Monday, May 31, 2010

Sunburns and Mosquito Bites

Memorial day weekend, the first unofficial weekend of summer was just perfect. It started out warm and sunny and ended with a great summer thunderstorm. Plus Frank had Friday off, so it was a nice long four day weekend for him.

Saturday was spent laying out at the pool at our friend's country club. We pretended to be rich and charged a bunch of drinks to his account, haha. I ended up with quite a sunburn on half of my body. No, not the front of back half, but the right side of my body. It looks awesome. On the drive home we were all a little buzzed, except for my husband who was driving and except for our friend who had been drinking scotch and was d-r-u-n-k. We wanted to pick up some groceries, but decided it would be an awesome idea to go to walmart and buy a pool instead. So this ended up in our back yard:

By the time the thing was completely filled with water, we were asleep and the thing never was used. Oh well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

On Sunday, we had a cookout at my sister in law's house. It was for memorial day, and also a sendoff for my brother in law who is being deployed to Afghanistan in a couple of days. I got a ton of mosquito bites.

When we were leaving, my 2 year old niece started telling everyone that she was going home with us. We didn't realize how serious she was until she started sobbing and clinging to my husband like a spider monkey. Hiccuping, snot running down her nose, screaming "I want to go live with uncle frank and aunt em!!"  And the funny thing is, a lot of kids would say they wanted to spend the night somewhere and then would get upset and miss their parents and want to go home, but she has been having sleepovers with us since she was one. Even though my sister in law was probably a little miffed to see her 2 yr old daughter wanting to leave home, at least she knows she is raising well-adjusted kids! At that age, I was so shy that I never would have slept over someone else's house!

And today? Today was Wilbur's birthday! We're not sure when his actual birthday is, but this is the day we adopted him last year so we say its his birthday.  The day started with a trip to the dog park. Its a huge fenced in park with double gates, so there is no way he can escape. Because if there was, he would find it. Then we went to Bruster's ice cream for a doggy ice cream sundae. After a long nap, our niece and nephew came over to play for a bit. Then we went out to Petsmart and bought a bunch of expensive toys that will probably be destroyed by tomorrow.

I'll update this post with pictures tomorrow, but for now, Real Housewives of NJ!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Summer Challenge!

As promised, this is the first installment of my Summer Time Challenge. I wanted to pick a simple, attainable goal that I could work on throughout the summer. Posting about my progress every Friday will help keep me on the ball.

My Goal: Submit 50 magazine article queries by the end of the summer

Update:  First query has been submitted! I proposed an article idea for First for Women magazine. I can't find any information about how long it takes them to respond to queries, so I guess its just a waiting game.

What's your goal for the summer? To participate, leave a comment with a link to your Summer Time Challenge post.  Don't forget to steal the graphic!

Thursday, May 27, 2010


So far, today has been one of those days. You know, one of those days where you wake up all bright-eyed and ready to greet the morning and then God bitch slaps you. It has just been one thing after the other.

So the first thing that happens (and this one is the most major, so yes I'm totally overreacting) is I go down to the kitchen to make breakfast and I realize the floor of the pantry is black. Black and . . . moving. Ants, ants everywhere. In my new, clean house. I grabbed the first available weapon, Windex, and crop-dusted their whole little conga line. They were instantly paralyzed. (My husband makes fun of me, because I use Windex for EVERYTHING. I was raised on Windex.) I wiped up their lifeless bodies, closed the pantry door and hoped I would never see them again. Wishful thinking.

Creative commons: Flickr-Neilsphotography

I went upstairs to put some laundry away, and ended up having one of those "I hate everything in my closet" fits. I ripped half of my clothing out of my closet and sorted it into piles. Winter clothes that need stored and stuff that can be donated. I put all the donated stuff in a bag and loaded it in my car.

A half hour later I opened the pantry door to see more of the little F'ers.

So I called my mom like I do in any emergency situation and she told me a certain type of ant traps that work really well. They sell them at Walmart. Walmart was not really on my list of things I wanted to do today, but when something happens like this, I have to solve it IMMEDIATELY.

