Thursday, February 25, 2010

WINTER...I'm over it!

Okay...last weekend spoiled me! The weather was absolutely perfect, but now I'm back to freezing my behind off! Every day I wake up thinking, "Is winter ever going to pass?" There seems to be no end in sight, and like many of you, I am so over the cold these days!

Here are the Top 10 Reasons why I HATE WINTER
1. Dealing with dry, pale skin
2. The hot water in the shower barely lasts ten minutes
3. Heating up my car before leaving for work is a pain
4. Squeezing myself into a million layers just to take
Scarlett outside
5. My favorite vegetables and fruits are out of season
6. People are generally less friendly and very moody
7. The days are shorter
8. There are no flowers
7. Fresh air is an afterthought because it's COLD
8. I get fatter
9. Snow is nice...but once or twice is good enough
10. My social life gets traded in for hibernating on the couch in warm, comfy clothes

I'm so ready for spring, are you?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Shopping at Sea...

This weekend, I emerged from the couch and finally got some fresh air. The weather was beautiful, and there was no excuse to stay home. On Saturday and Sunday, Michael, Scarlett and I played at the park in Sequoyah Hills. This is our favorite place to go because Scarlett gets to run around without a leash. Saturday at the park was cut short because Michael could barely keep his eyes open after staying up all night at Dance Marathon. So I took him and Scarlett home and headed to the mall for some ME time. Big Mistake!

After fighting the West Town mob, I was quickly over shopping. Besides, in every store, all the clothes looked the same. I couldn't step two feet inside before being bombarded with "fashion" clearly designed by a sea captain!

I do believe the Nautical Trend has officially gotten out of control!

I'll be the first to admit I love this trend in it's pure, un-Forever 21, form. I have dedicated a very special place in my closet for my favorite spring "nautical" striped shirts. I own shirts and dresses with navy and white, gray and white, and black and white stripes. I love them because they are classic and will remain a part of my wardrobe for seasons to come. I pair them with khaki or white shorts, my trench or military jacket, red flats and a few gold accessories, but that's as far as I go.

If you want to take this trend a step further than me, just visit the mall and you can become the proud owner of your very own sailor pantsuit or dress with chintzy white buttons, a shiny black and white captains hat, a gold chevron sailor's jacket, and anchor accessories galore! Come to think of it, this might make a great Halloween outfit this year!

Trends are great for spicing up your wardrobe, but going too far makes you look like you are trying way too hard people. If you want to be trendy, stick to accessories or wear one trendy piece at a time. Don't overdo it!

Think Parisian chic! Europeans always look effortless in their attempts at fashion. Pair your nautical pieces with a trench or anorak and a great pair of crisp white shorts, but please leave the anchors and sea captain hats at home!

For every day fashion inspiration, check out one of my favorite fashion photography blogs by Scott Schuman called
The Sartorialist. His archives offer great examples of how to wear the nautical trend the right way.

Amanda Peet embraces the trend effortlessly!


This is a perfect example of how good this trend can look to how bad it can get. I love the dress and skirt in the middle, but I hate the two dresses on the far left and right. I'm indifferent about the shoes and bag.


