Friday, January 31, 2014

Do You Ever Go Alone To The Movies?

A few weeks ago, the guy I am dating (I use that term so fact...let's call it friending...and I even use that term let's just say this guy I know...that's better) asked me to go see the Anchorman II movie.  This is by far his favorite movie.  He references it all the time and has been talking about the sequel for all of the months I've known him.

But he asked me last minute and I couldn't go (I've never seen the first one though so I wasn't bent out of shape not to see the sequel).

Last weekend I asked him how the Anchorman II movie was?

His response, "I didn't go.  I'll just watch it on blue ray when it comes out."

I was all, what-huh-why?  It's your favorite movie!  Why didn't you go?

He said he didn't have anyone to go with.

To which I replied, "Why didn't you just go by yourself, though?"

And then he made the face.  The most disgusted and horrified face I've ever seen.  He was all, OMG I would NEVER EVER go to a movie by myself!!!  NEVER!  And then more of the face.

I started giggling a little.  I just thought it was the oddest reaction ever given that at the time we were walking out of a movie where we didn't talk, touch, hold hands or anything else that required a buddy.  I was like, well I would have just gone by myself.

More of his horrified face and comments.

I then said I think it's normal to go to a movie alone.  I mean, what's wrong with it?  You don't talk to anyone anyway.

He then went into how it was soooo weird and I was so weird and he would never ever ever do that and on and on and on. know...more of the face.

In the car he then went on and on about how he's going home to see mommy (my words...not his) yet again this coming weekend and the one after that (despite the fact that he was just home for three straight weeks).  He has no issues about driving across the state at least two weekends a month to cuddle his mommy but sitting in a dark movie theater to watch your favorite movie is weird.  Um...OK. can see why this isn't going anywhere.

But do answer me this.  Do you ever go to the movies alone?  And if not, do you agree that it's weird?  I really want the truth here because I think it's perfectly normal to go by yourself if you really want to see something.  But perhaps I'm uninformed...

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Serious Storms In Atlanta

Yesterday afternoon, Bestie sent me a series of texts about how bad the weather was in Atlanta.  How her friends were leaving their cars on the side of the road to walk to get their kids.

As I hadn't watched the news yet, I was all, OMG how much snow do y'all have?!  {I was envisioning feet and feet.}

I then turned on the news and my local weather man said something about how the "snow in Atlanta is paralyzing.  And by paralyzing, they have an inch."

I am seriously still laughing.  It was so dry and funny the way he said it.

But then later in the night I got on Facebook and saw that scores of friends had been on the road for five or more hours trying to get the 5-15 miles home.  Wow!  I saw on the news that kids are stuck at schools, buses can't drive, and five year olds are camping out with loving teachers over night.  How scary for all involved!

And I mean, I do get it.  It's not about the amount of snow, but the infrastructure to handle it.  We've had several hurricanes up here in NY/VT over the last few years and they too have torn the states apart because no one is prepared for those fluke storms.  {Though I think it's super questionable that schools weren't closed all day yesterday as they've been talking about this storm for a week.}

So at midnight I checked FB again.  My former step sister-in-law {and as she is now a former via a divorce, she is the only member of that family with whom I speak...isn't it ironic!}, was on hour TWELVE of trying to drive the one hour home.  She would have given up but her 15 year old daughter was home alone and sick.  So she just couldn't give up trying to get to her.  *But in her 14th hour, her road closed.  Then her car slid as she tried to turn around.  Her boyfriend came to get her and she is re-attempting in the AM.*  Another friend took exactly 12.5 hours to get home too.  A high school friend, after nearly 12 hours of trying, parked on the side of 75, walked a mile to Publix, where she spent the night in the juice aisle on a bag of rice.  For which she was incredible grateful.  I actually have many friends who parked and walked a few miles home.  I could go on and on.  As I am sure y'all can too.

I am just so stunned!  And nervous for the news because I imagine there will be a slew of tragic accidents that resulted from the storm chaos last night too.

Let this be a wake up call to all of us {myself included} to keep a little emergency kit in our cars.  I normally have one, but don't this year.  It usually includes a squeezy, a bottle of water {even if it freezes- I still think it is good to have}, a Lara Bar, flashlight, and a pair of socks.  It's the bare minimum really.  But I often wear normal shoes {Tory Burch Flats} and if I was stuck walking a mile to a grocery store, I know I would be mighty grateful to have a warm pair of socks in my car.  I'm adding this little kit {and it seriously is so small} to my trunk today.  And sending out lots of positive thoughts to all of my family and friends down south.

Stay safe and warm...even if it means crashing in the juice aisle on a rice bag for the night!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Independent Film: Blood Brother

Have you seen or heard of the film Blood Brother?  It was on PBS's Independent Lens series recently but there are also showings nation-wide.  If you have not yet seen it, please do yourself a favor and find a way to make that happen!

The film is about a young guy, Rocky Braat, who sells everything he owns and quits his job to move to India, where he lives with and cares for women and children living with HIV and AIDS.  He becomes the ever-stable, always human, loving, will move mountains to care for his family, big brother, best friend and father to these kids.  Rocky's goal seems to be to make sure every human knows they are worthy of love.  It's beautiful!  What makes the story even richer is that it is filmed by his best friend, who also adds a special layer to the overall story too.  

