Always Aubrey: February 2013

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cat Carriers

I have two cat carriers... one that is ideal for long car rides, the other that is ultra-portable and designed to fit under airplane seats.  Cally is a petite cat, so she has always fit into small carriers without issue.
sleepypod.com, $166.49 with Amazon Prime
That said, she has endured all-day car rides a few times, as I moved from Indiana to Georgia to Tennessee.  That is why I invested (it's a high price!) in the Sleepypod.  I liked the cushioned interior (which is removable and washable) that made it seem like a bed.  I also liked how it could be buckled into a car to keep her safe while in motion.

Funny pic of Cally in the passenger seat

My smaller carrier, the Argo by Teafco Petaboard, is a much more affordable option.  It's very collapsible when you're not using it (perfect for apartment dwellers!) but big enough for a cat to stand (almost fully) and move around within it.

Argo, $58 on Amazon

This carrier is made for a pet 12lbs. or less, so it may not be an option for larger kitties.  (Cally has never been over 12lbs., she is small-boned!)  But I like that in a pinch, this is approved to fit under an airline seat.  Cally hasn't flown before, but I like the option.  I actually have two of these Argo carriers (one was meant for sweet Barley) for when I'm ready for a second cat.  It occurred to me that I might take both pets into the vet at the same time (multitasking!) so I wanted to have it for that reason.

Cally in her Argo at the vet's office

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Little Letters

What a busy week!  I'm back again for another Little Letters linkup.

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Dear Jennifer Lawrence, you are hilarious and real.  I wasn't sure I liked you, but now I'm thinking you may join Emma Stone, Taylor Swift, and Mindy Kaling on my fantasy friendship list.

Dear Seth McFarlane, you were meh.  I thought you were wittier than that; guess you're no Trey Parker/Matt Stone.  My vote for next year's Oscar host? Amy Poehler+Tina Fey or Neil Patrick Harris.

Dear Constructive Criticism, I know that I need you to become better and develop myself.  But sometimes pointing out my imperfections makes me feel temporarily paralyzed with self doubt.  Temporarily being the important word... so ha!  I will take you and never hear of you again.

Dear Housekeeper, I know that I pay you for what you do, but THANK YOU.  You are the best thing I ever did for myself.  Not having to spend my free time cleaning bathrooms or vacuuming makes me so happy.  You do all my least favorite things.  You rock.

Dear Mom, I know sometimes I get annoyed by all the phone calls and text messages.  But I will never get tired of hearing you say (or text) that you're proud of me.  Totally makes my day.

Dear Las Vegas, I AM COMING.  SOON.  AND I AM SO READY.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

French Culinary Basics at Viking Cooking School

You guys already know how much I love, um, "investing" in cooking classes at Viking Cooking School.  Truth be told, I'd live there if I could.  And each class, I really do learn things I'm going to be able to use and take away.

This weekend, I spent five hours (yup, FIVE) in French Culinary Basics, making an incredible menu of dishes that blew my mind.  IT WAS ALL AMAZING.  I still can't get over it.


 Boeuf Bourgignon
The Boeuf Bourgignon (any Julia Child fans out there?) was DELICIOUS.  Sure, it was time consuming.  But once you got it going, it was heavenly.  I would have eaten it by the bowlful for days.

Seafood Crepes & Cheese Souffles
I also made a heck of a lot of awesome crepes.  Everyone took turns, but I was one of the people who had good success and made a ton for the whole class.  I wasn't the biggest fan of the seafood filling (give me Nutella in a crepe any day!) but the crepes themselves were amazing.  I just don't really eat seafood; the fish fans in class gobbled them up!  :)

The cheese souffles came out as we hoped, and the French bread (made from scratch) was probably one of the best breads I've ever eaten.  Maybe that had something to do with having sweated over it, but it was so fulfilling to cook these dishes having appreciated them in France at one point.

This  bread was incredible!

Kevin, kitchen manager and fill-in teacher,  helping with the crepes
We made tarte tatin from scratch as well.  Impressive, right?  We didn't make the prettiest one, but it was tasty and fresh.

Tarte Tatin
YUM.  Just yum.  This is the best class I've taken at Viking thus far.  Hands down.  I would have paid just to eat the end result.

Amazing!
Have you cooked anything delicious lately?  Or maybe tried a new recipe?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Wantful - Thoughtful gifting!

