Happy Things

Today Jenni pointed out that we are halfway through the Blog Every Day in May Challenge. What??? I know I have missed a few days but I love being back in the swing of blogging and interacting with and making some new internet friends. :) How about a bit more of an uplifting post? Contrary to what you read yesterday, I don't sit around and berate myself all day. In fact, a lot of things make me happy. Here are ten of them.

Going to see a really good movie at the theatre. We went to see The Great Gatsby this weekend and damn. The movie got extreme mixed the reviews for the movie, so I went in not expecting greatness, but I was blown away. Leonardo Dicaprio was perfection, it was true to the book, and the costumes, graphics, and music made it so much fun to watch. Not to mention it reminded me of my love for...

George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. I heard this song for the first time in middle school and something about it captured me. The melding of classical and jazz is exquisite and every time I hear it used in a movie (like Gatsby!) or heck, even at the 4th of July fireworks, it gives me chills. In high school, I took on the challenge of teaching myself how to play the whole thing on the piano, and even though it was far from perfect, it is one of my proudest accomplishments. I just love that song.

Lazy Saturday mornings. If there's anything I love more than lazy Saturday mornings, it's Friday nights where I know that I can sleep in as late as I want on Saturday. I love slowly waking up with Ian, making our coffee, and lounging on the couch all morning with whatever TV movie happens to be on.

Messy antique stores. This should come as no surprise to you. I thrive on aisles and piles of junk. There is always a treasure waiting to be discovered.

A meal that I can't stop talking about. Whether it was at a restaurant or a meal I cooked myself, I feel the need to tell everyone about it.

A good hair day. No explanation needed.

Spending time with old friends. Even though I love all my new friends I have made after moving away from home, there is something to be said for my best friends who I grew up with hanging out in each others basements and goofing around the neighborhood with. The friends where you don't have to be 'on' or make an effort to look cute or even make conversation. I miss my old friends like crazy and sometimes long for one more day where we could call each other up on a whim and watch Veronica Mars on DVD for days on end.

Coming home to Ian after work. Seriously, best thing ever. There are some days where as soon as I get to work, I can't wait to go home and see him. It's so fun to have someone to make dinner with and to judge the performances on The Voice with. 

Cheap wine and really good beer. Give me a glass of two dollar wine from Walmart and I wouldn't know any better, but I have definitely become a bit of a beer snob. 

Feeling content. Those moments when I'm not worrying about anything and I stop and think about everything in my life that I love, and feeling a wave of contentment wash over me. It's the best.


An Apology and a Promise

Dear Brenda,

I like to think that in general, I am a nice person, but there is one person time and time again who gets the brunt of your shitty attitude (especially when PMSing!) and that's you. I'm not sure why I obsess over how I talk to other people but yet have no filter when it comes to criticizing the way you look, your job, your weight, and more. But it has to stop, and I'm sorry.

I'm sorry that I make you think you need to be a perfect wife 100% of the time and that anything else is unacceptable. Ian loves you the way you are, faults and all, and while you should strive to be the best you can be, you never need to think he will leave if you make a sarcastic comment or have a bad day. Because you know you do the same for him.

I'm sorry for constantly comparing your life to other people's lives, because really, what is the point? Yes, some of your friends might have cooler jobs than you do. Some people might travel more or have more money, but you know what? It's not worth wasting your time trying to wish your life was any different than it is. Because your life is pretty damn good.

I'm sorry that I get you down when your jeans fit a little too tight. Sure, you could eat less chocolate and cookies at times, but for the most part you eat healthy and you have been making an effort to be more active. It's always good to have goals to work towards, but it's OK to not fit into your pre-wedding shorts and swimsuits. It really is.

I'm also sorry for trying to flat iron your pretty curls to a crisp. You should embrace your curls, frizz and all, because they make you unique.

You are a great, talented, and fun person who isn't perfect (but sure can rock a two dollar top from Goodwill like nobody's business), and that's OK. I'm sorry for being your worst critic and I promise to try and do better.

Love, Brenda


Ten Words

Today's post for the challenge seemed easy-peasy; ten words that sell me. Only it took me about an hour to come up with this short list; turns out selling myself isn't something I do very often. 

