Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sunday's Seven Snapshots vol.49

When I get my hair done, I take lots of selfies.  No shame.

It's that time of decorate, sing, gift, cook, celebrate, go to parties, shop, and spread Christmas cheer.  It is also the time of year when those of us who work/own retail stores are driven a little mad.

On Thursday, a friend of mine posted on facebook (rather eloquently) about being grateful and focusing on giving back to others less fortunate.  On Friday, with his words still ringing in my ears, I passed a "giving tree".  I turned around and grabbed two cards to give gifts to a couple of kids in need.  It's not much, but it's such an easy thing to do to give to others.

My girl Ivy hanging out in the bookshelf.  I'd hang out in the bookshelf too (if I could fit).

Friends & family came together to celebrate Thanksgiving with me.

I can't say enough about my guy - he made everything you see here - turkey with cranberry sauce, stuffing, corn, peas, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, homemade mac & cheese, salad with homemade honey mustard dressing. 

My mother-in-law provided all the desserts. I just got to enjoy it all!

So much to be thankful for this week.  Leftovers for a week!  I'm thankful for that too. How about you?

Friday, November 27, 2015

Ten Things That Made Me Happy vol.8

Linking up with the ladies who love to spread positivity: Lindsay & Krysten for Ten Things That Made Me Happy This Week:

1.   Getting our Australian Cats 2016 calendar with our fur babies' pictures inside.
2.  A little vanity self-care this week including getting my nails painted sparkly blue and my hair refreshed with its purpley-pink ombre.
3.  My guy calling me "gorgeous" on facebook (we usually aren't that overly mushy on social media forums).
4.  While waiting at a pedestrian crosswalk in the city, I saw a city employee using an industrial-sized vacuum-type machine that cleans the sidewalks; a man in a business suit came up to him, shook his hand, said "Happy Christmas", and tucked a $50 bill in his shirt pocket.  
5.  Rum balls are offered during the holiday season at a local patisserie, and they are fan-freaking-tastic!
6.  Blogger buddies sending some extra sweet messages to me during the Thanksgiving holiday.
7.  This picture...yes, I posted it to other social media forums, so you may have already seen it...but it was one of my very bestest friend's birthday this week.  She lives in Italy, I live in Australia; our lives have taken both of us far from our Texas home.  But, this picture (from Daytona Beach, Florida taken 20 years ago-yikes!) brought so many wonderful memories back to my mind.  She's one that I know no matter the distance, no matter the time that passes, we will always share a bond, a love, and a friendship.
8.  During my sadness and being homesick while missing Thanksgiving with the family, I was reminded that I have family who loves me, misses me, are healthy, and a fantastic group of people.  I'm more fortunate than many, and I'm happy for it.
9.  Red velvet cupcake from an Aussie friend wishing me a "Happy Thanksgiving".
10.  My guy organizing a Thanksgiving celebration for me this coming weekend.  More on that next week :)  Just seeing him put effort into planning and prepping makes me happy.

What made you happy this week?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Another week, another Wednesday link-up

I confess: I feel weird about linking-up three different places on Wednesdays.  Why?  All the hosts seem supportive of each other, so I shouldn't feel weird, right?  #weirdisgood #ilikeweird
I confess:  I didn't care whatsoever about the new Star Wars.  Then, I saw the trailer when I went to see The Martian last week.  Then, I saw the Star Wars tribute on the American Music Awards (code word for cross-marketing brainwashing).  Now, my guy and I are talking about a Star Wars movie marathon before seeing the new one.  #jumpingonthebandwagon #whoami

JLo hosted the American Music Awards (even though I'd be happy if she'd never released any music herself). Yes, she has a fabulous glam squad.  Her hair, skin, and body - all amazing.  As for her wardrobe selections, I confess:  I'm bored. She has become so predictable that I could have looked at runway pictures and picked those clothes myself for her.  We get it - you like sequins and sheer things and to show us your body with strategic strips of fabric.   #AMAs #completelytotallyunderwhelmed #getanewstylist