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This past Christmas, my friend Lindsey and I exchanged gifts... but we did something a little different!

We both sent each other a Wantful gift.  Wantful allows you to create a custom gift catalog (with all items falling in the same price point) for your recipient.  You can fill out a quiz which helps Wantful select items for you, based on your recipient's personality and likes, or you can choose items yourself.

I was able to customize the message and design of the catalog, and the entire thing was beautifully packaged and sent.  I really loved receiving mine in return; I could tell that each gift option was hand-picked for me, and it was really hard to choose!  But in the end, because of the choices, I ended up with something I could really use and love.

You can choose from cookware to gourmet foods to accessories to charity donations.  I really enjoy the selection, which is always changing.

I highly recommend Wantful as your go-to for the people in your life who are toughest to shop for.  It is an elegant solution, and your recipient is bound to end up with something they will love.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Catit Drinking Fountain

I've owned probably half a dozen drinking fountains for my cat, Cally.  I clean them regularly and change the filters, but eventually the motors die out.  I've tried cheaper and expensive models, but after 6 months to a year I have to invest in a new one.

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One of the problems I have is that Cally likes to dip her paws in the water, as well as play with her kibble, which results in litter and food in the drinking fountain pool.

So this time, when I needed a replacement, I decided to try the Catit Fountain.  It was under $20 on Amazon Prime, and I really liked the aesthetic design.  I also wanted to see if Cally, who likes to drink from the tub faucet, would like this fountain.

Cally & her Catit

The verdict?  She loves it!  She actually begs less for water from the faucet now.  I don't have to refill this very often, and the water filters clear for her.  I'll have to clean the reservoir, but at least I know she's not drinking dirty water.  It's not any louder or quieter than past fountains I've owned, and Cally makes less of a mess with this one.

Now the test will be how long the motor survives!

Friday, February 22, 2013

February's Sponsors & Friends

It's time for my monthly highlight of my Sponsors & Friends!  Here are some snapshots of my favorites on their blogs this month.



1.  Lindsey Catarino - Lindsey's page always has the most awesome inspirational quotes!  (Not to mention fitness tips and recipes.)  My favorite for this month is a quote about turning dreams into plans.

2.  Once Upon a Stein - As the girlfriend of a brewer, I love this blog!  Girls can be beer geeks too.  This blog has all kinds of beer-related posts, but my favorite for this month is Banana Bread Beer Banana Bread, because Wells & Young's Banana Bread Beer is one of my favorites too!  Go Lacey!

3.  Musings of a Museum Fanatic - I love museums!  Betsy's blog is awesome, and one of the things I want to call out this month that she does is the 5 for 5.  She sets five goals to accomplish each week, then the next week reviews her progress!  Talk about accountability... I should try this myself.

4.  The Extraordinarily Ordinary - Jennifer is a real-life friend of mine, and I love everything she writes.  She's also one of the most social media-savvy people I know, and bound to be a top television producer someday.  The recent story (three-part) of her attempts to get a couch are hilarious, but this month I want to bring back an oldie but a goodie series, Anonymous text friend.

5.  Perks of Being a JAP - This month, my favorite post by Lacey is from Valentine's Day, because the photos of her baby Sadie made my day!  I am NOT a sucker for baby photos.  But I was so sad on Valentine's after losing Barley, this little one made me smile.

6.  Hey Miss Pickle - AndrĂ©anne loves cats, translates her blog into French, and posts really beautiful things online.  Happy face!  I think this month my favorite post of hers is Basic Muffin Batter, because I'm always ending up with extra "mix-ins" in the pantry that I am trying to find a use for, and this recipe is the perfect base to make the most magical muffins ever.

7.  The Infertility Overachievers - Aly's got her hands full with two toddlers and twin infants, so I'm going to call out a section of her blog that chronicles her Infertility Journey.  I think anyone who has encountered fertility struggles will understand and celebrate her path to motherhood!

8.  Caroline's Day - Caroline is teaching me to fill your closet with LOVEs, not just likes and basics.  That's something I need to focus on, quality over quantity.  This month, my favorite is how she created an outfit similar to a Gap dress she's had her eye on, using pieces from her own closet.