I sincerely hope everyone finds a way to see this film.  It will stir your heart in great ways.  

And if you have already seen it, what did you think?  Did you too want to up and move to India with Rocky?  

Friday, January 24, 2014

I'm Tired Of Dating

Y'all...I am so tired of dating.  And trying to date.

It's exhausting.  Sometimes it's fun.  Sometimes it's not.  And lately, it's just been weird.

So I'm on a popular dating website.  Again.  But my luck has not been great.

But I signed up for three months and made myself promise to really give it and the options presented to me a fair shake.  And I totally have.  I mean, if there is even a remote possibility of a connection, I have sent them the first communication.  I've been rather proud of myself in that regard.

Things started out really promising.  The first two weeks were great.  But then things sort of fizzled.  And then...well then they just got weird.  {I wish so badly I could show you photos but I am sure that is breaking a million morality rules so I can't post them.  Y'all will just have to settle for taking my word for things.}

Despite setting specific age and location ranges, I keep getting matched with men who live many states away and are over the age of 60.  And I mean, I am trying to be open.  But I'm not that open.  I want kids, not grandkids.  The pickin's, it seems, are mighty slim around these parts!

I think I am going to break this post up into a two parts as to not make it a novel so let me today just tell you about my surprise last night....

So the photo above is my profile photo.  I list my passions as volunteering and gardening.  I note that I like dogs, cooking, wearing pearls and am a positive person.  It's all very normal stuff.  So last night, I get the following note from a guy with whom I initiated the first round of communication {remember that I initiate communication with maybe 25% of the matches- that's a huge percentage- I'm really trying here}.

Hi, and thank you for your interest in my profile. Unfortunately after reading your profile I just don't think we have enough in common- without sounding like a jerk, many of your interests are much the same as my ex-wife, and I ignored these differences in our personalities and tried to overcome them for a decade until she called it quits and pretty much destroyed my life, which I am trying to slowly re-build.

Here's the thing...he could have just been a normal person and not replied or blocked me.  That's what I do all the time.  Sometimes even after sending a first communication, I think better and then hide them.  But instead, he sent me this note.  Fan-freakin-tastic.  I just blocked him and moved on but seriously...what the what is that about?!

So that's what I'm dealing with.

It makes it harder and harder to keep trying and to keep putting myself out there when all I get is a computer screen full crazies.  I don't want to give up.  But honestly, it's exhausting sometimes!

Next week you get to learn about Catman II and Mr. Commune and High Maintenance Sports Guy.  Good times.  Stay tuned!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Downton Abbey: A Review

Oh heart breaks for her.  I really hope she tells Mr. Bates.  And perhaps even Lady Mary.  Keeping that inside is going to eat her alive.  Isn't it remarkable that little has changed between the days of Downton and today when it comes to the shame and destruction of sexual assult?!

Tom.  My second favorite character, just behind Anna.  So is it a secret that he used to be downstairs and now he's upstairs?  I didn't realize that until last week that it wasn't widely known.  Interesting!  I hope he has a little love interest, not in the form of a Downton employee, this year.  I also hope we get to see the kids more often.  Quick question...does he have a valet?  I don't recall seeing one but I can't imagine he is without one.

Lady Mary gets proposed to a week after meeting Lord Gillingham.  What the what?!  He's in love with her after what...three days of conversation?  Two of which were at her parent's house?  Filled with a dozen other guests.  Crazy.

Rose.  I have read that she is a least favorite character of many but I've liked her since day one.  She's feisty and perky.  She lightens up the show.  And her wardrobe is fantastic!

Edith continues to bore me to tears.  Yawn.  They killed off the wrong sister.  Bring back Sybil!

And finally, I will leave you with something a girlfriend posted last week on Facebook.  I will never understand why they can't just dress themselves.  I've been so caught up in the show for years that I never really pondered that they in fact, cannot dress themselves.  How bizarre!  I wonder at what point it finally became in fashion to put on your own pants?  Oh the burden!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Nun Gives Birth In Italy

I've had a weird week.  But not as weird as this nun who gave birth in Italy.  Yup...her week was definitely stranger than mine!


According to the story, she didn't even know she was pregnant.  But as she is 31, I have to assume she was aware, at the very least, she could be pregnant.  Right?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Time For A Change

Change, for me, is difficult.

It scares me.

But do you remember when I said that this year I am going to stop letting fear hold me back?

Well step one starts now.

It was scary.  It was far less scary to just keep things status quo.  To continue on my current path.  To not rock the boat.  To suck it up in the name of not losing friends.

But I have been miserable.  And upset, uncomfortable and stressed to new degrees.

So I took a HUGE step and stepped down.

I know the ripple effect will not be easy.  And it won't likely bring much support.  But I have total peace about my decision.  For me, it was the right thing to do.

That doesn't mean it's not scary.  Good vibes are welcome as I walk into the lion's den tonight!


Downton Abbey Discussion

I assume by now that everyone has watched the latest episode of Downton Abbey.  But if you have not, stop reading right now.  I certainly don't want to be the one to spoil it for you.

Now that the warning is out of the way...let's get down to business.

What the hell was that, Julian Fellowes?

You win points for me never seeing that coming.  You lose points for raping Anna!  And you lose more points for then cutting away and going to happy scenes for what felt like forever before showing us sweet Anna (my favorite character since day one) again.

