Saturday, March 31, 2012

Catching Up

After like 2 entire weeks of being sick, I am FINALLY starting to feel human again.  I never realized that being able to go about my day without feeling like I was going to throw up was so frickin' awesome, but it is.  IT IS.

All I really want to do is go lay outside in the sun and read, or something equally chill, but thanks to feeling so awful for the past 8273 years (or 2 weeks, whichever comes first), I am SO behind on everything. I have like fifty million unread emails, a ginormous pile of lingerie and stuff that I'm supposed to review for EdenFantasys, a couple of blog review/giveaways that I was supposed to post like 50 years ago, a pile of laundry you could get lost in, and some seriously funky food in my fridge. Oh, and Google Reader has been at 1000+ unread posts for weeks now, even though I keep trying to catch up.

Getting sick blows, don't do it.

Anyway, if I owe you an email, review, or firstborn child, or you're just generally missing my face since I've been so MIA, consider this my humble apology and know I'm working on it.

Unless I go back to that laying in the sun and reading idea.  That sounded pretty sweet.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

101 in 1001 comes to an end!

March 28th (which is also my mom's birthday) marks the end of my 2nd "101 things in 1001 days" list. If you're not familiar with the concept, it's pretty much what it sounds like- you make a list of 101 things you'd like to do within 1001 days. The time limit means you have to pick things that are fairly reasonable to accomplish. 

I didn't even come close to completing this list, for a variety of reasons. One big one was that I expected to be in Florida for the entire duration of the 1000 days, but instead I spent almost 2 years of it in Missouri, which made a lot of goals impossible to cross off.  Others don't have a good reason behind not doing them, it just didn't happen.  Here's my list with a few notes.  The items in bold are the ones that were completed, those in italics were at least partially done. 

 Start Date   7/1/2009  
 End Date 3/28/2012
Completed:  37/101. (Partial credit: 19 )

1. Try 100 new foods or drinks- I lost track somewhere around 65, but I am pretty sure that I did hit 100 over the 1001 days, so I'm calling this one a win. 
2. Update my drivers license address (Oops, still haven't done this.  Shhh, don't tell.)
3. Buy hot sauce from Tijuana Flatts (Can't do since it's in FL and I'm not!)
4. Take 100 self- portraits I'm not really sure if I did this or not.  I'm sure I took plenty of photos of myself, but I didn't add them all to the Flickr album I set up for it like I planned, and to be honest I just don't have the energy to go through and confirm if I really completed this or not, so I'm leaving it as partial credit.
5. Open a new bank account (Sun Trust sucks!) *Complete 1/14/10*
6. Do 10 scrapbook pages
7. Complete 10 of the old "26 Things" projects
8. Rewrite the "100 things about me" for my website- *Complete!*
9. Collect photos of 100 Hidden Mickeys (3/100)
10. Participate in NaNoWriMo again- Completed Nov28, 2009, 2010 and 2011
11. Collect handwritten recipes from 20 friends to put together a book
12. Get a tattoo
13. Go to the main library branch downtown (Again, in FL when I'm not.)
14. Play The Sims 3 (12/2011)
15. Make a list of 100 things that make me happy
16. Get a new cell phone *Complete!*
17. Take a month of Suhaila classes online
18. Take a dance class
19. Visit one of the Disney water parks- *Complete!* 9/10/09, went to typhoon lagoon and Blizzard Beach while we were able to get in free!
20. Go parasailing again (for free, yay! Thanks, Sammy Duvall!) Complete 4/2010!
21. Eat at 3 Disney table service restaurants I haven't eaten at before  Kouzzina 9/16/09 , Wolfgang Puck Cafe on 9/17/09,
22. Get a debit card for my old bank account
23. Earn $100 online (surveys, mypoints, mturk, etc.) in one month- Woo, freelancing!
24. Complete a dewey decimal challenge (Read one book from each Dewey Century (000-999) (300's and 900's are done)
25. Try two new drinks at Starbucks 
26. Wash my car and vacuum out the inside
27. See ten movies in the theater
    1. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince 7/14/09
    2. Julie & Julia 8/09
    3. Alice In Wonderland 3/10
28. Redesign my website
29. Get my desktop computer to FL so I can do things like #14 and #28
30. Give "Catch 22" another try.
31. Either do 100 sketches, or fill my current sketchbook
32. Purchase a new moleskin notebook
33. Finally put together a functional notebook for work, instead of just sticking a bunch of loose papers in my moleskin!
34. Catch up, or at least leave a comment to say hi to, at least 100 of my facebook or myspace friends, preferably people I have fallen out of touch with.35. Treat myself to a silly simple pleasure, like a new lipstick or magazine, at least 5 times. (I suck at actually spending $ on myself!) 1. apple cinnamon candle 2. Vogue (mmm!) 3. e.l.f. order 4. Zoobaby car sticker 5. Heart suitcase pin 
36. Open a savings account, even if there is hardly anything in it *COMPLETE!  1/14/2010, and it has ten whole dollars in it!*
37. Rearrange/organize/whatever my closet until I am actually pleased with it
38. Write morning pages every day for a week, at least 12 times
39. See all 3 Disney fireworks shows within a year
Illuminations 8/09
40. Go up in the "Characters in flight" balloon
41. Learn to drive a stick shift
42. Acquire a fun, floaty summer dress
43. Private! :)
44. Buy/get cd's from at least 5 local bands I enjoy
    1. Lost in Chaos, ordered online 7/14/09
    2. JPRB 1/2010
    3. Ambertone 3/2010 (Okay, I already had one copy, but I needed a backup, and this one is signed!)
45. Do ten random acts of kindness (3/10)
46. Resubscribe to one of the magazines I used to read. It's like junk food for my brain!-Complete!- Used some of my Amazon gift certificates, because they were having a $5 off sale!  9/09
47. Go to the beach at least 10 times
48. Update my resume
49. Cook 10 meals that require actual recipes/effort
50. Experience 3 Disney attractions I've never done (there are quite a few!)
     1. Updated Hall of Presidents 9/9/09
51. Ask my mom to help me put together a basic family tree (she is one of 18 kids, it's a big family, y'all!)
52. Get copies of some family photos I like, especially a couple of old ones of my dad
53. Have at least one month where I can pay rent on time with no worries at all-  Complete Feb 2010- I actually even paid it on the 1st!
54. Acquire a denim skirt that actually looks good on me
55. Try a new product from Lush  *Complete!*
( New products tried include Seanik, Dark Angels, a hair treatment I can't remember the name of,    Veganese conditioner, Tea Tree toner and Gorgeous moisturizer)

