Summer Lovin’

I just want to do this allllll day.

Not sure why I’m all curled up (must’ve been a bit chilly), but here’s my version of my boat-loving days in Georgetown…Pinkberry and all haha.. sigh.

Someday, I will have a boat of my own, and it will be named The Bad Kitty (kidding… sort of…lol) But in the meantime, I need to find someone down here who has one so I can just invite myself over every weekend 😉

Seven reasons you should reach out to every person…

Seven reasons you should reach out to every person ever.

1.)  We’re all alone well, kind of.  This sounds grim, but it’s not! There is a freedom in realizing and embracing the fact that at the end of the day you’re sitting in your own skin with your own thoughts and realities.  One of the most beautiful parts of being alive and continually pushed into the world is knowing that every single person on the planet also goes to bed in their own skin, with their own thoughts and realities.  Learning and exploring new people offers you the opportunity to change some wobbly realities you’ve created and equally allows you to challenge someone else’s.

2.)  Everyone wants to be loved. I believe this from the very bottom of my heart.  Some people spend whole lifetimes trying to deny themselves the magic and wonder of being loved.  The world is weird, man.  People are becoming increasingly disconnected from other people and I can only conclude that this is because of an underlying fear of really sharing ones self with another soul.  Its scary, but even if you open that door and subsequently have to shut it, I guarantee your heart is better for it.

3.)  People are really weird. Some of the most amazing and inspirational people I have ever met are also the weirdest.  The old saying “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” couldn’t be more true.  Some people who appear to be so transparent can sometimes end up being the most hidden.  And some of the most nondescript can end up being the most magical and unhinged.

4.)  You’re not better than anyone. This is not a race, y’all.  I had a crash course lesson in this when I was 16 years old.  Suddenly I realized that competing against the world at large would only bring me misery, and worse off, would be a complete waste of my precious time in this brilliant and bizarre world.  Quit comparing.  Quit hiding yourself.  There’s always someone who is more _______than you.  Find yourself and love the s**t out of it.  If you can’t- who will?

5.)  Mean people are just fearful. It’s hard to not return rudeness with rudeness.  I’ve slowly learned this since moving to the east coast.  But if she’s rude to you, and you’re rude to her where do you end up? Next time someone is mean to you or cruel, remind yourself that that person is just fighting a battle they haven’t overcome yet and that most likely, that s**t aint yours to bother with.  Let it go and it will let go of you.

6.)  Everyone’s a teacher. At some point you realize that you’re an eternal student. People all around you are here to show you something new.  Listen to other people.  When you are most convicted about your own beliefs it is a prime opportunity to step back for a moment, truly listen to the other side and work out whether or not you subscribe to their belief or sentiment. You’ve changed people’s minds about a lot of things, let them change yours.

7.)  Being tender and open is beautiful.  As a woman, I feel continually shhh’ed.  Too sensitive.  Too mushy.  Too wishy washy. Blah blah.  Don’t let someone steal your tenderness.  Don’t allow the coldness and fear of others to tarnish your perfectly vulnerable beating heart.  Nothing is more powerful than allowing yourself to truly be affected by things. Whether it’s a song, a stranger, a mountain, a rain drop, a tea kettle, an article, a sentence, a footstep…feel it all – look around you- all of this is for you.  Take it and have gratitude.  Give it and feel love.

Full Civic Literacy Exam

I am ashamed to admit how difficult this was for me, but I am also pleased with myself for not totally failing. In fact, I scored well over the national average of 49%, with 82% (27 out of 33 questions correct.) Apparently, I need to enhance my knowledge of economic policy in this country… oy.

Give it a shot! It’s fun review and good brain exercise.

Full Civic Literacy Exam

Culinary Delight #7: Pan-Roasted Apple Garlic Chicken

I’m proud of this one because it’s a tasty and easy diversion from my usual unhealthy comfort foods. I’m also proud because I kinda sorta came up with it myself! It was originally going to be lemon-garlic chicken, but I thought the lemon was too strong. I had apple chicken served at my wedding, and it was just amazing, so I started substituting in this recipe to get a similar effect. FYI, this picture was taken when I used lemons, and it doesn’t do it justice.. it’s way juicier and more golden 🙂

1/4 cup olive oil

1 apple, half thinly sliced, the other half cut into chunks

1/4 cup apple juice

1 tbsp lemon juice

4 cloves minced garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

3/4 pound trimmed green beans

8 small red potatoes, quartered

4 chicken breasts

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and lightly coat a casserole dish with olive oil. Arrange apple slices in a single layer on the bottom of the dish.

In a large bowl, combine the oil, apple juice, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper. Add the green beans and toss to coat. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the green beans and arrange them on top of the apple slices.

Add the potatoes to the same olive-oil mixture and toss to coat. Arrange the potatoes along the inside edge of the dish or skillet on top of the green beans. Place the chicken in the same bowl with the olive-oil mixture and coat thoroughly. Place the chicken, skin-side up, in the dish or skillet. Arrange apple chunks around the chicken and potatoes. Pour any of the remaining olive-oil mixture over the chicken.

Roast for 50 minutes. Remove the chicken from the dish. Place the beans and potatoes back in the oven for 10 more minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Place the chicken back in the dish, cool, and serve!

