First February Friday Favs

Happy Friday, friends! I couldn’t resist the post title tongue twister.

WARMER WEATHER IS COMING AND I AM EXCITED.

 

excited kitty gif

It me.

It’s supposed to be in the low 60s all weekend and into the early part of next week and I am so here for it! Since I’m only self employed right now (as opposed to that plus three other jobs like I had been juggling since August), I can take a little bit of a break to hike and hopefully ride and generally just enjoy above freezing temps. I wrote over 1,200 words for work in January (imagine if I wrote for one of those magazines that pays $1/word or more!), so my brain could definitely use a couple of days of rest.

(This post contains affiliate links because coffee and cat food are expensive.)

 

1. I meant to write about this ages ago, but back around October I decided to try out new deodorants. I’ve used a fragrance-free one for AGES, but since my sensitivity to fragrances seems to have let up a bit, I wanted to try something different.

 

After sniffing pretty much everything in the deodorant aisle, the Schmidt’s Rose + Vanilla was definitely my favorite, but I was a little worried that it wouldn’t actually work (I think most of us have had at least one disappointing experience with a natural deodorant!) so I grabbed the Secret Va Va Vanilla, too, as a backup. That turned out to be unnecessary, because I LOVE the natural one. My armpits smell like roses! I haven’t yet put it to the ultimate test of working with horses on a hot summer day, but it has made it through just about everything else.

As a side note, I’ve used the Secret one a few times, too, and it’s fine, just nowhere near as noteworthy as the Schmidt’s one!

It’s available from Target for $4.69, which if you sk me is a total steal for being able to proclaim, “My underarms smell like roses!”

 

2. I quoted the book I’m reading, Shit Your Ego Says, in my last post, but I’m about to do so again because I learned something from it that I keep thinking about and sharing with everyone who will listen.

You know how there are types of light that we can’t see? X-rays, gamma rays, UV rays, etc?

If we were to take the entire light spectrum and condense it to the size of the Mississippi River , which flows 2,340 miles from the top of Minnesota into the Gulf of Mexico, the portion that would be visible to the human eye is merely eight inches.

 

Can you imagine if we could see even 10% of the spectrum of light? And then add in all of the other things buzzing around us that we don’t see – sound waves and radio signals and gases… it’s crazy to think about how unaware we are of much of what’s around us all of the time.

 

3. I stopped at Tractor Supply Company a couple of weeks ago to pick up some cat food (Their store brands are surprisingly good and super cheap) and to stare lovingly at horse stuff, and ended up picking this cat toy on a whim:

 

 

My cats are OBSESSED with this thing. I knew that Scout would claim it, because despite being the smallest she also takes “hunting” the most seriously. (I recently cleaned out under the fridge and chucked cat toys across the room as I got them out. By the time I was done, Scout had collected them all and put them in her box.) It’s especially fun to watch her carry this around because it’s bigger than her head.

 

 

Lin-Meow, my evil genius, figured out on DAY ONE how to pull on the tail to make it vibrate while one of the other cats is holding it.

It’s available on Amazon for $3.95, too – SO WORTH IT!

 

4. I opened Instagram the other day, and then immediately forgot what I had been planning to post there:

 

 

I’ve been following this hot vet for over a year, and he just announced that he’s getting a show on Animal Planet! Do I even need to explain why he’s worth following?

 

5. My last favorite this week is simply the fact that it’s February. That always makes it feel like the end of winter is within sight. My trail ride job is supposed to re-open March 1st, and I can not wait to see my horses again.

Speaking of the end of winter, tomorrow is Groundhog’s Day and that furry little prophesier better say early Spring. Give us a break, little groundhog dude.

 

Have a great weekend!

 

Linking up for Five on Friday and Friday Favorites!

Shedding Skin

I was at PetCo yesterday to pick up cat food and talk to literally every animal in the place like a complete weirdo (please tell me you do that, too?). Although the adoptable cats are always my first stop (Gold Star Cat Lady for life, yo), my other favorites are the chameleons. Have you ever stopped to watch them? Their weird little hands and the way they rock back and forth with each step, and how their eyes can point in different directions? They’re crazy-looking little creatures.

