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Friday, January 30, 2009

And the winner is....

The winner of the giveaway for Delurking Day 2009 is.....


Please email me at andrearhouse at yahoo dot com to claim your $25 Sephora e-gift certificate.

Thank you so much for your birthday wishes, everyone! I had a fabulous day and I can't wait to share some pictures with you. My 30th birthday was super special, and part of that was because of each of you! I'm so happy to have such great friend, and I'm glad you stumbled across my blog.

Love, Andrea

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A slightly obnoxious and completely gratuitious post

Happy Birthday to me! Let's take a look back, shall we?

Age 4

Age 16 ~ in the lower right corner

Age 20

Age 24

Age 27

Age 29

It appears I'm getting older and fatter. What was my point again?

You may remember my crisis and angst over turning 30. Well, I'm here! I'm a 20 something no more. I needed some inspiration, so I looked up some famous 30 somethings.

Y'all know Katie, right? Half of TomKat? Married to crazy Tommy boy? She just turned 30 like me. Maybe one day I, too, may inspire my husband to jump on Oprah's couch. A girl can dream.

How about Reese? I've loved her since the moment I saw Man In The Moon. Girlfriend, you are fabulous. You've survived a cheating, douchebag spouse and have the cutest kids in the universe. We should totally be friends. Call me!

How about Rachel McAdams? Rachel, you don't know it, but you totally inspired me to write this post. You are such a cutie. Why in the world did you break up with Ryan Gosling? He's totally hot. If you were my friend, I'd tell you such things. Girl, YOU ARE CRAZY. Take him back immediately. You can't do better. Get on that, and invite me to your wedding. Tata!

Anyhoodle, these ladies are all in their 30s and they are smoking hot! It doesn't matter that I, at 29 (right now, since I'm writing this at 10:00 p.m. I AM TECHNICALLY STILL 29), look nothing like that. But hey, someday! It could happen.

So I'm embracing my 30's. I, Andrea Leigh, vow to do the following in this new decade:

  • Use eye cream daily. Those wrinkles are coming. I feel it.
  • Have a boob lift. I'm getting those suckers pulled up to my chin. That way when they inevitably start to sag again, they'll actually be perky. Plus I can take naps on them when I get tired at work.
  • Have my movie moment kiss.
  • Have a baby.
  • Put down roots! Get out of the Navy, move some place, and stay there.
  • Finish my master's degree.
  • Get rid of my chicken flap arms. You know, the ones that keep on waving, even when you are finished?

So stick with me, readers! It's going to be a fun ride. I'm just getting started!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What I learned About Style (And Life) From My Four Year Old!

Hello I’m Christina from Real Style Real People and I am so happy to be a guest blogger today!!!

Those who follow my style blog know I have a four year old son who I can’t seem to stop buying cute shoes and cool vintage tees for. My little guy is the sweetest- and I know that I'm not objective but he just is- I hear it from others too all the time- he is a hugger and is very sweet and loving. I wouldn’t trade that for the world. I know I will miss it when he turns into a teenager and keeps me at arm’s length. So I want to cherish him and his gentle disposition right now.

My son has varied interests as all kids do. He definitely likes shiny, shimmery stuff, like mommy’s jewelry, and always has to touch and sample the jewelry I own and make out of my home business. He also likes making his own jewelry from string and beads, and proudly wears it (like in his pirate picture-that necklace is his own creation). But he also loves Star Wars, pirates, dinosaurs, lizards, and wrestling with his daddy.

He’s not picky about what I dress him in for school (not like my friend’s daughter is)-he’ll wear whatever I choose. There was only once or twice that he wanted to wear something specific like his bright orange crocs or his bright yellow polo short because he said, it was fancy.

Speaking of Fancy, at school they had read the Fancy Nancy book and were told they would be having a tea party the next day. My son was very excited about it. He had seen tea sets in other homes and had inquired about them. I should have bought him one but just never got around to it. He decided to wear a “fancy” shirt for it the next day. When I picked him up from school I was told that the tea party went well and that the "girls" were brought costumes and hats to wear. My son was beaming, told me all about it, and said he asked and was able to wear one of the purple outfits.

So now I come to my point. You see, I think without realizing it, we adults help shape our boys and girls. Yeah, there are things that are definitely inherent in them. Boys are generally more active and use large motor skills more often. Girls are generally better with fine motor skills, and enjoy crafts and “mothering” their dolls early on. But there are exceptions on both sides.

I think the teachers should have brought the boys costumes too. But they probably didn’t think about. Thankfully they are good teachers and let him choose one. They also mix all of the toys too, for both genders. On random days, I walk in and see girls playing with race tracks, and the boys playing with the doll house.

Here’s another example of unintentional shaping. We go to a kid’s haircut place where at the end of the cut, they get a prize. My son turns a handle and out pops a prize. The prize this time was a sparkly bracelet. He was thrilled. The women behind the counter seeing her "mistake" quickly tried to take it back from him and offer him the boy’s prize- a train whistle. She apologized profusely to me. This stunned me. Did she think I was going to be angry? So I asked my son to pick b/w the two prizes. What do you think he picked? That’s right, the sparkly bracelet, which he promptly put on his wrist.

Now I am not saying I am not also conditioned to thinking this way too. We all are, call it generational or societal. It just happens! The other day my son came home from school with a clip in his hair with a feather he attached to it that he “made”. He wanted to wear it out to dinner that night and for a moment I winced. I had to ask myself what the big deal was. He did end up wearing it out and the earth did not cave in on itself.

So what has my son taught me about life? Chill out, and enjoy making memories, because these moments are fleeting. Also, no matter what happens, you will make it through.

What has my son taught me about style? Boys like sparkly and shiny things too, and maybe even the colors pink and purple! They like to dress up and act things out. What’s so wrong with that?

