my, where has the time gone?

Wow, it seems like just yesterday I was writing the “Goodbye, 2013” post.  I posted a couple times after that and next thing I know here I am at May, 2016!! WTF!

So what have I been up to? Let’s see. After the writing desk redo I just got super lazy and also didn’t have any notable projects going on. 2015 came and our property manager told us that they wouldn’t be renewing our lease. I knew that day was coming! The high rise we lived in is a condominium, but after the housing crash they had trouble selling and allowed some people to rent. We knew all along that if the market picked back up, we’d be out on the street.

Knowing that we were going to probably move to the ‘burbs, we thought it would be a good time to spend a year in a crappy, cheap apartment near where we want to live to get a feel for the commute and the area before we committed.  Moving from the Edgecliff sure was a sad day. In winter 2006 I left my parents’ house in the suburbs and moved downtown. Since then, I generally stayed in or close to the city center. I absolutely loved living at the Edgecliff and near Eden Park, but was constantly stir crazy. I wanted a place with a yard and garage and outdoor area, and some separation from the neighbors.

The day we packed up and moved to the world’s most uninspiring apartment complex in the ‘burbs was rough. It was the first time I was moving somewhere that didn’t feel like an improvement over the last place – instead, it was a temporary move that was strictly utilitarian. We spent 2015 saving even more than we had been before, with an eye on buying a house in 2016. When I have a goal in mind I get tunnel vision and hyper-focused. So, with that goal in mind came a whole lot of spending nothing, doing nothing, and being bored. 2015 was at once one of the most dull and most useful years of my life. It served its purpose well but boy, was it BORING!!! It’s amazing what you can do when you resign yourself to utter boredom for 12 months. I already knew this, though – I went to law school.

I dreamed about owning my own house since I was a little kid. On labor day weekend we went to an open house, as we had been doing all of 2015. Here’s a tip for you: when you buy a house you should know what you want. You will only know what you want if you’ve spent months or years ACTUALLY GOING TO LOOK at houses when you’re not in a position to buy.  There are things I thought I loved or hated or had to have or didn’t want, and over the course of a couple years I figured out what things “stuck” for me as priorities/dealbreakers and which things were passing fads in my mind. Had I been in a position to buy before I really understood all that about myself, I most surely would have experienced some buyer’s remorse. And no, looking online just isn’t the same – you have to go experience houses in person to really get a feel for them.

So we go to this open house in September at this house that just went on the market. It was as perfect as I could have imagined, and my husband loved it, too. We walked out with mental notes of all the things we loved about it, and in the driveway we agreed that it was our house, but no matter, because it would surely be sold by January.

I had a “favorites” list on Realtor.com and every day I refreshed it with nervous energy, waiting to scroll down to this house and see the little red and white “pending” box in the upper left corner. It never came…the price went down….and down…still nothing. In fact, no houses really moved much at all from October to January. So long story short, January came, we had saved to our comfort level, got pre-approved and got our house.

February 26th was closing day. It was a Friday. Closing took 15 minutes. I thought I would cry like Miss America but I didn’t – I was more stunned/shocked than anything. Walking into the house for the first time without an inspector or realtor or other relative stranger with us was an amazing feeling!!

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So I’m back – I think – assuming I don’t get lazy again. This place was pretty turnkey but I’d still like to document the changes we’ve made or plan to make! I feel like we’ve done so much already. It sure has kept us busy for a house that doesn’t need any work, and I like it that way!

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goodbye, 2013….

Hello!  I can’t believe that it will be 2014 tomorrow.  This year flew by but when I look back at one year ago, it feels like 3 years ago.  Every year at this time people spend time reflecting on their past year and contemplating the future and so, of course, that’s what I am doing. In short, this year was wonderful and everything I hoped for. I had a really hard time for a long time, and 2012 was downright horrible.  I lost pets, had a car wreck, had to cram a full time law school schedule into a part time one, among so many other things. The highlight of 2012 was getting my dog Ella, but other than that, it was a tough year. This day a year ago I thought, “good riddance, 2012…you sucked…” and also felt an enormous amount of uncertainty and fear before the bar exam.

The earliest post I had in 2013 was here. One day in January after lunch with my boyfriend I sat in his car right outside my office…crying and telling him how enormously fearful I was.  I told him if I don’t pass the bar exam, I could miss opportunities for jobs…I could have to retake it and spend many months more studying, sinking deeper into the exhaustion and edginess I felt, and not moving on with my life….I told him that I just felt this enormous burden because it was all up to me to make this year either an awesome one or another really bad one. I basically had about five very exhausting years and I just wanted it to be over.

