"We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have". - Frederick Koenig

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pow, Right in the Kisser! - A Visit from Irene

What a weekend!  First it's a category three storm headed straight towards the east coast, then it's a one, then it's a tropical storm, then it's just heavy rain?!?  Though there is no doubt that Irene packed a good one-two punch to some areas, thank goodness she was a fickle beast and managed to spare others.  

Somehow in my corner of the world, in the visit of what we will call 'Hurricane Irene', the power along the eastern shores of Virginia miraculously remained intact while 2 hours inland, we were sitting in the dark with a mess of candles lit as century old monster trees fell all around us taking a spider web of power lines with them.  Though we were not as lucky as some who didn't lose power at all, we are of the fortunate ones in the 5 million houses without power, that had only 33 hours in the dark.  I say ONLY 33 hours, but for me it really felt like it might as well have been 33 days at certain points.  I do not usually do any type of camping very gracefully ... even the urban kind, and this was no exception.  Thanks to all of the windows in our house being painted shut by the previous owners, and a sink clogged with food we were trying to get down the garbage disposal right as the power went out, our house quickly began to smell much like a rotten gym locker room.  This sent even the most timid (me) to sit on the porch, while the more adventurous (Jay) took it upon himself to grill brownies for everyone in the middle of a hurricane.  

While I wasn't out grilling brownies, I was inspired to come up with some future 'Drink of the Moment' ideas for all of you fun folks out there while waiting out the storm (yay!), and the next day, there was nothing more inspiring than wanting to get out of the house and find someplace that offered the modern amenities we have come so fond of having on a daily basis.  Here is what we saw around our historic neighborhood in Richmond's 'Fan District' on our quest for creature comforts.

There were a lot of damaged vehicles due to street parking.  This Jeep actually got off pretty lucky compared to some others I saw.

Monument Avenue

Those houses on Monument Avenue are not small by any stretch.  That tree is just huge.

Monument Avenue

Westbound Monument Avenue

Neighborhood  intersection

Neighborhood intersection across the street from the above shot.
You can see most of the tree that did the damage has been moved to the back right with the top pieces in the foreground.

While things are back up and running at my house, there are still so many folks around the Richmond Metro area, and the entire east coast who are looking at up to another 1-2 weeks before their power/life is restored. Yikes.  Of course, my thoughts especially go out to those who have lost far more than just power, and are still dealing with more flooding to come.  I believe that almost requires a moment of silence, as I could in no way imagine enduring that without thinking that it might be the apocalypse.  Of course, given the events over the past few weeks (swamp fires, east coast earthquakes, and hurricanes in the northeastern US), don't think that hasn't crossed my mind.  

Make sure to enjoy your electricity today!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Clarisonic Challenge, Week 4

Dear Clarisonic Plus,

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!  Not only have you improved my complexion by making it feel cleaner and fresher, you have somehow seemed to turn back the clock making it look healthier and younger with an improved texture, tone AND clarity.  Here I always thought it was moisture creams and drinking jugs of water that made all the difference, but you have proven that a daily exfoliation and deep clean go hand in hand with my hydration and moisturizer.  
No longer do I need to splurge on an expensive facial for my complexion to look and feel great, or to spend a little time pampering myself.  Now I have it all right at my fingertips! What more could I ask for?  Oh, I don't know, maybe the Opal Sonic Infusion System?  I think so!

Your new friend forever,


Friday, August 26, 2011

Photohunt 280: 'Symbolic' Lawn Decor

After not doing a PhotoHunt for a number of months now, I figured I should throw one in just to keep me on my toes.  This week's theme, "Symbolic", could go in so many different directions, but I figured I would just keep it nice and simple since I'm a bit rusty after all of this 'time off'.  

Above, is a shot of the Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom on the gates of Buckingham Palace.  The three lions in two of the the quartered panels of the shield are the guardant lions of England, the rampant lion panel is symbolic of Scotland, and the harp panel is for Northern Ireland.  The crest and the left supporter are royal English lions wearing the imperial crown, and the right supporter is a chained unicorn for Scotland.  (For all of you unicorn novices out there, apparently an 'unchained unicorn' is far more dangerous than a chained one.  Though this might at first seem like a jab at Scotland, the symbol is pulled directly from the Scottish Royal Coat of Arms that depicts two chained unicorns).     

