November 26, 2020

A Locked Down Thanksgiving

Like most families, we decided not to do a traditional family Thanksgiving dinner because of COVID. Usually, my siblings and I would get together at my parents' house. This year was a bummer for the whole family, but especially for my mom. She loves having everyone get together.

She did the most amazing thing for my siblings and me today. Since we couldn't all get together, she spent the last couple of days making a huge turkey dinner to portion out and deliver to Nathan and his girlfriend, Brian's family, and my family.

She thought of everything! Turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole (my favorite!), stuffing (both homemade and Stove Top in case someone doesn't like homemade stuffing), corn, cranberry sauce, rolls, pumpkin pie and whipped cream, and even some pumpkin spice cookies. I was so grateful--getting to eat an amazing meal that I didn't even have to cook? Yes, please!

Thanks to my mom's dinner, we had a very relaxing day and delicious food. (At one point, however, Phoebe snuck outside and we spent nearly two hours looking for her. Thankfully, she is home now.)

Despite having a nice day, I've still been feeling down lately. I think that the COVID lockdown is really getting to me. Back in the spring, I was fine with it--being an introvert and having to stay home away from people wasn't a big deal. I loved working hard on the garage and it made the time fly by. But fast forward months and months of this, and I miss the little things that I used to take for granted. 

I feel like this is never going to end and nothing will go back to normal. I think today was especially hard because of not being able to get together at my parents' house with my family. I worry about everybody else, too, and what this lockdown is doing to their mental health. My mom mentioned that cooking the dinner for everyone helped a little to take her mind off of it, but I know this is super hard on her.

I imagine that a lot of people are feeling the same way right now. When all of this (with COVID) first started, I never imagined it would still be going on so much later. Like everyone else, I just want it to be over! 

But I don't want to be too negative on a post about Thanksgiving. I am very grateful that my family has stayed COVID-free throughout all of this and I hope that it stays that way. I'm grateful that my mom took the time and energy to make dinner for us even though she couldn't have us over to eat with her. I'm grateful for the fact that even though the kids are schooling from home for COVID reasons, it gives me more opportunities to spend time with them. I'm grateful that Jerry still has his job and we haven't had to take a financial hit because of this pandemic. There are lots of important things to be grateful for, so I want to try to keep that in mind when I'm feeling down about all that is going on. 

I'm absolutely sure that when this is over, I'm not going to take little things for granted anymore! I rarely used to go out for date night to the movies or bowling or even to play Keno at the bar... but I miss those things now that they aren't an option anymore. I look forward to doing them again someday!

Anyway, I hope that everyone had a great Thanksgiving. My only pics from today are actually of Duck! He's HILARIOUS in the way he likes to lie down. I know I've posted pics of him in a sploot position before, but this one is something even beyond that, hahaha.

And then he was chilling like this with his arms dangling down. He's so funny!

November 25, 2020

Baby Laughs!

I don't really have anything to say today--it's been a busy day--but I hope everyone has a fantastic Thanksgiving! Here is a video of Luke when he was just a baby--three years ago already! You can't listen and NOT laugh--babies have a superpower! 

I hope everyone has a fantastic Thanksgiving tomorrow! :) 

November 24, 2020

Gifts To Buy for YOURSELF This Holiday Season

 ...because it's wacky 2020 and why not do the untraditional thing this year?

I like to make a gift idea list each year (well, when I remember to!) but this year is so DIFFERENT in just about every way possible. And since the things I typically recommend are things that I have and use myself, it makes sense to buy something (or several things!) for yourself :)

I apologize for the redundancy of some of these items. When I really love a product, I write about it a LOT. Unless specified, everything listed here was bought with my own money (not sponsored in any way). Also, any Amazon links are affiliate links--just meaning that if you purchase something through those links, I may get a small commission for recommending it.

Without further ado, here are some of my favorite gift ideas... for oneself! :)

A Piercing (or Tattoo)

I may be approaching my 40's, and sometimes I wonder if I'm too old for piercings (other than the traditional one in each lobe) but I LOVE my piercings and I don't care if I look too old to pull them off! I have a nose piercing and several ear piercings--lobes, tragus, conch, helix, and rook. Yes, those words were foreign to me, too. When I went into the shop, I just pointed to the spot on my ears that I wanted pierced! Haha. I really would like to get an industrial piercing, but my age is definitely what is holding me back... I really need to just do it and forget about my age!