56. Make my own soup
57. Make my own salsa
58. Do 3 things to the apartment that make it feel a little more like home- *Complete!* I finally hung up my Sari above my bed, and put part of my old postcard collection in the living room, and finally hung up the Audrey Hepburn poster!  
59. Go three straight months with no overdrafts on my bank account- Complete 12/09!  Of course, I then went negative about a billion dollars, but I did go 3 months first!
60. Drink a Lapu Lapu at the Polynesian, preferably while hanging out in a hammock on the beach!
61. Visit the new Kidani Village at AKL, so I can once again say I have explored every Disney resort- Complete 2/2010
62. Be able to do the splits again
63. Add this list to the dayzero master list
64. Get up at 9am every day for a week to see how much I can accomplish with the extra time (Answer: Not that much.)
65. Do 10 cool cast only disney activities/previews
66. Spend an entire day with no internet. (Doesn't count if I am out of town!) Complete April 2010.
67. Go to House of Blues-- Complete!  8/09
68. Re-watch all of Wonderfalls- Complete 12/09

69. Feels like I should use this # for something dirty. I've got the idea in my head, but I'll leave you wondering!
70. Reread The Alchemist- Complete!  8/09
71. Reread Still Life with Woodpecker Completed 12/10!

72. Blog about 100 books, movies, albums, products or songs that I consume over the 1001 days- 12/100
73. Make Orlando area bellydancer friends!!!
74. Go shopping with a friend and try on clothes they pick out for me, instead of the things I usually gravitate towards.
75. Cross off 10 of these items within one month
76. Make a list of 1000 places I would like to visit in my lifetime (In Progress)
77. Have three meaningful, honest conversations with people I care about
78. Totally clear out my AOL mailbox (it usually has 100-200 emails in it at any given time)- Completed Nov 2009!  It only took a day for it to get back up to 25 again, but it was nice while it lasted.
79. Spend time at the pool at least 10 times
    1. 7/15/09
    2. 3/?/10
    3. 3/31/10
80. Find out if I can still ride a bike
81. Visit three museums
82. Take a seriously girly bubble bath
83. Relax in a hot tub
84. Eat zebra domes at DAK Lodge- Complete 2/2010
85. Curl up at Wilderness Lodge with my favorite brownies and milk
86. Get my cell phone turned back on! (Holy crap, a lot of $ to come up with!) (Ok, I just got a no contract one with a different company instead, close enough!)
87. Buy some sort of lottery ticket, either the drawing or scratch-off. -*Complete* 4/2010.  Didn't win anything, boo hoo!
88. Do ten things that scare me (1- driving halfway across the country solo with cats! 2-Climbing up a giant ladder to rescue Bonocat from a tree!)
89. Choreograph something, anything!
90. Watch every James Bond film (16/22)
91. Decide on at least one tattoo design- Heart Suitcase!!
92. Work my way through The Artist's Way again, actually taking a week for each chapter, and doing everything in them.  (This will do wonders for my morning pages goals, too!)
93. Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
94 Submit something for publication- an article, a poem, anything! *Completed 6/2010, got articles published!*
95.-99. Leaving 4 spots open for future additions. It seems like just after I posted my last list, I came up with a ton of new ideas!
100. Go for a walk in the woods- Complete Summer 2010!
101. Create a Flickr set for photos of my 101 adventures, and upload at least 101 photos to it

I plan to write a new list soon, but I want to have a better idea of where I'll be before I commit to it. Otherwise, I'll try to write one that doesn't have many items I have to be in a particular place to complete. I may carry a few incomplete items from this list over to the new one, but probably not many.

