Friday, February 26, 2010

Touchy subject

I was reading an article yesterday about the model Crystal Renn who used to be a "normal model" at size 0 (she was anorexic at this time) and is now a "plus-sized model" at size 12. Crystal talks about how the fashion industry (and our society in general) needs to make some serious changes, specifically by not glamorizing waif thin girls/women. Hollywood clearly doesn't help this cultural attitude about weight as most actresses could jump on the catwalk and fit right in with the size 0-2 models.

After I read the article, I started doing some research on the topic and was surprised by some of my findings and mainly by comments people left on various articles. The general consensus seems to be that models and actresses do not represent an attainable reality for most women and are harming the self-esteem of young girls who idolize these women. And I agree with these thoughts because I, myself, have often been overly critical of my body and the number on the scale.

It's difficult to open a fashion magazine and see these women wearing beautiful clothes and looking fantastic and actually remember that they have entire beauty team working on them and lighting experts to put them in the right light. Oh and not to mention the "re-touching" that the industry even admits to using. It's hard not to compare ourselves to these women. But we shouldn't. Most of them, I'm convinced, are constantly hungry. And if they're not, they do have plenty of money for personal trainers, personal chefs and liposuction. Besides, if you ask most men, they don't prefer the waif thin look where you can see a girl's ribs. Most men like T&A...the bigger the better in many cases.

So I do think the fashion industry and entertainment world have got it wrong, as do most of the women who left comments on the articles I was reading. But I was a little taken aback by some of the comments. While a size 0 is not necessarily healthy, is a size 12? According to various internet sources, the average dress size for women in the US is a size 14. This wasn't very surprising to me, considering how fast food restaurants are on every corner, portion sizes have increased over the years and America has gradually been getting fatter. But what did surprise me, was the numerous comments from women proudly proclaiming to being a size 12 or 14 and saying, they're "normal" and could stand to lose some weight but are not overweight. How you could stand to lose weight, but not be "overweight" is beyond me and doesn't compute, but that's beside the point - or actually, that is my point. While women shouldn't strive to be a size 0 or 2 and I don't think we should focus so much on the number on the scale or the size of our clothes, I get the feeling that many women don't think they are overweight, when in fact, they are. So there's a strange dichotomy in our society.

If you google "is a size 12 overweight" you get over 5 million hits and after clicking on some of the links, its clear there's no consensus as to the answer. Experts say BMI is the real test for whether or not someone is under or over-weight. So perhaps the question of whether a size 12 is overweight is irrelevant. But reading these articles has got me thinking about our culture and what we are teaching young girls. I for one have realized I need to get a grasp on my body image way before I have a daughter and screw up her self esteem. I do think the best thing for me growing up was doing sports and staying active. As a pre-teen and teenager I didn't have time to sit around and worry about my weight or how I compared to models - I was either going to school or swimming for 2 hours a day.

And perhaps you are asking yourself why I would be writing this post when I myself started a diet a month ago.  If you ask my husband or most of my friends, they'll tell you I look great and don't need to be on any diet.  One of my friends laughed at me when I told her I started WW. Perhaps they are right.  My BMI is in the normal range.  I wear a size 6. And I exercise 5-6 days a week, rarely eat fast food and typically eat healthy.  So why am I trying to lose weight?   It's a good question.  Personally, I want to fit in the clothes sitting in my closet.  I read somewhere that we shouldn't desire to be the same size or shape as models or actresses.  But if we want an attainable goal, you could look to a size you yourself used to be, because if you were that size at one point, you can realistically be that size again (this does not apply if you had an eating disorder when you were the smaller size).  I have a tendency to pick good food but eat too much of them (remember my overeating compulsions...) and if I stop working out, I don't feel good about myself.  But I don't need to be a size 2, nor do I want to be.  I just want to be healthy and happy.  And right now I am.

And the next time I have a negative thought about my body, I'm going to remind myself that last Sunday I did a 9 mile run.  My body is working for me and I need to love it in return, because its the only one I have.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I should be...

1.  Folding the 5 loads of clean laundry currently sitting on a table in my laundry room.  (Do I get credit for at least doing the laundry?  We'll overlook the fact that everything is now wrinkled and will require ironing...details.)

2.  Vacuuming up Wrigley's fur from all over the house.  (At least she's healthy enough now that she is shedding.)

3.  Cleaning the pile of dishes in the sink (Note: I did cook Senegalese Peanut Stew with Spinach and Sweet Potatoes (from scratch) for dinner.  Another WW recipe.  It was the first one I'm not sold on.  Too much ginger for my liking.)

4.  Putting away all the "things" that are not currently in their place around the house.  (Clothes, dog toys, cat toys, mail, you get the picture).

5.  Putting more of a dent in The Count of Monte Cristo....or I'm never going to finish the 30 Books Challenge. (I'm on page 283 of 509).

But instead, I'm flipping back and forth between American Idol, the Olympics and Ruby and updating this blog.  I should probably get my priorities straight.  At least tomorrow is FRIDAY!  I'll just do it all this weekend...or maybe I'll paint the dining room!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


So what is the etiquette on blog-stalking (or “blog-alking” for short – stalking sounds so harsh)? I have a handful of friends who have blogs that I read on a regular basis. A few of these friends post “Blogrolls” /a list of other blogs they’re reading or following. So for instance, lets say I’m checking out La Vida Leipprandt’s blog, she has a “Give these Blog some Love” column and I can quickly find 10 other blogs to read. But these blogs are from people I don’t know. They’re La Vida’s friends. But some of them have great blogs and I really enjoy reading them. And from there it can spiral such that I end up reading a blog from a step-friend twice removed on my great aunt’s side. Is this wrong?

