Volunteers Wanted

I hate painting. Painting our house started out fun but ended up being torture.  With the prepping and taping and extra coats it takes so long.  We still have 3 bathrooms and two bedrooms with plain white walls that I do not even want to touch. So when Mj signed us up to paint the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) Building at 7:30 am on a Saturday I wasn't too thrilled.  It was for a good cause so I didn't fuss. Well, not too much anyways. They had a bunch of projects going on to spruce up the building.  We signed up to outside painting which is a heck of a lot better then painting inside because outside you don't have to tape things off and if the paint falls on the ground it's no big deal.  Everyone grabbed brushes and pitched in wherever it was needed and by the end of our time there the we'd all painted a garage, two cinder block walls, part of the building and you know what?  Turns out it wasn't so bad after all.  It was actually kinda fun.
We did this through the company that Mj works for.  They fed us breakfast and lunch and provided us with giant sexy red T-Shirts.  The kind that I won't even wear to the gym.  It will go in the drawer with the rest of my collection of T-shirts of sentimental value that I won't wear OR get rid of.  We were done by 11:30am and still had the rest of our Saturday.  And what did we do with it?  Showered, watched a movie and then took a great nap on the couch.  Then Mj spent the rest of the day doing homework while I lazed around on the couch getting caught up on House Hunters.  Since last Saturday I was in LA and this Saturday I was painting a building our house went another week without a cleaning.  Technically I could have done it when I got home, but realistically; yeah right.  If I don't do it Saturday morning when I get up it probably 'aint gonna happen.  Oh well.  There is always next weekend. 

I donate money here and there sporadically and I haven't done any kind of volunteer work in a really, really long time.  Sometimes I do feel very badly that I don't do more when I know how fortunate I am to have what I do.  Time is so precious when so much of it seems to be spent at work, doing chores and trying to fit in time at the gym.  It's always the same old excuse.  I don't have time.  I only get the weekends and I want to enjoy them.  I have too much to do. So while I was annoyed at first I'm glad that Mj took the initiative and signed me up for it too.  It felt good to volunteer my time to do something good for others.

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Wanna Be Photographer

There are 6 Conferences in NCAA Gymnastics:  Big 10 Championship, Big 12 Championship, Pacific 12,  Mid-American Conference, Southeastern Conference and Western Athletic Conference.Each conference has it's own championship for the Conference Title AND qualification to Regionals.  The top 6-7 teams in each region earn a place in Regional Championships and are assigned to one of six held across the nation.

Road to NCAA Championships
Columbus Regional– UCLA, LSU, Arizona, Ohio State, Central Michigan, North Carolina State
Corvallis Regional  – Georgia, Oregon State, Arkansas, Boise State, Arizona State, Cal
Gainesville Regional  – Florida, Minnesota, Auburn, Maryland, Bridgeport, Pittsburgh
Morgantown Regional  – Michigan, Nebraska, Illinois, Kentucky, West Virginia, North Carolina
Norman Regional– Oklahoma, Stanford, Penn State, Washington, Iowa, Southern Utah
Tuscaloosa Regional  – Alabama, Utah, Denver, Kent State, Brigham Young, Iowa State
  • The top two teams and the top two all-around competitors not from an advancing team at each regional receives a berth in the NCAA Championships.  In addition, individual event winners who did not already qualify with their team or as an all-arounder will advance.
  • At the national championships, the twelve teams that made it compete in two different qualification sessions on Day 1 to make it into the team finals. 
  • The top three teams from each session advance to the Super Six Team Finals which is held on Day 2.
  • The top four individuals from each semifinal in each event (including ties) from Day 1 of competition will compete in the individual-event championships which is held on Day 3. 
  • There is no separate event for the Individual All Around.  The top finishers who did all four events in the team qualification round are ranked based on those results. 
So what we saw at the 2013 NCAA National Gymnastics Championships was the best of the best college gymnasts from across the nation and lots of great gymnastics.  Gymnastics levels go from 1-10 with competition starting at level 5.  After Level 10 is Elite.  The girls you see in the Olympics are Elite gymnasts which is a whole other ballgame and the girls that are competing division I college gymnastics are closer to level 10 although a lot were former Elites.  You will not see the difficulty that you see in the Olympics in College Gymnastics.  They are limited to 20 hours per week of training per NCAA rules whereas Elite gymnasts will train 30 hours plus.  Elite routines require a lot more difficulty then the level required for NCAA Gymastics but almost everything at any competitive level of gymnastics is pretty incredible considering a lot of people can't even do a cartwheel.  Very few make it to the Elite level and even fewer make it to Worlds or Olympics.  For some girls College is the dream and for others it's what they do after their Club/Elite gymnastics career is over so there are quite a few former Elites, Olympians and World team members in NCAA's. The vibe in college gymnastics is a lot looser and fun then what you see at the elite level.  They are just as competitive and determined but they let loose a lot more.  A lot of the girls broke into random dancing to the piped in music between rotations and they always high five their whole team after each routine.

