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Anxiety Is A B*tch

It often comes out of nowhere. But tonight, it is triggered by heartburn and exhaustion.

I know my triggers, but sometimes I miss the cues. I listen, but sometimes not close enough.

It’s nearly one in the morning. I ought to be asleep, but I’m not and I am yawning as I type.

Self-care is most important when dealing with anxiety. Slowing it down, pausing, and giving the body what it needs to deal with the anxiousness. Do NOT feed the anxious mind. Do NOT feed the thoughts. It’s anxiety, trying to push itself in further, which in turn causes panic. Do NOT allow it to go there.

Arm yourself with tools to combat it; arm yourself with supportive family and friends. And remember, you are not alone.

And now…Sleep calls. It’s a necessity to rest. Good night.

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Eggplant Cravings

I’ve been wanting to make Eggplant Parmesean for some time now, but let me be honest. It’s not easy to find good eggplant in Georgia. It’s one of those “hit or miss” sort of vegetables ans half the time, they are either over-ripe or close to it. And an over-ripe eggplant isn’t any good.

Today’s adventures had me out and about, searching for eggplant. It was really a day I’d planned to remain home, after an early morning rise and outing to the Veterinary Clinic, I wanted to stay in, relax, study and watch Netflix. The eggplant was calling me and I gave in.

First stop: Aldi. I needed to get my cheeses anyways and had hoped I’d also come upon some fresh eggplant. No such luck; they never carry it on a regular basis anyways but it was worth a shot. The cheeses are much more inexpensive at Aldi and just as good, so it wasn’t altogether a wasted trip. Next stop: Publix. Fingers. Crossed. (And possibly my toes as well.) I nearly over-looked the few they had, but they were perfect and off I went with four, and some POMI Chopped Tomatoes as well. POMI is the only brand I’ll use; they come in a carton and nothing is added, not even salt. They are less-acidic and full of flavour.

Armed with all my ingredients, I set off home to begin the dish.

Ingredients:

9×12 baking dish, 2 medium-sized eggplant (be sure they are firm, not brown and a lovely shade of purple,) homemade marinara sauce, 8 oz shredded parmesean, 8 oz shredded mozzarella, salt 🙂

1. The first step is to slice your eggplant, maybe a quarter inch thick or so, lay out a row in your baking dish and lightly sprinkle with salt. Cover the first layer with paper towels, and repeat until all the eggplant has been sliced and lightly salted. This process will dehydrate the eggplant, removing any water from it so the eggplant isn’t soggy. Skip this step if you do not mind soggy eggplant; you’ll still need to slice them, however.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

3. Begin by lightly lining the baking dish with your marinara. Add a layer of eggplant, a layer of sauce and a layer of cheese. Repeat until you have 3-4 layers.

4. Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes.

5. Allow it to cool 10-15 minutes and serve.

Dehydrating the eggplant 🙂
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Bird Watching

What do I do in my spare time? Well, I typically do not bird watch, however, we had a surprise visit from a beautiful hawk this week.

He perched right up on the railing on my deck and kept an eye on his prey for at least fifteen minutes. We stayed indoors, looking out the window, not wanting to scare it away.

My hope was to capture it in flight; I should have known better. It finally flew off, down to catch its prey. Lunch was served.

Sitting still for awhile, watching nature in its natural habitat is soothing, peaceful. I think I’ll do it more often.

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Reading is Fundamental

In my spare time, I love (LOVE!!) to read. You’ll always find me with a book in my hand (or handbag if I cannot hold it at the moment.) The point is, I am always reading.

It sucks at the moment that the library is closed for two weeks. Fortunately, I do have a few books on hand to read.

I recently watched the first season of Locke and Key, after learning it was written by Stephen King’s son, Joe Hill. Omg! I was hooked from the first episode. He is his father’s son. I decided to check out one of his books from the library, Heart-Shaped Box and I am so glad I did! It’s an older novel, but it has me completely engaged. Scared, nah, not really, I’ve grown up a lot since reading the majority of his Dad’s novels. It’s intriguing; I can visualise clearly the story. It’s engaging. I’m three-quarters of the way through it; I can’t put it down. It’s a page-turner for sure.

I’ll have to add Joe Hill to my list of authors to read. Hopefully, he’ll write many more. He’s talented in his own right. And I’m thankful I took the chance on this novel (the title is what caught my eye.)

Have you read it? What did you think?

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More expensive is not always Better

Let me preface this blog by saying:

  • 1. I am by no means a makeup artist.
  • 2. I am most definitely not a makeup artist.

I do, however, know what makeup I like. And I do know that while I will spend a reasonable amount of money on makeup, I won’t spend a fortune.