Readers, I’d love to hear how you weigh in! Please tell me your thoughts!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tomorrow's post and an interesting comment

I think I just got my first bloggy diss.

Remember my giveaway post, where I asked for feedback regarding the content of my blog? Well, I asked, so I can't get mad (and I'm not, I promise). Don't ask if you don't want to know, right?

I check out your post daily. I think that if your calling your blog Chihuahua Bites then your blog should be more of your Chihuahua and Chihuahua pictures and less cooking and stuff.

Well, since I can't respond directly to you, Anonymous, I will address you here.
  • I normally won't even publish anonymous comments. I figure if someone can't be bothered to post under their account - or at least include their name or email - then I can't be bothered to post their comments. I don't begrudge people posting anonymously because some people don't have nor want Blogger accounts, but why not at least include your name with your anonymous comment?
  • You entered a giveaway and left me no way to contact you should you win. So, I think it is fair to say you will not be the e-gift certificate winner. Please feel free to re-comment under an actual account or include your email.
  • The name of my blog, My Chihuahua Bites!, is not literal. It's actually based on the name of a popular OPI nail polish. Would you like for me to post about nail polish and nail polish only?
  • My blog would be mighty boring if all I posted about were the boys. I'd be bored by it, so I know you would. It would be like having a home decor blog, having a baby, and all of a sudden posting only about my baby every single day. I'm not that girl. There's more to me than my chihuahuas.
  • If you really feel that way, why do you read every day? Seriously. Why keep coming back?

Anyhoodle, I do appreciate everyone's feedback, and I've filed it away for further reflection. You will be seeing more makeup/beauty posts (at least weekly), more steals and deals (when I get them), and I'll try to post some sort of crafty project weekly as well. Tuesdays at the Table will continue to be a weekly contribution. Of course, JC (and even George) will be popping up occasionally as well.

I am trying to recruit some guest bloggers, so please email me if you are interested! If you have a craft, fashion, makeup, stamping, home decor, or recipe you'd like to post, I'd love to have you! This would be a good opportunity to possibly increase traffic to your blog and recruit some new readers.

Speaking of guest bloggers, tomorrow you are going to be meeting Christina from Real Style Real People. I love, love, love her blog and read it daily. Please head over there and check her out - she does daily posts on current fashion trends and breaks it down into pieces the average housewife could actually afford. Her post tomorrow is very thought-provoking and I can't wait to read the ensuing discussion.

Happy Tuesday! One more day until my birthday! I actually noticed today at work that someone had written on our work room calendar that 1/29 was "Andrea's Dreaded Day!" Hahahaha. Someone knows me well.

Tuesday at the Table

This should really be entitled Tuesdays at the Table: When Recipes Go Wrong.

In the interest of keeping it real, I'm sharing these pictures. I want to show you I'm not a perfect cook, and sometimes my recipes aren't all delicious. That's ok! That's just life. If you are a new or infrequent cook, don't be discouraged if something doesn't taste right or if it tastes good but doesn't look pretty. Meals don't have to be perfect. It's ok to make mistakes.

This picture was my attempt at stuffed bell peppers, which I've never made before. I used this recipe with a few substitutions. First of all, I used turkey instead of ground beef. The rice mixture was extremely dry - maybe the grease from the ground beef would have helped? I also used one canned of diced tomatoes instead of spaghetti sauce. I drained the tomatoes, so perhaps there wasn't enough liquid? I also added way too much water to the crock, as you see in the picture. The end result is that the bell peppers were bitter and the rice mixture was dry and tasteless. Pass!

This recipe falls under the "Delicious But Ugly" category. This is what happens when I let my husband take over the cooking, by the way. He doesn't care if things are pretty. His objective is to get in and out of the kitchen as quickly as possible, and things like "tastes good" and "pretty" are lower on his priority list than "quick and easy." Imagine the mushroom a little less charred, and the cheese a little more plentiful and melted, and you'll get the gist of what this is supposed to look like.

Rachel Ray's Grilled Stuffed Portobellos
4 portobello mushroom caps
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
The juice of one large lemon
2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
A few shakes of a steak seasoning blend
3 plum tomatoes, diced
Mozzarella cheese

Combine the balsamic vinegar, lemon, worcestershire, and olive oil in a zip lock bag. Pop the stems off the portobello mushrooms and gently wipe off any dirt with a wet rag. Place the mushrooms in the zip lock bag, one at a time, and shake to coat in the marinade.

**I usually prepare 2x the marinade - I find this doesn't make enough to cover all four caps.**

**Sams Club or Costco is a great place to find portobello mushrooms. The usually sell them in a four pack for less than $5 - way less than you could get them in a store, unless they are on sale.**

Dice your tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Place mushroom caps on the grill, cap side up, and cook until soft. Turn over and fill with tomato mixture. Top with mozzarella, and cook until cheese is melted.
So tell me - what have you cooked that hasn't turned out well for you?

Monday, January 26, 2009

A super easy Valentine's Day project

Well, you asked and I deliver! Many of you mentioned in my feedback/giveaway post that you would like to see more crafty posts. I aim to please. :)

This is a super easy project, and inexpensive to boot. All you will need is a styrofoam heart-shaped wreath and some cute yarn. The wreath was $2.50 and the yarn was $5.00. You could find cheaper yarn, I'm sure.

I couldn't find the styrofoam wreaths anywhere but Hobby Lobby. Michael's & AC Moore (the ones in my town at least) don't carry them. AC Moore does have straw heart-shaped wreaths you could use in a pinch. I have heard that Joann's has them.

Simply wrap, wrap, wrap the yarn around the wreath, tucking under any loose edges. I found it was easier to cut the yarn and work with one section at a time. This is a little bit of a time consuming project - it took me about 1.5 hours. You'll need to stop periodically and scrunch down the yarn, which makes your wreath full and ensures that you don't have any white showing when you are done.

