Bluebird Down

The pursuit of domestic bliss, one glorious debacle at a time.

Get Over Yourself June 29, 2011

Filed under: Exercise Follies — Teri @ 3:52 pm

Some days surprise you and things begin to fall back together. I’ve been a little off for the past few days, little tasks turned into major accomplishments. I expected the trend to continue this morning. I usually wake up around 6 am, but didn’t even lift my head this morning until 8:45 am. I fixed my breakfast and dragggged myself over to the computer. As I’m sitting there checking Facebook, Zef walks into the doorway and asks, “Do you want your red bottle or green bottle?” Whaaa?! He was already dressed to go on another trail hike. And he was chipper. This was going to be a long walk.

When we got to the trail, Z had me hold onto Pete! while he put on a 30 pound pack. When I asked why he was wearing the pack, he said, “To make it more challenging.” Great, he’s chipper and motivated.

A little over eight miles and two hours and 45 minutes later, I was glad that Z had shamed me into going to the trail. We didn’t exactly blaze the trail at 20 minutes per mile, but at least we did it. Truth be told, I probably would have landed on the couch and tried to sleep more otherwise. Sometimes you just have to get over yourself and get on with the task at hand. Today’s hike was absolutely like that. I focused on a half mile at a time. I read in a running article recently that if you are having trouble on your run, you should count your steps up to 100 and then start over again. It keeps your mind too occupied to whine. I’ll probably use that strategy. There were times in graduate school that I literally had to talk myself through essays one sentence at a time. Yup, sometimes you have to get over yourself and get on with the task at hand. And sometimes getting up and getting going leads to happy discoveries. In my ongoing quest for running apparel that won’t ride up, I hit the sale at Dick’s Sporting Goods yesterday and bought a few pairs of Nike running shorts. I wore a pair on my hike this morning and — can it be true?! — they don’t ride up! Hallelujah, ring the bells, blast off the fireworks — my thighs have been saved!

Safety gingham. Very southern.


Warning: Lemonade May Be Toxic June 28, 2011

Filed under: Cooking,Food — Teri @ 10:15 pm

You, my loves, will make delicious lemonade!

I’m a fan of Chick-fil-a — specifically Chick-fil-a Diet Lemonade. I can drink a gallon of it in a little over a day. It’s the only diet drink I’ll have because, as a rule, I hate artificial sweeteners. They just don’t taste right. But, on the other hand, I have this issue with sugar — I love it! It is a one-sided love (as love often is). I’m trying to figure out a way to cut the sugar, avoid sweeteners and still satisfy my sweet tooth.

Honestly, I was shocked when I realized that Chick-fil-a Diet Lemonade is made with Splenda. I thought I despised Splenda. You can’t taste it, everyone says. Uh, yeah, you can and it tastes disgusting. But, somehow, some way, the geniuses at Chick-fil-a took the disgusting out of Splenda before adding it to their lemonade. Impressive.

And, in full disclosure, I would be chugging down the Splenda-laden Chick-fil-a brew this moment if it wasn’t almost $9 a gallon. I’m trying to keep my Latte Factor in check and 30 bucks a week for lemonade is ridiculous no matter how delicious it may be.

So I googled lemonade recipes and my old friend Paula (Deen, that is) popped up. Two cups of fresh squeezed lemon juice, two cups of sugar (that’s my girl!) and enough cold water to fill a gallon pitcher. Easy enough, but two cups of sugar is a problem. I bought Z a box of Truvia packets for his coffee. He hasn’t touched it, but he has been through half a bag of sugar since he’s been home (that’s my boy!). I calculated that 24 packets would be the equivalent of about two cups of sugar. The first batch turned out pretty good, so I decided to make a second.

A three pound bag of lemons at Sam’s Club is $3.98. A gallon of lemonade requires the entire bag. The price for more Truvia was a bit bothersome at $7 for four ounces, but I shelled out for it anyway. The cost of my lemonade comes out to about $6.35 a gallon. So that’s a savings of $2.65. I won’t be able to buy a beachfront property off of my savings, but at least I can cough up the change for more lemons.