Here's to next time going better!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The one where I rode in an ambulance

So, I spent pretty much my whole Tuesday night in the E.R.  It was not the most fun I've ever had, but weirdly enough, it WAS kind of fun, in a weird way.

I'd been sick most of Monday, and ended up sleeping till noon on Tuesday, getting up to give Tallulah her insulin shot, and then falling back asleep till after 6. When I woke up, I felt pretty crappy, but not THAT bad at first.  Within an hour, though, I was curled up on the bathroom floor in front of the toilet, too nauseous to even lift my head. I stayed there for maybe an hour, during which time I asked my mom to call the local Urgent Care to see if they were still open, since I've gone to one of those for a shot for nausea before when this has happened. Both of the urgent cares were closed, so I had to really decide if I could make it all the way to the hospital or not.  I finally decided to go, but I pretty quickly realized there was just plain no way I was going to make it in the back of my car. I needed to be able to actually lay down, and have somewhere convenient to throw up if necessary. I finally decided to have mom call an ambulance, since that way they could start treating me on the half hour drive to the hospital, rather than having to endure the ride in agony.

Let me tell you, BEST decision ever!  The EMTs showed up a few minutes later, and they gave me the option of trying to walk out to the ambulance or of them bringing a stretcher in, and I decided to try to walk.  I'd tried standing a few minutes before to get dressed, and fell over in a fit of dry heaves, so I didn't have high hopes, but I actually managed to make it out and into the ambulance. They strapped me onto the stretcher, stuck a heart rate monitor on my finger and some oxygen in my nose, and we were on our way.  A few minutes later the EMT inserted an IV so he could give me a drip of something for nausea. Not sure what it was, but the nurse at the hospital later told me it's what they give cancer patients that are sick from chemo. He also took several vials of my blood at the same time, so they wouldn't have to stick me again at the hospital.

I have to confess that I've always had a BIG phobia about IVs. I can deal with shots and getting blood drawn, although that did take me till around my mid 20s to grow up about. I go to acupuncture happily, so I'm pretty blase' about getting poked, and I have to give my kitty Tallulah insulin injections twice a day, so needles are an everyday thing round ahere.  But still IVs FREAKED me out.  There's just something about it being LEFT in my arm that whole time that messes with my head. It creeps me out!  But it turned out to not be that bad,  I didn't really even feel it there once it was securely in place, although my arm is a little sore today. I DID definitely feel the fluid they were pumping into me- it was cold, and as it spread from my arm throughout the rest of my system, it made my whole body cold. Even with a ton of hot blankets piled on me, I couldn't stop shaking, but that may have also been partly from shock.

I couldn't stop crying in the ambulance, I just felt so *awful*. I actually had a moment of being kind of bummed that I was totally missing my first (hopefully only!) ambulance ride because I was too sick to open my eyes much.

One interesting thing about my ambulance ride: As we were leaving my house, the EMT asked me which hospital I wanted to go to, and I gave the name of the closest one, which is about half an hour away.  The next closest hospitals are all over an hour away, and since it was rainy and dark and my mom would be following us by car, it seemed like a no brainer. However, as we got close to the hospital, the EMT radioed the hospital to tell them we were almost there, and they told him they were full and he needed to go somewhere else. He responded that he had already been in contact with them, and that they'd told him they were not accepting patients that would need to be admitted, which he was pretty sure I wouldn't be, and that he'd been given the OK to bring me in.  They kept tell him nope, we're full, you need to divert.  He finally called their admissions nurse and pretty firmly restated that no, they were NOT going to divert, he'd been given the OK to bring me in and we were already in the driveway. Whoever he talked to that time said ok, so we were good to go!  He had a bit of a sly grin when he told me that if they turned us away when we were already in the driveway, they would get a $10,000 fine. Smooth! I really need to send him a thank you note for fighting to get me in there, since my mom later told me she barely made it there in all the rain and fog, so I can't imagine how she would have made it the extra 40 miles to a different hospital!

This is going to sound funny, but getting wheeled around on a stretcher is just plain fun. I had enough of the IV medicine in my system that the pain was no longer unbearable, so I was able to kind of enjoy my little trip from the ambulance to my ER room. Probably the closest I'll ever get to how queens used to get carried around, ya know?

Injured Blue Man Being Carried On A Gurney To An Ambulance Or Into The Hospital By Two Paramedics After An Accident Or Health Problem Clipart Graphic by Leo Blanchette
What I looked like

What I felt like

Once we got to my room, the 2 EMTs helped me transfer from the stretcher to the hospital bed, and then covered me in warm blankets. I really wanted to make a joke about being tossed into bed by 2 men, but I wasn't feeling THAT good yet. They handed me over to my ER nurse, who helped me change into my hospital gown (Thankfully I got to keep my jeans on- I was SO COLD.) and took down my basic info.