My Carolina Bucket List

In the process of learning to bloom where I’m planted and embrace my new home, I have made a list of things I want to do while we live in this area, big and small. For the things that seem insignificant – or like I could do that anywhere – they make the list mostly because it’s way cheaper to do it down here… and I have the time I never had before. 🙂

– Attend a few ballroom dancing classes. I’d love to focus on swing and tango. Better yet, Chuck is actually open to this idea!

– Hit up Myrtle Beach Safari down in South Carolina. Just 2-ish hours away, and I get to fulfill my lifelong dream of holding a baby tiger!! OMG.

– Eat at the one authentically French restaurant I’ve found in the entire Wilmington to Jacksonville area, Caprice Bistro. It’s not cheap, but I have yet to find a bad review, and it’s on the riverfront. Bien sur, c’est bon!

– Road trip to Charleston, SC to take the scandalous ”Dark Side of Charleston – Rated R” tour – or any of the ghost tours, for that matter. I briefly visited Charleston once, for a wedding this past November, and I must go back! Oh, and I love scandal. And ghost tours.

– Go shootin’. Seriously, I’m married to a Marine, and I’ve never been to a shooting range!

– Take a romantic and luxurious B&B getaway with Chuck in Savannah, Georgia…just for a weekend. Like here or here or even here. Gahhh. Or maybe here. Then, I’ll hunt down some Paula Deen comfort food. Yum!

– Girls’ trip to Raleigh. I hear it’s fun, artsy, and the shopping is pretty amazing. And around here, let’s face it – I am truly shopping deprived.

That’s my current list, but I’m fairly certain it will grow as I learn more about what the area has to offer. I’ve been feeling so much more positive lately (the new job + arrival of summer helps!) and just ready to take things in stride. I have a tendency to complain, and then leave a place/situation, only to look back and realize it was great and that I got so much out of it. We’ve got at least another year here, so I plan to take full advantage of it!

Advice From a Cat #4

“Love your body the way it is. Eat the kibble of your choice. Embrace your plentiful chubs. If you don’t love you, no one else will. This is why everyone loves me. This is my secret to cool.”

Disclaimer: “A happy body is also a healthy body. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian before overindulging in your favorite kibble. But, be sure to still indulge anyway… just once in a while.” 

~ The Wise and Chubby Annie Bean


In Defense of Facebook

A few friends of mine (okay, probably more like a few acquaintances of mine) have recently made the decision to quit Facebook. That’s all fine and dandy, but their reasoning got me all defensive. One of said acquaintances even wrote a tongue-in-cheek newspaper editorial on why she finds Facebook to be less of a blessing and more of a curse. So, naturally, I got even more defensive…

Say what you will about Facebook, but I have never felt more in touch with people (friends, networks, contacts, old co-workers, and everything in between) than I have since joining. I agree that in-person interaction is always better, but for someone like me, the stark reality is that there is no way I can stay so personally up-to-date with that many people. Facebook makes it easier for me to stay involved, despite all our busy and dynamic lives that often cross borders and timezones.

It’s a great supplement to phone calls, emails, letters (as if anyone still writes letters, lol), and actual visits. Plus – I don’t know about you – but my phone calls rarely touch everything going on in a friend’s life, and certainly not in mine. They are more like overarching, general updates, because there’s only so much time either of us has to just shoot the breeze like we were neighbors again.

Facebook gives me windows into the little details that someone may forget to include in a phone conversation. While there is such a thing as oversharing on Facebook, I love reading about a friend’s (or even an appreciated acquaintance’s) thoughtful insights, funny quips, recent adventures, and random rants. Whether I’ve known the person for years, recently met them at a social gathering, or fell out of touch but still have fond memories of the person, I genuinely enjoy seeing what they are up to.

My editorial writer acquaintance explained that Facebook leads to jealousy, competitive comparisons, feelings of inadequacy, and drama. Okay, so maybe there are one or two individuals I’m connected with that make me feel a little jealous and inadequate, but overall, I love to watch people succeed. It can be motivating! Or maybe, it’s just fun to see the many different paths my friends have taken. I have learned a lot from many of my connections, and I love information sharing – articles, images, blogs… you name it. I love hearing opinions, because they help me hone and develop my own, and challenge me to consider alternate perspectives.

As for drama – well, we all know drama existed long before Facebook, and will continue to exist long after. That will just depend on the user. And even if I wasn’t on Facebook, I probably would still eventually find out that Jane Doe got her Ph.D from Harvard, a diamond way bigger than mine from Tiffany’s, and a 5-star vacation in Paris.

Anyway, for the occasional annoying/obligatorily-friended person that clogs my newsfeed, Facebook has made it much easier to control what I see with the “hide” and “block” features. It also continues to allow me to limit what I share and who I share it with, to protect my own privacy (and I have learned many such lessons on sharing in my 8-odd years on Facebook!) But I will always love virtually staying involved with friends, family, and contacts from near and far via Facebook. I will  miss my acquaintances who are leaving – because they are two that I do actually love to follow and interact with from afar. One is an insightful young mother with a knack for making vegan diets look yummy, and the other is a budding political commentator with a killer sense of humor. I’ve learned something from both of them.

Maybe someday I will change my mind and find it creepy just like many of my peers, but for now, I will continue to involve myself in my little virtual Facebook community – because I know that unfortunately, without it, I would have lost touch with too many pretty awesome (or at least interesting!) people.