Sunday, October 23, 2011

Heading Over ...

So just for people who don't know - Conrad is in sales and every year he has a chance to earn an incentive trip from one of the companies they sell for. It's the same trip we got to go on for Hawaii, Dominican and Colorado ... so this year it was Ireland. They handle everything - and most of our days are planned out. We do have free time, but they also plan a lot and they do everything right. They put together an AMAZING trip. In order to see and do everything they have us do, we would have to do some crazy research before traveling. They really make sure we experience whatever place we are in!

So we left at 1PM on Friday the 14th. About an hour before we left, my brother called with some stuff. I just refused to let it ruin my trip. So - I turned the phone off and it never really came back on (maybe once when we landed in Newark). I discovered being disconnected was REALLY freeing. Now I turn my phone off every night, and when I nap and when I don't need it. There is no need to be constantly connected and besides, if you are, people can find you. LOL

So we went to the airport and I decided I did NOT need my meds to get from Houston to Newark. It was 3 hours to NJ and that is about my max before I start freaking out. HATE TO FLY. Well that was a mistake cause it was a bumpy flight! But we were on a 777 which makes EVERYTHING better! It was such a big, luxorious plane and they had SO many movies to choose from. I watched Something Borrowed and Hangover II and loved both of them.

When we got to Newark, Conrad made me take my meds and BOY did they help. They said the flight was 7 hours, but it wasn't- it was 5.5 and it was GREAT. I felt like I had the gift of time or something. It wasn't bumpy - we were in a 757 which sucked, it was tiny - but they had games and stuff you could play on the screens in front of you. I didn't sleep, I was so excited ... so I just played my games until we landed.

We were picked up at the airport and it was about an hour ride from Dublin into County Wicklow where the Druids Glen hotel was. I was pretty much trying not to fall asleep on the way. We got there, the room wasn't ready but they had a sitting room ready for us with chocolate croissants and tea/coffee and we hung out there until they were ready for us and of course ... we had to do the obligatory hotel photo as soon as we checked in!

We are TIRED!

Well it was noon Saturday when we checked in (6AM Texas time - and we had been going since 6AM the day before when we woke up) - so we decided to lay down before the big welcome reception at 6. We slept for 5.5 hours! LOL - and I don't know it was a good idea to lay down or not. We were so sluggish! But we got up, got dressed and headed down.

They had a Guinness pouring station and Conrad just helped himself. This is his first beer and he had 5 more, LOL!!!

Dinner that night was rack of lamb - but I don't really "do" lamb and people who didn't got chicken. It was very good and I did try Conrad's lamb. Tasted like roast or steak to me. But ... I'm still glad I got the chicken. We headed out of there at about 10PM and hit the sack. We were exhausted. The next day was Sunday and we had a team building event called the Celtic Challenge and it started at 9AM - so we had to have plenty of sleep!

Oh and dessert that night was something called Banofi. We had never heard of it before- google it - it's like this caramel, banana, whipped cream thing. In Ireland whipped cream is NOT sweet. Ever. It was weird, but the Banofi was SO sweet, you sort of needed the whipped cream to not be sweet. It was delicious. We were all raving about it!


Friday, October 21, 2011

Back From: IRELAND!


We have returned from Ireland! We had a weeklong vacation there and it was JUST what the doctor ordered! I had been under a ton of stress - and to be able to turn off the phone, the computer, the TV was HEAVEN. Those Europeans know how to live! They eat better, they walk everywhere, they have crappy television ... it was awesome. I have had extreme tummy trouble since my gallbladder surgery but in Europe, I had NO problems. They eat very differently than we do. I wasn't ever hungry, never craved junk food and had two of the BEST bowls of soup I ever had in my LIFE.

I intend to post some pics and tell you all about it coming up. Today and MAYBE tomorrow is going to be used to just sleep and try to get back on schedule. We took very little in terms of clothing, really ... but we had to take layers as it was very very cold there - and it rained. So you wear a shirt and sweater, and jacket and scarf - so we didn't take a ton, but we wore what we took multiple times! So the next day or so is laundry, laundry!

