Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

Merry Christmas to all my loved ones. Wishing everyone a very very happy holiday. May you all be blessed with love in 2012. Near and far wherever you are, my heart is with you.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My heart is wherever you are...

Today is a funny day. Its just a weird day. My heart is in many places and my mind is everywhere. I want to be in 8 places at once and I want to see and hold every person in my family.

Today my heart is everywhere and anywhere my family is, my home is wherever I'm with you, you crazy people that I love.

My heart and home is here in Austin, TX wishing I was elsewhere. I want to be in Nebraska, Amarillo, Tennessee, Virginia, all over Pennsylvania and anywhere else my family and friends might be.

My day is filled with hope and strength for soo many people that love, I want to hug them all!

My heart is with Kim aka Marmi and I'm vibing all my strength and love and hope for a quick surgery and speedy recovery in her battle with breast cancer. My heart is with all those fighting cancer, I wish you all health and happiness in 2012.

Today my heart is with my Grandpa John. In my very large extended family, all of our hearts are with him each and every day. I sent my love in a hug via Lauren earlier today, I hope he knows how much we all love and care for him. I wish I could be there with him today in Knoxville.

My heart and mind are with my Grandma when she didn't think there would be much of a Christmas to celebrate, I hope the love of our family showers her this season. I wish I could be there to spend the holiday with all of them.

The newly minted 8 year old part of my heart is in Nebraska today celebrating the holiday with her Mother's family. My heart and mind are missing her like crazy and I can't wait to see Kendall soon.

To all my friends and family who I won't be able to hug and love on this year, I love you.
Eyes open, breathing normal we'll make it through together no matter how far apart we are this holiday season!


This is why I Bikram...

"When you spend 90 minutes with a lot of people in room that's over 120 degrees, everyone's too hot. It doesn't matter if you're a celebrity, a marathon runner or a 250-pound woman on Food Stamps, the room levels the playing field. No matter how smart you are, how much money you make, we're all the same. You're going to become more aware of others, more aware of yourself, and eventually start to see yourself as no different from anyone else. Even if you don't know why you came in, you come out nicer." ~Tricia Donegan

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It's the MO'st Wonderful Time of the Year!

Eight is Great

So Kendall turned 8 over the weekend. We had a drama free birthday party with mom and Kendall had a great time gymnastics-ing with her buddies. Due to a cake ordering malfunction or misunderstanding by mom we almost had a meltdown. What Kendall had requested as a Strawberry Shortcake flavored cake turned into a Strawberry Shortcake themed cake. She was a tad bit upset after finding this out.  In order to save the day I stopped at the brand new Cupcake place on the way home and low and behold Saturday was not a strawberry day (who knew that cupcake places had daily menus, so smart but so inconvenient in a Strawberry emergency), so naturally I went home and whipped up some Strawberry flavored cupcakes just in case I needed to prevent a complete meltdown at the mature 8 year old party.  Luckily the now extremely mature 8 year old shrugged it off and enjoyed her Walmart cupcakes with her friends as my cupcakes created a la "Cupcake Wars" waited in the car.
On the way home after the party we surprised Kendall by stopping back at Gigi's Cupcakes to let her pick out her own birthday cupcake flavor. I fair warned her that they did not have Strawberry that day. She picked out a Banana Pudding Cupcake which was AMAZING. Highly recommend Gigi's Cupcakes!
As an extremely mature 8 year old Kendall got to choose where to eat her birthday dinner and naturally she chose Cheddar's. We had a nice dinner together as a family and went home to enjoy our dessert. En route we stopped at Dustin's favorite new store to purchase some items to go with our Christmas Card photo accessories. We prepped for a photo shoot and made the greatest Christmas Card photo ever! Can't wait to share it with you. Look for it in your email inbox soon...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

If that makes me rich...I wanna be poor

I've learned a few very important things over the past week:
1. My husband is a natural born 'picker'.
2. He's just like my father.
3. I will never underestimate what he may bring home and in turn make money on.
4. I'm turning into an old person, the 'back in my day we used to ________ in bare feet in the snow, up hill BOTH ways.' kind of old person.
Last night Kendall didn't know how to talk into a regular phone handset. I got my new pop phone which I love and handed the phone to Kendall to say hello to my dad and she started talking into the listening end of the handset. Dustin and I were shocked that she had no clue how to use the regular phone. Weird...My new plan is that we must get a rotary phone and she what she thinks it does, she might think its a calculator or something.
Back to 'Picker Nation' or 'Craiglist across America' my new idea on a TV show featuring my husband and father and their buying random stuff to resell business. Of all things for Dustin,  it started with a vintage Barbie case full of Barbie clothing. Yes, my husband brought home Barbies and told our 7 year old that she wasnt to play with them at all and he has since turned them around and is still making money off of the different pieces he's sold.
This morning I went downstairs during my morning routine and found an ugly as sin belt on the table. Being an ass I put it on and walked up stairs and flaunted it for him. "Oh honey you really shouldn't have" He in turn told me that I should take off the belt because its worth a lot of money he's just not sure how much. Standing in the way of his picker profitability I quickly removed the belt and said "It's ugly as sin. If wearing one of these makes me rich then I want to be poor." Who knew famous people had horrible fashion sense. I'm utterly confused by Judith Leiber, but I guess there's something out there for everyone. I'll still stick with the poor people and my basic leather belt or no belt at all. Thanks!
Now I have two new nicknames for Dustin:
1. Master of all things Vintage Barbie.
2. Ugly Belt Salesman
New products I love:
Native Union Pop Phone - I like to refer to it as The Bat Phone.
S'well Bottle

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hokie Haters...Learn to Love you Some Beamer

"I don’t think we have to apologize to anyone," he said. "When you’re the winningest football team since 1995, I don’t think there’s any apologies necessary. When you’re the only team to have won 10 games [eight] straight [years], the only team in the country to do that, yeah, I don’t think there’s an apology necessary. When you’ve been to 19 straight bowl games, I don’t think there’s an apology necessary." -- Frank Beamer
"Those people criticizing, that’s why they stay on TV," he said. "They’re making statements, and if they’re not getting your attention, they’re not going to be on TV. I don’t worry about that. ... I think what we’ve done since 1995, we don’t have to apologize to anyone." --Frank Beamer

Hot Peppers and Hot People

It was super cold last night. The only natural thing for me to do was to get to yoga. So I did. It was delicious in the hot room. Deliciously Juicy! The front windows of the studio were dripping from the humidity and hotness on the inside and the cold air bearing down on the outside. It was disgusting and awesomely delicious at the same time.
I have a new favorite ritual before and after yoga. If I drink a plain coconut water before class then I barely have to drink water during class. Of course I hydrate throughout the day beforehand but as long as I have a coconut water right before I am juicy enough to last through the class without overdosing on water. Drink too much water during class and you feel kind of sloshy. When I get back home from class, I shower and then I make myself a smoothie with frozen fruit and coconut water to replenish. Blackberry, Apple & Coconut Water smoothie -- yes please! I complimented that with some leftover Roasted Beets and Quinoa Salad from last night and I was in heaven.
Last night I also started the Holiday Batch of LayCock Sauce. Some good ole Sriracha (Rooster Sauce) is on its way. I started with an entire case of Red Fresno Chilis - yes I bought an entire case. Roughly chopped ten pounds of Chilis last night and they are currently brining in a Rubbermaid Bin in the refrigerator until I finish off the process tonight.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cold, Wet Rainy Days - Favorite in the Hot Room

Apparently cold, wet, rainy days are also a favorite for many others to voyage to the hot room. Especially in the CP. I went to class last night at 4:30 anticipating a few people here and there and it was packed. Actually had to take class in the front row. I usually prefer the second row...Not too close to the mirror but close enough to focus on myself and locking the knee. I started off in the second row when I first arrived but when I sat up and noticed how many people had come in to the hotroom since I had. I offered to move up in the front row so the two newbies behind me could have a little bit of space. It was nowhere near as crowded as 'Free Day of Yoga' back in September when we practiced Sardine-asanas but moving up a row aleviated some scrunching.
The best part about Cold, Wet, Rainy Days in a Yoga Room with a lot of people...the more people, the more humidity - the juicier the room, the more I sweat and the better I feel!
In other news I finally made my roasted beet and quinoa salad last night. In Dustin's words, "What was I doing in my life before I ate this salad?" Yea, its THAT good. I adapted the recipe with Quinoa instead of Farro as I had a package of Quinoa on hand. I'm sure its awesome either way but we will be making this again, as soon as I get some more Farmhouse Delivery beets. YUM! Much like Radishes, Farmhouse Delivery has introduced and re-introduced me to some of my new favorite foods and recipes. I never ate a Beet (correction Roasted Beet) before last night. In my mind Beets always came in a jar full of purpley pink pickleyness. Highly recommend this recipe!
On Saturday night when I had roasted the beets for the salad I had to use the beet greens instead of throwing them away. Edible and quite delectable, beet greens are delicious and healthy. I chopped them up and threw them in a saute pan with some bacon. Naturally everything is better with bacon. While those were cooking up I also was roasting a spaghetti squash and could not help but think how delicious some Pasta Carbonara would be with my beet greens and spaghetti squash. Mixed up some of the egg and parmesean mixture and voila. Ready made, healthy, low carb meal that the entire family enjoyed. Every morsel! Don't ask me about my recipe. It just happened and it was delicious.
My list for next years garden: Radishes, Beets, Spaghetti Squash

Friday, December 2, 2011

Peed Myself...

