Friday, August 31, 2012

Favorite Things Friday

I'm back. To anyone out there who wants to scold me for not writing every day like a good blogger should, I suggest you find a few extra hours to add to every day. I've been traveling a ton for work, embarking on a potential (long-distance) relationship (who knew they took more time than local relationships?!), trying to maintain a social life, and squeezing in some sleep. Blogging just hasn't happened lately and I trust that all of you will understand why.

I figured I'd at least try to get one post in this week, though!  So without further ado - 

Favorite Things Friday!

1 - I'm off today so yesterday I scurried around the office in an effort to get everything on my "must do" list done before leaving for an honest-to-god, not-answering-email, not-checking-voicemail FOUR DAY WEEKEND. I managed to get everything that needed to get done completed, as well as a few things that otherwise would have been at the needed stage next week, and still took a lunch and had time to clean up my desk. I am Super Woman.

2 - It is officially football season. Football season means it's almost fall. Soon I'll be able to wear boots to work every day, lay around on the weekends in comfy sweaters, and drink hot cocoa before bed every night. Whoop, whoop.

3 - I have company in town this weekend. Company that may or may not be the aforementioned new relationship. Not going to lie, I'm pretty stoked.

4 - NEXT weekend I also have company in town. Company that is more along the best-friend-for-life variety. I'm so excited that it's worth mentioning now.

5 - In the midst of my crazies, I've had time to read a few pretty great books in the last couple of weeks. Expect reviews soon!



Tuesday, August 21, 2012

New Apartment Unveiling: Living Room

Welcome back to the apartment!

Today we're looking at the living room area. This area saw a lot of furniture re-purposing, as well as a few key additions (and a few yet to come) so I'm excited to share it with you.

Let's start with sharing Charlie's new favorite place in the apartment before moving on to the actual space, shall we?

The girls' beds are tucked under the chaise lounge. While Charlie also really likes climbing to the top of the bookshelves - you'll see them later! - she's taken to napping in Lady's cat bed underneath the chaise for hours on end. There have been Saturdays where she only comes out to eat and then climbs back underneath there. Too cute.

Ready to see the rest of the room? Click the link below!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday Reminder: What is Cool?

I meant to post this last Monday, but got busy and simply forgot. That being said, after my decision last week to go back to my blogging roots, it is even more appropriate to share with you today.

My reminder today is taken from an old Banana Republic ad. I tried desperately to find a digital copy of the original but I wasn't successful. Anyway, the ad itself wasn't so important as the quote itself. All I know is that it came out sometime while I was in high school or college and I remember cutting the quote from a magazine, crying (yes, crying over a quote in a magazine) because I knew I wasn't ever going to be any of the first definitions of cool, but knowing that I was on a path to falling in love with what I had been given.

When I decided to share this quote, much like the one I shared a few weeks ago, I knew I wanted to feature another of my friends who does amazing photography. Meghan was one of my first friends in Lexington. She has an amazing family - complete with the two little munchkins pictured above - and recently made the decision to start her own photography business. To me, her pictures scream timeless, classic, and cool. She isn't all about the "trends," but she doesn't dwell in the past and yet she certainly isn't chasing the next best thing. She is one of those remarkable people who understands that the smallest moment - the simple act of "now" - is something to be treasured and her pictures show it. Because I have the pleasure of knowing Meghan personally, I know that her photos don't just embody the philosophy above - her entire life does. 

Keep this reminder with you today. Be happy with your today and don't worry about what the rest of the world sees as cool. Being cool is as simple as being content with what life throws your way.

And while you're reminding yourself of how awesome now is, check out the Meghan Beth Photography website and Facebook page to show her some love! 


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Caturday Realization

I realized yesterday that I don't have a single weekend without some sort of commitment now until November 17. Not all of those weekends will be jam packed - some only have Saturday morning meetings, or Sunday evening events. Not all of the commitments are work-related - I have some seriously awesome company coming to visit two weekends in a row in September and a couple of weddings thrown in there. But either way, it's very overwhelming to think that I don't know when the next completely free weekend will be. Probably December. Ick.

All of that is to say that I am indulging a little this morning. I have plans this afternoon but don't need to leave the house until 12:45. I haven't technically even gotten out of bed yet. Lady Bug loves when I sleep in and Charlie likes an excuse to cuddle even if she's very confused as to why I'm still just laying here.