Part of me feels like I’m secretively reading all about this strangers life, which in reality, I am. But when you start a blog, one of the reasons must be an underlying desire for other people to read what you’re writing. Otherwise, wouldn’t you just keep a diary or a private blog? For me, I wanted to start a blog to keep “physically distant” friends and family invovled in my life’s happenings, and also as a creative outlet. And now that I know some people follow along, I’m more encouraged to keep writing. Over 120 people have viewed my blog profile (which I admit could use some finessing), so who are these people? I know of 10-20 people who read along on a somewhat regular basis, but who are the other 100 people? Friends of friends?  And surely there are other people who don't view the profile of each blog they stumble across, I certainly don't.

But with blog-alking, what are the rules? When you blog-alk, do you leave a trail? Is it OK to comment on some random person’s blog post? Do most people do this? Or do you just silently read and move on? I’m a quiet blog-alker, preferring not to leave any evidence of my stay. But as a blogger myself, I’d love to know that/if I have some blog-alkers. So maybe I should re-think my blog-alking.

My favorite Blog-alking story happened a few months ago when a couple of friends and I went to a cookbook signing of a great bloggess, PW. Four of us went together and ran into our friend Ali from Two Onesies. And Ali was there with some other friends, so we were all chatting while we waited our turn to meet PW. My friend, who we’ll call “Anonymous Blog-alker” turned to me, after Ali’s friend (“Europe Blogger” – she had a blog about living abroad) left for a few minutes, and said, “I swear I think I know that girl from somewhere.” And then it hit her, she’d been following Europe Blogger’s blog. They’d never met in real life, but “Anonymous Blog-alker” knew all about Europe Blogger and her life. Europe Blogger returned to our little group and totally out of the blue said something about blog-alking. I sat there smiling and laughing to myself as I watched Anonymous Blog-alker’s face turn a little pink. But I couldn’t believe it when she actually admitted to blog-alking Europe Blogger, who luckily didn’t seem freaked out. That’s the thing, blog-alking is a part of blogging, so we should all just admit we do it. My name is Mrs. Swan, and I’m a blog-alker.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Living Room Renovation

When Mr. Cob and I bought our house we overlooked many of its "flaws."  I rationalized them by saying the house had character and potential.  Let's face it, parts of it were just unkempt and in need of some love.  So after a year I finally got down to business and started beautifying our house, starting with the first room you walk into when you enter the front door - the living room.

Here are some BEFORE pictures:

Take note of the stain on the fireplace...not exactly pretty.  I'd told myself it had the "antique", that would just be run down and kind of falling apart.

And the trim.  Oh the trim.  Unsightly, to say the least.

Blah white walls.  Very sterile feeling.

It's just screaming for help.

After 3 and a half tubes of caulk; almost a gallon of "Inviting Ivory" Sherwin Williams paint in the eggshell finish; atleast half a gallon of white paint on the trim; and a quart of "Coconut Husk" paint (for the mantel), we were finished.  The room looks amazing, if I do say so myself.  Thanks mom for all your help!  And thanks to Mr. Cob and Wrigley for cheering us on!

And the AFTER pictures speak for themselves:

We also refurbished an old coffee table we had in the basement.  3 cans of brown textured spray paint later and it was lookin great!

The only thing I would like to change/fix is to somehow find a way to get the old paint off the brick on the fireplace.  We tried mineral spirits, but had no luck.  Any ideas?

I'm really loving our new and improved living room!  Next on "the list" is our dining room, kitchen and breakfast nook.  I already bought the paint so I just need to recruit some help and get busy!

I have Compulsive Eating Tendencies, It's True

I love food more than the next person.  I always have.  Salty and crunchy win over sweet and savory any day.  I especially love crackers, chips and cheese.  They speak to me.  I also love red meat - the rarer the better.

This love of food was never really a problem growing up.  I started competitively swimming at the age of 8 or 9, so I swam every day after school, burning hundreds of calories each practice.  I could eat whatever I wanted and remain lean and muscular.  In fact, I needed to eat often to fuel my body so that it could work efficiently for me.  I swam every day until I was 17 years old, when a shoulder injury sidelined my dreams of being a collegiate athlete.  But I continued to work out on a somewhat regular basis and maintained a slim figure.

In college I was quite vain and went to the "Ramsey Center" on a regular basis to work out. I started running and became a pro at the eliptical and stairclimber.  Somehow I was able to counteract all the beer I was consuming.  Although, if I did take a hiatus from working out, I easily could gain 5 pounds.  But it was never a "problem."  And then in law school I really started running and worked out as a way to stay sane.  Also I'm convinced that the constant stress helped me to keep any binge eating at bay.

But then I started working a 9 to 5 (or 6 or 7) job and spent most of my day sitting at a desk.  Slowly, weight started creeping on.  Most people haven't noticed, but my clothes haven't fit quite right for some time.  I have a closet full of clothes and can't fit in about a third of them.  I've gone to a nutritionist, trained for a half marathon and tried to watch what I eat.  But nothing has been very successful.  I've been working out again on a regular basis and am in a place of loving my body again, but I still want to drop a few pounds.

