Friday, November 23, 2012

Some updates

Hi there... if anyone is still even reading this blog. It's been awhile. Sorry about that. My absence wasn't planned, but it was needed. Nothing bad has happened, just a whole lot of stuff going on.

My adjustment to my new job has been wonderful but exhausting. Couple that with a few too many volunteer commitments, wanting to spend time with family and friends, and trying to get ready for the holidays and something had to go. And sweet blog, it was you for awhile.

The thing is that I've recently found that I'm starting to miss it. It had gotten to a point where I felt stressed by the idea of maintaining it and didn't always feel like I was posting great stuff. Lately though, I've wanted to write about something, share a great recipe, or post pictures of something we've done or made. And I've missed my blog friends.

I've also found that I go back to this blog often when I'm referencing something that's happened in my life. I don't want to stop the documentation that's been the past few years.

Somewhere along the line this blog because more about who was reading it and getting more people to read it, and less about me and my life. Which just doesn't fit with what I want it to be.

So... I'm proposing a switch. And since I'm the Tara behind this blog, I guess that I'm also just saying that I'm making this switch. I'm not abandoning this blog altogether, but I'm also not committing to a posting schedule. I'll post things that I want to share with you, but I won't post just to post.

If you don't want to read anymore, I'll miss you, but it's okay. Otherwise, stay tuned. It just might get good.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lessons Learned by a First Time Dog Owner

When we adopted Derby, we truly had no idea what we were getting into. Zac and I had both had dogs growing up, but they were never our dogs. Honestly, I don't think I ever even fed any of those dogs.

We always said that we'd be open to adopting a dog if it found us, but that we weren't going to looking for one. When a friend of mine had a friend who had puppies that were going to the pound if they weren't adopted, we were interested. We made a list of pros and cons of having a dog, and could only think of one or two cons in contrast to our tons of pros. Decision made.

A year and a half in, I'm so grateful that Derby is part of our family. There are some lessons we've learned along the way that might be helpful to those pondering adopting a dog, or who find themselves totally overwhelmed with a new puppy...

Crating is a good idea. I don't understand why anyone doesn't initially crate a puppy when they aren't home. Puppies don't mean to destroy your house, but they often do. Get a crate from Craigslist (we paid $40 for ours) and lock up that sweet puppy when you aren't home.

Listen to advice, but be willing to throw the book out the window. We listened to advice about crating Derby at night and not letting him sleep in our bed. And he hated it. And cried. A lot. All night. For an embarrassingly long time. We put his crate in the dining room downstairs and would go upstairs to bed and listen to him whine. We finally moved his crate into our room - and he immediately started sleeping all the way through the night.  He just wanted to be near his mom and dad!

Go to an obedience class, but you probably don't need more than one. You learn a lot in an initial obedience class about your dog and how he learns, but in your first series you'll master sit, lay down, and make progress on stay. You can probably figure out the rest of what you want your dog to learn, especially if he is a natural pleaser.

Socialize the heck out of your dog the first year. Go to the dog park, a lot. Expose him to kids and adults and anyone you possibly can. The more comfortable your dog is with other people and dogs, the less worried you'll have to be about him.

Handle that sweet puppy. Play with his ears, stick your fingers in his mouth, pull his bowl away when he's eating, take toys away and bones out of his mouth. Pull his tail, touch his feet. Make sure that none of that will seem scary when he's older. Make sure he won't snap if a child pulls his ears or trys to pull a toy. We did this obsessively with Derby and I'm so glad we did - a two year old neighbor grabbed Derby's face the other day and Derby couldn't lick that little guy enough in response.

Know that the "rules" you have will be broken. I don't know a single person whose "no dogs on the couch/bed" has actually worked. If you feel really strongly about this, find a way to make it work.

There's no way to prepare yourself for how much you will love your dog. Or how much your dog will love you. It doesn't take very long for your heart  to go to mush over these sweet creatures.

Do you have any other advice to share with first time dog owners? What do you wish you'd done differently?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A visit to Lynn's Paradise Cafe

After our tailgating weekend, we drove from Lexington to Louisville to see my friend Clare. She is recently engaged (yay!) and I hadn't been able to meet her fiance yet. Well, verdict in: he's adorable. And nice. And funny. And all around wonderful. The Nolands approve of this guy!

Clare was in Louisville for a wedding, and she made a reservation for the four of us at Lynn's Paradise Cafe. Have you heard of this place? Apparently it's been on the Oprah Winfrey Show, The Food Network's "Best Of," the Discovery Channel's "Christopher Lowell Show," CBS "Good Morning America," and Food Network's "Throwdown with Bobby Flay."

Needless to say, we had high expectations. And friends, they. were. met.  Aunt Ellen, these pictures are for you. 

How cool is the outside?

A view from our table

Close up of the tree

These are legs.

More legs!

So. So. cool. I wish my license plate said FLY-SWA.

Even their uncool chairs were cool.

Breakfast didn't disappoint either. Zac ordered biscuits and gravy...

and I got a mushroom scramble with a side of MAC and CHEESE. Which yes, they offer as a side at breakfast.