We enjoyed really great food and met some NICE people. I think we got the true Irish experience and thanks to some informative tour guides, we got a LOT of information such as did you know, red haired people aren't REALLY Irish?! No - Irish are dark haired people, which now makes since to me. My mom has told me my whole life that her dad's side of the family, the Doran's were Irish. My granddad had a head full of black hair - and my mom's, my aunts and mine are all very very dark as well. I never could understand how we were Irish, if we had such dark hair. Turns out, we are! I also found our family history in this old celtic shop - turns out the Dorans were some of the first families documented in Ireland. We go back a long, long way ... and it was CRAZY to get information on that. I have never been able to go into a shop like that and see the Doran family history. You see every one else, you know like: Reilys, O'Connells,Fitzpatricks, Flannigans, etc ... you NEVER see Doran. Not here. But in Ireland, it's everywhere. VERY interesting and of course I'll share it all with you and my family as well. Coming up!

We had an amazing time! We were sad to leave, cause it DID feel very much like home for me (maybe that's built into the genes?), but also it was good to get back here too. Adjusting TO the time change was hard, but getting home and readjusting is easier!

I am so grateful we had the opportunity to go - and we had a really wondeful time. We're lucky people that Conrad has a chance to earn these trips. I have thanked him several times for the hard work that sent us there. Pics to follow as soon as I recover!


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Secrets of a Design Stylist

Have you seen this show on HGTV? Emily Henderson was a Design Star winner ... and she got her own show. I think it's in its second season now and I love it. I DVR it and watch it every week. I can't wait until she has enough episodes so that they play them more than once a week!

Her "deal" is she takes the people in her design studio and has them review items, pick their favorites and tell her why. It's especially fun to see her do this with couples, because she has to combine the design styles of the two. So what she will do  is lay out 10 pictures of different couches. It could be one that's red, one tufted, one sectional, one leather, one victorian, etc ... and the people say "Oh I like the tufted sofa, because it's traditional, but I don't like the brown color ... I like the red of this other couch, it's so fun!" ...

She usually has them also pick out a favorite fabric and sometimes she'll have items there to choose from as well ... like plates, or pottery or books or something. They usually get three choices. Then she will take their choices and come back to them and say, "Ok I've reviewed everything you picked ... Mrs. Brown you are contemporary hippie and Mr. Brown you are traditional bachelor pad ... and so together you are Contemporary Hippie Bachelor. Then she'll design their room as such.

I really, really like it ...

I designed to diagnose myself and I came up with Traditional Whimsical Thrift.

Don't you think so ?? I totally DO!


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Shirt ReVamp

I have the cutest white peasant-type shirt. It's not ironed, sorry, but it's REALLY cute on! The only problem is, it's white ... so it's getting dingy and I am getting those yellow deodorant rings UGH!!! HATE THAT! (you do know you can soak them in vinegar and it removes the rings, right? But ... I was tired of the white as well) It's a T shirt material too - so super comfy!

So the solution was, to dye it, cause I want to keep it! Say goodbye to the white!

I went out into the garage and grabbed one of Conrad's buckets - filled it with HOT HOT water- and dumped in a packet of RIT dye. I decided to try to go with a navy blue.

Here is the end result - a blue shirt! This shirt REALLY needs to be ironed, I realize it looks like crappola ... but I did get a little result I was NOT expecting but that I really love!

The white stitching on the shirt did not absorb any dye - not anywhere on the shirt, so it gives it a real denim effect and I LOVE it. I can't wait to iron and wear it! I just wanted to show that when something is sort of used up, it doesn't HAVE to be. I've always used dye to revive my clothes, especially if I still love them. While this was going on I got a second bucket from the garage and dyed two pairs of black capris ... they were getting sort of gray and washed out, and I wanted them jet black again. So I saved THREE pieces of clothing and I'm really happy about it!

I suppose if you found something at a thrift store, or a garage sale and you didn't LOVE the color or the buttons or the sleeves, you could do something about it. I am really trying to learn to use up everything I have and if I get tired of it, just change it up! I am TRYING to save money and get this house built!


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Purging - Part Deux

As part of the purging ... I went through the medicine cabinet. It had not escaped my notice that our little tray we keep it in was becoming WAY full - and I was piling things one on top of the other.

So I was taking out the trash in the bathroom and I thought ... hmmmm... wonder if I should quickly go through the medicine "cabinet" and see what's what.

