Thursday, January 27, 2011


Dunkin Donuts coffee in a Starbucks cup. Some may call it sacrilegious, I call it delicious!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ahoy Matey's! Its Gasparilla time!

The entire Tampa Bay area is polishing their swords, counting their doubloons and getting ready for a party that rivals Mardi Gras! Gasparilla is in the air!

In the latter parts of the 1700's, the seas were fraught with pirates and one of note was Jose Gaspar! Every year, Tampa celebrates this notorious pirate with parades, marathons, parties and overall debauchery!

So pour yourself some rum, sit back and enjoy pictures of past invasions...

Shiver me timbers! Arggghhh!

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Love Affair: Part 3

"Move West young man, haven't you been told? California's full of riches, woman and gold " ~Toby Keith

Yes, Mister had his orders to El Toro in Irvine, CA. What was a freshly smitten girl to do? Go with him of course! After all, I had already known him for 6 weeks! You see, not only was I in a dating slump when I met him, my entire life was in a bit of slump. I started out strong at Memphis State the year before but over the course of the next two semesters, I went through some pretty hard personal times and ending up dropping out of school. I was back living with my mom and had just quit my job. Life was not looking up for me. The girlfriend who had originally helped to bring us together suggested to Mister that he take me with him. After all, it wasn't like I was doing anything else.

He left at the end of May to drive cross country and I was to follow two weeks later. I remember him calling me after he had gotten out there to tell me about the apartment he found for us. It was a one bedroom in Lake Elsinore, CA and only cost $425 a month! I couldn't believe what an amazing deal that was! I would come to find out in a very short amount of time why it was such a great day.

On June 6th, 1994 I boarded a plane bound for John Wayne Airport in Orange County. (How great is CA?! Even their airports are named after movie stars!!) I had packed up everything I could fit into 3 duffel bags, gave away all of my furniture and my car and was ready to start my life anew. I wore a green and cream plaid summer dress and remember being both nervous and excited to see Mister. My plane arrived in the evening and after all of the kissing and hugging, we ventured out to find something to eat. Now remember, I was straight off the plane from Collierville, TN. 20 years with an adventurous spirit but not an adventurous palate. We drove and drove looking for somewhere to eat but I didn't recognize anything! And I wasn't willing to try something new. I was tired, hungry and scared about the huge decision I had just executed and I just wanted something familiar. At one point in the evening, we stopped for gas and I asked the gentleman pumping gas next to me where was a good place to eat. After having to repeat the question several times and not getting a clear answer from him; I climbed back in the truck now frustrated even more than before. When I fussed to Mister about the man who couldn't answer my question, he explained to me that we had a failure to communicate. The man I had approached spoke no English, only Spanish. And I with my strong Southern twang, obviously didn't speak English very well either.

The first month together in Cali didn't get much better. While we had our apartment, we had no bed (we slept on the floor sharing one blanket and one pillow case stuffed with clothes for a pillow), we had no furniture, one towel and no food. Thanks to the maintenance man who gave us a steady supply of items that people who had moved out had left in their old apartments (frying pan, tiny black and white tv, air mattress and lamp) and the person who dumped their hideous yellow and brown plaid couch in the Dumpster (yes, we actually climbed in and pulled it out) our living situation was getting a bit better. However, I was lonely and stuck in this apartment while searching for a job. These were the days before everyone had a cell phone and I would spend hours alone waiting for Mister to come home each night.

(Side Story: One night Mister was 3 hours late coming home and I was worried sick about him! Three hours! He could have been dead! Driven off the side of the mountain! I was sure that something horrible had happened to him. And to make matters worse, I was brimming with excitement about the fact that OJ Simpson was on the run being accused of killing his wife and friend. Finally, Mister comes through the door and we both start talking at once. Me telling him all about what I had been watching on the news and he telling me how he got caught up in traffic because the white explorer that had just passed him had a bunch of cops following him. A. WHITE. EXPLORER? He saw OJ on the run! An amazing note in America's pop culture history!)
As I said, the first month was rough. Really rough. One night around the first of July, Mister woke me up in the middle of the night asking, "Hey, do you want to get married?" Me, "Ok, sure. Goodnight."

The next morning, Mister told me he was excited about getting married. Um, como say what? Who was getting married. It seems I thought I had dreamt the whole thing. Come to find out, Mister had spent the night praying, asking God what to do with this girl that he barley knew. God said, "Marry her!".

