Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Less is more: dump those vampire relationships!

Yes, we know Twilight is hot, but vampire friends are not. So what exactly is a vampire friend and how the heck does it have anything to do with simplifying your life?

Vampire friends are those that are a time and energy drain. You know, the friends who constantly stir up trouble and DA-RA-MAAA! Friends should be people we feel comfortable with and enjoy passing time. Friendships should make us feel happy, secure, and should allow you to give and receive. Ideally, being a good friend should allow you to develop yourself and give you a feeling of belonging.

The company of good friends is a beautiful thing.

But sometimes those friendships go sour, and it's important to know when to break it off!

Answer these questions:
1. Do you feel like you and your friend listen to and assist one another with respective concerns?
2. Do you feel a mutual respect for one anothers' accomplishments?
3. Are you able to carry on a conversation on a regular basis that does not end in debate or argument?
4. Do you feel as those both parties avoid dominating the relationship in any way?
5. Do you have trust for one another?
6. Are you and the other person able to find common interests besides thejuiciest gossip about others?
7. Do you both allow one another to be himself/herself without judgment?
8. Do you feel that you are reaching your potential (professionally, spiritually, physically, etc.) with the current base of friends you have?

Hopefully your answers were "yes," to the majority of these questions. If not, consider making new friends through volunteering, work, or community organizations like churches.

If you find yourself in a toxic friendship, try just letting the relationship slip away rather than confront the person about the relationship. Sometimes it's just better to let things go and move on. Simple as that.

And speaking of vampires, I'll leave you with this picture:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Less is more: Evaluate your goals

In my previous post, I wrote about the desire to simplify my lifestyle. While that statement is vague, here is one example of how I plan to go about simplification.

Example 1: Evaluate true goals in life

This example has everything to do with finding out what is most important in my fulfillment. Are you guilty of "trying to do it all?" If an activity is not consistent with your core values, start saying no to make room in your life to do more of these things.

My short list of values:
1. Spending quality time with family and Aaron
2. Making a difference in the lives of animals
3. Travel and adventure
4. Professional and educational fulfillment
5. Spirituality

The next step in trying to evaluate your goals in life would be to evaluate your current commitments. Take inventory of everything going on in your life. This would include activities at home, your work, hobbies, volunteering, side businesses, etc. Question if each of these activities truly helps you move towards your core values. If they don't, start working on paring down those activities. This step may radically change the landscape of your day.

One activity that Aaron and I have decided to cut out is our business. Yep-we're shutting down the company after almost 4 years of operation December 31st. We worked 40+ hours a week in the office and then worked quite a few more stressful hours on the weekends with little down time. We received phone calls at all hours of the day from employees, and we often worked events ourselves because our staff would fail to show up for their assignments. We could have events that ranged in time from 6am until 2am the next day--and we had to be prepared at all times to diffuse a bad situation or fill in when needed. It became clear that our business was not fulfilling our goal of spending time with family and feeling professionally fulfilled. Over the last year, we've developed a new company-Prodigy Uniform Company, and we are just about ready to launch! Here's the website: This company will sell food service and formal attire

We hope that this new company will allow us to reclaim our weekends and spend more time doing what we love. Of course, I will maintain my current job as an underwriter at One America, but I will not have to work weekends for the staffing company, and Aaron and I will get more time to volunteer with animals and spend time together. We were so scared to leave the staffing company behind after putting so much of our time and effort into it, but we are ready to make the leap of faith and choose an entrepreneurial venture that is more suiting to us.

It is daunting to feel like we're starting over, but we really are not. My guess is that we have learned so much from owning our staffing company that it would be impossible to start this uniform company without our experiences in staffing and starting a business from ground zero. We also already sell uniforms to some clients that hired us to do their staffing, so we've got a head start!

I hope this inspires you to evaluate your goals and commitments and eliminate those that don't fulfill those needs.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Less is more

I've been reading a lot about simple living lately. Articles about decluttering your stuff, living with less, making life less complicated, and just reclaiming your life from worry and complexity. And I like it!

In order to stay consistent with the topic, I'll try to keep this blog post concise.

Upon taking a closer look at my life, I've decided to pare down, consume less, simplify, and just worry about what makes me happy.

The next few posts will provide some examples-and feel free to steal them : )

I want the simple life

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cute puppies

Don't tell me about your dog and her puppies. I spend my free time trying to stop the problem you are perpetuating.

Breeding dogs is irresponsible. Dogs are not cash machines. Don’t exploit them for your financial gain.

Take a look:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mark Twain:

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Monday, November 9, 2009


This weekend, Aaron, Bella, and I went camping at Raccoon Lake! His parents were supposed to come along, but they changed their minds-so it was just the three of us. Bella was not a fan : ( She was scared of the fire, the flashlight, the lantern, the leaves rustling, and she threw up after our hike. She did seem to enjoy being outdoors (walking on the pavement, haha), chasing the bugs, and being with us the whole weekend. Next time, we'll know how to handle things a bit better. Here are a few photos:

Raccoon Lake while sun is setting : )

Me watching Aaron put up the tent....