I wanted to vomit!  All those people there who love and adore Anna, including a doctor, and no one to help her.

I asked this on Facebook but will ask it here too.  Do y'all think Anna's pregnant now?  I do.  And won't know who the baby daddy is.

Wretched.  Truly just a horrible TV moment.

I can't even discuss the rest of the episode...  Even though there was much to discuss.

Except to point out that Lord Gillingham looks to be back next week.  Does that mean his rapist valet will be back too?  

Ugh...I'm feeling ill about it again.  So.  Damn.  Disturbing.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

What Your Favorite Drink Says About Your Politics


I found chart so interesting.  And for me, so accurate!  Is it accurate for you, too?  Click the image to see it larger.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Sam Simon, Simpson's Creator, Gives It All Away

I recently read an article about Sam Simon, co-creator of The Simpson's.  He's dying of colon caner, with only a few months left to live.  But he is ensuring that his legacy lives on though his charitable passions.  He is directing that all of his royalties from The Simpson's, which are estimated to be in the tens of millions yearly, be given to his favorite charities.  Forever.

Such a beautiful gesture to give for a lifetime, even after his sadly comes to an end.

The world needs more generosity like this!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Lilly Pulitzer Bedding

First Impression

I just bought a new duvet so I can't justify yet another set of new linens.  But I really really really want this one!  It's one of my all time favorite Lilly Pulitzer fabric prints.  It's also on sale right now...

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Favorite Ways To Save Money Without Using Coupons

Yesterday I listed my top four favorite coupon blogs.  Which are awesome and resources I use every week.  But there are other ways to save too, that don't include coupons.  I know many people are not fans of coupon use for a variety of reasons.  To each her own, right?  So this post touches on a few of my favorite coupon-free tips.

GET A SECOND FREEZER is my absolute top tip to save money!  Even if you never clip a single coupon, the investment will pay for itself the first year.  I wrote get instead of buy because you can often find them on Craigslist or from a neighbor moving.  I purchased mine years ago (it's a small chest freezer) on sale at Home Depot.

Here's how a second freezer saves money...

  • Meat.  Meat is one of the most expensive things in the grocery store.  And while I certainly have days without eating any meat, in general, I eat it fairly often.  If you have a family, the need only increases.  But so does the price.  But every grocery store has a few really rock bottom sales each year on almost every variety of meat.  When those sales happen, even if you don't have a single coupon to use, the prices are at their very lowest for the year.  If you have a second freezer, you are able to buy extra and freezer for later use.  At Thanksgiving, I always buy at least one extra turkey to cook in the spring or summer because the prices are so low in November.  At Easter, I try to remember to buy an extra ham to cook later too.  If my store has a random chicken sale, I stock up (when I have freezer space).  Ditto on lunch meats.  I don't buy them often but when I do, I freeze portions because I am picky about lunch meat staying fresh.
  • Vegetables.  We all use frozen veggies, right?  I assume everyone uses them.  Well the same happens with meat- they are of course on sale regularly.  My freezer space above my refrigerator is very limited.  But with a second freezer, I am always able to have a stack of frozen veggies ready to use any time.  I also freeze my extra veggies from my summer garden.  I could not do that, due to space, without a second freezer.
  • Dairy.  Did you know you can freeze milk?  You can!  Just be sure to pour out about a cup of milk first, as the container needs space for the frozen liquid to expand.  But don't stop at milk.  You can freeze with great success cheese, coffee creamer and of course, ice cream.  
  • Freezer Meals.  Not only do freezer meals save you time in the long run, but they also save you money.  It's less expensive to eat at home, you are feeding your family whole foods on a budget, and having them in the freezer makes you less tempted to eat out.
  • Bread.  Bread freezes great.  Your favorite brands, including gluten free, and homemade breads all freeze wonderfully.  Simply defrost on the counter before using.
MEAL PLAN.  I try to plan my meals out (I just plan dinners typically) two weeks at a time.  Even if I don't adhere to it exactly (which is what happens most weeks), it still saves me both time and money.  First, it encourages me to cook once and use for several meals.  So if say I roast a chicken on a Tuesday, I will make enchiladas using leftovers on Thursday and soup on Friday.  Three different meals that don't at all taste the same but use the same protein so there's no waste.  Second, I then ensure that I have everything I need for two week's worth of dinners at the start of that two week period.  Again, even if I skip a planned meal because I eat out with friends, I know I have the ingredients on hand anyway.  It's especially helpful during these crazy winter storms!  Third, I am also less tempted to pick up food to eat instead of making it at home when I have a plan and purchased ingredients.  And fourth, it's not only less expensive to eat dinner at home, the leftovers make for free but delicious lunches.  

STOCK YOUR PANTRY.  Even if I have the ingredients and a plan in place, there are always nights when I am tired (or..ahem...lazy) and decide to go rogue.  I always have pasta, sauce (homemade from my garden thankyouverymuch), meat in the freezer (leftover turkey kicks pasta or eggs up a notch), eggs in the fridge, etc.  I don't eat many canned foods (simply personal preference) but I always have a can or two of clams or crab or artichoke hearts to add to dishes in the pantry.  Now even if you purchase these items not on sale, which is silly but let's just pretend, many of these tend to be lesser expensive items.  However, if you don't have them in your pantry and "just run in quickly" to the grocery store to pick them up, you are a likely to pick up a lot more than simply one box of pasta and one jar of sauce.  But really, if you use sales plus coupons, you can get a lot of these basics for free or nearly free pretty regularly.  