My eyes must be done before I go out. Eyeliner and mascara are a must. My eyeliner of choice is NYX Epic Ink Eyeliner in black to line around the top of my eyes and below, ELF eyeliner, also in black. (My mascara brands may vary.)

This past weekend, I dug deep in my makeup bin and found a black eyeliner by Este Lauder. It’s a pencil liner with a smudge sponge on the opposite end. I thought with it being the weekend and all, I’d try a different look (I tend to go with the winged eyeliner look primarily.)

I went for a more soft, sort of smokey eyed look. What I got within minutes of stepping outside into the hot, humid day was a melted mess of eyeliner on the top lids. Even the $3.00 ELF liner on the lower eye held up better than the almost $25.00 Este Lauder eyeliner. It’s not waterproof and it melts, smudging all over my eyelid. I was disappointed to say the least. There is no way I ought to have to reapply a $25.00 eyeliner as often as I did. I gave it a go three days in a row with the same results.

I think I’ll stick with my current combination, the NYX eyeliner is waterproof and glides on smoothly and runs less than $10.00. It lasts all day, despite the humidity. For far less than half the price of the Este Lauder liner, I can have eyeliner that lasts all day.

So as you see, more expensive is not always better. The proof is in my three day trial results.

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Black & White

I write. I blog. And I take photographs, both digitally and using 35mm film (yes, it still exists.)

I’ve recently been shooting more frequently with film. It’s my very first love when it comes to photography. I taught myself. This was pre-youtube and google. You either read a book (I didn’t), had someone teach you (I didn’t), or you played with the settings and figured it out (I did.)

While Photoshop and Lightroom can create all sorts of effects, I haven’t found it able to recreate the feeling of a true grainy, black and white film shot. And even more so, the anticipation of the results. Nothing instantaneous in the world of film. You shoot. You develop. You hope you got the shot. There are no do-overs when it comes to film.

Either you got it or you didn’t. Either you understand the inner-workings of the camera or…you wing it, hoping for the best. There are no LCD screens to peek at here. Pure. Film. Pure. Knowledge.

(Logo added in Lightroom)

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Nail polish…Anxiety

Ladies, please tell me I am not the only one who begins to feel a little anxious when I walk into the nail salon and the nail technician say, “Pick out a colour.”

There are three billion colours to choose from? How is a girl to narrow that choice down? For a long time, I was doing french manicures on my toes and finger nails. Then, winter came along with closed toe shoes and I decided it was time to choose a colour. I could literally stand there forever, staring at all the pretty colours, choosing two or three or four. Oftentimes, to ease my anxiety (sometimes the simplest choice will trigger it) I will have my technician choose. And she always chooses the right colour for my toenails. Always.

Thank you! My wonderful nail technician for easing my mind a little. After all, a pedicure ought to be relaxing.

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-Eating my way through Chicago

Chicago, Chi-Town, the Windy City, call it what you may….the food there is incredible. I may not look like I’m much of a foodie (5′ tall, 98 lbs – sorry to get a bit “personal” here, ha!)

I absolutely love Chicago; it’s a beautiful city, filled with many tasty-licious foods. Having just been up in Chicago a few months ago, I wanted to break the tie between Giordano’s and Gino’s East deep dish pizza. I swore that Gino’s was “better.” (Better is all relative, personal preference if you will.)

A little back-story on how this challenge began between the two restaurants. Upon arriving in Chicago in July, on our very first night there, we ordered in. Exhausted, we patiently awaited the arrival our deep dish personally designed pizzas from Giordano’s. Mine was….well, good but somewhat dry. On our final night in Chicago, we met up with my cousins, Frank and Betty, for a Chicago-style deep dish pizza dinner at Gino’s East in downtown Chicago. Not only did we endulge in their deep dish pizza but I had the absolute best thin crust pizza I’ve ever had at any non-Italian pizza spot.

 

 

Upon my return to Chicago this month (October,) I was determined to have another go at Gino’s delicious deep dish pizza as well as Giordano’s (in the restaurant this time.) It was time for a tie-breaker decision.  Would it be Gino’s East or Giordano’s for the win?

 

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For the record, after dining at Giordano’s two nights in a row (because the first night, their pizza completely won me over, perfect amount of sauce, tasty ingredients, perfectly crisp buttery crust…..) there was absolutely no need to go back to Gino’s. Giordano’s pizza is perfect. I can’t vouch for their thin crust….but their pan pizza is mmmm, mmmm good.

When in Chicago, do as the Chicagoans do….eat deep dish pizza (and Chicago hot dogs at Portillo’s by all means…..)