When you are finally done, simply fluff and hang!

**Sorry for the poor quality pics -
something is wrong with the flash on my camera.**

I had such a great Saturday. As I mentioned in my last post, we drove 2 hours to Columbia for a joint family birthday party. My sister-in-law's family also attended so we had 6 birthdays to celebrate: mine (1/29), my dad (1/14), my SIL (1/14), my brother (1/27), SIL's dad (1/24), and SIL's mother (1/31). I've got a little birthday money burning a hole in my pocket - any ideas on how I should spend it?

I snapped this adorable picture of Jason and my niece later in the night when we went to get ice cream. The hardest part about our Navy moves is missing the growth and development of my niece and nephew. My nephew was 3 when we moved to Washington, and my niece was a fetus. Since I only made it home once a year and Jason only got to come with me once, I worried constantly about them forgetting us. My mom and my SIL did such a great job with keeping us in the kids' thoughts. They have always been very close and loving with me, but have been a little leery around Jason, simply because they haven't been able to spend much time with him. Recently they have begun to open up to him, and seeing him spend time with them really warms my heart.

I've got some good stuff for you this week - another crafty post, steals and deals, and a makeup post! See, husband, I DO listen!

Don't forget to enter my giveaway

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Disaster of the bloggy kind

I need your help! My Google Reader has decided it is not my biggest fan, and has lost my 100+ subscriptions. Naturally, I am in a panic as there is no way I can remember all of the blogs I read and love... namely, your blogs! Rather than spend hours visiting random blogs in hopes of making it back to yours, could you please leave me a comment with your blog link so that I may add you back to my reader?

And, for extra points, tell me some other blogs I should visit! I love discovering new blogs! :)

Note to self: bookmarks (of the computer kind) are a good thing.

I need to get off the computer and start getting ready but I am so unmotivated on this cold and rainy Saturday. We've supposed to be heading to Columbia (SC) for a joint birthday party. Much to my mom's dismay, there are six January birthdays in my family: me, my aunt, my SIL, my dad, my cousin, and my brother. My brother and I were actually born one day apart, five years apart. Crazy!

Anyhoodle, I'm hoping I can finangle my husband into swinging by Hobby Lobby while we are in Columbia. I actually had a dream about HL last night - bizarre! I also dreamed about losing my job... let's hope that one doesn't come true.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, January 23, 2009

A year? Seriously?

Don't forget to enter my Sephora e-card giveaway here! This giveaway is for all my readers - lurkers, followers, and frequent commenters!

This time last year, Jason and I were in the midst of a cross-country move. I believe we were driving through Nebraska on this day in 2008. Crazy! If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would one day move cross country (GA to WA in 2004, and WA to SC in 2008) not once, but twice, I would have said that you were insane. 4000 miles in two cars with two dogs, in blizzard like conditions? I'm just glad we survived.

The pics above our from our trip. I'm actually sad I didn't take more pictures, but we were seriously booking it the whole way. Driving through Washington, South Dakota, Idaho, and Wyoming in January isn't exactly scenic. All you see is snow and more snow. Isn't Jason's expression hilarious? It was COLD.

To read more about our moving adventures, click here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Delurking Day 2009! (and a giveaway)

UPDATE: Sorry for any confusion - anyone can enter, even regular posters! The contest isn't just for lurkers. Remember, you must leave some sort of constructive feedback in your comment to be entered.

Hola readers! It is I, JC! My mom has been super busy and stressed lately, so I thought I'd step in and take over her blog for another day. My mom wants me to send her apologies for not getting around to visit your blogs lately. She's really upset and worried about it, but I told her that you guys would still be there when she finally catches up.

If you ask me, my mom is acting a little loco lately. There's lots of grumbling around me casa about mom turning 30, which I think is ridiculous. I mean, I'm turning 35 at the end of the month and you don't hear me complaining. WOMEN. My dad isn't helping - the other day I heard him tell my mom her haircut made her look older, and he's always joking about how he can't believe he's married to someone born in another decade. I mean, seriously. He is not helping matters at all.

So needless to say, my cuteness has been simmering things down on the home front lately. But that's ok - I get lots of treats and kisses for my trouble. And emails from cute lady chihuahuas, too. I'm still single! Email me!

Anyway, wasn't there a point to this post? Oh, yes. I've decided that today shall be Delurking Day 2009 at My Chihuahua Bites! You see, my mom has lots of followers, and I know she gets a lot of traffic each day on her blog, but not all of those people leave comments. So this post is for YOU - those of you who stop by to visit but don't have the time or desire to leave a comment. Today is the day, lurkers! It's time to come out of hiding!

My mom wants some feedback. What do you love about My Chihuahua Bites? What do you hate? What type of posts make you laugh, and which one gets on your nerves? What do you want to see more of here at My Chihuahua Bites?

For your trouble, you'll be entered into a super cool giveaway. You all know how much my mom loves Sephora, right? Well, the lucky winner will get a $25.00 e-gift certificate to Sephora, my mom's favorite store. I had to do some fast talking, people, to get her to agree to this. She wanted to keep it for herself, but I told her it was her duty to pass on the love. The best part is that you don't have to provide your address to receive the e-gift certificate - you just have to have a working email address. For those of you who don't enter giveaways because you don't want to publicize your address, this giveaway is for YOU!

You have until January 29th (my mom's birthday, and two days before my birthday!) to enter. Here's what you need to do:

  • Leave a comment on THIS POST answering one or more of the questions above. You MUST provide some sort of constructive feedback to be entered.
  • To receive two entries, become a follower!
  • For three entries, post about the giveaway on your blog.
  • Make sure you leave a comment letting my mom know that you have subscribed and/or posted about the giveaway on your blog.