FREEZE THE EXTRAS.  As I said, about twice a year I will roast a large turkey.  I'm not married and I have no children.  So I hope it's obvious that I don't eat that turkey all at one time and all by myself.  I eat it for one or two meals and then that's it.  I take the time to pick apart the meat, bag it up, clearly label it, and freeze it for later use.  Ditto on chicken or turkey stock.  And rice (a HUGE time saver and extra super awesome when you suddenly don't feel well).  I could go on and on but you get the idea.  Cook once, eat several times is my motto.  Cook two bags of rice at one time and then use it for months.  Why make extra effort for yourself?!  And if you get into this habit, you are more likely to plan meals to eat at home instead of going out.  It all circles back, my friends!

COOK YOUR OWN MEALS.  I know this sounds obvious but you would be surprised how it just doesn't occur to people how much is wasted eating out.  This isn't to say you shouldn't go out to eat.  But if you are trying to spend less (be it to meet basic needs or save for a trip or house or to have more to spend on pretty shoes), this should top your list of things to do first.  Even if you only shop at Trader Joes, it is almost always less expensive to eat the equivalent meal prepared by you at home.

BE BRAND FLEXIBLE.  Before I started couponing, I would only buy Tide.  For no real reason to be honest.  I never thought about it really.  I have sensitive skin and assumed it was the best.  Did you know that Tide is the most expensive laundry detergent out there?  And the sales are never as good as other brands.  The coupons are lesser too.  So I tried a bottle of Shout and a bottle of ALL.  Eventually I tried Purex Free too.  Guess what?  I like all of them just as much as I like Tide.  Arm & Hammer is great too.  I honestly found zero difference.  So guess what I buy now?  I buy Whateversonsale.  It's my favorite brand!  The Target brand (Up) equivalent to Advil...which you can often get for $0.50 or less for the just as effective as Advil.  True story.  While I prefer solid white paper towels, designs aren't going to kill me now and then.  This doesn't mean I don't have my favorite brands.  Nor does it mean I don't have a few products that I refuse to budge on...even if I pay significantly more than the competitor product.  We all have those things.  But once in a while, it's worth a try to find out you do in fact love another conditioner just as much as your normal brand.  

BUY ON SALE.  This sort of ties in all of the above.  But some people might not be aware that sales, for everything, are done in cycles.  Something like turkeys and hams are done once or twice a year.  That's it if you are looking for the rock bottom prices.  Other things like make-up, peanut butter (and just about every other non-fresh food in the grocery store), and laundry detergent go on sale every 6-12 weeks. Some products are seasonal.  Fresh fruits and veggies are least expensive when locally in season.  Sunscreen goes on sale in the summer.  Cold medicine in the winter.  This is a good time of year to buy tissues for almost nothing because hello...cold and flu season.  Pay attention to sale cycles.  If you just missed a big sale on eggs or pasta, make a note of when your store puts them back on that same sale.  Count the weeks in between.  My guess is it will be about six weeks for staple-type items.  So when it next goes on sale, buy what you will need for six weeks.  Will you use two jars of peanut butter in that time period?  Do you normally just buy one jar at a time?  Boom...your first foray into savings right there if you pick up the second jar!  It's less rocket science and more just paying attention to what you use and need.

DON'T BUY WHAT YOU DON'T USE.  When I first started couponing, I often bought items that I didn't even like simply because they were "free."  But I put that word in quotes because unless it's food, I still had to pay tax on the shelf price of the items.  And while small, if the point is to save and I won't use the item, I really just made an unplanned donation to the government.  I often share that in those early days, I found a deal to get air fresheners for free.  But as noted, I of course had to pay tax on them.  Yes, tax was small.  Under a buck for the four cans.  But I loathe air freshener.  So that was a totally dumb purchase.  My exception to this rule are donations.  And yes, I did donate the air freshener.  But as I don't consider that a life staple, I no longer make those purchases when free.  But I will always buy food (of any variety) when I can get it for free or cheap.  Hunger is such a huge issue and I don't think those cases are the time to discuss the health merits of Pop Tarts if I can score a box randomly for free.  Also on this list are diapers, wipes and baby formula.  No baby should have to suffer for lack of funds.  Period.  Feminine hygiene products and medicine are also on my buy when free to donate list.  I feel passionately about those few items.  But beyond that, if it's not a product I want to use (not can use, but want to and plan to use) or not on my short donate list, I simply don't buy it.  Free isn't free when you have to pay tax or have to find space to store something you don't want but brought home anyway.  

So those are my tips to saving even without using coupons.  I hope a few encourage those interested in saving this year.  And if you have any tips that I didn't include on ways to save without using coupons, please add them to the comments.  I love learning new ideas to spend more wisely!  Less at the grocery store means more for the Lilly sale!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Which Downton Abbey Character Best Fits Your Personality?


I'm an INFP.  Always have been.  And according to this (click the image to see larger view), Matthew and I are kindred spirits.  I'll take it.

Which one are you?  Have you already watched the current season or are you watching them on PBS like me?