I confess:  The only AMA performances I watched in their entirety were Alanis Morisette (#stillabadass), Gwen Stefani (#gwen4eva), One Direction (#notaguiltypleasure #becauseidontfeelguilty #babyimperfect), and Celine Dion. I don't even like Celine Dion, but she was an exceptional choice for this performance. #icried #istandwithparis

have confessed many times before that I am a book challenge junkie.  Currently, I'm only actively participating in one (Megan's #SCWBC15), but I confess:  I'm getting distracted by all the books.  I have books checked out from not one, not two, but three different libraries.  Currently, I have one reserve book waiting for me to pick up that I've been waiting for a couple of months.  Bookworms, you understand.  #booknerdsunite #gimmeallthebooks

Speaking of cross-marketing brainwashing and book challenges, categories for the book challenge that I host will be announced the 1st of December.  If you want to join the fun, join the Book Challenge by Erin group...or just keep reading my blog.  You should join.  You really should.  #ifyoudontimaycry #bookchallengesarefreeentertainment

Of course, I'm not going to post today without mentioning Thanksgiving.  I confess: for this American, it is the saddest holiday for me to be away from the USA.  There's nothing like getting together with family for food & football on a fall day and feeling thankful for many blessings.  #happythanksgiving #missyoutexas

My guy knows that I get especially sad on Thanksgiving, so he's cooking a special meal for us this weekend.  #helovesme #hegetsme #illkeephim
he's shaved his beard since we took this pic; I forgot his beard was so thick!


This is when I'm supposed to get all gushy and tell you how grateful I am that you share a small amount of your day reading and interacting with this little space of mine in the world wide web.  Well, it's true.  I am grateful.  Happy Thanksgiving to your & yours!!!

Wednesday link-ups with Laura & LaurenAlanna & Sarah, and  Nadine & Kathy:

More Coffee Less Talky

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Songs I am thankful for

The last Thursday of every month, Jana and I are creating playlists for your listening pleasure.  As we brainstormed for this month, this was Jana's exact suggestion:  "How about...songs we're thankful for? Can be ones that make us happy, ones that remind us of childhood, ones that motivate us. Stuff like that."  My response was "perfect".

Selecting songs that I'm thankful for was actually more difficult of a task than I imagined.  So many songs streamed in and out of consciousness...for so many different reasons.  Choosing just a few that really meant a lot to me that I could relate to you their importance, I said, it proved to be more difficult task than I imagined.

If you've been here often, or if you know me at all, you are going to assume that Bon Jovi will be on this list.  That assumption is absolutely correct.

Wanted Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi - My mother took myself and three other junior high girls to see Bon Jovi on the Slippery When Wet tour.  As you can imagine, it was a highlight of my adolescence (if not the highlight).   Portions of the video for Wanted were filmed at The Summit in Houston, Texas.  This started a bond that my mother and I have over Bon Jovi.  We've been to several more concerts together throughout the years.  She sends me messages when she sees a performance or interview on tv.  PLUS - another special moment happened with this song:  2006 - one of my very best girlfriends and my boyfriend at the time (who shared and supported my love of music and travel) saw Bon Jovi at Milton Keynes in England.  We had GA tickets, and we were pretty close for most of the show.  During the encore, I wanted a change of setting.  This venue is a "bowl" that is outdoors and inclines down towards the stage.  I went to the top of the bowl...behind the rest of the crowd...watched 65,000 people singing at the top of their lungs to this song.  And, I cried.  Yep.  Cried big tears.  I cried because I was happy.  I cried because I was overwhelmed.  I cried because I was thankful.
(What you see on MTV's VMAs nowadays is complete and total crap compared to this right youtube clip now)

Always on My Mind, Willie Nelson version - He's a Texas icon.  He's a unique, unconventional talent.  I like Texas...and I like unique, unconvential, talented people.  Growing up, we had season tickets to my university's football games.  My dad was a graduate and got season tickets before I was born.  This was a family tradition.  My dad, although I do not consider him a country music fan, was a Willie Nelson fan.  Whether it was Red-Headed Stranger, Stardust, Honeysuckle Rose, Pretty Paper...these albums were in heavy rotation.  Also, my dad has an excellent voice.  On most of all of those road trips to College Station, Texas to see our football game, I would sit in the back seat and listen to my dad sing along to Willie.  This song will always remind me of Texas, back roads, football games, and my dad.  Thankfully.