On July 8th, 1994 approximately 3 months after having met, Mister and I went to the Santa Ana courthouse and got married. I wore my green plaid sundress and laughed hysterically through the entire ceremony.

Project #1... Check!

My organizational goals for Q3 have come to a bit of a standstill however I do have one completed and ready for sharing! (yea me!)

My kitchen pantry is clean and organized!

As you can see in my 'Before' our pantry was a hot mess of canned goods, Crystal Light, baking supplies and everything else you would expect to see in a family of four's pantry. You can also see the wire shelving that the builder installed which does not make for a very organized pantry. Those of you who have experience with this type of shelving know that things do not always sit evenly.

The first thing I did on my quest to clean the pantry was to remove everything from it! Surprisingly, I only found a few things that were expired and needed to be thrown away.

Once I had everything removed, I inserted pre-made shelves from Lowe's right on top of the wire shelving. As I mentioned before, we are moving sometime this year and didn't want to take the time or expense of putting in a long term solution. This solution seems to have worked out just fine so far! I also bought two collapsible bins; one for snacks and the other to hold bread and rice.
Once the shelves were installed, it was time to start organizing! With Mister's help, I put everything back and in an order that made sense for us.


It has been so nice being able to find things easily and knowing at a glance what we need to put on the grocery list!

Now on to my next project... organizing 90 years of pictures! My Grandfather has family pictures from the 1920's, pictures of his time in India during WWII and many many more. They have all been stored in small photo books and dumped in an extra large plastic bin.

I've already started going through them and throwing away the pictures that never should have been saved (ie. snow on his roof, pictures of the tv with the ball dropping on NYE for several years, every car accident he passed on the road, etc). Now I am going through which need to be scanned and cataloged. The process thus far has been filled with many smiles, laughter and tears. They are all great memories and I look forward to protecting them for the generations to come.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Love Affair: Part Two

May 1994

Young Marine and I have now dated for a couple (2) weeks and he tells me that his immediate family, who live in FL, will be at a family reunion in Knoxville and do I want to come? As I pondered my decision, my thoughts centered around the following two things... a) my severe social anxiety and shyness and 2) the fact that he still "officially" had a girlfriend back home and his family was sure to love her and think that I was a total skank. And then the pro hit me and wiped out those two very big cons. I would be able to stay in a hotel for two nights!! What 20 year old doesn't love a night or two in a hotel? That is just about as good as it gets!

The big day arrives and I dress to impress! A shorty one piece and flats with big 90's hair and bright red lipstick. (I truly thought I was Cindy Crawford! Beauty mark and all!) We pull up to the reunion and everyone starts rushing the truck as he had been away from home in the Marines for over a year now and they were all so glad to see him again. Me? I froze. Then I took a deep breath, lit a Marlboro Red (yes, ashamedly, I was a 2 pack a day smoker at the time) and gave them all my best Super Model smile. (I may have even done a little hair flip.)

As I'm making the rounds meeting (and hugging... turns out his family were major huggers! Me, not so much) everyone, I finally get to his dad who just laughs and whispers in my ear, "I already like you better than the other one." That made my day! I had an ally! You see, we had just narrowly avoided disaster. Mister's mom was going to bring his high school sweetheart to the family reunion as a surprise. He was bringing me as a surprise. The day before his family left for TN, his mom called him and told him about his surprise. There was just enough time to un-invite said sweetheart and turn things around. (Boy, that would have been disastrous!!)

Shortly after falling in love with his family at the reunion, Mister received orders to go to CA. CA!? This was horrible! I had expected him getting orders to go somewhere but what I had not expected was falling in love! Yep, in 6 short weeks I had become totally smitten. And he was leaving. For CALIFORNIA! This new love affair was starting to not feel so good.


"I am participating in The Daily Dribbles and Domestically Challenged Blognonymous Blog Hop. The post below is not my own post. I'm hosting a post for someone else, and in turn, someone else is also hosting a post of mine, all anonymously. Click through the links below to view all the bloggers and posts in Blognonymous."

Happy Freakin' Birthday to Me...
Tuesday, October 26, 2010 –

On the eve of my 39th birthday I found my first ever grey hair....and I did what any sane person would do....I PULLED THAT SUCKER OUT!Now lets just hope 10 more don't grow in this week.