Favorite Money Saving Coupon Blogs

Swagbucks is always my first source for coupons.

Two years ago I began seriously using coupons.  I even started a blog about it, though that was short lived as it was too much to keep up with.  I try to keep my coupon/deal posts on here to a minimum but do bring you favorites from time to time.  But please don't let my lack of discussion on the subject indicate that I am not loyal to spending less and loving it.

But I thought I'd share my favorite blogs to learn about the latest and greatest deals.  These bloggers, all of whom have turned it into a business to varying degrees, work hard to make sure they are sharing the best deals with links to coupons, etc.  They do all the work for me.  Why reinvent the wheel when I can just borrow theirs?  I should also note that I follow all of these on Facebook and/or Twitter.  When they post deals, I just click the link if I am interested.  I find it easier than regularly reading the blogs.

I love coupons!

A Super Savvy Saver.  Sheila is by far my favorite coupon blogger.  She lives very local to me, shops at the local stores, etc.  Plus, she's so sweet!  But she covers the big drug stores and some big box stores, too.  She also does giveaways each month- I don't see that on any of the other blogs as they are all now big business.  Sheila runs her blog by herself.  But I suspect that even if she hired a helper, the blog would still remain personal and blog-like.  Her posts all have photos, too!  I actually read most of her blog.  She's my one exception to the "follow mostly by Facebook" rule.

The Krazy Coupon Lady.  Ah, it drives me insane to see words spelled with incorrect letters.  I suspect they regret that too at this point.  But that aside, I think these two ladies are sort of the Cinderella story of the coupon blog world.  They were stay at home moms, started a little blog, worked hard, went on a few TV programs, and now their husband's stay home while they have this huge out of the house company with lots of employees.  I just think that's so cool!  They are also my favorite resource for drug store and big box store deals.  They are very consistent with posting these deals.  They also cover many of the main grocery store chains in the US.

I Am That Lady.  Last year she lost me- the blog went from feeling personal (like Sheila's) to big business.  Everything above the fold is advertising.  But the content seems to be moving back to having a more personal touch.  And she does a great job of highlighting deals on things like toys, etc, in addition to drug stores.  She is local to the state of NY so she too covers the stores where I frequently shop.

Budget Savvy Diva.  As a person, I am sort of baffled by this woman.  Her voice really stumps me.  I also can't figure out what she does with the vast amounts of Bath and Body Works crap (among other things) she buys all the time.  But she posts ALL THE TIME and often covers deals to drug stores that I never see on other sites during the week.  She doesn't post store match-ups like the other three I listed above.  Instead she posts one or two posts every hour (seriously...that's her tag line).  She's worth following on Facebook.

So those are my top four blogs.  I keep up with a few more on Facebook but these are by far my most frequent visits each week.  They have really helped me to score some great deals and save a lot of money.

Tomorrow I will share a few of my very favorite tips for saving money that don't necessarily include using coupons!  Stay tuned...

Monday, January 6, 2014

My Word For The Year. Well...Really It's Two Words.

I've read a lot of blog posts about picking one word to focus on all year and really took them to heart.  Actually, I first heard about this idea last year but it took me this long to come up with my own year long one {ahem...forgive me...two} word mantra.

Ready?  Could you care less?  Probably.  Ha.

No Fear.

Fear is my greatest enemy in life.

Truly.  It holds me back from so many things.

I am fearful of failure.  Fearful of hurting feelings.  Fearful of being too boastful.  Fearful of being too bold.  Fearful of not living up to expectations- both my own and of others- or often what I imagine are those of others.  Fearful of disappointment.  Fearful that I will get to a point when I don't know what to do.

But in reality...

I fail all the bloody time.  I hurt feelings all the time too {I am seriously in an epidemic of people un-friending me on Facebook.}.  Sometimes I am too boastful and sometimes I am too bold.  I pretty much never live up to my own expectations.  And truth be told, I have no idea what others expect of me most of the time.  I disappoint myself and others regularly.  And not a week goes by that I don't stop dead in my tracks scrambling to figure out what to do next as life is just full of surprises.

So if all that happens anyway, my world-o-fear isn't really getting me anywhere.

I think this is going to be a huge personal and internal challenge for me.  But I am going to try to repeat over and over and over again my new, year-long mantra of living fiercely with NO FEAR.  I am going to try very hard to push through that enormous wall that cages me in on a regular basis.  I am going to try to be brave and just do it and remember that you only live once and all that other stuff.  I am going to learn this year to not live in fear and I hope that the outcome proves to be positive.  Even if a few more people un-friend me on Facebook before the year ends...

This year I will live fiercely with NO FEAR!

Do you have a word or mantra for the year?  Have you ever used one before?  Any tips?  If not, it's never too late to think one up! 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Lisa Whelchel's Arranged Marriage

Normally I post light- if at all- on weekends.  But I came across this old (written in 2001) article last night and I read it twice.  I have never read such a sad, train-wreck, confirms my distrust of fundamentalist religions, did I mention sad article in my entire life.

This was written ('s old...way back on '01) by Lisa Whelchel.  You know, from Facts of Life?  Who then became a super conservative religious writer, in the media regularly for her controversial parenting tips.  (Though I admit I don't think hot sauce is really all that big of a deal.  But to each their own.  Call it controversial or a calling from God or good parenting or bad parenting or not the point of this post anyway.)  Anyway, I just sort of happened upon this story.  I have not kept up with her- she looks fantastic though.  This is Lisa's own story of how she married her (now divorced from) husband.


