Monday, March 31, 2008

Fun Monday - Don't Quote Me but...

This week's Fun Monday is being hosted by Robyn at Pensieve. She has asked us to share words that inspire us. More specifically: please share words that inspire and motivate you--brief or bloviatory, silly or serious, from great world leaders to last night's Comedy Central...from a Hallmark greeting card to your favorite book. Choose one, choose many; let the quotes stand on their own or tell where you first read or heard them and how they affected you. There's a lot of leeway with how this topic can be handled.

I've been thinking about this topic all week because I've always been really big on quotes and inspring words. In fact, over the years, I've collected quotes that are taped to my desk, at work and at home. Here are just a few of the words that inspire me, cheer me up or just plain make me think:

"If you think you're too small to make a difference,you haven't been in bed with a mosquito." - Anita Roddick

Anita is the founder of The Body Shop, and I worked as an at home consultant for the company for several years. Ms. Roddick in general is an extremely inspirational person, and has done some amazing things for others, and this quote pretty much sums up her take on life, which I admire tremendously.

"Am I not destryoing my enemies when I make friends of them?" - Abe Lincoln

I love this quote, and have always tried to sort of live this way. It doesn't always work, but it's pretty cool when it does.

"Humility does not mean you think less of yourself, it means you think of yourself less" - Ken Blanchard

Something we should all remember.

"Maybe some women aren't meant to be tamed. Maybe they need to run free until they find someone just as wild to run with" - Carrie Bradshaw (Sex and the City)

I love this quote, and I actually remember hearing it when I was watching the show, and rewinding the dvd to hear it again, and writing it down. It just reverberated with me, and sort of still does.

"Just when you think you've got the world on a string, someone comes by with a pair of scissors"

I'm actually not 100% sure where I heard this. I think it was an yout group leader who said it, but I've had it taped up to my desk for years and years. Just a reminder not to get too comfortable, because things can change in a second. But it's not a negative though, it's just a reminder to be on your toes, and pay attention.

"It is nice to be important, but it is more important to be nice"

Another one that I'm not sure where it originated, but I think I saw it on a t-shirt a while back.

And this last is more than a quote, it is a poem. One of my teachers in high school had a version of this poem taped the front of her desk, and I copied it down, typed it up, and printed it out. I have had it taped to my desk at work or at home in one form or another all these years:

To to risk dying
to to risk failure
to to risk appearing a fool.
To to risk not being loved in return.
To to risk appearing soft and sentimental.
To reach out to tor istk involvement or rejection.
To place your ideas, dreams and desires before to risk ridicule.
The greatest omission in to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing gets nothing, has nothing, is nothing.
He may avoid suffering, pain and sorrow,
but does not learn, grow, live or love.
He is only a slave - chained by safety - locked away by fear.
Only a person who is willing to risk - not knowing the results - is truly alive!

It was only yesterday as I was trying to research the author that I realized the version I had wasn't exactly correct or complete. I'm not sure which version I like better,so I'll give you's the correct one:

To Risk by William Arthur Ward

"To laugh is to risk appearing a fool,
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out to another is to risk involvement,
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return,
To live is to risk dying,
To hope is to risk despair,
To try is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.
He may avoid suffering and sorrow,
But he cannot learn, feel, change, grow or live.
Chained by his servitude he is a slave who has forfeited all freedom.
Only a person who risks is free.
The pessimist complains about the wind;
The optimist expects it to change;
And the realist adjusts the sails."

And there you have it, a few of the words that inspire me.

By the way, in last week's Fun Monday I mentioned that I was born in Africa, and quite a few of you wanted to know more about that. Come back tomorrow, I'll give you the "short version" of the how, why, where, when and what about my "African Roots".

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunday Blessings

This: is the view outside my window today. This is a beautiful thing, because THIS:

was the view outside my window on Friday. That's right TWO days ago. Today it is in the mid-40's and it feels like a beautiful Spring day. Yes, I know, for some of you the mid-40's is enough reason to break out the hats and gloves, but for those of us in New England, it is reason to head out without even a jacket on. In fact, I don't doubt I'll see some fool out there with short on sometime today.

So, the sun is shining, I'm sitting in my living room with my balcony door open, allowing the cool fresh air to air out my condo, and listening to the sound of birds chirping and enjoying the day. And to make it an even better day, I'm just about to head out to lunch with Lil'K, who I have not seen since Christmas. Now that she's a teenager, we spend less and less time together, which I understand and accept, but I still miss her, and always look forward to seeing her. My phone call this morning was met with an exhuberant "HI!" which lets me know she also misses me.

Small blessings.

I hope you have a wonderful day, I know I am.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Spring in New England - Follow-Up Friday

Well folks, it's Spring, or so they keep telling us...but I woke up this morning to the all too familiar sound of a snowplow outside my window. Ah yes, Spring in New England. Right now the snow has turned to some sleeting and we're expected to get more snow later on. Good times, good times. (Note heavy sarcasm please).

A note about comments: I once again replied to everyone's comments individually within the posts, so if you left me a comment that required a response, check in there...I did reply!

This week's Fun Monday was a fun one for sure...I learned my ABC's in all sorts of ways travelling around visiting others, and got to share a few of my favorite things in mine. This list was definitely not all inclusive, but I figured you had enough reading to do as it was. However, I did get quite a few surprised comments in regards to the revelation that I was born in Africa. I guess I owe you all the story of how that came to stay tuned, I will share part of it next week. Also, I want to thank those of you who've stopped by Candid Mama's brand new blog. You've made her feel very welcome to the blogosphere, and I'll have you know that she's quickly becoming as big an addict as we all already are. In fact, she'll be participating in next week's Fun Monday herself.

Tuesday I shared with you some Family Time moments. I really am blessed for the family I have, and am always happy to share them with you...thanks for your sweet comments.

On Wednesday I gave you some tidbits about the random Dream I had. But then, aren't dreams always random? I'm still trying to decipher why certain elements creeped into my sub-conscious, but hey, without those I would have missed a perfect opportunity for a funny blog entry.

Thursday Thirteen yesterday took an interesting turn for me. I was going to give you a list of things I don't do...silly things, such as I don't wear nylons with sandals and nobody ever should. But somehow, in the process, the list took a serious turn, and I wound up getting all introspective. That's the way it works I guess.

There was also a bit more poetry at Creative Karina, and the Idol recaps continue at Cafe Karina. Also, if you're wondering when your favorite shows are coming back, drop by the Cafe sometime this weekend...I will have a post up later on with some insider (not really) info. for you.

Coming up at Candid, tomorrow's Photo Hunt will have us feeling "High", I will dig into my African roots, and Fun Monday promises to be a Quotable one. Also, maybe, just maybe, if you're really good...I'll properly introduce you to Velvet, my new Beta Fish.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Not Gonna Do It! - Thursday Thirteen #48

We've all got our traditions, our routines, our own way of living our lives. The things we do, and how we do them, what we believe in and feel strongly about, that is what make us unique. But it is also in the things we DON'T do, believe, think and say that we form our personalities. I ran across this idea for a TT in my travels last week, and I wish I could remember where it was that I found it (so if it was you, let me know and I'll give you credit), but for this week's Thursday Thirteen, I thought I'd give you a list of 13 things I do not do, believe, think or say.