So I joined Weight Watchers online.  And in 4 weeks I've lost over 3 pounds!  Which is huge for someone who doesn't have more than 10-15 to go in the first place.  So it's really encouraging!  And yesterday I wore a pair of jeans that 2 months ago made me look like a sausage...and not in a good way (if there is a good way...).

I like the way WW works.  All food and recipes are given a point value.  You're allotted a certain number of points per day, with an additional amount of weekly flex points and you get more points if you are active.  No food is off-limits - so you are not depriving yourself!  If I want chips, I can eat them - then I just have to give somewhere else in the day, or week or run an extra mile.  So far, I'm loving it and am encouraged to keep going.  I think the main thing is writing down everything you put in your mouth, which can be a challenge, but it makes you think before you take a bite.

Last week was the first week that I ate more than my allotted points.  I was over by 10.  And there's one reason for this - chips.  On Saturday, mom and I were painting the living room and working hard all day but I hadn't eaten enough in the morning.  So the afternoon came and I was hungry.  I said I'd just have one chip.  One turned into about 30.  And mom hit it right on the head when she noticed, when I'm hungry, I unconsciously eat whatever I have around the house.  It's a problem.  Always has been, always will be.  I love food.  And then Mr. Cob and I went out to Mexican...more chips.  And then we went out for a few drinks that night and came home and had a late night snack of, you guessed it - chips.  Needless to say, I ate 3 times my allotted points on Saturday alone.  Which is gross in retrospect.  But Sunday I woke up and started the healthy eating again and felt no regret for my binge the day before.  Because one day is not going to derail me.  And if I don't allow myself gluttonous days every now and again, I'd go crazy.

I am also trying to let go of the number on the scale.  I know that I'm a healthy person and not "overweight."  I just want my clothes to fit.  And it did hit me the other day just how proud of my body I should be - not everyone can go out and run 9 miles.  My thighs might be bigger than yours, but odds are, they're more muscular.

I also like WW because they have some AMAZING recipes - seriously.  Everything I've cooked off their site so far has been great.  The biggest hit has been the Shepherd's Pie.  I've made it twice in 2 weeks.  Mr. Cob told me I could milk it for 6 months straight and he'd keep eating it with joy.  So I thought you all might like the recipe.  And for those of you WW folks, it's just 5 points a serving :)  Happy eating!



2 large potato(es), peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces (or I've been using 4-6 small potatoes)
1/4 cup(s) fat-free sour cream
1 Tbsp reduced-calorie margarine
1/8 tsp table salt, or to taste
2 tsp olive oil
1 cup(s) onion(s), chopped
2 medium carrot(s), diced  (I've been using 4-6 carrots - more veggies can't be bad)
2 medium stalk(s) celery, diced (I've been uping the celery count too)
1 pound(s) uncooked ground turkey breast
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp rosemary, fresh, chopped (or 1 tsp dried) (dried has worked just fine)
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 cup(s) canned chicken broth, or beef broth


Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Place potatoes in a large saucepan and pour in enough water to cover potatoes. Set pan over high heat and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer 10 minutes, until potatoes are fork-tender. Drain potatoes, transfer to a large bowl and add sour cream and margarine; mash until smooth, season to taste with salt and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots and celery; cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add turkey and cook until browned, breaking up the meat as it cooks, about 5 minutes. Add flour, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper; stir to coat. Add broth and bring to a simmer; simmer until mixture thickens, about 3 minutes.

Transfer turkey mixture to a 9-inch, deep-dish pie plate. Spread mashed potatoes over top and using the back of a spoon, make decorative swirls over the top. Bake until potatoes are golden, about 30 minutes. Slice into 6 pieces and serve.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Busy weekend

The Swan's nest underwent a major facelift this weekend. And the results are fabulous. But more on that later tonight - with pictures! Don't you love the suspense?

What I really want to share with the world today, as a sort of public commitment that will hopefully keep me accountable, is that I've decided to run the ING Half Marathon in Atlanta on March 21, 2010. And I think I've convinced my brother to run it with me, which is very exciting. We ran my first half marathon together over Thanksgiving 2006 and it was a great experience. He was part of the reason I was able to run the entire 13.1 miles - I hit a wall around mile 11 and he just kept encouraging me and telling me I could do it. And I did. This time I'm in better shape, so I won't need his encouragement as much, but it'll be really nice to have his company for 13.1 miles!

Yesterday I went out and did a 9.1 mile run. I've gradually been increasing my long runs over the past 4 weeks from 6 miles, to 7 miles to 8.5 miles and then 9 yesterday. My goal is to run 10.5 this weekend and then 12 the following weekend.

So here's to my third half marathon! Anyone else want to join us?

Here's the info on my run from yesterday....

Route:--Elev. Avg:1000 ft
Location:Decatur, GA, Elev. Gain:-3 ft
Time:05:38 PMDifficulty:3.4 / 5.0
Weather:Partly Cloudy
61 F temp; 28% humidity
61 F heat index; winds SSE 9 mph
Distance:9.11 miles
Speed:5.4 mph
Pace:11' 06 /mi
Elevation (ft)
Pace (min/mile)
MilePace (min/mile)Speed (mph)Elevation
actual+/- avgactual+/- avg
111' 12+0' 065.3-0.1-7 ft
210' 44-0' 225.6+0.2+26 ft
312' 26+1' 204.8-0.6-23 ft
410' 10-0' 565.9+0.5-23 ft
510' 32-0' 345.7+0.3-7 ft
611' 30+0' 245.2-0.2-46 ft
711' 36+0' 305.2-0.2+65 ft
811' 07+0' 015.4-0.0+39 ft
910' 37-0' 295.7+0.2-66 ft
end11' 04-0' 025.4+0.0+36 ft
Versus average of 11' 06 min/mile

Posted from

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Future is revealed in Free Online Tarot Cards

So work has been on the slow side these days.  I'm going on about a year of slowness, but the past month or so has been perhaps the worst.  There's a lot of uncertainty as to what my future holds career-wise and whether or not I'll become a statistic.  I'm hopeful, as I have been since the recession began, that my job is secure and I'll make it through unscathed.  But times are tough.

