Thursday, February 26, 2015

My Story- Elizabeth Smart

Bonnie over at Life of Bon hosts a monthly book club. This month we read My Story by Elizabeth Smart.

I thought this was a good book, Elizabeth Smart is very courageous and it probably took a lot for her to write all this down and share it. For her to succeed the way she has after facing horrific situations is amazing. 

Here's Bon's questions:
+ What made you feel connected (or disconnected) to Elizabeth throughout the story?

The only way I was really able to get through this book was knowing that she made it out of this situation alive. I don't think I'd be able to stomach everything she went through if I didn't know she was okay in the end. 

+ What was something that amazed/ shocked you when reading her story?

I think it's incredible how resilient Elizabeth is and how she's been able to turn her life around. My only qualm about the book is that she claims she didn't use therapy at all to work through her issues, just her faith, however I read on a Goodreads review that her parents (or whoever wrote a book as well) stated that she was in therapy. It may be splitting hairs but if it's not true, she shouldn't say it. 

Did you read My Story? What were your thoughts? 

Check back next month when I co-host with Bon for Yes Please!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

15 in '15 February Update

I used to have a problem with putting a book down if I didn't enjoy it. I felt like all books that I started had to be finished. Now, I give each book I start a fair chance. Each book gets about 100 pages to catch me, and if I don't like it I don't finish it. So far this year I haven't finished two books on my list and I wondered if technically that was cheating since I didn't finish them. But the more I think about it, the more that I realize that a.) I don't care b.) I gave it a fair shot and that's all that matters. 

American Gods

I know my friend Sherrie is going to be disappointed in this but I couldn't finish American Gods. I really like Neil Gaiman and I've enjoyed all his other books I've read, and this one definitely has not turned me off of reading future Gaiman novels, however I did not like this book. I gave it a good 150 pages and I found myself dreading picking it up. To me, that's a surefire sign to abandon it. 

Like most typical Gaiman novels, it was very dark. I'm slightly intrigued to know specifically what the book was about and how it ends, but I'd rather someone tell me than to have to pick it up again. 

I Don't Know What You Know Me From

Although it would have been nice to read some stories about antics on set, or stories about her costars, I didn't expect to read anything like that from Greer. She doesn't play everyone's best friend in movies because she's a blabber. With that being said, I did still enjoy her stories and thought this book was a good read. Ironically enough, Greer comes off as being your friend who just happens to be sharing some memories over a cup of coffee or tea, which I really liked. It definitely endeared me towards her. 

Here's the complete list (links will go to the post that I wrote about the book):

1. Sharp Objects
2. TV Gods
3. A Discovery of Witches
4. The Thousand Dollar Tan Line
5. The Serpent of Venice
6. I Don't Know What You Know Me From
7. Big Fish
8. Orange is the New Black
9. American Gods
10. Dead Until Dark
11. The Great Gatsby
12. The Glass Castle
13. Pride and Prejudice
14. Insurgent
15. The Clan of the Cave Bear
16. Paddle Your Own Canoe

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

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

Monday, February 23, 2015

Cooking Challenge February Results

If you need a quick refresher, I challenged myself this year to expand my cooking horizons and each month use pins/recipes I've gathered along the way and also try out different cooking techniques that I've avoided so far in my life. Here's the results for this month:

Pins I tried:

Meatball Sub Bubble Up Bake

This recipe was okay. It wasn't horrible but it wasn't great either. I probably won't make it again, but it was very simple to make. My main issue with this dish was that the biscuits were too sweet and that kind of ruined it for me. Also the middle wasn't cooked all the way through which I could easily fix by leaving it in longer but it was very tough to gauge whether or not the middle was done. 

One Pan Skillet Lasagna

This pin on the other hand was delicious. I learned the hard way that it was probably easier to just cut the casing off of Italian sausage and cook it that way versus the way I did it which was cooking the sausage in the casing and then trying to cut it up after the fact and throwing it back in the pan. I always like to make things harder for myself. 

Lastly, for Valentines Day I decided to try my hand at cheesecake. I used this recipe from Philadelphia cream cheese.

Cooking technique tackled: Using my springform pan (I've owned it for at least 8 years and this was the first time I used it!), baking a cake/crust from "scratch"

The results: When I was first making the graham cracker crust, I misread the ingredient list and thought it read 1 and 1/3 cup melted butter which lead to a ridiculous melted butter mess. Three packs of graham crackers later, I realized the error of my ways and sent Dave out to buy more graham crackers since I used them all up trying to salvage this mess:

The good news is that when I attempted the crust a second time, it turned out good. There weren't any other issues and the cheesecake turned out delicious!

What did you cook this month?

Friday, February 20, 2015

End of the Week Roundup

The majority of this week, including today, I've been feeling a bit under the weather. I hate being sick, besides it throwing everything off balance, I hate working at less than full capacity. Especially considering my schedule is full capacity. 