Scars by Papa Roach - I have sang this song at the top of my lungs with tears streaming down my face more times than I can count.  In my car.  In my apartment.  In a concert.  In a park.  Word for word, I felt like these lyrics were written for me at a time in my life that I felt like I would indeed "tear my heart open" then "sew myself shut".  For years and years, I followed that same cycle ... tearing myself open, only to feel hurt, pain, sadness ... so, I'd sew myself shut, and I'd pretend I was all good.  I finally broke that cycle, and now this song is an anthem for me to remind myself what I've been through, what I've learned, where I've been, and being thankful for where I am.

Don't Move by Butch Walker - During a period of my life (like a whole decade of it...or maybe even more), I was having a really difficult time believing in love.  Believing that I could be loved.  Believing that I deserved love.  Believing that I could give in a way that allowed myself to love.  This song made me feel like love was possible.  It gave me all the feels.  I didn't find the love that this song made me feel for years after hearing it, but it made me believe that love could possibly exist for me.  It still gives me all the feels...shivers...goosebumps.  I'd guess this is a song many of you don't know.  Please listen to it.  Thank you.

By My Side by INXS - My guy and I didn't have an ideal start or the easiest time getting where we are.  He sent me these lyrics once, during a particularly painful time for us.  This song haunts me.  I've always loved its simple beauty.  I am thankful that it played a small role in getting us where we are today. Writers: Kirk Pengilly, Andrew Farriss
"In the dark of night
Those faces they haunt me
I wish you were so close to me

Yes I wish you were
By my side"

Just A Girl by No Doubt - It's fun, witty, sarcastic, and awesome in everyway.  It's an anthem that let's me strut, dance, sing, bounce, jump, and feel all kinds of girl power!  I felt this way about it 20 years ago, and I still feel that way today.  For that, I thank you, Gwen, Tony, Tom, and Adrian.

Don't forget to go check out Jana's songs that she is thankful for.

Tell me...what song(s) are you thankful for?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sunday's Seven(teen) Snapshots vol.48

This post is usually my version of a weekly recap, but it's all about Sunday Funday this week.  We decided to hit the road and go exploring for the day in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales (the state where we live).

What's a road trip without car snacks?  Cherries courtesy of a roadside fruit stand. 

In Goulburn, there's The Big Merino aka a big concrete sheep. 

Of course, this is the pic the 8 year old boy wanted. 

Driving through national parks and forests, we saw many a roadkill *sad face*, so we were on the lookout for wildlife. My guy spotted a mob of 'roos.  Let's see if we can get closer....

That's kangaroos for you non-Aussie speaking folks. 

We drove a little further, past a campsite, and found these guys chillin'. 

I took a lot of pictures.  I limited myself in this post. I promise. 

Out for a hike to the Wombeyan Caves...

...and we saw some spectacular views.

I'm in a big cave formed out of limestone. 

The gatekeeper needs a token. 

This guy was pretty impressed and excited while in the caves. 

Stalactites? Stalagmites? One of those two. Or both. 

My guy is stocked full of knowledge and was answering all sorts of questions about how & when things formed.  Thank goodness he knows these things to answer the inquisitive mind of a boy. 

When you try to take a family selfie and the father-in-law gets in the picture but you don't want to be rude and tell him to get out...

When you try to take a couple's selfie and the kid photobombs you and makes the picture a whole lot better. 

Again, there were some spectacular views. 

Hope you have a weekend of adventure or relaxation. Or both!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

From the archives: Mixtape of my life

I saw Kimmi's post about a mixtape of her life.  I love a good music post.  I love to steal borrow posts.  Kimmi got the idea from someone else's post, who got the idea from someone else.  You know, that's how this blog game works.  This time, I'm  not really stealing.  I'm reaching into the archives of posts that no one ever read because no one was following me.  And, my post is different more complicated but still fun.