So anyway, yesterday, there was this guy:

 

 

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He wasn’t doing anything particularly interesting, just chilling on his faux branch, but I found  myself staring at him for a few minutes anyway. You can’t see it here (it wasn’t exactly picturesque) but at the bottom of the tank was a little flurry of skin flakes that he’d been losing while shedding his skin. (Those white parts on the photo are about to fall off.) I nerded out over how cool animals are for a minute, and then went to make friends with a rat.

No, really.

 

Today, though, I was writing morning pages (who else loves The Artist’s Way, the book those come from?) and I started thinking about how even though some things have remained, I’m really not the same person I was as a child, or in high school, or even in my 20s.

 

Ok, clearly some aspects of my personality were there from day one.

 

I’m in a time of transitions right now, and I was thinking about how if I’ve changed so much over the years, there’s no reason why I can’t release the parts of myself I don’t currently like and just change again. Just more intentionally this time.

I’m reading a book called Shit Your Ego Says, where the author finds himself on Culebra, “island of the snake”, after a hurricane destroys his home. There’s a passage about all of the snake metaphors in history and mythology, but then he discusses the idea of rebirth.

(Here’s hoping the publisher doesn’t yell at me for copy/pasting a whole paragraph.)

Of all the metaphors represented by the snake, my favorite is rebirth. As the snake ages, its skin wears out and stretches, making it unable to support new growth. But the snake is not finished growing. It is still becoming the snake it wants to be. So the snake grows a new layer of skin under the old layer. When the new skin is ready, the snake sheds the old layer because it is no longer necessary. It holds no attachment or sentimentality to the identity it leaves behind. Humans also shed our skin. Every day one million skin cells turn into dust and are replaced by new cells. Every seven years each cell in our body has died and been replaced. In a physical sense we become new people. All matter is alive, moving from state to state in varying degrees of change. We crawl, we walk, we run, we fly , we crash, and we rise again. We look back and see how our journey defined us. Along the way, part of us must die so that we can continue to grow. Shedding old cells is essential for the growth of our bodies, and shedding old ideas and beliefs is essential for the growth of our consciousness.

 

So I guess that between reading that a few days ago and seeing that little green guy yesterday, it’s not surprising that the concept is on my mind.

In my morning pages notebook, I wrote, “I’m not the same person I was in high school or as a child, or even in my 20’s, so there’s no reason I can’t release this current me and move on. Shed my skin like the chameleon I saw yesterday. And maybe it *is* like that – the chameleon’s skin was coming off in flakes. Some big, some tiny. It wasn’t an all at once thing like a snake. His cage was a mess from it.”

Sometimes we shed our skin in an almost literal way – we get rid of clothing that no longer feels right, we cut our hair, we lose weight. But changes that happen beneath the surface, too. We let go of old habits and beliefs, we stop limiting ourselves, we replace stale ideas about our lives with fresh new ones.

Yes, sometimes we do wake up feeling reborn, as if some big shift has happened overnight. But real change isn’t always smooth and all at once like a snake shedding its skin. Maybe more often, it’s more like the chameleon -shedding little bits of our past selves in a way we barely notice until we look down and see how much has changed. Messy, gradual, uncomfortable, probably downright irritating when you get to those bits that stubbornly refuse to fall away. Both kinds of change lead to growth. We get that feeling that our current skin – our current jobs, homes, relationships, lives, – it’s all just too small for us. It doesn’t fit anymore.

A phoenix being reborn from flames is a hell of a lot more dramatic and impressive, but right now, I think I am chameleoning.

 

Friday Favs – January is Cold

 

Happy Friday, friends! I missed posting last Friday because to be perfectly honest, winter weather sends my anxiety and depression into a tailspin. We got our first snow of the season on Saturday, which is nuts because it was like 55 degrees on Friday! I’m so thankful that it waited until Saturday morning, though, since I worked until 11 p.m. on Friday and it’s a half hour drive home. A quick story before we start this week’s favorites…

I actually thought the snow was going to miss us for a brief, beautiful moment. I woke up around 4 a.m. on Saturday (anxiety = I don’t sleep in the winter.) and glanced at the weather on my phone, and all of the little snow icons had turned to clouds. Yassssssss! But then I looked again around 5 and the snow forecast was back. We only got about 2 inches, but I live in the Ozarks and ice does not mix well with our hilly, twisty roads.