So I decided I needed a prediction about my future and my career.  Rationally, I googled "free psychic readings online."  I selected a free tarot card reading and asked the simple question:  What does my career future hold?   See below for the response....hum, not sure how I feel about this.

[reading courtesy of]
The Celtic Cross spread is one of the most popular Tarot spreads, providing varied insight into many aspects of a complex situation and your role in it. The Renaissance Tarot is a modern deck, with symbolism drawn from the heroic age and rendered in renaissance style. This deck is an excellent choice for exploring questions of passion, mastery, and the inner workings of human reason. If you would like your own copy of the Renaissance Tarot, you can buy it now!

The card not shown but at the center of the cross, represents the atmosphere surrounding the central issue. The Magician: Mastery of words and of matter. Eloquence, including eloquent silence and Hermetic wisdom. Mediator, messenger, and communicator. The Magician may be a sage or just a quick talker. He is a master-manipulator of the material world, but the miracles he effects may be true physical and metaphysical transformation of mere illusion and technical tricks. With Hermes, one never knows; he is the god of orators and liars, merchants and thieves, trickery and arcane science.

The card visible at the center of the cross represents the obstacle that stands in your way - it may even be something that sounds good but is not actually to your benefit. Justice: The vindication of the just and the punishment of the unjust. Rule of reason. Balance of power.

The card at the top of the cross represents your goal, or the best you can achieve without a dramatic change of priorities. Ace of Swords, when reversed: The brutal aspect of power. Violence. Consuming heat.

The card at the bottom of the cross represents the foundation on which the situation is based. Knight of Swords, when reversed: Opinionated person who is too quick to condemn others. Bigotry. Action without forethought.

The card at the left of the cross represents a passing influence or something to be released. Six of Coins (Success): Generosity. Philanthropy. Charity. A wise and compassionate decision.

The card at the right of the cross represents an approaching influence or something to be embraced. The Star: Blessedness. Tranquility. Beauty.

The card at the base of the staff represents your role or attitude. The High Priestess, when reversed: Obfuscation. Mumbo jumbo. Heresy.

The card second from the bottom of the staff represents your environment and the people you are interacting with. Temperance, when reversed: Excess. Imbalance. Indulgence. Polarization.

The card second from the top of the staff represents your hopes, fears, or an unexpected element that will come into play. King of Cups: A dignified and accomplished person, compassionate and intuitively accurate. A successful professional, humanitarian and idealistic. One who appreciates the Dionysian side of the arts and the wild, mysterious aspect of nature.

The card at the top of the staff represents the ultimate outcome should you continue on this course. Ten of Swords (Ruin): Calamity. The failure of a hero, foretold in prophesy, but brought about by the hero's own choices.

Someone needs to invent Time Travel Already

I have high hopes that in the near future technology will evolve so that standing on a platform and saying "Beam me Up Scotty" would really, well, beam me up.  It's cold in Georgia.  It's been cold in Georgia.  Mother nature dropped about 3-4 inches of snow last Friday, which is very out of the ordinary for the South.  And now its just windy and frigid.  I need warmth.

I'd rather be...

In Michigan, drinking my coffee overlooking Hess Lake.  So serene...

Or in London exploring the city with Mr. Cob.  Preferably on our way to grab a pint at a pub...
Or in France, at Versailles...
Or in Mexico (Playa de Meujeres), sipping champagne, reading a book and and relaxing by the beach... 

Or in Tulum, Mexico exploring the ruins and loving the breathtaking views ....
Or in Fort Meyers Beach, Florida watching the sun set...


Or Cabbage Key with no TV, no car, no phone but with Lulu, plenty of drinks, food and friends...

Or at the Lake, floating my days away on a raft...

Or at the Rivah, in Virginia...

Or Folly Beach in Charleston...

Really, I'd like to be anywhere warm.  Some place by the water would just be an added plus.  So would a cocktail.  And some friends, or family.

But for now, I'm stuck here in cold G.A.  At least the snow provided a good photo-op...



Regardless of the cute snow shots, I'm still hoping for an early Spring...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Wise Man once said:

Buddha has said, “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”

I'm trying to heed Buddha's words today, but finding it difficult.  Last night I learned that my only brother is moving across the country in just four short months.  I've been lucky to have him live less than 6 miles away for the past two and a half years.  Which is perhaps why the news has been so hard to take.  He's my only sibling and we've shared a lot growing up.

He was 3 when I was born in Rochester, NY.  A year later we moved together to California.  Seven years later we moved to Virginia.  And three years later we moved to Massachusetts. With each move we were each other's only friend in a new, strange place.  I always knew I could count on him.  He was the constant in my childhood.  But then my last move, in 1996, he didn't come with us.  He was off to college in Richmond and I went off to Georgia.  It was by far the worst and hardest move I've made.  A huge reason was because my big brother wasn't there with me. 