On a side note, the Truvia packaging made me pause before I dumped a heaping cup into my lemonade pitcher. It was a little too sunny about being all natural and free of side effects. Supposedly Truvia isn’t as potentially detrimental as Splenda, Equal and Sweet n’ Low. After watching Food, Inc and reading Micheal Pollan last summer, I’ve been trying to be more mindful about the food I consume. So I know that any time you have to make a statement about being free of side effects, things get a little suspicious. One Google search unveils a ton from the natural food conspiracy theorists about the origins and not-so-great attributes of Truvia. Turns out that Truvia was developed with the help of Coca-Cola. And everybody knows that that mass consumption of Diet Coke is responsible for every social malady from misbehaving children to voting Republican (threw that one in there for my fantastic Diet Coke swigging, Republican voting husband). I don’t drink Diet Coke. I drink real Coke. If it’s good enough for car batteries, it’s good enough for me (but don’t tell Michael Pollan).

So I remain conflicted. Stick with sorta-natural, really cheap sugar or go over to the dark side with it’s expensive and somewhat funny tasting artificial sweeteners? I think it will all be settled in the next day or so. For the past few nights, my skin has itched like mad. No, I don’t have a rash, nor any bug bites. And, yet, I’ve been going insane with the creepy-crawlies. As I laid awake in bed scratching my ankles, my forearms, my head, my stomach, I couldn’t figure out what was causing the incessant itching.

And tonight I read that one of the main side effects of Truvia is an allergic reaction that causes itching. Score one for sugar.


Run, T, Run! June 26, 2011

Filed under: Exercise Follies — Teri @ 6:40 pm

First batch of fresh squeezed lemonade. May need a shot of vodka in it to soothe the chaffing.

I’m worn out. Zef and I walked the river trail this morning and completed over eight miles. Z ran with me as I finished Week 1/Day 3 of Couch to 5K. Historically, running has been a struggle for me and generally you don’t see the short, pudgy and obnoxiously endowed crossing the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I think I’ve shortchanged my body though. I took won’t and turned it into can’t.

Like a lot of things I do (blogging, anyone?), I’m entirely too sporadic when it comes to exercise. I get really focused for a while, then something — usually a cold — knocks me down and out. So, once again, I find myself restarting my routine. I’ve been in this position so many times I’m not even really phased by it. I just wish I could find that magic switch in my head that propels me to keep going.

Here’s one thing I’ve discovered about physical activity though: it’s much more fun if you have the right equipment. I hated running when I was in high school because I didn’t have the proper sports bra. The Girls suffered gravely and I was miserable. Today The Girls are taken care of by the Bounce store by Title Nine and are as happy as two bugs in a rug. Excuse gone.

Other things I need/want when working out (and I’ll get a little nutty if all of these things aren’t in their proper place):
1. iPod. I can’t work out without music. It distracts me from the task at hand when things get difficult and gets me motivated. And, let me tell you, I can really kick up the tempo on the bike during the fiddle battle on Devil Went Down to Georgia.
2. Heart Rate Monitor. I have the simplest model from Polar. I don’t think they even sell the model number any more. Yet another motivation tool. When you are being a slacker, it will let you know. When you are being a fool, it will let you know that too.
3. The Proper Bottoms. I was super excited when I bought a North Face Running Skirt. I wore it to spin class yesterday and – yow! – the boy shorts under the skirt didn’t stay in place and my inner thighs took a beating from the bike seat (of course, we did jumps for a majority of the class!). A wardrobe miscalculation to be sure, but the skirt is cute and I wasn’t about to call it quits yet. For spin, I just need to stick with my capri workout pants. I wore the skirt on our run/hike this morning. Same problem! The boy shorts wouldn’t stay in place and I almost lost my mind. I’ve concluded that I bought a size too large; therefore, the shorts aren’t tight enough. A new skirt is on order. I will not give up on being cute!
4. Neosporin. For relief from chaffing. Or at least I hope it works.
5. Wicking Workout Shirts. I admit it, I’m the chick at the gym with the old concert t-shirt that stretches after an hour of sweat. It can take frumpiness to a whole new level. I bought wicking shirts at Target (on sale!) today. I’m not shelling out for the name brands until I get down to the proper size. Hopefully in my swanky Target shirts, I won’t feel like a wet rag after working out now. [You know, for someone that grew up in the South and has always lived in the South, I really, really despise being hot and sticky.]
6. My Inhaler. Asthma bad, breathing good.
7. My Imagination. Sometimes I have to get pretty crafty to talk myself through a workout. I pretend I’m an Olympic athlete, a super spy in training, a castaway climbing out of the jungle back to civilization… hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.

