Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Did you miss me?

I won't lie, it was a bit refreshing and relaxing to completly and utterly unplug from the interwebs, blackberry, television and other techy things in the world for a whole week.

But that being said, I did miss you all!

I have so many stories to tell and even more photos to share, so stay tuned!

However, the beginning of this week has been a bit hectic, and tonight I have another date with Donnie Wahlberg and the rest of the New Kids On The Block (yes, me and a few thousand other crazy 30somethings who should know better). So, I'm afraid you'll just have to wait a little bit longer.

In the meantime, I ask you to stop by tomorrow for an announcement, because April is going to be all about being Accountable, and I want you to join me.

Oh, how I missed you blogosphere!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Only The Good Friday - Gone Cruisin'

Well folks, it is Friday, which means it is time for Shelly's "Only The Good Friday" meme, and today? OH today I'm full of the good.

Because today I am officially on vacation. Stayed home from work today to finish my packing, go get pampered (mani/pedi is a must pre-vacation) and get ready for my trip.

In a few hours I leave for the airport, and tonight will arrive in Ft. Lauderdale. Starting tomorrow morning, I will be aboard a beautiful, fantastic, amazing cruise ship, sailing the eastern caribbean seas.

My friend "Traveler" and I are taking a seven day cruise to beautiful tropical locales such as San Juan, Puerto Rico and Turks & Caicos...ahhhh, bliss.

I have to go finish packing now, so I'm signing off now. I will be completely unplugging from the interwebs (including twitter and even phone calls and text messaging) for the next 9 days. As someone who is always plugged in, this is actually a little bit nerve racking to me, but to be honest? I'm looking forward to the time away from technology.

Have a fantastic week everyone, I'll have photos to share and stories to tell upon my return.

Don't forget to visit Shelly and check out other "Only The Good Fridays"!

Monday, March 16, 2009

All The Boys - The Lyin', The Switch and The Blow-Off

Oh, how I missed dating. No, really, there’s no sarcasm in that statement. None. Not even a little…okay fine, I’m full of it.

Dating sucks.

The highs, the lows, the giddiness, the anxiety, the anticipation, the disappointment…I’m already enough of an emotional basket case without throwing me into such a volatile world.

Add dating into the mix and I’m mood swing city over here.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad. I thoroughly enjoy the attention, the getting to know you stage, the flirting and the thrill of the unknown. There’s even a small part of me that can appreciate the expected moments of anxiety, you know the “will he call” and “what did he mean when he said that” moments.

Hashing it all out with your girlfriends, figuring out the guy code, trying to decide if he is or isn’t just that into you.

It’s all part of the game, and taken lightly, can be fun.

But, it is a game. And unfortunately, most games end with someone winning, and someone losing.

Which brings us to “The Boy”. The 25 year old boy yours truly had a date with this weekend. Remember him? Of course, how could we forget.

So adorable was he, so into me, that when the opportunity arose for an impromptu coffee date on Friday afternoon, he cancelled plans to go to the gym to meet up with me instead.

So we had coffee. We had a lovely time and sat and chatted for a little over an hour. Easy conversation, flirtation, even plans for future dates were discussed. Our plans for Sunday were confirmed, and we parted ways promising to chat via text later that evening, while I was out with friends, and he was working.

On paper, it all went well. In fact, I tell you that if you had been sitting in that coffee shop watching us interact, you would have thought “cute couple, they’re into each other”.

And yet, yours truly walked away from that coffee date with a feeling that “the Boy” was just not that into her. Don’t ask me what did it, I couldn’t tell you. He said all the right things, the body language was positive, there were no outward signs. Call it women’s intuition however…I just knew.

I’ll spare you the details, because they are boring and unnecessary, but before Friday night was over, it had become obvious I was being blown off. He still didn’t say much, but the tone between us changed completely. Gone was the flirtatious air in his messages and texts, and instead we entered the territory of curt, basic communication.

By Saturday, however, he seemed to have abandoned all interest in pretense. The communication stopped all together. I never heard from him again. AT ALL.

Yes, I was officially blown off. He didn’t just flake, he flaked in a major way. The “so into you”, no game playing, straight shooter I’d been getting to know…was a phony.

Now, before you start to feel sorry for me, let me assure you that you do not need to. Obviously, upon meeting me for coffee, something changed. Likely he realized that I did not look how he’d remembered me to look. Quite possibly, I didn’t measure up to his fantasy induced memory. I’m okay with that. I know I’m not a supermodel, and not every man’s fantasy. I can handle that.

Yes, the ego takes a hit, but, to be honest, I think I look pretty damn good at this point in my life, and if he wasn’t attracted, well, so be it.

But it was the complete switch, from the portrayal of the “good guy” who was so into me, straight forward and mature for his age, into a silly little coward of a boy who couldn’t even send a text message with a lame made up excuse cancelling our date, that shocked me.

No, I take that back, shock is too strong a word. Disappointed me.

I would at the very least, have expected a proper blow off. The disappearing act? Weak.

And yet, this morning I’m smiling. I spent my weekend packing for my cruise. I tried on my short little dresses and my cute little booty shorts, and I realized that he’s a fool. I may not be a supermodel, but I have the whole package. I am strong, independent, intelligent, loyal, fun, caring, kind hearted, and damn it if I don’t have a hot little body for a 34 year old after all my hard work this last year.

Truth is, all this? Way too much for a little boy to handle. I should have known better. I need to be talking to grown men. Besides, as my friend “The Disciple” pointed out to me “He was too short anyway, at this point, you need to think genetics girl, you want a tall man”.