Normally needles, injection needles - just the thought makes me pass out or at least feel woozy. Typing about needles makes me a little light headed already. For whatever reason last night I ran into the show Whitney on television by accident and I laughed sooo hard I almost peed myself.  The entire show was hilarious but this clip really did me in...and I didnt pass out, I just laughed my ass off.

Maybe Humphrey might like a Bubble Bath...

This is all you...

Let me know how it works out...

Paving Paradise with Sweat, Laughter & Tears

Paradise: 3.26.2011
No Parking Lots here. I'm going to pave my own paradise in 2012.
Get ready world...Amanda's signed up for another 60 in 60 challenge. For real this time, with the group, in the cold of winter. I'll use the hot room, my support system and my 'english bulldog determination and bengal tiger strength' to get it done...AGAIN...60 days...every day...Eyes Open, Breathing Normal...sweating like nobody's business.
Pure Bikram
Here's to December 2011. Wishing everyone a fantastic holiday season and 31...err...30 days to create New Years Resolutions that stick... Lets rephrase...Resolutions doesn't have the same ring to it as 'Paving My Own Paradise'. Resolutions fall to the wayside easily. I've often given up on those in a matter of days. Lets revolutionize resolutions and not make them, lets decide on challenges and goals to achieve, not peasly resolutions to stick to. Hold yourself accountable and do something brave in 2012. Challenge yourself. Challenge your mindset and make a difference in yourself, mind and body. That hobby you've always wanted to try, do it.
My mom has inspired me. Last year when she set a goal to achieve 55 miles by 55 on her bike I started Bikram yoga, something I swore up and down I would never try. Never, not me, too sweaty, too uncomfortable, I may die right there in class. And now here I am facing another 60 in 60. No sweat really ;) , I did it in the heat of the summer this year, 2012 should be easy peasy. I'll have a lot of others sweating it out right along with me to give me the extra boost to make it through.
Not only am I sending an end of year Wishing you and yours Happy Holidays for 2011. I want to challenge everyone to look forward to 2012 and Paving their own Paradise. Decide today to try something new in 2012 that you've always thought "Well that could be a challenge."
2012: Love your Life and Pave your Paradise.

Onion Lover: Cooks

Last night Kendall had to make sure that our Christmas lights were on to attempt to compete with the rest of the neighbors. Our block has turned into Griswald lane, there's even a lit up outline of Texas that says 'Merry Christmas Y'all!' and a Bevo. At any rate, County Cork is definitely festive this year. Here's a couple pictures of the Laycock Christmas inside and out.
Christmas at 706 County Cork:

Kendall and I cooked dinner together last night.
Braised Greens with Tomato Sauce and Eggs
As you can see my little Onion Lover, loved posing for a picture with her 'sweating' onions.

When asked why I always cook with Purple Onions instead of White I told her that I like the red/purple onions better. She said "Me Too."
When we finally sat down to eat she announced, "I can't even taste the Onions!"
She may become my little mini-me after all...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Happy Cyber Monday!

I am thankful for my family, friends and good health. What better holiday to be thankful for your health than one that you gorge on overindulgence. A client on the phone today told me his holiday was "fat and sassy". I agreed with him that that's the way it should be. I hope you all had a fat and sassy weekend with your loved ones. I'm also thankful for my husband and my kids. Husband put on a garage sale on the only rainy day in months and did so with a semi deadtired smile the whole time! Yes, I said my kids - 2 legged and 4 legged. 2 legged kid - Kendall wrote me the sweetest letter as part of her homework last week. I will post picture later. 2 legged and 4 legged children give me a reason to wake up every morning! Most mornings they are the reason I wake up, however too early it may be...see photo above.
Wishing a happy cyber monday to you all. In lieu of the online shopping day of the year, I will post a blog to share with you my cyberness and I will finally post my super secret most favorite website (shopping website) of all. I refused to share up until this point because it was my Christmas shopping venue of choice. Now that the gifts are all ordered I can successfully share the goodness with others without them buying the same gifts for themselves.
I'd like to introduce you to my new bestie...FabI heart Fab.
In other news this past Saturday was my 10 year high school reunion in State College. Oh the good ole days...I hope everyone had a blast reunioning back at home over the holiday. I would like to request some pictures posted to facebook soon!
Last night Dustin and I watched 60 Minutes and I think I found my second calling in life.

With my super nose and sense of smell and "tastes like the way __________ smells" comparisons, I definitely think I would fit well in this industry. Besides I was a marketing/advertising student thats gotta help me out with the whole flavor sells thing. Must research further...anyone know any flavorists???

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The benefits of a heightened sense of smell

I've always thought I had an extra acute sense of smell. I smell extra bad when its bad and extra good when its good. I smell everything. "What is that smell?" is a common phrase in my vocabulary. "What does that taste like?" is often described in terms of smell. For instance, I have never become a whiskey connoisseur because to me whiskey tastes like the smell of a barn. A barn filled with hay, animals and all that comes along with it. My favorite new beverage, ZICO - tastes like the smell of a large bowl of Frosted Flakes more specifically the milk after you eat the Frosted Flakes.  Apparently I relate to the world with my sense of smell.
For the past week or so I have become aware of a strong burning plastic smell each and every time I got out of the driver's side door of Mr. Prius. At first if was faint and I thought I was imagining things. I assumed I was nuts and forgot about it until the next time it smelled stronger and it only seemed to come from my driver's side wheel well area,so then I became more concerned and made Dustin smell it too.
I read into it online to find out what might be happening. I read a lot about the different smells people experience inside their Prius which wasn't happening to me and I also read that sometimes a grocery bag can get stuck under your car and melt  to the bottom causing the chemical burning smell of melting plastic to permeate in and around your car . After researching and continuing to smell the plastic burning each time I exited the car I finally called Richie at Qualtech to make sure I wasn't nuts. He told me to bring it in and they'd put the car on the lift and we'd find out what was going on.
I made Richie smell around my car and he seemed to think it was coming from the same driver's side wheel well that I had noticed it. They threw it up on the lift and looked at driver's side wheel well to find nothing, no HEB bag trapped near my wheel, melting to death. His mechanic took the vehicle out on a test drive to get the car and plastic melting smell all heated up again and returned to put the vehicle on the lift. During the test drive the mechanic noticed that something was wrong with the driver's side front wheel bearing and that was causing what I thought was extra road noise from my tires an issue that would have to be fixed but still no plastic. After they solved the wheel bearing mystery they were walking under my car and on the exhaust pipe directly under the middle of Mr. Prius was a faint blue and pink stripe from an old Ziploc baggie, permanently attached in an odd artistic formation to the bottom of Mr. Prius. My nose was right and it helped me solve the extra road noise mystery with exactly 17300 miles left on the powertrain warranty. Not under warranty the labor alone would have been close to $300 to repair. I am extremely grateful.
With exactly one week until Thanksgiving I will start my Thank you's and Grateful's now.
I am grateful for...Mr. Prius
I am grateful for...Ziploc Baggies
I am grateful Sense of Smell
I am grateful for... my unwarranted attention on driver's side wheel well for the wrong reason
I am grateful for...Qualtech Automotive, Thank you Richie for not thinking I'm completely nuts and for checking to see if it was a warranty repair with Toyota
I am grateful for...60k mile Powertrain Warranty
I am grateful for...Thursday night football in Blacksburg...GO HOKIES!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Clean Garage = Early Christmas

Dustin started a new challenge last weekend when the time changed. He utilized his extra hour to completely destroy our semi organized garage to re-organize it, create a work bench/work space for himself and prep for a garage sale. This project led to a full week of Mr. Prius hanging out in the driveway with a hoard of things laying on every inch of the garage floor. When this past weekend came around it was my new priority to help Dustin complete the original plan and get things put away. In my words, "If you don't get the garage cleaned up, I'm going to bulldoze everything in my way and park the Prius back in his spot!" Yes, I used the word bulldoze in reference to a Prius and Yes, my husband laughed at me.
Through our sort, we pulled everything out of storage, we rearranged tools, cleaning supplies and crafty things in one area along with all the lawn and outdoor supplies we've accumulated and I got an entire new shelf for my couponing haul and Costco items. Couponing is a lot like shopping at Costco, you end up with supplies for a year that you have to find a place for. This is ok by me as long as we use it. I have an entire shelf full of cereal, one for canned goods and another for my sports drinks for when I'm on the Yoga wagon (Which I am by the way...). One pesky rather large item was left after our mass organization and that was my 9' Christmas Tree in a bag. With two weeks until Thanksgiving weekend and nothing better to do, who wouldn't just go ahead and start decorating for the holidays. Officially the earliest I have ever thought about or made any movement toward decorating for the holidays. Now there aren't ornaments on the tree because I am of course waiting until Kendall is with us so she can help with that process but the tree is up, the lights are on and the presents are wrapped under the tree.
Now what will I do with myself for the next month and a half...
...Go to Yoga...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hometown Heartbreak