I wanted to post the video of when I got my conch piercing (below) but there are a couple of f-bombs in it, hahaha. I'd just had my rook pierced moments before and I didn't even flinch. The conch one hurt much worse! (But there is something so fun about the environment of the piercing/tattoo shop! And needles have never bothered me.)

Special Teas

There is tea, and then there is TEA. And I was thrilled when I discovered that there are teas beyond the typical Lipton's. I started ordering tea from David's Tea online. They have the most amazing flavors! (This is an assortment pack on Amazon.) I love black tea with a little cream and sugar, and the dessert black teas from David's are my favorite. These are loose leaf teas, and this is my favorite item to make brewing them super easy. (I had no idea how to make loose leaf tea, but it's very simple!)

Kindle Paperwhite (10th generation)

I know, I know, I know. I write about this WAY too frequently. But I can't help it--I LOVE my Kindle Paperwhite! I was never interested in e-books until I bought a Kindle Paperwhite on sale (I figured I could return it if I didn't like it) and I was completely sold. In love. I read SO much once I got it. Borrowing from the library was instantaneous! I love mine so much that I even bought one to give away to someone in the Cookies Fall Mileage Challenge :)

You will NOT regret trying out the Paperwhite--I promise! The look of the screen is exactly like a paperback book--I don't use the backlight, so the page looks identical to a "regular" book. And there is no glare on the screen (it has a matte feel as well--not like a cell phone or a tablet), so you can easily read outside. The charge lasts FOREVER and it weighs less than a typical paperback. I can't say enough good things about it!

Paperwhite Case

To go with the Paperwhite, I have this cat case, which I love! There are lots of variations in designs from that link. Jerry bought this one for me. It folds all the way around to lie flat, like you see in the above pictures.

Audible Membership

I've also been listening to a TON of audiobooks this year ever since I started my walking streak back in July. I used a lower-priced trial membership of Audible for a few months during the summer and it was really nice! I currently don't have an Audible membership because I use my library as much as possible, but if you don't have access to a library, an Audible membership is awesome. And there are some books that are only available on Audible, which makes me consider joining again.

You get an audiobook each month to keep with the Premium plan, but with both plans, there is a huge library of books on Amazon that you can borrow through Audible (if you have a membership). You can try out Audible for free if you haven't already used a free trial. Here is the Audible page to see the different options. Below is a brief comparison. I'm willing to bet they'll have a special deal for Black Friday shopping.

A Boudoir Photo Session

I cannot stress enough how life-changing it was to have a boudoir photo session! I felt AMAZING and so beautiful and sexy and all the positive words you can imagine when I was doing this photo shoot. I wasn't even at my goal weight! I encourage ALL women to do this, even if it's just for yourself. Photographers who are familiar with boudoir will know just how to have you pose so that it's most flattering for your body type.

Even if you really dislike your body (I certainly wasn't happy with mine) the poses are extremely flattering. I have always hated my stomach, even after having the excess skin removed, but this is one of my favorite photos that I had taken. You can still see my stretch marks if you look closely, but I asked the photographer not to remove them with Photoshop. I wanted to look like ME, but just with the best angles ;) And using the black and white in this pose helped, too. It's funny--when I look at my boudoir photos, I think, "I want that body!" and it's so strange to think that it IS my body. 

Everyone always says that they want to wait until they are at their goal weight before doing a boudoir shoot. But I PROMISE YOU that you will love your photos, no matter what weight you are at! The shoot itself will make you feel like the prettiest, sexiest woman on the planet. (Assuming that you have a good photographer--mine were done by Catherine Kellie.) Regardless of what my weight is, I plan to get another session for my 40th birthday (just over a year away). You can read a guest post here by my friend Caitlin who lost 240 pounds and let me talk her into a boudoir shoot!

Brooklinen Sheets

This is another product that I tout WAY too frequently, but I just can't help it. I adore my Brooklinen sheets! I have two sets--I've used the Luxe Sateen for a few years, but I recently tried the Percale and I LOVE THEM. They are my new favorite and I plan to buy another set to rotate when I wash the sheets. They are SO comfy and the percale sheets feel like the "cool side of the pillow" all the time.