Photos Courtesy of

Sunday, February 21, 2010

FOR THE KIDS! A post by Michael

Guy here again for the first solo guest blog appearance. I have recently awoken from a 14 hour slumber after attending Dance Marathon 2010 at the University of Tennessee. For those of you outside of Big Ten country (where they go completely insane for Dance Marathon) DM at Tennessee is a year of fundraising for the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital capped off by a 15 hour event that celebrates the money raised and shows support for the children and families served by the hemotology and oncology clinics of ETCH. The amazing thing is that aside from some support from our Student Activities office and the development office from ETCH, the entire thing is student run which makes the $38,000 raised all that more impressive. It was honor to help out the cause and here are some observations from the event that began at 8:30PM on Friday, February 19th and concluded at 12:00PM on Saturday the 20th. 8:37PM – Registration is moving a bit slower than the previous year, but that was to be expected. Last year’s attendance of around 450 students was inflated by some student organizations requiring their members to attend, but this year organizations were told not to do so. Quality over quantity is the new mantra and it makes the event more meaningful for those who independently choose to participate. 10:30PM- Registration concludes with 202 registered dancers and with the students on the executive committee and the morale dancers, I would say total attendance is around 300 students. 11:27PM – The event is officially opened in the gymnasium with the UT ROTC presenting the colors during the national anthem. Patriotism Reigns. 11:55PM- After several introductions and rules explanations, the first of the performers takes the stage. The Jim Linehan Dance Crew from New York ascends to the stage with Jim flanked by two female dancers dressed in the image of Lady GaGa complete with stars on their eyes and thigh high converse chuck taylors. Jim seems to be pretty proud of himself as a performer and decides to lip sync and dance at the same time. 12:25AM- I know this is lame, but I took some time off to go home a catch a nap. I have to drive later in the morning and I need some time to recharge. 4:15AM – I return during a meal time where pizza and moe’s burritos are being served. Normally I would inhale a Moe’s burrito, but I just wasn’t myself yet. I think the two hour nap at home did more harm than good. 5:58AM- Local musician/friend of TeamVOLS Dave Kennedy is playing some outstanding bluegrass music to a quiet reception. The dancers have hit a wall and are taking shelter in quiet corners of the gym, but this is not Dave’s first rodeo, he knows the drill. He throws everything but the kitchen sink at the crowd including Rocky Top and Old Crow Medicine Show’s Wagon Wheel to keep the crowd awake. 6:42AM – Another local group, 2nd string takes the stage. All club rats in attendance rejoice. 8:24AM- Panera Bread Bagels and Krispy Kreme doughnuts join forces to become a breakfast of champions. 9:12AM- We begin a shuttle service bringing cancer survivors and their families to the event from ETCH for a breakfast and the Kid’s carnival. At this same time, some bright person decides to ask one of the van drivers for directions to a campus location and then illegally parks their vehicle directly behind our van. This person is later towed restoring order to the world. 10:37AM- The Kid’s Carnival is in full swing with around 15 survivors and their families in attendance. Adding to the inflatable games and rides, Smokey and Tennessee athletes play and pose for pictures with the kids. One boy hugs Smokey for the best 12 minutes of his life. 10:45AM- Each cancer survivor is summoned to the middle of the gym for the Champions Run, a new tradition where each child is individually recognized for their struggle against cancer with a lap around the gym to thunderous applause. I have been to a lot of sporting events where the crowds were bigger and louder, but the energy in the gym is too much for me to take. I am so overcome by the love and generosity that I have to leave. I am so happy for these kids, but I am so sad that I have to count my dad as someone who could not beat cancer. I wish he could still be with me and I know that he would be crying at this moment with me. 11:19AM- The Kid’s Carnival is over and many of the families are ready to be shuttled back to the hospital. I take the wheel of the trusty 12 passenger van and shuttle families back and thank them for sharing the morning with us. 11:52AM- The total contribution amount is revealed by the student leadership $37,842.25. The middle numbers might be wrong; I forgot to write it down. 1:15PM- Everything is cleaned, packed up, and returned to its place at the University Center. Fin. There were a lot of funny moments and work in between, but I think that I hit the highlights. It has left me very impressed with the 300 students who produced and attended Dance Marathon and I hope you enjoyed this post.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Today's Soapbox