His N' Hers

Wondering when we'll leave....

Look at those happy campers!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A whirwind of change...

A lot of good things have been happening lately.

I recently got a job with OneAmerica as an insurance underwriter. I used to drive past the building on my way to work in the morning, so it's weird to actually work for the company now.

Aaron and I decided that our income was a little too affected by seasonality, so I busted out the suit, updated the resume, and started knocking on doors. My bosses are so nice, and coworks nearby are really helpful, but there are so many things that I don't know yet. There is a steep learning curve, and I've been trying to soak up all that I can by asking questions and reading a text book I was given.

I also really miss seeing Bella at work every day. Even though she sleeps most of the day away, I enjoyed just knowing that she was there.

A little cat (who we named Chipper) wandered into my life recently. I spotted him wandering around Hix junkyard on the side of the road. Filthy but friendly, I picked him up, brought him home and bathed him. He's ready for adoption now-he's neutered and vaccinated. He is a great cat with a big heart, and although he's still getting used to being around people all of the time, he'd make a great companion. This is his youtube debut: If you'd like to adopt him, please let me know.

And if you thought you noticed that he is "missing" an ear, you'd be right. He had had ear mites badly before and scratched his ear until it became deformed. It causes him no problems-now it just looks cute! (I did have his ears treated as well)

At night, I worry about all of the other cold and lonely animals just like him that have no one to love them or care for them. Everyone deserves to be wanted, and although I know I can't change circumstances for them all, I hope I can make a world of difference for some.

Last thing: Aaron, his parents, and I are going camping this weekend! Bella's coming, and we've packed vegan hot dogs : ) I love compassionate camping.

So yeah, all good things-rescued a homeless, unwanted cat, found a great job, and going camping with my man and future in-laws.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Lexington, KY

Last week, Aaron and I traveled to Kentucky for an event we worked with Thomas Catering. All I can say that it was an interesting experience.....

We were serving an event for a horse endurance race, and the guests had paid $600 to be there! I think most really tried to guest their money's worth--guests were taking off their shoes and putting their bare feet on the coffee table (um. eew.), they were smoking in the 2 story tent (seriously, these thing do exist) even after being repeatedly told not to, they were jacking full bottles of Don Perrion water, drinking a few sips, and then leaving it for the staff to pick up, and leaving a disgusting mess of ashes everywhere.

Aaron and I decided to entertain ourselves during the middle of the day after someone accidentally left their sunglasses at the bar:

Adding insult to injury, there was a torrential downpour that day, and the bottom level of the tent flooded, so we moved the furniture from the first floor to the second. And then of course the rain stopped 15 minutes later, so we cleaned up the water and moved the tables back downstairs AGAIN : ) Lastly, the kitchen was in an outside tent with a temporary floor and well, here's the kitchen at the end of the day.

And here was the damage to my shoes.....

Overall, the day was long, but it was a beautiful event. Here's a look at the beginning of the day (4am!)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Back in a quick minute!

Sooo many things have been happening lately (mostly all good!), and I haven't had time to post lately.

Updates to come!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My gratitude list for the day

In spite of the usual craziness that I call my weekend, I am so grateful.

1. The fam-I've noticed that our family unit feels more and more like a team effort and that my parents have become close friends. Mom still reminds me to pick up my socks though....

2. The opportunity to work-Sure, I could use a little more money, and couldn't we all? I am just happy to be working when I know that there are so many out of work now, hoping for their next opportunity. I meet dozens of them weekly.

3. My friends at FACE-Thank goodness for Mondays! I always volunteer at the clinic on Monday nights with Aaron, and I have yet to find another group of people who feels the same way I do about animals.

4. My hair--it's been behaving lately. Yay!

5. A few close friends--I really treasure the few friendships that I still cling to, even after graduation, marriages, children, and mortgages.

6. My fur-childrens' father--He is my sunshine : )

7. Having a fully capable body--working out felt so good tonight.

8. Being granted the understanding and good graces of a few people who really matter

Monday, September 14, 2009

Meet Ginger and Josie

Over the past two months, I've been graced by the presence of two beautiful dogs:

Meet Ginger:

On labor day, Aaron and his parents were boating in some lake in Indiana when they saw a dog walking along the shoreline. Aaron's dad likes to fish (and always asks his vegetarian son to go....????), so the boat was anchored about 100 feet from land. They whistled to get the dog's attention, and to their surprise, she swam to the boat! They checked around to make sure they had not abducted someone's fur-child, and they left their phone number with the lodge just in case.

Here is Ginger just after being pulled up into the boat!

Aaron and I took Ginger (named after the character on Gilligan's Island!) to the FACE clinic to be spayed, and we learned that she had horrible bladder stones! I am pleased to announce that she is doing wonderfully after her surgery this morning!

Next up: Josephine!