I still stop and pinch myself every day now that normalcy has returned. I passed the bar exam…got a job, which has been going great…lost 17 of the 25 pounds I gained in law school…took a vacation, did tons of fun things with friends, got to enjoy my holidays for the first time in years, and got engaged to my boyfriend.  This year was very, very good to me!

I AM very sad the holidays are coming to an end.  Basically from October until now I was fully immersed in them and had a great time.  I started taking my Christmas decor down last night.  To get over that post-holiday sadness, I am thinking about what I’d like to do this winter.  I am really hoping for a VERY snowy winter. I’d like to go snowboarding again…I haven’t gone since January, 2008.  I am also looking forward to the Winter Olympics.  I have this inexplicable obsession with both the summer and winter olympics.  For two glorious weeks I let all my free time outside of work be consumed by televised sporting events.  Whether it’s skiing, iceskating, curling, whatever, I am glued to the TV.  In 2012 after my dog died, I had two weeks of nightly class, but then when it finally ended, I picked up my new puppy Ella…and the next day the Summer Olympics began.  In 2012, after all I had been going through, getting my new dog and playing with her every night while watching the olympics was the first time in many months I felt happy and at ease.

Other than hoping for lots of snow and watching the olympics I really don’t have much planned for this winter.  It might be good to slow down for awhile.

Anyway, I hope you have a great 2014.  Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving decor, pt. 2 & Friendsgiving 2013

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  Ok we’ve got a few more days but I got my Thanksgiving started early when we had our first “Friendsgiving” yesterday.  It was a great time.  I think it’s the first time we really had a party at this apartment.  We got to break in our new Ikea table, eat lots of food, play games, and hold a very high-stakes pie contest.

I completed my Thanksgiving decorating prior to Friendsgiving.  First we made and hung the Thanksgiving banner, and then I decorated the “mantle” (i.e. floating shelf over the TV), and table, and some other areas. I got these turkey salt and pepper shakers on sale at Michael’s for a couple dollars.  We certainly did not need any more salt and pepper shakers, and the print was sort of obnoxious, so I decided to cover them in…something.

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Against my good judgment, I decided to cover the first one in gold glitter. As always, that was a messy and frustrating disaster.  I continued down that path until it was all the way covered, but decided to NOT USE GLITTER EVER AGAIN after that (ok, I have said that many times and I cant seem to dump glitter completely, except for all over myself). IMG_3215

I had this gold nail polish I got for free in something, so I decided to cover the second turkey in that.  MUCH better. It took a couple minutes, no mess, and I also think it looks better. Lesson learned.

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Much to my delight, I found two of these concrete Smith and Hawken turkeys at Target in the clearance section for $6 each.  They would be perfect for the table! IMG_3250

I sprayed them with a flat paint to brighten them up a little bit, and then decided to try my hand at gold leaf. I don’t know if it’s because gold leafing is difficult, or because gold leafing an uneven concrete surface is difficult, but I got as far as gold leafing the beaks and gave the hell up. Good enough!

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Then I went to Trader Joe’s where I had previously obtained a whole lot of small pumpkins for my Halloween decor.  Unfortunately, finding pumpkins AFTER halloween is no easy task.  All they had left were some medium-sized “tiger” pumpkins that were cream colored and striped with either green or orange…not exactly matching my decor.  I got some high gloss white spray paint and painted them all and put them in the hurricane. tada!

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The next thing I did was decorate the shelf over our TV.  I also decorated this shelf for Halloween a month earlier. I was kind of at a loss as to what to do, and honestly I have no idea what I am doing with artificial/dried flowers/plants. Michael’s was having a 70% off sale on the fall-themed dried and artificial flowers by late October, so I grabbed a few in yellow, orange, and purple colors and figured I would figure something out.  I also got a 5′ strand of battery operated “Starry String Lights” in amber from Restoration Hardware.  Don’t you just love these?! I may get more in the silver color for Christmas.

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I also held on to a few of my Halloween Trader Joe’s pumpkins that were still in ok shape, got a roll of burlap at Michael’s, put some stuff in my apothecary jars and also added the painting I did at Cheers to Art recently.  Do you have a place like this in your city? Basically you and a bunch of your friends go paint a painting according to step-by-step instructions by someone while you drink wine. What a great idea.  Anyway, so the colors sort of matched the decor so I threw it in there, too.

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I am really loving burlap as a “trend” right now.  It’s neutral and cheap and you can use it for a million different things.

