Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Happy 2nd Birthday Angel!


Today is my sweet niece McKayla Jane's (MJ) 2nd birthday. It is hard to believe that 2 years ago today she was added to our family. She is quite possibly the most animated child I have ever seen. She is so smart, smiley, and cracks us all up. MJ loves to eat pizza, grilled cheese, and mac n cheese, she loves movies and playing in her new playhouse/bed. She is going to be a big sister in June to a baby brother. She is a blessing to all of us and with one look she can melt your heart. She's not always adorable and has her moments where she will throw her shoes at you or try to hit you, but it is short lived and she always kisses you to apologize. So Happy Birthday MJ, you are so loved you have no idea!

Me and MJ 

My brother and his daughter, MJ. What a character!

So silly!

On another note, in the spirit of the new year there have been some changes. I have cut my hair! No more long hair for me! I am trying something new and I think I like it :) We are also going to eat healthier as a family. Judd wants to lose some weight and I am determined to lose the rest of mine. Ideally I'd like to be 10 pounds lighter by my birthday, but we will see. For now we are just going to eat healthy and start walking. I've also signed up to serve beer and wine at the Mardi Gras Parade in Dunedin on February 21 this year! I am trying to become more involved in the community so one day maybe I can run for....hmmm guess you'll have to wait and see. 

Short hair!

Well that's it for today! Check back soon for more updates and as I always say, Live and Love - E

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A New Year, New Start

OMG I can't get over how long it has been since my last post on December 1 and how much has happened. Quick run-down. Christmas! Christmas was awesome and I was spoiled rotten! I had to work at Pier 1 on Christmas Eve and the day after but I was actually looking forward to that. Since Judd and I started dating we have been struggling college students to paycheck to paycheck just out of college financial status. We haven't been able to do a nice Christmas for one another so this year, with good paying jobs, we made it our mission to have a kick butt Christmas for everyone! We got awesome gifts for all our nieces and nephews, great gifts for my parents, and great gifts for each other. He totally did an awesome job on my gifts too which made me over the moon happy! Here's what I got: 2 track suits from Victoria Secret, a gift card to VS, an electric wine bottle opener, a family sized George Foreman grill, a gorgeous red Kate Spade purse, a custom made hula hoop, and little things. He did amazing! I got him a Playstation 3 with the Move, a certificate to go to get his concealed weapons permit, a blu-ray movie, socks, shirts, a funny cheeseburger salt and pepper shaker, and candy. We both were so happy and had a wonderful day opening presents with my parents.
Judd's gift wrapping skills

My purse!

Then I went to my niece and nephews and exchanged presents and watched the last Harry Potter movie in 3D with the family. Then it was back to work and fighting a cold so that I could spend New Years Eve out with my best friend Bebo (Bobby) that's his nickname I gave him in college who was leaving for Army bootcamp on Jan. 3. We went to Macdinton's, an Irish bar in downtown St. Pete. We talked, had some drinks, I kissed my lovely boyfriend Judd when it turned midnight and we all shared a bottle of champagne. It was a great night!
People let me tell you bout my best friend - this is Bebo

Happy New Year!!!

But then it happened. After all the good, there had to be bad. On January 4 at about 9:30a.m. I found out that my grandfather, Dr. Warren B. Nation went to heaven. I was devastated. I had written in a previous post about how I had just gone to see him in Tallahassee. We knew it would happen, just wasn't sure when. I took a couple days off of work and made the trip to Tallahassee where the service would be held. It was beautiful and my dad, who spoke, did a fantastic job. He told family stories, told about things he admired in him, how he was such a wonderful man, and how much he'll be missed. My aunt read a poem she had written and told a story, which made us all smile.

For you, Gaga (what we called him)
 This is his obituary. He was a great man. After, my aunt had a fabulous party at her house. It was fully catered with a bartender. When I go out, that's what I want people to do, celebrate. I also got a chance to hang out with my third cousins with whom I am very close. We are an interesting family. We are very large, but extremely close.
Amanda and me

Cindy Clawford, Amanda's cat - she is awesome!

 I had to come home and wasn't able to make it to the burial in Winston-Salem, but I heard it too was amazing with full military honors. So like everything in life, you have your ups and you have your downs. I had a great holiday season with family and friends, but I lost a piece of my family. On a new note though we found out today my sister-in-law is having a baby boy so the cycle of life continues. That is why it is so important to Live and Love and that is what I intend to do this new year in 2012! ~ E

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I Would Do Anything For You...