Originally posted 30th of May 2013:  I'm turning 40 in nineteen days.  Yikes.  I'm having a lot of thoughts, a lot of emotions, and a lot nostalgia surrounding this birthday.  So, I've created a list...I'm calling it the "Mixtape of My Life".

I had to make some rules for myself in order to create such a list.  I used Billboard's Top 100 Singles for each year.  On Billboard's actual website, they call it the "Hot 100" (I think), and they only have about ten years listed.  According to other websites, they've been keeping such a list since the '50's, so I used other websites too (mostly, wikipedia...sad, I know).  I'm not quite sure how the "Top 100" or "Hot 100" was created throughout the years (I'm sure I could have done some more research to find out, but I didn't), but it seems to be the industry standard to look to Billboard's list for the popularity of music singles.  I haven't always been one who was a fan of only the "popular" stuff (such as the songs that are going to be on Billboard's Hot 100), so there's several artists/bands that are not respresented.  The "Mixtape" is definitely an imperfect reflection of "My Life".  Anyways........ Here's how I came up with the list..........

I looked at the "Top 100" list for each year of my life: 1973 to 2012 (obviously, 2013 year end charts aren't listed yet).  My initial rule was that I'd select TWO songs from EACH year, then add in 20 others from whatever years I wanted in order to create my own "Top 100" songs of my life.  That was my initial rule, but I changed it because there were actually a couple of years when music was crap, and I couldn't even choose two songs out of a hundred for this fun little experiment of mine (hello, 1997 & 1998).** Another rule I made for myself was no band/artist could have two songs in the same year.  Lastly, I told myself if the song is not in my current music library, or if I couldn't remember owning the song prior, then it didn't make the cut.  For each of these, I can remember the LP or 45 or cassette or CD or digital download (a select few weren't "mine", but my mom's, dad's, or brother's).