1. I do not wake up easily or full of energy. EVER. It doesn't matter if I've gotten 8 hours of sleep, or just 5 or over 10...I am not a morning person. The wake up process for me entails a whole lot of hitting the snooze button and stumbling into the bathroom with my eyes half closed. Once I'm up though, I'm up.

2. I don't buy designer clothing and/or shoes and/or purses at full price. EVER. In fact, I very rarely buy them at all, unless I can get a ridiculously good deal at the various mark-down stores that carry last season's left-overs. Yes, I love fashion and am a self-professed shoe-a-holic, but I can't justify spending $400 (or even $100) on a pair of shoes, when I could buy 5 or 6 (or more) pairs for that amount. Not to mention pay my bills with it.

3. I don't like grocery shopping. At all. Not even a little bit. For someone who loves to shop, you'd think I'd just clump grocery shopping into the mix and enjoy it. I don't. I loathe grocery shopping and will put it off until I absolutely have nothing left in my house to eat before I go.

4. I don't know how to watch someone dance without feeling a bit nostalgic, and sad, and remorseful that I didn't pursue my dream to be a dancer. And yet, I will watch any kind of dancing at any opportunity, even if it makes me a little sad. It's a bittersweet thing for me, but it is a passion.

5. I don't have the ability to watch someone cry without joining in. I'm a full fledged sympathy cryer, and if someone is crying in front of me, odds are there are tears in my eyes. Even on television. Even in a book. Seriously my floodgates have no lock on them.

6. I don't get drunk. I enjoy a good martini as much as the next girl, and take real pleasure in having a glass of wine with dinner when I'm out with friends. But with the exception of the occasional buzz, which is usually my sign to stop drinking before it turns into anything more, I don't allow myself to get drunk. I've never been a fan of drunken behavior in anyone, and I especially don't enjoy the feeling in me. I've drunk to the point of praying to the porcelain gods exactly once in my life. It's also been the only time I've ever been hungover. It was sufficiently horrible for me to know I didn't ever want to experience it again. In my earlier years I did get drunk more often than that once, but always knew my stopping point before it was too late.

7. In keeping with that, I don't tolerate drunk driving. At all. There's no excuse, we're all adults, we should all know better. I lost a dear friend to a drunk driver and am militant in my disgust for anyone who chooses to drive when they've obviously been drinking.

8. I don't feel the need to be in a relationship for the sake of being in a relationship. I don't get women who choose to stay with men who don't make them happy (and in fact make them miserable) because they are afraid of being alone. It just doesn't make sense to me.

9. I don't think I'm better than anyone else because I am single. I don't think I am less than anyone because of it either. I just think I am true to myself at this moment in time, and when the right man comes along, IF the right man comes along, then I'll continue to be true to myself by being with him.

10. I don't feel guilty for the life I lead. More often than you could begin to imagine, I get words thrown at me meant to make me feel like I should consider myself lucky for the "freedom" I have to make choices without needing to consider or consult a husband and kids. I am reminded that I have a good job, my own home, and a great wardrobe as if these were things I should apologize for. I have worked my ass off for these things, and at times they've come at a cost of sacrificing my time, my energy, and even my heart when I've chosen NOT to settle for the wrong man. I don't feel guilty for my life, I have earned it.

11. I don't want to be single forever. I think I may give that impression off quite a bit, and it's not the truth. True, I'm comfortable with my status, but I do want to fall in love, get married, have kids one day. I just want it to be right. My self confidence is real, but is also a bit of a defense mechanism against the fact that at the end of the day, I am sleeping alone. I'm not afraid to admit that.

12. I don't trust a lot of people. I have a knack for picking friends who suck the juice right out of me and don't ever give it back, and this has led to years of pain and a hardening of my outer shell. I will get along with anyone, and genuinely like a whole slew of folks, always having room for more in my life. But I don't trust but a few.

13. I don't stay mad. I don't waste my time or energy being upset about the small things, and even the big things. Life is too short and fragile to spend it in a bad mood. I choose to deal with my hurts and upsets as immediately as possible, and then leave them behind. I forgive quickly. I don't forget quite as easily however.

Well, there you have it. This actually turned into a much more personal TT than I had intended it to be, but I guess I'm feeling introspective today.

I can't get the Mr. Linky site to work for me today. You can visit other Thirteeners here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The stuff that dreams are made of

Scenes from my dream last night, in no particular order (because I'll be damned if I can remember the sequence of events as they transpired in my mind's eye):

- Ex-boyfriend Cognac, at some point showing jealousy over my interest in the appearance of another man (strangely enough, other man looked eerily like Cognac himself).

- Cognac then transformed into male acquaintance of mine, one I have never been attracted to, or even remotely interested in romantically. Yet, in this dream, he was the loving, caring boyfriend, concerned about me, because I was upset. (Not entirely sure what I was upset about).

- Myself and a few others (possibly Lil'K, though I'm not entirely sure) being chased by flesh-eating zombie like yet...werewolf like creatures. If you were bitten, you were then turned.

- At some point one of the males in my dream (not Cognac, not male acquaintance, some other boyfriend like figure) is bitten, but is attempting to convince us that he is unaffected.

- He then invites the rest of his zombie like friends in and they proceed to attempt to eat us.

- This dinner party is rudely interrupted by yet another male figure, this one HUGE (as in muscular) and holding a very large gun. Zombies scramble, gun toting god rescues damsels in distress.

Alarm goes off.

There were several other odd and completely unrelated bits and pieces thrown in as well, which I remembered this morning, but came into work to no email access to be able to post about them, and now they've escaped into the recesses of my mind once again.

I SERIOUSLY need to stop eating cheese at bedtime.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Family Time

If you read my blog even semi-regularly, then you know that my family is without question the most important aspect of my life. I'm blessed to have the most amazing family; we've always been close and I always look forward to the holidays when we can come together and enjoy each other's company.
However, as is bound to happen, as we (the "kids") have grown up, the reunions have become less, and smaller. It is difficult when members of the family get married, move away, or have other commitments, to orchestrate big family events as much. Still, as a family, we manage to have a bond tighter than most it seems, and the holidays are always a great time.

But it is my immediate family, my parents and my brother, as well as my grandfather, who really make up the "core" family for me. Being single and in my 30's, with no kids, these four people ARE my family. They're all I've got in the best, and in the worst of times. Thankfully, for the most part, we have the best of times together. Candid Mama is more than just my mom, she is and has always been, my best friend. My dad is the one of the most amazing human beings I know. No wonder I'm single, with a man like that as an example, it's no wonder the boys I've dated can never measure up. Grandpa came to live with us when my grandmother passed away seven years ago. He is an integral part of our little "circle" in so many ways. And then there's Brotherman (formerly known as Shortstuff, though I REALLY can't call him that anymore). My brother is 9 years younger than I, and that age difference has always meant that we have a special kind of relationship. He was my little "doll" to play with in the first few years of his life. Then he was the adorable toddler I'd show off to my friends. When I was in college, he was pre-teen I'd take with me to school, proud to introduce him to my "grown-up" world. And as a teenager, there were many times he'd come to me for advice, or just to talk about whatever was on his mind. As he turned into a young adult, we were friends, even traveling together, enjoying each other's company. I can't remember ever having a real fight with him, and it was strange, but comforting, when on a family trip to Mexico a few years ago, we even "partied" together. Talk about an eye opening experience...doing shots in Mexico with your "little" brother and then sitting on the beach, with a decent buzz going, talking about the state of the world.