Josephine, or Josie, as most call her was chained up outside of the FACE clinic one weekend to be dumped. This sweet pit bull had puncture wounds all over her face, ears, and neck, and it is certain that she will lose her right eye. Last week, Josie was spayed, and the vet also checked out her wounds. We are all shocked that the vet found a BULLET IN HER HEAD! She's recovering nicely and is such a precious girl. If there was ever a dog that had a good excuse to be angry at the world, it's Josie. But she's not. And now she's got a forever home with one of the staff!

This picture was taken at the clinic - Josie will snuggle up in anyone's lap!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Freshman year of life has been a bit rough, but at least I have my Mickey Mouse waffle maker

Ever since I was in kindergarten, my mom would make Mickey Mouse waffles on the first day of school. I can remember lying in bed on the morning of my first day back at school and getting excited to eat the waffles with Mom as I smelled them cooking. This tradition lasted all the way through my undergraduate years!

When I moved back from college after graduation, my mom made these waffles without fail for my "freshman year of life." It's not like I'm a huge Disney fan - I just love the tradition and memories that come with eating them.

Tonight, I had nothing to make for dinner because I hadn't had the opportunity to make it to the store yet, so I decided to let Mickey help out. Enjoying the waffles tonight reminded me that I still have something awesome in this world - my family, even though the past three months since graduating have been extremely difficult due to the stress of running the business (seriously, it was not even this hard while I was doing school AND work!).

It may be a complete cliche, but no matter how crappy things get or how many people betray my trust, make me look bad, or complain about getting their paycheck a day sooner, my relationship with my parents is rock solid, and as long as that waffle maker works, the tradition will live on : )

Monday, September 7, 2009

I am amazed and overwhelmed by the amount of difficult decisions that I'm going to be making really soon.

These decisions have nothing to do with choosing wedding colors or if I should have floor length linens - no, these decisions actually pack a punch.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

What a great weekend so far : )

Yesterday, Aaron and I took the day off of work to hang out with each other because we'll be getting married in a year, and we wanted to commemorate that with some fun stuff. We started the day out by sleeping in... except I seem to have lost the ability to sleep until noon and woke up at 9:30! Aaron made us lunch of alfalfa sprout sandwiches (seriously, try these things - all you have to do is make it like you would any deli sandwich except you replace the meat with alfalfa sprouts!) and some trail mix. Aaron had the good sense to put in PB Captain Crunch (which is vegan if I'm not mistaken) and chocolate chips. We ate lunch picnic style at the park where he proposed and took a walk around.

Alfalfa sprouts:

As it turns out, we headed to the office for just a little bit to make sure all was ok (wild horses couldn't drag us away!), and then we went out to dinner at Euphoria (where we'll be getting married next year). The weather was awesome, we actually sat down and had a real conversation about wedding plans, and then we hiked around the canal for just a bit.

It was just a cool way to spend the day - we relaxed for once, and got some stuff done.

To make the whole weekend better, we ate lunch today at a place called WB Pizza that has TONS of vegan options! We had vegan pizza and vegan garlic bread with vegan garlic butter. YUM!!!! Oh, AND our events were fully staffed today. What could be better?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Getting married in about a year...geez!

Tomorrow is September 4th which will be a year out from our wedding.

Working in the wedding industry certainly provides a different perspective on your own wedding for sure. I've become jaded towards them because I've seen so many cookie-cutter weddings that get cranked out on a weekly basis. In fact, the whole planning process kind of nauseates me. I've worked many weddings that were a complete cheese-fest, filled with fake sentiments and inflated guest lists.

Weddings also create unnecessary friction among families and friends. My parents and I are already disagreeing on the guest list. I want a small wedding so that I can actually talk to everyone and avoid feeling like I'm on stage for a performance, but they want everyone under the sun to "help us celebrate." The truth is, I really only want to invite people who have actually been a part of our lives and will likely be in our lives after we tie the knot. I could care less about the gifts that these extra people might bring. So what? I don't even want to register for gifts. I really don't need anything, and I'm constantly trying to weed out items of my that are not joyful, useful, or beautiful. I'd rather set up a charity "registry" and give to the Humane Society or to the FACE clinic.

I'm also pretty turned off by all of the usual rituals that are standard protocol that I'd prefer not to follow.

Here's an idea of what I would like to avoid:
1. Cake-I'm still doing cake I guess, but how about a wedding brownie a la mode instead?

2. The whole bouquet thing--I probably won't be tossing, and I'd rather not even carry flowers. Since Aaron and I are veg-heads, how about a veggie bouquet? Or fruit perhaps?