9.  Click Clack Clunk - Notice anything different lately on the blog?  HELLO, new design!  Thanks to Lauren, I have a great design and color scheme I feel like I actually want to KEEP for once!  (This blog has seen many self-attempted design incarnations.)  And shamelessly, my favorite this month on her blog is how she helped me with my redesign.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Little Letters

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Life is made of little happinesses.  And today's post is a linkup with The Freckled Fox called Little Letters.

Dear Nashville weather, I cannot keep up with you.  Warm and 60* on one day, freezing and 20* the next?  If I don't check my phone for the forecast, I walk out dressed like a moron.  Consistency, please!

Dear Moe's, your burrito bowls and chips & queso have me addicted.  We may have to break up.   We can't keep meeting like this.

Dear PBS, you need to air Downton Abbey with the same timing as the UK.  Because I cannot hold in all these spoilers and feelings for three months at a time waiting for my fellow Americans to catch up with me!  (And no, I will not stop watching it online with UK viewers.)

Dear Cally, thank you for being you.  It was so hard losing little Barley last week, and your cold had me nervous you were very ill too.  Working with the vet has made me confident we can make your golden years as comfortable as possible, smelly old cat.

Dear Goats Yelling Like Humans, thanks for the belly laughs.  Please tell me you're real.

Dear Sally Hansen Beauty Supply, thanks for selling teeny tiny bottles of nail polish for 99cents.  I suffer from being able to choose nail colors, sometimes ending up with nearly identical ones because I play it safe.  You allow me to live dangerously.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wear It Wednesday

I haven't been posting outfits as much lately, but I have been weeding things out of my closet!  I have a huge garbage bag full of donations to take to Goodwill; I thought about listing some items online at Poshmark or something, but in the end the hassle to me of listing/shipping kind of turned me off to it.  Meh.  Donation to a good cause sounds better.

Sweater: Forever 21, Jeans: Old Navy, Boots: Target
I felt very French in this outfit.  Or maybe nautical.  A French sailor? 

Cardigan: Kohl's, Top: Nordstrom Rack, Skirt: Target, Boots: Target
I couldn't decide if this outfit was librarian or Mad Men inspired. 

Cardigan: Target, Top: ???, Jeans: Old Navy, Shoes: Payless
 I wore this combo for Mardi Gras!  The jeans are olive, so I had the whole color combo thing down.  Not the most flattering combo of colors or fit, but it was a busy day.
Peplum Top: Forever 21, Striped Shirt: Zara, Necklace: Etsy, Jeans: Old Navy, Boots: eBay
This peplum top is one of my favorite things, but it's been too cold to wear it.  So I decided to try layering, and I think it went well!  It made me feel skinnier than some of the other oufits here. 

Dress: Peebles, Cardigan: Old Navy, Shoes: Nine West
This dress never fails to inspire compliments.  I wore it in Hawaii in 2011, to work in 2012, and in 2013 to a DAR luncheon.  I like it with the cardigan and have worn it exactly like this before.

I do find that lately I haven't been feeling the most inspired or confident in my outfit choices.  A lot of it has to do with weight fluctuation changing how some of my favorites fit.  It also has to do with my clothing being more suitable for when I lived in Savannah vs. Nashville.  My office is always cold, and the temperatures are definitely not the same here!  So I think what I need to do is let go of things that don't fit and invest in solid pieces that are right for this climate.  I haven't bought any clothes since my sweater splurge at Forever 21... I'm more calculated now.

Anyone got some outfit inspiration going on?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Burger Republic: Best Burger in Nashville! (so far)

You guys know I love a good burger.  Duke and I will drive across town seeking the best.  So for his 30th, we chose to eat lunch at Burger Republic, recommended by my coworkers.  OMG.  Blew our minds!

Philly Egg Rolls

We started with the Philly Egg Rolls, which were amazing.  I probably was half-full after just those delicious pockets of awesome.  Yum.  Duke really enjoyed the beer selection, which is a big deal for a beer geek/brewer.

I had the Tennessee burger, topped with Maple Glazed Benton's Bacon, Jack Daniel's Honey BBQ Glaze, American Cheese, and Smoked Tomato Ketchup.  I had them remove the usual onions (Memphis Spice Dusted Tobacco Onions) and add a fried egg, my favorite burger topping.  The fries I had as my side were perfectly crisp, to the point that I ate every single last one of them.  The sweet glazes on my burger reminded me of a pancake with syrup, so it was kind of like having an amazing burger with my favorite breakfast foods all in one.  In a delicious way!