But we stayed close and visited often.  He played soccer for the U of R spiders and we traveled to Richmond or wherever he was playing most weekends of the Fall.  The first hour drive back to GA was always silent and a feeling of sorrow hung in the air.  Mom, dad and I knew we were going back home without one of our family's key members.  "Home" was never the same when Brent wasn't there.  But all through college, we emailed and talked and he was always there for me.  He came home for as many holidays and events as he could.  My senior year in high school, Brent and his 4 soccer buddies accosted my prom date and threatened him with his life if he even thought of doing anything to me.  He always protected me.

He graduated college in 2000 but stayed in Virginia for a bit.  Then a strange turn of events brought him back to Georgia for a short time.  And in the summer of 2001 we lived down in Florida at our parent's beach house together, just the two of us.  While we were at very different places in our lives, it was time I'll always cherish.  After that summer he moved back to Virginia to attend classes at VCU to take pre-req classes for his Doctor of PT program.  It was there that he met his future wife, Ana Lisa.  But then, he came back to Georgia to start his DPT program at Emory.  All four members of our family were back home in Georgia.  And we've been here ever since. 

The Cesare-family circle of trust grew in 2006, when Brent and Ana Lisa got married.  Then in 2008 the circle grew larger yet again - in July, Stuart was born and in August, I married Mr. Cob.

We've been very blessed to all live so close for this amount of time.  Had you asked me back in 2000 if I thought Brent would move to Georgia, I'd tell you that you were crazy.  But I was wrong and he lucky did move home.  We've spent many late nights playing poker, Wise and Otherwise, Catchphrase, Huggermugger and Tripely together as a family.  Mr. Cob and Brent got to play on the same soccer team and they forged a close bond.  Ana truly is my sister, and not just because she's married to my brother.  I love them very much and it's very difficult to know they'll be leaving soon.  But I understand and totally support their decision.  I just need to learn how to Skype and take a few more trips each year.  And more than anything, I just need to cherish the time we do have together.  So tonight, Mr. Cob and I are going to babysit Stuart and just love him and make as many memories as we can.  And at least they're not moving to Siberia.  It could be worse.

There's an old Italian proverb that says: "He who finds a friend, finds a treasure."  I've been lucky enough to find a friend in my brother.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Attorney version of Crack

I don’t advocate taking stimulants to keep you awake or sleeping pills to help you sleep. If you’re eating right, exercising and getting to bed at a reasonable hour, “enhancers” aren’t needed. And your body should regulate on its own.

But not today. And not any Monday. Monday’s have their own set of rules. Today is a coffee kind of day.

Mr. Cob and I wanted to spend as much quality time together as possible yesterday for Valentine’s Day, so I didn’t go to bed until close to midnight. Then I tossed and turned trying to fall asleep for another half hour only to be woken up by Miss Wrigley romping around the room at 4am. She whined and barked a little, but not seriously so we thought she was just bored in the middle of the night (no, this is not her typical behavior, but I was groggy and not thinking clearly). Interruption #2 came a little later when she hurdled herself over the “baby/dog gate” that keeps her in our room at night, causing a loud bang as it knocked to the ground. We still didn’t get the hint. Finally at 6am, I woke up to the smell of poo. Not a good smell. Wrigley was sick. In our room. So I had to deal with that. (Side note: I know it’s our fault for not taking her out. She tried to tell us she didn’t feel good. But it was raining. And did I mention it was 4 in the morning? This is why we need a fence – if we had a fence we could’ve just let her out. But we were both too lazy and sleepy to get dressed and take her out on a leash. And then we paid for it. We’re in trouble whenever we have a baby and have to feed in the middle of the night. But lets not get ahead of ourselves. This is exactly why we got a dog first. We need to work out the kinks. And clearly, there are kinks. Don’t judge.) Needless to say I didn’t get any REM sleep between the hours of 4 and 8 am.

Today is definitely a coffee kind of day. But I held strong until 2:05 pm, convincing myself I would eventually “wake up”. But then I couldn’t take it anymore. I needed a jolt. Lucky for me (not so lucky for my wallet or hips…) there is a food court beneath my building. That’s right, I said beneath it.

First thing every morning I’m smacked with the delicious aroma of chicken biscuits from Chik-fil-A. But I resist. Then all day I sit here knowing that I’m just one elevator ride and 20 stories away from Moe’s, Subway, Checkers (a new addition), sushi, Chinese food, Great Wraps, etc. etc. Did I mention that there’s a Great American Cookie Company down there taunting me with their gigantic icing filled cookies? Most days I resist.

One thing that helps me fight off temptation is seeing the lunch food already sitting out at 9:00 in the morning when I stroll into work. The food is just warming under those bright florescent lights. For hours. It’s disturbing if you think about it.

But I also know there’s coffee down there. Caribou was calling my name. It was also calling my name from our break room down the hall. But that’s beside the point. Office coffee isn’t the same – even if we do brew the same Caribou blend that I pay to drink downstairs. It’s different. The taste is richer. Or something.

Luckily for me (and my wallet), Caribou understands what Mondays are all about. Caribou feels my plight. They know times are tough and people are cutting out “frivolous” items, like coffee. (Though I could make a strong argument for the non-frivolousness of coffee, especially on Mondays, but I digress). Thankfully for me, Caribou has Dollar Mondays. My medium coffee only cost $1.08. So I feel a little less guilty paying for coffee that I could drink for free if I just walked down the hall.

