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Looking back at 2013

December 31, 2013

The Lady Okie Blog
I haven't really been focused on blogging since Christmas break started for me on the 21st. I enjoyed Christmas Eve and Day with my parents, husband, sister, brother-in-law, and nephews. I don't get to see them as often as I'd like since we live in different states, so family time is even more precious now. I saw this end of the year post on The Lady Okie's blog and loved how it gets you to really delve into what happened in the past year of your life.

1. What are you most proud of this year?

It would have to be a tie between making it through our first year of marriage stronger than ever and my decision to leave teaching after 7 years in the field. Some people in my life thought I was nuts to leave a secure job, but it was definitely the right choice for me.

2. How can I become a better _____________ ?

The feminist in me hates to admit that wife is the first thing that came to mind when I read this. But I do try to be a better wife and partner to T. I'm learning that marriage involves taking turns being the one to lean on and being the one who needs to lean in. I want to keep working on being a more supportive wife in 2014.

3. Where do I need to allow myself grace?

I know I'm super hard on myself and can be my own worst critic. I need to learn to cut myself some slack.

4. Am I passionate about my career?

Hmm good question that I'm not sure how to answer. If you would have asked me in the first few months of 2013, the answer would have been a clear and resounding no. Now I have a job I really like but I'm not sure if this will be my career forever.

5. What did my finances look like?

I took a pay cut when I switched jobs this year. It was not always easy, but we made it work this year.

6. How did I spend my free time?

Well I started this blog back in April and blogging quickly became a new hobby of mine. I spent time with family and friends, trying new recipes, and fantasy football.

7. What projects have I completed?

Projects? None that I can think of.

8. In what ways can I restructure my time?

Good question that I ask myself many times a week. I come home during the week with a limited amount of time to relax. I think I need to schedule blog posts to free up more time for other things like reading (I have slacked off on my reading) and enjoying time with my man and Kavalier.

9. What lessons have I learned in 2013?

A: Sometimes you just have to take a risk and hope it works out.
B: Marriage is hard work but also the best thing ever.

10. What old habits would I like to release?

I start off strong with working out and then just fall off the wagon. I need to get past that and find a work out routine that I can actually stick with. I'm not getting any younger.

What are your thoughts on this past year?

JT and a little Christmas

December 23, 2013

I haven't blogged in a week now, whoops. This past week has been quite hectic with all the holiday stuff going on. Thursday night was the long awaited Justin Timberlake concert and to say that I was excited would be the understatement of the year. I have loved him since his curly haired days of NSYNC and even saw them in concert back in 1999. My friend and I even met some of the NSYNC guys (not Justin) earlier in the day at Planet Hollywood. The concert exceeded all my expectations and is probably one of the best shows I have seen in a long time. JT really put on a show complete with piano playing, guitar playing, and incredible dance moves.

My sister, brother-in law and nephews are coming into town today and I can't wait to have some real quality family time. I have had a little trouble getting into the Christmas spirit but my family does a big Christmas Eve dinner that I love. It is easy to get sucked into all the consumerism of the holiday season and forget what it is really about, being with the ones you love. Happy Holidays to all of you! I may not have hundreds of readers but I am enjoying getting to know you ladies this year.

Things that I'm afraid to tell you

December 16, 2013

This past week I read an incredibly honest blog post written by Kym at Travel Babbles about things you are afraid to post on your blog. As a reader my favorite blog posts are those that go beyond the surface and show us the realness of the blogger. In blog land it is so easy to only put the good things out there and hide the negative. Social media has brought on people presenting themselves in the filter that best presents them, while leaving out the flaws and imperfections. So I'm going to put myself out there and be honest and real. I can't lie, this is a little intimidating but I'm going to go ahead with it.

While I'm happy that I left teaching and was able to get another job, it involved a significant pay cut and it has been taking some getting used to it. Sadly that is the reality for teachers who make the transition out of the field.

I struggle with my body image and accepting my looks. My lack of self-confidence started off in middle school when my older sister blossomed and all the guys went gaga for her. I spent many years feeling less than and still have moments when I struggle to like my looks and body.

I might have career ADD. I majored in English/Journalism in college, then ended up working as an English teacher for 7 years, graduated with my masters degree in school counseling, and now working for an educational profit. I just don't know if I can do the same job for 10-20 years. I feel like I have too many interests.