If you use this link to buy $100 worth of stuff, then you'll get $25 off (and I'll get 1,000 points to use in the future). 

A Hammock

This is completely random to put on my list, but it's truly one of my favorite things. I wish I was able to use it more often! I first tried one when I ran the Ragnar Relay Key West (my brother brought one with him and I tried it out). After that, I knew I wanted one!

I read a ton of reviews on Amazon and ended up buying this one by Winner Outfitters. I'm more than happy with it! I was very intimidated to try to hang this thing up, and then I was shocked at how easy it was. It took me about 60 seconds. I love to lie in it and kind of curl the edges around me so I am in a little cocoon with a book or playing Best Fiends on my phone. (I bought the two-person size so that it was roomier.)

Goal Journal/Planner

Just like I'm a sucker for water bottles, I definitely have a hard time holding back on buying all sorts of journals. There are two that I have kept consistently and have really enjoyed writing in. The first is a five-year journal where you write just a little bit every day (one sentence, one line, just something short). There are 366 pages, so that each day of the year has its own page. Then there is room on each page to write something for five years in a row! For example, when you write in it on today's date, November 24, you can see what you wrote last November 24 and the one before that, etc... all on the same page. It's fun!

I also really like this journal/planner by Clever Fox. It has goal prompts in the beginning to get you thinking about what you'd like to accomplish (daily, monthly, even years ahead). I just ordered one called the Goal Crazy Undated Planner that looks very similar to the Clever Fox planner--only it's a 3-month journal, so it's more detailed. I haven't written in it yet, but I'm excited to get started on it!

Sewing Machine

After Jerry broke my sewing machine my sewing machine fell out of its case and onto the floor, breaking into several pieces, I was super upset. I used my sewing machine a lot! I missed it, but I just didn't feel like trying to find another to buy. I searched on Facebook Marketplace with no luck, and I tried not to think about it.

And then on Christmas last year, Jerry gave me a new sewing machine that he picked out himself. I was shocked! It's perfect and does everything I need it to (and more). I love that he picked it out--but it's honestly something that I would have picked myself. He did good ;)

I set this up in the garage recently to avoid having sewing stuff all over my dining room. Notice the little baggie of nuts on the left--haha, those are for the squirrels that come begging while I'm working in the garage ;)

Novelty Pajamas, Shirts, Mugs, Coasters, etc.

I LOVE novelty items. Maybe they are tacky, but they are so much fun when given as a gift to the right person. (I admit, I do buy them for myself sometimes.)

When I'm at home and I'm not going anywhere, I put on pajamas! It's a guilty pleasure of mine. And there is nothing more fun than a novelty pair of pajamas. (The top and bottoms shown here weren't together as a set--but the top can be found here. I'm can't find the bottoms on Amazon, but they were part of another pajama set.)

When remodeling my kitchen, I found some mugs that worked well with my theme. 

A few years ago, someone left me a blog comment calling me a "smug c*nt". It became a joke among my friends, which is how this t-shirt came to be ;) 

You can never go wrong with something nostalgic! I played hours of The Oregon Trail in school--elementary? Junior high? I don't remember, but I loved that game! 

Some fun coasters that I bought while I was visiting friends in Kansas City:

A Puzzle

Call me 100-years old, but I really love to put together puzzles. I especially like the 1,000-piece puzzles because they take a lot of time to sort and then work on. I used to do them all the time, but after my neck/back/carpal tunnel problems (like I said, 100 years old!) I've not been able to work on them. 

An Electric Toothbrush

This isn't a very "fun" gift, but I bought this one on Amazon in early October. My hygienist recommended an electric toothbrush because she said that I brushed too hard, which was wearing on my gums. I really didn't understand how it could be much different from brushing manually, but I tried it out. This is the one I bought.

Jerry and I both love it! I can't believe how much cleaner my teeth feel. I always felt like I did a good job brushing before, but now that I have been using this, I can see why my hygienist recommended switching. This one alerts you if you're brushing too hard, which is good for me. Even though I've only had this for six weeks or so, I highly recommend it!