As a former gymnast myself I know how hard the sport is.  And I wasn't even that good!!  Gymnasts are incredible.  No matter how many times I watch it I am never any less amazed at the tricks they do.  They are so strong and they make it look so easy.  The thing is, that people aren't supposed to do the things that they can do.  Not only do they they defy gravity but they are fearless.  They stand there, raise their arms over their heads and launch into a tumbling series on a four inch beam like it's nothing.  They are in such good shape too.  Muscles popping out everywhere.  In the crowd there were a lot of gymnasts and you can spot them a mile away because of their toned legs and build.  I have abs and pretty solid muscle tone to this day that I think is from doing gymnastics so many years ago!  I maintain that gymnastics is the best sport in the world and nobody can tell me any different.

The real photographers were on the floor where they were confined to this little taped off square box area.  I'm a wanna be photographer so I got what I could from the stands.  We had pretty good seats.  Here are some of my favorite shots.

Marissa King, Florida- Team Qualifications // 2008 Canadian Olympian

Shayla Worley, Georgia- Team Qualifications // Former World Team member

Nansy Damianova, Utah-Team Qualifications // 2008 Olympian for Canada

Vanessa Zamarripa, UCLA-Team Qualifications // Former Elite & US National Team member

Marissa King, Florida-Team Finals

Mackenzie Caquatto, Florida- Team Finals // Former World Team member

Bridget Sloan, Florida-Team Finals // 2008 Olympian, 2009 World Champion

Oklahoma, Team Finals

Chelsea Davis-Georgia, Team Finals // Former Elite & US National Team Member

Shayla Worley, Georgia- Team Finals

Ashley Priess, Alabama- Team Finals // Former Elite

Shalya Worley, Georgia-Team Finals

Bart Connor and Kathy Johnson were right in front of us

Chelsea Davis, Georgia Bar Finals

Emily Wong, Nebraska- Floor Finals, 3rd Place
Standings after Team Qualifications Session I and II
1. University of Florida, 197.775
2. University of Alabama, 197.350
3. Louisiana State University, 197.325
4. University of California-Los Angeles, 197.200
5. University of Oklahoma, 197.200
6. University of Georgia, 197.150

Final Results
1. Florida, 197.575
2. Oklahoma, 197.375
3. Alabama, 197.350
4. UCLA, 197.100
5. LSU, 197.050
6. Georgia, 196.675

Bridget Sloan from Florida won the All Around.

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Weekend With Mom and Gymnastics

All set and ready to go
Outside Pauly Pavilion before Session II of Team Qualifications Day 1

It's a good thing my mom and I never run out of things to talk about and that she really likes gymnastics because last weekend with my mom involved a whole lot of both.  We headed up to Los Angeles  in the morning, checked in with our hotel so we could get a parking pass for my car and went straight to Session I of the NCAA Team Qualifications at Pauly Pavillion on the campus of UCLA.  It was so exciting to be there!! After that we walked back to our hotel, checked in, and then grabbed a bite to eat.  It was tempting to go to Denny's because for some reason I really like that place but Mj will not go there with me 'cause he thinks it sucks.  Even though it was right next door we didn't eat there once.  We had to explore someplace different since we were in a new town and there were so many options to choose from.  We found this little Mediterranean restaurant around the corner and ate some delicious Panini's.  Then walked back to UCLA for more gymnastics; Session II Team Qualifications.  Dance Moms fans will get a kick out of this one.  Maddie and Mackenzie were sitting not too far from us.  Mom Melissa was not there; they were with a younger man and woman.  During the meet they had people coming up to take pictures with them and then after they had a line of little girls waiting for pictures and autographs.  My mom had no clue who they were but I sure did because I'm addicted to that show.  Is it sad that I thought seeing them there was pretty cool and kinda wanted a picture with them for myself?  Oh well.  That night we went back to the room, watched TV at snacks and popped open a bottle of red wine.
Hanging out at Coffee Bean
We had so much fun that day!!!
Day 2 of our LA Gymnastics weekend adventure started out with the Coffee Bean.  I really wanted to try to get some writing in as the month is about gone and I had not hit my page goal yet.  We spent a few hours there and I got a lot done.  What do girls like to do together on vacation?  Shop of course.  We spent hours making our way through the shops in the cute little college town of Westwood that surrounds UCLA.  We both found cute hats at Target and a few other things too.  I totally got gypped on my college town experience when I was at UCSD.  There was nothing within walking distance and it was mostly surrounded by business/residential apartments.  Too bad I got into UCLA but made the "sensible" decision and went closer to home.  I don't regret it but thinking back it sure would have been cool to have experienced the college life at UCLA.  For lunch we stopped at 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria.  It's a build your own pizza place where you choose white or red, pick from a ton of amazing cheeses and toppings and then they bake it up for you in less then 10 minutes.  It was so good!! 