Enough

Warning: Triggers Ahead, proceed with caution

There are days I seriously struggle with wondering whether I am “enough.”

As a survivor of domestic violence, this trigger remains. It’s less frequent than previously, but it’s still there. I wish I could say it wasn’t.

Words HURT. As a victim of domestic violence, I am fully aware of the after affects of being in an abusive relationship. He always made me feel I was never enough. Nothing I ever did was enough. I couldn’t do anything right. I wasn’t perfect enough. I wasn’t pretty enough. I wasn’t enough. Enough, enough, enough ……

{Negative} Words hurt. They embed themselves in your mind, your soul. They stay with you. Even after many many years of counseling and tools given during those sessions to use to ward off the negative words, I still struggle. I wonder sometimes if you can ever fully heal? I know I can never completely forget. Cowering in a corner, protecting myself from the next blow as best as I could. Crying almost every single day. I felt so ugly.

I struggle with trust, still, even 28 years later. I rarely share my emotions, my feelings, I rarely let anyone in close (female or male, for that matter.) Trust leaves room for vulnerability.

I remember less about the physical abuse and there was plenty of it. It’s odd, isn’t it? Or perhaps not. I have a tiny scar on my finger, a reminder. I got a tattoo with his name on it, because it was that or be beaten. I caved in.

Fear will make you do crazy things. Fear will make you make crazy choices in life.

The emotional scars remain. They’ve improved over the years in therapy. The triggers are still there. Sometimes, I have to pause to assess whether it’s truly a red flag or not. Most often, it isn’t.

If you’re a victim, please seek help safely. And know you’re not alone; plenty other women (and men) have been there. There is healing and better days ahead.

Trigger Alert.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
💜 Caution: Trigger Alert 💜

Day Nine: 28 year survivor. I left. Finally. It wasn’t easy. I was barely 19 years old and I cannot begin to describe the fear I lived in, day after day, even after I left. I went to court with the help of a domestic violence advocate and obtained a temporary restraining order, which eventually became permanent. He got mandatory anger management classes (I have no clue as to whether he completed them.) I lived in fear even with the restraining order. Abusers stalk their victims. Mine did, but never broke that restraining order.

I am thankful every day I survived and am alive to share my story.

Education is key to prevention. We also need stricter sentences for abusers. And our police force, bless them, for coming in to such volatile domestic violence situations with little training.

Domestic Violence is real.

💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜

Words Hurt

💜💜 {{{Trigger Warning}}} 💜💜

Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Day 7: As a survivor of domestic violence, I know that domestic violence is far from just physical. Words hurt. Unkind, manipulative, hateful words HURT. And the affects are long-lasting. That quote, “Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can never hurt you?” Ask any domestic violence survivor, and they will confirm, the affects of emotional abuse (imho) last far longer. 28 years ago, I left my abuser….it took me a long time to undo the affects. And there are moments where my subconcious still tries to tell me those unkind words are true. 💜💜
Be gentle with your words.
If you are a victim of abuse, please seek help from someone you trust and when it’s safe to do so.

Domestic Violence Hotline – https://www.google.com/search?q=domestic.violence.hotline&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-us&client=safari&dlnr=1&sei=_ExAY6yGE-rVkPIP1u6W8Ac#

Triggers Ahead – Proceed with Caution

“Why does she stay?” “Why doesn’t she just leave?”
Leaving an abusive relationship is not as easy as it appears on the outside. Maybe she has nowhere else to go? Maybe there are children involved. Maybe he is the sole provider, the sole source of income. Maybe she feels alone and afraid to share her story. The truth is, most victims who lose their lives by the hands of their abuser do so after they leave. The fear doesn’t end JUST because she left.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Know the red flags. Know the signs. But please don’t tell her to “just leave.” If you’re a survivor, you understand. If you are currently in this situation, please reach out to someone you trust for help and support.

The fear is real. The long term affects of Domestic Violence are many.

**** and you can replace the “she” with “he”
As men are victims too.

October Is …..

Warning: This post contains triggers for some. Proceed with caution and awareness. 🙏

💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜💜

October is not only Breast Cancer Awareness month but also Domestic Violence Awareness month. As a survivor of Domestic Violence, I fully believe education is the key to prevention. Red flags can be subtle at first. Abusers prey on their partners. I moved in with mine at the young and naive age of 18. I moved out and left himbefore I turned 19. It was pure hell. HELL. No one in my family knew. I was alone as I’d lost my friends whilst dating him. We were engaged but fortunately we never married nor had kids together. Everything began like a fairytale, seemingly, but I did not know the signs and/or was blind to them. The physical abuse came later. Even after leaving, I lived in fear for quite some time. Colorado Springs wasn’t that big then. And he knew where I worked. Where I was living with my parents. I survived and others can too. If we educate and work towards prevention.