  1. 1973 - (4) - Let's Get It On - Marvin Gaye
  2. 1973 - (17) - Drift Away - Dobie Gray
  3. 1974 - (40) -  The Joker - Steve Miller Band
  4. 1974 - (78) - Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me - Elton John
  5. 1975 - (1) - Love Will Keep Us Together - Captain and Tenille
  6. 1975 - (33) - Sister Golden Hair - America
  7. 1976 - (18) - Bohemain Rhapsody - Queen
  8. 1976 - (51) - Dream On - Aerosmith
  9. 1977 - (68) - Cold As Ice - Foreigner
  10. 1977 - (78) - Give a Little Bit - Supertramp
  11. 1978 - (13) - You're the One That I Want - Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta
  12. 1978 - (22) - Hot Child in the City - Nick Gilder
  13. 1978 - (30) - Two Out of Three Ain't Bad - Meatloaf
  14. 1979 - (67) - Renegade - Styx
  15. 1979 - (74) - I Was Made For Lovin' You - KISS
  16. 1979 - (95) - Dance the Night Away - Van Halen
  17. 1980 - (4) - Rock With You - Michael Jackson
  18. 1980 - (55) - All Out of Love - Air Supply
  19. 1980 - (62) - I Can't Tell You Why - The Eagles
  20. 1981 - (5) - Jessie's Girl - Rick Springfield
  21. 1981 - (7) - Kiss On My List - Hall and Oates
  22. 1981 - (10) - Keep On Lovin' You - REO Speedwagon
  23. 1981 - (88) - Smoky Mountain Rain - Ronnie Milsap
  24. 1982 - (22) - Always On My Mind - Willie Nelson
  25. 1982 - (48) - Young Turks - Rod Stewart
  26. 1982 - (73) - Don't Stop Believin' - Journey
  27. 1982 - (90) - Hot in the City - Billy Idol
  28. 1982 - (96) - Workin' for the Weekend - Loverboy
  29. 1983 - (7) - Maneater - Hall and Oates
  30. 1983 - (17) - Hungry Like the Wolf - Duran Duran
  31. 1983 - (81) - Faithfully - Journey
  32. 1983 - (90) - Photograph - Def Leppard
  33. 1984 - (1) - When Doves Cry - Prince
  34. 1984 - (4) - Footloose - Kenny Loggins
  35. 1984 - (57) - Love is a Battlefield - Pat Benetar
  36. 1984 - (68) - Cum On Feel the Noize - Quiet Riot
  37. 1984 - (99) - Rock Me Tonite - Billy Squier
  38. 1985 - (1) - Careless Whisper - Wham
  39. 1985 - (26) - Cool It Now - New Edition
  40. 1985 - (44) - Never Surrender - Corey Hart
  41. 1986 - (30) - You Give Love a Bad Name - Bon Jovi
  42. 1986 - (62) - Your Love - The Outfield
  43. 1987 - (7) - Here I Go Again - Whitesnake
  44. 1987 - (10) - Livin' On a Prayer - Bon Jovi
  45. 1987 - (15) - With or Without You - U2
  46. 1988 - (5) - Sweet Child of Mine - Guns N' Roses
  47. 1988 - (11) - One More Try - George Michael
  48. 1988 - (19) - Pour Some Sugar On Me - Def Leppard
  49. 1988 - (21) - Man in the Mirror - Michael Jackson
  50. 1988 - (41) - Bad Medicine - Bon Jovi
  51. 1988 - (95) - Never Tear Us Apart - INXS
  52. 1989 - (3) - Every Rose Has Its Thorn - Poison
  53. 1989 - (15) - Heaven - Warrant
  54. 1989 - (68) - Lovesong - The Cure
  55. 1989 - (86) - Paradise City - Guns N' Roses
  56. 1990 - (55) - U Can't Touch This - MC Hammer
  57. 1990 - (67) - Love Song - Tesla
  58. 1990 - (72) - I Remember You - Skid Row
  59. 1990 - (91) - What It Takes - Aerosmith
  60. 1990 - (96) - Without You - Motley Crue
  61. 1991 - (78) - Something to Believe In - Poison
  62. 1991 - (82) - Silent Lucidity - Queensryche
  63. 1992 - (2) - Baby Got Back - Sir Mix A Lot
  64. 1992 - (17) - November Rain - Guns N' Roses
  65. 1993 - (50) - What's Up - 4 Non Blondes
  66. 1993 - (60) - Cryin' - Aerosmith
  67. 1994 - (91) - Always - Bon Jovi
  68. 1995 - (5) - On Bended Knee - Boys to Men
  69. 1995 - (70) - This Ain't a Love Song - Bon Jovi
  70. 1996 - (29) - You Oughta Know - Alanis Morissette
  71. 1996 - (41) - The World I Know - Collective Soul
  72. 1996 - (56) - Wonderwall - Oasis
  73. 1996 - (68) - Just A Girl - No Doubt
  74. 1997 - (25) - Hypnotize - The Notorious B.I.G.**
  75. 1997 - (36) - All for You - Sister Hazel**
  76. 1998 - (14) - Gettin' Jiggy wit It - Will Smith**
  77. 1998 - (79) - Bitter Sweet Symphony - The Verve**
  78. 1999 - (10) - Livin' La Vida Loca - Ricky Martin
  79. 1999 - (13) - Slide - Goo Goo Dolls
  80. 2000 - (9) - Bent - Matchbox Twenty
  81. 2001 - (9) - Again - Lenny Kravitz
  82. 2001 - (100) - Hemorrhage (In My Hands) - Fuel
  83. 2002 - (26) - Wasting My Time - Default
  84. 2003 - (4) - Crazy in Love - Beyonce with Jay Z
  85. 2003 - (28) - Lose Yourself - Eminem
  86. 2004 - (8) - Hey Ya! - Outkast
  87. 2004 - (19) - My Immortal - Evanescence
  88. 2005 - (4) - Since You Been Gone - Kelly Clarkson
  89. 2005 - (16) - Mr. Brightside - The Killers
  90. 2005 - (36) - Scars - Papa Roach
  91. 2005 - (68) - Best of You - Foo Fighters
  92. 2006 - (29) - Chasing Cars - Snow Patrol
  93. 2007 - (59) - Welcome to the Black Parade - My Chemical Romance
  94. 2007 - (69) - Who Knew - P!nk
  95. 2008 - (33) - Stop and Stare - OneRepublic
  96. 2008 - (44) - Sorry - Buckcherry
  97. 2009 - (26) - Second Chance - Shinedown
  98. 2009 - (45) - So What - P!nk
  99. 2010 - (45) - Whataya Want From Me - Adam Lambert
  100. 2010 - (87) - Use Somebody - Kings of Leon
  101. 2011 - (24) - Someone Like You - Adele
  102. 2012 - (1) - Somebody That I Used to Know - Gotye with Kimbra
  103. 2012 - (15) - Wide Awake - Katy Perry
  104. 2012 - (22) - Everybody Talks - Neon Trees
  105. 2013 - (25) - Sail - AWOL Nation - added since original post
  106. 2013 - (100) - Still Into You - Paramore - added since original post
  107. 2014 - (19) - Let Her Go - Passenger - added since original post
  108. 2014 - (23) - Demons - Imagine Dragons - added since original post
**Due to peer pressure from Megan and Jana, I looked again at 1997 and 1998. 
Any of these 108 songs strike a chord with you??