HERE is what we ended up throwing away - because it was ALL expired.

HOW ridiculous was this? No wonder I sometimes feel like we are living among piles of junk. We combined two households and CLEARLY we had two of everything and a lot expired stuff to boot.

The worst? The WORST made me laugh!

THIS is a bottle of aspirin Mr. CONRAD had, NOT ME, that EXPIRED in December of 2001. That means ... it is almost ten years gone bad and he probably bought in 1999 - that is CRAZY.

I am VERY glad I have started this purging process. I know it sounds nuts, but I feel good knowing that all the medicine we have is good and that the bathroom is WAY clean. We probably should have done purging when I moved in and we combined everything ... we'll have to call the garbage man and have him bring one of those dumpsters they put in your driveway!


Thursday, October 13, 2011


Ah! A very happy post ... for me anyway!

So lately there has been so much going on with me. All family related (between mine and Conrad's) and probably 70% brother related. His situation went from bad to really bad to horribly horribly worse ... and came to a head last week. When said situation was over - or the problem of the moment was over (the situation is not over), I looked around and realized my house was a mess. I don't have rats having a party in the kitchen or anything, but it was dusty and disorganized and I had piles of things everywhere. I read somewhere a long time ago that what your house and the things around you look like - is a reflection of where your head and your life is. So when I looked around I saw a chatoic mess ... and I am NOT like that naturally. I am neat, clean and organized. I keep a nice house. I have pride in my house and in my life, but lately no ... and my head? My head a big mess!

My brother is no longer in Austin. As of this exact minute I don't know where he is. It has taken me a VERY long time to be able to say I love my siblings very much, but loving them has nothing to do with taking care of them. I don't make enough money to take care of them. I shouldn't have to take care of them. It's not my responsibility to take care of them. I am VERY sad about the situations they find themselves in. My heart hurts everyday about that ... but I am starting to get angry. I am mad that my parents can't ... live the lives they should be at this stage in their life. I am mad that they and I, am made to feel guilty (probably self inflicted) that we are doing better than they are. I am mad that they constantly come to me for support and money and whatever else. I am starting to get angry about they way they treat ME. Like a revolving bank. Like a parent. Like the things I want and need are not important - as long as I get them back on their feet.

So I look around me and I realize that my head hurts, my heart races, my heart palpitates, I cry a lot ... I get lumps and bumps everywhere. I'm depressed. I'm sad. I lose weight, I gain weight ... all self inflected and my house isn't doing much better. For some reason this really inspired me and I decided NO MORE - the junk was headed out. Time to clean!

You want to see what the inside of my head looked like? A lot like my cabinet!

A MESS!!! Look at that ... stuff from my pantry. Dishes everywhere ... it's fall, I wanted to bake the other day but I did NOT want to rummage through the cabinet to find what I needed, so ... no baking. Well, no more! I sat down and took about 30 minutes and pulled it all out onto the floow. I figured out what was going to be kept, where it would be kept ... what was trash and what was for the donate pile. I found SIX round cake pans. SIX.

My cabinets and my head now look like this:

... and now that they look like this I found plenty of room for my new gifted pizza stone and my new roasting pieces ... I found ALL my baking things and a purple Pyrex casserole dish I have been looking for forever ... all the food was moved back into the pantry where it belongs ... and slowly ... I am making my way around the house.

I am still REALLY sad about what all is going on, but I have got to get myself under control and this is the first step.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I think I had mentioned before I REALLY wanted a pizza stone ... from Pampered Chef. They are pretty expensive so I never ordered one before. I go to the PC parties all the time, but when it comes time for ordering, I always go with 8 small things instead of 1 big thing. Probably that "I want more for my money thing"- but really, I've ALWAYS wanted one! When my birthday rolled around I decided to bite the bullet and get me one. THEN some stuff with my brother happened ... and I had to go to Austin and well, there wasn't much extra money to be had.

I mentioned it to Kelley and she said uh, I have one and I never use it. You can totally have it ... and I said No No - that's ok and she said really, it's going to waste, please take it. So I said well at least let me pay you for it and she said absolutely not.

A few weeks later I had to go by her house, and she had it ready and waiting for me. YAY!

and while I was there ... she loaded me up with another two pieces! Never Used!