As I was thinking about this post, I realized that Lady Bug has fled to her favorite space (under the couch - no idea why she loves it, but she always has) and Charlie was still wiggling around, trying to find a comfy snuggle space on my lap. Which means that it would be a post full of pictures of Charlie again unless I wasn't to find the energy to get up and chase down Lady. Most people wouldn't mind - Charlie is everyone's favorite because she's so tiny for a full-grown cat, has a perfect little pink nose, and is a total goofball so she wins everyone over immediately - but (I can't believe I'm going to say this) I would mind because, truth be told, Lady Bug is my favorite even if she isn't the cutest.

Gasp. I feel like a terrible mother. And really, it's not that I love Lady Bug more. She's just been through so much with me. She's the resilient one, the one that goes with the flow and doesn't get stressed out by change. She's the reliable one, the smart one, always helping Charlie solve problems. She may be a little over-weight (we won't go so far as fat), stubborn as all get out, pushy, and bossy. But she's my first baby.

I suddenly realized what parents mean when they say that they don't love one child more than the other - that they just love them differently. It's true. I shouldn't really say that I love Lady more. I wouldn't have made the decision to bring Charlie home in the first place when I wasn't on the market for another cat if I didn't love her instantly. But I certainly love them differently.

No photos today. Lady is sleeping contently and I wouldn't want to bother her. She's not a baby anymore and I understand more than anyone that she probably just needs some time to recharge. Who blames her? This life is stressful.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Favorite Things Friday

For any number of reasons (I was traveling, I was dealing with the blog identity crisis, I was simply too busy), I missed Favorite Things Friday last week. And by missed, I don't just mean skip. Sitting down to think about the top five things for the week - whether it's a theme week or just a general catching up on my week - is such a great way to usher in Fridays and end the work week! Not doing that last week left a bit of a void. Who knew?

Pretty simple to think of my five favorite things right now. In no particular order...

1 - Football season started last week. Which is exciting unto itself but even more so right now because I am so over this summer heat and football equals fall. Warm sweaters, boots, and hot cocoa nights will be here before we know it.

2 - I ate homemade mashed potatoes for dinner last night. And by that, I of course mean there was also a pork chop and cob of corn involved. But mostly mashed potatoes. As in, all I wanted for dinner was mashed potatoes so I choked down the rest of the (delicious but not potato) food, loaded the plate in the dishwasher, and ate another batch of potatoes from the mixing bowl. I have no idea why I wanted them so badly but don't be surprised if I ate the leftovers for breakfast this morning. That sounds weird because I'm writing this Thursday night.  Whoops!

3 - As I was writing this Thursday night, I received an excellent test message from one of my very best friends.

The caption read: "We thought you might enjoy this book!!" Of course I love that book! 
I love it for so many reasons. 
I love it because it's about cats (obviously) and my best friend's little boy thinks my cats are cool - even if his dad disagrees. 
I love it because my best friend and her husband are ridiculously awesome parents and read with their little ones - which should be a given, but we all know it's not always happening in households these days.
Most of all, I love it because it makes me so happy that I don't have to live near my friends in order to be close to them and their children. I miss these kids dreadfully - as I've mentioned before - but I'm still a part of their life. They think to send my texts like this and that's just awesome.

4 - I'm traveling next week for work again, but this time I'm going to Boston. I've never been to Boston so I'm excited to meet new alumni, see a new city, and then fly back to go to a football game (see number 1!) Thursday night. The next two weeks are going to go REALLY fast.

5 - I've been pretty vague about my last favorite thing but suffice it to say it has to do with a boy. He'd probably be mortified that I even said that much but he said once that he wasn't going to read my blog anyway so he'll probably never see this. Plus, I've gotten enough emails asking if I'm leaving my job, moving, pregnant, , that I figured I needed to let you in on the suspense a little. So no, I'm not doing any of those things listed above. That's all I'm going to say about it but considering it's still a favorite thing, that says something, doesn't?

I need this weekend so badly. Mostly being my to-do list is huge right now. TGIF!



