Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Best dinner ever.

Posted By: Leah

I've had a lot of good dinners, but the dinner I had this past Saturday night tops them all. It was the perfect combination of amazing food, amazing ambiance and of course, the person who I was with.  While out on a date with BF I said, "I feel like I'm on a fantasy date on the Bachelorette!" and he said "good! that's what I want to hear."

And I really, truly meant it. Everything about this dinner was perfect.

So imagine the awesomeness of the view of uptown Charlotte at night, the company (bf is Finally getting better from his Surgery), the patio dining, the food... oh the food. We ate at Dressler's Midtown in Charlotte and it was absolutely, without a doubt, one of the best meals I've ever had. And I've had some good meals, hello: Paris, France, Vegas, NYC, DC...but this was extra special. Plus it was in Charlotte! No plane ticket necessary.

If you're in Charlotte (or anywhere in NC/SC, trust me it's worth the drive), Dressler's has 2 locations, we ate at the Midtown one in Metropolitan. You know where it is, right by the Trader Joe's and West Elm and all that where Midtown Square used to be. I've actually ridden bikes with BF past there and seen people eating Sunday brunch outside. It's right by the Freedom Park trail by the creek (and you ALL know where Freedom Park is, it's been on every single episode of the Bachelorette this season).

ooh... this post needs ambiance. this song reminds me of BF. It's an awesome song. Hit play and keep reading. 

But anyway... other than riding by there and not really paying attention, I had never heard of this place. BF had been telling me for months to pack something extra fancy to wear and we'd go to Dressler's when I was in Charlotte sometime. His parents had been and raved about the service and food. I absolutely didn't expect to be going over Memorial day (considering just the week before bf was in the ER doing not so well). So it was even more of a surprise that BF was up to going this weekend. I really have missed him feeling good. He is so much fun and he's been feeling bad for the past month. I'm so glad to have healthy BF back!

And back to the restaurant. Dressler's is what I'd consider 'upscale dining.' I recognized a local news anchor, and I would not have been surprised to have seen Panther's NFL or Bobcats NBA players eating at this place. I wanted sooo badly to take pics on my cell phone. However this isn't the type of place you even take out your phone to check it. I had that thing silenced and tucked safely away (in my bag, not even down in my bra, where I normally keep it lol). 

Because I couldn't take pics of the actual skyline during the sunset *swoon* or the amazing foods, I hoped  I could locate some pics online. From the moment we walked into this place, I could just feel it was going to be a special night. It soo sooo was. And yay! I did find some pics online (after A LOT of searching. Apparently no one takes pics at this place.)
(not my pic, but I'm trying to paint a picture in your mind and this is all I could find online) 

We had 8:30pm reservations and waited for a seat on the patio. We didn't valet my corolla. It would have been awesome, I know... all my hello kitty stickers and stuff. But we parked across the street at the Trader Joe's. While we were waiting on our table, bf leaned over and kissed my shoulder. I was in a strapless dress, and it was so super sweet. Not gross PDA, it was just sweet.

We were seated, I may have done a little table dance. Not dance ON the table, but I circled the table at least once trying to get the perfect view. I'm pretty sure BF was going to pull out my chair, but he gave up on that as I made my 2nd lap of the table.

We had researched the menu online, but I was so giddy with excitement that my mind totally went blank. We started with the Thai crispy calamari (below).

I was not a geography major, but pretty sure that wasabi and Thai peanut sauce are from different cultures. However the combination of them was sooo amazing. The only thing I can even remotely compare it to was Bang Bang shrimp from Bonefish grill. But this was better. so so much better, spicier, creamier, just amazing.

Next they brought out bread with... wait for it... sweet cream instead of butter. Fresh sweet cream served in a dish that was scooped out with an ice cream scoop. A righteous amount of the sweetest, creamiest spread.