Yesterday, I was reading a blog whose author is a copywriter, and one of her posts was about finding something to blog about. She suggested that bloggers go to Google News and write a blog based on some of the news stories they read. I took her advice today and went to Google News. Here are two noteworthy headlines (not copied verbatim) from the past week, on the local and national news fronts: Teacher shoots assistant principal and principal at Knoxville elementary school Professor shoots six, kills three Talk about depressing headlines! My immediate thought is, "Is this nonsense ever going to end?" I mean really, what is America coming to when our educated citizens are the ones shooting up people in our schools and universities? For those of you who have them, what do you tell your children when they don't understand how to deal with anger because they've witnessed the aftermath of their teacher blowing up their principal because she didn't renew his contract. Or better yet, what are we supposed to think when a professor, the apex of our education system, makes the selfish choice to injure and kill her colleagues because she wasn't rewarded tenure. Just go work at another university lady or be thankful that you have a job as a PROFESSOR! I never should have followed the advice of that blogger yesterday because this makes me so angry. Thousands of people have lost their jobs, livelihoods, and faith in this wreckless economy, but they have chosen to be thankful for what remains and to be patient in their search for a happier ending. To me, the hope that these men and women possess is the true picture of what being American means. The media should make a conscious decision to report more stories about these brave Americans and quit giving face time to ignorant shooters! But I'm just saying...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! I hope yours has been as wonderful as ours. Michael and I had such a great day! We usually aren't big gift givers for special occasions; instead, we spend our money traveling together or taking day trips for our holidays. Today was a nice change because we both got each other something special. We started off our morning with opening up presents. I made Michael a Valentine's basket with his favorite beers and snacks, and I got him some new shirts for spring. He got me the best gift ever! I was so impressed! He bought me a day at the spa and gave me a crisp $100 to go shopping. The card said both gifts were for me to have a "Brandi Day!" I loved it! We just finished up our Valentine's dinner at home. When we were in Atlanta a few weeks ago, we had this amazing salad at a gourmet pizza place, so I decided to recreate it tonight. I made a homemade balsamic vinaigrette dressing and drizzled it on top of sliced apples, buffalo mozzerella, and spring salad greens. It was a hit, and it's so healthy! I took a picture and posted it below. We also grilled steaks, and I roasted some potatoes, onions, and acorn squash topped with rosemary and olive oil in the oven. It was a nice night in, and I was glad we decided to stay home and not worry about fighting the dinner crowds. I plan on making some dark chocolate fudge brownies for dessert, and we'll spend the night in watching our favorite Sunday night tv shows. Since it is Valentine's Day, there is one more gift I asked for from Michael. I asked if he would like to join me and write something on this post. I thought it would be neat to write a love message about each other. He agreed to write a message to me, and we both promised we would not read what the other wrote before we wrote our message. I guess I'll go first. I am not sure what Michael plans to write, but I'm sure it will be funny and interesting! My relationship with Michael has always been easy and natural. In the six years we have been together, we've probably spent less that two weeks apart. I've never met someone who knows every part of me, both good and bad, but still loves me unconditionally and still looks at me with a smile on his face every day. I love him for his kindness, confidence, strength, selflessness, and heart. He is the most giving man I have ever met, and I love him more every day. He is the perfect complement to me. I don't know what I would do without him! Welcome everyone to the new and improved Just a Guy a Girl and now featuring "the Guy." After many requests, I am finally making my guest blogger appearance. This entry is a prime example of how Brandi pushes me out of my comfort zone to make me a better man. Of the many reasons I love Brandi, this is near the top of the list. Before I met Brandi, I felt pretty comfortable in my own skin to cruise through the rest of my life without much effort or self-improvement., but Brandi always helps me find a better me. Whether it is traveling overseas, buying new clothes, or suggesting that I could actually stomach more school, I can always count on Brandi giving me the love and support that I need to try new things and look for ways to make me better. Luckily for me, some new things rub off on her too, so the new me will always include college football, beer, and Entourage. Stay tuned for more guest spots and stay classy. -Michael Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Last week, I talked about my issues with anxiety and panic disorder that I have been experiencing for quite some time. One of the many battles I've fought is a fear of flying that developed shortly after the last time I flew in December 2007. I didn't think I would ever fly again, but I am happy to tell you all that I took the first step toward facing this fear and booked a plane ticket to Houston, TX in March! I'm pretty nervous about it, but I know I will feel liberated once I fly again.

Michael and I are traveling to Katy, TX, for a very special occasion that I can't miss. As many of you know, Michael's dad Kevin passed away in November, and in his honor, a little league field is being dedicated to him on March 26. For many years, Michael's dad played a major role in the Katy Little League, and many of Michael's favorite memories are of he and his father together on the baseball field. Kevin would be so proud to be honored this way because he loved Katy Little League so much, and I know this means the world to Michael. So in a sense, I'm not just doing this for myself. I am taking this step in memory of Kevin and to show my love for Michael. I am very excited to finally conquer this fear, and I can think of no better reason to get on a plane than to get to be a part of such a special occasion.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I went up a size...