I was supposed to work on Sunday, but my road still didn’t look very good, I’d heard all kinds of reports of accidents nearby, and my driveway was still ice, so I had to call in. Ever since I totaled my Mustang convertible on ice a few years ago, I don’t chance it when the roads are iffy.

Thankfully, I was able to get out on Monday for coffee and cat food- two non-negotiables in this house. My driveway was still somewhat icy and I have front wheel drive, so I had to do my best to watch the road and then back out quickly because if I stopped half way I wasn’t going to be able to get traction to keep going. But I made it! WOOT!

Fast forward to Tuesday when a coworker texts me to ask if I quit. I was supposed to work Thursday, but I was crossed off the schedule. I let her know that I’d been unable to get to work on Sunday (and that I had given the manager a heads up on Saturday that the roads were pretty bad here and there was a chance I wouldn’t make it Sunday so they could have a back-up plan), but that I had no idea why I’d be crossed off of Thursday.

I got a call on Wednesday that I was being laid off until the busier season due to absences. I’ve been wanting to quit for a whole lot of reasons (I’m not going to publicly say anything bad, so let’s leave it as “multiple factors make that job 10x more stressful than it needs to be.” I’ve had anxiety symptoms pop up since I started working there that I haven’t had to deal with in ages.), but I know how much trouble they have finding good help and I really needed to at least hang on to the job until my trail ride job comes back in March, so I kept showing up and doing my best to help guests have a great vacation. That said, getting laid off felt like such a huge relief. I should be able to pick up enough freelance writing work to get by until March – it will be tight financially, but do-able. It also gives me the opportunity to apply for a part time job with a company I’ve been wanting to work with for a long time, so we’ll see how that goes!

Still – how crazy is it that two months ago I had four jobs, and right now I’m down to ONE?

I went to the library to get some writing done yesterday. I used to go almost everyday when I was writing full-ish time, but it’s probably been almost 6 months since I last worked from there! I was instantly reminded of a) how many odd looks I get for having a “Warren 2020” sticker on my laptop in this particularly red corner of a red state and b) how freaking loud the library gets. The librarians are usually the loudest ones there, ironically, but yesterday someone had also brought in a couple of toddlers (which would usually be a great thing!) and then apparently ignored them while they banged toys on things and yelled to each other. Thank goodness for earbuds and Spotify.

Man, that whole tangent went on way longer than planned – probably should have been its own post! But oh well, maybe you just scrolled past that big block of text in hopes there were cat pictures below it, because this is the internet and there should always be cat pictures.

That said, here are this week’s favorites!

 

1. First things first, my boys are perfect:

 

2. I can’t remember if I have posted this before or not, but I just stumbled across it in my files while searching for something else and it feels worth sharing again:

 

 

 

 

3. I discovered that these exist about two weeks ago and I think I’m on my 3rd package.  I regret nothing.

(Seriously, Oreo, please keep these around. The current limited edition flavors are Sweet Tarts and Apple Pie. How are either of those dunkable?? YOU HAVE ONE JOB, OREO.)

 

4. You can’t tell all that much from this photo, but I realized a few weeks ago that Captain Kitten is getting pretty… “rotund”, to put it politely:

 

 

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He’s only 2, only gets fed twice a day, and is super active, so I’m not really sure where his big ol’ belly came from! I was so happy that one of the products that Chewy offered to send me to review for the Chewy Influencer Program this month was Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Weight Management cat food.

 

 

Bear, Remy, and Captain Kitten all eat together and they could all stand to lose a little weight, so they got most of this food, but I ran out of my regular cat food on a snowy day so I ended up letting the other cats try some, too, and everyone liked it! The 24-pack wasn’t really enough to make a noticeable difference in anyone’s appearance (I usually split 2 of the 3-oz cans between the three cats, so it only lasted about a week) so I can’t comment on how effective it is for weight loss. I can say that I didn’t expect my cats to be so enthusiastic about a low calorie food, though!