That's all. What are you waiting for? Get to commenting!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Musical Monday... on Wednesday

Diane at Good Mourning, Glory! is hosting Musical Monday, and since I'm never on time for anything, I'm contributing on Wednesday. You know me, always a day late and a dollar short. Oh well.

I love music. Music is such a huge part of my mood. I cannot work out without music. I last about two minutes on the treadmill without some music to get me going. Music makes me happy. It makes me sad. It pumps me up, and it makes me cry.
Here's just a few of my favorite songs and artists:

I adore Gavin DeGraw. I want to be his girlfriend, only I have that little pesky problem of being married. His voice... oh, my. I don't give a poop what you look like - if you can sing and play the piano, I'm yours.

Jason can do neither. Hmmm, he needs to work on that.

Here's two of my favorite gym songs:

And a song to make your heart melt:

This one has been in constant rotation since I heard it on Grey's Anatomy a few months ago. I heart Taylor Swift. It reminds me of the high school, and how devastated I felt when I discovered first love doesn't equal lasting love.

And a few songs that make me sad. Because sometimes you just need a song that matches your mood.

How about you? I'd love to hear or see some of your favorite songs!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tuesdays at the Table

This recipe is definitely for the southern girls. :)

Grits casserole has always been comfort food for me. Growing up, this is what my mom would make on christmas morning. It's a great potluck contribution, and it freezes beautifully.

Excuse this off topic moment, but every time I say that I think of Steel Magnolias. Don't you?

This is not for the calorie conscious, as it is full of cheese and butter. And more cheese, and a little more butter. You know me. My recipes are about as healthy as Paula Deen's.

Please excuse this horrible picture. My husband was elbowing me out of the way to get to his portion, and I had to slap and jab to get close enough to take a picture. He's vicious when it comes to his grits casserole. And he's a Yankee! ;)

Grits Casserole

  • Quick cooking grits, cooked according to package directions (NOT instant)
  • Sausage
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Salt and pepper

There are no exact measurements for this recipe. To begin, you'll need to decide how many servings you need for your family. I usually make 4-6 servings, according to what's written on the side of the grits package. 4-6 servings feeds about 8 people. If you make more than 4 servings, you should use more than one package of sausage.

Start by cooking your sausage, and set aside to drain. Prepare your grits according to the package directions. Once they are ready, season them to taste, adding in butter, salt, and pepper to your preference. Add cheese, as much as you like, keeping in mind that you'll be topping with cheese as well. Add in 1 egg (2 if you have 6 or more servings of grits) and enough milk so that it is not a super thick consistency.

Pour into your casserole dish, and top with a layer of cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Swap update

By now, all who signed up for the swap should have received an email from me regarding your swap partner. Here's just a few reminders:

Please mail your package no later than Monday, February 9th.

If something happens and you know you will be unable to send or will be late sending, please let me know ASAP so I can make arrangements for your partner.

Once you receive your swap package, please either email me or post a comment on my blog letting me know your package arrived. I'd also like you to do a blog post on your goodies - I want to know what you got!

One or more of you may be getting two packages - one from your partner and one from me. You shall be surprised! :)

Just so there is so confusion, here are your partners:

Diane and Katie

Sam and Tess

Natalie and Jill

Amy and Laura

Erin and Kim

Jennifer and Julie

Sara and Tina

Harriet and Aubrey

Kristin and Lori

April and Mrs. S

Dana and Holly

Ashley and Kerri

I hope that by matching you with your partner and posting who that person is, you'll be able to build a relationship with that person prior to and hopefully after the swap. I hope no one is upset that this isn't a secret swap - but if you are, I apologize. Next time!

Please let me know if there are any problems or concerns and I'll do whatever I can to help you.

And life goes on.

When I was a junior in college, I experienced what has been the most painful and tragic incident of my life thus far. December 10th was an ordinary day; there was no warning that my life was about to change. Classes were over and the semester was drawing to a close. I was through with finals and I was excited because my brother was supposed to be coming to Rock Hill that day to help me shop for my parents' christmas gifts.

I opened the knock on my door expecting to see my brother. Instead I saw my father, my sister-in-law, and my uncle. I knew immediately that something was wrong.

"Oh my God - is it Chad (my brother)? Is it Papa? What's wrong?"

It wasn't my brother or my grandfather. It was my uncle and my cousin. The next hour passed in a haze of tears and packing. I didn't even think to ask what had happened until we were on the road and headed home. The answer was unthinkable; it was every nightmare I've ever heard on the news, happening to me and my family. The details aren't important, and it isn't my story to tell. But what came out of my family tragedy is important, and it is what I want to share with you today.

Before that day, I had thought of death in an abstract way. I knew it would happen to me eventually, and I knew it would be painful, but I didn't know how painful. I had experienced loss before, but never in this way. I could have never imagined how physically painful it is to lose someone you love. How many tears you shed, or the way your heart aches when you think of the person you love. How much you wish you could relive the last moments with that person, so that you could make them a little more meaningful and special. How, in those first weeks and months, you can never imagine moving on. How it seems it will always hurt this much.

People mean well when they say things like "one day it won't hurt so much" and "one day you will think of them and smile." They say it because it is true. But at first, those words are like nails on a chalkboard. The grief consumes you at first, like a black cloud. For every person the grieving process is different, but I remember thinking way back then that I would always hurt. That the pain would never be less and that I would always cry when I thought of them. But somewhere along the way, it happened. I was able to look at pictures and remember the good times. I was able to laugh and tell stories. And eventually, although the love still prevails, the pain becomes just a little bit less. Bit by bit, day by day, your life goes on. And your heart heals.

I also remember wanting to know why. WHY? Why did this happen? What was the purpose? I don't know what God's purpose is, (and maybe I never will) but he did give me the gift of being able to see and recognize the blessings that came from this tragedy.