I honestly can't believe I'm writing about this, but something amazing happened to me on Monday. I bought a pair of jeans in a bigger size! I should be feeling mortified about this, and I promise you, a year or a few years ago, I would have been mortified, but not anymore and it feels good. Here's the back story. I have two pairs of beloved jeans that I bought around the same time Michael and I got married almost four years ago. They were the smallest pair of jeans I had ever bought and because of this, I had to buy them. I could only fit into them because I was 23 and my body was a product of the latest diet and exercise craze, water pills, and pre-wedding stress. I guess you might say I looked my best back then if looking your best means weighing in at an all time low. I may have looked good, but I'm pretty sure I was hungry and I know I wasn't healthy. I was able to wear those jeans for a while, and I used them as a goal to measure my weight. As long as I could fit into them, I was happy. But fitting into them soon meant lying down on the bed, holding my breath and tugging to get them over my butt or wearing loose shirts to hide my love handles spilling over the top, and I don't even have love handles! Last winter, they were rediculously tight but I wore them victoriously. But about six months ago, I couldn't get the damn things buttoned. I remember that night well. It was followed by a few tears and insults in which I told myself how fat and gross I was! Of course I set out to fit back into my jeans again, but this time I vowed to no yo-yo dieting and no pills. I have been exercising 4-5 times a week, eating healthy and cooking at home, limiting alcohol, taking vitamins, and drinking tons of water. I feel really good, and I am proud of myself. I am more active than I have been in a long time, and I have so much energy. My skin looks better, and I feel more toned. And I've grown closer to Michael in the process because we do a lot of this together, which is so great for our marriage. So.....feeling better than I have in a while, I tried my jeans back on. They were easier to get on than the last time, but they are still way too tight. They just weren't working for me anymore. I admit I was frustrated at first because I secretly hoped they would slide on, but I didn't allow myself to freak out. Instead, I threw in the towel and accepted reality. I decided to go jeans shopping on Monday. To my surprise, I literally had an epiphany right there in the dressing room. I found a great pair of skinny jeans, and they feel amazing! I can breathe and move, and they look good with everything! No more loose fitting shirts for me! I haven't felt this good in my jeans in a while, and I don't care that I went up a size. Do you hear me, I don't care at all! I realized I am not 23 anymore. I am 27, and I have curves that weren't there four years ago. I am a woman, and I am beautiful. I can't even explain how I felt at that moment because of those jeans. I was so happy to have my body, and I didn't even care about my old jeans anymore and my struggle to wear them comfortably again. My 27 year old body is healthier than my 23 old body anyway. It's more feminine, it's stronger, and it's confident. It is such a relief to just let go of the numbers on the scale and the size on the tag. Who cares? What should matter is how well you can move, how strong you feel, how clean your insides are, and how well your body works for you. I am the size I am supposed to be. No more killing myself to be thinner than I am. I know some of you may be reading this thinking what in the hell is she talking about, she is thin. My point to all of this is that no matter how thin someone is, there is always this need to be thinner. Blame it on whoever you want, but we are all made to feel that the skinnier we are the better we will be, no matter what we do to get there. I'm just saying that it's stupid to do this to ourselves! I'm healthier than I've been in years, but I can't fit into those jeans, so what does that say? I realized all of this in a dressing room when I went up a size....