Stunning, aren't they?  After our visit, I wanted a matching set for our front door, but was informed that these could only be used by the Queen herself.  Though Jay insisted that we could find far better ones, I have yet to find them at the local Target store, and feel that I might be better off finding myself a unicorn for the front yard - chained, of course.    

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Today I Learned ...

Today, I learned that one should move outside, or to the nearest doorway during an earthquake.  I had no idea.  I also learned that earthquakes might sound like a giant unbalanced dryer shaking the entire house, or an evil alien invasion and they can most certainly happen on the east coast of the US.  Who knew?  Lastly, I learned that I don't think I could deal with this as a 'regular occurrence' without wearing adult diapers, and probably would not do well living on the west coast or in parts of the Pacific without having some sort of head trauma.  I do, however, now understand why California has had no problems finding supporters to legalize marijuana.

Stay tuned for the next exciting installment of "Today I Learned" when I might have the exciting opportunity to tell you what new and amazing things I learn about hurricane preparedness from Irene's impending visit.  Ha!  And who said I wasn't an outdoorsy kind of person?   Stay safe everyone!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Drink of the Moment: Kiwi Colada

Ok people, get ready to whet your whistles cause I've got another good one for you!  Unlike the last exceptionally popular drink of the moment that could still very easily have been thrown together twelve drinks in, this one actually does require a little prep work with a sharp utensil, so make sure you have things geared up ahead of time if you're planning on having a multiple batch kind of night ... eh hem, or day.  

I present for your consideration ...


Yield: 6 servings (serving size: about 3/4 cup)
Calories: 143


Try prepping your kiwi in bulk.
  • peeled kiwifruit, divided     
  • 3 cups ice
  • 1/4 cup light rum
  • 1/4 cup Midori (melon-flavored liqueur)
  • 3 tablespoons Cream of Coconut (such as Coco Lopez)
  • (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple in juice, undrained


  • Cut 4 kiwifruit into quarters, and place in a blender. Set remaining kiwifruit aside. Add ice and remaining ingredients to blender; process until smooth. Strain mixture through a sieve into a pitcher; discard seeds. Divide evenly among 6 glasses. Cut remaining kiwifruit into 6 slices; garnish each glass with 1 kiwifruit slice.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Clarisonic Challenge Catch-Up: Weeks 1 & 2

So, I know I promised to fill you in on why I was doing so much cleaning in my last post, but first, I really need to catch up on my Clarisonic Challenge progress.  I mean, technically, the Clarisonic does fall under the cleaning category as well, right?

I believe the last time I posted about my Clarisonic Challenge progress, I was still having a little bit of user error on my end; you know, just getting used to the feel of things and how the Clarisonic Plus Cleansing System fit best in my regular cleansing routine.  (If you missed it, you can catch up here).  Well, I am SO glad I got over that, because the Clarisonic Plus is AMAZING!!  It has completely changed my perception of a clean face.  My 'problem' areas (on the sides of my nose and my recently irritable chin) have also seemed to take notice and straightened up far more significantly than I expected.  In a nutshell, the overall texture and tone of my complexion has improved in my opinion, and I'm relying a little less on foundation and concealer which has been a real gift in all of the recent heat.  Enough about what I think though; here, have a look for yourself!

Just after my first use of the Clarisonic Plus Cleansing System
After one week of using the Clarisonic Plus Cleansing System

I know the lighting is a little different from shot one to shot two, but check out the chin!  That is with absolutely NO makeup on (scary, I know), and I have not 'edited' anything out of the photo.  Pretty cool, huh?  What those pictures don't necessarily show is how much smoother really clean looks and feels - any flakiness is buffed away, and there's nothing but smooth, fresh, glowing skin.  