Over 3000 people came to the funerals. I heard so many great stories: people were saved, relationships were strengthened, and broken families were repaired. Our loss served as a wake up call to other people, pushing them to make changes or take action that they might not have made otherwise. My own family is much closer and stronger than we were before. Was it worth it? I'm 100% certain that my uncle would say that he was happy with his death, if it meant others were brought to God.

So what did I learn from this tragedy?

I learned to never take the people that you love for granted. We assume that we will always have time. Time to say "I love you" or "I appreciate you" or "Forgive me." We assume we'll always have another hello, another goodbye, another kiss. I assumed. And I was wrong. So don't wait to say those words or give that kiss. Say what you need to say. Do what you need to do. You may not have tomorrow.

I learned that in the face of great tragedy that we experience great blessing. That the most painful thing can bring you the most beautiful thing. That people will surprise you with their love and compassion. That for having experienced death, loss, or grief, we are stronger in the end. And along the way, our life changes, in unbelievable ways.

I learned that everything does happen for a reason. That even if we can't see it or understand it, it is still there. That sometimes the reason isn't about us - it's about someone else, maybe someone we don't even know. And maybe that person's life was saved or changed. You just never know.

But the greatest thing I learned was about my faith. It was about God. How He is always present, and how He's just waiting for you to call on Him for help. He's there to provide peace, healing, forgiveness, understanding - whatever you need. He's there, and He's waiting.

I don't know why I feel compelled to share this, but I do. Maybe someone out there needs to hear it, so I'll trust in my instincts and post this.

While I have you here, I want to ask you to please pray for baby Harper. I had never visited Kelly's blog before this weekend, but someone on my blogroll posted Kelly's link and asked for prayers for her beautiful baby daughter. Harper was born on Friday, and is in critical condition with possible damage to her heart and lungs. She needs your prayers! Please visit Kelly's blog and leave her some encouragement, and please pray for Harper.

Kelly is an excellent example of the power of the blogosphere - Harper's story has been passed around by many blogs, and thousands are praying for healing. If you feel so led, please post this on your blog and ask your followers to pray for Harper.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Valentine's Day Swap UPDATE!

Hey all! The following people are those who have expressed an interest in participating in the Valentine's Day swap. If you see your name below (please click on the link to make sure that it is you) that means I have received your address and information below. If you do not see your name, I have not received your information. It isn't too late to sign up! You have until Monday, January 19th. You match will be emailed to you no later than Wednesday, January 21st.









Jennifer A.




Jill H.

Samantha S.








Mrs. S



Thanks to everyone for their interest! This is going to be super fun!

Random thoughts

So I want to again say a huge thank you for all your kind words regarding my last post. Work is... tense, to say the least. I've overhead and been told about several co-workers making snarky comments about how I should have been the one to be let go. It's not a fun feeling, let me tell you.

I did sit down with my male co-worker, P., today. He's the one that was hired before me and was let go. I told him I wouldn't blame him if there were hard feelings or if he felt strange around me for a little while. He had such a great attitude about the lay-offs, stating that in his mind it is ok for him to go. His sacrifice means that thus far none of our clients have been directly affected by the budget cuts. And he's so right! They are the most important thing.

I'm really just trying to make it through the week and hoping that by next week, the hard feelings and tension will have abated somewhat. I had honestly expected some fall out, but I didn't expect people to be so blatantly hostile towards me. I do feel terrible that others have lost their job, but I can't be expected to sacrifice myself to save others. And the bottom line is that this wasn't MY decision, so I don't understand why people are mad at me and not mad at management.

I just want to move on. And in that vein, for some reason this week I have pregnancy on the brain! I'm not sure why, but here are some thoughts that have been running through my head this week:

Is it bad that I've already decided how I will announce to the world that I'm pregnant? That I'm insanely excited about how it will go down? Giddy thinking of people's reactions? I should mention that I have no plans to get pregnant this year? That's not weird, is it?

Recently I told my co-worker that I simply must produce a girl. I'm not prepared to deal with a baby penis. Team vagina all the way. GO PINK!

Does having two parents who are left-handed (what are the odds?) mean that my baby will be left-handed? How about two parents with brown hair and brown eyes? I'm going to be shocked if said baby pops out with red hair and blue eyes. Jason might demand a paternity test.

Is it evil that I get strange joy out of tormenting my brother via my niece and nephew? I enjoy nothing more than buying them messy and annoying toys, or teaching my niece to say "charge it!" while swiping an imaginary credit card. She also says "cha-ching!" at the store check out. Hah!

I promise I'll be back into regular posting next week. I'll be catching up on your blog and returning comments as well. Thanks for bearing with me this week. You guys are the best!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

When it rains...

Forgive me, readers, for the sporadic posting this week. I'm just drained.

Let me start off by saying THANK YOU so very much for your kind words. There are times when I am just amazed and honored at the outpouring of love and support of the blog community. You all will never know how much your compassion has touched me. I'm saying all your comments in a file labeled "sweet words" in my email account, and I've read over them several times this week. So again, thank you for your support.

I told you guys some time ago that due to state budget cuts, I was extremely worried about loosing my job. I work Tuesday-Friday (10 hour days) so I was off yesterday. I woke up today, my Monday, with an impending sense of doom. I just had a sick feeling, a premonition that something bad was about to happen. Well, listen to your gut, guys. It rarely lies.

I got to work today and something was just off. There was a lot of closed doors and lots of whispers. I had to leave mid-morning to go to a meeting, and I returned around noon. I was in my office eating lunch when two of my co-workers came in.

"S has been let go. So has J. They were told it was based on hire date. Supposedly there is one more lay off coming from our department."

My heart just sank, and I started crying (I don't handle stress well, to say the least). See, S & J were hired after me. Logical deduction = I was the next to go.