So now I’m content. And caffeinated. Which equates to alert and ready to get down to reading some statutes. At least until the caffeine rush crashes. Then I’ll be back to square one. But I’ll deal with that when it comes. Perhaps with a cookie. There’s nothing like chasing a caffeine high with a sugar high.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

I woke up this morning to breakfast in bed. The way to this woman's heart is through her stomach!
I hope everyone has a wonderful Valentine's Day and shares it with someone special!

Friday, February 12, 2010

TMD - Love Equals Football

I might have the cutest husband ever.  He just sent me an early Valentine's Day e-card and it was adorable.  I can't stop smiling and re-watching the "card."

With his permission, I'm sharing the link with you.  Make sure you have your sound on - you'll need it!

And just for the record, football is really soccer.  For those not in the know.

As I've said before, love is in the air.  Happy Valentine's Day to all!

I love you Mr. Cob.  Baby, Its Fact...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Love is in the Air

So I've always been of the opinion that Valentine's Day is really just a Hallmark-holiday.  Do we really need a day designated to show our affection and love for, well, our loved ones?  I kind of think its hokey and I much prefer random acts of love-ness.

But this year I'm in the spirit.  Love is in the air.  I can feel it all around me.  Especially in our nest. 

Bailey Ann is also feeling the love.

 She's so stylish.

The pink really accents the black and white fur coat she's wearing.  Screw PETA she says.  I love fur coats.

The new accessory makes her ponder her beauty.  And she wonders if she'll ever find love.

She's looking for love everywhere.   It appears she's spotted something, or someone.  Could it be her true love?

WRIGLEY!  She's looking like the fine lass she is.  Proving to brunettes everywhere that pink is the new black.  Her motto for this year and advice to all single gals out there: "Smile and the whole world smiles with you." 

 Wrigley is doing all she can to put her best foot forward.  She's showing off her best side.  How can you not fall for that face?

For Valentine's Day this year, we're hoping for peace and love between the canine and feline in our house.  We're making progress.  But I wouldn't say cupid's arrow has landed yet. 

Bailey tends to take the high ground. She feels safer when she can see her prey coming.

After some begging and pleading by Wrigley, Bailey finally decides to take a step closer. But she likes to take it slow. She's not ready to jump into anything serious. So she keeps her wall up. Wrigley just wants love y'all.

But eventually Bailey decides to take a chance.  A small step in the dance of love.  She comes down to say hello, but is too shy to stay and quickly runs away.

Wrigley looks on in anticipation.  She feels like Bailey might be slipping away.  But she's hopeful. 

Hopeful that love is in her future.  With a cat.  A female cat.  Yes, its true.  Wirgley is a lesbian, or at least bi-sexual.  We're open and accepting of her choice.  It's what parents do.  We love her. 

Yet I must admit that I hope Bailey doesn't give in to Wrigley's advances.  They are sisters after all.  And that's just not right.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Legal Post...seeing as I am a Lawyer

It's not too often that I get behind political issues or involve myself in state legislation.  But this morning I recieved an email from a fellow lawyer/good friend urging me to write my state representatives to voice my support of HB 842.  And now I'm here urging you to write your state reps (if you live in GA) in support of this bill.

So what is HB 842?  What bill would get me to actually write to my state reps?  Well a chicken bill.  Yes, chicken. 

Lauren has 5 hens in her backyard and they lay eggs (duh!) and well, the french toast and egg casserole I've eaten made from these eggs were some of the best I've ever had.  So I'd like Lauren to be able to keep her hens.  And any other Georgians who want to keep backyard animals, should have that right.  So here's to the "Chicken Coop" Bill.  Voice your support!

Here was the email:
From: Lauren
Sent: Monday, February 08, 2010 11:06 AM
To: [names withheld to protect the innocent]

Subject: If you've got a minute...

Hey all. If you've got a minute, read the below and offer whatever support you can. I don't think I've ever asked anyone to do anything like this, but don't feel like you've got to respond. This is something that is important to me. And you, if you ever want to taste my eggs!

Hey Backyard Poultry Buffs,

I received a telephone call this morning from State Representative Bobby Franklin and HB 842, Georgia's Right to Grow, or "Chicken Coop" bill will receive its first hearing. This is a subcommittee hearing, but is the first step toward getting this bill to the floor of the house, and ultimately, into the hands of the Governor.

I specifically asked Representative Franklin the one question that we all want to know, "If this bill passes and is signed into law, will it supersede any local laws, and/or ordinances?" The answer is YES!

Here is what YOU can do to help get this bill passed...

Please send an e-mail to the following State Representatives that sit on this committee...,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

You can also find YOUR representative by going to the SOS poll locator and entering your address, then call him or her RIGHT THEN and ask them to JOIN Chairman McCall in support of this bill!

This bill is not only about keeping backyard chickens, but also includes other food producing animals and backyard gardens as well, so make sure you mention these in your email. Call everyone you know and ask them to do the same!

I have been invited to speak at the sub-committee hearing on Thursday, February 11th and look forward to doing so. I will also be broadcasting "LIVE" from the State Capital on Wednesday, February 17th, which is Farm Bureau Day. I hope to interview the three State Representatives that are sponsoring HB 842.

As promised, I will keep you up to date on all the details as they become available
And a summary of the bill:
A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend Chapter 1 of Title 2 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to general provisions relative to agriculture, so as to preempt certain local ordinances relating to production of agricultural or farm products; to protect the right to grow food crops and raise small animals on private property so long as such crops and animals are used for human consumption by the occupants, gardeners, or raisers and their households and not for commercial purposes; to define a term; to provide for effect on certain private agreements and causes of action; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

One of these things doesn't belong here...