Tennessee Burger

I was also impressed by their milkshake menu, including spiked 'grownup' ones.  I was really craving the Frozen Black Irish.  But being the designated driver on Duke's birthday, this lightweight abstained.  He totally owes me now, right?  Plus, between an appetizer and insane burger (which I could not finish!) my stomach was at gluttonous capacity.

We definitely feel like this is our favorite Nashville burger.  No argument at all.  It's not super easy for us to get there from Franklin, but worth it on the days you NEED a quality burger. :)

Aubrey's Verdict:  Burger Republic > Burger Up > The Pharmacy (Deciding factors: Toppings, French fries+atmosphere)

Duke's Verdict:  Burger Republic > The Pharmacy > Burger Up  (Deciding factors: Beer Selection, Meat quality)

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Burger Republic on Urbanspoon

Is there another Nashville burger place that I need to try?

On our list:


Monday, February 18, 2013

Downton Abbey: Death & Drama! - Series 3 Recap

Update: I recently noticed that with the 4th series airing soon in the U.S., the traffic to this particular post is on the uptick!  If you're reading this, the content that follows is my recap/reaction to Series 3, which aired in the U.S. in 2013...  I have already watched Series 4, and it is even better than the previous season.  So get ready to fall in love with Downton all over again!  12/31/2013

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FINALLY the Downton Abbey Christmas Special has aired in the U.S., ending Series 3 for us Americans.  Since I eagerly devoured the season before its U.S. airing, I've been on pins and needles wanting to discuss with folks.  I have a couple of friends (we call ourselves The BBC Book Club) who discuss the episodes as they air, but we're a small group wanting to get more input!

Here are my thoughts on the tumultuous season. SPOILER ALERT!

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DOWNSTAIRS:
I love the downstairs.  Fascinating and drama-filled!  I was okay with the whole Ethel storyline; it had something to it.  But I still never liked her.  I was also so moved by Mrs. Hughes' cancer storyline.  She and Mrs. Patmore are a wonderful pair of friends.  Mr. Carson ebbed and flowed for me this season; he is endearing to me in his love for the Crawleys, but his penchant for being so strictly by the book drives me nuts.

The Thomas storyline was tough for me, but I like how it was semi-resolved.  I really thought I hated him, but I think his inner conflicts have made me more open to him.  The Bates storyline underwhelmed.  After the jail scenes and all, I love that he and Anna are finally together, but he isn't the compelling, mysterious, gentle character I fell in love with in the first series.

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UPSTAIRS:
Lord & Lady Grantham:  I still haven't forgiven Lord Grantham's behavior over the whole Sybil/hospital thing.  Lord Grantham is FINALLY seeing the light in that Matthew and Branson were right about how to run the estate.  Hello.  And Lady Grantham continues to be a steady semi-favorite for me.  I felt her grief so much this season.

Lady Mary:  I am not a big fan of Mary.  But there's just something about her.  Ha!  Happy she was able to have a child, happy she continues to be brutally honest all the time.  Annoyed by her consistent obsession with Downton Abbey as a house.  If the place burned down, she'd be tossed into a looney bin.  Also, gotta feel bad for a girl when every guys she sleeps with ends up DEAD.  Maybe I'll start calling her the Black Widow.

Matthew:  DAN STEVENS, YOU ARE AN IDIOT.  Seriously.  Nobody knows who you are outside of Matthew Crawley.  You should have just stuck with the series and done movies on the side to make your name.  You will end up like those girls from Destiny's Child who left the group that no one remembers.  Rant over.

Dowager Countess:  THANK HEAVENS for Maggie Smith.  I actually find her meddling and interventions to be endearing, and her sass and wit are awesome.  Definitely a favorite.  Julian Fellows, if you kill off the Dowager during the series, I may actually consider boycotting.  There wouldn't be a dry eye in the house.

Lady Edith:  Oh, Edith.  Can't the girl get a break?  She's as cursed as Mary.  And if her editor wants to deserve our girl, he needs to divorce his crazy wife.  Jane Eyre was so 17th century.  Maybe send her to America to find a man under the watch of Shirley MacLaine?  (BTW, Shirley MacLaine's appearances just felt overacted and underwhelming.  A blip on the radar this season, despite the hype.)