I found out shortly thereafter that they let go the person hired right before me, P. I was spared.

I'm not sure how to feel about this, honestly. It should be me. I know that, and everyone else knows that. P especially knows that, as he came to me last week and we had a conversation about how I would most likely go before him, since I was hired after him.

So I don't know how to feel. Thankful I still have a job? Yes. Grateful for this blessing? Yes. Sick at the fact that three people I care about are jobless? Absolutely. Guilty because I don't know how or why I was spared when another wasn't? Pretty much.

I know you are probably thinking "Andrea, get over it! You have a job! Stop whining!" and maybe you are right. I just feel sick at the thought of anyone, co-worker or not, possibly struggling. Being unable to pay their mortgage or car payment. Struggling to buy groceries. Worrying and praying for a chance or opportunity. Of course I don't want to be in that position, but I don't want anyone to be in that position, you know?

So there you go. In one day, my department was cut by 1/4. Thank you VERY MUCH to the Governor of South Carolina, who apparently thinks that cutting $28 million dollars from the special needs population is a good idea. Bravo.

So please forgive me if I'm a little slack in the posting department this week. I'm doing some soul searching and a lot of praying. I'll be back with you in a few, when I'm hopefully in a little bit of a better place.

If you could spare some prayers for my co-workers, I'd greatly appreciate it.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Today I'm a Debbie Downer...

I try really hard to keep this blog light, humorous, and funny, but I'm just not feeling it today.

My birthday is rapidly approaching, and I'm having a panic attack over turning 30. Now, before the over-30 crowd strikes me down with pitch forks, please hear me out. I swear I'm not a drama queen (well, I am, a bit). This isn't about "getting old" as much as it is about squandering chances and opportunities.

See, when I was in college, I had a plan for my life. I had visions of where I would be when I was 30 years old - and I haven't completed any of those things, save getting married and owning a home (which I do not discount as accomplishments, believe me). I haven't finished my masters degree. I haven't climbed the career ladder. I've gained weight. I've gained debt. I don't have children - and a whole host of other tasks that have gone unchecked from my life list.

I just feel like time is rapidly passing me by, and one day I'm going to realize that it is too late to do the things I always wanted to do. While I love my husband, the problem with living the nomadic military lifestyle is that I don't have time to put down roots and finish anything. We've moved 3 times, to three states, in five years. I left my masters program with one semester to go because we were getting married and he was being sent to another state. I wanted to leave; I chose to quit and move to be with him. But it's another item left unaccomplished.

Another problem for me - and please forgive me, because this will make me sound like an awful person (y'all know I said I would always keep it real), is that I'm envious of my friends. I am so very proud and amazed at the lives they have built for themselves, but at the same time, looking at their amazing accomplishments makes me even more aware of my failures. I'm jealous of my friend Angel, who is 30 and has two bachelors degrees, two masters degrees, and is working on her PhD. She's reached the height of her career path in less than 6 years. She's successful and accomplished. And there are a whole host of other friends, with lovely families, careers, hobbies - lives with meaning and roots! Oh, how I long for roots. I never in a million years thought I'd be a girl without roots, but I am.

Anyway. To say that I'm unexcited about turning 30 is a bit of an understatement.

A recent conversation with my mom brought about some unpleasant enlightenment. She called to tell me about a birthday party for a family member and wanted to know if I could attend. I said no (because we had already made plans prior to the invite) and jokingly said "besides, no one's throwing me a surprise party!" My mom replied "well, who would I invite? Do you have friends?"


But you know, it only hurts because it is true. While I have a host of bloggy friends, I'm not so fortunate in the girlfriend category. Another unfortunate reality of the military lifestyle is that the constant moves make it difficult to make and maintain friendships. It doesn't help that I'm a bit of a social outcast. I don't really have a niche. I don't fit in with the military wives because the wives who are my age have children, and I do not. Jason lectures me all the time about being more outgoing in an attempt to make friends, and that is just extremely difficult for me. It always has been, and I'm not sure why. I'm very friendly with a lot of people, but girls to call up and go shopping? Girls to call when I'm having a bad day? I don't really have that in my life.

The root of the problem, which you may have noticed if you are a long-time reader, is that I can't see myself the way other people do. I don't see myself as other people do. I'm very surprised when I post a craft or recipe because other people do it so much better than me. Their projects are beautiful and their recipes are creative and unusual. I have to take 5000 pictures to get one of myself to post that I think doesn't look hideous. And I'm blown away when other people tell me that I'm funny. Me? I only see the negative in myself, not the positive.

So I'm really struggling with where to go with all these feelings. While other people are grateful to be in a new year and are looking forward, I feel like I'm stuck. 2009 had a very negative beginning for me, and I'm afraid I haven't been able to get past that. Shouldn't I feel bright and new? I want this to be a new year and a new decade for me, but how do I accomplish that?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Odds and ends...

Y'all, JC has quite the ego from the lovely comments you left on his post. I sat him down and read them to him this morning, and he would like me to pass this along to all of you:

Thanks for the compliments, mi amors. Also, yo quiero Taco Bell.

Today was an lovely, lazy Saturday. Jason had to work, so I got to sleep in, do a little (very little) housework, and catch up on my reality television. We went to Sam's Club tonight, which is a super fun activity in my book.

Speaking of reality television, what do you guys think of Jon & Kate + 8? Do you love them or hate them? I used to be a huge J&K fan until I ran across Aunt Jodi's sister's blog, and she had some rather insightful things to say about the family. I have no idea whether those things are true or not, but it made me look at Jon & Kate in a different way, and now I can't really sit through an entire episode without getting really annoyed at the dynamics between the two parents.

Update: here's the link to Aunt Jodi's sister's blog. She's removed most of the posts I refer to since I last visited the blog. It's still interesting reading, though.