Most of the next couple of hours are a blur, since I was in a haze of dizzyness and pain. My main nurse got tied up with another procedure, so I had several different nurses checking in on me, all of which were super nice. I actually started feeling a little spoiled, I don't remember the last time I had that much attention to be honest!

At some point they sent a seriously buff dude to take me to the restroom for a urine sample. Only I could be looking half dead with icky hair and tubes everywhere and probably not smelling great and still flirt with the EMT. I told him I was pretty spoiled by getting wheeled around, and he might have to just carry me to the restroom to continue to care for me in the manner to which I had become accustomed. He graciously offered to fling me over his shoulder, firefighter-style, but alas I ended up just walking instead. (BTW, getting detailed instructions on how to pee in a cup from a dude with biceps bigger than like.. something big.. is in no way awkward.)

Lots of hours passed. I heard the lady next to me who had hurt her ankle falling down stairs, the kid across from me who broke her finger fighting with her brother. (Both kids told several enthusiastic stories about past broken bones. Yet another reminder to never have children!) The last one across from me was a guy who had been drunk for a week and had consumed 2 bottles of vodka that day. He tried to leave without treatment, but they ended up talking him into staying. The poor nurse trying to go over my discharge info had to leave at one point because his family was yelling for her because he was biting himself. Good times.

Somewhere in all of that (I was there for about 5 hours) I saw the actual doctor a few times, who confirmed that my blood and urine tests came back OK, and it was probably stress/anxiety related as I guessed. He gave me a prescription for a few anti-anxiety pills (which I'm actually supposed to be on all the time, but I haven't been able to afford to go to a doctor since I had to quit my job a couple of years ago and lost my insurance.) and said to stick to a clear liquid diet (water, tea, soup broth) for a day or two to let my stomach rest. (It's now Saturday and I'm still just doing tea and soup, since I still feel pretty crappy.)

After searching half the hospital for my mom (she had been in some random place napping), she drove me home super slowly, since the fog was still obscuring the road so much she could barely see the lines most of the time. That was all kinds of fun, since I was curled up in a ball in the back seat, still feeling crappy but getting jerked around every time she slammed the brakes because she couldn't see. Add to that the fact that I have panic attacks when I have to ride in a car with someone, and it was pretty much the msot fun EVER. (except not.)

So, that was my big adventure. I've spent most of the week sleeping and drinking soup, with some reading here and there. I still feel pretty icky, but at least I'm not curled up in a heap unable to move! I still have a dot and a little bruise where my IV was (I bruise if you look at me funny), but that's my only souvenir, other than the hospital bracelet. Here's hoping I don't have to repeat any of those experiences anytime soon!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

New line of Dona products!

As if I didn't already have enough stuff on my EdenFantasys wish lists, there's a whole new line of products that have been super popular that I now feel like I HAVE to try out! The new brand is called Dona, and it includes everything from body lotion to bath products to massage oils and candles to sprays to make your sheets smell good! So far there are 17 different Dona products available at EdenFantasys, each of which comes in a variety of scents! The one tricky thing I've learned from reading reviews of the products is that each variety is named after the aphrodisiac used in it, not necessarily what it actually smells like, so your Acai lotion may not actually smell like acai. Thank goodness there are already a LOT of reviews for these products, with more going up constantly, so you can read a few before you order to figure out which scents you might like and what others thought they smelled like!

Dona lace lingerie wash - Toy cleanser
One thing I'm super excited to order is the lingerie wash! I have a ton of lingerie that is hand wash only, so I'm excited to find something made specifically for that purpose! I am super sensitive to scented laundry products, so I keep putting this in my shopping cart and taking it out, but it's only $9, so if it doesn't work out it's not the end of the world.  If I find I can use it without sneezing, I'll be SO happy! Maybe I'll finally give in and order one in my next order. Goji berry, mangosteen or camu camu?

Dona sensual chromotherapy bath treatment - Bath oil
The one Dona item I have already ordered is the Chromotherapy Bath Treatment.  It's a bath oil based on the idea that being exposed to certain colors can alter your mood. I ordered the Pomegranate scent, which is red, which is supposed to promote positive energy and fight fatigue, both things I can always use more of! I can't help but wonder if bathing in red water is going to be kind of creepy, but I'm still excited to try it out! If I like it, I'll probably order the acai as well, since splashing around in a tub of purple water sounds fun!

You can use discount code SP3 at checkout for 15% off any order, too!

I will receive a gift card in exchange for this post, but all opinions are my own.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Not sure if...

Either way, it's always nice of Peter to plug my blog.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Seriously, Godiva?

Just a warning, this is a major #FirstWorldProblems whiny type of post. But hey, sometimes you've gotta grumble a bit when you're annoyed!

I got selected to host a house party for Godiva to promote their new chocolate infused vodkas. Chocolate? Vodka?  Hello, I'm IN!

According to the party info, I was going to get a pack including (and I quote)

For You:
  • 1 Gift Card for purchasing Godiva® Spirits

For Your Party:
  • 15 Godiva® magnetic recipe cards
  • 15 Godiva® cups
  • 25 Godiva® napkins
Remember to use the gift card to purchase all the delicious Godiva® Spirits Chocolate Infused Vodka that you’ll need for your party.