But there was something missing for a while there. Not so much in our relationship, but with Brotherman himself. He had a rough adolescence, and it has taken him quite a long time to find his center, if you will. I've alluded to an experience this past Thanksgiving weekend that changed him, and I still won't get into details, because they were his own personal experiences, and not mine to share. However, in the last several months he's earned his name change, from Shortstuff, to Brotherman. No, not because he's had a change in height (that happened years ago), but because I can now officially look at him as a man.

This maturing in him has been nice for our whole family, and has brought about a new closeness for all of us. Since I moved out of my parents home, we've made an effort to have a "family dinner night" once a week. Lately these dinners are full of adult conversation, and just good quality time.

We all seem to enjoy this time, but what I love the most is that I think Brotherman has genuinely begun to appreciate this time himself as something he likes and wants to do, as opposed to something he feels obligated to do.

And on Easter Sunday, probably without even realizing it, he made us all a little bit more grateful for the family we have. After lunch, the two of us drove our uncle and aunt to the airport, as they were off to see my cousin PM and her family in California. I offered to go with Brotherman to keep him company on the way home, expecting him to tell me that he'd be fine, driving home with his radio on, doing his own thing. Instead he said that would be nice, and we enjoyed a grown up conversation between two siblings who have become friends as adults, on the ride home. When we returned to my parents' house, it was just the two of them at home, and dad was on the computer, mom was in the living room. We joined mom in the living room and jokingly shouted to dad that we were "having family time" and he needed to join us. So he did. And a few hours later, all four of us were still sitting around, chatting, playing with the dog, joking, and being a family. At one point mom and I said we had to go to the computer, because I needed to help her set up her blog and Brotherman said "No, we're having family time". So we laughed, and sat back, enjoying the comfort of family. Eventually, Brotherman got up and announced "Okay, family time is over." At which point we all went our separate ways, about our business. But if you had any idea how significant it is to have him be the one wanting to make that time last a little bit longer, well...then you'd just know, you know?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Fun Monday - Easy as 1 - 2 - 3

Before we get into Fun Monday, I want to let you all know that Candid Mama has started blogging. That's right, my mom started her very own blog this weekend. Won't you go over to Rose's Garden and say hello?

Fun Monday this week is being hosted by Swampy. She has given us a bit of an alphabet lesson. We've been asked to "Choose a topic/theme and make an alphabetical list of words, phrases, photos...however you want to share your topic/theme."

That's it...those were all the rules we got. And since this was Swampy, who is well known for breaking all the Fun Monday rules anyway, she also said we could go ahead and bend the rules all we wanted. I've always been a goody two-shoes (who exactly came up with that term anyway?) and breaking rules is not something I do lightly, so I decided to give you the ABC's of a few of my favorite things:

A - Africa (I was born in Africa) and safari like things, like Animal print, here's what my bed looks like at the moment:

B - Betty Boop - I collect Betty Boop stuff, have been doing it since way before her stuff was EVERYWHERE.
C – Chocolate

Need I say more?

D – Dance

That's me in all my ballett glory when I was all of three or four years old.

E – eating out. I love eating out with friends.
F– family
G – giving. I really do get a great feeling out of giving small gifts to those I care about.
H– home. I love my home. Love coming home, love being home, love sharing my home with others.
I – Independence. My independence is something I'm quite proud of, and happy with.

J – jewelry. I have a bit of an addiction to costume jewelry...I'd probably have an addiction to "real" jewelry too, but I can't afford the pricey stuff, so the faux bling will have to suffice for now.

K – knowledge. Learning new things, educating myself.

L – laughter. 'Nuff said.

M – make-up. I'm one of those people that loves to play with make-up, and I buy make-up like it's going out of style. And yet, I mostly wear pretty subtle make-up...go figure.

N – nature
O – the Ocean

P – Poetry

Q – Quiet. there's something to be said for silence.

R – reading. Few things are as enjoyable as getting lost in a good book.

S – shopping - Admit it, you thought I'd say shoes, didn't you?

T – Tivo, what a fun little invention this is.

U – Underwear. Oh what? U's a tough letter, and choosing the word underwear will guarantee to get me some interesting blog hits, right?

V – Velvet. No, not the fabric, my new Crown-Tail Beta Fish:

W – That would be wine folks.

X – X-pressing myself - Like you could think of an X word?
Y – You, the people who read my blog, because what fun would it be if I were just writing all this for myself? I mean, I'd probably still do it, but you know...awkward!

Z –zoom, as in camera zoom, because without it, I wouldn't get shots like this:

That was fun. Be sure to head to Swampy's for the list of all the Fun Mondayers singing the alphabet this week, and don't forget to go say hi to Mama!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Friday, March 21, 2008

Extra Extra I've got news - Follow-Up Friday

The first day of Spring here in my neck of the woods brought with it some insanely strong winds. With temps in the 30's, it felt more like a mid-winter day. Ah, Spring in New England. But, today, although still windy and cold, the sun is out. There's at least a false sense of the new season as I sit in my office with my heater on.

Once again this week I've managed to reply to comments directly at each individual post, so, if you left me a comment this week, check for my response accordingly. I'm attempting to do this daily now, and really, it's not like I get so many comments that I can't keep up. (That was a poorly disguised plea for comments if I ever saw one).

This was an interesting blogging week for me. I had a "bloggy" success moment on Saturday when I tried a bit of a "picture switch" magic with my Photo Hunter on Saturday....and it worked!

It was also a bit of a catch up week here at Candid Karina, with two memes I'd been tagged for on Monday, another more poetic meme I'd been meaning to do for months on Tuesday, and answers to some reader's questions on Wednesday. Yesterday it was all about Spring. And there were shoes, oh, how I want those red shoes.

I also managed a bit of poetry over at my oft-neglected writing blog, Creative Karina.

And at my new pop-culture blog, Cafe Karina, I not only kept up with my American Idol recaps, but I ventured into new territory as well. This post should show you the direction I plan on taking with that blog. In a word...random. It is for my random thoughts about the media world we live in. There will be celebrities, there will be music, there will be (of course) television, and yes, at times, there will even be news and politics. There will be snark, there will be humor (I hope), and there will be eye candy. I hope you'll come by for a cup'a.

But that's not all the bloggy news I have. I have two more ventures I'm extremely excited about.

First up, if you don't know by now, I belong to a fantastic group called SheWhoBlogs. It is a community of female bloggers offering one another support, fun and friendship. We have our own blog, and also, if you click on the handy little button on the sidebar, you can join our Yahoo Group. I'm inviting you, we'd love to have you.