 

5. Target has actually created a Valentine’s Day decor item that I want to buy:

 

 

I’m on a tight budget right now (see above note about going from 4 jobs to 1) but I also really want these socks:

 

I hope they’re still around in a month or s when I g back to having disposable income!

 

That’s it for this Friday! I’m finishing this post up at the library, which closes at 4 today because I live in the middle of nowhere. Still, I’ve learned from experience that when I’m just freelancing, even getting out of the house for an hour or two goes a long way towards keeping me sane!

It’s supposed to be almost 50 this weekend, so I’m hoping to get a little time outside and a lot done around the house! (My central heat & air don’t work, so I just have a couple of space heaters keeping me from freezing in the huge house. It got down to 13 last night, and when I checked my kitchen at about 5 a.m. it was 39 in there! I can’t wait to be able to afford to move!)

We’ve almost survived January, fellow haters of winter. We’re almost there.

Have a great weekend!

 

Friday blog linkup

Friday Favs – New Year, Who Dis?

Happy first Friday Favs of 2019!

 

 

A couple of website update notes! First, I installed a little widget in my sidebar where I can track how many miles I hike this year. (If you missed it, I posted my 2019 goals last week, and hiking 100 miles is one of them.) I’m weirdly motivated by getting to update that kind of tracker! The WordPress plugin I found to track goals only lets you do one, which crushed my vision for having a progress bar for each of my 3 trackable goals. I did finally find the reading goal widget on Goodreads (It’s in the “edit profile” section -there’s a whole tab of widgets), so I added that, too.

Next, I changed the archives section of the sidebar to a drop down menu. Now that I’ve been at this URL for over 3 years, having it in list form was getting stupidly long. My sidebar still doesn’t look very good (I’m still not used to WordPress after using Blogger for like 15 years), but it’s a small improvement!

 

lakeside walking trail at dewey short visitor center

 

1. Last Saturday was 60 degrees with a clear blue sky, so I headed over to the trail that runs between the Dewey Short Visitor’s Center and State Park Marina. If you read my goals post, you know that I had a toe issue going on, so I wanted a fairly easy trail to put as little stress on my foot as possible.

 

No idea who built these rock piles, but they’re cool!

This is the first time I’ve been here since the Duck boat accident, so walking past the Branson Belle dock was sad.

 

 

2. My mom fell and fractured her hip on Sunday, and had to have surgery to repair it on Monday. That happening obviously doesn’t make my list of favorite things, but the awesome nurses she had at the hospital, her great surgeon, and the fact that it was an easy break to fix do. She hit her head pretty hard when she fell, so I’m especially thankful that wasn’t worse! She got a pretty icky bump and bruise on her head, but no concussion or anything.

One of the scariest parts was the hallucinations she had as an after effect of the anesthesia or pain meds. She’s had them before when she had a really bad UTI – it’s really more like she has dreams that she thinks are real. (She called everyone while I was in FL a couple of years ago to tell them I won the lottery and got engaged. This time she thought my neighbor fixed my dryer for me. Kind of a downgrade.) Thankfully, those seem to have faded away!

 

 

Quoth mom, “I got screwed.”

 

3. This month for the Chewy Influencer Program, we were sent some Friskies Lil Soups Lickable Treats to review.

 

 

I first saw these in stores about 3 months ago and I’ve been wanting to try them! The price on Chewy ($7.99 for 8 cups, and actually sale for $7.50 when I ordered) is really good, since they average $1 each at mass merchandisers.

I took a picture of what the actual treat looks like when I opened it, but it basically looks like cream of chicken soup, which isn’t super photogenic, so I’m going to skip posting that.

There are four varieties available (You can check out all four here) – Tuna, Salmon, Chicken, and Shrimp. They’re all in chicken broth except, funny enough, the chicken flavor, which is in butternut squash broth. I went with the tuna – I honestly don’t know why because I almost always pick salmon, but I think it might have to do with ordering right after I woke up one morning and the fact that the blue container was prettier than the pink. Don’t let me make decisions before I’m properly caffeinated.

There is a variety pack available with 8 salmon and 10 tuna. My first thought was being sad that Chewy didn’t offer that as an option for influencers, but my second thought was, “Wait, WHY did Friskies set up the variety pack that way?” Are those the two most popular flavors? Why not do a variety pack with four or five of each of the four flavors? Why are there uneven numbers of tuna and salmon? I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS, FRISKIES.