As much I can't wait to move out of Orlando, there is a small part of me that is scared that it won't work out like my last attempt and I will end up right back here.

Despite being together for several years and living together before getting married I found the first year of marriage to be tough. So many couples talk about how seamless and easy that first year of married life and that was just not the case for us. We love being married but it takes work.

What things are you afraid to talk about on your blog?

Why my dog is better than having a kid

December 12, 2013

Jade and Oak
">I often jokingly refer to my dog Kavalier as my baby. Yes I am one of those annoying women who refers to themselves as a dog mom, and no I'm not sorry. T and I don't plan on having kids so Kavalier gets all our love and attention. He also gets plenty spoiled as well. I got to thinking on all the ways in which having a dog is better than a kid. Not to take anything away from all the cool kids out there like my nephews, but here are some reasons why dogs might be the new kids.

  1. Having a dog is way cheaper than raising a baby.  
Last time I checked the average cost of raising a child in the United States is inching towards $250,000 for the first 18 years. Of course that doesn't include if your kid stays living at home way into their twenties or you have to bail them out of jail. Kavalier's cost is much less. He is pretty happy with food, treats, and toys. Win for dogs.

    2.  Dogs love you unconditionally and are always happy to see when you get home.

Sure kids love their parents, but once they hit puberty you are bound to hear "I hate you Mom" a few dozen times. Without fail when I come home from work I know Kavalier will be psyched to see me. Dogs are just happy to be around you, how can you say no to that? 

  3. Dogs are much easier to train.

Let's be honest raising a kid is no easy task. It is a ton of work to be consistent with rules and discipline and it only gets tougher as they get older. Once you house train a dog the hard work should behind you.

4. Need some alone time? Want a date night? No need for a babysitter.

My sister jokes that she can barely have time to go to the bathroom with her two boys around. Not a problem with the dog. Kavalier can entertain himself with a bone if we want to have a night out or just want to unwind.

What are your thoughts on dogs being like kids? 


Florida Girl Christmas

December 09, 2013

Sami's Shenanigans

While most parts of the country were dealing with snow and freezing temperatures, Florida had unusually warm temperatures for December. I know most out of staters are wishing they had those warm temperatures themselves but I'm kinda of jealous of those with snow. My one year of living in Massachusetts included a New England winter that was rough on this Florida girl who did not grow up having to shovel cars out of snow. Shoveling my car out of snow while two guys just watched is still a proud achievement for me. What I still miss is having distinct seasons as opposed to no seasons here in Orlando.

T and I went out to enjoy our 6 year dating anniversary Saturday by grabbing lunch and going ice skating in the suburb of Winter Park. I actually grew up right next to Winter Park and went to high school there. They were hosting an indoor ice skating rink for their Winter in the Park and despite my previous failed attempts at ice skating I figured why not. My husband used to play hockey so this was no problem for him. It didn't take long for the Florida girl in me to come out as I stumbled on the ice, but I had fun skating with T.

Saturday night was spent cheering on my Seminoles as they crushed Duke to win the ACC Championship and are now on their way to play in the National Championship. So proud to be a Florida State Seminole!

Do you dream big?

December 04, 2013

I'll admit that this quote can come off corny (I'm looking at you Courtney on those Bravo's Courtney Does Dallas trailer) but it is really fitting for what I'm feeling lately. When you are a kid it is expected for you to dream big. Adults regularly ask kids what they want to do when they grow up and never discourage their responses even if they can sound outlandish to adult sensibilities. Want to be an astronaut? Sure. Go for it. No dream is out of reach is the message you get in childhood. But as we get older the message changes from dream your little heart out to make a sensible life plan. We are no longer encouraged to dream our hearts out as we get older. Real life finds a way to get put into focus and it is easy to put the big aspirations on the shelf. 

Lately I have been thinking about my own dreams and how they have changed over the years. How did I go from the young girl who dreamed of becoming a writer who lived in New York City to the woman I am now? When I first graduated college I had lofty aspirations of actually putting that English degree to use but found the cold reality of the job market to have different plans for me. The allure of a steady occupation that I thought I would enjoy led me to teaching. While I don't in any way regret my years as a teacher, the busy work load did make it easy for me to put my writing dreams to the back of the closet. It is like I hit a mute button on the writer side of myself. I just didn't devote the time to writing and it wasn't until earlier this year when I left the profession that I truly realized how much I missed it. I missed my love of words and the joy of putting words to my thoughts and feelings. That is what brought me to start a blog. I wanted to have a place to get back to the writer part of me, the part of myself that still yearned to dream big. Having this little blog for me has reignited many of my writer dreams by reminding me how much I love the process of it all. It is good to get reminded that age has nothing to do with dreams and you are never too old to dream large.