Things I wish I had for working out:
1. iPod Holder. I don’t like holding my iPod as I run. Sometimes, in a frenzy, I fling it violently across the room/path/road. I need something that will 1) keep the earbud cords out of my way 2) won’t squeeze my chubbiness (like my upper arm).
2. BodyGlide. Need I say more on the topic of chaffing?
3. Visor. I admit it, I think visors are a fashion travesty. But as I ran this morning, wiping the sunscreen and sweat out of my eyes, I could clearly understand the value of having a visor.
4. Running Socks. I’m still debating the value of running socks.

My intention, despite my slightly OCD tendencies toward exercise equipment, is not to be a world class athlete. I have no desire to run a marathon… or a triathlon. I just want to be functionally fit, which is to say, I want to be able to be active without coughing up a lung. I want to be able to run a 5K without embarrassment. I want to be able to kayak when I go to the beach or to a mountain river. I want to be able to roam freely in a new town without the bothersome use of a taxi. It’s not too much to ask of myself at all.


Eating Pasta on an Ark while looking out of the window June 22, 2011

Filed under: Cooking,Interior Design — Teri @ 8:20 pm

I thought for sure we were going to need an ark to survive last night. Five inches of rain between 6 o’clock and midnight makes for an uneasy night. Mix in a little hail and a whole lot of thunder and lightening and that makes for a sleepless night.

It took all day, but thanks to Z’s intervention, I defeated the contractor in the Battle of the Windows for the garage restoration. I think Z tossed a coin between intervening and bailing me out of jail. The debate went from two windows to one window to no windows and all the way back around again. Two windows, it is! All the crew has to do tomorrow is install the windows (two!) and shingle the roof. Then Z and I can get back to arguing over the landscaping.

I made this for dinner to repent for the hot dog and potato chip dinner last night:

Baked Ziti and Summer Vegetables from the July 2011 Cooking Light
4 oz of uncooked ziti (I couldn’t find ziti, so I used penne. I used whole wheat instead of white. And I went way over 4 oz, so I had to double the recipe. How in the world do you measure pasta?!)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups of chopped yellow squash
1 cup chopped zucchini (I used eggplant.)
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cups chopped tomato
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup shredded, part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray

Cook pasta. Preheat oven to 400. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil. Add squash, zucchini and onion, saute 5 minutes. Add tomato and garlic, saute 3 more minutes. Remove from heat, stir in pasta, 1/2 cup mozzarella, herbs, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Combine ricotta, remaining salt and egg. Stir into pasta mixture. Spoon into 8″ baking dish coated in cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella. Bake for 15 minutes. Serving size is 1 1/2 cups.

Now I think I’ll go dive into a big bowl of blackberries.


The Good, The Bad & The Ugly June 21, 2011

Today was one of the really good days that gets mixed with a little bit of unpleasantness. Can you still call it a really good day if that’s the case? I guess it’s all about perspective. According to Buddha, “Our life is a creation of our mind.” So in the spirit of the moment, a list of the good and the not so good about my day:

GOOD: The restoration of our garage is finally underway. It took so long because Z and I kept forgetting to email the contractor

And the walls came tumbling down... and the walls came tumbling, tumbling... The roof, really, but there aren't any songs about roofs.