Thursday, August 16, 2012

Why I Blog

Alternatively Titled: What I Don't Blog About

I've been having a bit of a blogging identity crisis for the last month or so. I got this fantastic new design, my readership is up (at least slightly), I've been posting regularly... but none of it has felt genuine. 

I've spent a lot of time thinking about it, writing about it, consulting others in the blog world, reading literally hundreds of other blogs, and debating what to do about it.

I boiled it down to a couple of questions. Most importantly, why do I blog in the first place?

I started blogging to give me an outlet to write, specifically about my life, my babies, and my books. I have always been a reader first and a writer second - with everything else in my life coming after those two priorities to be honest - and I wanted some place to combine the two. I planned to write a blog to share with others but of course, like all bloggers, hoped to grow my readership well beyond my small social circle.

I started blogging to give myself a voice.

I started blogging to keep my family up-to-date on all of the life changes - at least the ones I am able to share on the Internet.

After answering my first question, I moved on to the second. What don't I want to write about?

I love fashion - and admittedly have a shopping problem - but don't have any desire to write about that. Mostly because I have a crappy camera that takes terrible pictures, I don't have a roommate or spouse to help me out, and honestly, I just hate how I look in photographs. Wonky eyeballs - trust me. So a fashion-focused blog is out.

I cook a lot but mostly things that don't require a recipe. No one cares about how I spruced up my store-bought spaghetti sauce with an extra green pepper I had laying around. It might taste great but seriously - who cares?

I'm not all that crafty. When I am, it's usually an idea I stole off the internet so there's no need for me to put it out there again.

I'm not a mom so clearly I can't be a mommy blogger - unless I talk about my cats all the time. And while I love them, even I would get sick of that.

I don't travel to exotic places and the vast majority of my travel is work related so really, there's nothing to talk about there.

I'm not a photographer (see aforementioned comment about crappy camera and wonky eyeballs) so personally, I have no desire to have a photo-heavy blog.

All of these "NO" answers left me without a niche - something you supposedly need in the blogging world. And yet, I still want to write. I've heard that no one reads blogs with lots of words and that might be true. I might never have 1,000 followers (or 100 for that matter) and I might never have 10,000 hits a day (or a week or a year) but I want to write. Plus, I read text heavy blogs every single day. In fact, some of my favorite blogs are published by people who I have never met but who let me into their life every day through their words - not their pictures!

I emailed one of those bloggers this morning to thank them for being true to themselves and inspiring someone like me to keep writing. She replied with this profound thought.

I'm not a "niche" blogger. Some say you "have" to have a niche. Okay, fine. So, my niche, then, is "Aramelle."

So I'm stealing that. My niche is now "Rikki." I'm going to keep writing about me, my cats, and my books. Some people may not like it but I'm not doing it for some people. I'm doing it for me. I'd love for you to hang in there with me but if you don't want to read this much, I'll understand.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Women from a Man's Perspective

I feel like I haven't given my love of historical fiction novels enough time and energy on my blog. I've been a bit of a history nut for as long as I can remember. In addition to historical fiction, I am a sucker for a good biography - no matter if the person in question is really someone that matters in the grand scheme of history or not.

When we received an "advanced" copy of City of Women in my office (I say "advanced" because I didn't get around to reading it until the actual copy was released), I knew I had to read it. The book centers on a character named Sigrid, a woman living in Berlin during the height of the Second World War. While her husband fights on the Eastern Front, she embarks on a personal journey that forces her to think about what is right and what is wrong. While that's a difficult task any time, trying to find your moral compass when your entire world is being turned upside-down is even harder.

As a whole, this book delivers on excitement, historical value, and all around great character development. It offers a pretty good glimpse into Nazi Germany (not that I lived there - obviously - but I've done enough studying of that time period to know it isn't terribly inaccurate), although I would think making love to a man who was not your husband, hiding Jewish families from the SS, and befriending both a resistance worker and a lesbian were probably even more dangerous during that time period than the book implies. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop throughout the whole book. I don't really believe that the Gestapo visited suspected resistance workers multiple times without actually bringing them in for questioning, especially after their close friends had already been arrested. Maybe I'm wrong...