A well-needed break from reality

December 02, 2013

In all honesty I was ready for the holiday weekend on Monday afternoon at work. The last few years I was spoiled by having the whole week off since that is what the school district does down here. One of the few things I do miss from my teaching days. So I was ecstatic when we only had to work a half day on Wednesday, because seriously who was being productive that day? We celebrated the start of our Thanksgiving break with the first Sam Adams Winter Lager of the season. It is not really the holiday season for me until that first taste of delicious beer.

Thanksgiving morning I lounged around, drank hot cocoa, watched the Macy's Parade while the husband played video games, and made stuffing for the family Thanksgiving dinner. I was surprised how simple it turned out to be to make homemade stuffing. It got rave reviews from everyone.
I did not brave any of the Black Friday sales this year. I worked plenty of Black Fridays when I was in my retail days to know the craziness of the crowds and that I want no part of that. Online shopping is so more convenient for me.  I enjoyed low-key moments with my parents, husband, and Kavalier of course. Saturday the Seminoles destroyed the in-state rival Florida Gators and because of that crazy Alabama loss the Seminoles are now ranked number 1!!!!

I'm thankful

November 24, 2013

For me it is sometimes easier to focus on the negatives than the positives in my life. With Thanksgiving a few days away it is a good time to slow down on the complaints and really be thankful for what I do have in my life.

1. I'm thankful for my husband. We have been married for a year and together for almost six years. I am  lucky to have a man who loves me for who I am and inspires me to be a better person. All these years later and we are still not tired of each other. Married life isn't perfect, we have our ups and downs, but we make it work.

2. I'm thankful for my family. I love having my parents live in the same city and having dinner with them once a week. They have always been there for me no matter what crazy decision I make. My sister now lives in North Carolina which sucks since I can't see my awesome nephews as much as I would like. But I am learning to really appreciate the times we are in the same city more now.

3. I'm thankful for my current job. They are the first place to give me a chance when I decided to change careers from teaching. I am learning so much about the non-profit world that will serve me well in my new career.

4. I'm thankful for my friends. Some have known me since college like K, and others are newer friends who I met in my days of being a teacher.

5. I'm thankful for my dog Kavalier. He walked into our lives four years ago and filled our house with love. While I don't plan on having kids of my own, he definitely brings out the maternal side of me.

6. I'm thankful for blogging. I had lost touch with my writing side when I was working insane hours teaching English (ironic I know). This blog lets me express myself and I have connected with some great ladies along the way.

Why hello bandwagon fan

November 22, 2013

Bandwagon fans. If you are at all interested in sports, you know all too well what makes a person a bandwagon fan. What really makes someone a bandwagoner as opposed to a real fan?

Bandwagon fan: 

A person who claims to be a fan of a particular sports team, but had zero interest in said team until the team had a winning record or won a championship.

No level of sports is immune to the bandwagon fan. Major league baseball has the NY Yankees bandwagoners who have never stepped foot in the Big Apple. The NBA has a nation of Miami Heat "fans" who couldn't care less about them prior to LeBron James coming to Florida. I actually have a friend who is born and raised in Orlando who is suddenly cheering for the Heat. Really? We have a hometown team to root for. Granted the Orlando Magic has yet to win a national championship, but damn why jump ship to the rival?  The NFL has different sets of "I only cheer for winners" each Super Bowl. A Patriots fan who has never step foot in New England? Yep that is a bandwagon fan.

My Florida State Seminoles are currently ranked #2 for the first time in 13 years. The last time they had such a season was back in 1999. I of course remember this vividly since it was my freshman year at FSU when they went undefeated and beat Virginia Tech in the national championship game. It was amazing. Then for the past 12 years they have struggled while the University of Florida had Tebow time going on.  All of a sudden Gator fans were coming out of every inch of the state. You couldn't step into a store in Orlando without bumping into some orange and blue t-shirt. It felt like Gator nation had taken over the state.