Happy (If I have coffee and chocolate.)
Intuitive (Sometimes, a little too much.)
Hospitable (Come on ova!)
Introverted (Depending on my mood)
Hungry (for knowledge! Just kidding, for cake.)
Logistical (Love me some plans. Any kind of plans.)
Restless (Literally. I can't sit still.)
Beautiful (Ian's response to "what are some words that describe me?" Daww)
Organized (Based on the condition of my house at times, you might disagree. But I know where everything is. Try me.)
Thrifty (I mean, duh. Do you read my blog?)


$100 Gas Bill

So I've been skipping a day here and there of the blogging challenge because you know, sometimes life gets in the way and I told myself I wouldn't stress about blogging every single day if there were days when there just isn't time.

But so you don't miss out on any seconds of my ridiculous life, yesterday's prompt was easy: a moment from our day. Here is an Instagram photo from the other day of a picture Ian bought from one of our six-year old neighbors for a dollar. It's been sitting on our kitchen table for days and a part of me just feels like I can't throw it away:

But anyway, I knew today was going to be a day I had to play along, because we are telling our most embarrassing stories. Now you might find this hard to believe, but I have a lot of them. One involves my one and only trip to the ER.

It was a Saturday morning around this time last year. I had just gotten done with a series of college exams and was back at my parents house for the weekend to escape a football weekend on campus. My parents were both out and about, so I woke up and went downstairs to make myself some coffee. As I was making my coffee, I noticed a sharp pain in my stomach. Not just a little pain, but a BIG pain that got worse when I breathed in and out. Obviously, I panicked because I definitely had appendicitis. And when I panicked, I got all hot and flustered and lightheaded and pretty much assumed I would keel over at my parents house alone and no one would discover me until hours later when it was too late. So I did what anyone would do in that situation: call my mom.

Well, my mom was thirty minutes away in the next town over at a quilt shop, so she told me to call my dad. She asked if I thought I needed to go to the hospital, and I said "I don't know. But it really hurts." So I called my dad who, like me, panicked and said he would be right home. My sister, who was with him at a giant book sale, said after he got off the phone he said "Put down your books. We need to go home--Brenda's sick".

So by now everybody thinks I'm dying. My mom called our neighbor to come over and sit with me while I lay curled up on the couch waiting for my dad to get home. I couldn't even make small talk because the pain was so bad. What seemed like an eternity later, my dad came in and said "Let's go to the hospital". We got in the car, and on our way there, I noticed that the pain had started to let up a bit, and as my dad kept asking me if I really needed to go to the ER, in my head I was thinking "maybe not", but we were already practically there. And what if something really WAS wrong? So no, I definitely needed to go.

So we get to the hospital, make our way to the ER, and my mom joins us. We sat there and I said hello to some people I knew who were also there because they had partied a little too hard the night before (oh, college town living). We sat there and waited and waited and waited until I was finally called to go back and rate my pain for the nurse. At this point, I'm gonna be honest, it didn't hurt anymore and I kind of just wanted to go home. I told the nurse it was somewhere between a two and three on the pain scale, and I was immediately banished to the bottom of the list. They led me and my mom back to a bed and made me put on a robe while we waited hours for the doctor to tend to the people who were actually dying first before finally making his way to me. While we waited, I had to call and cancel lunch I had planned with a former teacher, and if calling and explaining that you were in the ER for no reason wasn't embarrassing enough, the doctor finally came back. I described my pain to him, and without any judgement or scorn in his voice gave me my diagnosis:

"Sounds like it might have just been a little gas."

I will never forget the look on my mom's face when he told me we had just sat in the ER all afternoon because I had gas. I'll also never forget the text I got when she got the "$100 Gas Bill" in the mail a week later.

Embarrassing. I do apologize that this is the second stomach-related post this week, but come on. It's just too good and embarrassing not to tell.

Happy Friday, and especially happy birthday to my beautiful mother, who stands by me even through trips to the ER and embarrassing fashion choices when I was old enough to know better.


My Advice to You

Today's post for the blogging challenge could not have come at a more opportune time after the night I just had. The idea is to share a piece of advice for our fellow bloggers (anything at all!) and friends, my advice to you is this: 

Don't eat Chipotle for a bedtime snack.

Yesterday was Teacher Appreciation Day and for the occasion Chipotle was doing a buy one get one free special. Ian called me as I was driving home from work at eight last night asking if I had eaten dinner yet, because he had gone to Chipotle for dinner but the line was super long so if I wanted to come stand in it with him I could get a free dinner. I wasn't particularly hungry, but since I never pass up free food I drove right on over there and had myself some free tacos. At 9:00 PM. 