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IMG_6951The other day I was wandering around Ikea and saw these little square fall-colored Fyrkantig candles and candleholders at Ikea. 
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I also loved these Thanksgiving Printables from TomKat Studio.  I have Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, so I made my own “Happy Thanksgiving” sign similar to the one they have available, and bought some super-cheap 3- and 4-packs of plastic frames at Big Lots.  IMG_6955 IMG_6960

Much of what I found to decorate the table and the buffet table, just like everything else, was decided based on what I already had and what was cheap and/or on sale at places like Michael’s, Big Lots, Home Goods, Ikea and Target. I just wanted everything to have the black, white, gold, silver, purple, orange and golden yellow colors that I put on the shelf.

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I found these great serving ware dishes at Big Lots for I think maybe $9 each, and three 4-packs of the white placemats for $6 a set.  I also found this burlap runner at Michael’s – a few yards for less than $10…I could cut it to the length of the table and it actually fits, versus all the table runners I found which were upwards of $40, $50+ and not even remotely long enough for the table. NO THANKS! I found the napkin rings and napkins at Homegoods, and got a bread basket at Ikea and used some black and white kitchen towels from Target that I’ve had for a couple years and haven’t ever used for anything.

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I made a couple different deviled eggs recipes and they were pretty good. I got these deviled eggs with goat cheese and proscuitto recipe from Food and Wine magazine (also available online), but took out the sour cornichons.  I got the Paula Deen’s loaded deviled eggs recipe here.  I also got the apples on horseback recipe from Food and Wine (here).  They were really good and super easy! I wrapped 16 slices of Manchego cheese/Fuji apple with panchetta, stuck them on some metal skewers, sprayed some foil with cooking oil and grilled them on the grill for a few minutes on each side.  I wanted appetizers that you could make without using the stove or oven since my boyfriend was busy with the turkey and other things…they were so easy and very good! I took them off the skewers and stuck them with toothpicks.  I got the roasted garlic and rosemary pumpkin hummus recipe here.   I made more labels, also inspired by the TomKat Studio post.

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I got a crockpot mulled cider recipe here.  It was so good and smelled even better! I also found this cute Pilgrim Rum picture online and swapped it out for the Bacardi Gold label…I didn’t want to make the cider alcoholic, so if somebody wanted it to be, they could just add as much rum as they wanted…and had cinnamon sticks as the stirs. 🙂

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And finally, I bought a couple chargers and a few candles at Michael’s and decorated them with some leftover twine.  My boyfriend really likes to go all out with things (for better or for worse, haha!) so his turkey was no exception.  We got a fresh turkey from the local Tewes Farm and did a dry brine on it for two days.  Then he wrapped it in bacon on Friday night and slow-roasted it at about 225 degrees for over 12 hours.  He had to get up every few hours to baste it.

IMG_3352If you can’t tell from these pics, it definitely turned out delicious. The only problem was that with the bacon fat in the turkey drippings, the homemade gravy didn’t really turn out. It tasted good, but the consistency was sort of clumpy.  When we make the turkey again on Thanksgiving for my family, we’re not doing the bacon!

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Last but not least, we held out First Annual Friendsgiving Pie-Off.  There were five entries.  I attempted to make some gluten-free, low carb “crustless pumpkin pies” in cupcake cups…Ugh! Haha.  I don’t recommend it (not that I thought they’d turn out great).

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We got this medal online for $5 with free engraving, plus shipping. Not bad!! IMG_3293 IMG_6981

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Overall it was really fun.  We are looking forward to doing it all again next year! 🙂

Thanksgiving decor, pt. 1

I hope everyone had a happy Halloween!  I can’t believe it’s already November. Halloween was uneventful for me this year. There wasn’t a trace of Halloween present in my office, I had no costume, I attended no Halloween events or parties, and did not have one drop of candy. I did, however, decide at about 10 pm that evening to pull my old dog Jenny’s Old Navy bumblebee costume out of storage and put it on my dog Ella just long enough to point and laugh at her and get a picture…it’s so funny how sad and catatonic dogs get when you put them in a costume….lucky for her, she was only in it for a couple of minutes:

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Despite my deep, burning desire for a reclaimed wood dining table, I figured I wasn’t going to throw down $1000 or more on a new dining room table any time soon, but at the same time, our small blonde wood 4-person table was too small for the space, looked a little too yellow in that room, and wouldn’t get us through the holiday season.  I ended up getting the Ikea Bjursta table in black brown.  At $250, and seating for up to ten people with the leaves inserted, it is a bargain.  I also picked up some Ikea Soaré placemats since they are cheap and very fall-ish.

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We are having a “Friendsgiving” on the Saturday before Thanksgiving and then having some of my family over for Thanksgiving, so a decent table was a must.  We had 6 chairs already that matched our small table, so we’re holding on to those for the time being.  The cost of chairs can add up, especially when you want 6-10. We also really can’t decide on a style of chair…SO, in the mean time, we will just use the ones we have.