Moving on to a completely different topic - I ran across a fantastic deal on three apothecary jars tonight, and I have no idea what to fill them with? If you have apothecary jars, what do you fill them with? Please share!

Also, if you have not signed up for the Valentine's Day Swap, and you would like to participate, please send me your information.

Friday, January 9, 2009

We interupt our regularly scheduled blogging....

Hola ladies! It is I, JC. I'm taking over the blog today. After all, it's named after me, right?

Wait, what? It's not? It's named after a nail polish? That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard.

Anyway, I bribed George with a bone and he's off somewhere chewing, so I have a few minutes of uninterrupted time to myself. Katy from Katy's Gonna Be A Mom tagged me madre to share 7 random things about herself. I figure, I can do that, right? I'm cute. Everyone wants to know more about me.

  • My mom tells me I was super tiny when she brought me home for the first time. I don't really remember that, cause you know, I was a puppy. I do remember I wasn't too fond of good old dad the first time I met him, but I got over it. Apparently I weighed less than 1 pound when I came home. My mom must not have loved me, because she doesn't have many pics of me as a puppy. She says it is because she didn't have a digital camera back then - whatever! At least there are more pics of me than George.
  • I'm a picky eater. My food has two different color pebbles, and I totally eat around one of the colors. That's OK - George picks up where I leave off. He's not discriminating at all. My dad gets really mad because I go to my food bowl, get a mouthful of food, and then take it into the living room, where I spit it out and eat the one color of niblets. He's always stepping on the leftovers and glaring at me. Like I'm bad of something - as if!

  • My mom likes to dress me up. It's like her own little version of Doggie Glamour Shots. I think that maybe she's a doggerazzi. You know, like a paparazzi? I especially don't like hats, as you can see above.
  • I like to lick things, and it drives me mom crazy, so I do it even more. Couches are yummy. Carpets and sheets, delish.

  • I really like for people to carry me around. I like to walk as little as possible. Why walk when someone will carry you? This philosophy has carried (haha) me far in life. Check out the carrier she got for me - dad is really embarrassed by it, but I'm all about whatever causes me to exert the least amount of energy as possible. I'm kind of like my mom in that way.

  • I can talk. And I speak in a spanish accent.
  • I like to sleep under the covers. Preferably with my cold nose right underneath someones leg or arm. That's the way I roll.

  • I don't understand why people don't make toys for small dogs. I like squeaky toys just as much as the next dog, but they are all too big for me. Bummer! I try, though.

I'm single, ladies, if you have any female pups that you want to hook me up with. I don't have my male parts anymore, but my looks make up for that, right? Call me!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

My Chihuahua Bites! First Annual Valentine's Day Swap!

Quite a few of you expressed interest in participating in a Valentine's Day swap, so let's do this, shall we? Who doesn't need a little love from their girlfriends?

I'm very excited to host my first swap. I'm sorry to say that I'm computer ignorant and I have no idea how to create a super duper swap button for your blogs. If anyone wants to volunteer their time and skills to create one, I'd be very appreciative!

Here's what you need to know:
  • You will be paired with one other person for the swap.
  • You must be comfortable with sharing your address to participate in this swap. Your address will be seen by myself and your swap partner, at minimum. I have utmost respect for your privacy, I assure you.
  • There is no theme to this swap. All I ask is that you send a package that you would like to receive.
  • There is no minimum or maximum amount to spend. We're all adults here, right? Spend what you feel comfortable with. Feel free to shop from your stashes (those piles of scrapbook paper, ribbons, and stickers can be awesome treats for others!) or shop sales.
  • Homemade items are awesome, but if you aren't crafty, that's ok, too. Store-brought items rock!
  • You must sign up no later than Monday, January 19th to participate. I'll have your matches to you no later than Wednesday, Janaury 21st.
  • Please mail your package no later than Monday, February 9th.
  • Do not sign up to participate if you know you won't be able to follow through. We're all adults, remember? If something happens, please let me know ASAP so I can make arrangements for your partner.
  • Once you receive your swap package, please either email me or post a comment on my blog letting me know your package arrived. I'd also like you to do a blog post on your goodies - I want to know what you got!

To participate, please email (andrearhouse at yahoo dot com) the following information to me. Click the "Email Me!" button to the right for my address. If you do not have Outlook, you can cut and paste my email address into your yahoo, hotmail, or gmail account.

  • Name
  • Address
  • Blog name and link
  • List five things you love - things you like to eat, hobbies, or things you like to collect

Once you receive your match, visit your swap partner's blog to get a sense of who they are and what they would like, and then get shopping!

So what are you waiting for? Email me!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Works For Me Wednesday

I guess you could say that I'm a wee bit addicted to hair color. There was a time in my life where, for about 4 years, I changed my hair color every 6 weeks. It wasn't even the same color - every 6 weeks was a drastically different color. Last year I decided, for many different reasons, that the insanity had to stop. I didn't want to splash out $100 every 6 weeks for color, and I didn't want to fry my hair.

Last January, I went back to my natural color. Oh, who am I kidding? I'd been coloring for so long that I didn't remember what my natural color was! I went back to a medium brown, and was very happy with the color - until my first grey appeared.

So I've started coloring again, every 6-8 weeks, and this time I'm doing it myself. I march my sassy self down to Sally's, pick out my color, and beg the sales associate to write detailed instructions for me. Then I come home and do exactly what they say, and you know what? It looks great.

But I digress. Let's review, shall we?

Here I am, as a highlighted brunette. I just can't pull off blonde. Not a good look for me, is it?

Here I am in various colors of brown - no matter what color brown I choose, I always turn a little red.

Here's a dramatic change - black! Don't' ask me what I was looking at or why I have such a goofy expression on my face.