But, no regrets. I said it then, and I’ll say it again, from this point forward, I go all in emotionally. Life is too short to “play it safe” and hold back. I want to experience things, and feel them, and enjoy them without focusing too much on the what if’s. As quickly as I can jump in, I can jump out. Bounce back, move on.

I might as well enjoy it while I’m in it.

If I’m going to do this dating thing, I might as well give it my all. Don't you think?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Only The Good Friday - The Funny

Here we are again; it is Only The Good Friday. It also happens to be Friday the 13th, which, I suppose, if you are superstitious, would be a bad omen, and therefore, not very much of a Good Friday after all.

But, you’re in luck fellow readers, because yours truly? Not superstitious.

So, I’ve good lots of good to share. I think today will be about the funny.

What funny you ask? You know…the funny. All the ironic, silly, crazy funny things that happen in our lives that make you realize that God truly has the best sense of humor about us.

So, funny number 1: I decide to go out Saturday night and act like a 20something year old, go dancing in a nightclub, which I so don’t do anymore, and what happens? I meet a guy who turns out to be 25 years old. To my 34 years old. OH, that’s funny.

The fact that he is turning out to be a pretty nice guy with actual potential, making the age thing an almost non-issue? Even funnier. Highly unexpected, and surprisingly pleasant, but funny.

Now, with me being the eternally single, independent girl, the one who always tells her friends to use their head, not get caught up, think it through, this particular situation only gets funnier as each day goes by.

I find myself realizing that I’ve spent the last 6 years or more being level headed, being cautious, being mature, strong and independent. And I find that I don’t really feel like doing it anymore. Well aware of the consequences of throwing caution to the wind, I find that that is exactly what I want to do. Completely out of character for me and completely right for me at this moment.

For the last year I have been living my life in this “all in” sort of way. I want something, I go for it. I feel something, I don’t hold back. I take chances, I ride roller coasters, I praise God publicly, I tell my friends I love them, I travel, I get a tattoo, I buy a bikini…I’m done sitting back and watching life pass me by, I’m doing this thing…I’m living.

So, I meet a guy, and I hold nothing back. None of my usual cautions and rationales and over-analyzing things. Oh, I know God’s laughing at this one.

But wait, there’s more.

I had the most amazing birthday in years. Truly feeling blessed, with the incredible aid of this silly little thing called “social media” and more specifically, FaceBook, I received more birthday wishes than I have ever in my entire life. People reached out and were genuine in their good wishes, and I quickly became overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and friendship. Add to that my co-workers, my family, my bloggy and twitter friends, and everyone else who acknowledged my “special day”, and it was easy to get caught up in the “you like me, you really like me” feeling of it all. It was so good, and I did feel special.

So, when I woke up the next day with the plague (the flu), was forced to stay at home alone all day, look at myself in the mirror looking a right mess, and realize I was fragile and imperfect…I could do nothing but laugh. There’s God’s sense of humor again. Humbling, and funny. I got that joke, really, I did.

I’m thinking at this point in the post you are thinking “but, these things are funny only to you, really…and what does any of this have to do with Only The Good Friday anyway?” Well, I’ll tell you.

You are not wrong, these things are about me. But there’s a grander lesson in it all, which I think we can all take to heart, and take with us…and that’s my contribution to OTGF.

Look, I won’t lie, I’m feeling good, I’m having the time of my life, and so pretty much any post I wrote today would have served for OTGF because I’m so sugary sweet perky it’s a little bit sick. And it’s not just the “new guy high”, it’s the birthday, it’s the upcoming cruise, it’s my friends, and my blessings.

But, in another life, at another time, there have been several things that have happened the last few weeks which I could easily have twisted into negatives. This massive flu, which is severely impeding my ability to function, for example, could really have put a damper on things.

The lesson here is the joke. This flu forced me to slow down when I was going at a pace my body was obviously not equipped to handle right now. It also reminded me that as hot as I thought I was in my little black dress on Saturday night…nobody is hot in flannel pj’s, dirty hair, and hacking up a lung. It reminded me that as fabulous and fantastic as everything can be, it can all change in a split second. And…I see this as a good thing, you know why? It makes those good moments that much more valuable, and it makes me appreciate and not take them for granted.

But, if you’re not satisfied with that, I’ll give you a final funny…this one, I’m sure you’ll appreciate.

Remember how earlier this week I asked if I was
old enough to be a Cougar? We had this fun little discussion about the pros and cons of dating a younger man, didn’t we? We established that everything else aside, it sure as hell is flattering that a 25 year old guy thinks I’m hot. It’s all fun and games with the age thing, right?

But I’m blaming it all on this fabulous little black dress. A little black dress made by Beyonce’s clothing line “Dereon”, which I picked up almost accidentally on Saturday afternoon at Marshall’s. The minute I put that dress on my confidence shot up, and I felt like a 25 year old myself. He himself (I still need to find him a code name for the blog…) admitted that it was the dress (or more specifically, the way I looked in that dress) which caught his attention first. It’s all about the dress.

So, because I love the dress, yesterday I decided to look up the Dereon label online and see what else they had. And I found my dress…the dress.

And here’s the funny…You know how fashion labels have this thing for giving clothing “cutesie” names? Things like “Dancing Queen” for a dress, or “Diva” for a particular shoe design…you know?

How fitting then that the name or my dress would be…

Are you ready for this one?

”Suga Mama”.

Yes, I know you’re laughing, I told you it was a funny.

Go check out more Only The Good Friday’s here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

All The Boys - A Cougar, A Cheetah or a Puma?

Where do I start?

Yours trully has met a boy.

When I said this year that I would be venturing back into the dating world, I have to admit that I was afraid that after all this time "out of the game", I would no longer have any game left in me.

But ladies and gents? Candid K has got MAD game.