While the story was engaging, it was obviously not without flaws. The biggest difficulty I had was that the book was written by a man but was supposed to be from the point of view of the woman leftover in a mostly-deserted, war-torn city. While the emotional development was for the most part very real, very convincing, for all of the characters - especially the lead - I thought the sexual developments were lacking. The conflict in the book starts because Sigrid meets a man - a Jewish man - and begins an affair. The description of their love-making, her memories of him, and her thoughts about other men don't read as believable. While this may have nothing to do with a man trying to write from a woman's perspective, I do see that is a limitation. Within the last ten years, there have been many books, movies, and tv shows which accurately described the female psyche related to sex. This book misses that mark, in my opinion.

All in all, I think City of Women was worth the read. Like so many books I've read lately, the ending wrapped up a bit faster than I would have liked. Before I judge that fact too harshly, however, I'd be interested in reading the final copy, as some finished versions have remarkable differences from the advanced copy.

For those of you who haven't read a book review of mine in the past, you'll get used to the fact that I don't provide much of a plot description.  They aren't those kind of reviews.  If you want to know what the book is about, this article describes it pretty accurately.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

New Apartment Unveiling: Bedroom

Welcome back to my apartment, friends!

Today we're doing a quick little walkthrough of the bedroom.  Wait, you're asking, didn't you say you live in a studio?  Yes, I most certainly do.  Remember when I asked you to weigh in on how to arrange the place?  Well I've set up the floorplan like so:

This means that there is definitely a bedroom side and a living room side.  So like I said, today we're taking a look at the bedroom.  Click the link below to read more and let me know what you think!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Cute Cat Overload

I know I have been missing in action lately. Things are just crazy and I haven't had time to write. This afternoon though, I spent an hour relaxing with my baby and I thought I'd let her share some thoughts. She's such a sweet little fluff ball and honestly, between her and LadyBug, they know better when I need a break than I do half the time. She wasn't wrong.

Without further ado, welcome Charlie for a bit of a "guest" post!

Hey Mom - you haven't been home much lately. In fact, you haven't been home much at all and I've kind of been missing you. Can we just spend an hour sitting on the couch?

I know you have a lot to do today but I really could use some quiet time.
I'll just sit here quietly while you catch up on some television. You won't even know that I'm here.
See Mom? I just want to cuddle for a little bit. You work all the time, and then you've been out having fun, and then you were traveling again. 
And your lap is so comfy. I'm just so happy you sat down for a little while.
Whoa, Mom. I heard the washer end too but it's not time to get up yet. Just sit here for a little while longer. Didn't you hear that tomorrow is my birthday? And all I want for my birthday is a little extra time to lay here. Can we do that?
I'm so lucky that you're home today. The house cleaning can wait.

My "Saturday Simplicity" idea is pretty much dead in the water. Mostly because I haven't had many simple Saturdays in the last few months and when I do, they are a day full of cuddling with my cats. I stumbled upon this Caturday series on Jessi's blog, Practically Functional, I love the idea so I figured I'd go with that today. What do you think? Should I change my series and "steal" her idea? Or just scrap the Saturday series idea all together?


Monday, August 6, 2012

Monday Reminder: Follow Your Dreams

The quote above so perfectly embodies why I hold on to my dreams.  Having dreams, sometimes seemingly unattainable goals, allows me to stretch beyond my comfort zone and fly to places I could never imagine.  I first read this quote on a graduation card which was given to me in 2003.  I have long since lost the rest of the card - only saving the front with the applicable quote - and have no idea who gave it to me.  But the quote has shaped my life for almost a decade and because of that I wanted to share it!

When I thought about sharing this quote with you, I knew I wanted to feature beautiful photography taken by someone I hold dear - someone who also subscribes to the "follow your dreams" philosophy - namely, my friend Bobbi who took the photo above and recently launched her own photography business.  As she states on her company's Facebook page, her photography is "spiritual, emotional, and natural."  That statement, and the launching of the business itself, sums up the philosophy described above and her photos truly reflect her style.  I am proud to call her a friend and share her work with all of you!  Take a moment to check out her work and if you're in the Lexington area, consider doing business with her.  

Let this quote and photo guide your day today.  Allow yourself to be lifted up and guided to places you never imagined.  And never, no matter what, never stop dreaming.


The Good, The Bad and The Ugly!

Good Morning!

It was a great weekend so I figured I'd follow the trend for the last few weeks and link up to tell the blogosphere all about it!