Branson:  Oh, poor Branson!  Sybil was a doll.  Sad face.  I really couldn't stand him at first, but he has really grown up this season.  He is a hot widower.  Just saying.  And a loving father; I think he's done a fantastic job.

Isobel and Dr. Clarkson:  This clearly needs to happen.  Isobel is obnoxious, but I love Clarkson.  And Sir Dr.-What-His-Face who was such a putz during the Sybil debacle can leave forever.

Cousin Rose:  She's going to get on my every last nerve.  Worst 'replacement' for Sybil ever.

Also, here's a great article on why Julian Fellowes (and I agree!) had to kill off Matthew.  Actors, bleh.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Happy 30th Birthday, Duke!

Duke Silver... not my boyfriend, but Ron Swanson
Today is my boyfriend's 30th birthday.  Here on the blog, he's known affectionately as Duke Silver, Ron Swanson's secret alter ego on Parks & Recreation.

I don't write a lot about him, except when we're out and about.  As public as this blog is, it's kind of something I keep to myself.  I've been blogging for years, and previously I was more forthcoming about love.  As I get older, I guess I see the value of saying less about some things.

But today, on this big day for my guy, I have to open up.

Duke was a friend when I needed only a friend.  He grew to become one of the most steadfast and good people in my life, quite unexpectedly and on accident.  He understands me when I'm crazy and silly and even sad.  We both have our scars from the past, but we help each other through.

Neither of us are each other's "type", which is funny sometimes.  He listens to metal (including viking death metal), enjoys craft beer, and wears mostly black.  I listen to pop, prefer fruity cocktails and wine, and wear every color under the sun.  And that's not even the half of our differences.  But it works for us.  (We both love cats... that is something!)

I never know what the future is going to hold; I've stopped believing in traditional paths and institutions.  But I know that I am so lucky and happy to have Duke by my side.  He is love.

And I hope to see him through many more birthdays to come.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Staying Strong

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I have been so overwhelmed by the family, friends, coworkers, and strangers who have reached out as we mourn the loss of sweet Barley.  From texts, calls, e-mails, Facebook, to tokens of condolence...  I'm truly a lucky girl to have such a great community around me.

I think I'm doing okay.  Duke and I both have our ups and downs.  The downs mostly come when we're at home, not staying busy or distracted enough, and we find ourselves looking for the little kitten that used to follow us around.  Everything happened so quickly, sometimes I'm still shell-shocked... I find myself tearing up quite a bit, but I think that will happen less and less.  Staying strong, right?

We both agree that this loss makes us think of other losses that hit us hard, which sends us wallowing at times.  Grandparents, friends, Army buddies... with every loss you give up a little bit of your heart that you never get back.

Right now, I feel guilty smiling and laughing... it feels too soon.  But I sometimes can't help it, and I know I need to just embrace it.  It's life.  I am still going to watch Parks & Recreation and crack up over something.  Each day, I'm going to find a little more of my happy again.

Happiness wouldn't be the same if we didn't have the lows to remind us of how precious it is.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Losing Barley

Barley's Baby Photo, in her foster home
Life moves so quickly, then at other times so slowly.

I remember just a couple of weeks ago excitedly typing a blog post about our new kitten, Barley.  This sweet, loving little baby I brought into my life.  She made me smile every single day, always cuddling against me and following me around the house.  I was head over heels in kitten love.  She was my girl, and we would joke about how she'd abandon Duke for me by saying he's, "Not the Mama!"

I didn't think anything the day Duke took her to the vet for her last round of kitten shots.  I told him to make sure to get her a microchip, since in my mind we'd have her for years to come.  I had a video chat with my sister the night before, to show her how the cats were getting along.

Then Duke texted me to let me know that things weren't so great at the vet.   There was a hernia (liquid pool) near her spay incision site, and she had a fever.  She needed a procedure, and the vet warned us this could be a symptom of FIP, which is a deadly diagnosis for cats.  When I took her in for the procedure the next day, the vet was unable to operate; she was severely anemic and had a slight fever.  The fluid they extracted proved to fit the description of FIP in color and protein content, and the Rivalta test was positive.

My heart felt like it was lodged in my throat.  I'd been mentally preparing to lose my older cat for years... how could I lose my baby, after so little time together?  We agreed to let the vet keep her overnight for medication and observation, to see if we could help her blood get to healthier levels and wait for further lab results.