This past Saturday night my friend "The Disciple" invited me out for a night on the town with a few of her friends. With my birthday coming up, she thought we should get all dressed up and go dancing. It has been a very long time since I've been to a dance club, and it is definitely not the scene I plan on being a part of again, but, for a one night only engagment, I was game.

So, off I went Saturday afternoon in search of the perfect outfit for the evening because I had nothing to wear. Not only do I not have anyhing cute that fits me now that I've lost all this weight, but I got rid of all my "going out" clothes years ago.

After a long day of searching, I finally found the perfect little black dress. It accentuated all the right areas and was sexy as hell without being sleazy. I won't lie, dear readers, I felt pretty hot that night.

At the club we girls were pretty much the life of the party. The Disciple is one of those people with an immense amount of positive energy, and the type of person everyone wants to be around. Her energy is also quite contagious, so when you are with her, you also become the type of person everyone wants to be around. She brings out the best in you. What she brought out in me Saturday night was my youthful side. I felt like I was in my 20's again. We were dancing, having a great time, and getting all sorts of attention. Several guys were asking us to dance, and at one point a security guard approached us and told us "I cleared the stage for you girls to get up there".

So, what were we to do? Well of course we got up on that stage.

As I said, we were the life of the party.

And it was while I was up on that stage that I caught the eye of one particular guy. One particularly hot guy. He asked me to dance, and I saw no reason to say no.

After dancing for a bit, and chatting a bit over the loud music, he told me that he was going to let me get back to my girls, didn't want to disturb my "girl's night out", but wanted to get my phone number before I left. Then he asked me what I was drinking, and told me he was going to get me a drink.

A few minutes later, as I was again dancing with my girls, another security guard tapped me on the shoulder and handed me a drink. He motioned over to the side, where my guy was standing, and said "that's from him". He just lifted up his drink in acknowledgment but left me alone the rest of the evening.

He won major brownie points for that.

At the end of the evening he called me over again and said "I'm taking off, but really wanted to get your number". How could I say no?

Now, let me tell you this, I was just having fun, I did not expect him to actually call me, and besides that, I figured he was probably 21 years old at the most. My girl and I were totally laughing about it later.

Well, he id did end up sending me a text message later that night, as we were driving home, and we texted back and forth a little bit, then he told me to call or text him the next day. Oh, dating in the technology age...it so wasn't like this the last time I was out there.

So, on Sunday night I sent him a quick text, and again we texted back and forth for a bit, but then I said he should just call me to make chatting easier, and he called right back. We ended up being on the phone for nearly an hour.

I finally did ask him how old he was, because, let's be honest, I was dying to know.

I had mentioned, by the way, in the club to him that I was a lot older than he thought I was, and he'd said "well, you don't look it, and I don't care", and that sort of ended that conversation...Who am I to argue with that logic?

When I finally did ask him, however, and he responded with "25"...oh the laughter dear readers. I could do nothing but laugh.

Still laughing I said "oh wow, I'm so much older than you think I am". He replied with "I don't believe that"

So I said "well then, I'll put you on the spot and ask you...how old do you think I am?"
Him: "oh man, you really want me to answer that?"
Me: "yeah"
Him: "You promise you won't be offended?"
Me (knowing full well he was not going to come even close) "No, I won't".
Him: "there's no way you're older than...29?"
Me: Laughter again "oh man, what if I told you I was older than that?"
Him: "whatever, I like older women...so, how old are you?"
Me: "I'm afraid to tell you now" still laughing
Him: "Just tell me"
Me: mumbling really fast "mybirthday'stuesdayi'mturning34"
Him: "that's hot" more laughter from me "wow, seriously? with that body? that's hot".

Candid K's self-confidence? Boosted up a notch or two right then and there.

So, the question remains, am I old enough to be a Cougar? What's the age group below that? A Cheetah? A Puma? What the hell am I getting myself into? What is it with me and younger guys anyway?

Still, I won't lie, the fact that a 25 year old thinks I'm hot is certainly good for my ego, and I'm not about to disregard him simply because of the age difference.

The fact that he's got me giggling like a silly twelve year old, spending hours on the phone getting to know each other, as if we were still in high school, and smiling at random times during the day when I get a sweet text message from him? Well, those are the perks of entering the dating world again, aren't they? Those are the good "warm fuzzy" feelings I missed.

But here's the kicker...I'm actually beginning to really like this guy. On paper, take away all the giddy emotion and the little thing about the age difference, and he serves up a resume of all the characteristics I would want from a man at this point in my life.

I don't know him yet, our first date won't even happen until this coming Sunday, and he's the first guy I've even been remotely interested in in over a year. And yet, I see potential there, and I'm thoroughly enjoying how easily we click.

From a level headed, cautious, fiercely independent point of view, this is just harmless fun, and I'm just going to soak up the attention.

From the other side of me, the side that has been in hiding for far too long now, but has begun to show it's face in the last year or so...I'm throwing caution to the wind and just going with it.

What have I got to lose? And besides, think of all the stories I'll have to share with you.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me - But it's all about you.

I am 34 years old today. Hold on, let me let that one sink in for a moment…

wait for it…

wait for it…


Well then.

And you know what? I’m good. I’m perfectly fine with turning 34. In fact, I’m feeling pretty damn good about 34 right now.

Truth be told, I don’t feel a day over 24. Okay, fine, maybe 25. But to be honest, I feel and look better right now then I have in at least 6 years, so why should I be bummed about 34? I’m having the time of my life.

At 34 I sit before you a single, professional, intelligent, and sexy woman. I have my own home, a great job, the most amazing friends, and an incredible family. I’m in the best shape of my life, and spiritually, in a better place than I have ever been. And I might even have a new love interest (oh, more on that tomorrow).