1. Friday night I met up with some girlfriends and took a painting with a twist class, which was fun!

2. Saturday, Valentines Day, was spent lounging around with Dave and making cheesecake. Check back on Monday for my cooking challenge results, including how the cheesecake turned out. V-day was super relaxing and I enjoyed every peaceful moment of it. 

3. Tuesday I finished up a few bears for some friends, which boosted my mood. 

4. I started reading The Girl on the Train last night, so far so good! 

5. These two, they are my heart and soul.

Here's to hoping I start feeling better this weekend! Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Bullying isn't some new concept, I'm pretty sure we've all seen or experienced bullying at some point in our lives. When I was in middle school I was the target of some bullying. I always dreamed that one day I'd blossom into this supermodel-esque woman and show those bullies up or, more practically, I'd confront them one day and they'd get their comeuppance. I did run into my bully about three years ago but it didn't turn out how I'd hoped it would. 

In middle school, I sprouted up like a beanstalk. The problem was that I was ridiculously skinny too (oh to have that metabolism again!), which meant finding jeans posed a major issue. I could either find jeans that fit my scrawny waist but were too short or I could wear long jeans that didn't fit my waist. I (or I should say my mom) opted for the waist fitting jeans. One day while wearing my new jeans, I started to hear kids say "is there a flood warning for today" or things along those lines. I didn't understand what they meant at first but I did notice everyone was laughing except me. 

Once I realized they were talking about me, they ramped up their teases. They'd walk past me and call me "Flood" or roll up their pants when they walked into the classroom and say they were prepping for the flash flood. One time one of the boys who sat in front of me turned around with a ruler and measured how much space was between where my jeans ended and my shoe began. While reading "White Fang" by Jack London, London was describing a setting where the full moon "flooded" the open land with light. The worst offender of the bunch pretended that he didn't hear the phrase and asked the teacher to repeat it, which had the whole class erupting in laughter. It was terrible. It could have been worse, but to be made fun of so badly and have no one to support you was a really horrible experience to have. 

Fast forward nearly 15 years later, I ran into the worst offender who was doing electrical work in my office. We recognized each other and stopped to chat. Somehow it came up how badly he made fun of me in middle school and I realized this was my moment! He would apologize and I'd be vindicated. Except all he said was "heh heh, yeah you really were a big nerd back then" and any hopes of me doling out justice for being bullied went out the window. I don't think he'll ever realize just how mean he was or how tough it was going to school for me during that time, and quite frankly it sucks, but what can you do about it? So I just responded with, "heh heh, yeah and you were an asshole back then, hopefully not anymore!" and left it at that. 

I might not have been the apology I was hoping to get but it was good enough for me. Were you bullied in school? Did you ever run into your bully afterwards? 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Replacement List

Back when I had to actively manage my depression, my therapist suggested I create a replacement list. The idea behind a replacement list is that when you start to feel sad you replace those sad thoughts with things that make you happy. I recently stumbled across my replacement list when I was cleaning out my sewing room/library. There's so many fun memories from this list, I thought it'd be fun to share today:

1. Buddy

Buddy was my cat before Nibbler and Squishee. He was a beast in both love and size. 

2. Dave

I  don't really need to elaborate on this one. 

3. Bora-bora (and the ocean huts)

I don't think I need to elaborate on this one either, who doesn't want to visit this place? Replacing bad thoughts with the idea that I may someday vacation there put a smile on my face. 

4. Farmville

It was 2009/2010, I get a pass on this one. 

5. Sewing

I don't think its a surprise to anyone that I love to sew. Seeing a finished project always made me feel so accomplished. 

6. Best Facebook posting ever

I have no idea what this means or what I meant when I wrote it. It's one of life's great mysteries...I really want to know what exactly this meant and I have no freaking clue what it could possibly mean. 

7. Guitar

I was taking guitar lessons at this point, which was always a lifelong dream of mine. I didn't keep up with the lessons much longer after this, which kinda makes me sad. Someday I will learn how to legitimately play the guitar. 

8. Being at the end of a huge book

There aren't many things in life that are more satisfying than finished a really big book, at least for me. 

9. Cow licking his behind

At first glance, I know you're thinking this sounds insane. The story behind this one is that one day I was driving home and I was feeling really down about myself. I live in the country so I was driving past farmland. I prayed to God as I was driving down the road to give me a sign to show me I wasn't alone and that I'd make it through this. At that moment I passed a cow who was trying to lick the side of it's backside. It was the most ridiculously hilarious sight I have seen. The way it's neck was craned, it's eyes bulged, it's massive tongue tried unsuccessfully flopping around, it was just too much for me not to laugh at. I don't know if it was God or coincidence, but I have never seen a cow look so silly since then, so I'd like to think maybe it was a sign from Him. 