Its hard to put into words how I feel. I told my husband last night that I'm depressed. I'm not even there and I'm depressed. A few months ago I blogged about the fire here in Texas and our close call and came to realize what makes for a home, now I'm realizing that your memories make your home as well. State College is one of my homes. Its my hometown, where I grew up...State College is memorialized in my history, in my story - its a huge part. No I didn't go to Penn State, as a young kid growing up in a small town I wanted to adventure out into the world and find another place to call home. As a Hokie grad I don't know how all the Penn Staters feel, PSU is not my PSiloveU but the town that houses the University is synonimous with Penn State and that town is mine. Its all ours. It's Happy Valley where it may not be sunny every day and we may not all be Happy all the time but its a fantastic place to call ours. Our little hometown, our little Valley, ours. I may not live there anymore, I may call somewhere else home, but these days I'm clinging to my memories of State College, a place we all thought we knew. I've called my parents more times in the past week than I have in the past few months trying to get a sense of the place. I'm clinging to anything I can in memory of my State College. My town. To hear the media describe the events, to see the images of the place I love demonized by utter media chaos makes me sad for my valley.

The tragedy in this story is of course what happened to innocent children. The tragic part for people from, living in or associated with State College is our town will never be the same. Its not JoePa, although he has helped to define the place for more than 60 years, I'd like to see the media step away from that topic. Its a sensational story and it will surely sell to the mass of sports fans throughout the country but lets not forget or forgive what allegedly happened in my pristine hometown where we don't have to lock our back doors, where everyone is family.

I hope the truth comes out, all of it. The Grand Jury investigation has been 3 years in the making. Why now? Why does it take the State of Pennsyvlania years to arrest someone of their alleged crimes and no actions have taken place up until now. I know exactly why, due process. It is the same process that allowed my baby mama drama to take 2 full years to be signed into order and that was nothing compared to the astronomically huge deal this is. It took us one day to take our case to a judge. Its taken how many years for a judge to sign an order keeping the accused in this case away from kids. Really? State of Pennsylvania, didn't you think it might be a good idea to keep him away from children legally when you let him post bail. I'm confused and saddened by it all. Depressed, like I said before.

I hope we hear the entire story, if people covered it up they should lose their jobs. If the accused did what is said then he will get his.

I want State College back. I want to turn on the tv without my hometown as media central. Its the center of the world to me and I hate that its the center of the world to everyone else and is now demonized as "cover-up", "child-abuse" central because of what one man's actions did. One man. One single individual has affected the lives of 8 perhaps 9 young men in a horrifying manner. One single individual played a sick game of charades to others that thought they knew him, a two faced monster. One single individual has brought an entire community down. One single individual has caused turmoil in daily lives of anyone that associates themselves with Penn State. One single individual has affected the people who live in my hometown.

'In this green vale that molds our spirits' we are hurt. Hurting for the victims, hurting for our spirit - we want the spirit of our town back, back to the way it was before all this. We know it never will be same but we can hope above all else that this will not define our town. Like any good family strife we'll get our spirit back eventually, it will take time and the truth but eventually we'll get to redefine this place we call home. We'll always have the memories we grew up with, and we'll look upon those memories fondly.

This is State College, the place where I grew up. This is my State College. Its a Sad Valley today and it probably will be for a while to come but...We are...and forever will be...State College, PA , We are Happy Valley.

I heart State College, PA.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Trials of a Couponer

I started shopping at Randall's/Safeway more religiously in the past six months when HEB started having weird coupon policies with printable coupons plus the fact that they do not double or triple and all of my local Randall's locations do.

I used to hate shopping with a grocery list or menu plan or coupons because it always seemed to take a lot of time with 'no cheese down that tunnel'. I seemed to never feel rewarded after I was done shopping, i just felt spent - both monetarily and time wise. I always felt like couponing and lists made me buy more things that I didn't need or would never use before the expiration date.

Fast forward to the premier or first season of extreme couponing, I was shocked at what people were buying and storing in their homes. I do not have a full basement to hoard my goods or an extra bedroom to keep a tower of toilet paper but I did realize that by not using coupons and not shopping with a list I was wasting a lot of money each week on my grocery bill. If I planned according to sale ads and bought only items that I knew I would use I could be successful. So I planned, cut coupons and filed them in my binder and watched sale circulars for the week's specials and printed coupons from every computer I could access. This process allowed me to get my % savings from a minimum of 30% at the beginning of this venture to above 50% on every day shopping.

I used to curse coupons at check out time, I hated using them and hated other people using them in front of me in line. Just seemed like it took forever and made the process more painful but when you can save so much money its worth it in the end. If coupons are used properly the checkout person does not have to be 'profiled' to be successful with your coupons. Yes a good high value coupon will give the dreaded beep every once and a while but as long as the cashier is willing to get a managers approval and look for the item in your basket than there shouldn't be any issues.

This past Friday, I had planned for and clipped and pre-ordered specific coupons for my shopping trip so that I could stock up on certain items that were on sale and to get my Thanksgiving Turkey for a discounted price with all the contingencies met for the special discounted per pound rate. After gathering my groceries I headed to checkout.

This is when the coupon report - cashiers behaving badly/improperly/not understanding english on a coupon and frankly stealing, begins.

I had 14 coupons for 14 4-packs of Seattle's Best Coffee Drinks ready to use. A lady helping to bag all my groceries stepped up to the cash register after I handed the cashier lady my stack of coupons and she was telling her to read all the individual coupons closely for the words, 'one coupon per purchase'. If it said that then they could only accept one coupon. The cashier had already scanned 4 of my coupons for coffee and the 'bagger' lady said "we'll honor those four ONLY even though we're only supposed to honor ONE". The line had built up behind me and I was that dreaded woman using coupons on a Friday evening. They continued to go through all the coupons and pulled out any coupon that I had more than one of, handing them back to me. At this point I was thinking 'WTF happened since yesterday when I used multiple coupons for items in one transaction, as long as it doesn't state 'limit of one coupon per transaction' you should be golden'. I kept my mouth shut and awaited my receipt and my hard earned/calculated $10.00 off your next purchase for spending $75.00 or more coupon. The cashier handed me a new coupon for cereal that was printed from the register and my receipt but there was no $10 coupon. I looked at her and said 'I'm supposed to get a $10 off coupon from this transaction."  She looked at me and then looked under the register (no where near the coupon printer) and reached under the desk and handed me my $10 off coupon. SCAM ARTIST. First she is misinformed about the coupons and hands me back over $21.00 worth of coupons that she said I can't use in this purchase and then she tried stealing my free $10.

I wasn't willing to fight the coupons standing there in line, ask for a manager and hold up all the impatient people in line behind me, so I slowly pushed my cart over to the customer service desk with my unused coupons and my receipt. I asked the lady working that desk if the coupon policy changed in the past day, she reviewed what I had and what I had purchased and even checked with her manager as to the wording on the coupons. Randall's ended up giving me $21.84 cash back for my coupons 3 minutes after I walked away from the cashier that told me they couldn't accept them. I didn't mention the $10 coupon scam while I was standing there because I was shocked and pissed off at that moment. I was very relieved about knowing the coupon policy better than the cashier and the bagger and thanked the customer service woman profusely for refunding me for the coupons.

When I got to the car I called Dustin and ranted about the cashier. He told me I needed to tell the store what had happened and report it to the supervisor so they could do something. I didn't want any unsuspecting grocery shopper to not receive their hard earned/spent $10 off coupon because a thief was among us so I called the store back on my way home and told the same lady that refunded me what had happened at checkout with my freebie coupon. She apologized again for all the trouble and said she'd report it to her front of the store manager so that it could be addressed. I told her I wasn't entirely sure what happened but that I had to ask for the coupon and she pulled it out from somewhere other than the printer it came off of. I didn't want it to happen to someone else and them not knowing well enough to ask for it.

Moral of the story: Ask someone else if it doesn't seem right. Watch your back out there, there are many forces working against well-meaning coupon shoppers just trying to save a buck!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Spaghetti Squash

New family favorite...
We had baked spaghetti squash tossed in brown butter with italian seasoning and parmesean and a fresh green salad with parmasean balsamic viniagrette. Yes I'm hungry again.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What's for Dinner?