Right after Super Six Team Finals Day 2
We took our sweet little time and the next thing you know we were late which is ridiculous since we were a 15 minute walk away and didn't even have to deal with traffic or parking.  For some reason I thought the competition started at 6 like it did the night before instead of 4pm.  I only realized it when I saw something from USA Gymnastics pop up on my News feed announcing the time.  We practically ran to the arena and we were so mad at ourselves for mixing things up for the most important competition of the Championships.  Super Six Team Finals was the loudest and most attended night of the whole weekend.  Florida won it.  After the meet we thought about stopping at a bar for a drink but instead went back to the room and finished off the bottle of wine and talked about anything and everything until we were both too tired to keep our eyes open.
Day 3 Individual Event Finals // Bridget Sloan on Bars
The last day of a trip is always bittersweet.  You just never want it to end!  My mom and I woke up, went to breakfast at the hotel, checked out and then took our time stopping at a few stores along the way back to UCLA for the Individual Event Finals.  We made sure to be there early which was cool because we got to watch open warm ups.

The Royal Palace Westwood Hotel is a real gem.  I have to give myself a pat on the back for finding this one.  Actually, I can't even really call it a hotel.  It's a motel.  It was relatively inexpensive but still way more expensive then you might think for what you are getting.   Hotels; even motels are so expensive these days!  It had almost no amenities to speak of but it was clean, perfectly located and had free parking.  This saved us from having to pay hotel parking then drive to UCLA and pay campus parking because we could walk back and forth.  It had a continental breakfast which we utilized both mornings and a microwave and refrigerator in the room.  We were there for gymnastics so I was only looking for the basics anyways and that's what we got.

I loved the 80 degree weather and getting to watch gymnastics all weekend.  I've been watching whatever was televised and I'd already seen most of the girls on TV at some point.  We had the same seats every day and they were right up front.  These girls are so talented and so good at what they do.  Being a former gymnast and fan for life I am in love with gymnastics and so so glad I got the chance to see them live and up close.  When Mj got me the tickets I should have known from the start that my mama would be the best person to come with me.  It could not have worked out any better.  Mom's always remember to bring snacks!  And it was so great for us to get to spend so much time together.  My mom and I both have a pretty bad sense of direction.  We got lost every day!  It may have taken us some wrong turns and a few extra circles to get where we needed to go but we always figured it out and we had a good time doing it. 

Did you think I'd go to a gymnastics competition with my DSLR and not take a ton of action shots and share them on my blog?  I got some really cool pics but I'm saving them for the next post. The Championships is being televised on ESPNU tonight 4/23, 4/30, 5/1 if you want to check it out.

I'm Traveling Baby!!

I love to travel.  It's so much easier getting through busy exhausting weeks when you know you have really fun travel plans to look forward to far, far away from work and chores.  A place where the only thing on the agenda includes things like wine, flip flops and exploring.  Last year's trip to Europe was epic.   The after glow kept me going for a while but I'm ready for more.  Having travel plans on the horizon helps keep me happy.

Trip #1 is just a weekend mini getaway really centered around a sporting event but I have to pack and book a hotel so it still counts.  I'll be heading up to Los Angeles TOMORROW for the 2013 NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships at UCLA.  Mj bought two tickets to all sessions as a Christmas gift with the understanding that the extra ticket was NOT to be for him.  He said he'd go if I couldn't find a date but would rather not.  It's a 3 day 4 session event which is a lot of gymnastics for a non gymnastics fan to sit through and I might have made him except that a friend of his is coming in from out of town and I knew he really wasn't interested.  I was all set to go by myself and sell my extra ticket but my mom volunteered to come with me and insisted that should could not allow me to go alone.  It couldn't have worked out better.  I'll get some great quality time with my mom and I'll have someone to share this awesome Gymnastics event with.  So it's me, my momma and gymnastics this weekend and I'm really excited about it.

I'm going back to Vegas this year for trip #2 in May with my older sister and my very pregnant good friend who lives in Alaska.  Is it weird that she's going to be 8 months pregnant chillin' at the pool in Vegas?  Kinda.  But she doesn't care.  She loves poker.  She's so good she'll probably make enough money to cover her plane ticket.  She's just dying to get away from Alaska which from the sounds of things sucks big time and if she doesn't care about her big round belly entering the casino before she does then we don't either.  It'll be good to see her and spend some quality time with my older sis before she moves out of state again.

Trip #3 takes us to the Washington DC metro area.  We will start out in Delaware visiting Mj's family for a few days then we'll hop over to Maryland, Washington DC and Virginia visiting some of Mj's friends and exploring DC.  The last time we went to DC it was a side stop over on the way back from Delaware.  It was December and it was FREEZING!  I was so miserable that I didn't even want to see the White House.  My face was turning into an ice block and my limbs were starting to go numb.  This time I can actually enjoy the experience and see more things.  We snagged our airline tickets for only $246 on Valentine's day.  Dynamite deal.  I have not paid that little for an airline ticket in a long time. 

Six long months later is trip #4.  In December we will be going to Maui for 8 days!!!  Europe was a city vacation.  Exhausting, frenetic but still amazing of course.  DC is also going to be a city vacation.  We went to Oahu for our honeymoon two years ago and that was our last lying around on the beach sipping fruity drinks vaca so I'd say it's time for another.  I can't wait to explore a new Island.  The hotel is booked but we still need to get our airfare.

