Tuesday, June 19, 2012


For two and a half years I've been blogging here on Wonderous Clusterf#@k.  I've bitched about working part-time at Sbux, shared my adventures, posted far too many pictures of my Cheese, and everything else in-between.  But, sadly, I feel it is time to call it quits.  While I've enjoyed sharing my thoughts, dreams and pictures in this space, I feel now that it is not the best use of my time.  I've recently been going through some major life stuff, stuff that is too private and emotional to discuss on here.  Let me just say, that in these last couple weeks I feel like I've been put through the ringer and what I've discovered about myself is that I can actually handle those hard and unfortunate parts of life pretty well.  Even those parts that you don't see coming a mile away and hit you upside the head and knock you unconscious.  Yeah, not fun.  But, while everything isn't as peachy right now as I once thought it was, it is my hope that one day I might know the happiness and contentment that I once did.  Though, I'm sure it will not come easily, I am lucky to have exceptional people in my life who ground me and look out for me.  To those people, you know who you are, I love you and I am beyond grateful for the support you've shown me through this rough time.

To everyone else, thank you for following.  Thank you for being just the tiniest bit interested in my life and what I had to say/show.  I am grateful for all the thoughts and comments you've shared.  Maybe I will see you again, someday.  Until then, I hope you all have a great summer.

Much love,

Friday, June 1, 2012

Double Secret Surprise Time!

In a couple weeks my mom is turning 60.  Crazy, huh?!  And get this, my sis is turning 40 this December!  Where does the time go?  Anyways, my dad wanted to throw a surprise party for my mom.  But when he approached the topic with my sister and I, we practically simultaneously said "Hell, no!".  Well, it was two separate phone calls that he made, so it wasn't simultaneous...but it would have been if we were together!  See, while my dad or my sis would love to have a surprise party thrown for them, they're the social types, my mom and I are the exact opposite.  The thought of a surprise party makes us crawl in our skin a little...okay, a lot.  Ugh, just thinking about the idea of a surprise party is making my stomach do somersaults!  Anyway, needing an alternate plan, my sister and I put our heads together...a dangerous thing.  But in this case, an awesome one!  And what we came up with might be the most perfect (for my mom) secret surprise EVER!  And, as with most surprises, it all starts with lies...

A couple weeks ago I planted the seed that Antoine will be out of town this weekend, visiting his best friend in L.A. (Lie #1).  So I said I was thinking about coming up for the weekend with the Cheese-man (Lie #2) and visiting, using a chance to visit my grandparents as my main reason for coming (Half-lie #1 - I will be visiting my grandparents but obviously mom's bday surprise is the main reason I'm coming).  What mom won't find out until I park my car in their driveway tonight is that instead of bringing Cheese, I'll have my sister in tow (Surprise #1)!  And instead of spending the weekend laying around not doing anything, my sis and I plan to kidnap my mom and take her to Cleveland for a girls weekend (Surprise #2)!  We've booked a hotel for Saturday night, thanks to Antoine's generous donation of hotel reward points (Surprise #3)!  And on Saturday, after we have breakfast with my grandparents, we're meeting up with my hlp, Amanda (Surprise #4) and going to David's Bridal so I can try on wedding dresses (Surprise #5 - a biggie, since that's one of the wedding related things that matters most to my mom...and one wedding thing that doesn't exactly thrill me)!  Oh, yeah, and my sis and I did my wedding flower dry-run last night, so we'll be taking my mom a bouquet (Surprise #6)!  Here's a sneak peak of the bouquet we're giving her...

I gotta say, the dry run went very smoothly and didn't take long at all!  And, as I expected, it consisted mostly of a lot of sister chit-chat!  I'm really looking forward to doing the actual flower arranging the day of with my sis, mom and Amanda!

Ok, where was I?  Oh!  We're taking mom to to Melt Bar and Grilled (Surprise #7 - what what!!).  And we're taking her on a little birthday shopping spree (Surprise #8) and to Lucky's Cafe for breakfast on Sunday (Surprise #9)!  Her head might literally exploded from all the awesome surprise-fun this weekend!