Got our Farmhouse Delivery today! So excited to eat well tonight...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Color Fun

Thanks to my Bikram Buddy Kim, I am now registered to participate in The Color Run along with Team Awesomer than Awesome. We'll be wearing tutus.
I can't tell you how excited I am for this:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Severely disappointed in the number of trick or treaters at the Laycock household last night. I specifically did not go to yoga last night so as to experience the hoards of children ringing my doorbell and to gorge myself on candy while I waited. Last year I even handed out whole candy bars (thanks to Costco) with the thought that the following year they'd know my house would be AWESOME to hit up for candy.

My first revelation from Halloween this year is that Trick or Treating is dead.

Not one of the kids said "Trick or Treat", c'mon parents lets train these kids. They have to earn the candy with that simple phrase. They instead just hold up their buckets like a homeless person with their sign asking for candy without a single word. At least the littlest kids that showed up that may not have been able to speak knew what they were there for and readily dug deep into the candy bowl for their multiple handfuls of delicious sweets. The older kids just held out their hands and I said Happy Halloween before any of them said anything. In the 4 cases I had they said Happy Halloween back but not one "trick or treat!" What the hell? What happened to the pillow cases filled with candy, literally running from house to house to get as much candy as possible, screaming trick or treat before the homeowner could even open the door. My four, yes four groups of trick or treaters which i will now refer to as halloweeners, hah, had itty bitty buckets for their candy and were obviously not bolting to all the houses in the neighborhood to hit every single one with the light on in order to get as much candy as possible. I'm not sure if the kids are lazy or the parents are or if we just judge everyone now...Whether its the fattening of America or the safety concerns we have for our children at every little step, something has changed. Maybe its the parents that think we can just buy some candy that we like or we'll have a ton left over at home from the lack of "trick or treaters" at our house.

My second revelation from Halloween this year, Snickers Peanut Butter Squared are AMAZING!

My remnants of Halloween, an entire bowl of the best of the best candy is now sitting at my office waiting to be eaten by me and all my coworkers. My trick or treaters failed me this year. One of my goals was even to desensitize my dogs to the doorbell from the massive amounts it would ring last night. Of my four groups of trick or treaters, they all knocked politely on the door.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Thanks to Stumble!
Rune Guneriussen
Alexa Meade

Eyes Open, Breathing Normal - Laying Down

So I did the opposite of my to do list last night. Walked the dogs last night after dinner and went to yoga this morning with my Bikram Buddy Kim...
Not sure whats in the air, allergies maybe...but I had to lay down during class at 6am this morning because I was super dizzy. I thought maybe I was dehydrated but that didnt cure me, been dizzy and headache all day, hate fall/winter allergy season. I'm still trying to figure out how a person can not be allergic to anything but still have allergies and all the symptoms. I defy the odds of medical science, along with the rest of my non-allergic, allergic family. I'll blame genetics. Go away headache!

Monday, October 24, 2011

To Dos and To Donts

We all get caught up in every day. Shit happens. Literally and Figuratively. (Insert crazy poop story here.) What we can do is plan according to what we'd like to accomplish each day and work hard to achieve our goals. Whether we complete what we'd hoped depends on us and the days circumstances. Eyes open, breathing normal we can all get there. I've thought often to myself how exactly do I do it; my projects; big or small, my daily goals at work and home, and life; eating, breathing, sleeping, each and every day. Throw in my yoga 60 in 60 challenge and looking back I have no idea how I survived for two months doing yoga EVERY DAY. On top of that I did at least one load of laundry every single day (my stanky, sweaty yoga clothes). One month post challenge, laundry has piled up and I don't make it to yoga every day and my projects are not being accomplished as quickly as they were before. What happened? I'm not exactly sure. Apparently taking almost 3 hours out of my evening each day to prepare for yoga, take class and return home and bathe still allows me to feel more accomplished each evening than eating dinner at a normal hour, running errands and spending time with my family.

To Dos - Bikram every day or as close to it as possible, which leads to doing at least one load of laundry a day, which leads to folding laundry and putting clothes away, which leads to dusting bedroom furniture from the rapid accumulation of dust in our house (I should buy stock in Swiffer.), which leads to sound sleeping and waking up rested the next day which leads to everything righting itself in my world.

To Do for this week more specifically is - WALKING THE DOGS, morning walks are on my newfound early riser schedule. I will not sleep past my alarm however 'tired' I can convince myself I am to sleep just ten more minutes. The earlier I wake the more I can accomplish. I will no longer sweat the small stuff and just do; eyes open, breathing normal.

Anything is possible.

The only thing we can waste and not get back is...Time.

Time. It JUST happened and its NOT coming back. Unfortunately rewinding our lives and replay or redos have not been invented yet. Until then, use it or lose it...
Seattle Trip - Second blog post coming soon...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Seattle - A warm cookie and a tall glass of...

A warm cookie and a tall glass of shut the hell up. The thing about travel is its unpredictable. You could plan every moment that you will spend on a vacation but the forces of nature and the travel gods will guide you no matter what. What we can do is check a vacation off of our list. More specifically vacation sans child, sans family, where we went where the wind took us. Enter soon-to-expire frequent flier miles and a much needed break from our daily routine and Seattle is where we landed. A weekend away that we could discover a new place, together. No time schedule, no planned events and completely guided by our stomachs.
When asked what we did in Seattle the answer will always be, we ate some great food, morning, close to noon and night. We ate well and to me that defines the best vacation, best weekend, best time spent with my husband. Away from daily life chatter we could talk and actually listen to each other over a beer or glass of wine or cup of coffee and a great meal! It doesn't happen often, this vacation thing, This sit down and eat together and talk thing. Hell it's been three years since our wedding and this is the first we've ever gone away together. We've pledged to each other to make it happen once a year, an adult vacation that we can just be us as a couple.
Back to the warm cookie...
So as a not so frequent flyer to the west coast, I had never flown on frontier airlines which is who we got our free cc point tickets from. Thank you American express for all, the hard earned money I've spent with you to earn my plane tickets and hotel stay. Wait a second...who should be thanking who? I know I know, but I'll be damned if I don't use my point effectively! I think I took it over the edge with our 8 "free", warm chocolate chip cookies. So apparently this is a frontier airlines thing. We serve you a drink offer you some for purchase snacks and then come back in 20 minutes when all the aforementioned food and beverage are gone to hand deliver you a warmed chocolate chip cookie. The cookies are probably leftovers that have aged to a crispness unknown to the human palate so they zap the suckers in a microwave or easy bake oven for a few minutes to freshen them up for their valued customers. I was down with the free chocolate cookie, it coulda used some milk...but for my nearby passengers on each and every flight I want to order them a tall glass of something else.
Talky McGee and farmer Jo started the trip out from Austin to Kansas city with a whirlwind of conversation that did not stop. I would have rather a screaming child in our row as at least they give up after a good 20 minute screaming fest. And I say this about a screaming child because I remember not so fondly the day 2 year old Kendall refused to buckle up on our descent. However much that attendant requested we get our child buckled she pulled a bucking bronco-esque technique to wrestle out of the belt all while screaming bloody murder. Yep we were those people! Everyone at some point will experience it. But back to our most recently flight...hearing someone's life story -- eh hem overhearing someone's life story because they are talking louder than the engine roar to over share their life with the entire plane. They were obnoxious. A cookie didn't mend my broken ears and when the attendant finally announced we had arrived in Kansas city claiming frontier airlines- a whole different animal, I couldn't agree more.
And by the way, the Kansas city airport is a whole different planet. We had to de-board our flight with the connection to Seattle and the inside of the airport was reminiscent of an abandoned warehouse that they would keep aliens. Area 51 anyone?
We finally made it on 'a whole different animal' to Seattle and were pleasantly surprised to find the public transportation convenient, useful and cheap. For $5.50 we were dropped off two blocks from our hotel. Having not eaten anything but our free cookies and some beef jerky throughout the day we were in downtown Seattle by 6pm local time and we were starving. We settled in to the hotel and rested until our stomachs led us directly across the street for some Thai food. Pumpkin Prawn Curry. Yes, my mouth is watering again already. Dustin had Pad Thai and our empty stomachs were grateful for the deliciousness. Back at the hotel we made no plans at all other than our first food stop for breakfast at Dahlia Lounge for brunch and roaming the Pike Street Market.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pizza & Impressions

Had an awesome first night back with Kendall last night. We went out for pizza as a family to our favorite spot, Southern's, for their specialty pizza. Kendall went to Utopia fest with her mom over the weekend and she did a kickin' impression of some 'ninja band' that sang nursery rhymes. It was one of those moments that Dustin and I both wished we had a camera rolling. We are looking forward to the weekend with our 'in house entertainer'.
In other news got our first farmhouse delivery today. I AM SOOOOOooooooooooo excited to cook dinner tonight. Sweet Potato Greens and leftover pizza it is...Sausage Risotto baked in a Pumpkin tomorrow...and Lettuce Wraps this weekend... I have never been a big menu planner but this Co-op thing has me inspired.
Eyes Open, Breathing Normal...Eating Well