We might throw in one other trip in there somewhere because I need to use my timeshare.  It would just be a short one not to far away.  I'm barely into trip #1 and my mind is already conjuring up European trip ideas for next year too.  I told you I love to travel!  Some people have no desire to ever travel and see anyplace new and I don't get it.  The upside is that you save a lot of money if you never go anywhere but the downside is that you miss out on so much!  The world is vast.  It's bursting with different cultures, amazing places to experience and memories to make with people that you care about.  There are so many adventures to be had outside of our little work and home life bubble.  I say, might as well get out there and see it.  That's what I plan on doing anyways.

That time I Didn't Eat for Five Days

Like any diet Juicing seems to be quite the controversial subject.  If you watch Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead you are told that juicing is the healthiest thing you can do for your body but not everyone agrees.  Proponents say you are giving your body what it really needs in a high concentration, it can work for weight loss, it allows for a greater variety of veggies in your diet then you'd normally get, it's helpful to give your body a break from digestion and it aids in the prevention of several diseases.  Adversaries say it's too high in sugar, you don't get enough protein or fat and you lose a lot of Fiber in the juicing process when you eliminate the skin.  What do I think?  It sounded like a fun challenge so I was willing to give it a try.

I read that you should prep for a juice fast by limiting dairy and sugar a few days before to reduce withdrawal symptoms and prepare the body.  Not eating was going to difficult no matter how you slice it so I pretty much said to hell with that and just went for it.  On Sunday I ate the cheesiest Pizza you ever saw and after that, nothing but juice for five days.  On day one I went to the gym but I gave myself a pass for the rest of the week.  Physically, I think could have but If my stomach gets a digestion break then it seemed only fair that I get a gym break. 

What I drank:
They say for a veggie juice the only thing acceptable to mix in with it is Apples.  Something having to do with enzymes and sabotaging digestion.  On Day 1 and Day 2 I drank 32 ounces of a Veggie based Mean Green combo of Apples Kale, Cucumber, Ginger, Mint and Lemon for Breakfast and Lunch.  It took me most of the day sipping on it at work to finish.  In the evening I switched it up to a fruit based combo of 12 oz of Pineapple, Apples, Oranges, Mango and Strawberries for dinner.  On Day 3 after running out of the Mean Green concoction we juiced up 24 oz of Carrots, Kale and Apples for me to drink during the day.  I could really reduce the sugar content by eliminating the Apples from the Veggie drink but I'm thinking it probably would have tasted awful without that sweetness and I just didn't want to go there.  I also drank a ton of water on top of that.  Can you believe that I was "over" juicing half way though day 3? I didn't want to make anymore so that night and the last two days I survived on Naked Juice.  It was good but I liked our homemade juice better.  It seemed thicker and more "hearty" so it kept me full longer. A Juicing diet has a lot more carbs and sugar then I realized.  I should have known this because I know that is what fruits and veggies are made of.  My Fat, Sodium, Fiber and Protein intake went down while my Carbs and Sugar went up.  I got all the wonderful vitamins and nutrients that you get from fruit and vegetables but nothing else.  I don't know how that could be healthy for you long term without supplementing for what you are missing out on.  I estimate daily calories at around 1,000 or less.  

Juicing isn't cheap because in general produce isn't cheap and it takes quite a bit to make an adequate supply of juice to live off of.  I don't know exactly how much we spent on vegetables but we went to Sprouts and spent $16 to add to vegetables that Mj had already bought.  It took five large carrots, 6 medium sized apples and some kale leaves to make 24 oz.  It's definitely cheaper to buy the produce and make it yourself then to buy it.  When I got lazy I it cost $5 on sale for 32 oz of Naked Juice.  At that price it's about $7.50 for enough juice to last a day which is about $37.50 for the week at the minimum and more if you want more then 48 oz a day.
What I survived on for Five days:  Mean Green Juice, Fruity Juice Mix, Carrot Based Juice and Naked Juice

Day 1:
I didn't start to feel hungry until lunchtime.  By the afternoon I was feeling a little headachy but it didn't last.  I went to the gym after work and had a decent work out. I actually felt really energetic for about an hour after but then my energy just dropped.  By 8:00pm I was so sleepy I was falling asleep on the couch and the low grade headache came back.  

Day 2:
I got some stomach growls in the morning and was very sleepy for most of the day. Caffeine is not recommended but I drank some anyways.  Coffee doesn't really work on me for some reason.  It never perks me up but I'm always hoping that if I think it could help that I can mentally trick myself into thinking it is.  Plus, I like it in the morning.  It was hard to tell if I was sleepy just because I was sleepy or if I was sleepy because I hadn't eaten.  I didn't really crave food because I'd already made up my mind that I wasn't having it.  The overwhelming sleepiness finally passed at about 5:30pm just in time for me to get off of work.  I felt fine for the rest of the day.  No headache.  I just feel a hollow pit in my stomach where food usually is.  It wasn't a hunger belly ache or anything like that.  I was just constantly aware of being empty.  The hardest thing about day 2 was that I lost my juicing partner in crime.  Mj was super tired and couldn't continue working without eating so he had a bagel while he was at work and then came home and made pancakes for dinner.  It smelled so good!  Normally, I'd at least taste his food but I couldn't even have a single bite. 