Well, there you go! Some items that I enjoy and recommend. If you have a product you LOVE or really wish for, please share! Lord knows my Amazon Wish List couldn't get any longer, haha ;)

November 23, 2020

Fixing My Favorite Chair

I have been working for HOURS (literally about eight hours) on a blog post for gift ideas for the holidays, and I just can't get it done tonight. There is no way. So I'm just going to have to post it tomorrow (hopefully!).

I wish I had something great to write tonight, but because I've been working so hard on the other post, I'll just tell you a quick story about my orange arm chair. So interesting, I know! ;)

You may remember when I bought the orange chair--it was the first piece of furniture I bought for the house when I was remodeling. I found it on Facebook Marketplace and it was PERFECT. I loved it so much! Jerry and I made the drive about an hour or so away to buy it.

And a couple of weeks later, while looking for a couch, I happened to come across my arm chair's twin in couch-form. It was CRAZY how much they looked alike--they had the same fabric! I knew the couch was made in 1976, based on a receipt that was stapled to the inside of the couch; I wasn't sure about the chair, though.

Anyway, the chair remains my very favorite piece of furniture I've ever owned.

One day, when we were having a family movie night, Noah sat in the chair (he'd rather die than sit on the couch with me and his dad--*eyeroll*) and he turned sideways in it to drape his legs over one arm while his back was against the other arm. He pushed his feet too hard into the arm while he was adjusting himself, and I heard a loud crack. I was super upset! I couldn't believe it. The arm was loose on the chair and it had clearly been broken somehow.

I tried my best to figure out the problem by feeling around and poking here and there (even though the fabric was in the way). I just resorted to keeping the chair pretty much off limits because I didn't want it to get worse. But the chair was so comfortable that I couldn't just let it go to waste by sitting there, unused.

A couple of days ago, I finally got up the courage to bring it out to the garage and see if I could fix it. It was terrifying!

I'd bought a pneumatic stapler several months ago (after borrowing my brother's, I just had to have one of my own!) so I knew I could take the fabric off and be able to staple it back on. I really didn't want to do that, but I wanted to fix the chair.

So I went out to the garage and turned on my beloved true crime podcasts that I've gotten so far behind on and got to work. I used the staple remover that I bought when I decided to try to reupholster a couch (what a nightmare that turned out to be! Haha.) 

I began by removing the cambric fabric underneath the chair (the "dust cover"--I had to look up the word for what that piece of fabric was called). From there, I could see the "bones" of the underside of the chair. I didn't want to remove the orange fabric if I didn't have to.

I continuously moved the arm of the chair back and forth to try to figure out where the problem was. It wasn't obvious by looking at it. I knew I'd have to remove some of the orange fabric to get a better look. That's where it got really scary! I was SO worried I was going to ruin something and not be able to put it back together.

I removed staples all along the side of the broken arm and toward the back of the chair to open it up enough to see. I finally discovered the break in the wood that happened when Noah threw himself like the boy teenager he is across the chair. 

(Yes, you can clearly see the pet fur on the chair from this angle--I hadn't noticed it until I brought the chair out to the garage!)

I busted out my trusty Paslode trim nailer. (This was the first "real" tool that I bought by myself when I was DIY'ing the house! Got it for a steal on Facebook Marketplace.) I used the nailer--very liberally--to secure the pieces back together. 

And just for good measure, I placed a couple of screws AND I threw in a couple of L-brackets. That arm ain't goin' NOWHERE now!

Once I was sure that it was good and stuck in place, I began to replace the upholstery in the reverse order that I removed it. And surprisingly, it went very well! I had the chair back together in no time and now the arm is fixed. I'm thrilled to be able to use the chair without worry again :)

November 22, 2020

A Mental Health Day

Yesterday was a much needed mental health day from the blog. It's usually when I'm having a hard time with depression/anxiety that I feel the most vulnerable and sensitive. Things that usually roll right off my back suddenly seem to steam roll me and make me feel like I just can't say or do anything right.

I'm not saying that I'm suddenly "better" and feeling great, but I really needed to take a break from writing yesterday. At least then I couldn't say something "wrong", hahaha. 

I'm so glad that I have my walk streak going, because now I just don't want to end the streak. I really REALLY didn't want to walk yesterday--I was just feeling so bad about myself--but I didn't want to ruin the streak, so I went out anyways. And I always feel better when I'm walking.