But here's where the NEW comes in. Our fearless leader Frances decided that she wanted to begin a new weight loss program, and asked if any of us would be interested in joining her, and turning it into a blogging venture as well. Since I'm constantly saying I really need to get serious about getting and staying in shape, I decided I would have to join in. So, together with a group of ladies from SheWhoBlogs, today we launch our new blog SheWhoDiets (you know you love it). I'm excited to see what we will all come up with, and how we can all motivate each other to succeed in our health goals. Despite the name, this blog is not just about dieting, it is about exercise, about choosing healthy options, and just in general about making the right choices, and supporting one another in those decisions. I'm really looking forward to what's to come. I hope you'll stop by and see us.

And finally, the other new venture I'm giddy with excitement about. Last night at dinner at my parents' house, I was discussing my blog and the wonderful friendships I've made in the blogosphere. Quite unexpectedly my mom said "I should start a blog". Can you all hear me squealing with excitement? As a blogger I feel that everyone in the world should blog, and wish I could convince all my friends to do so, because they just don't know what they're missing out on. So, how cool is it that mom wants to join our ranks? I will be spending some time with her this weekend setting up a brand new blog for stay tuned for Candid Momma.

That's all I've got for you today, and really, that's enough, ain't it? Come on by tomorrow to see what I've come up with for the Photo Hunter "Metal" theme and next week's Fun Monday is being hosted by Swampy, so you KNOW you've got to check that out.

Have a great Easter everyone.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring Fling - Thursday Thirteen #47

I've done all kinds of memes this week, written some poetry both here and at Creative Karina, and answered some reader questions. I've also done some American Idol recaps, and my first non-Idol post both up at Cafe Karina this week. But now, it's time for

Ah Spring, time for renewal, and rebirth. Time for the snow to melt, the sun to shine and the flowers to bloom.

Uh..sort of. Here in New England, Spring is barely a blip on the radar, but at least it means we're a step closer to Summer. Still, even if New England winters drag on a bit longer than most, and we don't get the full benefits of Spring, there are subtle ways in which we notice the change of seasons.

Here are thirteen things I'm looking forward to on this First Day of Spring:

1. No more snow. Yes, it's beautiful, and gave me some great photo opportunities, but I've had enough this year. We really got pummeled up here in the Northeast, and if I don't see another snowflake all year, I'll be okay with that.

2. I can put away the hats, gloves, scarves, and bulky winter coats. As much as I'm an accessories girl, these particular accessories I'm ready to put away. I can't wait until I can leave the house without needing to first prep with layers of protection against the elements.

3. Daylight. This has already started to change, but I so look forward to still having hours of daylight to enjoy after I leave work in the evenings.

4. Going for walks. Once the temperature warms up a bit, and there is still daylight after work, I start taking walks along the river, usually with Shopaholic, as we catch up on each other's days. I enjoy that time.

5. Color. In nature, flowers bloom, the grass grows, and the world just takes on a more colorful scheme to it.

6. Colors. In our wardrobe. We bring out the pastels, the springy happy flirty colors after a long winter of living in blacks, browns and greys.

7. Shoes. These shoes:

And these: And these: Technically, I only own the ones in the first photo, but the other two pairs are on my wish list (click the photos to be taken to the websites where you can buy them...for me...uh...I mean, for yourself. Yeah, that's what I meant). I'd show you more photos of the shoes I actually do own, but my spring shoes are still in the throes of hibernation, and will need gentle prodding to be awoken in the next few weeks. You can't rush them, they need to be ready. And don't get me wrong, I love my boots. I mean, I really love boots. But, oh how my shoes want to come out and play. (Did I mention I'm a size 7 1/2 ?)
8. Photo Ops. With spring there are a whole slew of possibilities for photo ops, and I'm looking forward to being able to going out to take photos without having to run back inside to defrost my fingers.

9. Birds. I just installed a bird feeder on my balcony and am looking forward to watching the birds show up for dinner.

10. The sounds of the season. Speaking of birds, waking up to the songs they sing outside my window. Falling asleep with the windows cracked and the rustling of the wind outside. Crickets chirping, kids playing. The sounds of life after a dormant winter.

11. And the smells of the season. Oh, the smells. Fresh, new, clean, alive and vibrant.

12. Having a social life again. Not that I didn't go out during the winter, but we all tend to hibernate a bit in winter, don't we? Come spring we begin to make plans with our friends, outings, get togethers, excuses to enjoy the fresh air.

13. And did I mention Flowers? Like these gorgeous Calla Lillies I just bought myself?
Ah Spring. What are you looking forward to?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

You Asked For It - Part 4 - Memories

There's a new American Idol recap up at Cafe Karina today. I also finally posted some poetry over at Creative Karina, stop by if you'd like.

Here at Candid Karina this week I've been catching up a bit on memes I've been tagged for, and since I still have some outstanding questions lingering out there that you, my dear readers asked of me WAY back, I thought I'd keep with the catching up theme. So, here's a few more of my answers:

Frigga asked: What are some of your earliest memories of shoe shopping / shoes?

Wow, that’s quite the question…I had to give this one some serious thought, because being a serious shoe-aholic as myself, I’ve actually not ever given much thought as to what it was that triggered my shoe addiction.

Your question forced me to go back and analyze at what point in my life shoes went from being a necessity to an obsession. I blame my mother. I don’t have specific memories of obsessing over shoes as a young child, but I do know that my mother always had me in the most coordinated outfits growing up. Therefore, I always had several pairs of shoes, to wear with matching outfits. If I rack my brain for my earliest memory of shoes, I come up with a pair of turquoise blue jellies I owned when I was about 8 or 9. I loved those things, and can envision the blue outfit I wore them with.

Fast forward a few years, and I remember the “punky Brewster” sneakers I had to have in junior high. Those shoes, and I wish I had a photo of them to share with you, earned me the nickname Punky back then. Once I entered high school, I stopped wearing sneakers completely. In fact, I owned ONE pair of sneakers all through highschool, and they were reserved solely for gym class. I never owned a pair of sneakers again until my 24th birthday, when a boyfriend bought me a pair of Nike’s (which, believe it or not, I still own). I love those things.

But back to high school. I remember a pair of lace-up ankle boots, that I practically lived in. I’m sure I had other shoes as well, but I can’t remember any of them. Right before I started college, I bought my first pair of “open toed” shoes. They were platform wedges, with a peeptoe. It was also in college that I discovered platform sneakers, and shit-kicker boots. It was the late 90’s and shoes with substance were in fashion. I remember that I had serious boots then. And I had them in several colors. So, I’d say it was in college that I truly began my love affair with shoes.

It was after college, however, once I started working in corporate America, in law firms, that I really discovered my obsession with footwear. Working in downtown Boston, with shoe stores galore, and lunch hours to kill window shopping, my shoe collection grew exponentially. I haven’t looked back since. I’ve changed styles with the times, and I’ve also changed my tastes. Where comfort was key while working in the city, now that I have a suburban commute (house to car, car to office, office to car and back), comfort is no longer so much an issue. From stack heels to stilettos I’ve gone. From comfortable to sexy. Give me pointy, and spiky, and I’m hooked.
I just reread what I wrote and see that as always happens when I begin speaking of shoes, I’ve gone off on a tangent and haven’t really answered the original question. My earliest memory of shoes and shoe shopping. The earliest shoes which bring back memories are definitely the blue jellies. I don’t really have an early memory of shoe shopping, however.

But I do have a shoe memory you might like, that doesn’t have much to do with my shoe obsession as it does with Portuguese customs.

