Monday, September 29, 2014

Redemption Song

Tomorrow it will be four years since I lost my first cat, Buddy. It feels like it's been so much longer. The anniversary of his death reminds me of his favorite song, and I felt it was appropriate to share today. I won't delve into how I lost him again, you can read about that here if you want to catch up. 

Buddy was your typical cat in the sense that he was aloof to people, even me. Sure, he'd cuddle the crap out of me at night, when no one knew about it, but the minute I woke up, he'd be sure to be out of arms reach. In fact the only person that he would cuddle with openly was Dave. Buddy loved to play, though. We used to joke that he was the dog I always wanted but could never have in an apartment. He played fetch (which Squish does now), he loved walking on a leash, he would "bark" at the door when I would come home from work. 

But he was also a typical cat in many ways. He hated the car and the vet. The very first time I took him to the vet, he got out of the crate and ran underneath a couch the vet had in the office at the time. One hour later, the vet got him out using those long poles that animal control uses to catch animals. Buddy was branded as "difficult" at the vet after that day. But he wasn't difficult, he just knew what he liked and what he didn't like. 

One of his favorite things in the world was Bob Marley's "Redemption Song". I would play the song while on car rides, it was the only thing that would quiet his cries. The minute he began to hear the guitar, he would stop crying and listen. Then, when the song was over, he'd start back up. I don't know what it was but he just loved hearing it. 

Back when I was taking guitar lessons, I begged the instructor to teach me how to play the song. The minute I got home the day I learned it, I started to practice the song on the guitar and Buddy ran into the room, sat across from me and quietly watched me play the song.

The day that we lost him, we rushed him to the hospital in my car. I could tell he was in a lot of pain, I could see it in his eyes, hear it in his voice. When we got into the car, Dave immediately put the song on repeat. We drove the half hour to the emergency vet listening to it over and over. He would let out a feeble cry here and there, but for the most part he just laid there, in my arms, listening to the song. 

I can't listen to the song anymore, without thinking of him. I have conflicted feelings over losing him. I miss him dearly, and still shed tears over his loss; but if I hadn't lost him, I would never have adopted Nibbler and Squishee. I can't imagine a life without them, and I shudder to think that they may have been adopted separately and would have lead a life without each other. 

Obviously this song is so much more than just a cat loving it, and by no means do I mean to diminish the message of the song. It just has so much more meaning to me now because of Buddy's love for the song. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

End of the Week Roundup

This has been a crazy, busy week, but a good one. I can't ask for anything more when it comes to good weeks.

1. I spent all day holed up in my sewing room on Sunday and finished a Dr. Seuss quilt for a friend...

2. ...and made a weekender bag that I plan on selling as soon as I clean up a few things on it. I've always had a passion for sewing but I've really gotten back into it over the past few months and I find myself looking forward to coming home so I can spend time sewing. 

P.S. You can check out more pictures of the bag, as well as all the other sewing projects I've completed on my Facebook page, Quilts by Nicole

3. I started observing in a classroom this week, which is one of my requirements for one of my grad classes and my teaching certification. It was so much fun, and to top it off, the teacher whose classroom I was in had this posted on his back wall. If you need a reminder about how much I love The Simpsons, check this post out

Funny side of the lines on this poster says "I will stop talking about the twelve inch pianist". I was reading this poster before school started and there were just two girls in the room chatting, waiting for class to start. I read that line and literally laughed out loud, and then realized how that may look to the know some random chick that they don't know quietly sitting in the corner laughing out loud out of nowhere. Anyway, I immediately turned around and said, "I'm so sorry that was really creepy of me" and they laughed...and then proceeded to talk about me under their breath. Oh well, that's teens for ya. 

4. Dave surprised me with flowers on Tuesday, which is my long day of the week (between work and class). The picture is a bit over saturated due to the dim lighting in my kitchen...

5. Is it weird to anyone else that a.) Aziz Ansari is photobombing Squish and b.) that Squish and Aziz have the same look going on?

How was your week?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Eleanor and Park

It's that time again for Bon's book club! This month the reading selection was Eleanor and Park

I really enjoyed this book, however there were some parts where I disliked it enough I didn't think I was going to like it. Most of the time, I was irked when Eleanor would cause drama and unnecessarily whine at Park. Then I remembered that she was a teenager, and while I don't recall being that annoyingly desperate for attention, I'm sure I was. 