This was DEFINITELY me on my walk yesterday morning! Haha:

It's kind of interesting--I've actually started talking with a woman who lives halfway through my five-mile route. She has a black German Shepherd named Roomba (I think I mentioned Roomba before, when she ran after Joey and me and her "dad" had to come get her). Anyway, one day when I was walking Joey, Roomba came running up to us--although acting very skittish--and after a few minutes, felt comfortable enough to play with Joey. 

So, I let Joey off leash to play with Roomba, and Roomba's "mom" and I chatted. I introduced myself and she told me her name was Melissa. The whole way home, I kept thinking that I KNEW her but I just couldn't remember exactly how or what her last name was. I was pretty sure I knew her from high school, so when I got home, I looked through my old yearbooks. I didn't seen anyone who looked familiar with that name, so it still bugged me.

I saw her again a week or so later, and while the dogs were playing, I mentioned how familiar she looked. It turns out that we graduated not only from the same school, but in the same class! (My school was very small, so everyone pretty much knew everyone.) When she told me her maiden name, I immediately remembered her. I think she was a cheerleader and a part of the more "popular" clique than I was ;) 

I've seen her a couple more times, and it's been nice chatting with her. She and her husband rescued Roomba from a woman who was breeding German Shepherds and apparently, people weren't buying them once the whole COVID pandemic started, so she "had no use" for Roomba and wanted "to get rid of her". How sad is that?!

Roomba had spent her life thus far in a dog crate, being used for breeding. It's been amazing to see the change in her just since the first time I saw her a couple of months ago. She was extremely skittish and sudden movements made her jump and run away. Now, she goes crazy when she sees Joey and they chase after each other. I love it!

It was hilarious a couple of days ago when Joey and I walked by. Roomba ran over to us and they started playing. Being a German Shepherd, Roomba is MUCH faster than Joey (a lab/chow). They started running laps around Roomba's house. First, Joey was chasing Roomba... and then he just got farther and farther behind.

Eventually, Roomba came up behind him, totally lapping him, and they both looked so confused! Hahaha. I really need to get a picture of them playing. Seeing two black rescue dogs play and be SO happy is extremely heart-warming.

My token PSA: I only mention that they are black dogs because black dogs are the least likely to be adopted out! It's so sad. That's one of the reasons we chose Joey, as well as why we chose to adopt the kittens, Chick and Duck--both solid black as well. So, if you're looking for a pet... PLEASE choose one from a shelter or rescue organization; but also, consider adopting a black dog or cat. They need love, too :)


Today, I finally picked up the game I'd ordered from Target--Ticket to Ride (Amazon affiliate link). We don't have a Target nearby, otherwise I would have gone sooner. Thank you so much to those of you that recommended it! We LOVED playing it. Jerry and I played a game first to understand it, and then the kids played a game with us.

I don't know if it's just the lighting, or what, but Jerry's face is extra creepy in this picture!

I was a little overwhelmed when I was reading the directions, but once we got started, it was super simple. I love that you really have to work on strategy, though! It's not a simple game of chance. The kids liked the game and said they'd play it again (which is their best "teen" way of showing approval) but Jerry and I really loved it as a two-player game as well. It was much harder with four people! I came in dead-last ;)

I was cracking up at how we organized our train cars. Mine were the yellow ones and Jerry's were the black ones. Based on our personalities, one would think it'd be the opposite when you look at their organization!

I added to my wishlist a couple of other games that were recommended by readers as well. I've been on a big board game kick lately with this COVID lockdown.

Anyway, I'm feeling better today (thank you for the nice comments on Instagram!). Just a reminder for us all:

And as always... BE KIND!

November 20, 2020

A to Z of Some Favorite Things (a writing prompt)

I really feel like I need a light-hearted post today, so here goes... an A to Z list of some favorite things in life!

A - Autumn. The best time of year! Not only do I love the crisp air and pretty colors, I like seeing Halloween decorations and being able to wear comfy hoodies.

B - Board games. I go through phases where I play them all the time followed by long periods of not playing them, but ever since I was a kid I've loved playing board games. I even used to get creative and make my own.

C - Cats! I have four of them and I love their unique personalities. I don't think I could choose a favorite of them--I love them all for different qualities.

D - D.I.Y.  Doing things myself gives me a huge sense of joy and I feel pretty proud of the things I've taught myself to do over the years. 