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


So I had another blog.
Started it in January of 2010 as an ode to "Thank You's" and being grateful for life in general. I blogged four times and never shared it with anyone. I rediscovered what I wrote and the posts are still applicable to my life today.  Its awesome how you can go back and see where your life was the day you entered your online journal entry. Whether shared with others or not, it captures your moment in time, your life and relates it back to the world. The post about the Haiti earthquake is the only current event indication of what was happening in the world when I posted these blogs originally. I will revisit the inspiration from this old blog to be thankful and grateful consistently in my day to day life. Now that I've got my eyes open and I'm breathing normal on a consistent basis I can be thankful - always. I will repost 'my thank you list' blog below from my first words as a blogger.
As a side note: Mom - I truly feel this way every day. I'm slightly disappointed that I never shared this post with you. Initially I did this blog as my own personal thank you list and I'm not sure I meant for others to read it - ever - but I'm glad to share it with you now. As far as current events are concerned I'm not sure what exactly was happening in my life on that day specifically but I can only imagine it had something to do with my baby mama drama as to the 'crazy' reference. Happy week of your birthday! Here's to a week full of happy birthday! I love you to the moon and back.
Gratefulness starts somewhere...
1/12/201012:01:52 PM
I am grateful that Robert K. helped me create this account so that I could share what I am grateful for, with whoever may eventual read this. So as stated to you Robert, you are the first person that I am thanking in my list of thank yous. I am grateful for Robert K.
Why is Thank You so Hard to Hear...
1/13/20109:46:22 PM
For many people, its hard to hear a thank you. Not just a simple thanks but a whole-hearted, gracious thank you. A thank you in response to a life changing step up, a mind altering game changer, the 'I appreciate you for everything you do' or the 'thanks for a favor, it meant more to me than you could ever understand'. Thank you's can change the world, being grateful can rewrite the course of history. Say thank you and hear it. Listen to those who are grateful and accept their thanks. The biggest gift in life is hearing the people you've influenced give thanks for you and understanding how much you mean to them. Open your arms, heart and mind to those who are grateful, they are the game changers in life.
To my biggest inspiration for this blog, and to a person who has reminded me of all that I am grateful for...Thank You, Jude. For you, I am grateful.
Building Codes...
1/15/20109:15:38 AM
Today I am grateful for Building Codes. Although they may seem like a miniscule thing to be thankful for and for most people in the construction business cause more grief and frustration on a daily basis, today I am grateful. After watching the footage of the earthquake in Haiti, a country without regulations in this area, I am thankful to have this enforcement to keep my friends and family safe in their work, school and homes. To all the code enforcement officers out there, Ned L., for you and the regulations you enforce, I am grateful.
The Gift My Mother Gave Me...
1/19/201010:29:48 AM
Today I am grateful for all the gifts that my mother has taught me throughout my life. Compassion, an open-mind, open ears to listen, graciousness in every action, the ability to create delicious meals out of simple foods, that I can laugh at myself and most of all a mothers love and caring. Today I am thankful for my mother and how she helped raise me. Especially now that I am a parent, and I am well versed in 'crazy' I am extremely grateful to have had you as Mom. Today, I am grateful for you.

Another First

Another first in the yoga room last night.
First off, its been a whole week since my last practice. Preparing for vacation and actually leaving town for four days kept me away from the hotroom for the longest period of time since I began Bikram. I did not prepare myself in the usual manner. Since traveling to Seattle I have fallen in love with coffee again and have been drinking a lot of it. Drinking copius amounts of caffeine requires extra copius amounts of hydration pre- and post-yoga practice. Getting back into the swing of things at work I sorta kinda forgot to drink water all day long like I usually do before yoga. When I got home and changed for yoga I suddenly remembered I needed to hydrate. The chugging of the gatorade ensued from then on until I arrived at the yoga studio.  I refilled the now empty bottle with water and prepared for my reintroduction after a week of no yoga with a good long savasana.
I made it to the balancing series when it was made painfully obvious to me that i forgot to make a stop in the restroom to remove excess gatorade and hydration before I twisted my body up and squished all my organs together in a pretzel. So it was a first for me to leave the room in the middle of the practice. I bolted to the restroom almost tripping over the lady cleaning the studio and was still able to make it back in the hotroom in time for the second attempt of the posture. Whew. I felt horrible for having to leave the hotroom, I've never had to do that before and I felt awful about it was a lot better than the alternative.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Back to life, back to reality.
We have returned from our vacation. THE vacation. Our first Vacation away together. Sans child. Sans dogs. Sans family. Since we've been married this has never happened before. Weird concept. This is what happens to a married couple that does not honeymoon. You never or at least you wait three years "never" to go on a vacation together, alone. You dont prioritize a much needed break from your daily routine.
Now its a yearly tradition. Watch out world, Amanda and Dustin will be taking an ANNUAL weekend vacation away. Where we'll end up next? Wherever the winds and our credit card points will take us :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Coca Cola's Happiness Machine

Read this article last night.
Coca-Cola Viral Video
Love the video

Thanksgiving Pot Roast

Last night, Kendall and I had a girls night. I picked her up from school and we drove home in more traffic than usual, both of us hungry. After finally getting home later than usual we decided that I would make a chicken dish served over rice using the Santa Fe Philly Cooking Creme. Philly Cooking Creme has become my new favorite refrigerator staple for last minute cooking ideas. We sat down for dinner and were both impressed with how good the last minute, thrown together meal was; Chicken, black beans, corn, tomato, red onion, jalapeno with the cooking creme served over rice.  Yum. My mouth is still watering.
As we sat together eating, Kendall proclaimed that, "We should make this for..."
I waited for her to finish her statement and it just kind of sat there unended. I said "...for Daddy?" thinking she was going to name a person. She said no and then thought about her statement some more. "We should make this for Thanksgiving or...we should make a Pot Roast!"
"A Thanksgiving Pot Roast...thats an interesting thought Kendall..."
We haven't made plans yet for this years Thanksgiving but we had discussed doing something non-traditional. Skipping the turkey and doing a shrimp boil instead. Apparently Kendall wants to have Pot Roast!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Farmhouse Delivery

Sample Bushel - Photo Credit:
I am super excited about next thursday! My first delivery of fresh, local produce. Yay, Living Social for intro-ing me to this local company.
Farmhouse Delivery
Dustin and I have talked about joining a co-op before and we've never pulled the trigger on the idea because we just weren't sure about the produce we would get and how much of it we would actually use. We are all about the waste not, want not these days.
Give me an entire bushel of tomatos and this girl will have plenty of recipes to work with. But if get a bunch of radishes and unrecognizable fruits or vegetables I was concerned with not using what I was given. Insert pre-week list of whats included in next weeks delivery (a full week of recipe preparation) PLUS a weekly blog post with recipe to use that week's harvest and Amanda is willing to give it a shot and venture outside of my comfort zone for both cooking and eating! Especially when the recipes look and sound AMAZING. New favorite recipe blog...
Farm + House + Table

Rattle me Softly...

Photo Credit: Amy's Garage - (Not my cabin air filter)
Oh the endless rattles. irritation with every little rattle or drip comes from you. I am genetically predisposed to be bothered by every little sound or whistle that bothers me, I think this is the same genetic predisposition to not liking Wilco's neverending riffs. Yes honey...I'm blaming my excellent hearing of odd and irritating noises and my genetics for not liking your favorite band.

This story coincides nicely with yesterday's customer service post and something also must have been in the air because Ashley also told her own tale of customer service on her blog yesterday. See post here.

So I finally gave in to the flashing "maintenance" light in the Prius and followed through with an oil change that it was begging me for yesterday on my way home from work. I went to my typical Shell station for an oil change and carwash package deal. As predicted one gentleman walked in the waiting room to show me my air filters both cabin and engine. Yes if your car was built in the past ten years you have a cabin air filter as well as an engine air filter. You should change it at least once and a while. You may have a small family of squirrels living in there if you don't. Do not have it changed at a dealership or oil change place, order it online and change it yourself, Rock Auto is my recommendation. They (your oil change vendor of choice) will try to convince you that you should really switch out the filters immediately, this is there job and they obviously earn commission off of the upcharge or sale of the filter. Don't give in, unless you know the person and want to give them your money. I happily waved the guy off and told him I'd switch out the filters myself when it was necessary, that he could go put those right back in where he found them.
Fast forward to this morning...