Before we left, they let us spend some time with her.  She was still perfect.  Active, social, cuddling with us...  no sign of any suffering, pain, or distress.  There had been no change in her activity, appetite, or litterbox behavior.  No noticeable sign of anything wrong aside from the soft pouch of fluid on her stomach.

Cuddling with Duke
Every hour spent away from her felt like an eternity.  I remember going home and tipping back a glass of wine, probably a bit too fast.  Looking at the clock and expecting it to be bedtime, I realized it was only 6pm.  I went to sleep early that night, but tossed and turned.

With FIP, there's simply nothing you can do.  Believe me, I spent hours scouring for answers.  It's not something that better care, or early detection can really help with.   It's a roll of the dice in a way.  A cruel roll.  It is caused by a virus that nearly every cat carries, but in some cases mutates to cause this condition.  It is not highly contagious in its FIP form, but it is very deadly, especially the effusive version that Barley appeared to have.

I cried so many tears, off and on at random times.  I sought the advice and comfort of my loved ones.  But all the while I kept thinking, "Why did this happen to the sweetest little one?"  Barley was so full of joy and love.  I needed answers, but I found none.

I believe as humans we have a responsibility to make sure our pets live healthy lives, without suffering. Even when the decisions we have to make are at war with our selfish desires.  I dreaded having to make that kind of decision.  But I knew that it was likely I would have to.  Even Duke was near tears as we went through this uncertain time.

Sweet Barley

Still, I Googled.  Denial.  Could it be a bacterial infection?  A blood parasite?  Maybe the diagnosis was a false positive, and she just happened to have these symptoms as a coincidence.  Anger.  This isn't fair to this baby.  She brought me joy and has a good life with me.  Bargaining.  Money isn't an object.  Is there ANY way to help her?  Depression.  I can't go to work.  I'll burst into tears at any given moment.  I should just stay home and wallow.  Acceptance...  well, I'm not there yet.  And I may go through all of these emotions again.

Saying Goodbye

Today, we let our sweet baby go.  It was one of the toughest things I've ever been through.  She loved on us and kissed us when we said goodbye, and she purred until the very end just like the good little girl she was.

I know that I joke about being a crazy cat lady sometimes, but the truth is I'm just crazy about how pets can make us feel, minus the sadness of letting them go.  They can truly make us the luckiest pet parents in the world.  Right now, as I type, my old girl Cally is curled up beside me.  She even crawled into my lap tonight, as if she knew something was wrong.

It's been an exhausting few days.  My heart is going to hurt for a long time.  But I'll never forget wonderful time I had with my little Barley.

Always Mine
People have asked if I could have taken her home, or if I should have gotten a second opinion.  And I considered both of these things.  But every symptom, every sign pointed to effusive FIP beyond a doubt.  When I said goodbye, the fluid in her belly had increased so it was like a small water balloon.  It was only a matter of time for her, and I'm comforted by the fact that I saved her true suffering.  We chose not to bring her home, which was incredibly painful for us... but we wanted to minimize the risk of exposure to Cally, minimize the stress of transporting her one more time, and make the harder right instead of the easier wrong in a moment of weakness and selfishness.

Thank you for everyone who has sent me messages of condolence and support already.  I'm so glad you understand me.

[Update:  I was informed that two out of Barley's three littermates passed away as well, within days of each other.  Only one in the litter has survived thus far.  It was hard to hear this, but it helps me know that I made the right decision. 4/4/2013]

Monday, February 11, 2013

Funny Women

I don't watch as much TV as I used to, but there's one thing that keeps me coming back every time.  Funny women.  And I'm not talking about silly women.  I'm talking clever, witty women.  And with the end of 30 Rock and the impending end (sob!) of Parks & Recreation, it really got me thinking about what these women mean to me.  Specifically, three who have resonated most with me.   They are smart, and I really REALLY wish I could be their friend in real life.  Because I feel like they'd get me.

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Tina Fey.  She probably paved the way for this crop of witty women.  She also helped me feel good about being a brunette nerd in glasses.  While I don't watch much 30 Rock, I watched Tina religiously on SNL.  She gave us the best Sarah Palin impression ever, the first all-female Weekend Update, and "blerg".