3. The garter toss - there is NO WAY this is happening
4. Awkward dancing - I've worked too many weddings and been embarrassed for the guests, the bride, the groom, and the families. IF I have any dancing at, it will all be really chill music for slow dancing and will not deafen the guests.
5. A church wedding - while I don't see anything wrong with getting married in a church - I considered it - I won't be following this tradition as my parents would probably prefer. Aaron and I are getting married on a balcony overlooking the canal downtown! How cool is that?
6. Traditional pictures - I want some quirky, artsy photos. Who cares if heads are cut off! It's art! Also, I will likely not plaster my wedding photos all over the internet. Are people really that interested anyway? Those who actually want to see the wedding pictures will have been invited and will get access to them anyway.
8. I will not be wearing a dress with a 20 foot long piece of fabric dragging behind me. I would like be able to move, please.
9. Animals will be the guests of honor.
10. I will be wearing my hair short-just like I do all the time : )

In short, this will not be me:

Monday, August 24, 2009

My progress so far

School's going back for most, so I thought I would take a quick inventory...

It's true, I did say I wanted to move out of my parents' house by August, and here it is, almost September, and I'm still here. The good thing is that I am able to save more for my wedding, retirement (did I just say retirement?), and I'm also able to help my parents finish the odd jobs and projects that they don't have the time to get to. We've recently painted and tiled their basement. You should've seen the carpet--heinous!!

In terms of my business, I've spent the last three years reinvesting money into it to make it better and better, but now, I've gotten to the point where I am happy with its status, and I am finally taking a paycheck! Momma's so proud! It feels good to finally take something. It's given me a little extra motivation : )

I'm also getting ready to launch my second business related to food service. I can't wait for it to get off the ground!! Stay tuned for details. I'll be posting them soon!

Finally, I am so happy with the activities that I chose to do outside of work--I am of course, volunteering with the FACE low-cost spay/neuter clinic, and I'm also working with the Humane Society to learn about how I can help them expand their youth animal rights. I'm still kind of in limbo in finding a church, though, and I'm always willing to take suggestions!

Since establishing a more permanent home, I've developed better habits of exercising, sleeping, and general well being. Boy, does that feel good!

So is my progress as quick as I'd like? No. Do I like the direction I'm headed? You bet.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I was wrong : (

Recently, I commented in this blog about a guy who made my job more enjoyable because he was extremely reliable, pleasant, and did a great job.

Well, in the past couple of weeks, one of our clients requested that he not come back, and then he failed to show up to a really important event. I found out later that he had "been drinking" that day.

Also, in my last post, I talked about a guy who looked a little hood and then turned out to be an animal lover with a rescued pitbull. I was wrong. He got fired this week because he stole money out of a cash register, and I learned that he didn't even have a dog.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I relearned the old adage to not judge a book by its cover!

This week, a young man about my age entered my office asking about work. I handed him some paperwork, and when he was finished, I collected it and told him that I would be with him in a minute for the interview. As I entered our waiting area, I noticed that he was reading a copy of the Pampered Pet magazine (a free publication!), and I thought that it was pretty interesting, especially since he looked kind of thugish.

I said, "I noticed you were reading the animal magazine. Do you have any of your own animals?" He responded that yes he did; a red-nosed pit bull and a miniature pincher. Very shallowly, I assumed that this rough-around the edges guy was just like the many pit bull owners that I had met at the clinic. I reasoned that this guy must be the type who thought his pit bull was an absolute beast.

I decided to ask him where his dogs had come from because now I was getting nosy. He told me that his pit bull was a dog that had been cruelly forced into fighting. He also explained that she was "really torn up" when he got her. So, he rescued his "little girl." Of course, I melted. I felt like a jerk, and all of a sudden, I felt this great need to hire this guy!

After the interview, we talked about his love for reptiles. He doesn't believe in keeping them unless they practically have their own room, and he also elaborated and told me about his birthday gift a few years ago from his mother--a custom built iguana cage!

As he left, I decided to tell this fellow animal lover about the FACE clinic.

Oh, and he got hired. Shocker.

Grab-bag of blog topics

This weekend was jammed pack full of events, some good and some horrible.

Here's an index of topics for you to choose from. Warning: this blog post is guaranteed to be lengthy!

A. The Merrick/Utterback wedding
B. My little bunny, Harriet
C. Events without a hitch!

A. The Merrick/Utterback wedding

On Saturday night, Aaron and I attended Joe Merrick and Melissa Utterback's wedding. We had such a great time! It was great to catch up with the Merrick family, and I'm always up for a romantic night with my man! The DJ had on this AWFUL tuxedo shirt--the only place that it could have been purchased was the 1980's. I'm pretty sure that Joe's mom, Karen was ready to fight the DJ out in the parking lot too!

B. My little bunny, Harriet

Also on Saturday night, I was visiting my bunnies, Mimzy and Harriet, and I noticed that Harriet was not very responsive. I picked her up and let her hang out with me in the living room, gave her a banana, and she perked right up. I didn't think much about it until the next morning.... When I walked in the room, she was laying on her side, so I opened the top of the cage. She still did not get up. I reached down to touch her, and she still did not get up. Frantically, I woke up Aaron, and he rushed to her side to see what was wrong.

He carefully lifted her tiny body, and it was limp. She could not stand, and she could not even hold up her head. I felt panicked, but I knew this was not a time to lose my composure, so I called some emergency vets to see where I peacefully put her down (it became very apparent that she would not live) and found one on the north side.