Wow! Time goes so fast when you are in my shoes. Since the last time I posted much has happened. Thanksgiving came and went. Mom and I cooked everything from sweet potato casserole to sausage stuffing and dad rotisseried a turkey on the huge grill on the patio. Judd enjoyed the quiet Thanksgiving holiday with just the three of us. I've posted some pictures of our holiday below.

Mom tasting our food

Sophee on top of all the Black Friday ads. We think she knows that means no one would be home and she was protesting. She's so funny.

I also went to visit my family in Tallahassee. Mostly I went because my grandfather's health is failing. I also got to see my best friend Mandy and everyone from the Bar.

My best friend Mandy and me

It was so good to see everyone, but it was bitter sweet. We had a Whataburger picnic with my grandfather on Saturday because he had told my grandmother that he really wanted a Whataburger. He hasn't been eating well so we figured to let him have it if that's what he wanted. After, we went back to the house and my sister, Cameron, she prefers Cami, freshened up and jumped in the car to head to the FSU game. It was pathetic. It rained. We played awful and lost. We ended up not saying for the whole thing. I did get to see my friend Bryan and he snuck us into the student section. I think my little sister had a good time despite our awful playing on the field.

Sisters

Cami left her pants?? in my parents car. This is her waiting on them to come back from the store. She's a wierdo.

Well now that everything has sort of settled down I am working at the Bar and at Pier 1. I started Thanksgiving weekend at Pier 1. It was intimidating at first, but I have been told by my managers that I'm a natural and they think I'm awesome. Everyone is so nice and the customers seem to like me. Who knows maybe after the holidays I'll try to keep it. I don't work many hours during the week, but I get a great discount and any extra money is more money then we had. Christmas is right around the corner. I have so many people to buy for. So many that I almost gave up on going to 97X's Next Big Thing. It's a concert here that the radio station puts on every year with several rock and alternative acts. This year one of my favorite new bands is performing, Foster the People! I'm so excited. If you haven't heard of them check out the link from Lollapalooza this year. I heard they are awesome live. Foster the People - Pumped Up Kicks Live at Lollapalooza

You all know how much I love my music!!! I'm so excited, I'll be sure to post about it in my next entry! 

Listening to music always :)

Peace, Live, Love and Rock n Roll!!! ~ E

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Running Around Like A Chicken...

OK so I know I have been slacking and it's been four weeks since I last posted. Life has been so busy lately so where should I begin. OK. Lets start with Strides Against Breast Cancer St. Petersburg. It was amazing. The weather had thrown us a curve ball with a cold front so we were freezing that morning and having to wake up at 5:30a.m. and be there at 6:30a.m. was not my cup of tea. Judd gave me a hard time in the car the whole way about how next time I sign us up for something we aren't waking up before the roosters. I could only yell "It's for a good cause!" After we warmed up and got there and actually started volunteering I think he started to feel bad because he kept saying how much he liked doing stuff like that.
Which brings me to that evening when mom and dad came to check out the new place. I think they were pretty impressed. I mean sure we don't have furniture yet, well besides an air mattress, recliner, and LED tv in the living room and bed and dresser in the bedroom; but we'll get there. I'd rather get exactly what I want and wait instead of thrifting or matching pieces of furniture from here and there. I also want to be able to afford it. I am just trying to pull myself out of the debt hole I had gotten in. If only I were getting paid more we'd be alright. That's when I got an idea, but I'll get to that later. We had dinner with the parents and my brother and sister-in-law and their kids at Arigato's Japanese Steakhouse. You know one of those Hibachi places. The kids were in awe of the Japanese mans skills. Then it was home and gearing up for the weekend. Well until I got the flu. 
I haven't been that sick in years. I think the combination of everything just got to me and I laid up in the bed for days. Thankfully, my wonderful, loving boyfriend was able to take care of me and the day-to-day things I would normally be doing. It was awful and I was anxious to get out of the house. Eventually I got better and needed to because we had the Diamond Dash coming up. Well needless to say I didn't win the diamond, but we had a great time trying. There were about 200 couples in competition for a beautiful $15,000 ArtCarved diamond ring. I mean this thing was gorgeous. We solved our clues and ran our butts off, but we just weren't as fast as the triatholon competing, beautiful people that won. FIGURES! Why is it that pretty people always win? Me and my bah humbug attitude. Yeah that's right I would have been happier if it had been an overweight couple who have been struggling and unable to afford to buy a ring. Not these people, they go run triatholons in Crested Butte, Colorado. Yeah sounds like they are struggling. The afterparty was nice though. They had hors d'ouvres and cake, but Judd was PISSED! He does not like losing. Plus I think he secretly really wanted us to win that ring. I told him in the car later that the ring didn't matter, we still had a great day and we still love eachother just the same. 