I’ve also been picking up a few decor items at Homegoods lately. AHHH I love that store! Everything is so cheap. I got a couple leaf dishes and apothecary jars on my last visit. I really don’t know why you’d go to a department store and buy an apothecary jar for $35 when they always have the exact same ones at Homegoods for $12.   This is my first year accumulating fall/Thanksgiving decor…hopefully in a few years I’ll have enough for a decently decorated house!

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One thing I’ve seen a lot of on the PInterestsphere is fall and Thanksgiving-themed banners, such as these and this one and this one.  Back in the day when I thought that I might possibly enjoy scrapbooking, I accumulated quite a bit of crafty stuff – papers, lettering, etc.  I went to Michael’s and got some large letter stencils, glue sticks and some jute twine and for just a few dollars made a banner (well, banners) with the items I already had.

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It was fun and easy to make! I was having flashbacks to Kindergarten with my construction paper and glue sticks.  I made a template from some green card stock and pretty much went from there.  I chose the colors, layout and size based on whatever I had lying around.

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THE “Holiday Season” and Modern Halloween Decor

I am back!!! Wow it’s been a long time since I’ve posted.  Summer was fun and busy, yet devoid of any notable shopping purchases or interiors projects – so no posts.  I hope everyone had a wonderful Summer!

So first off let me start by telling you how special this “Holiday Season” is to me.  BTW, I defined “Holiday Season” as pretty much October 1 through January 1 – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve – we’ve also got Hanukkah, Kwanzaa….and if you’re silly and love Seinfeld like me, let’s go ahead and throw Festivus in there 🙂 OH and for my Italian family we cannot forget the Feast of Saint Martin (November 11th – a.k.a. Veteran’s Day) and my boyfriend and me will be celebrating our birthday on November 1 (four years!!).  Some shopping enthusiasts at this point may even consider Black Friday a holiday by its own rite.

To make a long story short, there are a lot of holidays and things to be celebrated during this period. What makes it even more special for me is that this is the first time in many years that it will be a relaxed, fun, and happy time for me.  2007 wasn’t fun for many reason. By 2008, I was in law school, so this time of year, every year, was marked by classes really ramping up, the beginning of buckling down on papers I had to write and exams I had to study for, and exams…this past year, none of December was a break, as I finished my class stuff by Thanksgiving (managed to schedule classes in the fall that didn’t have exams, only papers) and by the day after Thanksgiving I hit the ground running from then until the end of February with studying for the bar exam.  On Christmas Day last year, I went out for a brief period for dinner but ended up spending most of the day by myself studying. Since I was working full time in a situation where most people study for the bar exam full time, I needed all the free time I could get. It sucked!

Since I haven’t had a holiday season with no school or other big stressors since 2006 (7 years!!!), I am pretty excited about this one. This time of year in Ohio is time to switch to wearing scarves and boots and break out all the smelly candles I can handle – decorate the apartment and keep the Food Network running constantly. I don’t know why, but fall and winter make me want to cook and eat and think about cooking all the time.

I decided to celebrate my freedom this season by decorating for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I’ve got my Holidays Board on Pinterest, and a Michael’s just opened by my house. Whoop!  Ideally some day I will have a fireplace with a mantel, but for now I do not.  My boyfriend hung an Ikea Lack floating wall shelf in our living room above the TV as the main focal point, and for the time being it’s our makeshift fireplace mantel. Since we’re 16 stories up, carving pumpkins to put outside wasn’t really a great idea, so I got some artificial pumpkins at Michael’s.  I don’t know who this “Michael” fellow is, but my god he loves glitter…I got a few shades of Martha Stewart glitter as well. Why? I wasn’t sure when I got it but I do love me some glitter.

I also got some black feather boa’s to use as Halloween “garland” and a few other items such as a ceramic owl (I AM OBSESSED WITH OWLS!!) and some resin skeleton parts.  I tried to stick with all reusable items so I can start to build a collection of Halloween decorations to use from year to year.  It doesn’t take more than one measly trip to Michael’s to realize you have only started to collect decor but have already spent $150 or more dollars.  I DID give in a little – I got some tiny pumpkins from Trader Joe’s for 69 cents a piece.

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Independence Day Weekend ~

I had a good weekend with friends – July 4th falling on a Thursday means that Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday quickly turn into a four day-long Independence Day marathon. As I sit here on Sunday night at almost midnight, I can’t help but think about where I was this time last year.  I was laying in bed with my dog Jenny, knowing that it was my last night with her.  I stayed home that week while my boyfriend was out of town because Jenny did not have a lot of time, and I sat out on my balcony on the fourth, watching what felt like 100 different fireworks shows going on north, east and west.  As I sat there alone with my dog, watching the fireworks, it was peaceful but sad. I knew I was spending it alone just because of the fact that I’d be losing her soon.