Now the tide has turned with the Seminoles dominating and looking towards playing in the national championship game. I can't help but notice more and more Seminole flags waving from homes and team shirts adorning people around town. Interesting, where was the love last year? So now my beloved team has bandwagon fans. Guess that must mean we've made it.

Venus Trapped in Mars

Greetings from Kavalier

November 19, 2013

A big part of my life is being a fur mom to my doggy Kavalier. I thought it was time for Kavalier to take over the blog and tell you more about himself.

Hello! I'm Kavalier, or Kav as my mom often calls me. I was rescued back in November of 2009 after I was abandoned in front of the pet rescue that ended up rescuing me.

                                             This is me on the way home for the first time.

I enjoy being outside and playing in the yard in my happy spot. My mom finds it adorable to watch me rolling around in my happy spot. She is weird like that.

I like to show the love to my mom's team (Florida State) and to my dad's NY Rangers. Sometimes mommy and I both show the team love.

I also love to nap in my old bed. Nothing beats laying around with mom and dad on a lazy Sunday.

Sunday Social

November 16, 2013

Sunday Social

 4 jobs you have had in your life

1. Fast food- my first job at 16 was at Chick-Fil-A
2. Retail
3. Middle school teacher
4. Non profit

4 movies you could watch over and over

1. The Wedding Singer
2. When Harry Met Sally
3. The Hunger Games
4. High Fidelity

4 places you have lived

1. Orlando, FL- where I currently live
2. Winter Park, FL
3. Tallahassee, FL
4. Worcester, MA

4 of my favorite foods

1. Pizza
2. Pasta in general. I could eat it non-stop.
3. Peril- spanish roast pork
4. Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich

4 things you always carry with you

1. Keys
2. Cell phone
3. Wallet
4. Lipstick

4 places you have been on vacation

1. Ocho Rios, Jamaica
2. San Juan, Puerto Rico
3. Washington DC
4. Las Vegas

Slow cooker meatball subs

November 13, 2013

One of my November goals is to cook more often and actually meal plan. I'm way late to the crock pot game and luckily got a great one for my bridal shower. Ever since I was gifted my crock pot I have pinned tons of recipes for it, now I need to be better about actually making them.

Ty requested a meatball sub for this upcoming week and I found a great recipe for slow cooker meatball subs.

What you need:

1 pound of ground beef
1 egg
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 jar of pasta sauce
4 hoagie/sub rolls
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Cooking directions:

1.  In a large bowl, mix the ground beef, egg, breadcrumbs, and garlic powder.  Mix with hands until all ingredients are mixed together.

2.  Form mixture into 12 meatballs. Place them in the crock pot and pour the pasta sauce over the meatballs. Cook on high for 4-5 hours.

3. Sprinkle cheese on meatballs and serve.

I apologize for being a bad blogger and forgetting to take a picture of the final product. We were just so ready to eat it. 

Anniversary weekend

November 11, 2013

Sami's Shenanigans

Some couples have extravagant one year anniversary weekends where they take a fun vacation, but that is not a financial reality for us right now. That doesn't mean we didn't have a fun time celebrating our first year of marriage. Months ago when I saw that The Book of Mormon would be in town for our anniversary weekend I knew instantly that it would be the perfect way to do something fun for our special night. Ty and I have wanting to see the show since it debuted on Broadway (we are big South Park fans) and I was thrilled that it finally made its way down to Orlando.

I decided to wear my wedding shoes out on our anniversary date. Since I had to wear flats for my wedding (or else I would be taller) I had planned to get multiple wearings out of them. I had not worn since my wedding day.

The Book of Mormon was one of the best musicals I have ever seen on stage. I love me some musical theater and this show really knocks it out of the park. I would recommend it to anyone who is not easily offended by crass language or jokes about religion.

A year ago today

November 08, 2013

A year ago today I was stressed out and anxiously awaiting my wedding day. I had spent months planning the perfect music for the ceremony, make my book themed table names, and all the little details that come with planning a wedding. Ty and I will celebrate our one year wedding anniversary this weekend and what a year it has been. We made it through my decision to leave the teaching profession in March, his intense summer of finishing up his thesis, and making the transition to husband and wife. Marriage is not easy, but definitely the best thing I have ever done.