Day 3:
On Wednesday morning there was no hunger, no emptiness in the pit of my belly and no headache either.  I did not feel like someone who hadn't eaten for going on 3 days.  I've been way hungrier on some mornings after I've had a big dinner.  I had coffee again.  I just wanted it and so I did.  I felt awake and just fine during the day and then the hunger pangs started to hit around 6:00pm but they passed by bedtime. Mj made a BLT for dinner and I went to bed with the tantalizing aroma of bacon in my nose.

Day 4:
I felt just fine in the morning.  I had another coffee cheat.  I wasn't hungry or tired.  I wanted so badly to just have one little piece of one of the left over cookies from our meeting but I resisted.  By the time I got off work I was feeling really hungry.  Drinking my 16 oz of juice for dinner helped but by bedtime I was really hungry again. I literally dreamed I was eating Pizza that night.

Day 5:
This was the hardest day yet.  I woke up feeling fine but as the morning wore on I just felt tired and hungry.  There were cookies sitting out in the office and I wanted one so bad.  I became very aware of how much we snack in our office.  There were cookies, chocolate and pretzels in addition to the normal office organic popcorn that our boss gets for us. Normally, I'd be right there with them munching on something or other but I sipped my juice and blocked it out.  I broke my fast that night with some raisins and as soon as my stomach got a hold of them it started growling louder then it had all week.

The food cravings weren't so bad because I'd already made up my mind I couldn't eat.  What I missed most was the action of eating food.  I missed the flavors and the enjoyment that I get from it.  I missed snacking while I watched my favorite shows which is probably a habit I need to break anyways.  In my opinion a liquid diet is way easier then a low Carb diet or even just eating in moderation.   I tried low carb for three days last year and found that to be so much harder then five days on juice.  With a liquid diet there is no margin for error and it's really clear cut.  Either you ate food or you didn't.  There is no extra cookie, five servings of tortilla chips, just a tiny piece of bread or whatever else you couldn't keep your hands off of to screw you up before you even realize it happened.  If you drink an extra juice it's not a big deal, plus it's not like I was sitting there craving mean green juice or anything anyways so I drank my juice and when it was gone that was it.  I wasn't running back to the kitchen for more juice or a "snack" as I might do if I was eating food.  I lost 6.8 lbs in five days.  It's not real weight though so I expect to gain some of it back. 

Because of nutritional deficits like most extreme diets I don't see it as a realistic approach to weight loss and diet long term.  Bottom line; you need to know how to eat right to maintain a healthy weight and body but there were some positive things about it. Juicing is great for hydration.  I am so hydrated right now and feeling very regular if ya know what I mean.  I eat pretty healthy most of the time despite what my Instagram feed might tell you but I do have a sweet tooth and sometimes I fall off the wagon and go on a bender and fill my body with a ton of crap.  Sometimes all I crave junk.  Eating Healthy is a lifestyle and a mindset and juicing helped me get back on the right track.  I'm not craving chocolate at all like I was before.  Five days was pushing it but I really wanted to see if I was capable of it. It actually was a fun challenge which is weird to say about not eating food but somehow it was.  Call me crazy but I already have another one planned for May with another blogger but I'm only doing 3 days.  There's a very good chance I will never do five days again!!  If anyone wants to join in for motivation let me know.

Read about my 3 Day Juice Fast here.

Confessional Friday

I confess that I tweeted my Blockbuster beef  to Blockbuster on twitter.  It was really hard to fit my frustration into 140 characters or less but I included a tiny url to my blog post for good measure.  Since their stupid contact us feature on their website wasn't working they left me no choice.  I still have not received Last House on the Left BUT they actually did reply and were kind enough to give me a one month credit.  That's something at least.  I was also randomly selected to do a survey while I was on the site and I complained my little heart out.  If movie availability does not improve we'll make a decision about what to do next.

I confess that I'm starving!  I was crazy enough to do a juice fast and I'm pretty much over it now and can't wait to finally eat again.  I'll update you on how that went next week.

I confess that about a month ago my husband commented that my face was always in my phone and he started declaring cell phone free hours in the evening. I realized that he was right. I was becoming overly engrossed in my phone mainly due to a temporary social media obsession with Twitter and Instagram and I've made a big effort to cut back.  He and our time together is way more important then finding out what my blogger buddies ate for dinner and what they wore while doing it.  Not that I don't love knowing all that random stuff but ya know, it's all about priorities.