My dad drove me up there, and at that point, I broke down and sobbed. I couldn't stand to see her suffering, and my tears blurred my vision. After about 10 minutes, I calmed down and carefully lifted the box that she was laying in to hear her breathing or see her body moving. I saw nothing, but I wanted to continue on just in case she were alive. I didn't want her to suffer any longer. When we reached the vet's office, I had begun crying again, and I knew that she had died. I asked them to check anyway.

The vet returned with her small frame and informed me that she had passed away. The little girl died in my arms! I felt glad that she died sooner, but I hated to lose her. Aaron and I buried her in a patch of clovers, but she would have been happiest. After laying the dirt, Aaron erected a small cross made of sticks and laid down Timothy hay at her gravesite as "flowers." We both broke down, held each other, and did the "ugly cry." The whole day was emotionally draining, and I still feel so sad today. I am just glad that she died with a loving family that misses her.

C. Events without a hitch

This past week, our staff was stretched pretty thin, and we were worried about how they would turn out. It felt like a living nightmare on Saturday when about a dozen people called off from their events.

Aaron and I hurriedly called more people who might be willing to work and found a few extras. One lady whom we had not called in a while said, "Prodigy? I can't believe you're still in business!" Jerk.

Somehow, we had PERFECT numbers for ALL of our events. I can't even remember that last time that happened!

We also had no major issues to deal with on Monday.

All I can say is WOW!!!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I WANT this space!

I am renovating my room right now--mostly just painting, new curtains, and new bedspread. The one thing I am sooooo excited to add into my room is a scrapbooking/craft area. THIS is my inspiration:

I cannot wait to build these shelves and organize my stuff!

You bet I'll be posting pictures when it's done : )

Monday, August 3, 2009

Just when I thought I'd had my fill of being around people.....

While cleaning out the cages at the FACE clinic today, I learned of a wonderful surprise! One of the vet techs, Emily, told me that a couple of dogs came in today with frayed ropes as "leashes." The mother of one of the patients at the clinic noticed this and bought new collars and leashes for the little darlings.

The woman who purchased the leashes and collars left them with the clinic employees so that the owners of the dog wouldn't be wiser. Now isn't that nice?

After such a crazy, messed up weekend, there really is some good in the world after all : )

Anybody else recently witness random acts of kindness?

Whew! I made it past the weekend alive

This weekend affirms what I've always felt--when you deal with people, things get messy.

I spent all weekend trying to fix mini and major crises with the different events that we worked. It seemed like one issue after another, and I worked both Friday and Saturday night.

After working about 50 hours this week, I tacked on another 12 with the events I ended up having to work. I know I'm having a pity party, but a lot is riding on the work that I do, and when it doesn't go smoothly (which is often), my nerves fray. I had planned to spend my Sunday at the office catching up on work that I have neglected for a little while, but I spent all day in what I consider "recovery mode," which is just a vegetative state on the couch in my comfiest.

Although it is not for most, my favorite day of the week is Monday. I love Mondays because it's always a day in the office to catch up, we do casual Mondays, and I am not usually running around like a crazy person like I am the rest of the week, and Aaron and I volunteer at the FACE clinic

After the smoke clears after each weekend, I usually feel emotionally and physically drained. I guess that's why I'm doing this while I'm young, right? Well, I guess that's just how it goes : )

Saturday, July 25, 2009

My latest obsessions: chick peas and platform heels

I've been on sort of a frenzy with cooking with chickpeas and wearing platform heels. Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are a semi-soft and have a nutty flavor to them. There is a good amount of protein and fiber in them, and they add great substance to vegetarian dishes.

Here are a couple of recipes that I have personally tried that turned out great! I highly recommend Chana Masala which is an Indiana dish that looks like this:

Chana Masala

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon curry
1 tablespoon tomato paste
15 oz can chick peas, drained, reserving 3 tablespoon liquid
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh black pepper
crushed red pepper, optional to taste
1 tablespoon vegan margarine

Heat oil on medium high heat. Fry onions until slightly browned. Reduce heat to medium. Add garlic, curry, and paste. Stir and simmer about 2 minutes. Add chick peas, liquid, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper. Simmer 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add red pepper to taste. Add margarine, stirring through to melt it. Stir and simmer for 5 minutes more or until peas are softened and dish is hot. Serve over rice

And another recipe....

Southwestern Vegetarian Pasta

• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
• 1 onion, chopped
• 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
• 2 cloves garlic, chopped
• 2 tablespoons chili powder
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
• 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas
• 1 (10 ounce) package frozen corn kernels, thawed
• 1 (12 ounce) package uncooked elbow macaroni
• 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1. Heat oil in a large, deep skillet. Saute onion, green pepper, garlic, chili powder and cumin. Stir in tomatoes, chickpeas and corn. Reduce heat to low and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, or until thickened and heated through.
2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
3. Combine pasta and sauce. Sprinkle each serving with Monterey Jack cheese

I've also really been digging platform high heels. They add a lot of drama to an outfit because you can get away with a higher heel, and they make your legs look amazing. These are just like a pair that I have recently purchased from Charlotte Russe (they don't sell ANY leather shoes!)