I just opened my purse to get my reading glasses only to find a little surprise. 

I think it's Wrigley's way of reminding me that while I'm gone all day she's stuck in a crate.  She's communicating with me - "Hi mom, don't forget me"!

Or maybe it's just what dogs do.

Regardless, it made me smile.  And wonder how long I've been walking around with a dog bone in my purse.  This is just additional evidence that I could use a smaller bag.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Money Matters

Money is always a touchy subject.  People don't really talk about it.  I'd like to think its because we don't want to risk hurting someone else's feelings or put them in an awkward position, because the fact of the matter is, you really don't ever know someone else's money situation, unless they offer to tell you.  But I have questions and I need answers.  So where to turn?

I have a few friends that are following Dave Ramsey's "Seven Baby Steps" and it seems to be working well for them.  I've looked at the steps and considered following that route, but I always opt out because we've accomplished some of the steps but not others and I feel confused if we've done them out of order - I think part of his plan revolves around "the order" of the steps.

Step 1 - Save $1000 in an Emergency Fund - check

Step 2 - Pay off all your debt using the debt snowball - um, yea.  Where do we start?  The debt snowball says to start with your smallest debt first and then work your way up, but I just can't agree with this approach.  My favored approach is to look at all the interest rates and start paying off the highest one first.  Also, not all our debt is "bad debt" - i.e. law school loans.  Although, we have enough of them, that I feel like they're BAD!

Step 3 - 3 to 6 months of living expenses - not exactly.  We're working on month 2...

Step 4 - Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement - check.  Been doing this for 2 years now.  Though we did empty Mr. Cob's IRA to help with the purchase of our home.  But I've got a pretty good chunk in my 401K.  But if I'm following "The Baby Steps" should we stop putting money into the IRA and 401K and instead use the money to pay off the debt or save for the living expense?  I don't know.  There's no *footnote* telling me what to do if my steps are out of whack.

Step 5 - College funding for children - no kids yet, so is this really necessary?

Step 6 - Pay off home early - R-I-G-H-T....lets work on those law school loans first.

Step 7 - Build Wealth and Give - this is the ultimate goal.

So, ok, this is a good blueprint and I keep it in the back of my mind - maybe we'll officially jump on board here soon.  But here's my question, assuming we're not following the Baby Steps (or even when we are): What money should I use for what?  For example, we have a family wedding to go to in April that will cost roughly $500 just to get to.  Do we take this $500 out of our monthly expenses or take it out of our "savings account"?  Or does it qualify for use of the "emergency fund money" [sidenote: it is really just semantics that we are talking about here since our emergency fund money is just the first $1000 in out savings account].

I'm really making a concerted effort to watch my/our spending in 2010.  I vowed not to buy any clothes in January and I succeeded until Friday, January 29th - I just bought a $20 dress, so it's not that bad.  Still, did I need the dress, no.  I did feel pretty wearing it though!  And both Mr. Cob and I are brining our lunch to work most days and cooking dinners at home = saves money on eating out, which is our biggest offender.

I do feel like I'm really hard on us, because we would be doing really well if we hadn't had to drop thousands of dollars on a new roof.  But there are always going to be "life" expenses that get in the way of saving money and paying off debt - you just have to keep going.  My goal is to be credit card free by June 1st, 2010.  (We put the roof on our credit card...)  And then I think we'll reevaluate.

I did make one big change this month - the day we got our paychecks I immediately put a huge chunk towards our credit card.  I typically wait until the end of the month and just use whatever money is left in our checking account to pay our cc.  This is not the most proactive approach.  Let's just hope there's enough money left over at the end of the month for food.  I'm not really in a Top Ramen sort of mood.

Did I mention that I was a finance major in college?  I should have this money thing figured out.  Don't judge.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Halfing it Again

Last week I started training for my 3rd half marathon.  I find that I get in the best shape when I have a specific goal in mind - for example, my wedding, a vacation or a race.  It's no secret that having a goal helps with motivation.  And if I have a training program that I'm following, I'm pretty good about actually getting to the gym or lacing up my shoes and going for the run.

So why did I decide to surrender my pretty pedicures yet again?  Well, my cousin lives in Eugene, Oregon and is going to school at the University of Oregon - Go Ducks!  Over Christmas the fam was here visiting and we've all thrown around the idea of going to OR for a visit sometime and also all had been talking about getting in shape in the new year.  So I had the bright idea of all training for a half marathon in Eugene in May - two birds, one stone - and to my surprise everyone was on board!  My mom is going to walk the 13.1 and my S.I.L., my aunt and two cousins are going to run.  I'm thinking tee-shirts of some sort will need to be made for the event - Starr Runners - or some other cutesy slogan.  The race is May 2nd, so exactly 3 months from today.

I've followed relatively similar training programs for my past two halfs, but as the saying goes, if you keep doing what you've been doing, you'll keep getting what you've been getting.  And the first half training left me with shin splints and the other left me with a quad strain.  So I'm switching it up this time.  I found a training program on Runners and so far it's going pretty well.  Here was my schedule last week:

Mon: 2 miles easy (12:00-12:30 min/mile pace) [I also did weight training]
Tues: 3 x 10 min medium, wtih 2-min walk breaks (10:20 to 11:05 min/mile pace)
Wed: 30 minute walk
Thurs: 5 min walk; 20 min hard; 5 min walk (9:40-10:00 min/mile pace) [I also swam for 25 minutes]
Friday: REST
Sat: 6 miles easy (12:00-12:30 min/mile pace) with 2 min walk breaks every 7 minutes
Sun: XT

Total miles: about 13

This week I'm doing the same schedule but my "long" run on Saturday will be 7 miles and I'm going to throw some yoga classes in.  So here's to training!  And if I feel up to it and confident that I am ready, I may do the Nashville half marathon again this year which is two weeks before the one in Eugene.  But lets just say I'm not signing up for that quite yet!