I confess that all this time I had no idea that google maps could talk.  A few weeks ago I was on my way to a casting and decided to use it as back up to my GPS and my mapquest directions.  I was so surprised to hear that lady telling me where to go that it startled me for a second.  It's a lot easier then trying to stare at the tiny print on the phone and avoid a wreck.  Anyone else so paranoid that they use 3 different map sources to get from point A to point B?  More about the model casting coming later.

Linking up with Leslie @A Blonde Ambition 
I confess that I experienced a mix of awe and envy when I saw Ashley Green's underwear clad butt in Apparition.  There was an obligatory shower scene that showcased the water cascading down her skin and  her lotioning up afterwards.  Then there was a scene with her walking through the house in fear wearing nothing but a black lingerie top and panties that showcased her totally perky not a sag in sight butt.  I wonder how many squats I would have to do to achieve that kind of perfection.

I confess that sometimes I feel like I'm not paying bills.  I mean, I know that I'm going to work for a reason and most of my income disappears from my checking account on a monthly basis but it's all done so automatically without me doing anything; you know aside from the whole slaving away for 40 hours a week.  Every now and then I just feel like it's been a while since I paid a bill and that I'm supposed to be paying something but in reality it's already been done. 

I confess that I am a sweepstakes entering junkie.  Whenever HGTV gives away a dream home I enter every single day!!  I never win but for some reason I can't stop trying.  The bloggy world has blown up with giveaways which has made my sweepstakes loving heart happy.  Sometimes I don't even know what the prize is and I'm already entering away.  Half the time I know I have almost no chance in hell of winning if I only get a few of the entries but I do it anyways.  It's paid off!  I've actually won 3!  Never mind how many I had to enter to win those.  Now I just need to win the Dream Home.

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He Bought a Juicer

Freshly Juiced Orange Juice
And when I say HE bought a juicer I guess I mean WE bought a juicer but he was the one who picked it out and brought it home and I will probably never use it.  Or so I thought.  He did his research and decided that the Omega VRT350  was the one he wanted to get.  The day he bought it he stopped at the grocery store and came home with tons of fruits and veggies so he could get started right away.  I was fine with tasting the fruity stuff.  Not one to be adventurous when it comes to tasting new foods I refused the green stuff.  I wasn't saying that I'd never taste it just that I couldn't deal with it right then so he would leave me alone.  It bought me some time but I knew he wouldn't give up.  A few days later he asked again.  I sighed and made a dramatic face but took a sip anyways and you know what?  It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought a bunch of juiced up veggies would be.  In fact, it actually tasted pretty good.
Juicer Parts
I was worried about having some giant bulky thing sitting on the counter but this one is pretty slim. As long as the item fits through the hole there is no need to chop it any smaller then that so there isn't a whole lot of cutting required.  If the skin is bitter like Oranges you should probably peel it.  There is one chute for refuse and another chute for juice.  All the parts come apart very easily for washing.  The only con is that it's hard to clean the ejection area for the side where all the refuse comes out.  It comes with a little brush for that and it really doesn't take that long but you do have to get in there and scrub it.  That being said, is juicing time consuming?  Overall, I'd say yes but then again I think doing almost anything in the kitchen is time consuming.  You have to get the produce, wash it, do some chopping, thread it through the juicer, then rinse out all the parts and that does take some time. 

50 second video of the juicer in action

So, since we have a juicer we figured we might as well try a juice fast.  It's been 3 days now.  I haven't eaten solid food since Sunday evening.  Mj gave in and ate a bagel yesterday.  He literally could not continue to work unless he ate.  I'm still going.  I'll assess how I feel today and then decide if I'll continue.  If you see another giant cheesy Pizza or a pile of Chocolate in my Instagram feed you will know I threw in the towel.

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Ode to Blogging

Linking it up with Leslie @Blonde Ambition
Blogging, blogging.  Oh, how I love thee.  I wanted to take a minute to say how much I absolutely love blogging.  I've had this blog since 2009.  In the beginning I had things to say and a desire to share it with others but I was basically just blogging into cyberspace. I don't think anyone read it.  I didn't get any comments and I had no followers.  But so what. I didn't care because I loved to write and now I had my own little spot on the internet in which to do so.  Ever so slowly I started getting a few followers.  Then there was a comment every now and then and that was just a bonus.  Now I still don't have a lot of followers but my blog has really grown in the sense that it has become part of a fun blogging community that I enjoy very much.  I'm not doing a lot of the things that other blogger are doing to increase their following and I know that.  I guess I'm old school.  When I first started most of us happily tapped away at our computers without giving that much thought to GFC numbers and if we got 2 comments we were thrilled.  The primary marketing strategy was posting and commenting on other posts.  I don't do a lot of giveaways or link ups and I haven't ventured into sponsorships.  I did make a blog Facebook page but I'm not very well "liked."  I guess I'm still trying to figure out where I fit in on all of that.  I don't put pressure on myself to post a certain amount.  I want to keep this fun and not burn myself out.  I see that happening to a lot of bloggers lately and I'm just not so sure I want to go there.  This blog was never about numbers to begin with and don't want that to change.  I don't concern myself so much with figuring out ways to increase traffic.  I do what feels naturally to me and if people like it they will keep coming back.  I want to allow my blog to be what it is and accordingly it has grown organically which is basically another name for very slooooowly.  A huge following isn't necessarily what I'm after so I'm okay with that.  Mostly anyways.  I have to admit that I succumb to blogger mogul envy every now and then but I think that's only natural.