Reading that last sentence, what would you expect? Since there are 2 flavors of the vodka, I was personally expecting a gift card that would cover at least 2 bottles, maybe even with a little left over to cover something to mix with. The whole idea of the party is supposed to be to let your guests (and you're expected to have at least 10) sample the vodkas and try out fun cocktail recipes. At the very least, you'd expect it to cover one bottle, right?

Nope. Instead, they sent me a $20 gift card and a coupon for a $9 mail-in rebate. I just checked at my local grocery store, and the Godiva godka is $29 plus tax there. In other words, I'm expected to fork out the extra $10-ish from my own pocket, and then wait several weeks to get it back? Plus pay for other ingredients to mix the drinks with? Godiva wants me to pay a bunch of money so I can promote their product??

I think I'd even be less grumpy if they had stated up front in the party info that the gift card wouldn't cover the whole bottle, so that people would know what they were signing up for. Instead they have a lot of disappointed party hosts. 

Any time I've hosted something like this in the past, the company sponsoring it has always provided MORE than enough favors/supplies for the guests. As a made-up example, if they want you to try their pizza, they send enough compensation to cover more pizza than your guests can possibly eat, plus breadsticks, dessert and drinks, and maybe even a free movie rental for entertainment. They don't send enough for half a pizza and expect you to do the rest. 

The smart, classy thing for Godiva to do would have been to send a gift card that would cover two bottles (lets face it, ONE bottle of vodka is not going to go very far if you have 15 party guests), with enough left over to buy a few things to try mixing it with. So, since the vodka is about $30/bottle, around $75? (Which, amusingly, is what I'm told Dominos gave its party hosts, when we all know their pizza is like $10. They get a thumbs up.)

Entire contents of my party pack. The top right are little magnetic recipe cards, which mostly amount to "Pour Godiva vodka in a cup. Drink it."

The little drink cups they sent are cute (if flimsy), but there are only 15 of them. "What, Bob? You want another drink?  Sorry, you'll have to wash out your little plastic cup."  Super classy.

I still intend to have people over to try the vodka, since I agreed to do so, but I've gone from really excited about it to not excited at all. Instead I'm left wishing I could just buy a $12 bottle of Pinnacle Chocolate Whipped and actually have fun mixing up drinks. I'm seeing a lot of posts from other party hosts saying the same thing, so I can't help but wonder if Godiva has done more to hurt their image than help it with this "promotion". 

I *love* reviewing and promoting new products, which is easy to see from my blog, but I think the #1 rule of promoting your product is that you need to show respect to the blogger/host/etc who is helping you promote it. Most of us put a LOT of time and energy into what we do, and it's not fair to expect us to do that without giving *something* back. I'm generally more than happy to review a product/service in exchange for receiving it for free, because I'm on a super limited budget and can't afford to buy much beyond food for myself, so free clothes/beauty products/etc are awesome. And if I really like something, you know I will tell a ton of people about it. 

It's kind of funny how much of a difference $10 makes. If only Godiva had been smart enough to send out $30 gift cards instead of $20, so that it would at least cover the price of a bottle (or mostly, some people have said it's like $32 where they are), they would still have a gaggle of happy, excited hosts. If they're worried about people spending the gift card on something other than their vodka, they could have sent out coupons good for one free bottle instead. Instead, they went the cheapskate route and offended a lot of the people they're expecting to spread the word about them. 

Why do I have a feeling they might need to hire a new PR person soon?

Hey look, a Publix giveaway!

I think Publix is trying to single-handedly feed all of my blog readers, because we have another gift card giveaway!  I feel like I should wear one of my reusable Publix shopping bags as a hat while I type this post in celebration!

The current snazzy event at Publix is running from today (March 8) through March 14th, and it's called "The Best Meals Happen At Home". (They've obviously never been to my house!)

During this event, you'll find all sorts of extra coupons in the store to help you create tasty meals, and you can also check out Best Meals At Home for easy recipes, or sign up for a weekly e-mail newsletter with recipes and coupons!

And since we all know free food tastes better, Publix is hooking one of my readers up with a $25 Publix gift card, so you can buy food to make your own home cooked meals!  (Psst, I won't tell if you spend it on cookies and coffee. It's cool.)

To enter, just use the Rafflecopter widget below!

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Pip Pip! London Fashion Week

Ready for more Fashion Week awesomeness? I know I'm way behind, but we're finally heading across the pond! London Fashion Week has significantly fewer shows than NYFW, so I think I can actually fit the highlights into one post!  Oooh, ahh!

Burberry Prorsum was all about the details. I loved the studded gloves, the animal-shaped adornments, the hats, the owl shirts, and the bows on the coats!

Put a bird on it.

And how perfect was this final walk with the umbrellas??

Daks Fall 2012 Ready-to-Wear
I thought this was a captivating show opening look for Daks. (No, fellow Disney CMs, it has nothing to do with Animal Kingdom.)  I'm not sold on the fit of the dress, but I like the large/small plaid contrast.