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Picture Positive

Ughhh! Today is the dreariest of all dreary days! It is dark, wet, windy, and oh so cold! I don't know how much more I can take of this winter, and I can't honestly remember when the sun last appeared. Days like this make me sad, but day after day of this gray winter is making me crazy. I completely understand why people who live in rainy climates are's horrible living like this! I sit at a desk for 10 hours a day, and the last thing I want to do when I am not at work is sit inside, but I feel like that's all I've been doing lately, and it's getting to me. Poor Scarlett can't take much more of sitting inside either. She's been getting up every night and pacing around the bedroom because she is so restless. There is nothing more annoying than hearing the clank clank clank of nails on hardwood floors at 3 a.m.! I think Michael is getting ready to kill her! So...yes, I really haven't had that much to write lately because we haven't been doing anything but hanging around inside and watching t.v. because winter will not go away! With the exception of the Super Bowl Party, we have been hermits since the beginning of January. We've probably saved a lot of money, but is it really worth it to have money but no life? Okay! Okay! Okay! I am going to stop with the negative nonsense RIGHT NOW! My complaining is not going to make spring come any faster, and I have to find a way to be more positive in order to get through this winter. I did buy a few spring clothes this weekend to make myself feel a little better, but I can't always count on retail therapy to get me out of a funk! I know that to be positive, I have to change my attitude (which is mostly a glass half empty one), and look on the bright side of things. Trust me, I've been sitting here for a while thinking of ways to look on the bright side. I started scanning through the pictures on my computer to pass the time. I love looking at pictures because they always make me smile, and I realized as I looked through all of them that it is easier to be positive when you learn to be grateful for the memories you have and the people that you share them with. I really have had so many great moments in my life. Thank God for pictures! I wanted to share some of these pictures with you. They brightened my day today and made me a little happier!

New Years Eve 2004 in long ago!

On Michigan Ave in Chicago

The night he proposed!

Our Rehearsal Dinner at the Lake

Our wedding! The best year of my life in Australia! This was the first time I touched the Pacific Ocean. Singing the National Anthem for the Aussies! Visiting the Great Ocean Road Coming Home and getting Miss Scarlett Belle! Moving to Tennessee and having the Smoky Mountains in our back yard UT Tailgating! Having my mom, Aunt Paula, and my Aussie girl Julia travel to come see me this fall, and Elizabeth joining us for a girls' trip in Asheville.

Hosting Thanksgiving this year

Watching Julia play in her first snow in the U.S.!
Ahhh! I love these pictures, and I feel better already!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Superbowl 44!

Last night, we celebrated Superbowl 44 at a party with our friends. I didn't care too much about the game, though it turned out to be a really good one for the Saints. I was excited about the commercials and the good food! There was plenty of good food, but I have to admit, I was a little disappointed with the commercials. I don't know about you, but I think the commercials have gotten worse over the years. Maybe my expectations are greater! Through the commercial mediocrity, I do think 3 stood out, and I wanted to share my favorites. What were your favorites?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What's Better than Sex?

Well, if you're the people from Weight Watchers, then you would answer, "Our Better than Sex Cake!" A while ago, my mom gave me a collection of Weight Watchers recipes. I've been trying to cook more these days, and I thought why not try some lower fat recipes. I skimmed through every recipe section this weekend, looking for the perfect thing to make. We were going to be trapped inside because of the snow, so I wanted whatever I made to be good. Finally, I got to desserts and came across the perfect recipe! It was called none other than "Better than Sex Cake." I was skeptical at first. How good can a chocolate cake really be if it's low in fat and sugar. Most things that are fat free taste like cardboard to me, and there's so many things hidden inside fat free products because they have to make them taste good somehow. I decided it was worth a try, and I am glad I did. I made the cake Saturday night, and it was fantastic! I don't know if it's better than...but anyway, it was delicious. Anyone who loves chocolate cake but is trying to stay healthy should make it. I hope you enjoy! Better Than Sex Cake 1 box Devil's Food Cake Mix 10 oz. Diet Coke 2 egg whites 5 oz. FF Caramel ice cream topping 5 oz. RF or FF condensed milk 1 c. Heath Bar bits (optional) 1 container FF Cool Whip Directions Preheat oven to temperature stated on cake mix box. Grease a 11” x 7” baking dish. In a large bowl, combine cake mix, egg whites and diet soda. Bake as directed on box. (Diet soda cake takes less time to bake than regular cake, so check cake after 20 minutes). During the last few minutes of baking, place caramel and condensed milk in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring until smooth. Take cake out of oven, and poke holes all over the top. Pour caramel mixture over warm cake, filling in the holes. Sprinkle Heath bits over the top, reserving some for the top. Cool completely. Cover with Cool Whip and sprinkle with remaining heath bits. Keep cool in fridge until ready to serve. This cake is tasty when served warm, but it's even more delicious after being in the refrigerator. It stays moist for days!