the heat to low and cool, stir occasionally, for 20 - 25 minutes, until the onions have caramelized. Allow to cool and reserve.

3. To prepare the vinaigrette, combine the blueberries, vinegar, mustard, horseradish, honey, shallot, marjoram, and thyme in a blender and puree the  until smooth. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the oils and season with S&P. Taste and adjust .

4. To prepare the bass, preheat the oven to 350 F. Thoroughly mix the egg and milk in a shallow bowl. Season the fish with salt and pepper and lightly dredge the top side of each fillet in the flour. Dip the floured side of the fish in the egg-milk mixture. Press the fish into the grated potatoes, "crusting" the top side. Heat the butter in an ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the fish, potato side down, and saute for 2 1/2 minutes, until golden brown. Flip the fish over and place the pan in the oven until fish is opaque and no longer firm., 4 to 6 minutes depending on the fillet's thickness. Fish should flake when pressed (gently, so as not the ruin the presentation.)

5. To serve, combine the spinach, caramelized onions, and bacon in a bowl and slowly drizzle in the vinaigrette wile tossing. Divide the salad amoun 8 plates and top each with a piece of fish.

Now THAT'S  fancy Bass and prepared the Southern Way! ;-)

Let the Healing Begin!

"The power of love to change bodies is legendary, built into folklore, common sense, and everyday experience. Love moves the flesh, it pushes matter around.... Throughout history, "tender loving care" has uniformly been recognized as a valuable element in healing. "~Larry Dossey

No doubt that kindness and love can make a huge difference in your life. If you are in a loving, committed relationship - you know better than anyone that love is what keeps you strong.

If that relationship receives a wound, just like the physical body, the emotional wounds need time to heal, and just like the physical body, without proper attention and care - they can become infected and not heal, and eventually could turn toxic and rancid and possibly kill the psyche.

Right now - the egyptian and I have some wounds. They need attention and proper care. The problem is, we need a nurse or a doctor to prescribe us some medicine. Think of the egyptian as an "old school" folk medicine type. I am more into modern science.

Since we have to go a little homeopathic with this relationship, treading carefully and softly - showing love, open communication, etc. is necessary. No one to guide us. That's a tough one.

But the wounds can heal over time. No doubt the scars will remain. Either than can be a reminder of how far we have come and what not to do, or they will be a painful reminder of what lays beneath.

I choose the former. A reminder of what we were able to accomplish.

God willing.

Friday, February 25, 2011

In case you were wondering...

"Forgiving is love's toughest work, and love's biggest risk. If you twist it into something it was never meant to be, it can make you a doormat or an insufferable manipulator. Forgiving seems almost unnatural. Our sense of fairness tells us people should pay for the wrong they do. But forgiving is love's power to break nature's rule." ~Lewis B. Smedes

I don't know if it is the right thing to do. I don't know if it is the wrong thing to do. I just know, I have a little bit of peace about it.

The train was a little late. Amtrak in Birmingham should get a D- for the crappy conditions and smelly terminal.

I saw him. He smiled and lifted his shoulders as if to say - "Here I am. Let's face the music."

We did not say much in the car. Finally he said, "I'm hungry." I agreed, and we stopped at Taj India for the buffet.

We chatted just a little. Fairly uncomfortable small talk. He asked how everyone was.. I answered. Not giving much.

We got home and I went straight to my room. Opened my computer and began to answer emails. He came in there, and lay on the bed next to me.

I just looked at him, and he shrugged his shoulders, with this.. "I feel really bad" look on his face. A look I had never seen before. I got a glimpse of the guy I once knew.

He asked me to lay next to him, he wanted to hold me. I just stared at him and asked him if he forgot all of the things he had said.

He admitted he was completely crazed and disappointed and confused and felt all of his dreams had just drifted away. He said he was reacting. He said he reacted poorly.