A Love Affair: Part One

April 1994 - 20 years old
I was in a slump. I was batting below 100. I had lost my mojo and could not get a date to save my life. My friend had recently started dating a marine from local Naval base which meant she was spending less time as my wing-woman and more time out on dates. While I was happy for her budding relationship, I was sinking lower into my slumpdom. So what's a girl to do but beg? I begged her, pleaded with her, threatened with blackmail for her to get her guy, George, to find me a date. I mean, come on! Its a base full of young eligible men! Surely there was someone who would fit the bill. (The bill being having a heart beat and being available). Her guy scoured the barracks and found someone who somewhat fit the bill, he had a heart beat but also had a girlfriend back at home; but more importantly, he had a truck! Which was necessary for any dating of any kind to happen that night.

George approaches the young marine saying, "Dude. I need a favor. I need you to go out with me tonight on a double date. (and I need you to drive) ".
Young marine responds, "Can't. I have duty tonight". (Notice, no mention of the girlfriend in his response.)
George, "Dude. Come one! If you don't go out with my girl's friend, she won't go out with me! And I really want to see her tonight!"
Young Marine, "Can't. I have duty tonight."

Now, you might think that the story ends here. And it would have. If George had given up so easily.

George, "Dude. Come on, get ready to go out."
Young Marine, "Dude. I have duty tonight!"
George, "Not anymore, dude." (George said dude ALOT!) "I paid some guy $50 to take your duty. Get dressed".

My Name is Jen... And I'm an Wannabe Organizer

I am so inspired by all of the creative and super organized bloggers out there! While I have the makings of being organized (I am a great planner, I know where everything is, I manage time like no one's business), I am not the most creative person or good at executing. I have a vision, I just don't know how to bring my vision to life. But Lord knows I need to figure it out! My house is a hot mess 90% of the time. Domestically challenged Mister is a stay at home dad; he and the kids can jack up a clean house like a tornado can jack up Dorothy's day!

So here is my plan (see I told you I'm good at planning!):

  1. Come up with a list of about 5 projects to complete with a deadline of 3/31.

  2. Assign time lines, shopping lists, and other resources needed (ie. Mister's muscles)

  3. Scour blogs and magazines for inspirational ideas. (I am loving Honey We're Home's organizing series!)

  4. Schedule specific time to prep, shop, execute!

Here is my list of projects for Q1 (please forgive the quality of the pictures. My camera needs to go to the shop and I am borrowing anothers).

  1. Pantry- We are going to be moving in the next year and don't want to overhaul the shelving so I plan on laying MDF on top of the wire shelves.

  2. Master closet- It's a beautiful closet overwhelmed with shoes, purses and clothes that no longer fit.
  3. Garage (for the second time this year!) Thankfully my 17 year old nephew and brother are staying with us which will be extremely helpful to Mister's muscles as I sit and point.

  4. Kid's rooms/closets- No explanation needed.

  5. Book case- I am an avid reader whose book collection has grown to insane proportions! I have got to edit and plan on donating most of my books to the local VA hospital.
  6. Pictures- My grandfather took pictures of everything! EVERYTHING! and I have inherited all of those photo books. Many of the pics can be thrown away (pictures of snow falling, of the car accident by his house, his new driveway, of the ball dropping on New Years on tv); however the rest are irreplaceable and need to be scanned and protected. His pictures from WWII, family pictures going back the 1920's, every birth in our family, dance recitals, baseball games, Christmases, etc.
(Ok, I said I would chose 5 and I've got a list of 6. Maybe I'm not such a great planner??)

I'll do my best to document my progress and maybe, just maybe, I'll end up being an inspiration who also suffers from being a Wannabe!

Monday, January 10, 2011

This is my first time participating in a Blog Hop; Java's (at Never Grow Old) 30th edition of Meet Me on Monday Blog Hop. The purpose of this Meme is so that you can get to know your favorite bloggers just a bit better.

Here goes:1. Have you (only you..not a group) ever won first place in anything? Hmm. Let's see. When I was in elementary school I rode 20 miles in a bike-a-thon for Cystic Fibrosis and won the grand prize of 10 speed bike. I was really proud of that since I wasn't (still aren't) very athletic.

2. Are your toes always painted (sorry guys...this question for girls only)? My toes are ALWAYS painted. But alas, today, they are a bit busted. Time for a pedi!