Incorporating Color

The Good - I spent the weekend in North Carolina for my little sister's white coat ceremony for vet school. Yep, the same little sister who just got married a month ago. This summer alone she got married, bought a house, and started vet school. So proud of her.

The visit included both of these critters:

Apparently a Saturday at my sister's looks very much the same as visiting me, except there are different animals involved. 

The Bad - The trip to NC didn't start out so great. Flat tire drama. I left 4 hours later than I planned and then hit torrential downpours so was further delayed, meaning I didn't get to NC until almost 4am. I'm still tired I think. But, as I posted on Facebook, it could have been worse. I could have...

-Gotten a flat tire somewhere in the mountains instead of in my parking garage.
-Worked a full day and not discovered said flat until 6pm instead of at 2pm.
-Been in a strange city and not had awesome friends and coworkers to come help me.
-Spent way more than $19 to fix the problem.

-Not asked for an ETA after waiting for an hour and a half at Sears for them to patch said tire so could have waited even longer for a car that was already finished.
-Not been able to go to NC at all.

The Ugly - I think I'm mentioned before that I get sunburn extremely easily. I carry sunscreen in my purse and reapply at least once an hour if I'm in any way, shape, or form in the sun. Including while driving. SPF 30 every hour while driving should cut it, right?  Wrong.

Somewhat hard to see, but I'm fried.

The Uglier - I didn't burn evenly of course.

One shoulder is pasty white while the other is going to be purple tomorrow. Sucks.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Favorite Things Friday!

How is it Friday again already? This summer is flying by and moving so slowly at the same time. Is it Labor Day yet? PLEASE?

Anyway, before I get to my typical Favorite Things Friday / Hive Five for Friday post, I need to get something off my chest. I realized something yesterday. Something worth celebrating as more than just a favorite thing.

There's been kind of a big thing happening in my life lately that I haven't talked much about, other than a hint here or there. Honestly, there have been a lot of big things in my life lately - lots of life changing decisions being made - all of which have been teaching me little things. While talking to a friend of mine yesterday, I had an epiphany though.  

I realized (for sadly the first time that I can remember) that I deserve to have people in my life who make me happier.

What's that? That's an epiphany? Yep.

See, I'm a giver. I like to make other people happy, sometimes at my own expense. I also don't like to be a burden on anyone else so I'm quick to take care of myself, pamper myself a little, and don't expect others to go out of their way to make my life easier. I can do it on my own. I don't ask a lot of my friends and family (at least I don't think I do) and am perfectly happy on my own.

Take note. The realization had nothing to do with needing other people in my life in order to be happy. Not in the least. Read it again. The realization was that I deserve to have people in my life who are willing to make me happier.

It may not make sense to you all but it's blowing my mind.

Even better? My life is full of those people right now. Think I'll keep all of you around for a while!

So let's call that my very favorite thing that happened to me and proceed with the next four, shall we?


Thursday, August 2, 2012

It's Ok Thursday...

I've been doing a lot of linking up lately, plus a ton of just blog hopping to discover new people, and have been loving it.  I've discovered so many new "friends," my DIY to-do list has been growing exponentially, and I've learned a lot about the blogging world in the last week.

Today, I'm linking up with AmberNeely for "It's Ok Thursday" because, honestly, I've been having these conversations in my head all week and I might as well share them with the rest of you!

Its Ok Thursdays

It's ok...

...that I haven't done a lot of blog writing this week because I've been blog reading instead.
...that I have eaten pizza ever day this week... I've also had a salad every day!
...that I didn't wash my hair two days in a row (I showered, don't worry!) because it still looked fabulous from the intense blow dry I gave it on Monday night.
...that I am counting down the days until fall starts.  This 90 degree heat is a bit much for a northern girl.
...that I bought two pairs of walking shoes for the walk to and from work instead of just the one I should have bought.
...that my number one priority lately has been scheduling around Skype dates.
...that I am already planning an awesome Labor Day weekend.
...that I am way behind on all of my shows because the Olympics are definitely more important right now.
...that I watched the Jane by Design finale over my lunch break at work yesterday because I couldn't wait to see what happened.
...that I haven't started my new book yet because I'm too busy re-reading the first three in the "series."

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