Incessant rattle appears out of no where in the Prius. The last time this happened it was a tiny shelf in one of my gloveboxes that was not inserted properly. Low and behold the shelf is not aligned properly, I fix the shelf. Driving down the same roads as I do every morning, the rattle is still ridiculously loud even with small shelf now fixed. Its bothering me so much that I actually stop on my way into work at the same Shell station that removed my air filters the day before. I pulled up like I was needing an oil change and I told the guy that I had just been there the night before and my cabin air filter was rattling since they removed it yesterday. Without question, without double checking the accuracy of my story, with a smiling happy face (he must do Bikram yoga) he says "sure I'll check it for you". After five minutes of readjusting the filter and removing all the leaves out of the filter he puts it back into place and apologizes to me for the previous days employees lack of customer service. I was shocked. Happily shocked. I thanked him for helping me and was on my way to work, sans rattle.

Moral of the story. Mom check your cabin air filter when you hear a new rattle, it could be leaves rattling in the flow of air or if you recently had an oil change and they took out the air filter - they didn't replace it properly.

I must call them and thank the employee who helped me today, my Prius is not rattling me softly into madness any longer! At least for today :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Good Customer Service makes a Happy Amanda

Eyes Open...
If any business wants me to be their number one advocate all they need is to acquiesce to my simple requests for good customer service. If you've known me for any significant time period in my life you know its in my blood to argue with customer service for any company until I feel that my point has been made. If I bitch a lot at a company I typically give fair warning to the Customer Service Representative if my previous experiences have been less than pleasant. I'll even apologize before I know a conversation will get heated. Some of my favorite examples were; HP when I had my laptop was still under warranty and I was talking to a computer program to try and get my point across and Dustin yelled out "FLUFFY" in the parking lot like in the Credit Card commercials, Time Warner Cable when we moved to our house we couldn't transfer the cable because they didn't service our new area, I had to pay a cancellation fee even though they didn't provide service where my house was - I still believe they were wrong in charging me but the $150 fee I paid was well worth the time I wasted of the Time Warner Customer Service representatives that had to hunt down Dustin's "phone confirmation - contract of service" recording and conference me in on a phone call that they could explain it all to me. At least 3 hours on the phone with at least 5 different people including upper level managers that had to authorize the "phone confirmation" playback. I even told the lady that although I had to pay them money it was worth the many hours I wasted of their time.

Since many of my responsibilities at my job are oriented to customer service at least now I have a true appreciation for being the person that fields an angry person's call. I'd like to think that I'm not always angry right away, I give the company or representative the benefit of the doubt before I go ape-sh** on them over the phone. Especially now that I'm a yogi...breathing normal helps a lot.
I can even get through the phone calls at work of late that I'm on the receiving end of the bitch call. It's kind of refreshing to field a call and when someone asks for a supervisor or a manager I can say "you are talking to them; if you call today or tomorrow i'll be the one to answer your call" if I can't help you solve the issue than you've got bigger issues than your travel agency website people. Oh travel agents, how i love thee...

So Dustin recently lost some weight and apparently in his fingers as well. His wedding band is super loose and we've been considering what to do. Turns out the jeweler that we purchased the ring from and the designer who manufactures it offers a lifetime size exchange on his ring since it cannot be resized because of the metal. I just found out today that we can go resize him and send the original ring back to the company for an exact replacement in the appropriate size. We will only have to pay shipping for the exchange. Go Calvin's! We loved you when we went searching for an engagement ring after such a horrifying experience at the mall stores and we continually get reconfirmation about our choice to go local with you for our wedding jewelry during every interaction since we first walked in your door. Calvin's has replaced missing stones in my ring and adjusted the prongs on my ring before, free cleanings and stone checks everytime we stop by!

Every experience, in person or over the phone that you have with a place of business is not memorable. The memorable moments are always on the opposite ends of the spectrum. Really Great Experience or Really Bad Experience. Some experiences are so awful that you actually don't reflect on it and realize the absurdity until much later. Its amazing what speaking up and telling your story can do - good or bad. It means your alive, your eyes are open and your breathing through.

In June my Emergency Vet experience broke the mold on customer service and my actions and reflections post-experience. By standing up and saying something about it (via story/letter), letting someone with influence know what I experienced, I single handedly created an Emergency Care training manual, got my vet's cell phone for my next emergency and shared a lot of laughs. See letter here.

When you hold the cash and the weight of you as a consumer and your circle of influence bears down on any vendor you work with you have the choice to do business with who you choose. Many of the purchase decisions we make are based on customer service stories and recommendations from our friends. With the introduction of local restaurant ratings online and online lists of service providers its more important then ever for local business especially to treat their customers as gold. In a down market, we're holding on to our money but when we're ready to spend it again we want to spend it with your business. Customer Service is King!

Monday, October 10, 2011


A big Congratulations to my Mom! She met her goal of 55 before 55 over the weekend riding her bike all the way to Mifflinburg from her house. Congrats Mom, I am so proud of you. Inspiring...where do you think I got the 60 in 60 idea from...? ;) Love you.
In other news, BIG Hokie game this weekend that WASN'T on Texas cable. Big booooohisssss to the blacking out of the hokie game.  Wish I could have watched the magic live...
This is what Hokie love sounds like:

Kendall asked me this weekend, "What a Hokie?" and I proudly stated "I Am."
Go Hokies!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Rain Dance

I think we will be resorting to some serious measures soon. The weather gods have been teasing us here in this great dry state of Texas. Specifically deep in the heart of central Texas. This weekend is the first in a long time that the weather has followed through as predicted. Scattered showers but no good hard rain. It's so funny to hear people say 'what is this wet substance falling from the sky?', it's funny now but the closer and closer we get to repeating the La Nina weather pattern the more realistic a 9 year drought seems and the more frightening the prospect of non voluntary water restrictions become. With fires threatening everywhere throughout the state the more the lack of water scares the hell out of me.

We had visitors over the past week, Ashley and Scout stayed with us from Tuesday to Friday and it was awesome to spend some time with them. My favorite moment was Kendall and Scout's monumental bubble bath. Put the jetted tub to use for the second or third time this's awesome what some jets and a few drops of Arbonne body wash can do. I think Jay said it best when he told Ashley we needed more bubbles. We did the traditional dinner out with Grindad one evening and then Mim the next. Cheddar's and Rudy's respectively. I skipped yoga all week, Tuesday through Thursday but it was totally worth the moments spent with our family. We miss those Holzers, a lot more than we knew before we were able to have the girls stay with us. Little heartbreaker Holzer herself probably said the cutest goodbye ever on Friday morning on my way out the door to work,"I want to stay here forever and play dress up and do laundry." I told her she could do all of the above especially my laundry if she was so inclined. Turns out a toy ironing board in Kendall's room was Scout's version of laundry.

Made it back to yoga after work yesterday afternoon and again this morning. I'm not sure what I ever did without it. Even on days that I do not feel like going, I even try to talk myself out of it often. Even on those days I walk out of the yoga studio after my 90 minute open eyed meditation as they refer to it in Bikram and I feel great. I feel refreshed. I feel better. I feel like myself. Yea I might be dripping in sweat, looking like I showered in my clothes and smelling like roses, but it feels awesome the moment you walk out of the studio. It's worth every moment you second guessed yourself before and during class. On a daily basis, normally during the warm up series of poses and then again in the back strengthening series I think to myself, 'what the hell am i doing here?' and then I remember I shouldn't be thinking at all and just breathing normal. Just be. Be in the moment. Regardless of where I am during my day, yoga has definitely retrained me to just be. Live in the moment and not get so caught up in the mental list of things I need to accomplish each day. I keep my eyes open and I breath normal much more often then my old self. No one is perfect and sometimes I find myself closing my eyes in disbelief or holding my breathe. I'm working to be in every moment so I can live every moment, good or bad and remember all of them fondly.

