Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Dog Parks are Dangerous

Oh hey there blog. Long time no see. A lot's happened since the last time I posted here, but one thing completely took over my life for the past two months. I fractured my knee. 

What? How!?

A very rude Great Dane (that literally weighs more than I do) ran head-on into my knee at the dog park. I thought he was going to zig, but instead he zagged. I just couldn't get out of the way in time. My knee went backwards like this flamingo's, and I landed on my back staring up at the sky. 

Human knees aren't supposed to do this!
Flash forward to an Urgent Care trip, an MRI, and an orthopedic exam, where I was given crutches, a knee brace, and instructions not to put weight on my fractured, right leg for 4 - 6 weeks. 

I'm the type of person who likes to do things for myself. I love being lazy as much as the next person, but there was something so awful about not being able to carry things or cook or walk Loki that left me feeling... almost pathetic. I've never had to rely on other people as much as I have over the past two months. (Shout out to my fiance for picking up the slack in all areas of life. I would have starved to death under a pile of dog hair if it weren't for you.) 

Thankfully, this week I'm back on my feet with an intense, daily routine of physical therapy exercises. If there's any sort of silver lining to this, it's that it happened when it did. Once I fully heal, nothing will stop me from dancing up a storm at our wedding in October! 


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult: A Review

Fair warning, this post has spoilers for Leaving Time, written by Jodi Picoult! 

I checked off my first April goal this past weekend when I finished Leaving Time. 

From AmazonFor more than a decade, Jenna Metcalf has never stopped thinking about her mother, Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident. Refusing to believe she was abandoned, Jenna searches for her mother regularly online and pores over the pages of Alice’s old journals. A scientist who studied grief among elephants, Alice wrote mostly of her research among the animals she loved, yet Jenna hopes the entries will provide a clue to her mother’s whereabouts.
Desperate to find the truth, Jenna enlists two unlikely allies in her quest: Serenity Jones, a psychic who rose to fame finding missing persons, only to later doubt her gifts, and Virgil Stanhope, the jaded private detective who’d originally investigated Alice’s case along with the strange, possibly linked death of one of her colleagues. As the three work together to uncover what happened to Alice, they realize that in asking hard questions, they’ll have to face even harder answers. 
As Jenna’s memories dovetail with the events in her mother’s journals, the story races to a mesmerizing finish. A deeply moving, gripping, and intelligent page-turner, Leaving Time is Jodi Picoult at the height of her powers.

I enjoyed parts of this book more than others. 
My heart broke for the elephants who suffered both in the wild and in captivity,
 especially after hearing Jodi speak about her time in Africa preparing for this book.  I liked reading about the lengths that 13-year-old Jenna went to to try to find her mom. I was so engrossed in her mother's story. Did Thomas's mental illness lead him to murder his wife? Did the elephants just lose it? I was on the edge of my seat until the book's climax.

As for the ending... I hate spending so much time with a book/movie/show only to realize at the end that everyone was already dead. (The ending of Lost drove me absolutely insane.) It just makes the whole experience feel like a waste of my time. The fact that Jenna and Virgil were dead the whole time seemed to come out of no where, but not in a positive way. The book spent almost 400 pages building to the events that happened on the night that Jenna's mother disappeared, but this was then rushed through and overshadowed by, "Surprise! Everyone's already dead!" It's not that I don't like books about the supernatural, I just prefer to know what I'm getting into. To me, this book was more about elephants' grief and how it parallels and differs from humans' than spirits walking among us, and I felt like this twist really took away from the rest of the story. 

Have you read Leaving Time? What were your thoughts on the ending? 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Dash Dolls: I'm Sorry, What?

The Kardashians are getting another show. ANOTHER SHOW. 

When I saw this post on Instagram, I wasn't the least bit surprised. Kourney and [insert sister] Take [insert exciting, new city], Khloe and Lamar, Kim's Fairytale Wedding, and Bruce Jenner's upcoming docuseries have shown us that if there is a possibility for the Kardashians to make a spinoff reality show, they will. 

Don't get me wrong - I keep up with the Kardashians hard. I love a good binge watch, and I was ecstatic that so many seasons have recently been put on Hulu. But that's the thing - I keep up with the Kardashians. I like their family drama, their sarcasm, and I daydream about living their extravagant lifestyle. Malika is fine I guess, but seeing her on KUWTK doesn't make me want to watch her on her own. I see Dash Dolls being a lot like Vanderpump Rules, but even more dramatic because it will be an entirely female cast. 