10. "Squirrel-munks"

While vacationing in California, my friend and I stopped at a spot along the highway that was right next to the ocean. There you could see seals all along the beach. Up at the lookout point there were these tiny little "squirrel-munks", because they looked exactly like squirrel's but were tiny like chipmunks. They were so friendly and were climbing all over us, I wanted to bring one home so bad. 

11. Seal "log" 

Another one from Cali, I climbed down to a beach in San Simeon. Prior to that, a tour guide had mentioned that seals like to bask in the sun on the beach and you had to be careful not to stumble upon them on the beach or one of you might get hurt. I always assumed all seals were brown and that I'd be able to spot it before there was an issue. Anyway, back to me climbing down to this one beach. I was walking along and saw a white log up ahead. I assumed it was driftwood because that's whiter than normal wood. That is until I was right in front of it and realized it was a seal. He realized as soon as I did that we were both there. He hopped up and squawked at me and started scuttling/hopping towards the water while I ran for the cliffs hoping I could climb faster than he could come after me. When he finally hit the water, he turned around for one last defiant squawk as if hurling an insult at me and then disappeared into the water.  It was one of those once in a lifetime, I'll never experience that again moments.

And there you have it friends, my replacement list circa 2010! What would be on your replacement list? 

Friday, February 13, 2015

End of the Week Roundup

Happy Friday the 13th!

1. Last Friday I observed at a local school in an ELL (English Language Learners) classroom. What that means (if you don’t know) is that the student’s in the classes I observed had a first language that was not English. I met so many different people from all over the world and all of them were so sweet and kind. It was so much fun communicating with them, even if we didn’t understand each other at first, we always ended up connecting.

2. Friday night I went over to my friend’s house with the intension of having dinner and watching a movie. Then we pulled up Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart’s lip sync battle and fell down the wormhole of lip sync offs. I’m thinking for my 30th this year having a lip sync off party of my own…hmmmm……

3. Ashley told me to look up “Infertility Humor” on pinterest. It was hilarious and I spent most of my night Wednesday night laughing so hard I was crying.

4. Have you ever wondered what you looked like while running for you life?

5. Tomorrow is Valentine’s day, so I leave you with this ecard 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

How It All Began

Many of you know I run a (very) small side sewing "business", Quilts by Nicole. Ashley suggested I write a post about how it all began, and I thought it was a pretty good idea too. 

It all really began with my grandmother. I've always been a really creative person, especially as a kid. A friend of hers passed away and his wife, who was a sewer, had passed away a few months before he did. They didn't have any next of kin and so my grandmother was charged with clearing out his possessions. She gave me all of the woman's sewing kits (she had quite a few) and I started to play around with hand sewing things together. 

My grandma Maxine passed away almost two years ago and one of my biggest regrets was that she wasn't able to see how much I've grown as a sewer and that I couldn't thank her for helping me realize this gift. 

The spring break of my 10th grade year, I didn't have anywhere to go so I decided to take all my spare fabric and patch it together to make a quilt just to see how it would look. It took the entire spring break of me doing nothing but hand sewing each piece together but the end result was this: 

It's not pretty by any stretch of the word, but I did this with no help or tutorials or real prior knowledge. I still know where each patch came from. The leopard print was for pillows I made my sister, the Taz fabric was for pillows I made for my mom, the country pattern was for a hamper I attached fabric to for my mom, the checkered blue print was for an angel set I created for my mom, and the colored blocks and brown fur was for a werewolf I had made for my step-dad at the time. I was so proud of this quilt for so long I kept it in the back of my car for years which is why some of it is discolored. 

I've definitely come a long way since I created that quilt so long ago and I still have a lot to learn, but it's nice to be reminded of where it all began. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

What if Magic Eye was the Entry Exam to Hogwarts?

Much to my delight, I've got several new readers gracing me with their presence. Hello new friends! 

I thought today it would be good to post a few more tidbits about myself that extends beyond my "About Me" page. 

For example, Dave and I play "The Price is Right" at the grocery store. Meaning that when we check out we both guess how much the bill will be. Whoever gets the closest without going over wins. There isn't a prize or anything its more about the bragging rights, but it is fun when the cashiers get involved, which most of them do because Dave and I trash talk each other the whole time (all in good sport though!). It's a fun way to break up the monotony of checking out at the grocery store. 

Just replace "the contestant" with Dave and you got me when I win

I can't stand Dave Matthews Band. I'm sorry if you're a fan, because then I have to question your taste in music, but I'll let it slide if you will. I can't explain why I hate them so much, there was even one point where I did like them in high school for about a month. But now the minute they come on the radio I have to change the channel. There's even someone who lives a street away from me with "1 DMB FAN" for their license plate and every time I see it want to ram their car. Okay maybe not that bad, but the idea has crossed my mind. 