I told him I was not sure if I could trust him. That decisions had to be made together.
I told him how I felt when he said those things. How I, at this point, was already making plans to purchase a cat and was ready to be single, if need be. I was fine.

He looked at me, defeated - a look I have never seen before. He is such a prideful man. But there it was.

He knew.

I asked, "Why are you here?"

He replied, "I choose you."

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. ~Mahatma Gandhi

For the First Time

She's all laid up in bed with a broken heart

While i'm drinking jack all alone in my local bar

And we don't know how we got into this mad situation

Only doing things out of frustration

Trying to make it work but man these times are hard

She needs me now but I can't seem to find a time

I've got a new job now in the umemployment line

And we don't know we got into this mess it's a gods test

Someone help us cause we're doing our best

Trying to make it work but man these times are hard

But we're gunna start by drinking old cheap bottles of wine

Sit talking up all night

Saying things we haven't for a while, a while yeah

We're smiling but we're close to tears

Even after all these years

We just now got the feeling that we're meeting

For the first time

She's in line at the door with her head held high

While I just lost my job but didn't lose my flight

But we both know how we're gonna make it work when it hurts

When you pick yourself up you get kicked in the dirt

Trying to make it work but man these times are hard

But we're gunna start by drinking old cheap bottles of wine

Saying things we haven't for a while, a while yeah

We're smiling but we're close to tears

Even after all these years

We just now got the feeling that we're meeting

For the first time

Drinking old cheap bottles of wine

Saying things we haven't for a while, a while yeah

We're smiling but we're close to tears

Even after all these years

We just now got the feeling that we're meeting

For the first time

For the first time

Oh, for the first time

Yeah, for the first time

Oh these times are hard

Yeah they're making us crazy

Don't give up on me baby

Oh these times are hard

Yeah they're making us crazy

Don't give up on me baby

Oh these times are hard

Yeah they're making us crazy

Don't give up on me baby

Oh these times are hard

Yeah they're making us crazy

Don't give up on me baby

Last time!

I allowed myself to go to a dark place, only for a few hours, last night.
Just to get it out of my system.

After a super-powerful storm last night, I woke up to the most beautiful blue skies and cool breezes. All will be well with my soul.

One of my closest friends came over last night (spent the night) and we chatted, and laughed and both took benadryl to sleep through the storm. LOL It was good to have support on the BIG day.

The face-to-face day.

It's going to be okay. After chatting with him, and chatting with those I care about.. it's going to be okay.I know what I want and I know what I will put up with. He knows this. I know what he wants..

We can cross this bridge - and yes, we have come to it.

No more dark thoughts, no more worries.. God is in control, and in turn - I have what I need to make smart decisions.

I am READY for Spring. I am READY for positive - and more zen moments.

There are a few good things cooking, and I plan to share those items with you soon! :-)

Here's to a beautiful Friday! Many blessings!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tornado Rolling in

"He knew what the wind was doing to them, where it was taking them, to all the secret places that were never so secret again in life." ~ Ray Bradbury (Something Wicked This Way Comes)

Have you ever read that book? "Something Wicked This Way Comes?" It is terribly sinister and wonderful all at the same time. Ray Bradbury is a spider when it comes to telling a story. He weaves us in and out of the most phantasmagorical experiences, and somehow.. frightens us a bit, but always leaves us with a major lesson learned.
Like in "Something Wicked This Way Comes."
I am sitting here in my pajamas. I turned most of the lights out, and the big window in the sun room is open. I can hear the wind whipping up a storm - literally. Severe weather is on the way, and with it comes our tornadoes and the tornado season.
It made me think of Ray Bradbury's tale.. how the storm and brutal wind brought in the train with the wicked carnival workers.
Ironically enough.. this wind is bringing in a train.. with  my own little wicked carnival - my egyptian. He is on Amtrak.. somewhere between Virginia and here.
Last time we spoke on the phone, he is trying to pretend all is back to normal. I almost hear a smile in his voice.. but..
"Sometimes the man who looks happiest in town, with the biggest smile, is the one carrying the biggest load of sin. There are smiles and smiles; learn to tell the dark variety from the light. The seal-barker, the laugh-shouter, half the time he's covering up. He's had his fun and he's guilty. And men do love sin, Will, oh how they love it, never doubt, in all shapes, sizes, colors, and smells."  ~Ray Bradbury (Something Wicked This Way Comes)
I am hoping for the best, preparing for the worst.  That's all I can do.
Now, I sit and wait..
Wait for the storm to pass.
And wait for the storm to pass.