BF let me order for us this entire meal. I ordered the wedge salad. Not bf's fav, but their fresh maytag blue cheese (that's not even blue), apple wood smoked bacon... yeah. he was loving it. As we were eating, I realized bf and I weren't talking. It was fine by me because I was enjoying my food so much. I was trying so hard to find the perfect words to describe the food. The only thing that came to mind was 'sweet baby Jesus in heaven...' 'Jesus, Joseph and Mary...' Clearly, this food was turning out to be a religious experience. Just then BF turned to me and said, "aren't you glad we aren't here with other people that we have to talk to?"

I said "YES!" I never realized it before, but good food is so so much more enjoyable when you can eat it slowly, take in every morsel and appreciate all the flavors and textures. The foods we ordered were mostly seafood, but really the commonality was the texture. Everything was very rich and creamy. That is my absolute favorite texture. Under-cooked brownies... you know what I mean. And I've heard that line a million times, where the best company is someone you don't have to talk to because there are no awkward silences. I thought I understood what that meant in the past. But this meal was the perfect example. We were both in an almost zen-like state. We spoke, but our words didn't matter. I kept saying stuff about fairytales and the Bachelorette. BF said that if we ever broke up the only way he could ever upgrade was to date the queen. And ok... I'm totally not doing our conversation justice. But it doesn't matter. What mattered was that we had an amazing meal and were both totally, truly, genuinely happy to be there with each other.

I ordered Pan seared scallops with Carolina rice grits for the entree. By then it was dark and the only light was from the tiny candle on the table. The scallops were so perfect. I was eating the delicious scallops and the next thing I knew, I bit into the creamiest most delicious thing... it was lobster! I had forgotten the scallops had a lobster sauce, and they had an entire shelled claw in with the entree. yum!

And the dessert... peanut butter chocolate chip cheesecake made by Joan Dressler, mom of Jon Dressler the owner of the restaurant. I giggled when the waiter described the cheesecake... it just sounded silly to me that the mom of the owner of this crazy nice place was slaving in the kitchen making cheesecake. Couldn't they get the recipe and hire someone else? Well... when I bit into the cheesecake I understood. It was the most moist, yet dense cheesecake ever. Very light on the peanut butter, and the chocolate chips were super tiny and perfect. It was amazing.

{all photos of Dressler's via}

The total of our meal, including the $15 tip, was $22. How is this possible? That's not even the price of one entree! The food and the service were superb. So how'd we get such a deal? It's thanks to Groupon. And BF's parents who got us the Groupon for $50 worth of food. BF and I also split everything we eat when we go out. We split our appetizer, salad, entree and dessert. We always do this, even at the nicest restaurants. It's amazing how much food we get. And by doing this we truly can order anything on the menu. Thanks to BF's parents for giving us the Groupon and inspiring this amazing night!

Before we left, BF asked if I wanted to go anywhere else. We were both all dressed up and ready for something... but after this truly amazing meal, there was not anything I wanted to do except go hang out with BF. It was dark and I didn't want to sit with him on a sketchy park bench, so we took a walk around the restaurant, down by the fountains in the front, towards my car. As we left the restaurant, I smelled the sweetest smell. At first I thought it was jasmine blooming. But as we got closer, I realized it was huge gardenia bushes in full bloom. Gardenias have the most amazing smell, and have always been special to me because my Nana carried them in her wedding during the depression. She also wore a blue crushed velvet suit to get married in.

We got back to BF's and he let his dog out into the backyard. He immediately told me to come look outside. His backyard was lit up by thousands and thousands of fireflies. It was gorgeous and the most amazingly beautiful thing I'd ever seen.
{image via}

There are no actual photos of this night, which is super unfortunate, because it was so special. But, I'm sure you are so curious what I wore, right? Maybe? Fortunately I take outfit pics all the time, and have a pic of me wearing what I wore to dinner Sat. in my archives. The only difference this time was I had on a yellow skinny belt I tied in a knot, but everything else was the same (headband, dress, bracelet, etc). PS it's thrifted, dress cost $3 from Good-Will last year.