It should be a blast!  Hope you all have a great weekend, even if it's not filled with double secret birthday surprise shenanigans!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Orchid Fever

...Or "My flowery version of wordless Wednesday.  Oops!  I forgot it's Thursday.  Crap!  And also, yay!!"


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Life of a Basset Hound

Fact: my dog is a lazy lump of fur.  Don't get me wrong, Cheese is a playful, fun-loving dog.  He loves to be outside running, exploring and meeting new people/new dogs.  But, there's another side to him...the lazy side.  Like most basset hounds, Cheese spends anywhere from 14 to 20 hours a day laying down and/or sleeping.  It's what basset hounds do.  It's in their nature.  And if you ask me, there's little else in the world more adorable than a basset being lazy, in their element.  They turn into a big pile of floppy, snoring cuteness.  And here's your proof...

It doesn't get much cuter, right!?  Yeah.  Anyway, have a good day everyone!  Am I the only one who keeps thinking it's still Tuesday!?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Simple Moments

I realized something the other day, though I'm certain it's not the first time a person has come across such a realization, nor the first time I have in my life, for that matter.  What I realized was this, life is made up of moments.  Moments that stand out and moments that don't.  Moments that we forget about 30 minutes after they've happened, and others we will remember for years or even the rest of our lives.  But remembering these moments isn't the important thing.  After all, we only have so much space in our heads to store them and they can't all fit up there.  So, after time, even the best and most life-changing, most transcendent of moments will often fade.  Maybe they will be replaced by some other earth-shattering happening, or maybe they will be forgotten just to make room for that moment when you accidentally swallowed a bug while you were canoeing.  We have no control over this, and some of us (me!) seem to remember less moments than most people.  But let me state again, the remembering is not the important part.  No, it's the realization that all these moments are special in some way.  Maybe because they made us laugh or because they taught us something (however painful that thing was at the time) or maybe they made us appreciate something/someone in our own life a little more.  Every single moment touches us, in some way or another.

Films and books tend to focus on the big moments, those life-changing moments that rock the core of you and transform you in some way.  Because, those are the moments that matter the most, right?  I don't think so.  I've been thinking a lot lately how people say that your wedding is the best day of your life.  Through reading I've come to see that not all people believe that.  Sure, your wedding should be a special moment, it's the day you make a public commitment to share a life and marriage with someone else, for the rest of your life.  But isn't it the life and marriage afterwards the really rewarding part?  To me, it seems like it should be.  The wedding is just a ceremony, put on, mainly (at least in my case), for the people around you who you love.  For me, it's the marriage, the moments after the wedding that I'm excited for.  It's the little, inconsequential, and often ordinary things that I can't wait to experience.  Those simple moments where I step back and realize that I am completely content and blissfully happy with the person I have chosen to share my life with...all while we pick out flowers for our garden at our local home improvement store or walk along with our snowies talking about nothing in particular.  It's those simple moments that I'm really excited about.  And I know I won't remember most of them, but I hope that every so often I can stop and realize just how special they are... 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Weekend in Instagram

As per usual, this weekend went by too quickly.  Even though I sort of had an extra day, since I called in sick on Friday because I had done something funny to my knee the night before.  Luckily, a lot of icing it down and resting helped and it felt much better by Friday evening.

Snuggling with this furry guy didn't hurt either!

 Thursday night was my first attempt at making challah bread.  The finished product was a tasty success.  I made it as part of a surprise for Antoine; along with a meatloaf and mashed potato dinner.

 Friday, while I rested my knee, Cheese laid on Antoine's nap making this face.  He was so excited Antoine was home (as usual), but he was also sleepy (because he's a basset hound)...so he attempted to fight off the sleepiness and stay awake, so he wouldn't miss anything.  He did not succeed, falling victim to the sleepiness just after I took this picture.