Anyway…

cat eating Friskies Lil Soups

 

I let Tennyson and Hercules Mulligan split one of these, then tossed the little plastic container it came in into the trash and went in the other room for a minute. You know what’s coming. Hercules dug the container out of the trash and took it into my bed (cringe) to lick completely clean.

 

 

I really appreciate that this comes in a little plastic cup that cats can happily lick clean. Pouches are so hard to get all of the food out of, so no matter how hard you try you wind up with funky-smelling trash, but the cups let you (or Hercules Mulligan) be sure nothing goes to waste.

They all love these- I wish they had a larger size available for multi-cat households! There’s enough for two cats to get a satisfying amount (Although I’m pretty sure my cats would tell you that the proper serving size is one full 8-pack per cat) but splitting it between more than two cats feels like they just get a few bites each. To be fair, since I’m such a cat lady, I wish that pretty much everything was available in a larger size so that I can feed everyone without accumulating a bunch of empty containers, but c’est la vie.

 

4. I don’t usually buy Valentine’s Days stuff, but I found a few cute things at Target this week!

 

 

I had to get the black cat socks! And I joked that “The snuggle is real” was going to be the title of my atobiograpy like two years before they started putting that phrase on everything. The universe owes me like a million dollars.

 

 

My cats broke one of my wine glasses and I’ve been on the lookout for a replacement, so I was super excited to find this heart one in the Dollar Spot!

I didn’t buy this little guy but now I really wish I had!

 

5. I subscribe to Netflix for a month about once or twice a year – I don’t spend a lot of time watching TV and movies so I found that if I just maintain a constant subscription, I never watch it, but if I do it this way I just binge watch everything I want to catch up on and then I’m good for awhile. Since January is usually one of the worst weather months where I live, it seemed like a perfect time to watch a bunch of TV in bed since I’m down to two jobs until March and I can’t spend much time outside.

This time around, I’m really enjoying:

*The Marie Kondo tidying up show. It’s a known fact that everyone likes watching other people clean. (WAIT, is Hoarders on Netflix?? Hoarders is the best cleaning motivation ever.) I was kinda surprised that Marie mostly speaks Japanese in this show, but there are subtitles and she has an interpreter with her. My Japanese is terrible, but it’s fun to pick out the occasional word or two that I understand.

*Nailed It – I’ve been listening to Nicole Byer’s “Why Won’t You Date Me” podcast and she mentions the show fairly often (she’s the host), so that made me curious. This show is kind of like the Great British Baking Show’s trainwreck of a little sister. It’s so much fun!

*Seasons 4 & 5 of BoJack Horseman –   I knew there was a new season out that I hadn’t seen yet, but I didn’t realize there were TWO!

You know how Futurama was generally lighthearted, but every now and then they threw an episode at you like that one with Fry’s dog that just punched your right in the gut? BoJack is a lot like that. There was one episode that was entirely a eulogy at a funeral… just one character delivering a monologue, but it’s SO GOOD that you don’t even realize it’s just that for the entire 20-something minutes until it ends. There’s another episode that (spoiler alert) shows what’s going on in the mind of BoJack’s elderly mom, who has dementia. I SOBBED, Y’ALL. I sobbed at the cartoon horsies.

No matter what, always pay attention to the little details in the background. They’re usually equal parts hilarious and totally messed up.

 

 

I also found this Vulture post of 75 hidden jokes in season 4.

 

A last bonus item – because I miss Florida so much ad live for FL headlines like “Spider Monkey Attacks Home Depot Employee After Escaping From Owner’s Car”, here are the Best Florida Headlines of 2018.

This weekend is supposed to be cold AF, so I’m probably spending it reading, working, Netflixing, and cuddling cats! Hope your weekend is awesome!

 

Friday blog linkup

Show Us Your Books – January Edition

Happy Show Us Your Books link-up day! I missed posting last month, so this post has everything I’ve read in the past two months.

 

 

 

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Goodreads * Amazon

I heard so many reviews of this book that I had to check it out, and I’m so glad I did!  To put it very simply, this is a book about mothers and daughters. There are multiple plot lines that weave together perfectly, and a fairly large cast of characters that are both interesting and believable. Thumbs up for this one!