E - Electric heating pad. I have a bad back and there really isn't anything I can do about it. However, I do love to sit with my heating pad on my back because it brings a little relief. I'm also freezing all the time, so the heating pad warms me up!

F - Friends (the TV show). The one thing that Jerry and I have in common--we love Friends! We even named all of our pets after Friends characters: Phoebe, Estelle, Chick, Duck, and Joey.

G - Giving gifts. I love to buy gifts for people! When I find something that reminds me of someone and I think they will like it, I get super giddy about it.

H - Horror movies. I'm a sucker for a good slasher film! I recently wrote a list of my favorite scary movies.

I - Ice cream. I am NEVER too full for ice cream! I have so many favorite flavors that I can't even list them. In this photo, I believe it was cake batter. We were at a local dairy farm with fresh ice cream!

J - Jerry ;) He's my favorite person. Of course!

K - Kindle Paperwhite. I have read so much since I bought it. I never thought I'd like digital books more than the regular paper ones, but I definitely converted when I got the Paperwhite. (ETA: I think it goes without saying, K for "Kids" would be too obvious--clearly my kids are most favorite things! If I was writing a gratitude list, it would be different--but this is just supposed to be a silly A to Z list.)

L - Love Languages. One of the most life-changing books I've ever read was The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman (Amazon affiliate link). It helps to understand people around you--not just your partner, but your children, friends, family. It made SO much sense to me and a world of difference in how I respond to different people in certain situations.

M - Memories! I am a nostalgic person and I love to look through old photos and watch old home videos of my family.

N - Nieces and nephews. I became an aunt in 2017 and now I have two nieces and a nephew. Now that my kids are teenagers, seeing the little ones makes me feel so nostalgic and wish I could do it all over again. (No, I'm not having more babies, haha)

O - Orange. Orange is my favorite color!

P - Pizza. The best food ever! I love so many varieties of toppings, but my go-to toppings are green pepper and feta cheese. A local restaurant makes a Reuben pizza that is to die for.

Q - Quiet. Sometimes I love having the house to myself and just relaxing with a book or writing a blog post. I have such a hard time concentrating on anything when there is noise. I am hypersensitive to noise--I have to tune out the hum of the kitchen appliances, birds chirping outside, the furnace running, etc. Having everything super quiet feels so nice!

R - Rainy days. There is something about a rainy day that makes me want to get all cozy in my pajamas, curl up with a blanket and a book or TV show, and just relax. 

S - Squirrels. I adore squirrels! Even though they live outdoors, I still consider them pets. I buy them walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, and almonds--they are spoiled :) They have individual personalities, too, which are so fun to learn.

T - Thrift stores. I love shopping at thrift stores because you never know what you're going to find. You can gets some awesome deals! I've bought several designer brand articles of clothing for just a couple of bucks each.

U - Underdogs. This is a stretch, I admit, because there aren't many U-words. But I always root for the underdog where appropriate, and I love hearing stories of underdogs that come out on top.

V - Validation. I learned so much in therapy about validating others' feelings and exactly what a big difference it can make in how people feel. Most people who talk about their feelings (even something incredibly simple) want to feel heard and that their feelings are valid. I even wrote a post called "The Most Important Tool I've Learned in Psychotherapy" to explain it better because it was so life-changing.

W - Woodworking. I love to build things out of wood, especially when I can make things out of scraps. They may not be the nicest looking objects, but I have fun making them :)  This is a "fishing gear station" I made for (a fraction of) Eli's fishing stuff.

X - Xanax? Hahaha, not a lot of X words, but Xanax is kind of legit. I don't take it anymore, but it certainly helped during panic attacks or when I had to fly somewhere. 

Y - Yard sales. Just as I love thrift stores, yard sales/garage sales are so much fun because it's a mystery as to what treasures you may find.

Z - Zealousness. Maybe it's the bipolar in me, but I get very overzealous sometimes and I don't think that's a bad thing. When I have an idea, I get very excited about it! I love when people have a strong passion for something, whatever it may be. 

This was a fun list to write--as you know, I love lists :)  If you feel like leaving a comment, why not use the first letter of your name to tell me one of your favorite things that starts with that letter?

Have a great weekend! xo

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