I must have been 5 or 6 years old at the time. As far as I knew then, Santa, or “Father Christmas” as he was known in Portugal, was as real as my father. That particular Christmas was spent at my uncle’s family home. The details are vague, but I remember there were a few kids there, among them my two cousins Gangsta and Black Sheep. The family was around, and we were waiting for Father Christmas to show. We had put out our shoes, for that was where Santa left your gifts (sort of like stockings, only we used shoes).

The thing is, I don’t remember ever leaving out a shoe any other Christmas. This may not have been the first, it may not have been the last, but it is the ONLY Christmas I remember the shoe being involved. Anyway, suddenly, we heard it, Santa’s footsteps on the roof. He was there! But he couldn’t see us! So, my father took all the kids into one of the bathrooms to hide. (yeah, I really don’t know why the bathroom was chosen over one of the bedrooms, don’t ask). So we hid in the bathroom for a while, and then the other adults called us out, Santa was gone. And where our shoes used to be, were our gifts. I remember that my shoe was lost in the process, but don’t know if it was ever recovered…like I said the memory is vague on details.

The only thing I remember clearly as if it were yesterday, was the excitement of hearing the footsteps on the roof (my uncle in the attic, I learned later), and the nerves and giggling while we were in the bathroom hiding away.

From Sognatrice: What's your favorite childhood memory?

I had a great childhood, so it’s extremely tough to pick just one favorite. I have many memories that make me smile. A lot of my greatest childhood memories involve my brother. I was almost 9 years old when he entered my life, and I had always wanted a sibling. He became the love of my life instantly. He was my little toy, and I couldn’t get enough of playing with him.

I remember specifically two events. One was a game we played all the time. I would lay a blanket down on the floor, and roll my brother in it, and call him “my little sausage”, and carry him around the house, over my shoulder, wrapped in a blanket, while he would giggle in hysterics. So much did he love this game, that he would bring me the blanket at random times. Just thinking of this I can hear his hysterical giggling, and it warms my heart (and makes me a little teary eyed).

The other story my brother would probably kill me for sharing, but he doesn’t read my blog, so whatever. I’m 9 years old and we’re living in Portugal. My brother is probably 10 or 11 months old. My mother is in the kitchen, and my brother, my father and I are in my bedroom. For some odd reason, I can remember exactly what my brother was wearing that day. He had on a cute little outfit that was knitted by either my mother, or one of my grandmother’s. It was purple and brown. I can see his cheruby little face too, smiling and giggling. On one wall I have a hanging rack of sorts, and from it is dangling a little purse I owned. I think it was white. We’re trying to get my brother to walk, and for some reason, I’m not sure why, we hand him the purse. He’s fascinated with it. We drape it over his shoulder, and tell him to “go show mommy”. And he walks all the way to the kitchen, to show mommy my purse. His first real long walk. All the way down the hallway, into the kitchen. I remember we called our next door neighbors over too, so they could see him walk, but if memory serves, he promptly sat his butt down, and refused to get up once they got there. Thanks for this question Sognatrice. I’d forgotten these moments until now. Hard to imagine them now when my brother is 24 now.

From the BarnGoddess: Who was your favorite teacher and why?

This is an easy one too. My favorite teacher was Sra. Julia. She was my first through fourth grade teacher in Portugal. She was my first teacher (I never attended kindergarden), and in Portugal, your teacher moved through the grades with you, until you reached 5th grade, I think. So, I was in her class all through elementary school, before we left for the U.S. She was a good teacher, and I loved her and respected her. She and her kids would come to my birthday parties, and I would go to theirs. We corresponded via letters for years after I moved here. And when I went to Portugal (almost 10 years ago) I looked her up and visited her. I can’t really give you a more specific reason why she was my favorite, as I was so young, but she’s always held a special place in my heart.

From JoyT: Tell me about a time you got really mad. It doesn't have to be yelling at anybody, I mean it can if that's what you want to share, but it can be that someone made you so mad you stuck your head in a pillow and screamed your lungs out.

I’ll tell you a tale of a young girl with a HUGE temper. It’s been a very long time since I’ve gotten “stick my head in a pillow and scream” mad. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve really mellowed out quite a bit, and I may get mad, but overall, I’ve learned to process it, and not let it eat at me.

That said, for my most recent “mad as hell” situation, read my post about how much Comcast SUCKS (by the way, they still suck, and I have more reasons to add to why, but I'm just let it go for now).

But, instead of taking the easy way and just telling you to read that story, I’ll give you another tale. This one goes back, way back to when I was about 11 or 12 years old. When I tell you I had a short fuse, and a dangerous temper back then, I’m actually being quite kind to myself. I was a timebomb waiting to explode. There are several stories of my flipping out and completely losing it as a young girl. But one that for some reason sticks out in my mind is this one. When my parents first moved us to the U.S., we came with my aunt and uncle and my cousins, Gangsta, who was my boy cousin, and about 3 years younger than I, and his sister, Black Sheep, who was one year older than I. We spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ house, and although we played a lot, we didn’t always get along fantastically.

At this particular time, my cousin “Gangsta” was probably 9 or so. I can’t for the life of me remember what it was that we were fighting about this time. It could have been any number of things. But here’s what I do remember. My grandmother’s house was one of those that was sort of “circular” in that you could walk around the entire floorplan, in a circle, from the kitchen, to the hallway, to the living room, to the dining room, back to the kitchen. Get the picture? Perfect for kids to run in circles. Perfect for me, very angry at Gangsta for whatever reason, to chase him around and around, screaming that I was going to kill him. Loud enough that our parents, who were in the basement, came running upstairs to see what the racket was all about. By the time they reached the upstairs, I had Gangsta on the floor, hands around his neck, telling him I was going to kill him.

I was a violent little thing, huh? Thankfully, I wasn’t very strong, so doubt I would have caused any serious damage before the parents showed up. But I’ve never forgotten this particular incident, because it left one of those ugly marks on my subconscious. But for the record, he probably deserved it. Ask me about the time I bit my other boy cousin…he definitely deserved it that time. I’m just saying.

From Beckie: Tell us about your earliest memory in the USA, not in the USA.

My earliest memory in the USA is actually from the day I arrived in the U.S. I think the memory stands out so vividly in my mind because it comes with a really huge sense of déjà vu. Let me explain. I was 9 years old when we arrived in the U.S. My grandparents along with their best friends (who would become my brother’s godparents), came to the airport to pick us up. Because there were so many of us (my parents and I, and my brother, as well as my uncle, aunt and my two cousins), and lots of luggage, we were split into several cars. I don’t remember who else was in the car we were in, but mom and I were driven home by my brother’s godfather.

While riding away from Boston, away from Logan Airport, we were looking out the windows, taking it all in. Our first views of America, land of the free. It was dark out, but the city lights and skyline were beautiful and amazing. And then, a strange sensation filled me and I turned to my mother and said “mom, I feel like I’ve been here before, I’ve seen this”. And of course mom said “no, you couldn’t have, honey”. But the feeling was so intense, and in fact, I knew that just over that hill, would be that building…and sure enough, there it was. It only lasted a moment, but it was probably the most intense déjà vu moment I’ve experienced in my life. My first time in a brand new country, and it seemed so familiar to me; guess it was meant to be home after all.