Daks Fall 2012 Ready-to-Wear
Loved this dress, too, especially with those boots. It has a kind of "ZOMG, SO ENGLISH" vibe going. (Whoever photographed this show for did a kind of crappy job, though.  These two pics are okay, but most of them sucked.)

Giles Fall 2012 Ready-to-Wear
I think Giles is my favorite show from London. THIS DRESS. Minus the weird shoulder wrappy thing, I heart it.

Giles Fall 2012 Ready-to-Wear
And this one.  The fabric reminds me of ice on tree branches.

Giles Fall 2012 Ready-to-Wear
And this. The collection's storyline was a house on fire in a winter night. A little literal, but dude. Awesome.

WHEW!  Starting to catch up feels good!  Up next: Milan!

Tornadoes and Teeth and Internet, Oh My!

(Spell check is telling me that the proper plural of tornado is tornadoes, but that looks really weird. Oh, well.)

Anyway! Hello, reader people! This is me procrastinating doing all the stuff I am supposed to be doing to tell you that I AM SO SUPER BEHIND ON EVERYTHING!

What has put me so far behind?  Well first, last week my internet provider (Mediacom, who I plan to start referring to as Mediacommunist, even though that doesn't make much sense, but witty nicknames are hard.) randomly shut down our internet service around 1am. Our internet goes out ALL the frickin' time, so I assumed it was a regular outage. I waited around till around 3 or 4, hoping I could still get some work done for the night, but it still wasn't back so I curled up with my book to read before going to sleep. The next morning, still no internet, and it was asking me to log in to my Mediacom account to activate service. We called them up, they told us what info to put in, we tried to log in, no luck. Called back and found out that they had shut down our internet because they claim someone illegally downloaded a Beatles song.


The tech support lady named a Beatles song that I wasn't familiar with, said someone downloaded it illegally, and they could restore our service once it was deleted.


I have like, every Beatles song ever, give or take, but they're all on my old desktop (and have been since 2007) which I rarely use since one of its fans needs repaired, so it's annoyingly loud. The only song I've downloaded recently is Ho Hey by the Lumineers, which I even paid my $1.29 for on iTunes like a good, upstanding citizen. (Or someone who really loves that band and wants to support them, even if it's only a buck.)

The tech support person asked if we have a wireless router, which we obviously do. (Who doesn't?) She asked if it's password protected, and I have to admit it's not. We live in the middle of nowhere, the last house on the street before a big stretch of nothing. It's obviously something I should have done ages ago, but just never really bothered with. We came to the conclusion that someone probably managed to access our wireless (although dude, they'd have to be like, sitting in the middle of the woods to do it, so I'm still flummoxed) and they said they'd restore our internet service once we password protected the router.

Ever tried looking up router password instructions with no internet?  Thankfully my BlackBerry still had service, but uggggh.

Anyway, I called back, told them we got the password set up (got randomly disconnected, had to call back AGAIN...) and got internet back. A seriously frustrating ordeal overall. Here are the major issues I have with what happened...

1) The privacy factor. How on earth do they know what's being downloaded through our wireless account? I mean, it's not like I have super secret documents on my computers or anything, but I'm not ok with my internet provider being able to name a specific song and say it was downloaded through our account. Would you like photos of the inside of my fridge too, Mediacom, so you can know every detail of my life? I had coffee and a Kashi bar for breakfast. I haven't showered yet. My 3rd grade teacher was Mrs. Brown. Anything else I can help you with?

2) The way they handled it. A company with any dignity (or at least any sense of what "customer service" means) would CALL and let us know there was questionable activity on our account. They would NOT randomly shut our service off in the middle of the freaking night with no warning or explanation, leaving me unable to work that night and then to spend 2 freaking hours of my morning trying to figure out what on earth has happened. How does that make ANY sense as a business practice? Not only is it spineless and passive aggressive, it seems like it makes everything more frustrating and stressful for everyone involved. Instead of doing the classy thing and calling your customer to deal with a problem, you leave them stuck with no internet, which we all know is frustrating. Then they have to spend all morning going through endless phone menus, talking to customer service people that don't know what's going on either, etc. In general, that results in a pretty frickin' stressed out, frustrated customer. Here's hoping someone from Mediacom takes a Customer Service 101 class in the near future, because they obviously don't have even the slightest clue of how to treat people.

ANYWAY. (Sorry that turned so ranty. Another side effect of really crappy customer service is that your customers tend to complain to their friends.)

The second reason I'm so behind on everything, last week my part of the state was attacked by mean tornados. (Bite me, spell check, that looks better.)  I was chilling in bed on Tuesday night when the tornado sirens started doing their thing. That's practically a weekly thing around here in the Spring, so I didn't think much of it, but a tornado ended up touching down about a mile to the south of us, and also about a mile to the north. We got seriously lucky!

In the winter, I can see this hotel from my back deck. Luckily, the grocery store that I usually shop at, which is right across the street from the hotel, was not damaged.