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This year we dropped our outdoor concert plans because of the rain, and friends came over to our house instead.  We all sat out on the balcony together and watched the very same spectacular array of fireworks once again.  My squirmy, lively dog Ella, my boyfriend, and our friends were all sitting on the balcony and had a wonderful time. I miss Jenny so much, and I think about her every day.  Luckily, life has been the best it has been in many years at this point, so it made me a little emotional to think about how I went through some tough things in the past couple of years and how much better everything is now…

Thursday we’re going to New Orleans with some friends and I cannot wait! I have not been there since 2005…it’s crazy to me that 2005 was eight years ago. Time flies!

 

 

 

 

 

goodbye, Spring….hello, Summer!!!!!!

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Hello, everyone! Yes, I am still around. It’s been a GREAT Spring….After a long, painful winter of bar study, bar exam, and waiting, I found out a passed…got a job, and spent the Spring unwinding and trying to enjoy life once again.  That transition, however welcome it may be, certainly doesn’t happen overnight!  Every weekend’s been jam-packed with things to do, even when I try to slow down.

So I’ve got a vacation coming up – New Orleans….I haven’t been on vacation in a long time…I haven’t been in a vacation that lasted more than two days…in Oh, six years.  SO YEAH I AM EXCITED!!! To celebrate I got a few things, including this L Space Bikini from (top here and bottoms here) and these Elan linen pants from Everything But Water. I LOVE THAT PLACE!!! ….although I WOULD like them to add a reviews/comments section on their website like they have on say, Piperlime or Gap.  It would really help me with sizing and fit-related comments.

Soooooo I opted for the “full coverage” bottoms and let me tell you I would NOT want to wear the “brazilian” cut because these babies are skimpy enough as it is!  The pants looked large and flowy so I got a small and basically it was so tight I had to get a large and really even an Extra Large probably would’ve sufficed.  I wear a 2 or 4 pant so these sorts of sizing quirks should be on their website!

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I’ve also been running and doing hot yoga, although neither as much as I should.  After this past winter I’ve really been enjoying the down time.  I DID invest in some new workout clothes to help motivate me…it helps!
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The first night we found ourselves with nice weather for balcony dinner you bet your ass that’s what we did…I got these long plates from CB2, awesome for tacos, among other things….
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I graduated!!!  Well, actually I’ve been finished since December, but let me tell you, the ceremony was WAY more fun having known I had a job and a law license.

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I read that mirrored-lens aviators are SO HOT RIGHT NOW, and so I got some cheap-o ones at a mall kiosk in silver and some other fun colors.  I am loving them way too much and of course the lenses are already getting crappy…I just may have to pick out a nicer pair to get.  My boyfriend just got these from Oakley and I am super jealous…

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Have you been to a bar/art studio whatever you call it?  I don’t know what to call them..basically you go with a group of friends, drink wine or beer and sit on a stool with a canvas and follow the instructor’s step by step instructions to paint a picture.  It was super fun!  The one we went to just opened in Over the Rhine, it’s called Cheers to Art. I know there are other ones around my city such as Paint by the Glass…if you have one in your area you should really try it out! It’s a nice change of pace from the usual bar/club/restaurant scene.

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We hit up a Reds game and I decided to get into the Cincinnati Reds spirit with a t-shirt from Old Navy. I really think this is my first ever Cincinnati Reds shirt.  Being from Cincinnati that’s kind of shameful.  Oh well, I am not much of a baseball fan! It was super fun though.

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We’ve been trying to make some of the hundreds of recipes I’ve pinned on Pinterest, including this one.  Homemade pizza with ricotta, lobster, avocado, eggs, among other things….We excluded the peppers and got pre-made dough from Trader Joe’s.  It was delicious and super easy!!!

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Our pool opened so I’ve been there nonstop.  I LOVE swimming pools. I hope some day to have one of my own.  I have tried to stay out of the sun the past few years – wearing lots of hats and slathering on the sunscreen…I haven’t had a tan since summer 2006.  However, I decided this summer to give myself a self-indulgent break from that healthy habit and take in all the Vitamin D I can handle.  It was a long, dark winter and I deserve it!

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So, apparently men wearing tank tops is all the rage right now, at least it appears to be the case based on my limited exposure to grown men who play rugby…as for the rest of the male population, it’s anyone’s guess….

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