My earliest memory not in the USA? I had to think about this one for a bit. If it is not the earliest, it is one of the earliest. It is one of those memories of an event that might have been embarrassing at the moment it happened, but, I have very fond memories of that day. I was 3 years old, and taking a ballet class. My ballet teacher was a fierce French woman. We might have been 3 year olds, but you did not mess around in her class. Wearing our little leotards we did plies and pas de deux. This particular day, me and my little friend were being a bit rambunctious. My little friend decided she would ask to go to the restroom, as an excuse to get out of class for a bit, and I jumped in, saying I too needed to go.

All too familiar with our antics, Madame said no. But the thing is, I really needed to go. So, I went. Right there. In class. On the pretty ballet floors. In my little leotard. But because class was not over yet, and I didn’t have a change of clothes, I was brought back to a room with all these beautiful ballet costumes, and was put in a pretty pink leotard with a tutu. (I’m sure this probably also had something to do with trying to get me to stop crying, and to keep me from being teased mercilessly, but I can’t confirm that).

The truth is, it worked. I felt like the prettiest girl there, the only one in a tutu, and instead of being teased, I was envied. I’m sure all the other girls were wishing they’d been the ones unable to control their bladders. I don’t remember much else from that day, but instead of it being a terrible memory, I get tender flashbacks of pink suits and tutus when I think of it.

And there you have it...that's it for this edition of Q&A's. I have one batch of questions left, and am working on those answers.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Where I'm From

Seems like I'm having a meme sort of week around here. Yesterday I completed two memes I was recently tagged for, and today I have something a bit different. I found this at A Slice of Life quite a long time ago, and have been meaning to do it myself but hd never gotten around to it. Finally, here it is:

Where I Am From

I am from ballet shoes, from "coma com pao" chocolate bars dad would bring home from work and the wide open sea a few steps away.

I am from the tiny two room house on the beach, small and dank, filled with the sounds of mom in the kitchen singing African songs.

I am from four foot high ferns, sugarcanes in the back yard, lilypads that grew on land, the countless plants nurtured by my mother's touch, the trees I'd climb, secret hiding spots, and the sand beneath my feet on the way to the beach.

I am from large dinners with too much food and loud voices, louder laughter, from Avo Odilia and Grandpa Frank and Vovo Ana.

I am from the hard working and determined laborers, and the story tellers with tales of survival and perseverence.

From "I am Proud of you, you should be proud of yourself" and "It's their loss, don't let them get to you".

I am from grandma teaching me to pray at night, seeing God in everyday things, church on Sundays, but only if it feels right, never doubting that faith is what's inside.

I'm from Africa, Portugal, the U.S. of A., starting over again and again, knowing home is where the heart is. From "Muamba" and "caldo verde", "papo secos" and "linguica".

I am from parents who knew they'd met the love of their lives on the day they met, from a family of refugees, fleeing a country in civil war, although they'll always hold it as paradise in their hearts, from a third try, where the streets where supposed to be paved in gold.

I am from photo albums filled with memories, journals filled with poetry, video tapes filled with laughter. I am from stories of survival, renewal, revival. Books inherited from my grandmother, heirlooms gifted by another.

I am from a history of struggle, a present of love, a future of dreams. I am.

This was a lot of fun to do. IF you would like to attempt this yourself, go here for the template and instructions.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patty's Day

Fun Monday this week is being hosted by Nikki. Since I forgot all about Fun Monday until this morning and didn't sign up, and then couldn't think of anything to answer either of the options she gave us this week...I'm not participating for the first week in a LONG LONG time...but, make sure you head on over there for all the others who did sign up!

Instead I decided to do two more memes I've recently been tagged for.

The first is from Qualcosa di Bello - a book meme:

The rules...
1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

I love books, this is a fun one. Okay, I'm currently reading Sammy's Hill by Kristin Gore (yes, that Kristin Gore) on my lunch breaks at work. I'm not at page 123 yet, so hopefully this next section won't spoil anything for me..let's see:

I knew it was a long shot.
"He's an actor, actually", she answered unexpectedly.
"Really?" I was intrigued. I'm curious. ;-)

There you have it! Now for the tags (that's always the hard part, isn't it?):

1. Literary Feline

2. Julia

3. Frigga

4. Susan

5. Pamela

The next is a Crazy 8 Meme from Frigga:

8 Things I’m passionate about

1. My family
2. My independence
3. Seeing the world
4. My spirituality
5. My home
6. My friends
7. My beliefs
8. Shoes (what?)

8 Things I want to do before I die

1. Travel to Tuscany
2. Travel to Thailand
3. Travel in general to see more of the world
4. Get published (or at least finish the damn novel already)
5. Be a mom
6. Fall in love again
7. Meet some of the people who inspire me (including some bloggers I know)
8. Be at peace

8 Things I often say

1. "Thank you so much" - It's been pointed out to me that I have excellent phone manners and always end my calls with this sentence at work.
2. "I love you" - mostly to my parents as I'm ending any one of the millions of phone calls we have each week.
3. "Beijinhos" - which means "kisses" in Portuguese, also to my parents.
4. "Seriously?!" - blame this one on Grey's Anatomy, but it has become a part of my daily vocab whenever something surprising (and usually idiotic) happens. This one can be said in the form of a question, a statement, an exclamation and so many other formats.
5. "I'm so ready for spring". - SERIOUSLY, is winter over yet?
6. "I need to get caught up" - lately, it seems I'm always behind on everything, from blogging to my work, to stuff around my house...I need more hours in the day.
7. "Sure, why not". - usually followed by a silent "why do I get myself into these things? I really need to learn to start saying no.
8. "HUH?" - this one usually follows the half-instructions my boss will provide me with for any given assignment. He's not great with the detail, and I do a whole lot of head scratching before I can start any assignment.

8 Books I’ve recently read or am currently reading:

1. Sammy's Hill by Kristen Gore (yes, Al Gore's daughter. Two of my friends recently read it and recommended it. I'm only on page 70, but am enjoying it so far.
2. Every Which Way but Dead - Kim Harrison (reading this in Audio format now), it's a fun novel about a witch who is a bounty hunter of sorts, with Vampires and Werewolves and all kinds of otherworldly creatures...just my type of "away from reality" fare.
3. The Good, The Bad and the Undead - Kim Harrison (also in audio), just finished this one, which was book two in the series above.
4. Sins of the Father - A Buffy the Vampire Slayer novel (what? I love my Buffy stuff, so sue me).
5. Angel with Attitude - Michelle Rowen
6. Darwin Awards - This is a fun book of "stupid human tricks" basically, which I keep by my desktop computer at home, so I can read the short stories while I wait for things to load, since that computer is a piece of crap.
7. Savoring Seafood and Shellfish (or something like that)- Williams Sonoma cook book I just bought this weekend.
8. Birds of the Northeast - A birdwatching book Shopaholic gave me for my birthday because I just hung a bird feeder on my balcony.