"Starlight, Star bright.. first star I see tonight. I wish I may.. I wish I might .. have this wish I wish tonight.."

(now watch the video)

School House Rock

The other day, one of my coworkers asked me if I wanted to join a Government Relations Professional Networking group in Birmingham. You have to be asked, and it really involves upwardly mobile people interested in politics or working with politicians. Hmmm..

I considered it, and then laughed and told my friend/co-worker, "Thanks but, honestly - the level of conversation may be over my "School House Rocks" - "I'm Just A Bill" thought process."


I still know that song by heart.

Don't get me wrong, I understand our government. I took many, MANY classes - since I was a journalism major. I knew I needed to understand these items. I even campaigned for Obama. Not - "campaigned" like - I told my friends.. but CAMPAIGNED for Obama.

As tempting as it is, and an interesting idea to network..

BUT - I think I will pass.

That's crossing into a whole "other" world I am not sure I am comfortable with. I kind of like being on the outside of what's going on. Not so far removed that I don't know what's happening.. more so.. on the edge. I see it, I can touch it - I can smell - I can understand it. And I know enough to tell you all about it. But I don't want to be attached to it.

Kind of the reason I went into journalism in the first place.

But that got me to thinking about my favorite "commercials/psas" when I was a kid. School House Rock.

Here are some of my most memorable psas.. the ones I STILL know by heart. (PS - I have the cd. LOL)

What were your favorites?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Comfort Food is Not So Comforting

I am not an emotional eater. Not at all. Sure I want to taste something comforting, but going for the whole "stuff yourself to feel better" has honestly never been my thing.

However, TODAY - I went for comfort food. I stopped by the deli at Publix and picked up the Mardi Gras (herbed flavored wings) and the two sides I picked were mac & cheese and mashed sweet potatoes. I ate quite a bit.

Then I proceeded to consume some ice cream.

I am currently sitting at my desk and wanting to keel over.


Let me just cram as many carbs and sugar down my throat and see how my body will respond.


As I sit here and ponder a crazy week, I am making a promise to each of my readers now. I am cleaning up my personal mess. As soon as I can get through the weekend, I promise to go back to traditional topics on my blog. I do not want to lose any of you with all of this crazy emotional stuff. I do apologize for going down that route. But this is my journal, the one place I go to express (not repress.)

So - with that being said, my action steps are:

1. No more crap food in large quantities on an empty stomach
2. No more whining (outside maybe one post a week or so.)



Monday, February 21, 2011

Rolling in the Deep

Press Play - then read the lyrics below. Another song that is timely!

There's a fire starting in my heart,

Reaching a fever pitch and it's bringing me out the dark

Finally, I can see you crystal clear.

Go ahead and sell me out and I'll lay your ship there.

See how I leave, with every piece of you

Don't underestimate the things that I will do.

There's a fire starting in my heart,

Reaching a fever pitch and it's bringing me out the dark

The scars of your love, remind me of us.

They keep me thinking that we almost had it all

The scars of your love, they leave me breathless

I can't help feeling...

We could have had it all... (you're gonna wish you, never had met me)...

Rolling in the Deep (Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)

Your had my heart... (you're gonna wish you)... and soul in your hand (Never had met me)

And you played it... (Tears are gonna fall)... To the beat (Rolling in the deep)

Baby I have no story to be told,

But I've heard one of you and I'm gonna make your head burn.