I'm not a food blogger, fashion blogger or personal finance blogger.  I don't fit into any one niche so I have to call myself a lifestyle blogger.  Which sounds kinda cool actually.  I'm a mash up of all kinds of different things so I makes sense for me that my blog is too.

I've been writing in journals since I was 10 and in online journals since 2003 so I think it was meant to be that I have a blog.  I do this because I love to write.  On one hand it might seem weird that I blog because I'm more of a private quiet person.  On the other hand it makes complete sense because I love writing so much.  I keep my url under wraps for the most part.  It's hard not to mention that I blog because it's such a fun part of my life but at the same time I like to keep it for myself and not share the link with everyone that knows me.  Mj's  had it since the start but it's only recently that my older sister has it too.  Sometimes I have mixed feelings about putting so much out there on the internet.  I don't share all of my secrets of course but still; we kinda put ourselves out there every time we hit publish.   It goes with the territory.  Being part of the blogging community is such a joy to me.  I get to do what I love and interact with others who love doing it too.  I love checking in every day to see what all of you are up to.  When someone decides to follow my blog or takes a few minutes to read or comment it always means a lot to me. I may not follow every blog, comment on every single post I read or reply to every single comment I get but know that I love it that we are all in this blogging thing together. 

Anyways, I was enjoying my Saturday morning blogging and brimming with all kinds of ideas for blog posts.  I started feeling all mushy inside about blogging and so I started a new post and just had to get that out.  Here is another link about why I blog.

Blogging is Bad for Your Budget

Being part of the blogging world is so informative.   You get to see all kinds of things that people are wearing and buying and doing.  We post Christmas wish lists that makes others wish for it too and exchange ideas on home decor, beauty products and fashion just to name a few.  Blogging is great and all but it can be bad for your budget and I have a hard trail of evidence to prove it starting with what happened in December. 

Exhibit A:
Back in December I saw this Holiday wish list posted on Brown Girl blogs that included Tom's Wedge Booties.  So what did I do?  Within hours I ran to my computer and ordered them from Nordstrom's.  I also saw blue chambray shirts on lots of wish lists so I wanted that too but luckily I got that from Mj for Christmas.  Or you can bet I probably would have been out buying that too!

Well, once I had a cute pair of wedge booties in beige of course I had to have a pair in black.  So what did I do?  Within days I'd done my research and and ordered these Etienne Aigner black suede wedge booties on Amazon.

Exhibit B:
And sadly, it doesn't end there for me.  Not only that, but I dragged my fellow bloggers along with me for the ride.  I'd been wanting a striped cotton blazer for a while.  They were wearing them all over Europe when we were there and I was silly enough not to buy one.  After I got home I searched and searched but couldn't find one in any stores.  I gave up, but seeing Brittany's over at Fun With the Fullwoods looking so good in hers refueled the fire.  Isn't she pretty?  By the way this woman had a baby not too long ago.  Anyways, thanks to Brittany I had to continue my search.

So what did I do next?  In January I googled it and found them at Old Navy for a great price.  I thought about it for exactly one day then went there and snatched up the last size small.  Faith at Life, Love & Marriage posted this cute outfit with a striped blazer she saw on another blog so I knew she wanted one too.  It was my blogger duty to tell her  about it so I e mailed her and what did she do?  Within days she ordered it online.  Here we are in our must have striped cotton blazers styled in two totally different ways.

Top: Express // Blazer:  Old Navy 
Jeans:  Joe's Jeans // Boots:  Aldo

Too bad Mj noticed that the sensor tag was still on it when he took these pics.  Thank goodness I'd stuffed the receipt in the pocket so when I finally went back they knew I hadn't stolen it.  I also noticed that I forgot to put on a belt and that these other ladies are miles ahead of me as fashion bloggers.  Good thing I'm not a fashion blogger, but still; I need to work on my skills.

Faith- Top: Alloy// blazer: Old Navy  // Necklace & Earrings: F21 //
Jeans: Old Navy // Shoes: Zara's

How cute does she look? I love the way she styled it with pink shoes and rolled up the sleeves. A big thanks to her and her photographer husband for braving the snow for these shots. It just dawned on me that she came down with pneumonia not too long after these shots were taken. She's all better now thank goodness.  I hope this photo shoot didn't bring it on.  Oh the sacrifices we make for blogging.

 Exhibit C:
The story of woe continues.  While I was in Old Navy getting that striped cotton blazer I saw the gingham shirts that everyone in blog land has been rocking lately.  I told myself I wasn't shopping anymore, well except for that cotton blazer that got me there in the first place, so I didn't get it.  Then, I saw this post over at Because Shanna Said So about buying the black and white gingham she finally found at Old Navy after an exhaustive search.