 Friday evening, since my knee was feeling better, we decided to take Cheese to the dog park after dinner.  It was the perfect night for it, breezy and not too warm.

Afterwards we dropped Cheese off at home and treated ourselves to sundaes at Graeter's.  Pictured above is my turtle sundae (my favorite).  Yum!

 Saturday morning Antoine made his famous Cap'n Crunch french toast, this time using my homemade challah bread!  It was very tasty.

 While we ate, this guy laid at our feet being weird and begging for food.

We also picked up two peonies plants for our garden while we were at Lowe's.

Since the weather was so lovely, we took Cheesy for a walk.  Normally we take him on relatively short walks since his leg bothers him sometimes and he gets over heated.  But he seemed to be enjoying it as much as we were, so we kept walking.  Then all of a sudden, he decided he didn't want to walk anymore...
...and stopped and laid down in the middle of the sidewalk.  This isn't the first time this has happened.  And generally after a couple minutes of resting we can pick him back up and coax him on.  However, we were still about a 1/2 mile from home, so there were several more "breaks" along the way and a lot of "Come on Cheesy!  We're almost home!!  Good boy!"

 Then, when we were just 5 feet from our front door, Cheese forfeited again.  This time not even the promise of carrots could make him get up.  After about 10 minutes and a half a handful of carrots he was willing to get up and go inside.

Antoine and I ran some errands and did some more plant-shopping.  Then we went home and cleaned out our raised veggie garden and planted all our veggies for this year:  five tomato plants, five strawberry plants (our two plants from last year multiplied and nearly doubled in size), corn, two types of beans, Brussels sprouts, banana peppers, cucumbers and some lettuce.  I'm very excited, we're planning doing some canning this year.

After all that planting and weeding we thought we deserved a little treat, so we finally tried out the taco truck that had been parked in Pleasant Ridge for over a month now.  We had heard good things, so we were excited to see if it lived up to the hype.  And it did!

We both got three tacos each ($2 per taco, plus $.75 extra for cheese or sour cream).  I got two steak tacos and one chicken taco (pictured above), while Antoine got one steak, one chicken and one beef tongue taco (all came with cilantro, onions, cucumber and lime on corn tortillas).  The steak was very tender and the chicken was very flavorful.  Antoine said the beef tongue was definitely his favorite, that it melted in his mouth.  He also said that he wanted to try the pork tacos next time or a burrito.  The stand also sells tortas, which I've never had but I've heard are really tasty and I'm anxious to try.  I'd highly recommend this stand to anyone in or around the Pleasant Ridge/Norwood area.  It's pretty authentic and reasonably priced.

So, that was our weekend.  Hope you all had a great one!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Get in close and I'll tell you some exciting (at least to me) news.  No, closer.  Come on, I probably won't bite.  Probably.  That's better!  The news...Antoine and I are going to Vancouver over Thanksgiving!

We've been talking about it for months and months, I even renewed my passport in anticipation (though, truthfully, not having a valid password was driving me up the wall anyway).  But last week we booked our flight!  Part of me thinks that this trip is a highly frivolous thing to do when we're planning and saving up for a wedding, but that part is quickly smothered by the extremely excited, larger part of me that's doing its happy dance. 

Now, you might remember my post about how Phoenix is evil and I want it to die?  Well, yeah, my feelings haven't changed.  Scratch that!  They have, I hate it more now (if that's possible)!   The three hour difference continues to be a pain in our asses.  And the fact that Phoenix seems to be anti-AT&T is nerve-wracking.  When we try to face-time, my screen freezes with Antoine in mid-sentence and the speakers make loud, high-pitched screeching noises.  When we text, it sometimes takes him hours to receive my messages.  And when he calls me, the calls don't go through half the time.  Yeah, Phoenix can go do inappropriate things to itself and die for all I care.