Rainbow Rowell wrote from the teenage perspective perfectly. She got every nuance, every bit of self consciousness, and every insecurity. I loved her style of writing. I've never read about hand holding being more beautiful or romantic in my life. In fact, the hand holding was probably more romantic than the last romantic scene I've read, in such an innocent way too. 

The language was a bit much, but Rowell explained why she added it in in an interview. She said that it's what the main characters environments are all about. Eleanor and Park never curse, but Eleanor is in a tough home situation enough that she's exposed to it. 

All in all, I think it was a great story, and I definitely would recommend it. 

Now on to Bon's questions!

Did you find their ill fated relationship to be sweet?  Believable?  

I think  their relationship is very believable for a high school romance. Not many high school romances actually end up being "forever", but teens always think they do. I think R0well did a great job portraying teen romance.

Did the language bother you? 

Kinda, yeah. If it weren't for the language in this book, I would definitely give it to the teens in my book club to read, but because of it, I can't. As I mentioned above, it does make sense once Rowell explained why, but it did bother me a bit. 

Do you agree with me that f words in YA books are unnecessary?  

This is a tough question to answer. To assume that teens NEVER curse is ridiculously naive. That isn't to say that all teens curse, but majority of them do. To say that YA books should never have curse words is also naive, but I think there is a limit to how much and the context that it's in. If a character in a book screams to the sky 'F YOU WORLD!" after a friend dies, it makes sense. To add in the F word after every other word really changes the tone of the book from YA to something more adult. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

New Parent Gift Ideas

Finding the perfect gift for anyone can be a bit tricky. Finding a great gift that's also convenient for new parents can be even trickier. Hopefully, this post will help you get some ideas of what gifts you could bring to friends (or family) with a new little one.

At the hospital:

The important thing to remember when bringing gifts to the hospital is this: they have a ton of stuff to bring home and, most importantly, a baby. If you want to bring something when the new parents are at the hospital, don't bring balloons or flowers. While they're super nice gestures, the problem with flowers/balloons is that they aren't easy to bring home. So now the new parents are stuck with either throwing away your nice new gifts for them or trying to cart them home with a new baby. Instead try:

- Their favorite drink. My friend Becca just had her daughter and the one thing that anyone that knows Becs can tell you is that she LOVES pumpkin spice coffee. So on my way to visit her, I grabbed some from Starbucks

-Their favorite food. General consensus is that hospital food is terrible, but even if it isn't bringing your friend one of her favorite meals is going to make her very happy (well a little happier since she's probably already going to be ridiculously happy about her new baby). 

-Your camera. If you have a nice camera, bring it with you just in case mama didn't think about it, or hasn't had a chance to get some candid new family shots with papa and baby. 

At home:

-A home cooked meal. As in love with baby as the new parents are going to be, they are probably going to be way too tired to make a decent meal, and even if they are capable of making their own dinner, I'm sure they'd be glad to not have to make a meal. Bring them something that's already assembled and can easily be cooked in the oven, or put in the freezer in case dinner is already lined up. May I suggest Chicken and Rice Bake, or Cube Steak (which is still amazing re-heated so just bring it pre-cooked and ready to go!), or Hearty Taco Casserole?

-Something for mom. Everyone is going to be so focused on new baby (which is great!) that Momma may feel neglected. Bringing her something to help her relax, like Bath and Body Works Stress Relief Line or Sleep Spa Line, will make her feel loved and appreciated and will have the added effect of helping her relax a little.

-A personalized card. If you can't visit mama right away, sending her a sweet personalized card would be a really nice surprise. Treat by Shutterfly offers cute new baby cards that can be personalized and mailed out. Plus, if you brought your camera to the hospital with you, you could use pictures from that visit to send the new parents a card they'll cherish.

-Something un-purchased from their registry. Because unexpected gifts that are of necessity are the best. 

What are some things that you've brought new parents? Or, parents, what are some of your favorite received gifts?

Monday, September 22, 2014

I'll Never Leave Your Pizza Burning

Warning! If you love songs just the way they are, I would suggest not reading this post (but please come back tomorrow!), otherwise, hope you like hearing these songs differently for the rest of your life. 

Dave has this thing where he "rewrites" songs and, quite frankly, ruins them for me. Certain songs have a moratorium on them where he cannot, under any circumstances, sing any other words other than the proper words to the song. This includes songs from our wedding. 