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Mindy Kaling.  Mindy is pretty close in age to me, and it seems we really like a lot of the same things.  (I follow her on Twitter.)  I love that she's just as obsessed with pop culture as me, that she's a curvy minority gal like I am.  We need to be friends.  Are you reading this Mindy?!  I love her show The Mindy Project.  It's smart and funny, just like she is.

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Amy Poehler.  Oh, Amy.  I was Leslie Knope in high school.  I love her so much!  She just rocks my socks off.  I believed she and Will Arnett were the perfect comedy couple and flipped my lid when I heard they were splitting.  (I loved them on Arrested Development!)  I am CRUSHED that the show is ending.  NBC is making a huge mistake; this show hasn't even peaked yet.  It will forever be on repeat for me.  Amy is my spirit animal.  She is adorable and hilarious and brave.  I love her!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Three Good Things

I haven't had as much time to blog lately, but things are going great!  I figured I'd knock out a quick post here, inspired by irocksowhat.com's Three Good Things linkup.

IROCKSOWHAT Three Good Things

1.  The kitties are getting along!  They share food, coexist peacefully in close quarters, and Barley follows Cally around like a little shadow.  I couldn't be more pleased with how everything is going on that front.  They might actually become friends!

Sharing food

Barley following Cally to the bathtub "watering hole"

2.  Duke's new job is awesome.  He's a brewer at a new local restaurant, which has fantastic food (bonus for me!).  I'm excited for him to be doing so well here, with school and work and all.  It was a big deal for him to move here, and I'm so happy with how things have turned out.

3.  I finished my applications for grad school!  :)  Now I just need to wait and decide where I will start my MBA this fall... but I'm happy to be knocking things off my list.

And those are just THREE of the good things going on lately!  Remember to count your blessings... because comparison is truly the thief of joy.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Forever 21 Shopping Haul

I did a little (okay, a BIG little) online shopping on Forever 21, trying to up the number of sweaters in my closet!  Winters here in Nashville are way colder than Savannah, so I realized I was deficient in clothing warm enough not to freeze to death.

I don't go to Forever 21 for quality.  I go for cheap and trendy.  And I ended up really like the pieces I ordered once they arrived!  I hope to buy some quality pieces from stores like J. Crew in the future, but this time I just wanted quick, fun, and easy.

Longline Chambray Shirt, $29.80

I wore this comfy, longline chambray shirt to work.  I definitely got compliments!  It's such a great basic for wearing alone or with layers.
Polka Dot Sweater, $17.50
Talk about a pop of color!

Nautical C'est La Vie Sweater, $24.80
I was a French major.  I couldn't resist.

Ditsy Feline Sweater, $19.80
Can you say crazy cat lady?  I work for a pet food company, so this is just fitting after all.


Is there anything missing from your current wardrobe?
Where do you look for affordable trends?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Italian Pasta Party at Viking Cooking School

I had a blast last night at Viking Cooking School!  One of my Before I'm 30 goals was to make pasta from scratch.  And while I attempted homemade noodles for Thanksgiving, it wasn't successful enough for me to feel good about it.  So I decided to take a class to learn what I was doing wrong.


I really appreciated the methods that our instructor showed us, because even when the recipe called for a food processor (which I don't have) he showed us we could make the dough by hand.  We learned the very basics, and in the end, that pasta was INSANE.  So good, tender, and fresh.  How can I ever eat boxed pasta again?


We made spinach & ricotta ravioli, fettucine pasta, alfredo sauce, pomodoro sauce, and meatballs.  Yum!  The simmering pomodoro sauce with meatballs smelled so good.  And aside from the pasta maker, I had every single tool necessary to make everything in the class.


So now I just need to figure out if I should pony up some money to invest in a hand cranked pasta machine, or the $190 for the Kitchenaid attachment...  which I really want!  I try not to eat pasta very often anymore, but when I do, why not make it fresh?

Need.  Okay, want.
I can't say enough good things about Viking Cooking School.  It's pricey, but I have learned a skill in every class that I can take home and help me in my own kitchen.  Of course, the showroom has me drooling over $10,000 stoves, but I really enjoy learning and choosing my next class.  I consider it an investment, because cooking at home really can save you money.  And if I start making fresh pasta?  We won't be heading to an Olive Garden or Carrabba's ever again.  Plus I'll be doing Grandma's noodle recipe some justice!
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