 


Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Goodreads * Amazon

 

I picked up Gladwell’s book “Blink” several years ago and just couldn’t get into it, so I didn’t have high expectations for this one. Surprisingly, I really got sucked in!

I tested in the super high percentile (95th or 98th or something?) for IQ as a kid, so for me the most fascinating chapter was the one that looked at a study that tracked children with exceptional IQs to see which factors most influenced their success. Mild spoiler alert – It turned out that the thing with the most influence, by an overwhelming degree, was the income of the children’s parents. It affected not just the opportunities that the children had (such as being able to attend prestigious schools or take lessons that interested them) but also the parents approach to parenting, to entitlement, and to authority.

I’m going to be embarrassingly honest here. (Eep!) I have a lot of guilt, I guess? (for lack of a better word) around being born with gifts and never really putting them to a good use. Reading about a man who has an IQ of around 200 who was born poor, got kicked out of college in his first semester because his car died and they wouldn’t let him switch to afternoon classes so he could get a ride with someone, who now lives on a horse farm in rural Missouri… it’s the first time I’ve ever felt like “Whoa, what it if isn’t entirely my fault? What if outside factors DO play a way bigger role than we realize?

There were a few sections that didn’t really capture my interest and thus felt too long, but overall I really liked this one. It definitely shakes up how you think about why certain people succeed. It would be a great one to read right before Twilight of the Elites by my imaginary TV boyfriend Chris Hayes, since that one is all about meritocracy.

 

The Emerald Sea by Richelle Mead

Goodreads * Amazon

I read the first book in this series a few months ago (That review is here) and liked it enough to put the other two on my library holds list. I didn’t realize when I started reading this one that it was the 3rd book, not the second, but it didn’t really end up mattering.  All three are fun YA-type reads along the lines of The Selection series, and each one is telling the same series of events from a different perspective, which was a fun structure. You really do need to read the first book first for the second and third to make any sense,though.

 

Midnight Jewel by Richelle Mead

Goodreads * Amazon

This is the second book from the series above, which I read third. It’s really fun to see minor characters from the other books fleshed out into major players. I kind of wish there was another book to this series, I think the author could have easily told the story from a couple more perspectives before it started getting old.

 

Wishwork by Alexa Fischer
Goodreads * Amazon

I received a PR email about this book and my curiosity was sparked to check it out. With New Year’s Resolutions being a big thing this time of year, a book that helps people reach their goals seemed especially timely. (I posted about my goals for 2019 in this post, if you missed it!) The basis of the book is to really tune into your heart to figure out what you want, and then to take small daily actions to help you get that thing.

One amusing note – as I started reading, my very first thought was, “Hey, is this foreword written by Alex Franzen?” and then IT WAS. I get her email newsletter and something about the way the foreword was written was just so clearly her voice.

It’s a super short book, just 116 pages and that includes about 16 pages of blank space for you to write in. I enjoyed reading through it, but if you’re familiar with the Law of Attraction (and especially the “scripting” aspect of that), you can probably skip it because it’s things you’ve already heard. It’s very basic (as in it explains what visualizing is) so I wound up feeling like it was too simplified for me to personally get much out of, but it could be great for a high school or college student.

The one thing that got annoying while reading as how often the author talked about her business, from mentions of her product on many of the 21 days of actions to a drawn out story about how she started the company. That kind of thing is a lot like wanting to tell other people about that dream you had. It’s fascinating to you, but they really don’t care to hear every detail.

The book would have been so much better if she had briefly talked about what she does (bracelets made with your wish written inside) in the intro and then not mentioned it again. Having it come up SO often makes it unclear if the real point of the book is to guide people through achieving their goals or marketing the bracelets.

 

My Squirrel Days by Ellie Kemper

Goodreads * Amazon

I never watched The Officeso I only know Ellie from Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt, bur I picked this up from Netgalley because it sounded fun. It falls into Steph’s infamous “passed the time just fine” category – entertaining but not especially memorable.

 

Visit Life According to Steph and Jana Says to check out the link-up and see what dozens of other bloggers have been reading lately!