The plan for the day was to work ALL day, so this trip really cut into my time. I drove out to Walmart, found the ant traps and started to read the package. Keep away from kids and pets. Of course my derranged animals would be more than happy to gobble up an ant trap and create a much bigger problem. I debated and debated and ended up not buying the traps. I did buy some space bags though. I planned on going to the gym on the way home but I was struck with cramps, a surprise and realized i forgot my ipod anyway. No gym.

I got home, opened the pantry and realized that I would HAVE to buy ant traps, it was getting out of control. So I got back into the car and drove to a DIFFERENT walmart (one that was closer to my house, but doesn't sell groceries) and bought the ant traps. By this time it was noon and I was hungry and cranky. I stopped and got a sub and a coke.

When I got home, I set up the ant traps, made sure the cat and dog had no way to access it and then plopped down on the couch to eat my lunch and go through the mail. I felt something stab me when I sat down. It was my favorite lip gloss/lipstick. Which the dog had thoroughly mangled and was now on the couch, may shorts and . . . . yep. All over the dog. After I got that all cleaned up I flipped through the mail, only to find the Victoria's Secret swimsuit catalog. I don't need to see this while i'm guzzling down soda and a ham sandwich.

This is how it ended:

I think I will now take a nap and start the day over.

PS. The space bags were the best part of my day and are actually AMAZING.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Don't Say I Didn't Worm You

Wilbur. Has. Worms.

Not even cute little earthworms that you can put in a farm or go fishing with. He has hookworms. Here's some advice, if your pet ever gets diagnosed with hookworm, don't look it up on Google image search. Because this image will haunt your dreams:

Even thought they are tiny tiny, I picture them to be roughly six foot tall with blood dripping from their fangs.

I took Wilbur for his 2 year checkup like a good doggy mom. I got all the recommended vaccines. The vet ooh'd and ahh'd and went on and on about he is so fit, especially for a beagle (who tend to get overweight easily) how beautiful his coat is, etc. She recommended that I start him on HeartGuard and Frontline to prevent fleas and worms and other fun things. The grand total of the vet bill was $370, ouch. But whatever it takes to keep my puppy healthy. Then I got a call a day later, saying that his stool sample came back positive for hookworm and that I needed to pick up medication for him.

When I went to pick up the meds, the receptionist was actually kind of bitchy and blunt, like "you're a bad dog mom, you let you dog get hookworm". Here's what I don't understand, if HeartGuard prevents this, then why oh why did they not suggest that I put him on it at his 1 year checkup? Maybe this is something I should know, but I have never owned a dog before and I think its my vets responsibility to keep me educated about this stuff. That's why I have a vet.

Now I'm about to get sort of graphic.  When I brought Wilbur to the vet, I took him to a little grassy area to see if he had to go to the bathroom. I wasn't expecting anything because I took him out before we left the house. But of course he took a massive dump. And I didn't have a plastic bag and there was no garbage can in sight. So I left it. I know I know . . . judge me. I NEVER leave it, and this was an isolated event. I made sure that no one saw my crime and I went into the vet's office. Of course, they asked me for a stool sample, which of course, I forgot to bring in. So I said, "I'll take him out now, maybe he'll go." And I slyly went over to the poo he had left ten minutes ago and put it into the little bag they gave me. So essentially, I cleared myself of guilt.

Wilbur, wanting to get the F out of the vet's office

So, do you think its possible, that in the ten minutes the poo was laying there by its lonesome, some homeless hookworms could have come in and made themselves at home? I'm guessing this is pretty doubtful, just wondering. Because I don't let my dog eat other dog's poo and he has no symptoms of ill-health.

The zinger of this whole ordeal is that hookworms are contagious to humans. And I have definitely walked barefoot in my back yard (they can burrow into your feet, climb up the veins in your legs and make themselves at home in your internal organs, fun I know). So far, no symptoms and I'm not taking any chances. Although, when my husband so RUDELY asked if I would pack him a lunch for work, I told him I would go in the backyard and make him a hookworm sandwich :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Summer Challenge!