BAD: Z and the contractor made me cry. OK, I was being a bit of a baby. At least I didn’t cry until I was alone. I was trying to explain my Vision (with a capital V, thankyouverymuch) for the garage, but they both cut me off with a snap. They shouldn’t have snapped at me, but I shouldn’t have cried either. And Z apologized. I can’t deny it, he’s a good guy.

GOOD: We dropped off a huge load of donations at Salvation Army. The donations were boxed up since our last move and a bit crusty. We dropped them at the back dock and made a run for it. Then we swung by Bell’s Seed for more ferns. Somehow I killed two shade plants by putting them in the shade. The lady at Bell’s was puzzled, but happy to sell me more.

GOOD: We started laying out new mulch in the front yard while the construction guys were demoing the garage. I know I sound like a dork, but I’m deliriously happy about the new mulch. I think the front yard greenery is too. Our plants actually look more green because of it.

GOOD: In honor of the First Day of Summer, I had a most excellent tomato sandwich for lunch.

BAD: The contractor is not digging my Vision for the garage. I want it to look like this. I will deal with him tomorrow.

End of Day 1. Hopefully Pete! won't chew the remaining sections of roof.

GOOD/BAD/UGLY: I had my annual skin cancer screening back in May. The doctor suggested removing several spots of sun damage and moles from my cheeks, forehead and neck — but mostly my cheeks. I had the procedure last week and had the stitches taken out by the nurse this afternoon. I was almost out of the office door when they called me back in to talk to the doctor. One of the spots has suspicious cells. I need another biopsy to determine if my cells were just having a bad day or if it’s something to deal with. I’m not going to lie, this makes me anxious on multiple levels. I already have four knicks in my face and my vanity is offended by having a bigger swatch cut from my cheek. When I made the comment about Frankenstein Face, it was supposed to be a joke, not a request. But as I heard someone say one time, “We don’t cross bridges until we come to them.” And that’s the way I’m going to handle it. [Moral of the Story: Get an annual skin cancer screening. Make an appointment today.]

GOOD: After the doctor’s appointment, I had an appointment for a pedicure. OPI Cha-ching Cherries, y’all.

GOOD: Sitting on the porch, waiting for it to rain, with Z sitting beside me. He’s waiting for the coals to be ready for our Happy-First-Day-of-Summer Hot Dog Dinner: Grilled hot dogs, BBQ potato chips, cold beer and chilled watermelon. Not healthy, but that’s what tomorrows are for.

Happy Summer Solstice!


I am the Rose Slayer! June 19, 2011

Filed under: Destruction of Property,Field Trips,Food,Yard Renovation — Teri @ 11:55 am

Cruising through the farmer's market in my new ride.

I got big, shiny gold stars from both Mother Nature and the Domestic Goddess yesterday. Z and I hopped up early to hit the Farmer’s Market. I wanted to take my new bike for a spin and was eager to go, but Z and Pete! the Wonder Pup were lagging behind. I chided them for dragging down our street, so they decided to show off by running the rest of the way. The race was on! And I only ran over their heels once or twice. Pete! thought about diving in the fountain on Hay Street, but then thought better of it once he saw the murky water. Who said that dog is dumb? In our eagerness, we arrived at the farmer’s market early and had to wait 10 minutes for the bell to ring. In the name of all that is holy and fair, the market doesn’t allow any of the farmers to sell goods before the bell rings at 9:00 am. It’s a nice concept and I’m in total agreement with it in October. Not so much in the blazing June sun. I already had our standard Carolina Grown order on it’s way, so I didn’t need much from the market. I picked up corn on the cob for Z, green peppers, kale, potatoes and a great bunch of cut flowers. The family that sells the cut flowers also sells homemade soap and baked goods, along with a few vegetables (probably from a back yard garden rather than a farm). Seriously, these are the most gorgeous flowers. She sells a large bunch for $5.00. All she asks is that you bring the vase back the following week so it can be used again. They are probably my favorite stand because they are such nice people (in a market full of nice people).

Sustainable Sandhills had an at-cost rain barrel and compost machine sale. I have named them Darth Vader and R2D2.