Now, wanna see week two results?  Thought so.

After two weeks of using the Clarisonic Plus Cleansing System

I know, right?  How much better does that chin look?!?  Still needs some concealer, but waaay less than I was having to use.  

Curious about how it performs in the shower now?  I have to admit that I'm not quite as sold on it for body, but part of that may have to do with my neverending ability to forget to grab it from the sink counter to take it with me to the shower.  Since the first thing I thought of when I found out you could use this gadget in the shower (after getting out all of the inappropriate jokes) was 'maybe it will help my awful speckly upper arms', I figured that would be my primary test area.  I wasn't expecting any miracles after this long of living with them, and unfortunately, I didn't exactly get one, BUT I do think they have improved a little at least.  You can check out the results below if you promise you won't shrink back in disgust.

Before Clarisonic

After Clarisonic
Not sure if you can really even tell a difference from the pictures, but I think they do feel a little smoother.  I'm sure this would be even more evident in photos if I could remember to bring the brush to the shower with me more often.  Oh, and I also LOVE using the Clarisonic on my back and shoulders, but that just seemed too difficult to photograph properly.

So there you have it.  In a nutshell, I don't ever want to go back to 'normal' facial cleansing at all.  I truly enjoy the feeling and results of the product waaay too much to turn back now (and the cleansers supplied with the starter kit are fab too).  I think if I could change one thing about the cleansing system at this point, it would probably be just to have an extra one devoted solely to my shower area so I could stop having to jump back out to grab it from the sink.  I'm sure some of you think I should just work on my memory, but then what fun would that be?!?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Flying Pigs & Fairy Godmothers

After SIX WHOLE DAYS away from work, and my computer, I am finally back here sitting at my keyboard.  Not that I really missed all of the time I usually spend sitting in front of the computer on a daily and weekly basis, but compared to what I have been doing over the past week, it's almost like a walk in the park.  So, what was I doing on my 'time off'?  Vacationing?  Relaxing?  Spending quality time with my thoughts?

Nope.  I was in the throws of turning what looked like this ...

My Aunt Linda standing in the middle of my unnecessary stack of clutter looking skeptical.

... into this,

BAM, all pretty!

and this ...

The mountains of ridiculousness in the bedroom.

... into this.

Hi Olivia, I can see you there now!

I do not usually keep a perfect house, or anything close to it.  I am lucky to keep one or two 'high traffic' areas of the house mostly tidy at any given point, and I would have told you pigs would probably fly before I could get my entire household space to this level of being clean and pulled together without some outside forces of evil condemning me to hours upon hours of cleaning purgatory.  Well, I suppose the outside forces of evil decided to play some horrible joke on me, so I did the only thing I knew to do when in need of some serious house help, and called in the big gun - my Aunt Linda.  Aunt Linda has helped me previously in trying to attain some visual appeal, sense of sanity, & beautiful decor in my first house, which you can revisit here.  For me, the whole process of working with her to arrive at this level of household transformation is kind of like asking your Fairy Godmother for help, and having her figuratively kick your ass for a concentrated period of time in order to achieve the results you asked for.  Fortunately, this approach works exceptionally well for me when it comes to getting things done around the house, and might be about the only approach that does work.  For those of you that know me well, it shouldn't surprise you that I had to un-ass myself from my typical approach toward household chores quite a bit, and shave what I'm sure are years off of my life in order to achieve these results - even with the help of the best 'household chore un-asser' I know.

I do LOVE the final outcome though, and am so appreciative that I have such an 'expert' that I can consult for some decorating advice, as well as the kick in the pants I need in order to get it done.  Oh, and to commemorate this household makeover (and remind me that I can keep it this way) ...

Can you help me with a name?

... I now have a flying pig (who, btw, is nameless at this point and taking suggestions). 

So, why did I institute the need for hard liquor and and a head check by almost completely re-doing my entire house in a matter of days?  Dark forces at work?  Maybe.  Temporary insanity?  Probably.  Anyway,  I'll have more to come on that in my next post.  Tah-tah till then!