8 Songs I could listen to over and over

1. Hotel California - Eagles (This was actually first on Frigga's list, but it made me laugh because just this weekend I picked it out of the jukebox at the pool hall we went to saying "I can never shoot pool and NOT listen to this song, it's a pre-requisite", so I had to leave it on my list as well).
2. Any one of the songs by lifehouse - this may sound like a cop-out but I honestly cannot pick just one song by them, I can listen to all of their songs over and over and over again.
3. Addicted by Kelly Clarkson - I just love this song, it's one of those great angry driving songs.
4. Undeniable - Matt Kearney - have you heard this song? If you haven't, you simply must listen to it.
5. If Everyone Cared by Nickelback
6. Lovestoned/I think she knows - Justin Timberlake - Makes me dance everytime I hear it.
7. Sweet Sixteen - Born as Ghosts (It's Eric Balfour's (he actor) band, they're unsigned as yet, but I love their music)
8. Livin' On a Prayer - Or really, any of the older Bon Jovi stuff, cuz, you know, it's Bon Jovi.

This is just a small sampling of how eclectic my music tastes can be...for example, right now, I'm listening to Vanessa Mae, who is a classical violinist.

8 Things that attract me to my best friends

1. Ability to laugh at themselves and act goofy (because Lord knows I do it all the time).
2. Intelligence (I'm not talking about book knowledge, I'm talking about common sense and the ability to carry an intelligent or interesting conversation).
3. Morals (are they at least somewhat in line with mine?) (Frigga had this on her list, and I couldn't agree more).
4. The love of shopping (this does not apply to all my friends, but at least one of them needs to share this with me...Thank God for Shopaholic).
5. The fact that they get me without questionning my choices (or doubting my happiness).
6. Their maturity (my closest friends are ones who can handle it when we don't agree on something without taking it personally or making it a personal attack, that's a sign of maturity to me that is absolutely essential).
7. Mutual dependance (knowing they will cry on my shoulder when they need to, and will lend me their shoulder when I need it).
8. That something. It can't be explained, but it's that same spark you look for in a romantic relationship (well, a different kind of spark, but you know what I mean) either have it and become friends, or you don't, and become acquaintances.

8 People I think should do Crazy 8s

UH...this is way too hard...I'll come back to this part later I think...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Passing it on again

I haven't really been doing a great job of keeping track of my "good deeds" the last few weeks, mostly because I've added the little things I started to do at the beginning of Lent as a part of my daily routines. It's actually nice to realize that I'm beginning to unconsciously do the things I was making a conscious effort to performing. Letting others go in front of me at the grocery store when they only have a handful of items and I've got a cart-full, letting others by in traffic, those sorts of things.

Still, I feel like a bit of a cop-out, because I feel like I should be doing more, that was the whole point after all, wasn't it? I'll have to step it up this week, I guess.

This past Friday, however, I did volunteer to help my cousin out with a presentation of the Stations of the Cross she was putting together for the confirmation class at our church. It was a wonderful version of the stations she put together, geared toward the youth, and I was glad to be a part of it.

It was also a bit of a gift to me...I'd never quite experienced the stations in that manner, and it touched me in a way I didn't expect. Mysterious ways they say...mysterious ways.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Photo Hunt #10 - I Spy

This week's Photo Hunter theme is a bit of a challenge...we were asked to post a photo that has something "hidden" within it. Mine's hidden in plain sight...I spy, with my little eye...something you see it?

I'm trying something new here, so hopefully this will work for you...check out the photo, see if you can find it, and then click on the should work to bring you to a close-up photo of the hidden item. (I have to thank Willowtree for the photo switcheroo trick, if it works, that is!)

Have a great Saturday everyone.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Let's play tag

There's no real "Follow-Up Friday" this week, because I replied to each and every one of your comments in the comments sections of the appropriate posts. Therefore, if you left me a comment this week, you'll want to check back there for my replies.

If you've been busy this week and are curious about what's happened here at Candid Karina, here's a quick recap...Saturday we kicked off the Ultimate Blog Party. Sunday I had technical difficulties, so barely managed to get a post in. Fun Monday was all about movie quotes. On Tuesday I told you all about my birthday weekend, and shared some photos and on Wednesday I had a great big thank you to my blog-buddy Sognatrice. And in yesterday's Thursday Thirteen I had a chance to share with you some of my zoo photos. And of course, for my latest recaps and opinions on American Idol, take a gander on over to Cafe Karina.

Okay, now that we've got that out of the way, I thought today would be a good day to tackle one of the many memes I've been tagged for recently.

This one is the 30 Questions Meme, and I was tagged by Frigga. Here we go:

If your doctor told you TODAY that you were pregnant, what would you say? Somebody call the pope, we've got ourselves a miracle.

Do you trust all of your friends? My real friends, yes.

Would you move to another state or country to be with the one you love? I think it would fully depend on the circumstances, how serious we were, why we'd have to move, and what state and/or country we'd need to move to, and what I'd be giving up personally by moving, but for all the right reasons, yes.

Do you believe that everything happens for a reason? I actually do. We might not always know what those reasons are right away, but I do believe eventually it all makes sense.

Can you make a dollar in change right now? Probably, yes.

Which one of your friends do you think would make the best doctor? Hmm...that's a tough one. I'm not sure any of them would, to be honest.

What naughty word do you use too often? Probably the F word. I try not to...really, I do, but sometimes it's called for.

Is there someone who pops into your mind at random times? There are several people who pop into my mind at random times. Lately, it's been one particular random person from my past...hmmm

What's your most favorite scar? I don't really get this people really have favorite scars?

When was the last time you flew in a plane? As opposed to flying with my wings? was almost two years ago now, I sad. I'm due for another trip.

What features do you find most attractive in the preferred sex? Preferred sex - I like that, it's funny. What do I find most attractive though? I don't know, it depends on the guy, but I've noticed that my tastes range from one end of the spectrum to the next on appearance, so it must have something to do with personality, right?

Fill in the blank. I love __________. Life!

What is a goal you would like to accomplish in the near future? Get caught up on updating my blog roll...I've been trying to do it for months now.

If you were to wake up from being in a coma for an extended time who would you call? Definitely my mom.

Where was your favorite picture taken? As in favorite picture 'of me'? I have no idea, I hate pictures of me.

What's your middle name? That's a little known secret around these parts.

Honestly, what's on your mind right now? My deadline on this HUGE project I have to do at work today, and how I should really log off and get to it.

If you could go back in time and change something, what would it be? I don't know...I'm not sure that I would change much.

Who was or will be the maid of honor/best man in your wedding? Don't know, but with the number of weddings I've been in, I've got plenty of victims to choose from.

What are you wearing right now? Black pants with a red pinstripe, a red shirt and red stilleto boots.

Ever had a bar fight? Nope.

Who knows you the best? Hmmm, probably my mom.

Did you buy something today? Amazingly enough, I haven't bought a single thing since Sunday.

Did you get in a fight with someone today? Not yet, but it's early. ;-)

When was the last time you had a massage? Wow, it's been a long long time.

Last person to see you cry? There was a whole group of them actually.

Who made you cry? It wasn't a who, as much as a what, but it wasn't a bad thing.

What was the last TV show you watched? I watched pieces of Good Morning America before I left the house.

Who was the last person you hung out with? My parents, I had dinner with them last night.

Have you ever taken a peek at someone else's diary? I don't think so. I'm pretty sure I haven't, no.