I recommend buying these as long as the platform isn't too tall on them--you don't want to venture into the stripper shoe territory....

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Congratulations Zach and Dana!

Aaron and I attended Zach and Dana's wedding this past Saturday, and it was B-E-A-UTIFUL! What I liked so much about it was that it was very traditional, but it was still SO them. Dana looked stunning, and Zach was absolutely beaming with happiness. Congratulations you two!

We had a great time catching up with friends that we had not seen in a while, and the food was delish! Thank you Jonathan Bryd's for some great mac n' cheese and seasoned potatoes!

The wedding was productive too! It was getting great advice from my friends who have already gone through the wedding planning process. We got some advice on cake bakers as well as honeymoon destinations. Thanks Emily and Caleb!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A happier blog post!

Have I told you about the most recent addition in my life? Although we haven't given her a name yet (we just haven't thought of the perfect one!), Aaron and I are fostering a small rabbit. She's such a cutie! Her colors are white with orange spots, and she's got a brown mouth. We've set up her cage to share a wall with our bunny Mimzy who is not at all cool with another bunny in HER house! We are hoping that we can adopt the rabbit out to a loving family that will take good care of her.

I think the Humane Society expresses it well when it says: "Rabbits may be easy to love, but they're not quite as easy to care for." I've learned so much with welcoming Mimzy in our life. We began buying pellet food and wood chips for her litter (yes! rabbits can be potty trained!) because it they were cheap and readily available. We learned later on, however, that pellets are really only for meat rabbits, that we should have been feeding her Timothy hay all along, and that wood chips (no matter what kind of wood), are not good for litter because of her fragile repiratory system.

I'll be updating about the bun if anything should change with her status.

Aaron and I also volunteered at FACE last night for the first time. We cleaned out the cages and got to know the staff a little bit. It's been a while since either of us have volunteered, and it felt great. I'm really looking forward to going back next week, and I hope that the little assistance we can give them.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Meet your meat

At the risk of being redundant in my blog material, I'd like to post a video called "Meet your Meat," narrated by actor Alec Baldwin. As a disclaimer, it is very graphic. However, it's a look into the cruelty of the animal products industry.

So here goes:

If you've watched the video up to this point, you might understand why I feel so passionately about helping animals. I realize that animal welfare is a topic that I frequently post about, however, I just can't ignore the atrocities. I hope blog readers understand!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Fun, fun, summer!

So, Aaron and I finally took the plunge....and became official volunteers at the FACE low-cost spay/neuter clinic!


We're starting Monday, and we cannot wait! Our job will be cleaning out the cages that housed the animals who have been spayed and neutered. So, although it's not the most glamorous job and really will not involve hanging out with any animals, we really admire those who work at the clinic for all that they do. (I've never been so excited to clean up poo and pee in my life!) Usually, the surgeons and vet techs arrive at 7am and leave at 7pm. Aaron and I are hoping that we'll be able to alleviate some of the stress on the staff by going in a couple of days a week after work.

Amazingly, they've performed almost 7,000 surgeries this year, and to date, they've performed about 109,000! I wish that Indianapolis required spaying and neutering. It would be wonderful if were were a "no-kill" city by becoming a "no-birth" city through legislation. Hamilton county already enacted this law, and I'm sure there is still no shortage of companion animals there either.

Please practice your ABC's: animal birth control!

For a change of pace, I've been really inspired by one of our staff members. There's a guy who works for us named Ricky who stops by our office a couple of times a week after he gets off of work to get more work. He's never missed an event that I know of, and he's always excited to accept work that we offer to him. We've also never had a complaint about his perfomance. This week, when he stopped by our office, we told him about the event that we are working in Lexington, KY, and he was so genuine in his excitement. He was so eager to work a lot of hours that this event would promise, and he also perceived this event as a vacation!

This staff member makes my job enjoyable, and he makes me feel guilty for grumbling and complaining about working a lot. I really think we should take this guy out to lunch to say thanks for the attitude adjustment.

Friday, July 3, 2009

A great rescue story, and how you can help unloved animals this summer

I thought this story was wonderful, and I wanted to share it:

Actor-model Julie-Anne Younghans couldn't turn away from an abused dog in her town ... and Magic changed her life:

In September, I was paged by a man I had met on a movie set a few weeks before, who told me of a dog who was in very bad shape in south central Los Angeles.

Go and rescue the starving, stinky, dying, elephant-looking dog who needs to be put out of his misery, I was told.

I drove to south central L.A. the next morning to rescue Magic, the 8-year-old German shepherd mix from the hellish yard in which he had been chained all of his life. Magic stood sorrowfully in front of me, and I placed my hands on his bloody body to give him the comfort of knowing somebody was there to touch him without harming him.