I KNOW, how sweet was that! What are those two pieces you ask? Well ... two casserole dishes for SURE ... and a ROASTER, when you put the little one on top of the big one!

I was so happy .... and it was VERY generous of her. She wouldn't take my money --- but I did take her stuff! HA!

Now ... where to put them? Another post on that soon!


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Cheap Facials - Olay Skin Smoothing Scrub Cream

I met my friend Tracy about ten years ago. We traveled a lot together on the FLW tour and various Wal-Mart events, etc -- and we are a lot alike and clicked immediately. One of our favorite things to do on the road, or at home, was hit the spa. I was a huge massage fan but Tracy never was. She was a facial girl. I didn't really get it because a massage- I mean aromatheraoy, foot rubs, etc ... who would turn that down? Tracy did!

I talked with her a few times about it ... trying to encourage her to come over to my dark side ... and she used to laugh at me and say wait til you turn 30! (I was 26 when we met) --- and she was just a few years older, but she promised me my skin would change later on.

Years went on and one day, maybe 3 years ago, I decided to buy a spa package ... massage, facial, pedicure, etc ... and have an entirely relaxing spa day. I did and I loved it. I got home, went to change into my jammies so the entire day was relaxing - I glanced in the bathroom mirror and WOAH NELLY!

I looked again - and I looked, seriously, 5 years younger. My skin was clean, tight, shiny, sort of pink and dewy.... not a line in sight. I was such a supermodel. How could Conrad be so lucky to have ME? I could NOT believe it and from then on, at about age 33, I was a facial convert. Now adays I get maybe two a year. I always get one in the winter (February ish) because as much as I love cool weather, my entire body gets itchy and flaky ... and I need help after winter ends ... and I usually also get one during the summer, because my pores get all clogged up since it's so hot and humid here. Facials aren't cheap ... I try to be strategic about it.

My friend Kelley is into the microdermabrasion and I probably eventually will be too ... but if you need something to just pick yourself up once a week or even everyday ... and your facial soap, cleanser, whatever is just not doing it for you, then HERE YOU GO.

I recently read a magazine which was reviewing facial products and I found one and decided to try it. They had ones for anti aging, acne etc ... they said this was one was to retain youthful radiance ... I decided to bite. It was $6 at Wal-Mart so why not?

Hello Olay Skin Smoothing Cream Scrub! This little thing is like a facial everyday! I tried it and loved it. It does have the tiny little exfoliating beads but it also has Salicylic Acid and that's good stuff! It tingles and takes away all my little imperfections. I KNOW. You didn't know I had any imperfections well ... maybe I don't - but I won't get any using this.

I have read some reviews where some people have to use it once or twice a week only. I think it just depends on how the acid feels on your face. It sort of burns me if it gets on my lips ... It probably can be very drying. For me, daily has been ok. I do use a Mary Kay mositurizer which works great for me - and maybe that's why I haven't dried out, but this scrub cleanser I am really digging. I use it every morning to start the day all tingly and radiant. For me, it feels like it's just sort of removing that layer of dead skin which makes me flake and sort of ... run down looking.

Suddenly for 6 bucks I am feeling like that day I looked in the mirror and said WOAH hello 2003! ....

I encourage you to give it a try!


Friday, October 7, 2011

Saving Money

I was just so excited about this, I had to post. It's pretty random, but whatever ...

It is Customer Service week, so we've been treated a lot this week- even with an ice cream social! Lunch twice!

* Monday they brought in pizza.

* Tuesday I brought in my roast leftovers - I made my grandma's roast. Haven't tasted it in 15 years, since she died! It was such a treat.

*Wednesday they took us out to Cyclone Anaya's which is one of my FAV places.

*Thursday Taco Cabana gave me a free meal.

It's not my birthday, but TC sent me a free meal/birthday coupon. They DIDN'T send me one on my real birthday so I didn't feel bad about cashing it. I got a free flauta meal!!!

So this week I have LITERALLY not spent a penny on lunch. Not until today anyway ... but I mean, SERIOUSLY for a person who buys lunch everyday, to buy it only once is like big time stuff!

I could not be more proud!


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Country Bumpkin- Tomball, Texas

So we found a new little haunt which actually isn't new at all. I think it's been around awhile. It's back off Telge Rd.- sort of out of the way, in an old house. You would have to know where it was OR have someone tell you. I had someone tell me.