I’m so thankful that I waited to follow the Good Shepherd’s voice to find the man I was supposed to marry. I must admit, though, that it didn’t happen quite the way I imagined it would. I mean, come on, what daughter wants her Father to choose a husband for her?
Steve, and I became friends when I was assigned to a prayer group that he, as a pastor, was appointed to oversee. His boss, Pastor Jack Hayford, had organized “affinity” groups in our church to provide a safe place where members who were in the entertainment industry could be open and transparent about their prayer needs. Our group consisted of four married couples, Michael and Stormie Omartian, Gabri Ferrer and Debbie Boone, Dominic Allen and Charlene Tilton, and Bruce Sudano and Donna Summer. Other than Donna’s manager, Susan Munao and the other pastor, Minnie Whaley, who was an elder in every sense of the word, Steve and I were the only single people in the group. Looking back, I can see that it was a set-up right from the start.
Our group met once a month, and every month I had the same prayer request. At twenty-two I was ready to get married and start a family, and I wanted to find God’s choice of a husband for me. Steve and the others were dutiful to pray. I should have known something was up when Steve asked if he could lay hands on me and pray. Just kidding!
But not entirely.
Over the next two years, Steve and I began to spend a lot of time together, and we became good friends. (Interpretation: I was not at all attracted to him.) Every so often, he would take me out for “the talk”—the one where, because of his integrity and desire not to take advantage of his position as a pastor, he would confess that he was feeling more for me than friendship. I would assure him that although I thought he was a really nice guy (girls, you know what I mean), I was not feeling those same stirrings. We would then resolve to continue going out as friends as long as it didn’t get too uncomfortable for either of us.
I had a plumb deal. I had someone to go to dinner and the movies with, and my boyfriend wasn’t jealous. Oops, did I forget to mention that I had a boyfriend? I’d better fill you in. I had been dating a contemporary Christian singer/musician who was on the road a lot. One weekend when he was home, we were out on a date, and I felt I had to tell him about my relationship with Steve, just to keep everything up front and—even though he wasn’t the Jewish guy—kosher. I mentioned that Steve and I had been spending a lot of time together and said that because he was so “safe,” he was the logical person to escort me to functions when my minstrel was out of town. I watched my music man from across the table as he struggled to place the name with a face, “Steve, Steve.… Oh yeah, the church organist! I don’t have to worry about him.”
So now I had all my little ducks in a row. Well, actually, I was not so sure about one little duckie—Steve’s feelings. He was so sweet; I just couldn’t bear the thought of his feelings getting hurt because of unrequited love. This time I initiated “the talk.” As gingerly as possible, I suggested that we not spend as much time together. I encouraged him not to take it personally; after all, I was planning to break up with my boyfriend as well.
I explained that I was going through a personal revival with the Lord. I was even considering joining YWAM (Youth with a Mission) on a mission trip for a year after the last taping of The Facts of Life. I told him that it would be best if I just concentrated on my relationship with God for a while. There. I had said it.
I relaxed back in my chair at the same time Steve leaned forward in his. He looked me straight in the eye and declared, “Lisa, I could be good for you.”
Where did that come from? Talk about out of the blue. Who had sneaked into the restaurant, kidnapped “Mr. Milquetoast,” and replaced him with “Mr. Big”? I was speechless, which is saying a lot. (Actually, it’s not really saying anything, is it? Oh, never mind.) I didn’t know how to reply, especially since there was something incredibly attractive about what Steve had just done. I decided that it was best not to respond at all, so we ordered dessert and pretended that the entire conversation hadn’t happened.
Many weeks passed, Steve and I as friend-ly as ever, while I continued to wholeheartedly pursue my relationship with God. I registered for a seminar at our church conducted by a visiting evangelist. The last session was to be an anointing service. There were hundreds of people in attendance, and she was praying for them one at a time, so the rest of us sat waiting quietly on the Lord in worship.
I had my hands lifted to the Lord as a gesture of praise when I felt the sensation of a gentle weight descend upon me. I recognized this feeling as the presence of the Holy Spirit. And because this kind of thing doesn’t happen every day, or even every year, I knew enough to pay attention. As I waited expectantly, the thought popped into my head, Would you ever consider marrying Steve Cauble? I knew this was God talking because it was the last thing I would have ever thought to think on my own. My knee-jerk response was: No. Are you kidding?
I shrugged the Holy Spirit off my shoulders and got back to the business of worship. But the thought would not go away. So I purposed to ponder it in my heart, but I certainly was never going to tell Steve about it.
The next day Steve was leaving town for a week, so after the seminar I visited Steve at his house. We chatted as he packed; then it was time for me to head home. Just as I turned to leave, he took my hand, led me to sit down on the couch, and looked at me with unusual urgency. “Listen,” he implored. “Before you leave, I have to ask you one question. Would you ever consider marrying me?”
Wow! This guy doesn’t say much, but when he does…it’s a doozy. I laughed nervously. “Funny you should mention that,” I said. Then I told him what had happened earlier at church, and we agreed that this was probably something we should pray about. Yeah, I know, pretty discerning, huh?
In my opinion, this called for more than praying—this called for fasting! If you know anything at all about me, you know that something has to be mighty serious for me to think about giving up food. But considering the fact that I had suddenly lost my appetite, it wasn’t such a tough decision.
Proverbs 11:14 says that safety comes with a multitude of counselors, and during the following week, I met with every pastor or elder I could schedule an appointment with. They all loved Steve and me and thought this was a fabulous idea. But by the time Steve got back from his trip, I was more confused than ever. How could this be God’s will? I mean, weren’t you supposed to want to kiss the guy you were going to marry? And I really wanted children. How was I going to do that?
We concluded that what we really needed was council from the Big Kahuna himself, Pastor Jack. He would know what we should do. So Steve called him up, and he invited us up to his house after the Sunday evening service.
We arrived just as Pastor Jack and Annas’s favorite television show, “Murder She Wrote,” was beginning. We had to sit there trying to act interested in a show that anyone could figure out within the first five minutes. I wanted to shout, “The butler did it! Now, can’t we get on with something a little less trivial, like the rest of my life?” But I stifled my impatience—thank goodness I’m an actress.
Mercifully the program ended, and it was time to receive from the hand of the master. We gave a full account of all that had transpired over the past few months. We covered the friendship aspect of our relationship; we addressed our age difference (Steve is thirteen years older than me); we talked about what we thought the Lord might be saying; and we reiterated our desire, above all, to do God’s will. The only thing I failed to mention was the tiny detail of the lack of physical attraction on my part.