If you are currently a victim, you are not alone. You, too, can be a survivor. I am here. And I am
Thankful every day. Seek help. I’ll listen.

I will continue to share my story. Especially if it helps just one.

That was 28 years ago. I pray my abuser has found healing. I know I have because I forgave and sought healing.

Chinese Beef Burrito

One of my favourite spots to dine out at is the Chinatown Food Court in Chamblee, Georgia. It’s unassuming, and truly just a food court. No fancy tables, no ambience, just tables and multiple restaurants to choose from.

I always eat at China Kitchen. The food is delicious and inexpensive and the portions: generous. I make an attempt to order something new when I go. It doesn’t always happen, but this time it did. Last time I’d gone, I ordered the Chinese Beef Burrito. Turns out while I was anticipating sinking my teeth into it, they were out. By default, I ordered the Mongolian Chicken – ok, I stood there with a sad look on my face for about five minutes before I ordered a back-up menu item. Trust me, the Mongolian Chicken is good, really good. But I had a taste for the burrito. The first thing I asked on this visit was if they were out of it. Thankfully, the universe aligned and they were not.

It was so simple, yet so good, beef wrapped with some sort of green-leafy spice, which nearly tasted like cilantro, but I am not sure what it was. Four chunks, I could only manage three before I was stuffed full.

The bonus: soup and white rice are always included too, so help yourself.

I ate one before I remembered to snap a picture.

No Paid Sick Leave

One of the cons of self employment, no paid sick leave. Tested positive…again…which means a quarantine/isolation period for me. And with as many symptoms as I have had, I need to keep to myself. What does this mean for a small business owner? No income.

I am going to have to hustle my arse off when my quarantine period is up to make some denaro.

This would be one of the downsides :). As a freelance portrait photographer, bookings go on hold til I am better. No bookings, no money. Of course I can attempt to sell products online, but unless it’s a high volume of sales, it won’t pay my rent and living expenses. And that sucks.

I need to be well to book those portrait sessions. So a pause in self care is important. Sales are down. But bigger things are coming.

I remain hopeful, believing and envisioning.

Lip Care is Everything

Chapped lips: suck.

Dry lips: also suck.

If there is one thing I never forget when applying my minimal makeup, it’s lip gloss or lipstick. I may have a slight addiction to lip glosses. I constantly reapply, although not as much with lipsticks as it tends to cake on thick.

I recently tried PCA Skin Hyaluronic Acid Lip Booster. It’s so glossy and smooth…and light on your lips. They recommend applying it twice a day, I assume mean once in the morning and once in the evening. I, naturally, did not read the instructions until later in the day and after I’d applied it several (several meaning more than twice) that day. Oops. Not sure if it would be harmful to apply more than the recommended use, but I saw no side effects from over-applying.

Oh! Another benefit, you don’t have to use much, a tiny drop will do and over time, it alledges it will make your lips plumper. I’ve only used it for a few days, so I’ll get back to you on that one. I haven’t seen my lips become any plumper yet. 🤣

Sidenote: I am not a makeup artist, nor a professional when it comes to makeup and skincare products. I use what I like. Often, spending more means better quality. But not necessarily always.

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Nature Rules

It’s hot as hades out there today and yesterday and well, all week long thus far and the heat wave continues. Hello, Mother Nature, what did we do to piss you off?

While I am a fan of hot weather and sunshine, I am not a fan of this breathtaking humidity. Step outdoors and it literally takes your breath away. And you immediately begin to sweat. Hydrate or die-rate. Water, shade and air conditioning are crucial during this heatwave. Gosh, how do you survive without air conditioning, seriously?

I decided to venture outdoors a bit yesterday afternoon and take some “nature” photos, in my yard, in the evening and it was still insanely hot. Unsafely (is that even a word) hot?

If you know me, you know I rarely do any nature photography; it’s never really been my “thing.” I can do it, I just don’t very often. I’m sure there is a market for this sort of photography, but my preference is portraiture. It’s how I got my start.

Two lenses and fifteen minutes later, I managed to shoot 77 exposures and played around a bit with the bracketing mode on my Nikon D3S. I never bracket. Never. Ever. Ever. But I did, because why not try something new.

And in this process, I discovered I have wild raspberries growing under my Azaleas. 🌺

Growth is about trying something new, stepping outside of your comfort zone. You cannot grow if you remain the same. I challenge you to try something new today, expand your mind and abilities a bit more today. Reach for the sky and beyond. And surround yourself with people who uplift you and expect more of you.

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