So I was reading Cassie's post (check it out here) about her summer reading goals. I think it is a great idea to have one attainable (yet challenging goal) that you can finish in the semi-near future. Something that won't stress you out, but will make you feel accomplished. So I decided to set a summer goal and it would be great if you set one as well and shared it with me. I'll have an update post every Friday. If you want to participate with me, copy the banner for the project and post your updates. Then post a link to your post on my Friday update. I think the most challenging part of this goal will be actually remembering to do the Friday posts! (Inserts reminder into Google Calendar).

I know its not Friday yet, but I'm going to post an intro to my goal.

I was listening to a podcast interview with a prominent pro-blogger the other day, and he said something that really stuck with me. He suffers from "analysis paralysis". Its when you think about something and analyze it for so long that you never end up actually doing it. For me, this definitely holds true in my career. I'm trying to make it as a freelance writer. However, I'm a somewhat shy, introverted person and I'm constantly doubting myself. I write for businesses, but I'd also like to write for magazines as we. I already write for a couple local ones, but obviously I would like to go bigger someday. I KNOW that the only way to write for a major magazines is to write query letters (explanation to non-magazine writers: a letter to a magazine in which you try to pitch them a story idea and hope they will assign you to write it). But the fact remains that these editors get thousands of query letters a week and 99% of them are rejected. And I. Fear. Rejection.

Analysis Paralysis has prevented me from sucking it up, writing the letters and sending them out. So I present my summer goal: sending out query letters. My goal is going to be to send out 50 query letters by the end of summer (which I will deem as August 31). It doesn't matter how large or small the publication is, it doesn't matter whether I actually get any assignments. I just have to suck it up and do it. So that's my goal.

Tell me your goal! Then when we do our updates on Fridays (or whatever day you do yours) I'll post links to your updates.

Getting Un-fat, and Lemonade

Well I'm sort of "back on the horse" in terms of dieting and exercise. Although, I'm not calling it a diet. Its more of an attempt to not totally sabotage my body and health by eating the crap that I normally indulge in. Our ten-day trip was a free-for-all in terms of eating.  Every single meal was eaten out.  It is hard to get out of the habit of eating like that. Summer is a great time to do this though because I love fresh fruit and vegetables and there is so much to choose from.  I hate winter, when the only good stuff you can are apples, oranges and bananas. Gross. Plus anything grilled tastes awesome.

We're probably going to the beach at the end of June, and I'd like to be able to face the idea of getting into a bathing suit. I tried to convince my husband that one piece bathing suits are cool now (they ARE) but he, along with 99% of men I'm sure, is not buying it. I checked my membership profile online for LAFitness and they show your work out history. It turns out that all those times that I thought about going to the gym did not count as actually going. Luckily, one of my best friends is joining my gym soon so I'll have some new motivation. She is one of those people who can do the elliptical for two hours straight. I might have to chain myself to her to prevent me from leaving.

So today, rather than doing something  . . . you know . . . productive, I made lemonade. It's sunny, it's warm, I just spent $370 on my dog for vaccinations and meds. Why not? Plus its kind of healthy, which is what I'm going for these days. All I did was juice a big lemon (I also used the pulp, because I like it), add in a couple handfuls of frozen raspberries and some ice cubes. I used a packet of Sweet-n-low to sweeten it, but also supplemented with a little sugar because I can't stand too much sugar substitute, I'm very sensitive to the taste. It's not as super sweet as lemonade, and is more refreshing. I made it in a sealable glass jar so I  just filled that with water and shook it up. It looks pretty and tastes delish and will help me get my water for the day.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Zoloft: My love/hate affair

It is sunny out. And its going to be warm. It hasn't been like this in a while and I am so relieved. It is amazing how much influence the weather can have on your mood. You just feel lighter and happier on sunny days. Its kind of sad that I live in a city that doesn't see much sunlight. Right now I'm laying in bed with my puppy, with sunshine pouring through the window and a light breeze is blowing the curtains. Heaven.