Today, I figured I would share some of the "classics" that we frequently sing in our house. In typical guy fashion, I have to warn you that most of these songs are changed to include bodily functions. Because fart jokes still make Dave laugh until he cries...every time. 

Beast of Burden- Rolling Stones

How the lyrics really go: I'll never be your beast of burden

What Dave sings: I'll never leave your pizza burning

I actually love Dave's version of this song, because he sings it to me and I'm pretty sure he genuinely means it. And he never has burned my pizza. 

You are a Tourist- Death Cab for Cutie

How the lyrics really go: When there's a burning in your heart

What Dave sings: Well, there's a burning when you fart

In the words of Forrest Gump, that's all I have to say about that. 

Always be my Baby- Mariah Carey

Okay so this one is a bit different. Dave decided one day that Mariah was singing to a fart. I took the time to listen to the lyrics and if you look at it from that perspective, it is possible she's singing to some gas:

We were as one babe
For a moment in time
And it seemed everlasting
That you would always be mine

Now you want to be free
So I'm letting you fly
'Cause I know in my heart babe
Our love will never die, no

You'll always be a part of me
I'm a part of you indefinitely
Boy don't you know you can't escape me
Ooh darling, 'cause you'll always be my baby

And we'll linger on and on
Time can't erase a feeling this strong
No way you're never gonna shake me
Ooh darling, 'cause you'll always be my baby

Machinehead- Bush

How the lyrics really go: Got a machinehead

What Dave sings: Got a mushy- head

Seriously, I swear Gavin Rossdale is singing mushy head over and over again in this song. 

Don't Stand so Close to Me- The Police

How the lyrics really go: Don't stand so close to me

What Dave sings: Don't stand so close to pee

Wise words from someone who laughs uncontrollably at fart jokes. 

What are some songs that you hear the lyrics differently?

Friday, September 19, 2014

End of the Week Roundup

I had a great weekend, and then a not so great start to the week. I was home the first two days of this week with a bad stomachache...maybe it was too much fun from the weekend?

1. Friday night I had dinner with my Aunt Penny and Uncle Chuck. I snapped this pic of her two dogs waiting for them to get home while I sat outside and read.

2. Saturday night, Dave and I headed back to Wyebrook Farms, this time with my parents and aunt and uncle in tow. It was even better the second time around!

3. Sunday was my Painting with a Twist birthday party! It was such a great time, I recommend everyone try it at least once!

4. Still obsessed with Ed Sheeran by the way. I listen to both his albums nonstop all day at work. Every day. 

5. The boys are starting to get more and more cuddly now that the weather is cooling down. As much as I hate the cold, I love the extra cuddles!

How was your week?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Chicken and Rice Bake

I recently made this recipe for my friend who just had her baby. When I was walking around the store, I tried to access the original pin and it looks like the site is gone. Luckily, I've made this delicious meal enough times to know what I needed. I searched high and low for a similar recipe, and I couldn't find one so I figured I would share it here with you guys! 

Here's what you need:

- 2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped up
- 1 small onion, chopped (note the onion in the pic is big because I made two batches (Dave was very clear that I couldn't make just one batch for my friend and leave him out))
- 1 stick butter/margarine
- 2 cups milk
- 1 can cream of chicken soup
- 1 can cheddar cheese soup
- 2 cups rice, cooked (whatever you like is fine, I prefer brown)
- 8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- breadcrumbs
- half a bag of peas/carrots mix

What you need to do:

1. Melt the stick of butter in a large pot, then add the chopped onion and cook until translucent. 

2. Once the onion is cooked, add the soups, milk and peas/carrots.

3. Add cooked chicken and cheese, followed by the cooked rice. Taste the mixture and season with salt and pepper to your liking.

4. Place the mixture in a 13x9 baking dish, top with a thin layer of breadcrumbs and bake at 375 for 25 minutes. 

5. Enjoy!

A few helpful notes:

1. If you don't want to buy rotisserie chicken (I hate carving those things), you can always boil the chicken. To do this, you place the breasts in a pot and cover them up with water, just enough to cover the top. Bring water to a boil, then cover it up and drop the temperature down to simmer and cook for 20 minutes. 

2. The original recipe called for regular carrots and frozen peas. If you decide to go that route (versus the frozen pea/carrot mix), add the carrots to the onions to ensure they are cooked through. 