The monstrosity on the right is the mac and cheese. I ate almost no eggs because I was eating so much mac and cheese!

I can't go to Clare's engagement party next weekend, so I brought her a gift. I embroidered their monogram on a dish towel and used it to wrap a newlywed cookbook. Adorable, if I do say so myself!

Me and Clare

We had SUCH a good time with Clare and Chris, and it was so much to visit Lynn's Paradise Cafe. Has anyone else ever been there??

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


I wasn't kidding when I said we had been busy --- last week Zac and I also drove up to Columbus to watch the US Men's Soccer Team play in a World Cup Qualifier against Jamaica.

It was a late night for us. I can't remember the last time I wasn't home at midnight on a weeknight, but it was worth it. Zac is a huge soccer fan, but this was my first big game.

We had GREAT seats. It was a blast - I don't think anyone in that stadium ever sat down. People were cheering and singing and jumping and just having a great time.

The US missed what felt like a hundred shots before finally scoring their first goal.

There was something extra special about cheering for the USA on the 11th anniversary of 9/11.

The US is in the red/white uniforms, and Jamaica wore yellow. The players look a bit like a "Where's Waldo" book, but I do love their jerseys.

The final score was 1-0... USA! USA!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Go Big Blue!

We have a wonderful group of college friends, and we try to get together as much as possible. Living in four different cities complicates this factor, as does the fact that some of our guy friends refuse to maintain calendars longer than a few days in advance (cough, Joe!).

This is the same group of friends that we have Friends Christmas with every year, but seeing each other once a year just isn't enough. Someone suggested a tailgate to bridge the gap between our other gatherings - and I'm so glad that we did!
Katie and I like to keep our tailgating classy. Thanks for the glasses, Lois!
My handsome hubby and I

I managed to find my friend Claire and snuggle this handsome fellow. How cute is Charlie? I love him.

Zac's dad came down to see us. It was a giant party!

Hooray for long lost friends rediscovered!

Go Cats! Even though they lost embarrassingly at the end. Bummer.

I hope you had a great weekend, too!

Monday, September 17, 2012

We've been busy!

We have had a really busy - but fun! - month. It seems like we've had fun things going on every weekend, and sometimes on weeknights in between.

Last weekend, my in-laws came to visit us. My father-in-law is a prostate cancer survivor, so when we found out the Great Prostate Cancer Challenge was coming to Cincinnati, we were quick to sign up.

Zac and I each ran the 5K (you can't see Derby, but he's off to the side! He ran with me), and my in-laws both walked the whole 3.1 miles. They're awesome!

It was pretty dreary for the first half of the day, but by the time we crossed the finish line, it was sunny and starting to warm up.

Just curious - who do you like Zac looks more like?

Naptime was a necessity after waking up early to run a 5K, but so was what happened next... Beer Fest!! We headed downtown to Fountain Square for an outdoor beer festival. They had a ton of booths, and there's absolutely no way we could have used our 25 sample tickets -- each!

My beautiful friend Tory modeling the sizes of our cups!

A view of the square

We had a blast, but man.... there's a chance we're getting too old for all this fun! I'm beat! More to come soon...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Steals, Deals, and Emails

I love a good deal.... which means that I receive  a lot of emails every day advertising various "one day deals." I think this trend started with Groupon, but now it's totally out of control.

That being said, I've snagged a lot of wonderful things through these deals, and thought you might want to know about a few of these. Hopefully you'll know of things I haven't found yet, as well! I'm starting with the ones I LOVE....

Pick Your Plum

I LOVE this site. I have ordered quite a few items from here and am always ultra impressed with the quality.  This is well worth the daily email, but beware that items often sell out quickly!


This is my new FAVORITE -- all "boutique" deals. Everything is super cute and really affordable. I actually have a hard time controlling myself with this site, so be warned! If you're only going to sign up for one deal email, this is the one I would do.


Zulily is cute baby, kid, and maternity stuff. I signed up because I can often find great baby gifts for friends - I'm not ordering anything for myself quite yet! Their stuff is flat out adorable. If you're a mom, this one is a must see.

This is my very favorite new site - I want literally everything on it, and I think their prices are really good. I'm generally not impressed if things cost more than $20, and these prices seem like a total STEAL.

Another site with a lot of kid stuff, this is supposedly "for moms, by moms." They have a lot of grown-up stuff too, which is why I subscribe. They have national deals, which are usually pretty good, and also deals localized to your city.  I don't order things often from here, but I have snagged a few good deals.

I still get Groupon emails, and I also get the "Groupon Goods" and the "Getaways." Verdict? I bought tons of Groupons when it first started. I bought my first one in 2012 just a few days ago (cheese making class for two for $19? Yes, please!).

We've never bought a getaway or a good, but I know people who have. Just waiting on the right one I guess.

Bottom line - it's quite a few emails, but I think it's worth it. I can open them quickly, scan for anything good, and then delete if I don't find anything, which is what I do more often than not. That being said, I have snagged some DEALS and am generally looking for things for people I will need gifts for in the near future.