Let's just say that around 4:00 AM I woke up with a little rumbly in my tumbly. But really, can I complain? I knew full well how it would make me feel and I ate it anyway. I have been learning over the years that I am not able to eat the way I used to in high school and college. It's definitely a wake up call when you graduate and realize that when you sit in an office chair all day and not walk all over campus to class like you used to, all those late night cravings won't magically disappear from your waistline without an honest effort. Eating a donut in the morning is enough to make me feel sluggish and just off the rest of the day when it used to be a normal occurrence in my daily routine. I rarely crave fast food anymore simply because I'd rather not deal with the way it makes me feel than have a few minutes of greasy fried delight. If that line of thinking doesn't make me feel like a boring grown up, I don't know what does.

 The point is, our parents were right--you gotta eat your fruits and vegetables. Since I have started working out again I've been really trying to eat fruit at least once a day and cut back on baking. It's HARD--if you've been reading this blog for any amount of time you know that I love food that is bad for me. It really is like they say--all in moderation. Trying to introduce good food into my diet rather than focusing on taking things out has done a world of difference for me, so if this is something you struggle with too I'd encourage you to look at it that way! You can still have chocolate--just make sure you also eat a banana.

But friends, do NOT eat Chipotle before you go to bed. Just don't do it.



It's pretty safe to say that anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge worry wart, so when trying to think of what I am the most scared of for today's post for the challenge, it was hard to pick just one. Of course there are the usual suspects like spiders, getting in a car crash, losing someone I love, or getting sick (good thing I am a WebMD expert!), but there are also really random and ridiculous things I worry about. Like when I walk to my car at work, I worry that the parking garage will spontaneously collapse. Or that when I'm taking a shower a snake is going to crawl up through the pipes. I'm also a HUGE food safety stickler, so I refuse to eat anything that's been sitting out for longer than it should be. (That's what I get for getting a degree in hospitality--damn you Serv Safe!)

I think the thing that scares me the most are those unthinkable things that no one sees coming, and when they happen, people just don't even know how to respond. I typically don't write about current events on my blog, but things like the Boston Marathon and Sandy Hook--those things sometimes don't even seem real when they are miles away and you don't have any personal connection to them, but what about if something happens more close to home? Last month, an acquaintance from high school was tragically killed in an accident while she was walking to work. Literally walking across the street. A fellow Penn Stater recently passed away after running the Pittsburgh Marathon. An otherwise healthy 23-year old kid, gone in an instant.  It makes me wonder what I have done in life to avoid things like this, but also scares me that something like that could be coming my way any second. That's just the thing--nobody knows. 

The rain today put me in a contemplative mood for this post. I originally thought of going the humorous route and discussing in length my fear of parking garages or my plethora of grim Google diagnoses over the years, but I think it's important every now and then to be real with each other and share the things truly on our hearts. It's so easy to connect with each other over cute outfits and good recipes, but the real connections happen when we can identify with one another and find comfort in not being the only one to feel the way we do. 

So just for today, let's not worry.


80's Dress Makeover

If I had to answer the question "what do you do?" without answering with my job, there are a lot of things I could say. I like to read. I like to cook. I'm a blogger that you've never heard of who tells stories about food, thrifting, and things that happen when she's PMSing.....

Such as last weekend. I was in an awful mood where I couldn't stand to be around anyone. I've had a bag of thrifted clothes sitting in my closet for the past several years that I only kept because one day I would learn how to sew and make them into something new. Of course, that meant I actually had to learn how to sew first, which like all other projects I start, never made it beyond sewing two pieces of fabric together and getting bored.

So last weekend, I was feeling extremely moody and couldn't stand to be around anyone, so I retreated up to my Bren Room and decided that once and for all, I was going to teach myself how to sew. It's amazing how a few hormones can make you do that.

I blew some dust off the machine, pulled out the beginner's sewing book my mom got me for Christmas, and started practicing on a few scraps of fabric before diving into my first project: an 80's dress given to me by a friend's mother. The dress fit me around the waist like a glove, which was why I kept it around; I knew that if ever I learned my way around a sewing machine I could make it into something new. I wish I would have taken some better 'before' photos, but I slipped it on to snap a photo, if for nothing else, to remember the dress as it once was before I hacked it into a mess.