About half an hour away, Branson got hit by its own tornado. There was a LOT of damage. It's kind of crazy to look through photos of the places where I grew up, seeing them smashed to almost nothing!


This is incredibly ironic because I had JUST been telling Katie about the dinosaur statue outside the Branson Taco Bell, and I almost stopped to take a photo of it for her on Monday. I sent her this on Weds instead. Poor dinosaur.

I have to admit that I may have smirked just a teeny bit over this, because I still hold a grudge against the Branson Landing for tearing out the pretty lakeside parks and historic area where I grew up to slap up a Hilton and a bunch of chain shops. On the other hand, I was sad because I'd planned to go get frozen yogurt at Orange Leaf that day, but the whole Landing was closed for clean-up. (Orange Leaf survived, thankfully! My yogurt is safe!)

I was actually really thankful that I'd just done all of my Branson errands the day before (I go over a couple of times a month to pick up items I can't find here, and generally just enjoy the change of scenery!)  I did end up seriously kicking myself because I forgot to stop at the health food store, though, and it now looks like this:

Branson, Mo.


What does the tornado have to do with me being behind on work? Our internet (and TV and phone) went out right when the storms first started (which is awesome if you're relying on for info about your impending doom), and was out from then (about 1am) until around 8pm the next day. I totally understand that, since the roads were impassable for several hours after the storm, and nobody wants repairmen risking getting hurt just to fix internet, but it still sucked, especially after having no internet for 12 hours the day before! It's been almost a week now, and my Google Reader is still at 1000+, and I can't even begin to tell you how many unread emails  have. Bleh!  (Just to add to the fun, my cell phone service ALSO went out for about 6 hours that day, so for most of the day we had no TV, no internet, no home phone, no cell phone, NOTHING.)

Reason #3 for being super behind- the dental problems I've been having to put off getting fixed since I lack both insurance and money are finally refusing to be ignored. I have a freakishly high pain tolerance- I never even took any of the painkillers I was prescribed when I got my wisdom teeth out. I have to be almost dead before I even take a Tylenol- but I've been like, curled up in bed crying from pain. It blows. I scheduled a consultation with a dentist for Wednesday, but I have no idea how I'll afford to get any work done, especially since I'm pretty sure most of the problem teeth need crowns, which are unbelievably expensive. I wish I could just get the worst tooth pulled and deal with getting an implant or something later when I can afford it, but it's right up front (just to the side of my two front teeth), so I can't exactly walk around with a big, obvious missing tooth for who knows how long, since I have no idea when I'd be able to afford more work. (I lost a filling in one of my bottom teeth FOUR YEARS ago that I still haven't been able to get replaced.)  But to cut my whining short, the pain has left me pretty down for the count, so actually getting things checked off my to-do list has been slow!

So for now, I'm trying my best to catch up on everything, even if it's slow going, and counting down to Wednesday when I can get a better idea of what needs to happen to make it so I'm not in all this pain.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Mr. Chewy Review

Now that Tallulah can only eat special diabetic cat food, the amount we're spending on cat food has almost doubled, so I was really excited when a pet food website called Mr. Chewy offered me a gift certificate in exchange for a review!

Just a warning, I ordered a LOT of stuff, so this is long! Settle in and get comfy!

I debated between buying products that I already use and know my cats like or trying some new things that I don't have access to otherwise, and ended up kind of splitting it between the two.  I bought a case of one of the cats favorites foods and their usual litter, and spent the rest on some brands of food I'd never heard of that sounded interesting.  Here's what I ended up getting:

The canned food portion of my order. 

Friskies Ocean Whitefish Tuna canned food:
Friskies Prime Filets with Ocean Whitefish & Tuna in Sauce Canned Cat Food
Most of the cats (everyone but Lula) eat Friskies wet food a lot, so it made sense to stock up! I was sad there wasn't a variety pack available, but I was able to pick up this 24-pack of one of their favorite varieties, so we'll probably just pick up a few cans of their other favorites at the store and mix them into the rotation now and then.

Wellness Complete Health Salmon Meal and Deboned Turkey Recipe Dry Cat Food (Holy cow that's a long name!)

I got a sample bag of Wellness sometime last year, and my cats were obsessed with it. Like, OBSESSED.  This is what happened when I tried to hide the sample bag on my bookshelf:

I've been wanting to get them some more ever since, but given how many cats we have and how quickly we go through cat food, it just hasn't been in the budget. I was so excited to finally get to treat them to another bag!  They have all loved it! We've been serving a mix of this and their regular dry food to help it stretch a little longer.

Tiki Cat King Kamehameha Luau Variety Pack Canned Cat Food:

Confession: I'd never heard of Tiki Cat, but I picked this up based on the cute packaging. I know! Well, ok, it was a combo of the packaging and the fact that they were one of the few brands that offers a variety pack. I really wanted to try out some new brands, but if my cats ended up not liking a certain flavor, I didn't want to be stuck with a bunch of cans. (Then again, in this house, there's almost *always* at least a cat or two that will eat almost anything!) 