Are there any really great deal sites I'm missing? I am always especially interested in the "cute stuff" sites!

Please know that I wasn't compensated at all for this post, but I did include referral codes for sites if any apply. These are my honest opinions.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Girls Night Make up Lessons

I have three college best friends who live in different cities. We try to get together once a month-ish in one of our cities and do something fun. We've gone to a pumpkin patch, shoe shopping, spent a day at the pool... and so on.

August was my month to host, and I invited the lovely woman who did my wedding makeup to give us some lessons. Elizabeth is so patient and talented, and she also doesn't sell any makeup. That meant we got the real scoop on what you need to splurge on (anything that touches your skin) and what you can go drugstore cheap on (lipstick, blush). She also gave us great recommendations for cheapie brushes that are as nice as expensive ones.

I made these yummy gooey white chocolate cake bars, which were good but were so sweet. Borderline too sweet. But still good!

The first thing we did was dump our our makeup bags (sorry for the blurry pics. Blame the empty drinks). Elizabeth made suggestions for what we should get rid of (eyeliner I bought in college), gave some mascaras the smell test, and made recommendations for what key items we were each missing.

Elizabeth giving us makeup tips... I'm guessing she's taking about mascara!

Each of us identified a "look" we wanted to learn how to do, and then Elizabeth walked us through it, step by step. She'd do one eye, then you had to do the other. Such a great way to learn.

In addition, we had a blast! I would definitely recommend this for any kind of birthday party or girl's night -- especially if you can find someone as wonderful as Elizabeth!! She definitely understood that a lot of us don't like to wear a lot of makeup, and was way open to that.

Am I the only one who isn't talented at applying makeup? I feel like there was a secret makeup class in high school that I never got invited to. How did you learn how to apply makeup??

Monday, September 3, 2012

Status of my resolutions

Hi, friends. I know it's been a while. Sorry about that - life has seemed to be extra busy lately and I just haven't had the motivation to blog. Thanks for sticking with me. Hopefully I'll be filling your google reader more often in the coming weeks. I do have some fun things to share with you!

I thought I'd get back on the horse with an update on my New Year's Resolutions. My friend Kim at Newly Woodwards sets her goals monthly, which I think is probably a better plan going forward. Seems to be less overwhelming!

Without further ado, here's my progress this year.

1. Try to "have it all," but don't go crazy when I can't. 
So this can probably be filed away under very large, gigantic, fail in some ways, though I guess in another sense it isn't as bad as I think it is. We sat down a few weeks ago and came up with a "five year plan" - basically identifying where we want to be in five years (twoish kids, new house, new cars) and working backwards to figure out what we need to do to get there. It made me feel more on track than I often think we are.

Another realization? A lot (and I mean most) of our friends are older than us, and I need to keep that in perspective.  We'll get there, too.

2. Schedule a monthly date night. 
We went to see Jim Gaffigan in August, and he was hilarious! We went for a yummy dinner beforehand and just plain had a blast. We need to do this more often!

3. Stick to an exercise routine. 
After a few months of slacking in the jogging department, I think I'm back on the horse. A re-adjustment of goals helped here to. I'm not 21 and I don't wear a bikini for a living, so it's okay if my body isn't bikini ready at all times. What matters is that I feel healthy, my clothes fit, and Derby gets some exercise too. A 30 minute jog a few times a week achieves that, and it works for me.

4. Make enough time for my hobbies. 
I've been making an effort to reserve books from the library as soon as I think of them (thanks, Cincinnati Library iPhone app!). When I have a book on my nightstand or coffee table, I read it. I tend to pick up "real" books more than Nook versions, so I need to solve that problem.

A re-arranged sewing room (details coming soon!) has helped me in the sewing department, though my Etsy orders take up more time than I was expecting. I just received some fun fabric that is going to turn into really special Christmas gifts for my sistas, so I have to get sewing!

5. Stick with our budget. 
Still on track -- and I just have to brag for one second because I'm so proud... we are just a few months away from getting a new car! 

6. Stay present. 
This one is basically out the window. Not proud of that.

7. Stay organized. 
I've been struggling with my calendars lately. I decided to make the switch away from a paper planner to just my online calendar, but now I can't figure out where to make to-do lists?? Home organization is consisting of lots of building projects.

8. Take a vacation
We took it. Happiness. It's over. Sad face. How long until we can go again?

9. Stick with my blog
Yeah, see the intro paragraph and cut me some slack, please! I still read all of your blogs every day, even when I'm not writing!

How are your new year's resolutions and 2012 goals going?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The More You Know...

I learned a hard and unfortunate lesson last weekend. I thought it would be good to wash the curtains in our living room. They've been hanging for two years now, so they are probably musty and such.

Here's the thing. I don't care if someone has spilled sour milk on my curtains. I'll never, ever wash them again.

If your curtains get nasty enough that they need to be washed, save yourself the trouble and buy new ones instead.

Or at least read the instruction label before you throw them in the dryer on hot. Oops.

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