How could I not, therefore, be thrilled about starting my 34th year on this planet? Of course I am, life is good and full of blessings.

It is those blessings I want to address in this post, because there are many, and I feel there is no better time than my birthday to acknowledge them.

So, consider this my formal thank you letter to the universe for the first 34 years of my life, as I prepare to take on the next 34 and more.

Not to sound like a rap artist at an awards ceremony, but first, to God. For all he has given me, and for the gifts, the simple pleasures, the people, the places, the moments. As I have grown in my faith this past year, my life has transformed in ways that I don’t have words to express, and for that, I am grateful beyond words.

To my family. My mother, who is and has always been, my best friend. I feel like I’m repeating myself, but there are no words to express how much I love you and appreciate you. My dad, the hardest working man I know, the sweetest, kindest man I know. We went through a lot in my adolescence, but now, as an adult, I have only admiration, respect and love for you. I’m the luckiest girl in the world to have you as my daddy. Lil’ Bro, you were my favorite “toy” growing up. I loved to carry you around, and when you were older, take you places with me and show you off to my friends. In all your years on this planet, I can’t remember one single fight we ever had. We don’t always agree on everything, but we’ve always respected one another, and had this unbreakable bond. Now you are a man, and I’m proud to call you my brother.

My grandfather, who I love dearly and who has always been one of my strongest supporters, always proud of whatever I decided to take on in life, and always ALWAYS there when I really needed him.

My uncle, the Warrior, who took his time with me, but knew just when to bring me back to my faith. I’ll be eternally grateful to you for this.

My cousin M&M, girl, I love you and admire you, and appreciate you and am so glad that as adults we’ve become the best of friends, you are my rock at times, and I’m blessed to know you.

My cousin PM, not even distance could dull our friendship. We have the history, the fun times and the tough times and I love you and the rest of your crazy clan out there in Cali.

The rest of my family should not feel neglected if I didn’t mention them by name, I love them all CRAZILY.

My friends, my other family. As a single girl, with no husband, no kids, it is in my friends that I have found my family. There are so many of you I’d be here all day if I named you all individually, so I’m not going to. But I will say that collectively, and individually, you all make my life worth living. Each and every one of you (and you all know exactly who you are), bring elements to my life which help to make me a whole person. I’d be incomplete if I didn’t know you.

Which brings me to my on-line friends. Those I’ve met in person, those I have not, those I speak to daily, those I only speak to once or twice a month. The bloggers, the Twitterers, the ones on Facebook and Yahoo and who knows where else on the interwebs…I learn from you, I laugh with you, I pray with you, and sometimes I even cry with you. I carry you in my pocket (literally, in my handy dandy blackberry) each and every day, and I genuinely care about your lives, and know you care about mine. I’m glad I “know” you.

Those are the people. There are so many other blessings I am truly grateful for, but as I turn another year older, I am learning that it is definitely, without a doubt, about the people you surround yourself with. And I? I have the best in my corner.

So, this is for you, on my birthday, I want to thank you.

Happy Birthday to me…because of you.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Living the American Dream

Today is a big day for the Candid family. On this day waaay back in 1985 Candid Mama, Candid Dad, Lil’ Bro and yours truly stepped off an airplane and onto American soil for the first time ever. We arrived at our new home with a few suitcases a piece, all our worldly possessions pretty much left behind, ready to start a new life.

Grandma O and Grandpa Frank had made the same move several years before, and it was now time to bring the rest of their family over. This wouldn’t be the first time our family had started all over in a new country. In fact, we sort of have a history of doing just that. Our entire family left Portugal for Angola (that’s in Africa, in case you’re wondering) for the chance of a better life.

It was in Luanda, Angola that my mom grew up and met my dad (also a Portugal transport from youth), there they fell in love and were married. It was also in Luanda that I was born.

I’ll skip over the stories of paradise turned war zone for now, though maybe one day I’ll tell you the tales I’ve been told my whole life, but I will tell you that when I was 8 months old we once again started over. Leaving everything behind, taking practically a clandestine flight with only a few suitcases in hand, my parents fled the war torn country back to Portugal.

And that is where I lived until I was nearly 10 years old. It was with stars in my eyes, dreams of streets paved in gold and the American dream that we packed up and started all over again on the day before my 10th birthday.

I have now lived in the U.S. for 24 years. More than double the amount of time I lived in Portugal. This has been my home for my formative years. My adolescence, my teens, my twenties, and now, my 30’s. I became an American citizen at 15, and I’ll tell you right now, I am incredibly proud to call this place my home.

I’m well aware of the issues and problems we face as a nation, and I’m not blind to corruption and problems of not just our government but our society as a whole. I learned very soon after arriving here that the streets were not only not paved in gold, but having arrived here at the end of the winter, potholed and barely paved at times. I learned that you didn’t come to America and have instant wealth, success and fame. The stars in my eyes were quickly diminished to flickers which would sparkle now and then, between the flashes of reality.

But the American dream? It absolutely exists. However, you have to work for it.

I will tell you right now that there is nothing that disgusts me more than people who feel they are entitled. My parents moved here without a penny to their names, and barely speaking the language. They worked hard, they went to school, and they struggled. To this day my parents are two of the hardest working people I know. And they instilled in my brother and me the knowledge that you can absolutely have anything you want out of life, but it’s not going to be handed to you, you need to go out there and get it, work for it, struggle even in order to attain it.

They haven’t had it easy, but no matter how tough times were, we (their kids) never went without the important things. They went for their citizenship as soon as they were able to, making my brother and me citizens by default because we were still under the required age to inherit citizenship from them. They bought their first house when I was still in high school, and made it our home. They still struggle, and the American dream has seemed like a nightmare at times, I’m sure, but they love this country for the opportunities it has afforded if not them, us, their kids.