Speaking of sunshine and happiness. You might have noticed in my last post that I'm on antidepressants. I have been for eight years now, Zoloft to be exact. I have always been a "worrier", but in college, stress started getting to me and I began having panic attacks, seemingly out of nowhere. One minute I'd be happily watching a movie with my boyfriend (now husband) and the next I'd be hyperventilating, curled up in a ball and thinking that I was about to die. Things started to get really bad when I went home to visit my parents for a weekend and I ended up having a full blown panic attack.  I pulled myself together and was able to go back to my dorm the next day. But then it started again. I remember my roommate helping me walk to student health, and I couldn't even stand up straight. I couldn't breath, my heart was pounding out of my chest and I was nauseated. The geniuses at student health diagnosed me with dehydration and pumped me with three liters of saline fluid. When that seemed to do nothing, they ordered blood tests and asked if I had been tested for cancer. (???!!!) Not something you say to someone during a panic attack.

After the fiasco at student health, my parents brought me home. I stayed there for a week or two, luckily it was winter break. If you don't have panic disorder, it is impossible to understand this. It seems like a mental thing but it is SO PHYSICAL. I was sickeningly dizzy, could barely get off the couch to go to the bathroom, had ringing in my ears and couldn't eat. We were able to find a psychiatrist that could fit me in for an emergency appointment and I was diagnosed with panic disorder and put on Zoloft.

I have a love/hate relationship with Zoloft. I believe it is what really pulled me out of this random breakdown, which I still don't know the reasons and trigger for. It acted as a band aid while I went to therapy and learned why the panic attacks happened and how to cope with them.

But I'm not the same person as I was before I started the medicine. I'm tired all the time and it really gets in the way of my life. I often take daily naps and will sometimes just fall asleep when I'm trying to work on something. I have trouble concentrating on a task. I have become EXTREMELY forgetful and scatter-brained. I can't remember certain long-term things and I do stupid shit all the time. I forget appointments, I forget to pay bills, I forget to look in the rear view mirror when I back out of the driveway and I hit my sister's car. Oops. Then last night, I realized I couldn't find my NEW $700 camera and after 20 minutes of sobbing and calling around, I found out that I had left it at my cousin's wedding shower and that my aunt had it. It has become sort of a joke among my family and friends about how scatterbrained I am, but it bothers me because I wasn't always like this.

Then there is physical stuff. I have gained about 30 pounds since I started taking Zoloft. I'm sure some of it had to do with college life, dorm food, and massive consumption of PBR light. But still. I'm hungry all the time, and I wasn't like that before.

In the past couple years, I have managed to go down from 150 mg to 50 mg, which is pretty huge. Many people have TERRIBLE withdrawal effects from trying to go off their medicine and many people relapse and have to go back on. Luckily, I have not had trouble going down, I think because I have done it so gradually. In a few weeks, I plan on going down to 25. I want to get off of it this year. I hardly ever have panic attacks and when I feel one starting, I know how to bring myself back down from it. But it still scares me a bit, the idea of not taking that pill every night. But I can't wait to be free of it.

So I'm kind of coming out with this because I want to know about other people's experiences. I want to know if people have gone off the antidepressants and whether the weight has come off, sex drive returned, etc.  Or any kind of experience with it. One thing I realized after going on the meds is that MUCH more people are on antidepressants than you think. I was so secretive about it until I realized that I was definitely not the only one. Anyway, I love having discussions about this topic, so fire away! :)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Survey Says . . .

I'm super sleepy but I wanted to make sure I got a blog post in for today.  So I stole this survey from Philly Girl .
 If you decide to do the survey, leave me a comment and link to your post, because I really like reading peoples' answers to these things.

Nine things you wish you could say to nine different people:
1)  Propose to her already!
2)  I wish I had gotten to know you a lot better.
3)  Sometime you talk about moving away, and that scares me to death.
4)  You're too good for me, but I hope you never realize it.
5)  You were much more fun before the eating disorder.
6)  I would rather be depressed than see you depressed.
7)  Move home.
8)  I hope we can can be friends when your a grown up
9)  You better turn out to be a girl, or I won't know what to do with you.