It just started raining and I'm actually excited that the satellite isn't working and I can just listen to the rain for the first time in what seems like forever... Dogs are all snuggled up on the couch with me. This is what fall feels Texas!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Pillow Pet
Yesterday was a great yoga day. I was hesitant about any physical movement because of my lower back. They always say the best thing to do is to keep moving and in my case get back in the hotroom, so I did. Originally I planned to go back at 6am yesterday to try and heal my back but when my alarm went off and I rolled over my back said "oh no you don't" so I laid in bed for an hour longer. After rocking the yoga ball office chair (which did wonders) and walking like a little old lady most of the day I had to seriously convince myself to get back to yoga. I was more afraid of injuring myself further and not being able to move at all. So I got over it and went to my usual 7pm class. I forewarned the instructor about my injury and he told me to do what I could in class and not to push too hard on the forward bends. Terry at the front desk also had a surprise for me, she got me my 60 in 60 tshirt and I love it. I officially have my 'you can't buy this, you earn it' 26 in 60 tshirt for my 60 day challenge. I mentioned my injury to her as well and she made an interesting point. Typically when you have a new injury or pain its because you are about to have a real breakthrough in your yoga practice. At the time she said that I kinda chuckled as I walked or waddled into the hotroom. Guess what? This yogi did the toe stand pose for the first time ever. Standing on my left foot I went all the way down into toe stand, which has never happened before. I also completed every other pose including back and forward bending without pain, my only trigger was the straightlegged situp which really pained me but every other pose was a walk in the park plus I actually had a breakthrough. Even with my old lady walking and standing before class I had a breakthrough. Go me...Go yoga...Go hotroom whenever you have pain!
On a not so similar note, I have been so intrigued by the Amanda Knox story. As have many, many, many people over the past four years. I was shocked two years ago when she was convicted and I felt goosebumps and relief for her and her family yesterday when she was freed. I was watching a tv special on friday night about the case and the upcoming verdict and I looked at Dustin and said "I don't know why I'm so intrigued by this case?" and he pointed out that I studied abroad and it was almost like it could have happened to anyone, it could have been me. Despite the name (obvious similarity there) there's not a lot of similarities between Amanda Knox' experience in Perugia, Italy and me in Lugano, Switzerland. We were both 20 year old women leaving home to study abroad to learn more about ourselves and different cultures. I wouldnt change one moment of my experience abroad and I do not idolize in one bit  or wish upon anyone else what Amanda Knox went through. I hope her and her family are now at peace as they return home after her 4 years of helplessness and hopelessness. My one hope for everyone is that this doesn't detract from study abroad and travelling in general. The benefits of living within and learning about a new culture firsthand outweighs any media circus or murder mystery. What you don't hear anyone talking about is the number of American students living and studying abroad each year and how many of those individuals get caught up in a foreign judicial system for crimes.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Weekend Tales

Beyond the fact that it was a horrible football weekend in the Laycock household the hours and days clicked by in a hurry. I did the usual Friday afternoon Yoga class in the CP and was pleasantly surprised to meet up with my original yoga buddy, Kim. Kim and I started taking Vinyasa flow yoga together at Kat's studio way back when we were neighbors in the CP. I walked into Pure on Friday and low and behold Kim was signing up. Not only did we take class on Friday together we went both Saturday and Sunday morning. My latest breakthroughs in Bikram have also caused me pain as of late. I'm pretty sure I "threw out" my back on Sunday morning right after the warm up poses. I've noticed over the past weeks that my standing back bend right at the beginning of class has improved ten fold. I can actually look for the floor these days. On Sunday morning I really did notice how far back I was compared to the norm and I REALLY noticed it when we started the balancing series. I reached forward to grab my foot and my back told me "NO!". The rest of my practice Sunday was a struggle. Your lower back is real important when it comes to yoga and life in general and it was screaming at me the entire time. It was probably the best thing in the world that i was in the 105 degree extra humid room because my back really would  have hated me for continuing to attempt the poses in a normal temperature. The rest of my day Sunday was directed by my lower back allowing me to do only so much at once and aching even when sitting or lying down. I must say my yoga ball office chair has never been so perfect for my circumstances than it is today. Only position I feel no pain!
So the Hokies and the Aggies really messed up this weekend. It was a bad alma mater weekend in our household. Dustin said it best "at least the Aggies scored A touchdown." Poor Hokies. As per the usual the Bud Foster defense was awesome, we have NO offense and we are KILLING ourselves with penalties (atypical for Beamerball). What has happened to my Hokies? And ok...seriously Frank Beamer needs to up the ante on Special Teams. Uninspiring. If we could clone David Wilson for all positions on the team I'd be a happy camper. Maybe Wilson, Jayron Hosley and Danny Coale. I'd also keep George George just because he has the coolest name in history for a white boy. We do have a freshman QB and he has been struggling but seriously David Wilson is amazing. Best play of the game and the closest we came to scoring a TD. We gave Wilson a break to catch his breath after this play and the Offense successfully screwed the pooch and got NO POINTS.

Ahh football season...I didn't catch much (any) of the Penn State highlights but from what I hear they played like a high school team so all in all, football weekend BAD for Amanda.
In other news, Ashley, Scout and Jay were in the aTX this weekend and even though we didnt get the catch up (yet) there was comfort in the fact they were in the same area code again. We miss them. Jay's dad is heading off on a new venture with the Peace Corps so they were spending time with him and Jay's family this weekend before his departure. We'll get to spend some time with Ashley and Scout this week when they stay with us. It will be nice to have a big ole slumber party. Jay had to go back to CA for work and we were sad to have missed him. Should have had a big football party this weekend but I'm slightly glad we didn't due to the devastating outcomes of all the games.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Thanks Mary!

This will be added to my list of projects. Thank you Mary for the recommendation. Love this idea...
The Burning House

A little Hokie love...

9/30/201112:47:02 PM Link 0 comments | Add comment
Wish I lived a bit closer to Blacksburg so I could partake in the game festivities this weekend.
I miss all my Hokies.
I miss this:

Thursday, September 29, 2011

If this doesn't inspire the travel bug, I'm not sure what will...

I love doors.

Home is Wherever I'm With You...

After the Labor Day holiday this song from Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros has never rang so true in my mind. Since the wildfires hit Central Texas, specifically so close to "home" back on Sept 5th its been amazing to think what we truly need in life to be happy and healthy. In a moment of panic when you think your house could be next in "the line of fire" you grab whats important. So what really is important?...What would you pick? What is worth putting in your vehicle for when you make your escape? What cannot be replaced?
Faced with a house filled with stuff the important things were few and far between. A fire proof (hah) safe filled with important documents; passports, birth certificates, pictures and irreplaceable greeting cards from loved ones passed. Deemed fire safe, we've heard the blazes in Central Texas were so hot they melted right through similar products. It has come to our attention that a safe deposit box is in our future for these important items. So what else did I grab? A wedding album, laptop, hard drives filled with memories in pictures, medications, toothbrushes, a few clothes, dogfood and leashes. My second run through the house garnered pillows and blankets, a few more clothes so as to not be dressed in yoga/pj wear and some deoderant. Filling up the Prius or in my case not filling up the Prius left me realizing that not many things in life are the "important things" other than my family. I left the entire back seat of the Prius ready for the dogs. In hindsight after all our things were sitting on the kitchen table the next day when the smoke subsided I realized 75% of the things I grabbed weren't that important. Throw my husband, child and fourlegged children in the car and rescue our passports and computers and I'm good to go. I'm happy, I'm healthy and life is good; with or without a house to come home to with all our stuff inside. Even the passports and computers are replaceable. The memories they hold would be hard to lose but stuff is negotiable, family isn't. And dogs are my family. See blogpost from Monday.
Since labor day we have reevaluated the things we have and what we really "need" to live a happy, healthy life. We've nearly emptied our filing cabinet filled with not so important documents. We've donated my couponing bounty of personal care products to the fire victims. We've donated clothing to Goodwill. We've cleaned. We've made plans for a safe deposit box however have yet to follow through with. Which reminds me... We've made plans with the neighbors just in case either of us are not home if something happens...We'll each have a vehicle with six dogs but we'll be damned if we don't evac with our fourlegged family members. We've discussed what happened with Kendall and made "just in case" plans. We've even thought about creating an evacuation kit to keep in our vehicles just in case we aren't home when something happens. Think about it, what would you need if you left for the grocery store on a holiday weekend and you weren't allowed to go back to your house to collect anything. There are thousands of people that lost their houses in Bastrop and hundreds of stories of lost pets that just break my heart. For my family and friends and loved ones, I encourage you to make those just in case plans for your "important things" and I guarantee you that other than your family's safety there isn't much else you 'need' to be happy.
My happiness...
My home...
Is wherever I'm with you...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Albert Rooney Laycock AKA Bert

Bert & Humphrey
So we've gone from Labradoodle to Wolfhound Poodle mix to Deerhound Poodle mix to who the hell knows what he is, Mutt.
I think I've finally figured it out. Mr. Bertonymous HAS TO BE a Weimardoodle, in temperament and look. His gray/brown hue and insane eyebrows have got to be from a Weimaraner and Poodle mix.
He looks like kin to this little guy...Dudley
or this one...could be Bert's twin

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Biba vs. Fence

Just a reminder to our good friends Keith and Gina. Family is forever. Fence - not so much.
So this is what happens when a mini-horse chases a squirrel. Biba's eyes were definitely open and she was probably breathing a little more heavily than normal but her brakes didn't work so well.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Family is Forever
Had a really fantastic weekend. Kim and Dennis (aka Marmi and Poppa) were in town to visit us. They met us at gymnastics on Saturday morning and we spent the weekend with them celebrating Dennis' upcoming birthday. Kendall, Kim and I went to see DolphinTale and it was actually a pretty cute movie. I like 'based on a true story' kids movies because it gives them a real life inspiration or hope for the future. Its not made up, its not about a perfect cartoon character life and its not hopeless, its something positive to guide them in their life choices and show them whats out there happening in real life, in the world we live in. It was an awesome story that gave me something to add to my bucket list. Swimming with Dolphins. One of the lines in the movie that will stick with me is 'Family is Forever' because it is. Our families are the original melting pot. The tree of life. That's family. And your family can include your blood relatives, friends and even the animals you love. Case in three mutts. Beloved part of our small branch of the Laycock family tree.
See Winter