His fragile, bald skeleton body trembled as he did his best to climb into my car. I then cried the entire way to the veterinarian.

In the weeks that came after, I watched this beaten-down, malnourished, flea-infested, ringworm infected, scabby, yet gorgeous, bright-eyed, perky-earred, tail-wagging, trusting soul go through an amazing transformation. Magic began to grow fuzz on his now clean skin, and he quickly gained weight, thanks to the food my vet shared with him as they buddied around the office.

At this very moment, Magic is lying here chewing on a snack next to his best pal, Mohammed, my black Lab. He is the kindest, gentlest, sweetest, most loving dog on the planet.

I later learned that his "owners" used slingshots on him, kicked him, starved him, and when he was lucky, ignored him. Once they dumped him in a parking lot and he sadly, but loyally, found his way back to the only "home" he had ever known.

Now he has a real home, with a family who loves him. But I'm the lucky one. Magic has taught me never to turn my back on an animal in need, and I'll always be grateful for his lesson of love.

I thought this was a wonderful story, but the sad reality is that this circumstance is all too common. The summer months can be especially difficult for animals who face the dangers of heat stroke, flea and tick infestation, heartworms, and overpopulation. Please help out in your own community by giving a voice to these unwanted, unloved animals.

If you see a dog chained constantly without shade, food, or water, get to the know the owner and ask if you can play with the dog. A scratch behind the ears, food, and a clean bowl of water could make a world of difference for a neglected dog.

If you see a cat with wounds or desperately seeking food, don't look the other way. He needs you to care for him by cleaning or feeding him. Just because the animal is owned by another person does not mean that he/she is well cared for.

Finally, never assume that someone else is already on the case. Many onlookers will do and say nothing, even when they wish something could be done. Please do more than feel sad or sorry about neglected animals. Take action—you could very well be their only hope.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Happy July and Kitten Season

I can't believe it's already July! I'm looking forward to my 4th of July plans. During the day, I am planning to go downtown and do an "Independence Day for Dogs" event where I'll bring a doghouse and a collar on a chain, and I'll offer for people to try out wearing the collar. For social animals, there is no crueler punishment than solitary confinement. I'll be handing out free sparklers to those who will talk to me and will take the flyer about the dangers and cruelties of chaining dogs.

Later on in the day, Aaron and I will be meeting my family at our office to watch the fireworks with some vegan hot dogs. Yum! I do love compassionate cooking : ) We'll be camped out in front of the building in the parking lot with a great view of the skyline. I love working downtown!

There's an office here in the building on the 4th floor that has access to the roof of the building, and they constructed a really cool gazebo for their company parties and other events like the fireworks display downtown. I sure wish I could join them!

The only hesitation I have is with Bella and the fireworks. She shakes like a leaf when it storms, so I'm nervous that she will be upset with the fireworks. If so, then I'll be hanging out with her inside while the fireworks are on display....

To change the subject, I tried trapping a feral kitten that is near our house, and while I failed to catch her, I did catch one of the father kitties. I was like-Score! I just caught the source of the problem! As an unneutered male cat, he fights a lot for females and for his territory, so he had a lot of bad cuts and scrapes all over his face and body. I took him to the FACE clinic (Foundation against companion animal euthanization), and to my surprise, they were not doing surgery all this week! Aaron and I decided to take him back to my parent's house until I could secure an appointment with him at a later date at another clinic.

Fortunately, after leaving some messages, I got a call back from the Hamilton County Low-Cost Spay/Neuter clinic. We drove this cat all the way up to Noblesville from Greenwood to get him neutered! While I burned through half a tank of gas that day, it was so worth it. He's neutered, and the clinic treated him for his cuts and scratches. He looks soooo much better than before he went in to the clinic. I stayed up with him most of the night after he was neutered to make sure he was ok, and I have to say, we bonded a little. For a feral cat, he's a good guy. And by the way, his name is Morris.

If you don't know about the FACE clinic or the Hamilton County low cost spay/neuter clinic, you should certainly check it out! The fees are so cheap, and they do such a great service for the cities they service. Did you know that 3-4 million companion animals are euthanized each year because they are born into a world that does not have enough homes and hearts for them. Millions of animals sit lonely in solitary confinement waiting for their forever home. The best thing to do to combat pet overpopulation is to spay and neuter your own companion animals..

Here is more information on FACE and the Hamilton County Low Cost Spay/Neuter Clinic. They are wonderful places will treat your pooch or kitty well! They also have some great t-shirts at the clinic with their logo on it so you can spread the gospel of spaying and neutering!

And finally, some resources from the FACE website:

Why spay (female animal) or neuter (male animal)?