And I? I am not afraid to tell you that I took full advantage of this land of opportunity. One of the first in my family to get a college education (second only to Grandma O, who was a teacher herself), I worked hard to make the right choices for myself. I became a homeowner, by myself, at 28. Now, 6 years later, I live on my own, provide for myself, and live about as close to the American dream as you can get in this economy. I won’t lie to you, it hasn’t always been easy, and I have struggled just like anybody else to make ends meet, but it is always worth it.

The life I am able to lead, even in the tough times when I don’t know how I’m going to do it, is not one I’d be able to live back in Portugal. And I don’t ever take that for granted. The freedoms I have been granted here as a woman, a single woman at that, don’t go unnoticed. I vote every chance I get, and yes, I support our new President and believe he can set us on the right path. I am hopeful, but realistic.

I won’t get into my personal feelings about our economic crisis and everything else, because this is not that kind of post. But I will say this, as bad as it gets, Americans need to realize how much better we still have it than a lot of other nations, and that we’ve been taking it for granted for far too long, and we need to wake up and take responsibility for ourselves. Nobody is entitled to anything, and I think sometimes we forget that.

All I know is that I plan to live out my life here in the good old U.S. of A., so I have no choice but to have hope things will get better, and there is no option but to be grateful that I live here.

Yes, I’m a sappy patriot. And damn proud of it.

Happy Anniversary Candid Family!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Only The Good Friday - It's So Easy Being Green

This week at Candid Karina has been full of fluff. Reality television fluff and nothing else. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my fluff. I think life is way too serious and stressful, so if we can indulge in a bit of fluff now and again, well, we should do it. However, every now and again, we need some substance as well, don’t you think?

On that note, it’s high time I jump back into “
Only The Good Fridays”. My friend Shelly at This Eclectic Life started this meme, and I really do think that the idea of spreading the “optimism virus” around the blogosphere is a fabulous one, and one that I want to continue to be a part of. It’s been a few weeks since my “Only The Good Friday” post, but I’m back.

With that said, what good can I put out into the universe today? Well, let’s start with just that, the universe. Or more specifically, our planet.

See, I’ve just recently, within the last year or so, started making a true effort at being “Green”. A little late to the game for sure, but I’ve finally started taking steps to be a responsible resident on planet earth. I never gave much thought to recycling, or waste, or my “carbon footprint” if you will. But that’s beginning to change. I’m not quite ready yet to buy my own compost thingy (what are those things called anyway?), but I’m taking little steps in the right direction. And each small step makes me feel better and better about myself and about my place in this world.

It started small, with recycling. No, I didn’t even recycle a year ago. To be honest, I live in a condo, and had no idea we had recycling bins available to us. Just never put two and two together. Then one day someone mentioned our recycling bins (which somehow, in all the years I’ve been at my condo I’d completely failed to notice), and I knew I had to do my part.

So, now I recycle all my paper/cardboard and plastic. Each week I notice that I recycle more and more, and I toss less and less in the trash. If you don’t already, you can do it too.

One of my biggest complaints about recycling was that I just don’t have the space in my small condo for different trash/recycling bins. You might think the same thing. You might think you just don’t have the time for sorting your trash. You (and I) would be wrong.

I wish I could share with you a picture of my recycling corner, but I didn’t think to take one, and I’m not home as I write this. But in a corner of my kitchen I have my trash bin, a small “milk crate” under a chair (for plastic bottles) and an oversized shoebox (for my paper products). That’s it, that’s all it takes. I may at one point invest in a compartmentalized trash bin, but for now, this works.

How do you handle yours?

But it doesn’t stop there.

I’m recently on a major de-cluttering binge at my house. Having lost 25 pounds, my entire wardrobe no longer fits me, so I’m faced with massive amounts of clothing I can no longer wear. I’ve also decided that nobody needs to have as much crap as I have so every time I open up a drawer, or a cabinet, I find myself sorting, cleaning and purging. But this just means I’m creating more waste, and the idea of tossing out something that is still in perfect working condition doesn’t appeal to me one bit.

For example, last year, for my birthday, I received a new coffee machine (A Senseo which I love madly, deeply). But this meant that my existing coffee machine sat, unplugged, under my kitchen table for 10 months. I couldn’t bring myself to throw it out, it still worked perfectly well. But I couldn’t exactly sell it on ebay, it’s at least 10 years old. What to do?

Enter “
Freecycle”. If you don’t know about Freecycle, you absolutely MUST click here and go find out all about it right now. With Freecycle, you basically join a local community of folks who post things they are giving away FOR FREE in lieu of throwing them in the trash and overloading our dumps. In return, you too can list your free items. It is the most amazing, ingenius idea, and I have now freecycled a rice cooker, a car remote starter, said coffee maker, and two other items that I can’t think of right now. I also have a printer and a router and a few other things that I’ll be listing shortly. These are all items that for one reason or another (mostly because they are “not-so-gently” used) I couldn’t sell, but could still be put to good use. And I’ll tell you what, the feeling you get when someone receives these items and is genuinely grateful for them? A nice bonus for sure.

Of course, there is always ebay and craigslist for those items you can still make a buck on. Hey, I’m not against that, we can all use a little extra cash now and again.

But what about the clothing and the shoes? Well, for the most part, I just donate my clothes to those donation bins you find behind the churches and in parking lots everywhere. Of course, my accountant yelled at me this year for not keeping track of my donations, so I’ll be doing a better job of it this year, because hey, we can all use a tax break, right?

And just today, through one of my Twitter friends
MaryBabySteps I discovered this website: DigNSwap. All I can say is that I’m so looking forward to breaking out my camera tonight and photographing lots and lots of clothing to list for “swapping”.