Think of me in the depths of your despair.

Making a home down there, it reminds you of the home we shared.

The scars of your love, remind me of us.

They keep me thinking that we almost had it all

The scars of your love, they leave me breathless

I can't help feeling...

We could have had it all... (you're gonna wish you never had met me)... Rolling in the Deep

(Tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)

Your had my heart... (you're gonna wish you)... and soul in your hand (Never had met me)

And you played it... (Tears are gonna fall)... To the beat (Rolling in the deep)

Could have had it all

Rolling in the deep.

You had my heart inside of your hand,

But you played it to the beat.

Throw your soul through every open door (Whoa)

Count your blessings to find what you look for (Whoa-uh)

Turn my sorrow into treasured gold (Whoa)

You pay me back in kind and reap just what you sow.

(You're gonna wish you... Never had met me)

We could have had it all (Tears are gonna fall... Rolling in the deep)

We could have had it all yeah ( you're gonna wish you... never had met me)

It all. (Tears are gonna fall)

It all

It all (Rolling in the deep)

We could have had it all (you're gonna wish you, never had met me)

Rolling in the deep (Tears are gonna fall rolling in the deep)

You had my heart inside... (you're gonna wish you)... of your hand (Never had met me)

And you played it... (Tears are gonna fall)... to the beat (Rolling in the deep)

We could have had it all ( you're wish you never had met me)

Rolling in the deep (tears are gonna fall, rolling in the deep)

You had my heart... ( you're gonna wish you)... and soul in your hand (Never had met me)

But you played it

You played it.

You played it.

You played it to the beat.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What If.... Vampires Were Real??!!

As I was opening my window this evening (to let in the fresh, cool air) - I began to think.. "What if Vampires were real??" Would I open my window?

Of course, I sort of giggled about it. I realize that real vampires (in the Hollywood sense) do not exist. Or do they?

I know all about vampire cults, and I have even come upon a website or two reporting there are "real" vampires. But let's pretend for a second that the Hollywood version was real. How would your life change then?

For one, I don't think I would leave my window open at night. No need to invite in the uninvited. But then again, some legend says that the vampire will not enter your home unless invited. Regardless, I would not take a chance.

I probably would be more careful at night. No hanging out by the car for a few minutes fiddling with my keys. Definitely no walking into a parking lot at night alone.

I would make a point to keep my crucifix on. Though, if they are vampires like in the Vampire Chronicles - I the cross theory would not work. Heck - if the Vampire Chronicle vampires existed - I might have a different take altogether. I was slightly more fond of those vampires. As Lestat got older, he would back off from innocent victims and mainly go for the "bad blood."

I have a hard time taking the Twilight series seriously. The idea that vampires walk in the day goes against everything I believe. It's a cool concept.. but sparkly vampires that walk during the day are not bad ass enough for me.

Now the True Blood Vampire concept is as close to "real" as I could imagine. They come "out" and live with humans. They are dangerous, not to be trusted - yet you could work with them. Hmm..

Now what about these vampire cults that really exist. Don't believe me? Have you ever visited New Orleans? They are "alive" and well.

According to Vampire Tours of America, they do live among us. Their website states:
In Europe, where much of the vampire folklore originates, the vampire is considered a fictitious being, although many communities still believe the undead walk the earth...
In some cases, especially in small localities, vampire superstition is still rampant and sightings or claims of vampire attacks occur frequently. New Orleans host the definitive Vampire Ball Of the year each October and one that true believers state the actual true undead do attend.

Many believe that in modern cities such as those in Louisiana, real vampires do exist and feed upon the living.

In Romania during February 2004, several relatives of Toma Petre feared that he had become a vampire. They dug up his corpse, tore out his heart, burned it, and mixed the ashes with water in order to drink it.

There are actual websites for people interested in becoming a vampire! Here are some tips:

What about you? What if Vampires were real? What do you think of these cults?
Interesting stuff.. to say the least!