I just don't have the capacity to care about more reality stars. I can't. I'm just so tired. Plus, why would I want to watch a Kardashian show without the possibility of quips from Lord Disick? 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

April Goals

Seriously, where has the first quarter of this year gone? I feel like time has really gotten away from me, and that I haven't really done anything yet in 2015. I know this is a bit of an exaggeration as we've had some pretty big things happen lately, but the warmer weather is giving me an ambitious attitude. I've never written down monthly goals, but I'm hoping that this will help lessen that floundering feeling that I've been having lately. 

- Put in our new garden bed and start seeds indoors. Along these lines, I'll be keeping my eye out for the perfect straw hat to go with my overalls
- Spruce up the landscape in our front yard.

- Pass my Master's Exam/Oral Defense. (I'll be stress-eating chocolate and tearing my hair out until next Thursday at 5:00pm.) 
- Find some motivation to crank out the rest of this semester's assignments. 
- Pass all of my classes so I can GRADUATE!

- Mail save the dates.
- Finish bridal shower invite list. 
- Brainstorm reception favors. 

- Grab something bright and fun from Target on April 19th. Lilly, I'm coming for you. (This feels like cheating because I've already made my wish list, but I thought I could use a freebie.) 
- Take Loki on more frequent and longer walks as the weather warms up. 
- Finish Jodi Picoult's Leaving Time. I got this book for Christmas and have been reading it on and off for about a month. It's amazing. I know that if I can stop playing Hay Day so much, I'll finish it in no time! 

What are some of your goals for this month?

Friday, March 27, 2015

College Basketball Party Essentials

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #EasyBracketParty #CollectiveBias

 I've definitely not kept it a secret that I'm obsessed with my school and its athletics. Football season is everything, and after football comes basketball. Everyone knows sports are better enjoyed with a group of like-minded, crazed fanatics, so why not host a viewing party for your favorite college basketball team during this year's tournament? 

As a vegetarian, I always struggle trying to find finger foods to snack on. That's why I decided to make this ranch cheese ball! You can never go wrong with cheese, and Ritz crackers and salami (for meat eaters) make the perfect parings. 

2 8-oz. packages of cream cheese
3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup diced green onions
1 1-oz. packet of Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning 

Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Use a mixer to combine all ingredients until smooth. 

Scoop mixture into a sheet of cling wrap, bundle up, and roll on counter until mixture is in the shape of a ball.

Unwrap and place in serving dish. 

(Most cheese balls have some sort of outer coating, but I don't like nuts or meat on my cheese. I think it tastes great without!) 

Arrange Ritz crackers and salami around the platter. 

For those with a sweet tooth, OREO Cookies and Reese's Minis made an amazing platter of their own. I seriously can't stop munching on these Reese's Minis - they come unwrapped and are the perfect ratio of chocolate to peanut butter! 

Just add Coke Zero to wash it all down! 

Want to host your own college basketball party? Make sure to check out Giant Eagle for your party planning food and decorations! 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Helping Our Dog with Separation Anxiety

We are Loki's third set of owners this year. We noticed right away that he hated being left alone - he would follow us around the house and cry by the door if one of us left to go to work or run errands. We built a little house for him under our basement stairs, and we would have to walk him by the collar to get him to go inside. Little by little, Loki seems like he's understanding that we won't leave him alone for hours and hours and that we're not going to take him back to the pound. He's stuck with us!  

During the first month that we had Loki, we did some work with him to help his mitigate anxiety. I'm not trained in animal behavior, but this is what's worked for us!

- Keep a routine. Whether you crate your dog or let him have the run of the house, make sure that you're consistent about where you leave him and what you leave him with. 

- Stimulation is key - make sure your dog has something to do while he's alone. We fill a large KONG toy with peanut butter and dog food, and he only plays with it while we're gone. We also leave a radio on low so that he's not sitting in silence all day. 

- Pay attention to your dog when you are at home! The Humane Society told us that Loki had a tendency to destroy things that were left laying around the house, but I think it's just because he was bored! We play with him and pet him constantly, and we've never had a problem leaving shoes or things out.

- Every dog is different - ask your vet for even more ideas! 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Wedding Dress Shopping: Tips and Tricks

Say Yes to the Dress has shaped how we think of wedding dress shopping. We've all learned some helpful tricks from the show: Don't bring your fiance, don't bring too many women, don't bring a Negative Nancy. But aren't these all kind of obvious? I wanted to share some tips that I learned when shopping for my own wedding dress that I would have liked to know beforehand! 

Do: Research shops and pay attention to their price points. I fell in love with a wedding dress that I would pass every day on my way to work. After looking up the shop, I realized that their dresses were way out of my budget. I'm glad I looked before trying it on, falling in love, and then having to walk away. 

Do: Keep in mind the style of wedding that you want to have. I think princess dresses are gorgeous, but that style wouldn't have fit with our more simplistic, rustic venue. 