Country Bumpkins is only open towards the end of the week and the weekend. So you have to get there while you can! It's run by an older couple and they cook GOOOOOOD. If you've ever been here to visit me or you know me - it's very much like Mel's Country Cafe, but it's closer to our house.

They have FANTASTIC hamburgers and cheese fries. YAY!

It's really quaint on the inside and pretty small - but I totally love it. You can see the menu board on the wall below ... and you order at the counter that sticks out. The counter is attached to the kitchen, so they make everything right there. It's fabulous! They also have this half BBQ/half burger sandwich. It's a burger with some shredded BBQ on top. I've had it. It's good and very messy! ... and very inventive.

.... and I took this pic of the Coke benches and rocker for my SIL - to tease her. At some point, people started giving her Coca Cola stuff- even a set of Coca Cola china. So now anytime we see Coca Cola stuff, Conrad says we should get it for her and then we laugh. I think she likes it fine, but she doesn't LOVE it and she's not a collector. So I took this pic to show her and then Conrad said well actually, these are pretty cool. She'd proabably like them. That's true. They are very cool. I am loving that rocker. It's really nice ... I'd like to have one for the new house.

If you are ever in Tomball, stop by this place. It's great!


Monday, October 3, 2011

Days 3 and 4 - Pineville, SC

No pics for this post! SORRY

Day 3 was spent at home, we just read and hung out - I had a nap. We watched college football and the Food Network. We had some Totino's pizza for lunch which was good. My mom cooks them extra crispy. Delicious! Then that evening we went back to Moncks Corner to the bowling alley - where they have karaoke set up in the bar area. It was really fun. My mom and Brian had a ton of their friends show up. Brian did good - and some crazy couple got up and sang Rock Lobster and made my ears bleed. My mom had a friend show up and he was SERIOUS BUSINESS about his singing and did well. It was fun. We got home really late ... and I slept like a log.

Day 4 was Sunday and my mom's birthday. I gave her present to her. We ate lunch at the house and then headed to "town" that evening for dinner at Chili's and I had to run over to the outlet mall. This wasn't really planned since town is far away ... but at the last minute we decided to. Conrad is not a Gamecocks fan and especially not now that Texas A&M has changed to the SEC- but he does think the shirts that say COCKS are funny. So we ran over to the mall, which was the only place we could think of to go, and found one that was pretty close. He was thrilled with it and I'm sure he'll be wearing it and embarassing me this weekend! He said technically A&M is not SEC until next year, so he can sport it proudly for now. No doubt I'll be having to live with this one for a looong time.

Monday morning I came home and washed clothes and got ready for the week.... and a long week it was! I had a really good time though and it's always nice to see Mom and Brian and the doggies! It's alway sad to leave ... and I wish I could have seen more of my friends and family but it doesn't always work out that way. Maybe next time!


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Day 2- Moncks Corner, SC

Day 2 was fun too!

First we went to the Pink Oleander which is a little vintage shop in Moncks Corner. I had seen their website and my mom knew about them too. So we stopped in there and had fun - just looking around, seeing all the things my grandma used to have and trying on fun hats. My mom always wants me to do that!

Pretty hat! It's black- hard to see.

Then we were off to lunch! Mom said she had heard about a diner called Howard's ... and she wanted to go. I thought it might be new, but NOPE, it had been there 50 YEARS !!!  The owner still works there, she's 74 and she bakes all the delicious pies.

I had the veggie plate. You know I live with the veggie hater AND they had speckled butter beans on the menu, so the choice was made for me. It was DELICIOUS and I chased it down with the coconut custard pie.

Then we headed home, all stuffed and ... ready for a nap. But then we stopped at a place called the Treasure Barn and I got my BIRD DISH which I love. It was $4 and all I had was a 20, so Brian had to buy it for me, but I LOVED it and I WANTED it so bad!!! ... and it made it home in one piece and now lives on my coffee table.

Then finally that evening ... we were back at the Alpine and as much as I should have ordered something different - just cause I don't live there. I didn't. I got the patty melt again - I am in love with it.

But this time, I went with the pine chips!!!

I happily snarfed down my food, looked at the Alabama elephant and went home. Successful day!