PS - I definitely believe in the "Emotional Vampire." Not sure what that is - google the word.

Slept with the windows open!

"It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so! "~Mark Twain

I almost feel guilty telling you that I slept with the windows open last night. Almost guilty. It was nice.

As I was getting ready to go to bed, I noticed it was a little warm in here. I did not have the heat or the a/c on, so I decided to pull out the fan and open the windows.

It was lovely.

That's the wonderful part of living in the south - the weather. Sure - we get a little taste of winter, but it does not start until December and always wraps up around my birthday. I am getting excited about spring. Usually the flowering trees show up by mid March.Sure, there will be a cold snap or two between now and April, but then it is gone with the wind and the most glorious time of the year hits the south. Nowhere else in the United States will you see so many amazing flowers, flowering trees, and lush greenery as you do here in the Winter. It is simply magical - it blows the mind!

Don't believe me? Here are the pics taken in  March last year in Birmingham:

Spring is an awakening of the spirit and of the earth. I hope to have a "reawakening" of my spirit and will be a more productive person.

Let's savor these little hints of spring! (If you live where it is still cold.. I do apologize - just live vicariously through me!)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Updates and What Not

I read a quote today that just made me giggle. The author is unknown, but the statement is so true - If you have one eye on yesterday, and one eye on tomorrow, you're going to be cockeyed today.

That's what got me through a lot of hardships this past week. Yes, they are silly things, nothing earth shattering, more so - feelings related.

Some of the personal updates (for those who are following) are:

1. I got a raise! (That's reason to celebrate. It was awesome, my manager waited until my birthday to tell me the great news!

2. My friend who's stepfather died plans to come over one night this week and officially celebrate my birthday with me and eat some of this HUGE cake in my frig.

3. I finally got in touch with the "Louise" of my non-existent trip and shot imaginary poison darts at her through the phone. I also informed her she would be taking me on trip - all expenses paid. LOL

4. I finally spoke to the egyptian and confronted him about EVERYTHING. This time, I would not let him pull a, "Nicole, I am tired and I can't talk right now." He always runs away when things get tough. I asked him whether he was wanting to be my husband and he.. (and I quote).. said, "You mean Divorce you? I have not taken a decision on that yet."

5. Which in turn, I replied - "I will not be your option. If "things" don't pan out for you. I want to be your priority. I asked him if I could consider us legally separated, since he had no plans to include me (anymore) in the NY thing and since he was not sure he would be coming home. He replied with, "I have to go now." And hung up the phone.

6. I then called one of my best friends in Tampa - and she told me to cut my losses.

7. 30 minutes later - he calls and says, "Nicole I am coming home." I replied, "Coming home to my house?" He said, "Yes." Then he asked, "Do you have any money to buy me a ticket?" and I replied, "No."

8. My meeting in Pensacola and Mobile went well. That's a plus.

9. The idea of being there and turning it into something positive worked! I am getting more and more comfortable with traveling alone. I used to go to my hotel and sort of stick there. Now - I am venturing out and enjoying myself.

10. I am HOME.

Here are some of the highlights of the trip:
When I got to the hotel - I walked to the beach.

The water (considering there was still an oil spill they are cleaning up) was beautiful!

Proof I was there. Sorry - had to take it myself. LOL

This is my little friend Sam.. or Samatha. LOL

View as I walked to the beach

Me resting..

Where I went for dinner

This is a little fried cinnamon thingy that you dip in honey

Mozzarella sticks

NY Strip with mashed potatoes

6 fried shrimp

View from my seat at the restaurant - I was watching the sun set

View from my hotel window

Final view from restaurant.

Hope you guys have a fabulous weekend.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Picture Show

I LOVE video. I really do. If I see you guys posting a video - I run to see it. It just brings you and your lives .. well.. "alive." When I see you type LOL, I can actually imagine you laughing out loud - b/c I heard your laugh.