Peace of Mind. A spayed or neutered (sterilized) animal is better behaved:

Males - Neutered cats and dogs focus their attention on their human families. On the other hand, unsterilized, unsupervised males roam in search of a mate, risking injury in traffic and in fights with other males. They mark territory by spraying strong-smelling urine on surfaces. Indoors, male dogs may embarrass you by mounting furniture and human legs when stimulated. Don't confuse aggressiveness with protectiveness; a neutered dog protects his home and family just as well as an unneutered dog, and many aggression problems can be avoided by early neutering

Females - While their cycles vary greatly, most female cats exhibit the following signs when in heat. For four or five days, every three weeks, they yowl and urinate more frequently - sometimes all over the house - advertising for mates. Often, they attract unneutered males who spray urine around the females' home. Female dogs in heat also attract males from great distances. Female dogs generally have a bloody discharge for about a week, and can conceive for another week or so.

Good Medicine. A spayed or neutered animal will live a longer, healthier life:

Spaying a female (removing the ovaries and uterus) or neutering a male (removing the testicles) are veterinary procedures with the same general anesthesia used in human medicine. Both surgeries usually require minimal hospitalization.

Neutering a male cat or dog by six months of age prevents testicular cancer, prostate disease and hernias. Spaying a female cat or dog helps prevent pyometra (a pus-filled uterus) and breast cancer; having this done before the first heat offers the best protection from these diseases. Treatment of pyometra requires hospitalization, intravenous (IV) fluids, antibiotics and spaying. Breast cancer can be fatal in about 50 percent of female dogs and 90 percent of female cats. With an older, seriously ill animal, anesthesia and surgery are complicated and costly.

Responsible Care. You can help prevent the suffering and death of millions of animals:

Conservative estimates state that every low-cost spay/neuter prevents on the average four unwanted births in each of the next three years. Almost everyone loves puppies and kittens, but some people lose interest when these animals grow up. As a result, millions of cats and dogs of all ages and breeds are euthanized annually or suffer as strays. Rarely surviving for more than a few years on their own, strays die painfully by starvation, disease, freezing or being hit by cars.


Common myths about spaying and neutering:

Myth. A female cat or dog should have a litter before she is spayed.

Fact. The sooner you spay your female, the better her health will be in the future. As long as a kitten or puppy weighs more than 3 pounds and is 4 months old, he or she can be neutered or spayed. The likelihood of developing mammary tumors or uterine infections increases the longer a female goes unspayed. In fact, a female spayed before sexual maturity (6-9 months of age) has one seventh the risk of an intact female of developing mammary cancer.

Myth. Spaying or neutering (sterilization) will alter my pet's personality.

Any slight changes will be positive. Regardless of the age when spayed or neutered, your pet will remain a caring, loving and protective companion. Neutering will reduce the need to breed, and that has a calming effect on many animals. Both neutered male canines and felines tend to stop roaming and fighting and lose the desire to mark their territory with urine.

Myth. Companion animals will become fat and lazy if they are neutered.

Absolutely not! Lack of exercise and overfeeding make pets fat and lazy - not neutering. Your pet will not gain weight if you provide exercise and monitor food intake. Neutering is good for your pet, since sterilized pets tend to live an average of two to three years longer than unsterilized pets.

Myth. Sterilization is a dangerous and painful surgery for my pet.

Spaying and Neutering are the most common surgeries performed on animals. With a minimal amount of home care, your pet will resume normal behavior in a few days.

Myth. Children should witness the miracle of birth.

Countless books and videos are available to teach your children about birth in a responsible manner. Letting your pet produce offspring you have no intention of keeping is teaching your children irresponsibility. Anyone who has seen an animal euthanized in a shelter for lack of home know the truth behind this dangerous myth.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dog walks, babies, and wedding news

Recently, I hosted a dog walk in my neighborhood to benefit the chihuahua rescue from which I adopted Bella. It's called Donna's Chihuahua rescue:

Unfortunately, I didn't have the greatest turnout, but we still raised $144! There were about 10 walkers, and we had a great time. Miss Bella was hands down the worst behaved dog present! You can bet that we've been working with her recently to be a better behaved little dog. At the end of the day, I was so glad to do it, even if we raised just a little bit of money. I plan to do another next year on a bigger scale if I can : )

Here are a few pictures from the big day!

Here's a picture of the whole family: (Mimzy got to hang out at the registration table, so she got plenty of attention!)

In other news, I went to a baby shower recently! A couple of friends of mine from high school got married last year, and they are expecting a baby this year! It's seems so unreal that we're all grown up. This couple also has a bunny that they ADORE, so you know they'll be good parents ; )

Finally, Aaron and I have set a date and found a venue! We'll be having our ceremony and reception at Euphoria, which is a restaurant housed in Buggs Temple on the northwest corner of downtown Indianapolis at the very end of the canal. Euphoria is located on the second floor, and we'll be having our ceremony on the balcony looking down the the canal and towards the Indy skyline. We'll head back into the restaurant afterwards for the recepection. We're going all vegetarian (of course!). The restaurant is soooo beautiful! There are linens on the tables with elegant glassware, and the room is richly colored in reds, dark wood, and gold. We've chosen a date of September 4. I just don't know if I can wait that long!

Here are a few pictures of the venue