I stayed strong and told myself I didn't need it but it was Emily's post at The Sweetest Thing that pushed me over the edge; and I quote. I own gingham button-downs in several colors because of the versatility. They are layering essentials, they look great alone, and they are multi-seasonal.  Well clearly Emily was telling me that I should go back for the black gingham.  I commented on her post that I'd probably be going back to Old Navy to get one in black and white.  She emailed me back that she didn't know they had them there.  I think that might be the one color she didn't have!  Well, it's a good thing I told her because within days she posted this pic.  And she's posted this shirt styled in two other amazing ways since this post.  Can you believe that I haven't even worn mine yet? But I will.

And here is Shanna rocking her black and white Gingham.  I'm learning from the best apparently.  This girl is so fashionable that she's in the running to be the first official US Wallis Blogger Ambassador.  She's in 1st place!  You can vote for her here

And that my friends is how blogging is bad for your budget.  I do believe the evidence that I have presented speaks for itself and proves that this kind of domino shopping effect is absolutely sweeping the blog world.  You better watch out.  Those fashion bloggers are dangerous!

Exhibit D:

See anything you like here?  Who knows who's posting what tomorrow.  I hate to say it but there is an excellent chance that you have already fallen victim to blogging budget busting or that you will be next.  In fact, I've been struck again.  I bought some red skinny jeans two weeks ago...something I would have never considered even buying before!  Thanks again Shanna!  All I can say is DON'T break the bank and DO exercise some measure of self control. As much as we'd like to we can't buy everything! I love checking out blogger fashions as opposed to fashion magazines or runways because it's much more accessible and realistically presented to me.  Their influence has inspired quite a few shopping episodes but as long as I'm only spending what I can afford that's okay.  It's fun to like what I see in my closet and get excited about getting dressed.  I will never be a fashionista like some of these ladies but I think my wardrobe choices have definitely improved since I've started blogging and I like that...even if my bank account doesn't!

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How I Celebrate April Fool's Day

I really couldn't have asked for a better Birthday weekend.  Five day staycation.  The weather was perfect and filled with simple things that I enjoy and a lot of me time.  Friday was Yoga in the morning, a coffee shop in the afternoon where I made some good progress on my novel and happy hour in the evening.  All things I love.

Saturday I woke up and cleaned house while Mj was at football and then we went to a local Farmers Market down the street.  It was a really small one so there weren't a ton of booths but so many of them had things that we wanted.  We went expecting to buy some fruit but ended up finding a whole lot more then that plus, eating some delicious foods too.  We might go there again for lunch next weekend!

Me and my nephew
My Chocolate on Chocolate Birthday Cake from Ralph's Grocery Store
My mom, sister and nephew came down and spent most of the day with us.  We spent some time outside in the backyard enjoying the sun and then went to dinner at Sammy's Woodfired Pizza.  I hadn't been there in a really long time.  I'm not sure why because their Pizza is really good.  All of our eyes were bigger then our stomachs.  We each ordered an appetizer when we found out they were 1/2 off and then ended up taking more food home in boxes then we actually ate in the restaurant.  But that's okay because we love left overs.  I've had so many Birthday's that having my mom, sister and Mj sing Happy Birthday to me felt kinda lame so I skipped it.  I did not however opt out of cake, ice cream and presents.  I got the same chocolate cake that we had on my Mom's Birthday because it was just that good.

Clinique eyeliner from my lil' sister

Mom, me, my sister

I'm an April Fool's baby.  Mj was at work so I spent all day Monday on my own.  I went to the gym first thing in the morning and did one very sweaty hour on the elliptical.  I was so excited to use my new Polar FT4 Heart Rate Monitor that Mj got me for my Birthday.  Then I went into recovery and relaxation mode with a manicure pedicure.  My nails were a raggedy hot mess.  It's been way longer then I care to admit since the last time they had any grooming.  My toes are this really cool pearly grey color.  I'd show them to you except I hate my feet.  I stopped over at Starbucks for some coffee and blogging time.  Then, I went over to the spa for an amazing 1 hour facial.  My skin was glowing and I felt so relaxed when I walked out of there.   Dinner was left over five cheese Pizza from Sammy's and wine.  I even fit in a random Indy chick flick.
Started the day with the gym //  New Polar FT4 HRM // 532 calories burned on the Elliptical

Nails Did // Blogging at Starbucks // Fresh from my facial // Left over's for dinner
It was a leisurely day where I had time for everything I wanted to do because the only thing on the agenda was ME.  There was no traffic.  No rushing around.  No fatigue.  No stiff neck and back from sitting at a desk in front of a computer for eight hours.  Just me in my yoga pants and flip flops wearing no make up with my hair slicked back in a wet bun and a day totally committed to doing whatever the hell I wanted when I wanted to do it.  Working on your Birthday is for the birds.  I am so glad I skipped out on it and focused on me instead.

I'm NEVER going back to work.  Now that's an April Fool's Day joke.
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