Eight things about yourself:
1)  I have terrible time-management skills and it is something I need to improve on.
2)  I am so afraid of failure that sometimes I just freeze up and don't make an attempt at success.
3)  I was a total cat person until I got a dog. I am so much more attached than I thought I could be.
4)  I have panic disorder, which is JUST as fun as it sounds. But I taught myself how to manage it by reading books about it and now I'm in a much better place.
5)  I am such a control freak that it is part of the reason why I went into business for myself. Knowing that someone has control over when I can come and go makes me panic, literally. (see number 4).
6)  In my family, I was always known as the one who can't cook. It turns out I'm actually a pretty good cook, I just don't want to be EXPECTED to do it every night.
7)  I was painfully shy until college. Its like something switched in me and I wasn't shy anymore. Anytime I tell someone that I was shy before, they can't believe it, but i'm still shy in certain situations.
8)  My default face is sad. People always think I'm unhappy or about to cry, but I'm not. I'm usually happy or content. My whole life, people have always come up to me and said "Smile!" and it bugs the shit out of me.

Seven things that cross your mind a lot:
1) Whether I will ever achieve my definition of success.
2)  There is not enough time in the day, and I waste so much of it.
3)  My family.
4)  If I will ever be ready for kids.
5)  Money.
6)  Food, and trying to eat less of it.
7)  I need a nap.

Six things you wish you never did:
1) Spent 2 years in an accounting job (BUT it was valuable because it made me realize I'm not cut out for a 9-5 typical office job and motivated me to find something better).
2) Went on antidepressants (mixed feelings about this)
3) Gained weight in college!
4) Spent $600 on a chocolate fountain at my wedding. I never even SAW it.
5) Wish I hadn't been so painfully shy in high school

 6) Worried so much.

Five Things You Always Have With You:
1) Cell phone
2) ID
3) Debit Card
4) Keys
5) Thats it, i'm pretty low maintenance. HA yeah right.

Four Bad Habits:
1) I chew the side of my tongue when i'm nervous (yeah i know, its gross)
2) Procrastinating
3) I'm a perfectionist to a fault. If I can't do something perfectly the first time, I either won't try at all or I'll get pissed off.
4) I have a bad temper sometimes.

Three Favorite Memories:
1) Meeting my husband, that rush
2) My wedding day, particularly late that night, when we were exhausted but happy and totally relieved that we could just relax and be married.
3) Summer beach vacations of my childhood

Two things you want to do before you die:

1) Go to Florence (next year hopefully)
2) Have a daughter.

One Confession:
1) I was an incredibly late bloomer and very skinny and would literally pray for boobs. Now I have them and I wish I hadn't prayed for them so much.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

NorCal > SoCal

You can argue if you'd like, but judging from from 10 day escapade in California, the northern regions are simply the most gorgeous. So here we go, onto Day 2, in Napa.

Day 2
Because we went to bed before ten pm, I woke up at 5:30 am . . . naturally. This has never happened to me before. So we decided to take a walk and pack up our things before breakfast was served at the Inn. We were moving to a new (cheaper) hotel for the next night and had to leave directly after breakfast in order to catch the shuttle for our winery tour at the Fairfield Inn. We were walking around the garden on the grounds and we noticed one of the cooks picking oranges off the tree. Real oranges. Picking real oranges and turning them directly into orange juice. I was so excited.

Breakfast consisted of fresh local fruit, fresh-squeezed OJ and these yumtastic egg souflee things. Oh and blueberry muffins. It was the perfect starter meal for a day full of boozing.

After breakfast we drove to the Fairfield, begged them to let us check in early, threw our stuff in our room and then got down to the lobby just as our shuttle arrived to pick us up for the winery tour. Sharing the tour with us were two older women, a group of girlfriends that had just graduated med school and a couple that made out the whole time. We had fun making fun of the last couple with the group of girls.

I won't go into detail about every single winery we visited, but here's the run down:
 Black Stallion 


 V. Sattui 

Rutherford Estates
Grgich Hills
Domaine Chandon

With 5 or 6 wine samples at each winery, we were feeling great by the end of the trip. We had a picnic lunch at V. Sattui which was the most amazing thing I have ever eaten. It was a big hunk of toasted chewy bread, fresh mozzarella, sun dried tomatoes, basil, balsamic vinegar truffle oil.

We got home around 5 and it was unseasonably warm out so we threw on our bathing suits and jumped in the pool. Then we went to dinner at a little cafe and stopped by Trader Joe's to pick up a $2 bottle of wine to add to our growing collection. Then of course, bed by ten. It was a lovely day.