So no pics of BF either, except he did let me pick out his outfit. BF dresses well. I mean SUPER WELL. Like better than any guy I've ever known. But I think he wanted  me to pick him out something extra nice and formal for dinner. So I put him in his 'beach pants' aka  banana repub striped khakis, and a white button down. Under it I think he had on the red and white t-shirt from Barcade in Brooklyn. 

Needless to say, it was an amazing dinner. I don't feel like I did the evening justice with my description. Without more 'this food was like Jesus came down from heaven and created the lobster sauce' description, all I can say is you must eat at Dressler's to experience the food for yourself. This post was not sponsored or in any way persuaded by the restaurant or Groupon. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Linking up with Mrs. Stephanie T for
Mrs Stephanie T

Everyone deserves to feel swept off their feet. To experience amazing food, and to be in good company. Have you been to Dressler's? 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

So What Wednesday - My Random Issues!

Posted By: Leah
So What! Leah's Random Issues Edition. 15 Random facts about me you may or may not know!  Tell me I'm not the only one...

1) So What! I never ate a hamburger (let alone any red meat) until I was 15 years old. The guy I was dating at the time was excited to take me to McDonalds and get me my first hamburger. I remember my dad saying, "If he gets her to eat red meat, who knows what else he'll get her to do." BAHAHA! My family just didn't eat red meat so I never tried it. And no... whatever else you are thinking no and no. gross! I was 15.

2) So What! I have 4 tattoos. I got my 1st when I was 18. I e-mailed everyone in my family (even aunts, cousins, anyone) for their approval. My first was a forget-me-not tramp stamp #classy. Next I got 5 stars on my back (5 is a special # to me, I was born on the 5th day of the 5th month). The next 2 was one on each foot. A star on my left foot and HELLO KITTY on my right with a teal bow matching the star. I will do a whole post on my love of everything HK sometime soon. promise.

3) So What! I have never dated a guy with tattoos ever. Not even 1. Not that I have a problem with inked up boys, but maybe all the guys I know are scared of needles. Or scared of commitment. Hahah j/k.

4) So What! I have only worn a bikini out in public once in my life (that I was aware of. being 3 yrs old or in a tankini doesn't count). And it was in Mexico, soI have not even work a bikini in the US. I have had life-long body image issues and I can trace it down to something someone said to me when I was maybe 6 yrs old. I probably need some therapy!

5) So What! I don't like gum. At all. To the point that when I was younger I would gag and throw up if someone made me eat it. Now that I'm older if someone offers it to me I take it, but I hate it and am pretty sure I'll gag and choke at any second and can't wait to get rid of it.

6) So What! I have a sense of self-entitlement. I come from the sweetest, most humble family, and did not grow up with money, looks, or anything to make me feel this way. But somehow I got this sense of entitlement into my head. I guess it's better than hating myself (even #4 above doesn't mean I'm not amazing. I rock a 1 piece and know I look good.)

7) So What! When I was very young I saw the movie "Defending Your Life" with Meryl Streep, Albert Brooks, Rip Torn, etc. I made the decision thats how I was going to live my life. To have no regrets or nothing I'd have to 'defend' when I died. I also like the part in the movie where food is delicious and you can eat an unlimited amount and you never get full... or fat.

8) So What! I have a mental list of people who I feel have done me wrong who I'll never be able to forgive. And it's not the people you'd think who have 'actually' done me wrong or hurt me. I prioritize things really weird, and forgive when I shouldn't. And don't forgive when I should. Example- if you're my friend, don't elope. Or.... I also have forgiveness issues with anything involving other people breaking my stuff. Even if it only cost $5. Replace it. Ok, most of this stuff goes back to me feeling disrespected or wronged.

9) So What! I get my feelings hurt very easily. Too easily. I wish everyone would walk on eggshells around me all the time. I want everything to be happy, nice and Lovely allll the time. I hate confrontation. I don't mind if someone helps me if I need it, but just give me feedback in a positive way. I know everyone else is fighting their own battle and we should all treat each other with that in mind.
10) So What! I am not good on caffeine. Sodas and coffee sometimes are okay. But if I have more than a little, I get super jittery, hyper, and kind of extra hilarious. My goal last week after only 1 glass of sweet tea at lunch was to get Lauren to laugh at work. This seems simple enough, but I was talking to her via txt and she sits on the other side of the building. I said the most off the wall, crazy stuff, and sure enough I succeeded. I could hear her laugh all the way where I was.