Well in other news though I have officially lost 40 Ibs since I started my weightloss adventure. I feel AMAZING! All my clothes are too big and I am fitting into things I haven't been able to fit in for years. I have about 20 more to go and I will be satisfied and I am committed to doing so by my 26 birthday. I think that it is do-able. Plus, for my 26 birthday I want to go all out. I skipped my 25th birthday because I lost my grandmother three days before my birthday. I was super depressed and even though it was a pretty big birthday I didn't feel much like celebrating. Its hard to believe how depressed I was before I moved here. I realize now that if I had stayed my health would have never got better physically or mentally. I've posted two pics below to show you the difference and a pic that was taken this passed Friday night when Judd and I had date night. I don't think I've looked as happy in a long time.
Pre-Move
Post Move and still going

Joy

I think the pictures really tell the story. I was just a little lost, lonely, and uncomfortable with myself. I'm on the right track now and getting back to the real me. I even surprised everyone and picked up a second job for the holidays. 1) so I can buy more Christmas presents 2) save some more money and 3) buy me some clothes that FIT! I am excited to say that I start my side part-time job at Pier 1 on Thursday :) Cheers, Live, and Love! ~E

Monday, October 17, 2011

There's something happening here and what it is aint exactly clear...

I said it once and I'll say it again. I think our country made a mistake with our president. He doesn't know what he is doing, he is a puppet, he doesn't have enough experience or economic knowledge to figure out the best plan for our country. That brings me to Occupy Wall Street. It is my right as a citizen to be able to express how I feel, it is my right to protest. Well I want to protest the reason the protesters of Occupy Wall Street are protesting. I know they are upset. Jobs are few and far between. People are being paid less and the cost of living continues to go up. Gas prices are high which in turn causes the prices of food to go up. Healthcare, medical supplies, medications, everything has gone up and even if you have insurance sometimes it's not even worth it. Jobs have you by the junk because you can't express being dissatisfied in fear of losing you job. Without your job no income, no income and you can't pay the bills, can't pay the bills and then what? Times are really hard. I understand the anger and the rage in these individuals I just think their anger is misplaced. We should be marching on Washington!!! I mean don't get me wrong I am a second generation hippie. I don't necessarily believe in the status quo and wish we could all just get along, but I am not an idiot. What people fail to realize is that the money didn't vanish into Wall Street, it just vanished. The world is a lot less wealthy then it was four years ago. These people to me just seem to be angry at whoever has the most money. Well that existed decades ago too. Look at the Rockefellers, the Morgans, the Vanderbilts etc. These people have had their money for years. I keep hearing the protesters and how it's their right to have free healthcare and college. But where would they get the money to fund such things? Are they essentially wanting the rich to pay for it? To give up their fortunes as a sacrifice to humanity? I don't see how it could work any other way. This would also mean larger government. Larger government = less freedom. It's a known fact. To me there is no doubt that they are being heard in expressing their dissent, but what is their solution? Going into a fight with a strategy gives you the biggest advantage in winning then going into it blindly not having done your homework. We ARE ALL struggling. Some more then others. I am sure some would argue "well why haven't you saved!" Well I haven't been given the opportunity to. Just like how I could ask "Why did you have to buy a bigger house when you had a perfectly good one already that you could afford?" And they could say because they needed more space or whatever. Point is if I could be out there holding a sign that says I am struggling month to month and angry with how expensive basic necesseties are without fear of losing my job, the one thing that is saving me from homelessness I would, but there is no solution just yet and not something that can happen over night. Yes things are worth a fight if you propose a solution. In the meantime I like to watch the videos people are posting. Like this one http://vimeo.com/29327621 See the hate in peoples eyes as the shout to crowds and the crowds mimic back. My dad was a hippie. He did protest. He held sit ins and declared his anger for the war. He listened to Hendrix and Joplin. Saw the Who and the Stones. Wore love beads and his hair long. Refused to be told to be silent.  He also told me that if there is something worth fighting for, if you really believe in something do it, but make sure you can stand up 100% for your cause and when someone asks you what should be done about it...you make sure you look them in the eye and you have an articulate answer.
Then

Now


I believe we need change. REAL CHANGE! I think we need to tell government to back off. To let us figure things out. To stop getting their fingers in our money. To stop giving so much to so many. Its like what Thomas Jefferson said, "government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take away everything you have." Well, there you have it. Whoever started this movement had the right idea, find something to appeal to the masses, but they didn't do their homework. We should be marching on Washington. Now if it was acceptable for me to take a couple days to go and fight for that then you bet your ass I'd be buying a Greyhound ticket to Washington and holding a sign while screaming at the top of my lungs about my freedom along with the rest of them, maybe my dad and I could do it together. Live and Love ~ E

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Low Carb Lovin!