I left my heart in Napa

Day 1

Whenever someone asks me what my favorite part of the trip was, I hesitate to answer. There was not one "best part". There was a best city (San Fran), a best scenic view (Point Lobos State Reserve) but I can't pinpoint one best part. However, Napa comes to mind as one of the most beautiful places.

Our plane landed in Sacramento and we stepped out of the airport and underneath a clear blue sky. This was the beginning of ten straight days of uninterrupted blue sky. I think I have a skewed vision of California weather because of this trip, considering Napa had just had a rainy spell before we arrived. It was about an hour drive to Napa, and I could not stop staring out the window for the whole trip.  As we got closer to the Napa Valley, the landscape became more and more foreign to me.  The rolling hills seemed like they were going to swallow me up.  One minute, the road would be winding through these hills and the next moment we would be in a valley surrounded by a ring of mountains.  I could not figure out what was so different about these hills. I live in Pennsylvania, so I'm used to hills. I think the difference was that the hills that I'm used to are almost always covered in forest. So the trees kind of mask the slope of the land. The hills in the Napa Valley are like green humps that are just dotted by trees.

I had plans to find a cute place in Napa for lunch. Maybe a nice cafe and a salad with locally grown produce. But then we saw In-n-Out Burger. Frank's instincts took over and he swerved the rented Dodge into the fast food palace. I can't say I put up much of a fight. In-n-Out is only on the west coast and we had heard so much about it from friends who had been there. I won't go into detail about a burger, but let me say, best burger I have ever had.

We got into town a bit early so we could not check in yet. We checked out downtown Napa, drove around a bit and stopped in Oxbrow Market.We could not just walk by Kara's Cupcakes without getting something, so we both got mini-cupcakes even though we were feeling the effects from a burger-induced coma.

We checked in to the Inn next and were both a bit nervous. We had never been to a bed and breakfast before and didn't really know what to expect. We stayed at the Old World Inn, which is a famous B&B in Napa and was featured in Oprah magazine (so it had to be good right?) The owner showed us around the cute victorian house and showed us to our room, La Boheme. The room was beautiful and cozy (we had the smallest room because we're poor haha) and smelled like lavender. There were L'Occitane soaps in the bathroom (which of course I snatched up), a pull-chain toilet, clawfoot tub, etc.

We planned to go out to a nice dinner that night, but as soon as I sat down on the bed, extreme exhaustion hit me. We're talking about the kind of exhaustion where you start crying for no reason because your THAT tired. So it was a gorgeous afternoon in Napa, we were at a fancy B&B and we ended up watching trashy talk shows and napping away the rest of the day. We had been traveling since 4 am and we were three hours jet-lagged. I woke up for dinner but wasn't even hungry. I could not justify spending a lot of money on a fancy dinner out when I wasn't even hungry. So we went out, I got a smoothie from Starbucks, Frank got some beef jerky from Target and we called it a night. We went back to the Inn to find a tray of gourmet chocolate desserts and some wine set out in the dining room. Game on.
We spent the rest of the night eating chocolate (ok that was just me) and drinking wine in bed. Of course I had to set up the tripod to capture it.

We both promptly fell asleep before 10 pm, which would happen almost every night of our trip.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I'm baaaaaaaack . . .

I almost peed my pants with excitement when I saw this blog post: I Love Awards

Yay! I got an award! I have never gotten an award in anything, unless you count a couple art contests I was in as a child. This is why I love the blogging community, everyone is so encouraging. I definitely plan on passing this award on, as soon as I get my post-vacation shit together. What a great motivation, after coming back from a two week blogging hiatus. It definitely gives me the motivation to get back to daily posting.

Speaking of vacation . . . wow. California was absolutely drop-dead beautiful. Except for LA, but i'll get to that. I plan on reviewing the trip in several blog posts, but i'll try to pepper in some different posts because, frankly, I worry that it might be boring to other people. But I really need to get this down on words, for myself. I'll try to keep it interesting :)

Also, thank you to my new followers that I got while I was away! I'm working on adding you to my blogroll and following you. And I promise lots of comments as soon as possible. (I make this sound like a huge task, but who am I kidding, I have like twelve followers haha).