3. I've made this with plain breadcrumbs and Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, both are delicious. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

I Had a Simpson's Themed Wedding

Based on this title, I know what some of you are thinking....EW who has a cartoon theme for their wedding?!? And that's fine, having a unique theme like The Simpsons isn't for everyone. Our wedding was, in my opinion, still elegant and classy, but with a touch of fun because that's what we are, fun. I didn't want a hoity-toity wedding, I wanted my guests to feel comfortable and have enjoy themselves. 

I've watched The Simpson's my entire life. I literally can't remember a time where I didn't watch them. They've always been one of my favorite shows (Squishee is even named after the drink from the show!). Luckily for me, Dave is also a fan and has been since he was a kid too, so for us, it was the perfect way to incorporate a little bit of us into our wedding. 

We didn't have a full blown nothing-but-Simpson's wedding. We had a few touches of Simpson's theme, along with a color theme, which was royal purple. 

I found a cake topper on eBay that was Homer and Marge in wedding attire, which sat atop our cake:

For seating table cards, my mom, mother in law, and I all searched high and low for Simpson's Pez dispensers and taped the guest's name to the body of the dispenser. 

Each table was named for a Simpson's character and each table had a picture along with a figurine. The table cards had a picture of the character and then the guests name, followed by the character's table name. So for example, you'd have a card that would say Joseph Smith followed by Moe Syszlak's Table. 

My mom, who is ridiculously talented, painted a pretzel tin to look like a Duff beer can, where guests could deposit cards. 

Finally, when Dave and I were introduced, they played Green Day's version of The Simpson's theme.

And that my friends is how I had a Simpson's themed wedding! 

Friday, September 12, 2014

End of the Week Roundup

It's been a great week, and I'm even more excited for the weekend because I'm "hosting" a painting with a twist party for my birthday on Sunday. 

1. Saturday was such a great day, I won't recap it again, if you missed it you can check it out here.

2. Sunday night a very good friend of mine had her baby and I got to visit her on Monday. It was definitely love at first sight! I would love to share a picture, however Mama hasn't posted any and she gets first dibs (obviously! haha). 

3. I finished up more teddy bears this week and I'm starting a new project with's to hoping it turns out good!

4.  I'm obsessed with this song. It just makes me want to dance every time I hear it. 

5. Nibbler just chill-axing on the back of the couch. 

How was your week?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

14 in '14 September Update

After this month, I only have one book left on the '14 in 14 list. I'll be honest I didn't think I'd have this list completed as much as I have, so it's nice to have this three month cushion to get through the final book, especially with school starting. 

I loved creating this list and following through with it. I'm not sure these posts are very popular but I enjoyed it so much, it's something I'll definitely be doing again next year. 

Anyway, on to the book for this month:

I'm really on the fence about this book. It's among the currently popular dystopian, young adult, teens-in-peril books, but it's unique that you don't feel like you're reading a Hunger Games knock off. 

The problem I had with this book was the fact that it was so hung up on being mysterious and vague that it got annoying. Most of the book consisted of "you want to know what's going on? Sorry! Can't tell you!" It wasn't until the final 75 pages of the 374 page book that the author finally let the readers in on what was going on. Then when I finally got to the answers, it's so convoluted and confusing that I had to re-read it a few times to really grasp what was going on. 

The good points: the story line was different enough that I couldn't just assume I knew what was going to happen and that made me want to read it more. Most of the characters were pretty likable, and I didn't find myself really being annoyed by any of the "good" ones. 

Let's not talk about the ending, mkay?

Here is the list so far:

1. Where'd you go Bernadette?
2. Sacre Bleu
3. Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me?
4. The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic
5. The Partly Cloudy Patriot
6. Assassination Vacation
7. The Alchemyst
8. The Graveyard Book
9. The Maze Runner
10. The Husband's Secret
11. Beauty Queens
12. The Dust of 100 Dogs
13. The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her own Making
14. The Labyrinth of Dreaming Books

I would love to hear about what you read this month!

I'm on Goodreads, if you'd lik
e to add me.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


Three years ago today, I found my place in the world. 

Three years ago today, I finally felt like I belonged somewhere.

Three years ago today, I learned that home is wherever he is. 

Three years ago today, I did something that for the rest of my life will leave me wondering how I got so lucky. 