So ever since I have moved to the Tampa Bay area I have been on a really strict low carb diet. I can only eat up to 20 carbs a day. I don't eat bread, pasta, cakes, cookies, crackers, chips, basically anything that is really yummy, I don't eat. Ever since this diet I have been trying out new recipes for desserts in the low carb form and it has ignited a passion I didn't even know I had, baking. I made a homemade low carb cheesecake with only 4 carbs per serving and let my family try it. My mother loved it. She thought it was so good she joked about me selling it. Hmmm. It didn't occur to me until recently that there really is an untapped market in low carb baked goods. You can go into just about any bakery here and order a slice of pie or a brownie, but they aren't good for you. They are loaded with tons of sugars and carbohydrates which for diabetics is dangerous for their blood sugars and for low carbers like me, an ultimate No No. So I started thinking what if I started finding very low carb dessert recipes, refined them and started to sell them out of my home at first and see where this could take me. Judd suggested that eventually I could market them to weight loss clinics, bakeries, health food store, etc. in the local area. I know it's going to take time, patience and hard work, but I think I may have found what I really want to do. Tonight, I am going to work on refining my "Almost to good, to be true brownie" I think I may have a winner. Now just to find out where they sell my last ingrediant. Looks like I will be in the car the majority of the afternoon. At least its beautiful weather :) Live and Love ~ E

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Movin On Up to the... Burg! St. Petersburg that is!

I love the 'Burg! This is where I grew up. We lived right off the causeway to Indian Rocks Beach as a kid. I remember whenever there was a threat of a tropical storm or hurricane we were either evacuated or told not to come to school. I remember being in 6th grade laying in the backyard on a pool float when Mama came out and said "Erica Marie, what on earth are you doing?" And me, with all this imagination thought that if I just waited on my raft a big storm surge would come, but I'd be safe because I had a raft. "I'm waiting for the storm, duh!" I said with my Walkman headphones on so I spoke a little too loud. Oh I have great memories of growing up in St. Pete. I remember walking with my best friend Aly in the summer, when it would get so hot but our mothers would send us to eachother's houses so we would sneak off and get Rita's Italian Ice (that's right before it ended up in Tallahassee, it originated here). The red with the custard in the middle is my absolute favorite, it's just so nostalgic. I was a cheerleader and had a ton of friends. I was still the resident goofball, but I was the kind that would talk to anybody. I was a little creative, which meant that I was kinda dorky, but hey I was ok with that. My brothers are both raising their kids here now and I remember how great of a place it was to grow up. Being so close to the beach you don't realize how lucky you are until you move away. Laying out with your friends, playing volleyball, flying a kite on the beach, paddle boarding or skimboarding, it was never boring. We moved into our cutesy little townhouse in a cutesy little neighborhood off of 66th Street and Ulmerton Rd. We are about 9 miles from the beach I grew up on and it makes me so happy. We are also super close to my job, just over the Howard Frankland bridge. But I tell you what, that sun coming up over the bay every morning doesn't make the drive bad at all.

On Friday we were able to get the keys to the place. I wanted to paint the living area so I ran all over town to Home Depot to get supplies and was just about to start painting when Judd showed up early from work to surprise me! I was so relieved because he could wait for the cable guy and I could get some groceries. We decided to look at the paint that was left behind by the owners and they actually had the same color as the top of the wall left, so I thought why not paint it the same color and save money. I did, but it took me hours. Long enough for Judd to drive all the way back to New Port Richey to my parents, load up the car with the essentials (aka the televisions and laptop) and drive back. I think it turned out great though and the backache was worth it.


We ordered a pizza and sat on the floor in front of our television, hooked up to the laptop, with our blankets on the floor and laughed and talked about how happy we were and how we couldn't believe it was finally happening. We fell asleep in the middle of the living room, blankets sprawled on the floor, underneath the ceiling fan. That's how we spent our first night in our new home. It was perfect!

The next morning we woke up really early, like so early I thought I heard a rooster. We drove all the way to SR 52 and picked up the truck. It was just me and Judd so we decided not to overdo it and take our time. By the end of the day we were exhausted running up and down our stairs and about ready to collapse. I crashed early and Judd followed shortly after. We are so excited about our new life in the 'Burg and can't wait to start setting up the house the way we want. Just the start of our new adventures. Live and Love ~ E