I love myself as a redhead. I think I was meant to be a redhead, actually, but I just can't stand the upkeep.

Anyway, such frequent coloring requires that I treat my hair very well. In spite of all the abuse I've subjected my hair to, it has not been damaged or fried. It's still shiny and soft, and a lot of that is because of the regular deep conditioning that I do. I wanted to share some of my favorite products with you.


  • Pureology Nanoworks - this stuff is mega expensive, but it WORKS. There was a time, about two years ago, where I started loosing great huge clumps of hair, for no apparent reason. My hairdresser recommended I try this shampoo, and within just a few weeks, my hair was strong, with no hair loss. I actually purchased a liter on Ebay and used it for over a year (daily use) until it ran out. I can't really justify spending that much on shampoo anymore, but I'd certainly buy it if my hair was fried or damaged.
  • Pureology Hydrate - I'm using this shampoo now, and I really like it. A little goes a long way! One bottle should last one person about three months. The conditioner contains peppermint and makes your head tingle, in a good way!
  • Pureology Purify - this is the best clarifying shampoo I've ever tried. It doesn't strip your color, which a lot of clarifying shampoos tend to do. I use it once a week, and a bottle lasts me a year. The matching Recontruct conditioner is also fabulous.
  • I'm also a big fan of Bed Head shampoo and conditioners, in particular the Dumb Blonde and Brunette Goddess line. Buy these at Trade Secret or Ulta for the best deals - use you can get 2 liters for less than $20.00.
  • Redken All Soft is a great moisturizing shampoo.


I think finding a great conditioner is more important than finding a great shampoo. You can use a lesser quality, cheaper shampoo if you have the right conditioner. Here are some of my favorites:

Let's ignore the unfortunate name, shall we? Hask Henna N' Placenta is a great deep conditioner. There has only been one time that my hair has been genuinely fried by color - and we're talking FRIED. It was so bad that I couldn't even get a comb through my hair because it was so coarse and rough. This product saved my hair. After the first use, I was able to comb and blow dry my hair; and after 2-3 uses, my hair was back to normal. I usually get this product from Sally's, but they also sell it as Walmart and Walgreens.

I use Loreal Feria Moisturizing Treatment for daily conditioning. It's the same stuff that is sold in the Feria hair color kits, but meant for daily use. FABULOUS! The only place I've been able to find it is Sally's.

Another great weekly deep conditioner is Clairol Nice N' Easy Colorseal Weekly Conditioning Gloss. It's Clairol's version of what comes in the hair color kits, and it is fabulous for weekly use.

Styling Products

For shine, nothing compares to TIGI Catwalk Camera Ready Shine Spray. Several people have commented on how shiny my hair is in my pictures - I credit it to this stuff.

I also love Frederic Fekkai Glossing Cream. It's a little pricey, but it adds gloss and lustre to the hair while cutting frizz. I run this through my hair before blow drying.

My most recent discovery is Morrocanoil. I had heard about its fabulousness on various message boards, but I couldn't find anywhere that sold it locally, and I didn't want to deal with ordering it online. Then one day when I was getting my hair cut, I saw that my hairdresser was selling the product. Yes, it's expensive, but you only use a tiny amount daily before styling. It adds shine to the hair, repairs damage, cuts drying time in half, and strengthens hair. The last time I colored, I used a tablespoon on dry hair as a pre-color treatment, and I added a tablespoon to the color mix. My hair was in better condition after coloring than it was before coloring.

So how about you - what hair care products do you recommend?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tuesday at the Table

Pork is something that I generally try to stay away from cooking. It isn't because I don't like pork (bacon = yummy in my tummy) but because I don't really know how to cook it. I tried to make pork tenderloin once before, and it did not turn out well. I decided to try one more time with this recipe, and it was a hit!

Crockpot Pork Tenderloin
2 pounds of pork tenderloin
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
1 cup water
3/4 cup red wine
3 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons soy sauce
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Add water, red wine, and soy sauce to the crockpot. Whisk in the contents of the soup mix packet. Add tenderloin and cover with minced garlic and pepper. Cook on low for 4 hours.

Are you leery of cooking with wine? Don't be! The alcohol evaporates, leaving the flavor of the wine behind. I'm not a red wine fan, so I buy the little four packs of wine at Target and use those in my cooking, instead of wasting the contents of a large bottle.

Of course, I find it difficult to follow a recipe exactly. I used a cup of red wine and 1.5 cups of water. I also added 1/8 cup of Dale's liquid marinade and a few splashes of soy sauce. I probably used more than 3 tablespoons of garlic as well.
This was delicious! The sauce is out of this world. Notice how liquid-y it is in the picture - that's because making gravy is another thing I am just unable to do. I added cornstarch and water to the sauce and it just never thickened up. No worries; it was still yummy!

Have you ever roasted vegetables? If you haven't, you must try this immediately. This has become pretty much the only way Jason and I eat our vegetables. It really brings out the flavor of the veggies, I think, and it is a super easy and hands-off method of cooking.

For the green beans, all you will need to do is snip the ends off the green beans (I use kitchen shears). Spread the green beans out in a single layer on a baking pan. Cover generously with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then shake the pan to coat the beans. You can also use Pam spray if you'd like to save a few calories. Cook at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes. You want your beans to crisp up and caramelize.

Asparagus, red potatoes, cauliflower, and red onion are great vegetables to try roasted. The key to roasting is to roast at a high heat for a short period of time.

I also made a copycat version of the Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana soup this week. You can find the recipe, previously posted on my blog, here. This soup is a huge hit around my house and contains chicken stock, potatoes, cream, onions, bacon, and kale. It is delicious!

What's on your menu this week?

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Southern belle, mom of 1, cooker, decorator, crafter, and lover of all things beauty related. Check my About Me tab for more information!


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