Saturday, September 24, 2011

It's Official, He's Turned Into Me

My husband has turned into me. Cleaned forever last night. The entire downstairs of our house was spotless when I woke up. Who does that? Well, I typically do but something had him going last night. Haven't convinced him to join me in the yoga hot room yet but it'll happen eventually. So Dustin pulled an Amanda last night and cleaned until he was satisfied with a job well done and I went to bed.
Looking forward to a weekend with Marmi and Poppa. At gymnastics class with Kendall awaiting Marmi and Poppa. I actually skipped yoga this morning because Kendall asked me to come watch her at gymnastics, so I'm watching and blogging instead of my morning asanas.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Semi-Blind Yoga

imgfave of the day
Usual Thursday evening yoga last night. One big difference was not wearing my contacts so I was pretty blind. Still practiced breathing normally and with my eyes open staring at my fuzzy outline in the mirror the whole time. It was nice though. You and I both look much thinner when I'm not wearing contacts or glasses. I couldnt tell you from any other Yogi in the class but everyone looked fabulously skinny. Hah. My practice was awesome though. Balancing wasn't too difficult since I didnt have specific objects to distract me from the postures. I consistently fall out of Standing Head to Knee Pose because my eyes get distracted but last night that didnt bother me. Another move forward was in my Eagle Pose. I got my leg up higher and my foot is now almost behind my calf muscle. So close...I never thought I'd get to where I am because I never considered that I could actually twist my body up like two wet ropes but hey I'm much closer to that then I ever thought possible. I got the sweaty, wet part down pat but the twisting them up is a long awaited achievement. Every day is a journey and every day in and out of the hotroom is never the same. One day you have standing separate leg stretching pose and your forehead hits the floor and the next day you dont. One day you drink all your water and feel like you might die on your mat and the next day you dont. One day you think I am awesome at yoga today and the next day you think you suck and you never want to step back in the hot room. One day you think I'm going to do this my way because its the right way (and you fail miserably) and the next day you let your body do as it was meant to and you achieve the closest thing possible to the eagle pose. Its all about letting go, keeping your intentions and forgetting that you may fail or be wrong. Just be. Breath one breathe at a time. Breath normal and keep those eyes open, fuzzy figures or not.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Coin Toss

Found on thanks to Stumble!
Be honest with yourself. Whether you fail or succeed with whatever decision you've made, with your eyes open, breathing normal - everything will work out the way it is supposed to and you'll live it!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Forehead on the Floor

I asked for my 60 in 60 tshirt yesterday before class, my 'you can't buy it, you have to earn it' tshirt should be on this Yogis back by tomorrow. If you can't find inspiration in the hotroom at Bikram, then how about a 'free' tshirt to get you in there 60 days in a row!
Latest, favorite recipe personally requested again by Dustin; Chicken & Sausage Gumbo made again last night. Yes, we ate this for dinner after 10pm because it is THAT good.
Yesterday (Day 64 of life in the hotroom) I officially rested my forehead on the floor during standing separate leg stretching. Legs shaking... Arms shaking...Hands almost under my heels...I finally touched my forehead on the floor. Now if I can just do it again today... ;)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


So I have been inspired to do this for a long time. To blog. To write my thoughts down. To follow through with sharing the intricacies of Amanda's life with family and friends. Recipes I've tried; the ones I love, the ones I hate and the ones my husband can't stop drooling over. Things that happen; random, planned or simply just fate. Its been a long, not so hard road to live and love in Austin, TX but I'm here and I'm happy and its about damn time I started talking about it. I moved to Austin six years ago, married for almost four and finally I'm ready to chronicle my own journey through life.
What was the tipping point? What just recently inspired me to choose September of 2011 to finally take the plunge into the blogosphere and share my thoughts with the online world. It was actually the farthest thing from technology and social media and IT inspired the name of this blog. If you can believe it one of my largest stumbling blocks to launching my thoughts on the world wide web was the name. I needed to have a domain name and website name that could inspire me daily to keep writing. A philosophy to my life, on and offline, to move forward. If I'm not inspired to live the words I type in for my website, how do I expect myself to write about it? The answers to all my questions were found in Bikram Yoga.
On July 8th I was indulging in some Leanderthal Martinis with my friend and neighbor, Melissa.  For all you non-Leanderthals out there, think Beer instead of Gin and Vermouth. Yes, its delicious, you should try one! Melissa mentioned the idea of wanting to try Bikram yoga but not wanting to go alone. With some beer induced peer pressure slash smile and nod 'of course i will' hesitation, I agreed to 'let's go together but we'll go next weekend when we aren't recovering from our 'martinis' and the full week of doubt and 'what the hell did i agree to' thoughts ensued. I convinced my friend Gina to join us for a full team of 'newbies' and the following saturday the 16th of July we went, we didnt weasle out of it, we actually followed through. We really had no clue what we were getting ourselves into, not a clue. I knew the class was 90 minutes long and I knew it would be 'ehhh...warm' in the hotroom and even at the beginning of class we looked at each other and said 'this wont be too bad, it doesn't seem too hot.' Yea, check the thermometer at the door, its at least 105 degrees with some crazy humidity. 5 minutes into the class after the breathing exercise we hadn't even done a yoga pose yet, I was drenched in sweat. I will be the first to admit, class one - I thought I would die, puke or pass out. But Melissa and Gina and I were 'in it together' and we had to follow the rule, do not leave the room. You can think you will die, but you wont; you can lie down or pass out on your yoga mat but whatever happens in your first class we were told to 'have fun' and 'stay in the room'. Ok buddy, I'll have fun! I'll stay in the room if you'll get out the smelling salts after the 90 minutes to wake me from my puddle. We made it. All three of us, stayed in the room, drowning in our own sweat that dripped in new angles and places we ever thought possible, but we made it through. I had sweat dripping in my eyeballs, in my ears and up my nose. You say up the nose sweat isn't possible. Ahh, then I challenge you to meet me in the hotroom and you can experience it firsthand or should I say firstnose.
So the first class ended, we chugged some gatorade and somehow made it back home in a strange yoga stupor and we laughed at ourselves and thought it was freezing outside in the 100 degree heat. A hot shower and a few quarts of water later, I had the headache from hell. Slept all afternoon and still had a headache. I thought to myself, never ever again will I do THAT to my body, what was I thinking agreeing to that. To this day I still haven't figured out what the inspiration was to even go back again, I did not go back the next day, I considered it, I even called Gina to see if she wanted to attempt class number two together but I bailed on the idea quickly. I must have been hearing lines from Home Alone in my head 'do you guys give up or are you hungry for more?' Apparently I was hungry for more sweat puddles as Monday came around and I somehow was inspired to go for class number two. I was more prepared this time, I learned that my headache was caused by my failure to properly hydrate before class so I chugged water all day long at work to prevent a repeat headache. It worked and class number two seemed easy breezy compared to my intro to the hotroom. So what did I do, I continued to go every day. About a week into my new every day yoga routine I realized there was this 60 in 60 challenge. 60 classes in 60 days, I challenged myself to complete that and I so it was, I went every day to prove to myself that I could. Every day for two months straight 90 minutes in 105 degree heat. And not just stay in the 105 degree hotroom but actually do the 26 postures of Bikram Yoga. September 15th marked my 60th class in 60 days and during class 40 I found the words that inspired this blog.
Every day for 60 days you do the same postures and you listen to the same words. You are always hearing something new. At class 40 I heard something new that are now the words to guide me through life in general. 'Eyes Open, Breathing Normal.' During your 90 minute Bikram Yoga practice you are asked to keep your eyes open and to breath normal. The perfect reminder for daily life to help get you through. You can't live your life with your eyes closed, you can't experience the good or bad without being open to seeing or living it. When your eyes are open, you are present, you are there and you are living. Breathing normal is the only way to make it. Make it through those ups and downs you are now living with your eyes open. Breathing normal lets you survive the 90 minutes in the hotroom without passing out. Breathing normal gets your through the panic that occurs when you make it to class ten minutes too late and you aren't allowed to practice that day and its too late to make it to an alternate class. Breathing normal makes you believe in yourself long enough to do a double and take two classes in one day to make up for the one you missed. Breathing normal brings calm and peace to your regularly hectic life. Breathing normal lets you live your life with your eyes always open.
So here it is, my blog, my thoughts, my journey through Bikram Yoga, my new inspiration and theme for living and my life on virtual paper. This is Amanda...Eyes Open, Breathing Normal.