Since I made fun of you for liking DMB you can make fun of me for this: I love Phil Collins. He was my first concert, I've loved him since I knew what music was. But even I don't freaking know what a ssuu-ssuu-sussudio is. 


I order my hot drinks at kids temp. Also, I have no idea what a latte or cappuccino is, no matter how many times a friend explains it to me. Tea and hot chocolate for me, please! I order the drinks at kids temp because I'm impatient and I like to drink my stuff right away, rather than burning the crap out of my mouth, I'll ask for the cooler temps. 

I am completely incapable of seeing the hidden image in the Magic Eye images. I've never been able to do it. Ever. Also, if it was the entry exam to Hogwarts (as per my title), I would have clearly failed. 

And there you have it, some more random facts about me. Do you relate to any of these? 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

VS Five

Happy Friday everyone! Today I'm hosting a giveaway with a bunch of other awesome ladies. You have a chance to win $150 from Victoria's Secret! In honor of the giveaway I thought I'd highlight five things I would get from VS. Go to the bottom of this post for the giveaway, and good luck!!

1. Perfect Shape Bar (or three!). This bra is my favorite bra ever!

2. Belted Asymmetric One-Piece. This bathing suit is gorgeous!

3. Cashmere Crewneck Sweater. I love the feeling of cashmere but it is too darn expensive!...that is of course unless you have a $150 gift certificate!

4. Most Loved Yoga Pant. My mom gave me a pair of hers and I love them so much! They are very comfy!

5. UGG Moccasin...because there is no other way I'd pay for UGGs. 

And now me and some lovely ladies have joined together to give you a $150 Victoria's Secret gift card to one lucky reader!! Giveaway will last from Feb 4 - Feb 11! Go buy something sexy for your partner or just some yummy smelling beauty products.  Otherwise, we all need a good bra and we know Vickie's has the BEST bras. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The One That Got Away

We all have that long lost love in our life. The one that got away. My heart aches everyday for my lost love: my first car. 

I started working at my family's gas station when I was 13 or 14. I saved all my money because really what can a 13 or 14 year old spend their entire paychecks on, right? When I was 15 I was heading home with my mom when I saw it: my perfect car. The car I'd been dreaming of since I knew what cars were. It was a 1989 Jeep Cherokee Laredo manual with a car phone (yes that matters, it's all about status!). 

I always knew I when I started driving I wanted to learn stick shift right away. I also knew that I wanted my first car to be an SUV of some type, I've never been a sedan kind of girl. So when I saw this car and it met every expectation I wanted in a car, I knew I had to buy it. I was only 15 at the time so the Jeep would have to sit in my driveway for at least another year (it ended up being a year and a half, I was slow to get my license), but I didn't care, I didn't want to pass up this chance. So I drained my savings from working those two years and paid $1600 for the Jeep plus the $20 bucks or so for the Rainbow Brite wheel cover. 

My Jeep ended up being everything I've ever wanted in a car. Unfortunately about a year into my driving it consistently the clutch and calipers went on the Jeep. It was going to cost me about $1000 to fix it and it was $1000 I just didn't have at the time. 

It's one of the few times in my life that I would go back and change things. I would have found a way to keep that car, because I miss it every day. 

And that's the story of the one who got away, excuse me while I go pine away and stare at the picture above.  

Monday, February 2, 2015

Let's Talk Books

I'm a stickler when it comes to my books, which is evidenced here. I know everyone treats books differently but I'm curious on what your take is on certain things that I do when it comes to books.  

Like, I can't write in books. Even school books or books given to other people. 

There was only one exception to this rule and that was my literature book and that was because my professor pretty much insisted upon it. Even when I give books to friends or as part of a baby shower gift, I have to write my little note on an index card to them and then paperclip it to the front page. I just can't bring myself to write in a book. 

I was listening to a podcast the other day and one of the people on the show talked about how they write notes in the margins of the novel to notate things. I was kinda horrified. 

Or, when I read a hard cover book I have to take off the paper cover. 

I can't stand it sliding all around while I read it so I always take the cover off and store it until I finish the book and then replace it. 

How about re-reading books? I don't do it unless I have to

I've only ever re-read two books, the first was for the teen book club I run. I read the book in question about 7 years before I decided the club was going to read it and wanted to brush up on it again. The second was a book that is coming out with a sequel this summer and I wanted to reacquaint myself with the story. Otherwise one and done. Although, I'm not closed to the idea of catching back up with Harry Potter.....

Lastly, it took me a long time to do this, but I don't finish books I don't enjoy. 

I used to think I had to finish a book. The problem with that is that I would hate reading the book so much I'd stop reading all together. That's not cool. Now if I find myself avoiding picking up the book because I dread reading it, I just stop reading it. Nothing is worth me not reading. 

So what are your thoughts on all these things?