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wednesday link ups featuring The Martian


Confessions!  Hashtag Humpdays!  Link-ups! Oh my!  All the craziness is enough to confuse a girl (okay, that girl is me), but let's talk about The Martian (the movie)................  #ireadthebook #ineededtoseethemovie

For those of you who don't read (gasp!) or have lived  under a rock, The Martian by Andy Weir was a book sensation that lots and lots and LOTS of people read and loved.  And, a movie was released this year.  #quickwrapup #googleformoreinfo

I finally took myself on a movie date to see The Martian.  My guy and I kept talking about going, kept meaning to go, but it didn't happen.  I had Tuesday off, went to the cinema, splurged for a reclining seat, grabbed some popcorn, and took a picture.  #duh  #solomoviedate #itdidnthappenunlesstheresproofoninstagram
Overall, the movie was awesome, and I'm glad I saw it on the cinema screen.  #goseeit

People...why was I not warned about the gross-out, close-up, self-surgery scene at the start??  I looked away.  I couldn't handle it.  #igetqueasy

I confess:  Since I wasn't watching, it sounded like Matt Damon could've been shooting a porn.  #lotsofgrunting #dontbeanidiotandgooglemattdamonporn #yepimanidiot #myeyesarescarred #whatwasithinking

I confess: I still don't understand any of the science, math, or technology.  But, it's about's gotta be there, right?   #idontdoscience #idontdomath

I loved the casting before I even saw the movie.  Matt Damon was the perfect Mark Watney.  Everyone was excellent casting choices for their role (except Jeff Daniels kind of bored me, but come to think of it, Jeff Daniels always kind of bores me). #markwatneyisabadass #mattdamonisasmartass #perfectfit

I confess:  I love that the female characters are badass, yet we aren't really focusing on their gender.  They are there, performing their jobs, being intelligent, alongside their male counterparts.  #finally #badasseryknowsnogender

I confess:  I didn't think Kristen Wiig's character got to be as snarky as she was in the book.  Kristen Wiig can pull off snark.  #imissedthesnark #ilovethesnark

I confess: I smiled every time a scene started telling you in typed letters the location was "Johnson Space Center Houston Texas".  #yesivebeen #morethanonce #texasproud #youcantakethegirlouttatexas

Have you seen or read The Martian?  What did you think?

One more thing before the link-up roll you love blogs, bloggers, and blog posts?  Then, you should go nominate your favorites on Karen's Blog Awards 2015.  Go on, do it.

Wednesday link-ups with Laura & LaurenAlanna & Sarah, and  Nadine & Kathy:

More Coffee Less Talky