We trudged [OK, I trudged, Z and Pete! ran] back up the hill to the house, dropped of the bike, the dog and the veggies and took off for the rain barrel and compost machine sale. Hey, never let it be said that we don’t know how to have a good time. Z was pretty sure he was walking straight into a eco-terrorist plot but was willing to take the chance to buy a compost machine for kitchen scraps. So maybe I had a slight mishap with the garbage disposal the other day. And maybe I put a lemon down the disposal and jammed it. A whole lemon. Seemed mushy to me. In all fairness, all Z had to do to repair the disposal was fish the lemon out and push the reset button on the bottom of the unit, but from his reaction you would think I had shot his favorite dog. He spent hours muttering, “I can’t believe you did that — a whole lemon?!” Best not to tell him about how I got rid of a watermelon last summer.

While Z was hooking up the rain barrel in the back yard, I decided I had enough of our scary rose bush in the front yard. Many folks have advocated for the life of this rose bush and I had granted clemency against my better judgment. It was the last holdout from the overgrown, mangled mess that we inherited when we bought the house. Taking it down felt good. It was way easier than I thought it would be — couple sharp clips toward the base and a mighty jerk and the bush came tumbling down into the yard on top of me. The thorns took their best shot, but it was worth it. The bush did shade our dining room window against the evening sun — and that will be sorely missed — but I think the yard looks considerably better. Wish I had followed my instincts and took it down years ago.




Every superhero needs a weapon and this Rose Slayer carries the Fiskars Telescoping Lopper.


Our front yard on the day we bought the house in June 2009.

Our front yard now.


All I really want is a flying pig weathervane. June 18, 2011

Filed under: Field Trips,Yard Renovation — Teri @ 12:37 am

That's actually the middle of the tree - on the garage roof. The garage roof with an awesome new skylight!

Our back yard has looked pretty darn apocalyptic since the our neighbor’s 120+ year old tree decided to go to the Great Tree Farm in the Sky. Despite it’s obvious instability, it was a great shade tree because the limbs hung halfway across our yard. Our house was shaded from the morning sun and the back yard stayed cool even in the heat of the afternoon. Sure, we had splotchy grass, but there is a trade-off for shade when you live in a town that’s four degrees hotter than Hell. Now, with no tree, we have lots and lots of blazing hot sun and a big ol’ hole in our garage roof. We also have overgrown bush-things and a patchwork walkway that intermittently amuses and baffles every workman that enters the back yard. The revitalization plan is to create an outdoor living room with an outdoor kitchen. The detached garage would be converted into a cottage-like extension of the outdoor living area. Sound complicated? Of course it is! Since we plan to do the work ourselves (ha!), Z and I hit the local garden centers today. We didn’t make many decisions (only one, wait, two — ok, maybe three!), but we took lots of photos! A lovely photo essay for your enjoyment:



We are experts at procrastination. Z loading the bikes into the back of the truck instead of heading to the garden center.

My fabulous new beach cruiser. We stopped by the bike shop before heading to the garden center.

With a detachable basket!

After a trip to the grocery store, we actually conceded and went to the garden center. I like this plant, but I suspect I would kill it.

We even have an opinion about gravel. We like this type. Agreement #1!

Aw, a new St. Francis. I liked him, but he was a tad pricey. So much for the vow of poverty.

Rows and rows of plants to overwhelm and boggle the mind.


Fun -- a peach tree! I wanted it, Z said no. He said no to the apple tree too. I stole an apple from the tree. It was tasty. No Eve references, please. I didn't share.

Blueberry bush, I think. The fruit wasn't ripe enough to sample.

A hammock is a MUST for our new back yard... but maybe not this particular one with it's sticker price of $500.

This is me looking at the one tree we both agreed on. Not a great photo of the tree - or my backside. Agreement #2!

Most comforable porch swing ever. I thought I wanted a wicker porch swing to match the porch furniture, but this swing changed my mind. We just have to figure out the mechanics of replacing the current (and insanely uncomfortable) porch swing with this one. Agreement #3!

Totally getting one. I don't care what Z says.