I had a clear idea in my mind of what I wanted to do, and the structure of this dress really made it easy. I planned to remove the sleeves and shoulder pads and shorten the hemline by a few inches. Easy enough, right?

So I went to town with the seam ripper and yanked out those shoulder pads.

I flipped the dress inside out and cut off the sleeves, leaving enough fabric to pin back and sew around the shoulders. I also took my handy dandy ruler and chalk pencil and measured several inches up from the bottom of the dress the whole way around of where I needed to cut so that the dress would come to a flattering above rather than below my kneecaps.

If I wouldn't have been so grumpy, I probably would have taken the time to do a full photo tutorial, but I ripped and cut and sewed my little heart out, realized I did it all in white thread and that it looked ridiculous, so I ripped it all back out, figured out how to change the thread on the machine, and did the whole damn thing again in matching dark blue.  I also broke and replaced the needle at some point too...because there is no better way to bash out your feelings than a furiously humming sewing machine on a dinky card table.

To make a long story short (or has this story already been too long?) by the end of the day I had myself a new dress that may or may not be a little see-through.

By no means is it perfect, but finally finishing a sewing project that I started is worth something, right? 


Bon Appetit!

Is there really an explanation needed for this? I love to eat. I also love to cook, but I love to eat whatever I cooked even more. If you love to eat too, we can probably be friends. I have no shame in being the first person to get in line at a buffet. Guilt that comes from eating a piece of cake or a brownie has never been an issue for me, so expect no sympathy if you utter the words "Oh, I shouldn't" around me. 

I'm just saying, there is a time and place for eating right and eating well, but there are also plenty of times and places for indulging a little bit. I try to find the right balance, but all efforts are pretty much shot when I bake a batch of cookies.

This weekend we are headed up to Amish country PA to celebrate Ian's sweet grandmother's birthday, and I have no doubt there will be any shortage of good food and great people to enjoy it with. 



Things That Make Me Go Errrrrrmmmppp

I gotta stop peeking at other people's blogs before I start thinking about my ideas for the daily challenge. I always think it'll give me some ideas of my own, but I end up just usually agreeing with whatever I'm reading and then want to write about it myself. But then I can't, because I would be copying. I read Jenni's list of things that make her uncomfortable, and had to stop myself because I agreed with just about everything on her list (especially phone talking! I am NOT a phone talker.)

I thought about picking one out of the many things that make me feel awkward, but let's face it, since I am an awkward person in general there are too many things to pick just one, so a list form would be more fun. Right?

I am VERY particular about my covers when I go to sleep. They have to be perfectly straight, my feet can't be hanging out, the tag can't be on the side where my face is...and then if they are too heavy and I'm hot, then well let's just not even bother TRYING to go to sleep. Crooked and heavy covers LITERALLY make me uncomfortable. 

Pulling up next to people at a stoplight. I want to look over, but know that if I do (and they do too) they will think that I am checking them out, that I am mad at them, or am just a creeper in general. So I just look straight ahead and then feel like they are looking at me. 

Having photos taken of myself. Sometimes I love it, but usually I am super self conscious that my hair is in place, my smile looks OK, and that my outfit doesn't make me look fat, so reverting to a goofy face is really just easiest.

I get super uncomfortable when other people get angry. (As long as it's not with me!) I literally don't know how to respond so I just usually start laughing, which absolutely helps the situation. Example: Ian gets mad at traffic; I laugh. It's really a good trait.

Finally, something that makes me super uncomfortable is those first few minutes when someone comes to our house for the first time, and I get all excited and flustered like a dog who doesn't know if it should pee in the house or run outside. I start running around, taking their coats, talking a mile a minute,  and if I'm in the process of cooking something, then forget it. I can't do it all...and I usually have a hot flash.

I think that's enough awkwardness for one morning. I'll probably continue to think of things I should have added as the day goes on, but I sure can't wait to read about what makes other people uncomfortable.



How to Make Your Man Love Pinterest

They always say that food is the way to a man's heart. Well, I think Ian figured out pretty early on that food is the way to my heart as well. For our very first Valentines Day we spent together when we were just little college kiddos, he wooed me with grilling some salmon out on the deck in the snow. That was when I knew that he was something special.

Anyway....you came here to find out how to make your man love Pinterest. 