Don't: Go into a boutique dead set on one dress, or even one style of dress. Half the fun is trying on a bunch of different things, and you might be surprised by what you fall in love with. 

Do: Go into a boutique with a general idea of what you like in a wedding dress and be able to describe it. I told my stylist that I liked really detailed backs, and she took that to mean that I wanted a high neckline, which no.

Don't: Be afraid to accessorize. My dress was so-so on its own, but as soon as a waist accent and a veil was added, bam! Stunning. 

Do: Wear underwear you aren't embarrassed to have a stranger see. (Nude is best.) Your stylist will likely be in the fitting room pulling dresses on and off of you. They will see what you've got going on under your dresses.

Don't: Stress out if you don't stick to your shopping schedule. I had planned to visit a second bridal shop, but I found my perfect dress at the first. Some say that you should check out all of your options, but I didn't want to drive all over town if I didn't need to!  

Do: Let your Maid of Honor pick out one dress that both of you absolutely hate. Try it on even though your stylist doesn't want you to for sake of time. 

(The most important) Do: Go out for mimosas to celebrate when it's all over, even if it isn't anywhere close to brunch time. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Our (Dog) Adoption Story

Look at that face!! This is the newest addition to our family, Loki! (Yes, like Marvel.) 

Ryan and I had been talking about wanting a dog for a few years. We had both grown up with dogs in our homes and knew that we wanted at least one in our own. There were a few issues, though, that stopped us from looking into adoption sooner. 

Allergies: I have the weirdest allergies when it comes to dogs. I'm allergic to some but not all, and breed has absolutely nothing to do with it. I could even be allergic to some dogs from the same litter and not others. There's literally no way of knowing until I've spent 'enough' time with a dog, but even the necessary time varies! For this reason, I've been so scared that we'll pick out a dog, bring him home, fall in love, and then have to take him back because I can't breathe. 

Money: You guys, dogs can be expensive. Adoption fees, supplies, food, treats, it all adds up fast. We wanted to make sure we had enough leftover each month to be able to provide for our puppy child in the best way. 

Time: Is there ever a good time to introduce chaos into your life? 

So long story short, the day after I got my full-time job offer (money, check!), Ryan was looking at the Humane Society's website and there was an adorable one year old dog named Loki who had been dropped off on his birthday. We went to see him and basically fell in love on the spot. After 15 minutes of petting him and rubbing my face, I wasn't sneezing. (Allergies, check!) We filled out the paperwork, and 20 minutes later we were on our way home with our little boy. 

Almost one month later, we couldn't be happier about our new form of chaos. He is a bundle of energy, loves snow, and is respectful during #TGIT by not knocking over my red wine. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

I Have Too Many Hobbies

It's (very obviously) been a while since I posted here. I've found that I go on kicks with my hobbies - a knitting kick where I make four pairs of gloves in a week, a blogging kick where I post 4 - 5 times a week, or a puzzle kick where I spend the entire weekend working on a 1000 piece puzzle while Real Housewives plays in the background. I've also found that I don't enjoy blogging as much when I'm stressed. (Is that normal? I feel like blogging helps to de-stress a lot of people!) 

BUT last week some really incredible things happened, and the huge amount of stress that had been weighing me down just vanished

My graduation application was approved. 

My big program that I planned for my Master's culminating project took place on Saturday, and now I just have to write up the results. (aka if Taylor Swift asked me if I was out of the woods, the answer would be a very excited YES!) 

I was offered an incredible full-time position that I will be transitioning to three days after my birthday in February. 

To celebrate, Ryan and I picked out our first dog. 

I have so much to share with you guys, and I'm so excited to share it. Here's to getting back in the swing of blogging! 

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Pizza Bible: A Review

I know that this is the time of year where everyone posts about their diet and exercise plans, except I really like pizza. So instead of talking about healthy foods and cutting carbs in the New Year, I want to talk about The Pizza Bible. 

The Pizza Bible is a cookbook written by Tony Gemignani and includes recipes for pizzas from across the world. From Regional American to Sicilian, to Napoletana, this book has recipes for every kind of pizza you could ever want. The author includes how-to sections for dough and sauce making, preparing and using a brick oven, and explains why certain pans are used in different regions. 

Pros: This is the most comprehensive book about pizza that I have ever seen. The recipes for doughs, sauces, and toppings are incredibly detailed and easy to follow. The photos are mouthwateringly gorgeous, and I get hungry every time I flip through the book. 

Cons: This is one of those cookbooks that requires you to go out and purchase tools (like different kinds of pans/dishes) and semi-unusual ingredients. The dishes really require you to commit. Many of the doughs take several days to prepare! 

Overall, I would give this book a 4 out of 5! 

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are, of course, my own.