There are a million other places you can swap, donate, and sell your stuff. Do it for the environment, do it for the charity, do it to make money…but just don’t throw it all out in the trash.

A few of my other favorites:
BookMooch; PaperbackSwap; SwapTree; donatemydress.org; dressforsuccess.org.

What others do you know of? Please share!

Finally, one last bit, because man, this post sure is turning into a novel.

Okay, so, grocery shopping might just be my least favorite chore of all time. Seriously folks, don’t ask me why, but I’d rather scrub the toilet. It’s been this way since I’ve lived on my own, and I think a lot of it has to do with the chore of carrying 15 bags of groceries in the house all by myself. There is the unlocking of two different doors, carrying stuff up the stairs, all those plastic bags, UGH. There is also the fact that even when I only buy a few items I seem to drop $50 but that’s another story all together.

The bags. That’s always been one of my issues. Not only because they are a hassle to carry in the house, but because I feel like they are such a terrible waste. SO MANY bags for such a small trip from the store to the car to my house.

A while back I decided I was going to buy a few of those re-usable shopping bags and start using them whenever I went shopping. Of course, because I have a history of being a bit of a shop-aholic, this was not working out very well when it came to all my other “non-grocery” shopping, because I was never prepared with the bags whenever I decided on impulse buys. Since my shopping habits have been curbed quite a bit lately, I don’t feel as badly about the amount of “shopping bags” I’m using when I do go shopping now, but I’m still hoping to remember my re-usable bags for larger shopping expeditions.

But with the groceries, I really wanted to start using those bags. I really wanted to, but I kept forgetting to bring them with me. Time and again, I’d only remember as I was putting my groceries on the conveyor belt…the bags were at home.

Last night I finally remembered my bags and took them into the grocery store with me. I shopped, and had my groceries bagged in my three colorful re-usable bags. You’ve got to love me for my mixing and matching even my bags, because I have one from the local grocery store, one from Target and one from the Dollar Tree…hey, they all serve the same purpose. Anyway, the point is that my groceries, which usually occupy no less than 10 plastic bags, sometimes more, all fit, quite nicely, in these THREE re-usable bags. Three bags which were about 100 times easier to carry into my building. So not only am I helping the environment, but bringing the groceries home just became less of a chore.

Why haven’t I done this before? You can rest assured that I will be doing it every time I grocery shop from now on.

You can do it too, and trust me, you will be glad you did it simply for the benefit of the ease of carrying the bags in the house. The fact that doing so makes you “green” is a nice bonus.

Okay, that’s it, that’s all I’ve got for you today. I know there are a million other things we can do to help the environment, and there are actually other things I DO myself…but for today I just wanted to inspire you to try on some green.

Please be sure to stop by
Shelly’s and see who else is spreading the Optimism Virus today. AND while you're there, be sure to wish her a HAPPY Birthday!!!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Cafe Karina - American Idol - Wildcard

Here's the real WildCard moment of the night...will I or won't I keep watching American Idol this season after this episode? It's all up in the air, because it really depends on what the judges decide to do.

In tonight's episode eight contestants have been given a second chance to battle it out for the three remaining spots in the top twelve. So, the real question is, will the judges put them through based on talent, or are they looking for this season's Sanjaya? Because, Tatiana still being there? It's a Sanjaya moment if you ask me.

Anyway, I've had more than my share of American Idol talk this week, so I'll keep this brief tonight...

The performances:

Jesse Langseth: Was good, wasn't great.
Matt Giraud: LOVED him. LOVED!
Megan Corkey: Loved her too, though I thought it was a little rough at times.
Von Smith: Yikes...song choice Von! Didn't love it. He has a great voice, but this was NOT a good song choice for him.
Jasmine Murray: I thought she sounded great, she has a great voice, but I didn't think this was the best song choice for her either.
Ricky Braddy: This boy can sing, he has a great voice, and he had fun up there. He doesn't really grab me personally, but he is great.
Tatiana Del Toro: UGH...just her little intro film made me want to turn off my television she annoys me so damn much. But then damn it, if this girl can't sing. She actually has a pretty great voice...damn it, she can sing. UGH....but then she opens her mouth to speak and I want to throw something at my television.
Anoop Desai: Why does this guy pick these songs? My Perrogative? Really? I have to be honest, I'm not getting all the hype for Anoop...I'm just not. Don't get me wrong, he has a good voice, but...eh.

And that's that...so who made it through?

Jasmine Murray is up first and told she is going through. (I'm good with that choice).
Ricky Braddy is up next, and he is not.
Then Ryan brings up Megan Corkey and Tatiana and when we are told that Megan is going through and Tatiana is NOT, I do a little dance for joy. I guess I'll keep watching the show then.

Now there is one spot left, and...and the show went over it's aloted time and my Tivo didn't record it. No, seriously, it stopped just short of the final announcement.

But, fret not dear readers, I looked it up. It's between Von Smith, Jesse Langseth, Matt Giraud and Anoop Desai. Me personally? I'd have picked Matt Giraud, but I was thinking the judges would go with Anoop...

Well, I was right and wrong, because it turns out that they decided to go with 13 this season, and both Matt and Anoop have made it through.

So there you go...the judges have made it so that I can continue to watch the show by eliminating Tatiana, and choosing some actually talented singers.

I'm looking forward to next week's performances, are you?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Cafe Karina - American Idol - And then there were 9

It's results night on American Idol. Tonight, three more contestants make the top Twelve, bringing the total to 9, and then we find out which of the contestants that didn't make the cut will be coming back to battle it out for the wildcard positions.