Monday, February 1, 2010

30 Books Update

Reading total: 4 books
Books to go: 26
Months before 30: 15
Library Fines: undetermined (probably around $10); however, they have not increased since my self-induced ban from the library is prohibiting me from checking any books out for a while

I figure its time to give an update on the 30 books challenge.  Since we last checked in, I've finished another book and am about a quarter of the way through the next.  Over the long NYE weekend I started and finished The Road by Cormac McCarthy.  Everyone should read this book.  It is highly disturbing yet very thought provoking.  Without giving too much away, the setting of the story is in post-apocalyptic US and is about a father and son's journey in this changed world.  The things they encounter and have to overcome are horrendous and sickening at times.  Yet the themes of hope and love are present throughout the book despite the setting.  This was one of those books where you didn't want to continue reading, but couldn't put it down.  I often had to take a step away from the book, only to find myself coming back five minutes later.  I'm impressed by any book that can cause you to feel such strong emotion. 

Mr. Cob had read The Road a few months before me, so we talked about the book as I was reading it and again once I finished.  It was interesting talking to him about the book because there were things that he put together that I didn't at all and other things that I noticed that he didn't pick up on.  However, he did point out what might've been the most horrifying part of the book and part of me wishes he hadn't.  Let's just say I probably wouldn't last too long in a world where you have to do whatever is necessary to stay alive.  And here's to hoping I never have to.  But I do enjoy talking about books with Mr. Cob.  It helps to offer another perspective.  Maybe my girlfriends' book club idea will actually have forward momentum sometime this year.

I'm currently reading The Count of Monte Cristo.  It's wonderful.  More on that later, but I will say that books are ALWAYS so much better than the movie. 

Dinner Party Delight

I think its safe to say that I successfully threw my very first grown-up dinner party.  It was a fabulous night with great friends, good food and good conversation.  And I learned quite a few things in the process.   But first, the details.

Total number of diners = 14 (including Mr. Cob and myself)
Total number of dining tables = 1.  Yes, I was able to fit 14 people comfortably around my dining room table!  My one piece of advice if you have intentions of entertaining and fitting lots of people around your table - buy a pedestal table - if you have a four legged table it is hard to sit people on the ends/corners, but with a pedestal table it's a breeze.  It also helps that we have 2 leafs to extend our table.
Different chairs used = 4 (breakdown: 6 black dining chairs, 4 chairs from our breakfast nook table, 2 green chairs from my yard sale purchase last April and 2 red chairs that were Mr. Cobs before we got married).

I used my new tablecloth that Mama Kae gave me for Christmas - it fit perfectly (and looked great)!  And we broke out the fine china.   I have 12 place settings so we had to use our everyday china for two of the place settings, but thankfully I listened to my mother back when I was selecting our china and picked a simple white everday set which compliments the fine china beautifully.  And then I picked up some redish-orange cloth napkins and some green napkin holders.  It all came together nicely.

The MENU was the hard part to decide on.  Mr. Cob has a new grill that he's dying to use at any opportunity, so we went with Paula Deen's Bourbon Beef Tenderloin cooked on the rotisserie and it was delicious!  I made a simple green salad and baked asparagus and rounded out the sides with the yummiest Twice Baked Potatoes compliments of the Pioneer Woman herself.  The key ingredient:  real bacon fried on the stove!  I also made homemade Sangria - another PW recipe.  (Sidenote: If you don't know the PW, you're missing out.  She has a great blog and an incredible cookbook.  And if you have a few hours to spare, checkout her love story: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels - it'll make you want to move to the country and marry a cowboy!)  The Sangria was the perfect combination of sweet and savory, but it sure did creep up on you.  Be warned if you try it!  (The main players are red wine, white wine, orange flavored rum and orange flavored vodka - now how's that for a combination).

The dinner party wouldn't have been as successful without our fabulous guests who all contributed to the food and drink.  Katie over at La Vida Leipprandt, also a PW fan, made PW's salsa and homemade guacamole with chips for some appetizers.  Kelly brought delicious sausage and cheese pastry bites.  Jenn a couple of bottles of great wine.  Tedra made homemade garlic bread.  Lauren made her grandmother's carrot cake - from scratch -(my favorite) that was incredible!  And  Katie made an apple crisp that was flavorful and yummy despite its Weight Watchers endorsement!  Thanks for all your help ladies!

It was fun to have a bunch of friends over and enjoy a night together. Some things I learned from our dinner party: I learnd that it always takes longer to clean my house and prepare recipes than I ever anticipate.  It is a science to plan your meal so that all the food is ready at the same time - a science Mr. Cob and I have yet to figure out.  As long as you keep the drinks flowing and some appetizers on hand, people don't really care if dinner takes 30 minutes longer than you were anticipating.  Cloth napkins must be ironed after washing, unless you're going for the "wrinkled look", which I wouldn't suggest.  And finally, Catch Phrase is one of the best games and is a hillarious after dinner event.