But...(in an attempt to retain even the slightest amount of positivity) there are positives to this god-awful project.  Namely, skymiles, hotel rewards and credit card points.  And this summer, the hotel Antoine stays at is running some promotions that will leave us with a couple extra nights stays.  While he's been saving up most of his hotel rewards nights for our mega-honeymoon (as well as skymiles), we figured why not splurge a bit and use up these promotional stays for a pre-wedding-cation.  And since Antoine's been racking up skymiles flying to that horrible city every week, we've got plenty of miles to use for our Vancouver flight.  So, in November when everyone else is eating turkey and being subjected to forced family time, we'll be relaxing and exploring Vancouver, BC!  Oh, and did I mention we'll be staying in this place...

And this place...

Yeah, to say I'm excited would be a gigantic understatement!  So, now's the point in the story where I ask you fine folks who have been to Vancouver for suggestions on what to do/check out while we're there.  So far on our list:
Is there anything we're missing?  Any must-sees?  Keep in mind that the weather will probably be rainy and cold, so that does limit what we can do.  But still, any suggestions would be much appreciated!

So that's the scoop.  Oh, don't mind me, I'm just standing here in the corner doing my happy dance.  I don't think I've been this excited for Thanksgiving in a very long time.  I've heard flying on/around Thanksgiving can be a nightmare, but I gotta say spending the holiday in a city that doesn't celebrate it will probably be wonderful!  Apparently I've become quite the cynical lady in my late twenties.  But I'm okay with that.  Anyway, hope you have a good rest of the week!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Moving Water

Because it's Friday and my brainy is all mushy and happy (yay, finally seeing Antoine after 11 days!), here's some pictures I was playing around with of a small waterfall at Franklin Park Conservatory.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!  I'm sure it will go by too quickly, but alas.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Playing with Effects

Here's some leftover pictures from Franklin Park Conservatory, where I played with some different editing effects.  Just having some fun and experimenting.  Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Columbus: Franklin Park Conservatory

This past Saturday, just before the weather turned to shit, Amanda and I headed over to the Franklin Park Conservatory.  Amanda had been ages ago, but I had never been.  I had heard good things, and we all know how much I love flowers and taking pictures of flowers, so it seemed like an obvious activity for Amanda and I to do over our girl's weekend together.  Oh, and their "Blooms & Butterflies" exhibit was going on...perfect timing! 

Franklin Park has a great collection of Chihuly glass artwork.  I always enjoy seeing his pieces mixed in amongst the flowers; they're so vibrant.

I've only ever been to two different butterfly shows/exhibits: Krohn's annual exhibit, which has a great deal of butterflies, and the Butterfly Pavilion in Denver, which is a permanent butterfly house crawling with a wide variety of butterflies.  Franklin Park, in comparison to these two, had far fewer butterflies...but it wasn't a million degrees in there, so that was nice.  But still, I managed to get a couple of decent shots...with the help of Amanda pointing out all the butterflies to me!

The ones that didn't make it...kind of sad.

Within the butterfly wing of the conservatory there was a decent sized koi pond with giant, gorgeous koi in it!

Also in the koi pond, more Chihuly glass.  For some reason, the floating glass orbs were my favorite.

Oh, and now it's time for me to rank their orchid collection, since we know that's my thing!  They get four stars from me!  What I liked best about their orchids was that they all weren't just restricted to one house (like Krohn's Orchid House...although don't get me wrong, I love Krohn's collection).  I spotted orchids in at least three separate rooms.  In fact, one of the main hallways/lobbies was littered with them.

Overall, I loved Franklin Park Conservatory and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys flowers/plants and is looking for something to do in Columbus.  It's slightly pricey, $11 for adults...but that gets you into the whole place...which is pretty impressive.  It felt like it was about three times bigger than Krohn Conservatory, with several different wings, and there was a great variety of plants and flowers.  There are outside gardens that, unfortunately, we didn't get to explore since it started pouring just as we were getting done inside.  But that just gives me an excuse to go back some other time!