Pastor Jack paused just long enough to break into a broad smile before he delivered his blessing, “Sounds good to me,” he beamed. “I think you should go for it!” What? That’s it? No alliterated three-point sermon? No big words that I would have to look up when I got home? I was stunned. Before I could react, Anna was offering me a piece of strawberry cheesecake, and we were talking about Jessica Fletcher and that stupid television show again. Help! I’m on a freight train, and I can’t get off.
Little did I know that this “little engine that couldn’t” was about to become a bullet train. Steve left the next day to accompany Pastor Jack to the Foursquare denomination’s district conference. After Pastor Jack was introduced, but before he began to preach, a huge grin burst across his face. Steve was like a son to him and he couldn’t wait any longer to act the proud papa. “Before I begin,” he began, “I have some happy news to announce. Our very own Steve Cauble is engaged to be married to Lisa Whelchel.” Gasps and applause erupted from the crowd.
Let me make sure you have the full picture. Steve knew full well that immediately after the benediction, the Foursquare grapevine would swing into action. It just so happened that Steve’s parents are Foursquare pastors themselves. So he sneaked out of the service and raced to a payphone to call me. I could tell from his voice that something was wrong as he tiptoed on the other line, “Uh…Lisa…you may want to get a hold of your mother before someone else informs her of our impending marriage.”
“Come again,” I said, hoping we just had a really bad connection and I hadn’t actually heard him say that we were engaged and I didn’t even know about it. He tried to explain that there apparently had been a little miscommunication: We obviously hadn’t made it clear to Pastor Jack that we had gone to him for his counsel, not his blessing. “Yowser, Bowser!” he exclaimed.
We hung up and it hit me: I’m engaged to a man who says, “Yowser, Bowser.”
I knew immediately that I would have to leave the church. There was no way I could go through with this. I mean, isn’t there a place in a wedding ceremony where the preacher says, “You may now kiss the bride”? It might be a bit embarrassing if I offered Steve my cheek. No, I would definitely have to leave the church. I realized that I couldn’t continue to attend, knowing that every little old lady I passed in the sanctuary would be whispering, “There goes the Jezebel who broke sweet Steve Cauble’s heart.”
When Steve got back to town, we met for dinner. I anticipated an intense evening of wrestling through our options as we figured out how to clear up this terrible misunderstanding. I was not prepared for how excited Steve was. Did he sincerely believe that just because all of Foursquaredom was thrilled about our engagement that I was too?
Apparently so, because the next thing he said was, “Well, I guess if we are engaged, I ought to buy you a ring.” Why was it so hard for me to say no? Did I really think that I could avoid hurting Steve’s feelings forever by continuing this charade? Sooner or later, I was going to have to do the loving thing and break his heart.
I was able to postpone the inevitable one more time when he said, “My friend Doug bought Christa an engagement ring at the mall. Let’s go look there.” Whew, I was off the hook. The truth is, I’d known for a long time what kind of engagement ring I wanted. I also knew—no offense—that I certainly wasn’t going to find it at the mall. I was sure that it would have to be designed specifically for me. I mean, really now.
As we drove to the mall, I rested secure in my superior taste in jewelry. The man behind the counter asked me if I had anything in particular in mind. “Well, frankly, I do. But I’ve never actually seen the ring; I’ve just imagined it. Perhaps it would help if I drew it.” The gentleman handed me a piece of paper, and I proceeded to draw an emerald-cut diamond in the center surrounded by two triangular, trillion cuts on each side.
The jeweler studied the slip of paper and then reached into the case and pulled out a ring. “You mean this one?” he asked.
There it was—my ring—the one I had never actually seen before. Oh no, I thought. I had drawn it! I couldn’t take it back and say, “Well, no, come to think of it, it was more circular in shape.”
Steve was elated. He whipped out his credit card and bought it on the spot. I’m pretty sure I even heard him say, “Praise the Lord.” But the Lord obviously had nothing to do with this. I mean, God created man and woman; He created the way they created babies. He knows about these things. He surely wasn’t a part of all these “coincidences.”
A few days later I panicked and caught the first flight to Nashville to visit my childhood friend, Michelle. Either she would help me figure out what to do or I could just have my belongings shipped to Tennessee. When I got there I went to the local Christian bookstore and bought every book in the shelf on “how to find the will of God.”
I spent the next three days in bed, alternately pouring over these books and pouring out my heart to God. This had gotten way out of hand and had escalated into a crisis of faith. It was more than an issue of whether Steve was the man I was to marry; this was now about whether God was the God I was to serve.
The way I saw it, either this was all a big joke and God had capriciously manipulated our lives for His own sick entertainment, or this was all my fault for not having the courage to say no or this was God’s plan for my life and I was destined to marry a man for whom I felt very little attraction. To me, all the options were devastating.
Because either my past was all a lie or my future was to be lived as one, I had to find the truth. What did I know for certain? Let’s start at the beginning: Okay, I believe there is a God. I have met Him personally, and He has proven Himself trustworthy in my life many times. I know that I know that He adores me and that He is good through and through. He is stronger than the devil’s schemes, and He is more powerful than circumstances, coincidences, or cowardliness. I could rest in this because I also knew for certain that I had sought His will with a pure heart.
The choice was mine. Was I going to trust God or trust my heart? I knew the decision I had to make, and I felt an unexplainable peace about it. When I boarded a plane home, I was wearing my new engagement ring and carrying the “Now That You Are Engaged” book I had purchased earlier in the week. I figured that since I had decided to marry this man whether the feelings were there or not, I could probably use all the help I could get.
The first suggestion in the book was that I fill out a sheet of paper entitled, “What I love about my fiancĂ©.” I took out a legal pad and began to list all of Steve’s wonderful qualities. There was never a question about how much I admired and respected him, so this was easy. I even recall a time shortly after getting to know Steve when I remarked to a friend, “If the woman who marries Steve Cauble doesn’t realize what a prize she has, I will personally pay her a visit and knock some sense into her.”
Before I realized what was happening to me, somewhere up there around 35,000 feet, I had completed not one, but two legal-size sheets of paper filled with unexaggerated hyperbole extolling the many virtues of Steve Cauble. As I reread my list, something totally unexpected happened.
I fell in love.
When I got off that plane, I ran into my fiancĂ©’s arms and gave him the sloppiest kiss you ever did see!
What do you know that you know that you know about God? Do you believe that He is all-powerful? Do you trust that He is all-good? Is He all-loving and all-holy? These are questions that you need to settle in your heart. There may come a time in your life when the only thing you can count on is the character of God. And that will be enough.