I'm not Ryan Seacrest, so I am not going to drag this post out for suspense...let's get to it:

First we have the obligatory grup performance, the group does "Hot and Cold" by Katy Perry and honestly, there couldn't be a more mismatched group of misfits as this group. I love it.

A video montage of the previous night's performance, a little bit of chit chat with the contestants, and then some results.

Right off the top, Lil Rounds is told she's through to the top 12. Absolutely in agreement with this choice America...good job. She reprises her performance from last night, a quick commercial and...

No time wasted, more results...Arianna is not through. Neither are Taylor or Alex. It is down to Kendall and Scott...and of course it is Scott making it through. Again, America has gotten it right in my opinion.

Another performance by Scott, another commercial and Nathaniel and Kristen are asked to stand up...and are both told they are not going through this time.

Felicia and Von are next up, and with two others still sitting waiting for their results, their fates seems to be spelled out for us...and it is, they are also not through yet.

So, then it is down to Ju'not and Jorge. I'm loving Ju'Not, so I'm rooting for him, even if I do think Jorge is adorable AND talented. Jorge is through and I'm a bit bummed, but holding out for the wildcard for Ju'not.

So, without further ado, it's time for the announcements as to who will be batling for the three wildcard positions...there will be eight contestants coming back to sing tomorrow night, and the judges will be choosing three to make it through. Who will they be?

And before we get started...PLEASE PLEASE not Tatiana!

The first pick is Von Smith (I'm okay with this one, I like this kid). Next up is Jasmine Murray (I like her too). Next is Ricky Braddy (okay). Megan Corkey (love her) is next. Four down, four to go.

I knew it, I knew it, I knew it. This show is so not about talent, it is so about ratings and drama and...ugh...yes, of course, Tatiana the drama queen has made it through. Of course she has...seriously? I'm so tempted to just shut off my television and stop watching right now, this ver moment...

Deep breath....Matt Giraud, one of my favorites this season, is through.

Jesse Langseth is the next one up.

And one final spot, and who gets it? Anoop Desai. I like this guy, I'm okay with this too.

BUT I AM PISSED that Tatiana makes it through with talent like Ju'Not, Taylor, Felicia and...well, let's be honest, pretty much anyone else on that couch, EVEN including Nick/Norman not making it through?

I'm seriously rethinking this whole Idol watching thing...

That's it, I'm done, I'm too annoyed to write anymore.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Cafe Karina - American Idol - Round 3

Here we are, week three of narrowing down 36 contestants to 12 on American Idol. 12 more performances tonight, so let's get to it...

Von Smith: He's a cute little thing, isn't he? Sort of reminds me a little of Joey McIntyre during the New Kids heyday back in the day. I thought he was great and I enjoyed the performance more than I expected to.

Taylor Vaifanua: We haven't really seen much of her before tonight, and that tends to work against these kids unless they knock the performance out of the park. I don't know that she did that, but it was a solid performance. She has a beautiful voice and she sang the song well, but it was just a little blah for me.

Alex Wagner-Trugman: He knows he's a little dorky, but I like this kid. He has a good voice as well, though the performance was a little strange...a little off. But, it was quirky, and this kid is quirky...I like him. He won't make it through, but I like him.

Arianna Afsar: Love this girl from the auditions, think she has a beautiful voice. Wow! This girl is by far the best female vocalist this season, possibly the best vocalist on the show completely. I loved it...and yet, Simon (and the rest of the judges)hated it...hmm...I think they were way too hard on her.

Ju'Not Joyner: Kind of love him. He's the kind of singer I could listen to over and over again. He's got a great voice and took that song and really delivered. Love him.

Kristen McNamara: Great voice, good song choice for her, I think she did great. And I swear, I saw Simon dancing in his chair at one point. But I'm not convinced about her yet.

Nathanial Marshall: I really really wish this kid would take those stupid headbands things off his head...REALLY wish he would. Besides that? I don't have much to say about this performance, um...Meatloaf? Really? UGH

Felicia Barton: Wait, what? She didn't make it? So, why is she there? and why is she singing Alicia Keys? Don't these girls know you don't touch Alicia's songs? That's the second one tonight. She did pretty well with it though, I've got to hand it to her.

Scott Macyntyre: He has a great voice and this was a great performance, if a little dull. I mean, he is absolutely talented, but I wasn't overwhelmed...it was good.

Kendall Beard: She was pitchy dawg. I didn't love her performance...at all.

Jorge Nunez: I'll be honest, watching this show late, on Tivo, and I'm exhausted, and by the time this kid got up on stage, I was starting to fall asleep. So, as I sat here, with my eyes closing, I was really enjoying listening to him. He sounded great. I loved his performance. and I love how adorable and sweet he is.

Lil' Rounds: I like this girl, she has a fantastic voice and was one of my favorite girls from the auditions. I thought she was fantastic tonight, she performed like a seasond pro, and sounded great. This girl is ready to be a star. LOVE HER, love the little "call this show if you just can't be without me baby"..love it.

And there you have it...tomorrow we find out not only which three from tonight make it through, but we also find out all abou the "Wildcards"...

Till then, cuz I'm off to bed.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Cafe Karina - The Bachelor - Will You Marry Me?

Well, here it is, this is it, the final episode of The Bachelor, the one where Jason will choose his future bride.

Will it be Molly or Melissa? Or will DeAnna, who is finally showing up after we've been teased about her appearance sind episode one, come in and steal him away?

Who will it be?

Before he makes his final decision, the girls will get to meet Jason son Ty, and the rest of his family.

First up is Melissa, who is nervous and excited to meet Ty. They hit it off instantly and I really think the three of them make an adorable family. And then it's time for Melissa to meet the rest of the family.