While it's likely that Ian will never see the appeal in spending hours scrolling through pages of perfect homes we'll never have and crafts I'll never do (I mean, come on....who doesn't love that) there is always food. Yes, I have a whole board of "Things That Are Too Pretty to Eat", which, in fact, are things that are too pretty (and too hard) to attempt. But if you hop on over to my Pinterest, you'll find over 300 recipes pinned to my YUM board--recipes that are actually do-able for a novice like me. Ian and I split the cooking duties pretty evenly around here, but I try and do at least one or two new recipes per week when I cook thanks to Pinterest. 

(Ian doesn't follow recipes--he does what he wants. And somehow it's always good.)

If you are anything like me, you probably have an overwhelming amount of new recipes that sometimes it just seems easier to stick with what you know when it's time for dinner. Like a quesadilla or grilled cheese (which are, in my opinion, fine options) but it's a lot of fun to expand your horizons when you are feeling up for a challenge. Here are a few tips to making your food pins come to life (and subsequently, making your man love you forever. Unless he doesn't like food. Why would you be with someone who doesn't like food?)

1. Sit down on the day you usually go food shopping (for us it's typically on a Saturday) and start looking through your Pinterest board. Resist the urge to distract yourself with that new Ikea Hack project or hair style that you want next time you get your hair cut. Just go straight to the food and pick out five to six recipes (depending on how often you eat dinner at home) that you have recently pinned. I  usually try to do some combination of chicken, beef, fish, and pasta.

2. Make a list of all the days of the week you plan to eat at home and assign a recipe to each night. Take into account your own schedule and how much time you will have--some nights are better than others for things that have to bake for an hour as opposed to a quick stir fry.

3. On the other side of the list, start listing all the ingredients you will need to buy. When initially picking out your recipes, try and pick things that will use up what you already have at home so that you don't have to go out and buy all new things every single week. 

4. Go to Walmart. I hate Walmart, but somehow end up shopping for food every week there because it's so darn cheap. Make sure you go to a Super Center. If you are PMS-ing and Walmart will make you cry, go to Giant.

5. Two words: frozen foods. It took me forever to figure out that you can get a HUGE bag of frozen chicken breasts for almost the same price as a smaller package of four or five fresh ones. Same goes for fish and vegetables. And maybe a little bit of ice cream if you're feeling frisky. 

6. Try really hard to stick to your list. Our food costs have gone down tremendously since planning out meals for the week, and it's because we only buy things we know we'll need and use. Sometimes a little bit of nail polish or a magazine sneaks into the cart. Don't fret.

7. Impress your loved one with a delicious meal during the week and say you got the recipe from Pinterest. Listen to them proclaim their love for Pinterest. 

I promise, works every time! If not, there's always Ryan.


Happy May: A Re-Introduction!

Almost three years ago, I started this blog as a poor college student who loved to shop at Goodwill. Then, I went from a poor college student who blogged about planning a wedding to being poor newlyweds living in a basement apartment. Now going on two years of marriage with a new house and a car, we might not be 'poor' newlyweds anymore but I still love to shop and live on a budget. Today is Day One of the Blog Every Day in May challenge, and it's a great day to tell the story of my life in 250 words or less as a re-introduction of some sort. Maybe you will learn some things you didn't know. 

Hello friends, I'm Brenda. Pretty sure you already know that.

 As a kid, I talked too much, cried a lot, couldn’t sit still, and didn’t like to sleep. That pretty much still holds true to this day. As does my keen sense of style.

 I was a self proclaimed bandie in high school and could play a mean flute and piano. I was even somehow voted one of the 'most changed since 9th grade' in the senior yearbook, which was funny to me. 

For college, I didn’t fly the coop like many people do, but rather took the safe option of staying in hometown and attended the university right down the street. At first there were times where I regretted that decision, but then some awesome things happened such as meeting my future husband and finding a group of friends through an acapella group that allowed me to break away from the hometown grind. I learned that I loved to sing, loved to write, and loved good beer. 

In September of my senior year, Ian got down on one knee on a bridge in our campus Alumni Garden and we began the process of planning our wedding on top of graduating and looking for jobs and places to live. Tons of stressful nights, job applications, and phone calls later, Ian was offered a job at a top-notch school district in VA and I figured employment would fall into place for me eventually. And it did!

Now, here we are, married for almost two years and still having fun. I do my day job but come home ready for my second job—shopping for bargains, making things, taking pictures, and spending way too much time on the internet.

**Whoops, went a little over 250 words; hope the blog police don't come a-knockin'. :)

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