I hope at least a few of y'all read that so we can please discuss.  I mean...where do I even start?  A 20-something tricked or pushed or bullied (take your pick) into marrying a man who was what...35-ish?  To whom she felt zero attraction?  Whom she had to convince herself she was "in love with," which doesn't at all seem like love if you ask me.  Oh the sadness of it all!  Have you ever read of something so bizarre?  I hope that Lisa and Steve are now both able to find true love that excludes misuse of pastoral powers.  

Friday, January 3, 2014

It's Cold. I'm Garden Daydreaming. And Having A Snow Storm Pity Party.

Well it's a good thing my New Year's Resolution wasn't to blog every day as I would have already failed big time.  Actually that's twice been my resolution and I failed both times.  Which is pretty much the only reason I didn't resolve it again this year.

So...if you've watched the are well aware that I am buried under a mountain of snow, here in the North Pole.

It's not charming.  It's not endearing.  It's not fun.  It's not pretty. is always pretty the first day.  But I am not in a pretty mood about it.

It's a pain in my ass is what it is.

It's cold.  And annoying.  And super duper extra un-fun.

And really effing cold.  Yesterday at noon it was one degree.  One.  As in less than two.  ONE!

Today's high is...wait for it...four.  A warm front.

I mean...seriously.  Is that not the dumbest weather report ever?  My personal favorite is when they offer up the "feels like" temperatures.  Because hello, if it feels like it's -15, then it IS -15.  {That's negative 15 degrees y' it it has to warm up 15 degrees to reach zero.  Why go on living at that point?}

I am an absolute grumpy Gus about this snow/cold situation.  The novelty has long worn off.  I am over it.  So stinkin' over it.

I miss this...

Garden on 06.02.13

I miss this even more....

Garden on 09.15.13

And eating these...

Instead, I am sitting inside looking at what was originally said to be 4-6" that quickly turned into 6-10" and then half a day later...opps...let's try 10-15".  And did I mention it's cold?  Single digits that apparently "feel like" negative digits is not warm, y'all!

Seed and garden supply shopping is sort of saving my sanity.  I think.  I don't's a double edge sword.  On one hand I am planning {read: mostly daydreaming}.  On the other hand, I know this is all many months away and it's a little like self-torture.

So what's the snow situation in your neck of the woods?  Did the the Midwest or East Coast storm hit you hard?  Are you in Florida soaking up the sun and making me hate you and your good life choices more and more?  What are your tricks for beating the SAD stir-crazy blues?


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