Well - I am about to share a few videos with you. They are from my Birthday party and my trip to Pensacola. Each are probably less than 45 seconds.. please take a moment and hear the funny banter, or see the images!


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Another year of fabulous!

Here I am, another year old - and just a little wiser.

No doubt - I am fabulous - but there were definitely some hard blows today, and I think I handled them with the greatest of ease.

I spent a great deal of last night preparing all of the food and other goodies for my birthday party today. I realized, as I was hanging my little gold stars and placing my little gold napkins on the table that it is probably not the norm to decorate for your own birthday party. But - I figured (and this has been my philosophy all day) "If you don't celebrate yourself, who will?"

And that's the question of the day - "WHO WILL?"
I got to work and found one birthday card laying on my desk. It was from our SVP, Bruce down in Tampa - and I was so grateful. It even had a cupcake on it! That forced me to change my mood calendar from deprived to chipper. Thanks Bruce. **still no call from the egyptian yet...

My sweet intern came in with one cupcake for me (Devil's food cake) and she made home made Banana Pudding (Paula Dean's recipe.) I was so grateful!

I blew out my candle on my little cupcake (but saved it for later!)

Then the office presented me with a batch of home made snicker doodles. (My favorite cookie!)

Here I am - feeling the love!

Thanks team!

For lunch, Jamie hosted a birthday lunch for me. She made a spinach salad, shepard's pie and yorkshire pudding.

Laura took the pics. We had a great lunch!

Then topped it off with Strawberry cake with strawberry icing. This is the first time I actually ate any of the sweets!

I came home - and as I was putting the finishing touches on my items - I got a text message from my friend from home. She was not coming - which meant our trip to New Orleans was off..

Did I mention my famous cake I have telling you guys about all week?

These were the glasses I bought for our Thelma & Louise trip. Don't worry - I still used them.

Some of the goodies!

Hee hee - I hand wrote the items with a black sharpie. That was the napkin theme!

Sooo.. then I found out my other closest friend could not come.. (Crystal.) The one who lost her step father..
I was bound and determined to not lose my fabulousness...
***ps - still no call from the egyptian

My friends came and I cut that cake with a smile...
I am not bitter...

My friends Jamie and Laura

Patricia and Jamie

Cristina and Julie

Stephanie and I

See - Julie and I used the glasses!


My friend Teresa sent me the sweetest package - a book and two notebooks (cocktail napkins) and a fabulous Wonder Woman bag!! I actually had these on my Amazon Wish List!

Julie gave me some yummy goodies

Cristina bought me a gift certificate to Ross Bridge!!

Over all it was great. Sure I was disappointed my friend did not come. She told me by text message that her daughter was diagnosed with mono. What do you say? Or with my friend who had to attend her stepfather's funeral? You don't get the luxury of saying - 'hey - it's my birthday.'

That's the beauty of living with family nearby or having children. You are on your own. My husband never wished me a happy birthday, two of my closest friends canceled.. BUT - I held my head high. I am not selfish enough to freak out over it. Hurt? Nah.. well.. maybe a little. A little disappointed- sure. But again - life happens. Their family is their priority. As it should be.

Me? I will still go to Pensacola tomorrow for work. And I will still go to Mobile for work. But instead of driving to New Orleans - I will come home.

I loss the use of the gift certificate. That's what makes me more mad than anything. It's too late to cancel. I only wish my friend would have told me her daughter was sick yesterday instead.. it could have bought me some time... to either find a replacement, or get the certificate back. Instead - my free night (valued at $250) is down the drain. That's the worse part.

C'est la vie.

I think between my two friends with their "big life" things, that they could not control and my husband not calling - I was almost a basket case. But - my co workers, my friend and my zumba instructor came over and I had a blast. I have to get to sleep now... I have a loooong lonely drive. I am sure I will be doing a lot of thinking... reprioritizing...

Time to make some BIG decisions.


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