I think she won them all over. Jason's family is protective and guarded after the whole DeAnna fiasco, and the fact that Jason hasn't met Melissa's parents has them all feeling uncertain, but it's hard not to fall in love with Melissa. She's a sweet, charming, down to earth and real girl. And the two of them really are great together.

But then it is Molly's turn to meet Ty. It takes Ty a little bit to warm up to Molly, but once he does, the three of them also have a great day, and it also seems natural and comfortable. Another potentially great little family.

But first, Molly needs to meet the rest of Jason's family. Once again, Jason's family grills his "potential" future wife. And once again, the girl delivers. Molly impresses the family with her level head and straight shooting.

It is obvious that Jason feels strongly for both of these women, and we can see what a tough decision he's got ahead of him.

Jason and Melissa have one final date, and before this date, Melissa talks to her parents, who agree to speak with Jason on the phone, taking down that one last doubt Jason's been holding on to. They have a fun, sweet and romantic last date, and from where I sit, I can't imagine any reason why Jason wouldn't pick her.

But then there's Molly, and they too still have one final date. On their date Molly treats Jason to a massage, and a homecooked meal. She takes the opportunity to tell Jason once again that she is in love with him, and to give him a "fairy tale" scrapbook of their experience together. It is a really sweet gesture, and Molly is a great girl, and probably a good match for Jason as well. I think something is lacking there when you see Jason look at her...

But, as if that wasn't enough...It's DeAnna's turn to show up and mess with his mind a bit. But after all that hype? LAME! LAME LAME LAME!!! She came on the show to give him advice? Advice from her?? Yeah, because that worked out well for her right? LAME! One full season of "teasers" and in less than 3 minutes her segment is done and over and...lame.

So, it is back to Jason deciding between the two girls Molly or Melissa, which one will it be?

He keeps saying that he still doesn't know which girl he's going to pick, but yet, he's picking out an engagement ring. Here's where I'm thinking that perhaps, just maybe, if you can't make up your mind between two girls...you're not quite ready to propose?

But, the truth is, he already knows. I think it's obvious in the words he uses to describe both women that he knows which one he wants to be with. But then, I could be totally wrong, after all, I was sure last season that DeAnna was going to pick Jason and boy, was I wrong!

Finally, the first limo pulls up and out steps Molly...is she on her way to get the ring, or to get her heart broken? Seeing as she's up first, we're led to believe, from previous seasons that Jason has not chosen her. And he has not. It is actually really sad and little heart breaking to watch Jason tell Molly she's not the one, that he's in love with someone else. but her reaction, telling him "I think you've made a mistake, a big one" actually put me off her a little bit. It was the same thing that never let me warm up to her as a choice for him. On paper, she's great, but Jason is more of an emotional person, and they just didn't mesh in that regard. I believe they both cared about each other, and Jason's tears once he let her go sure looked real and gut-wrenchingly painful, but I think he picked the right girl out of the two.

And speaking of the right girl, it's time for Melissa to step out of her limo and find out her fate.

She is visibly shaken as she walks up to Jason, and when he tells her he loves her she jumps up and down and screams and is just absolutely adorable. Really, this is a fairly tale ending, isn't it? They are so freakin' cute together, aren't they?

But before I sign off with my Bachelor recaps for the season, we jump straight into "After the Final Rose", the reunion show. And we've been told that this will be the most dramatic after the rose ceremony EVER...lots of suspense, lots of drama, what in the world are we about to be thrown into?

It's been six weeks since the final rose ceremony and Jason steps up on stage with tears in his eyes. He's there to tell us that the chemistry with Melissa is gone and that he can't stop thinking about Molly.

WOW, didn't see that one coming. But I guess Molly did, she told him he was making a big mistake.

So, Jason is going to break up with Melissa on this show...it's only fitting that they would fall in love on a show, so they'd break up on the show as well. But now, not only is he planning on breaking up with her, he's planning on asking Molly for a second chance.

A little bit of that "cake and eat it too" scenario, no? And I thought DeAnna was a mess.

So, Melissa comes out and you can see she knows what's coming, there's no warmth between these two. She is angry, and there is some serious unresolved issues between them. Jason has obviously already made up his mind that it's over between them, and Melissa is mad that he's not willing to fight for them. And I have tell you, I agree with her. He's just completely coming across as just wishy washy. It's too hard, so I'm going to try with the other girl now.

I didn't think Jason had this in him, I'm highly disappointed. That was one UGLY goodbye. "Don't call me, don't text me anymore, leave me alone..." Ouch. Poor Melissa. I felt bad for Jason at the end of last season, and at the end of this one? I'm kind of mad at him as well. How do you break up with the person you said you wanted to spend the rest of your life with and in the same breath say you want another chance with someone else?

In the meantime, Molly comes out, and fesses up that she is still in love with Jason, so does this mean he'll get his second chance? She flat out tells us that all she wants is to hear him say "I made a mistake, I want you back"...oh, what a twisted twisted show this is...

Jason comes out and Molly has all the same questions for him that he asked DeAnna last season..."when did you know?" So, Jason spills all. And the look on Molly's face is priceless. Her reaction couldn't have been scripted any better in the best Oscar winning movie performance.

Molly is speechless, but agrees that after some serious discussions and larger conversations, then yes, maybe they can see where things can go. And then they kiss...really?

What a croc this whole thing has been. What a slap in the face for poor Melissa. what a joke. No wonder I never watched this stupid show before.

But wait there's more...tomorrow night there's a "part two" of the Bachelor, After the Final Rose. Really?

UGH...I'm done. Of course, this means that either Jillian or Melissa will be next season's Bachelorette, doesn't it?

I'm dying to know what you all have to say, so please, share your thoughts with me in comments....