This was different, and fun. I'm not sure if I'm supposed to tag people, but I'm not going to...I'm going to instead tell you to feel free to tag yourself, if you want to.

Have a great Friday everyone, and stop by tomorrow for Photo Hunter, won't you?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

It's a zoo out there -Thursday Thirteen

The Ultimate Blog Party Post can be found here, and check out my American Idol commentary at Cafe Karina.

On Monday, for my birthday, I decided I wanted to do something different. So, along with my mom and my brother, I went to the zoo, for some picture taking. The three of us had a fantastic time, and saw things you only ever read about. Seriously, some of the stuff we caught (some even on camera) is the stuff you find on YouTube. In fact, I haven't had time this week, but one of the videos I shot I will be sharing with all of you very soon...I just haven't had time to edit it down to something I can present yet, but you will want to come back for that (don't you just hate when I tease you like this?)

In the meantime, I give you 13 photos I took at the zoo:

This guy was such a ham for the camera!

This baby zebra was born on February 8th this year.

Boy, was this lion EVER tracking us with his eyes while we walked around his enclosure.
This little guy gave us quite the acrobatic performance.

Staring me down.

And my favorite (my brother became fast friends with this guy):

There you have it. I have tons more photos from this visit to the zoo, and I'll be posting more in the weeks to come, stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A hug in a box.

My Ultimate Blog Party Post is here.

We live in a messed up world, full of crime, and hatred, negativity and misery, and it is sometimes easy to overlook the good, and focus solely on the bad. But every once in a while a fellow human being does something that re-affirms your faith in the beauty of humanity. With a simple gesture or two, some people can help restore the balance in the world, simply by thinking of others.

You're getting all this rhetoric, simply because on Saturday night I received a hug in a box. Something that brought tears to my eyes for the the pure thoughtfulness of the gesture.

I arrived home from my day at the casino right around midnight, and was thrilled to find a box near my mailbox. When all you ever receive in the mail are bills and junk mail, getting anything that doesn't fit into those two categories immediately brings a smile to your face. Because it was my birthday, I'd been getting birthday cards in the mail all week, but this was the first (and only) package. I read the return address, and was confused, and excited. Bella Bags. I had an idea what this was, but from whom, I couldn't begin to guess.

So, imagine my surprise when I open up the box to find this:

Pretty ain't it? I absolutely love it, and the colors and style couldn't be more fitting for me (they even match my living room). But the best part? The little tag hanging there (which I tried to photograph, but after about 15 attempts and no luck, gave up) said "Happy Birthday Candid Karina, with much blog love from Sognatrice". My blog buddy from Italy completely surprised me, and absolutely made my night (weekend).

Thank you again Sognatrice, I really was touched and am extremely grateful. I have no doubt that if we didn't live on separate sides of the ocean, we'd be hanging out regularly. As it is, I'm so glad we get to be blog-buddies, you are one of a kind.

Just another wonderful way the blogosphere has blessed me.

Do yourselves a favor, and head on over to check out Sognatrice's blog, it'll become one of your favorite places to visit, I promise. Also, (edited to add) do check out Bella Bags by Marcia, where Sognatrice got that lovely bag from, they have some fantastic stuff!

And don't forget to stop by Cafe Karina for this week's recap of American Idol.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Birthday Fun - With Photos

So, as most of you already know, yesterday was my birthday, and I've always been the sort of person who makes a bit of a fuss about my birthday. It was always a big deal growing up, and I've carried that through to my adulthood. Hey, we're only given one day a year that is all about us, and we spend the rest of the year working really hard to please others, so why shouldn't we celebrate ourselves? So, I do.

And this past weekend I had many opportunities to do just that, and to enjoy the company of some great friends in the process.

On Friday at work, my coworkers surprised me with birthday cake, a card, and a plant. Is it a sign that you are all grown up when you are genuinely giddy by receiving a plant?

The real fun started early on Saturday, when I headed to Mohegan Sun Casino to meet up with my friend Ms. B.. Since she lives in New York, the casino in Conneticut is a great half way point for us to meet. Don't know why we've never thought of it before, but I think it'll become a more regular meeting place for us. So, we met up, grabbed a quick bite to eat, and played a few penny slots. Immediately the day was off to a good start, as I won about $8 right off the bat. Let me take a moment here to explain to you what a feat this is, because you see, I-DON'T-EVER-WIN at gambling. EVER. No scratch ticket wins, no concert tickets on the radio wins, no slot machine wins, no raffles, no bingo...I don't win. So, hey, $8 up and I'm a happy camper. Of course, I kept playing and promptly lost it all again, but it was early yet, and it was only a $5 bill that I had started off with.

From there, Ms. B and I headed in to watch the show we had tickets for. It was a ballroom dance showcase featuring some of the world's champions in various styles of ballroom dance. The show was wonderful and we truly enjoyed it. I wish I had some photos to share with you, but photography was not allowed at the show. After the show we walked around some, avoided the Bon Jovi fans as much as we could (man, was I jealous), and did some more gambling on the penny slots, and a bit of Keno (where I won again...a whole dollar, but hey, still a win). Then we had dinner, and decided to hit the penny slots one last time before we left. Ladies and gents, it was then that I struck it rich. I won $94.23! On a penny slot machine, in one fell swoop! Needless to say, I cashed that baby out and called it a night.

Ms. B. and I then said our goodbyes and headed our own separate ways home. I came home to a wonderfully unexpected surprise from a fellow blogger, but I am actually going to leave that one to tell you all about tomorrow. It was such an amazingly kind and wonderful surprise that it is deserving of its very own post, so please do come back tomorrow so I can tell you all about it.

On Sunday I slept in quite late, and then woke up to the great surprise (read sarcasm here) of my internet being down. After much battling and effort, and the assistance of a wonderful customer service technician at Buffalo (the makers of my new internet router), I was back online...just in time for a date with my mother to go grocery shopping. After that errand, I had just enough time to run home, put away my groceries, and head out to dinner with my friend Shopaholic, and another mutual friend of ours. Shopaholic surprised me with a bag of goodies, including the plant on the right in the photo below (the plant on the left is the one my coworkers gave me). Yep, I'm all grown up, my plants are gifts I'm completely excited about.
Speaking of plants (or plant like things), since mom and dad had given me my birthday present back in January (this Sanseo coffee machine, which quickly became my favorite appliance), while out grocery shopping mom presented me with these:

Ain't they pretty?

Then yesterday mom and I took the day off work, and had planned a mother/daughter day to celebrate my birthday. As a wonderful surprise, my brother decided to join us on our outing to the zoo, and the three of us had a wonderful time walking around and checking out all the animals and their wild antics. I will have photos from the zoo posted here on Thursday, as well as a tale you won't believe...with video for proof. Trust me, you'll want to come back for that.

The celebrations ended with a family dinner at a local Japanese restaurant with mom, dad, grandpa and my brother.

I want to thank you all for your birthday wishes throughout the past few days, they have each and everyone of them been greatly apreciated. You have all brought a smile to my face, and made me feel loved.
I had a wonderful birthday, and am feeling great, even if I am a WHOLE YEAR older (or is it just another day older?) and back at work. Now I need to do some serious blog hopping, I practically missed Fun Monday and there's a party going on, you know?