I was a little confused, because it's a pack of 12 cans, but the box says "9 Flavor Variety". Now, math isn't my strong point, but... does not compute!  I double checked on the site and found the info- This variety pack contains cans of the following formulas: Hawaiian Grill (2), Lanai Luau (2), Tahitian Grill (2), Bora Bora Luau (1), Makaha Luau (1), Honolulu Luau (1), Molokai Luau (1), Waikiki Luau (1), and Waimea Luau (1).  I'm loving the whole Hawaiian theme, and that totally explained the 12/9 thing, but I still wasn't really sure what the flavors were, so I did some more research.

Product Image
Hawaiian Grill is Ahi tuna. The ingredient list just says tuna, so we'll just have to trust them on the Ahi part! But it's nice to see an actual fish listed instead of "fish product" or something creepily generic. I pulled up Tiki Cat's site and found that their food is made in a human-grade factory with human grade quality ingredients. I was happy to find that their foods are mostly high in protein and low in carbs, which means that even Tallulah might be ok to eat them on occasion, since that's exactly what the doctor ordered! (Gonna double check with him first, though!) I also learned that their fish is all wild caught, and their fishery is a member of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation, which means they operate under strict environmental practices. Their tuna is International Dolphin Conservation Program certified as dolphin-safe. 

Lanai Luau is tuna in Crab Surimi consumee. Toey volunteered to model this flavor for me:

I love that you can see the actual pieces of crab in there. 

Tahitian Grill is sardine cutlets, and I have to admit I was a little hesitant about this one. I knew my cats would love it, but just looking at the photo of the fish chunks on the website turned my stomach a little. Still, it has to be better quality if it's actually still identifiable as chunks of fish, rather than just an over-processed blob, right?  This wasn't the cats' favorite, but they all ate it. Jasper got a little territorial over his fish chunks, as if they were prey he caught. 

Bora Bora Luau is sardine cutlets in lobster consumee. Is it just me, or is it starting to sound like the cats will be eating way better than I do?

Makaha Luau is mackeral and (yikes!) sardine again. 

Honolulu Luau is tuna on rice with crab surimi. 

Molokai Luau is tuna on rice with calamari. I'm pretty sure this is the first time my cats have ever had calamari!

Waikiki Luau is tuna on rice with tilapia. 
Waimea Luau is tuna on rice with prawns. Toey was nice enough to model this flavor for me, too!

I am kind of curious how they came up with this particular mix for the variety pack. There are way more than 12 Tiki Cat varieties (9 fish, 4 fish on rice, 2 chicken and 2 chicken & fish). Are these just the 9 most popular? All 9 come from either the fish or fish on rice categories; I wish they'd included some of the chicken options, too! (Mr Chewy carries all 17 flavors, though.)

I used Tiki Cat's store locator and found that the closest retail store that sells this brand is 68 miles from me, so I'm extra thankful that I can just order it online!

BFF Tuna and Tilapia Twosome Canned Cat Food
Product Image

If I'd been smart enough to look carefully at the Tiki Cat flavors I was getting *before* I placed my order, I probably would have gone with something other than tuna (omg, more tuna) for my other cat food selection!  All the BFF flavors are tuna-based, though, so c'est la vie! I'll admit that I again fell prey to cute packaging. 

BFF's website wasn't as informative as Tiki Cat's, but I learned they use top quality muscle meats in their foods and that their fish is dolphin and turtle safe.  My cats all LOVED this stuff! I may have to try another variety soon!

Tidy Cats Litter:
Well, I kinda screwed up on this one. I always use Tidy Cats Instant Action cat litter since it's about the only thing that doesn't make me sneeze, so when I decided to get cat litter with my order I clicked to pull up the Tidy Cats products and clicked on the picture that looks like mine. Unfortunately, they had the wrong image up and I totally missed that it said "Non-Clumping", so what I got wasn't at all what I expected.  Lesson learned, pay attention to the words, not just the picture!

(It looks like they have changed the image since I ordered, so hopefully nobody else will have that problem!)

I have to admit, I'm really digging the convenience of ordering cat stuff online. Shipping is free on orders over $49, and it's really nice to get everything delivered to my door instead of having to schlep heavy kitty litter and food around the store, out to the car, and into the house. I ordered on a Friday, and my order shipped Monday and arrived on Thursday! I may order from them again just for the convenience! Next time I'd like to try the Pure Bites freeze dried cat treats (I had them in this order and ended up taking them out in favor of the litter. D'oh!) and some of the Weruva canned food, they have interesting flavors like steak frites, grandma's chicken soup and Polynesian BBQ! Once you figure out which items you like from the site, you can even set up a subscription service where they automatically send them to you at a frequency you choose!

 The only thing I'd change is that I wish I could get Lula's diabetic food there, too! (I found one, Royal Canin diabetic cat food, but it was a dry food and Lu's vet suggested canned since she just had several teeth removed.)

For more info on Mr. Chewy, you can find them on Facebook and Twitter!

Disclosure: I was provided with a gift certificate to facilitate my review, but no other compensation was received for this review and all opinions are my own.