3. What color eyes do you have? Hazel that on some days look blue. I'm always excited to have a "blue eyed day"!

4. Look to your left....what do you see? I see a side table full of junk; fireman costume, ipad box, Weight Watchers book, tissue box, coupons and a grocery list.
5. Soft cookies or crunchy cookies? Soft but I refuse to discriminate against the crunchy. Its not the cookie's fault after all.

To join in the fun, please, Copy, paste and answer these 5 questions on your blog and add your link to the blog hop list:1. Have you (only you..not a group) ever won first place in anything?2. Are your toes always painted (sorry guys...this question for girls only)?3. What color eyes do you have?4. Look to your left....what do you see?5. Soft cookies or crunchy cookies?Your link MUST include your Meet Me On Monday post or it will be deleted!Also PLEASE either put the Meet Me On Monday button in your post or link your post back

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Don't Tell My Husband...

Since my husband spends all of his computer time on Facebook and YouTube, I feel confident my confession will remain a secret. I've never said these words aloud and probably never will however (my heart rate is increasing with the contemplation of even typing the words); I am ready to silently express my feelings. I love our dog.

Wow! I said it! A deep breath brings me a feeling of relief and release!

Let me introduce you to Liberty Rose aka Libby.

Libby is a two year old red tri Australian Shepherd who came to live with us when she was only 8 weeks old. The day we picked her from the breeder, I was fully prepared to become totally in love with the little fuzzball. And I was! Until we started the hour long journey home with her in the crate in the back of the SUV. She cried all the way home. The high pitched puppy scream that you can only understand if you've experienced it. The crying would have been manageable; we could have held her, cuddled away her anxiety but no. No, instead she decided to start pooping. I swear she pooped for 45 minutes of the 60 minute drive. She was no longer cuddle-able. The SUV stunk to high heaven, the dog is crying horribly, the kids are starting to get cranky and Mister... Mister was driving home with a look of adoration on his face. Despite the poop and the cries, he was in love. Me however, I was ready to commit puppycide.

From that first day, life with Libby only went downhill. Sir was only 18 months at the time; toddling around learning the ropes of life. Libby, being a rambunctious puppy who was half his size and a herder by nature TORMENTED him. She would nip at his heals, knock him over and pounce on him when he was down. I could go on and on about how bad things were. Life in the Casa was not nice. Everyone was miserable most of all me. I hated her. I pleaded with my husband to get rid of her. I begged, cried, offered all kinds of bribes. We even had the breeder come to the house to pick her up! (I stared through the window with a heavy heart as she drove away with a red fuzzball still at Mister's feet.)

Fast forward to today. Libby has grown to the wise old age of 2 and has made a 180 in her behavior and in my heart. Our "understanding" (as I would come to call it) started with her joining me in bed to watch TV at night. Who knew that she loved The History Channel as much as I did? When Mister would come in and question what was going on, I would answer that we had come to an "understanding". Our "understanding" has evolved to me taking her with me to run errands. I came out of the dog hating closet and now publicly pet and cuddle her. I have even come to enjoy her so much that I am weighing the idea of getting another dog. With all of that said, I still have not said that I love her. Because that would mean that my husband was right in keeping her. And if he was right... well, that would mean that I was... no... I might confess that I love Libby but you'll never hear me say I was wro....

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Happy 2011!

I have never been more happy to say good bye to a year. 2010 tested me, humbled me and left me a shattered woman. Thanks to an awful bout of flu, bronchitis and pneumonia in my house from the beginning of November to just before Christmas, I had plenty of time to lick my wounds, reflect and adjust my attitude. While I have not made a long list of resolutions, I am taking advantage of turning the page of the calender to re-prioritize some things.

#1 I have to recommit myself to my relationship with God and pursue fellowship of like minded people. Only He can make me whole again and give me the peace and understanding that I crave.

#2 I have to take better care of me. Mind, body and soul. I have to let go of the pain of the past so that I can fully embrace today. I have got to feed my body with heart healthy nutritious food in order to be the best mother, wife and me I can be. I have to not feel guilty about the time I do take for me or the money I spend on taking care of me. I deserve it. I have to let others own their own problems. Boss makes a bad decision? Her issue, not mine. Family keep their lives in a whirlpool of turmoil? Their issue, not mine. I own me. Not others.

So that's pretty easy, huh? Only two things! I'm positive, refreshed and taking it one day at a time.