Happy 3rd Anniversary Dave, I love you more than all the words in all the books in all the world. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Philadelphia Museum of Art

My three year wedding anniversary with Dave is coming up on Tuesday. We decided to head into the city on Saturday to celebrate the day a bit early since I'll be at work then school all day Tuesday. We parked on Boat House Row and decided to walk to the art museum. It wasn't very far, maybe 10 minutes or so and neither of us have ever stopped to check out the row, so it was nice to take in. After we toured the museum we walked up Fairmount Ave and had some slices of pizza for a quick lunch and then walked back to the car to head home. It was a really simple afternoon but so much fun. 

I'm not going to lie, I almost cried when I saw Van Gough's Sunflowers. It was just so surreal to have it right in front of me.

I'll let you guess which piece Dave insisted I take a picture of for this post. 

 There were a few pieces that made me scratch my head and wonder who was smoking what when they decided to include them in the museum. For example, this sculpture that had a case of grape soda just sitting on top of it. Dave exclaimed, "What a waste of perfectly good grape soda!" which had the nearby guard chuckling. 

 Or this particular exhibit, that had a whole room devoted to this guy who created pieces of "art" that looked like this: 

 All in all, it was a great day and a wonderful way to celebrate three years with my best friend. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

End of the Week Roundup

This was a great week! Starting off every week with Monday off would make any week great, but having my birthday this week helps too.

1. Saturday, my cousin and I toured Intercourse, which I wrote about here. It was so much fun and catching up with her was awesome.

2. Monday I took complete advantage of my day off and worked on my latest sewing project: teddy bears!

3. Wednesday teen book club met and we discussed  Coraline and exchanged short stories to read.  The teens did such an amazing jobs on their stories I can't wait to discuss them in October!

4. Yesterday was my birthday and it was a great day, Dave surprised me with a Samsung galaxy tablet for my gift and my mom send me these gorgeous flowers.

5. Caught squish off guard here, eyeballing bunnies.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Am I the Only One?

We are all weird and unique in our own little ways, but often I find myself doing something that isn't "normal" and it makes me wonder if I'm the only person who does it. 

Am I the only one who

...likes to listen to the radio on scan?

...thinks orange juice tastes better with crushed ice and drunk through a straw?

...listens to a pop song and imagines being able to dance the coreography? who am i kidding, I don't have the hand/eye coordination to do it. I can't even get this down:

...prefers their ice cream to be microwaved for a few seconds before eating it?

...listens to rock music and pretends to be in a cover band singing the song exaclty how the singer does? I'm looking at you Lizzy Hale....

...doesn't draw designs in their toaster strudel icing, instead squirts it all in the middle and spreads it out?

Come to think of it, am I the only adult that continues to eat toaster strudels?

What are some weird things that you do?

Monday, September 1, 2014


How many of you immediately jumped to dirty thoughts when you saw the title of my post? Pennsylvania Dutch Country has some ridiculously sexual names for their Amish towns:

I'm not joking, these are names of actual towns.
Anyway, this past weekend, I met up with my cousin and we decided to pretend to be tourists for the day and walk around Intercourse, PA which is only about 20 minutes away from my house. It was such a neat experience to be so close to home and feel like I was so far away at a distant place. 

Anyway, prepare for picture overload!

First up, of course, horse and buggies abound. They are everywhere, and since I've grown up around it it's not something I'm fascinated by, but it is still neat to see them...unless your stuck behind a line of 20 cars...and you're number 20. 

My cousin and I just walked around taking in the sights and checking out the shops. Where we walked was a bunch of shops that consisted of a ton of quilt shops (I got a bunch of ideas for my own quilts), homemade baked goods, jams, and relishes, furniture, and country decor. 

I loved browsing the stores, Janelle and I even grabbed some baconnaise, which is delicious!

And just in case you don't think they have something for you there, may I present you with a yeti statue for your front lawn?

There was also a band playing in the middle of the shop center. I took a video of one of their songs, I could have stood there all day and listened. 

We stopped at an adorable little coffee shop and grabbed a quick lunch and walked around a bit more. I loved seeing the signs all over the place. 

 This one is my favorite. I would love to have it hanging in my house.

Walking around Intercourse was such a great time. I got to catch up with my cousin and visit a place that was right by my house and still feel like I went on a quick vacation. It was such a scenic, fun place to go, I would definitely recommend you check it out if you're ever in the area!