11) So What! I have super pale skin. And it makes me really self-conscious, especially in the summer. Growing up and in high school I wouldn't wear shorts because people would make fun of my fair skin. I didn't even mind getting sun burned, color was color. In the back of my mind I'm still like that. But if I'm going somewhere important, I'll get a mystic tan. So much better than attempting to get real tan. It'll never work. Sunburnt for life.

12) So What! I hate blowdrying my hair. To the point that I only wash it maybe 3 times a week. It takes 30 min or so to dry and my arm goes numb because of holding the dryer. I hate the loud sound, it
is sooo boring and I feel like it's time I'll never get back.

13) So What! I hate movies. Not all movies, but most. I saw Avengers this weekend at the theater and fell asleep. At 11am! Forget about watching any movies at night. I don't know if I'm super ADD or can guess the ending. But like blowdrying, I feel like watching movies is boring and a waste of time.

14) So What! I still have a few spaces open for my June free sponsorship opportunity (shameless plug). And if you need a button, I can take care of that for you too! Just hit the sponsor tab above for the button info, or go directly to link up as a sponsor below (don't forget to post my button on your blog too!) I design really cool buttons. for real. Also blog banners, etc.

15) So What! I got the Liebster award from LC a while back and I got the Kreativ Blogger award from Jen last week. I'm going to give ALL OF YOU both of these awards. Fill out 5 random things about yourself for the Liebster and 10 for the Kreative award. Go on and take these buttons, post them on your blog and let me know when you do! These were actually the real inspiration for today's So What!

What are you saying So What! to this week? Link up with Shannon! PS I'm sponsoring her next month AND am hosting a giveaway with her. Yay! :)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Lets Chat Bachelorette! Finally!

Posted By: Leah
You guys, it's been three weeks since the bachelorette with Emily Maynard premiered and I am so so sorry it has taken me this long to post about it! I have so much to say, considering I'm from Charlotte where this season's being filmed and I *almost* kind of know Emily.

But first, as I do so often, I'm giving you my background story on why this season is so special to me. Lets start with Emily Maynard. She saw Ali's season of the Bachelorette where Ali chose Roberto over Chris L and Emily signed up for the next show, hoping Chris L would be the Bachelor. I have numerous posts on my feelings towards Chris L, but as a quick recap, Chris Lambton is very near and dear to my heart. He is totally my celebrity crush. He's so sweet, handsome, hot, hilarious, just the best. Sounds cheesy, but I wanted the life Ali was living on the bachelorette, I wanted to be flown off on fantasy dates (and thanks to BF! I've gotten my wish!!!)

Anyhow... so just the fact that Emily Maynard saw something in the Bachelorette show and in Chris Lambton to make her want to apply gave me a kinship to her (yes this is such a stretch!). 

But not as much as a stretch as you'd think. Emily Maynard was engaged to Ricky Hendricks. Ricky is the son of Rick Hendricks of Hendricks Motorsports, located in Charlotte, my home town. Growing up in Charlotte, everyone knew the Hendricks family. Ricky was in my grade. We didn't go to the same school, but he dated one of my friends. I've been in the same room as him, so we practically know each other!

The Hendricks family and Emily Maynard's family vacationed together in Florida. When Emily was 19 Emily and Ricky (who was much older), became engaged. Ricky was a racecar driver and was tragically killed on his way to a race on a Friday. The next Monday, Emily discovered she was pregnant. She and I were pregnant at the same time, and she now has a 6 year old named.... Rickie (little girl). 

Emily was cast to be on the Bachelor when Rickie was 4. Chris Lambton found love on the Bachelor pad (and is married now). The bachelor on Emily's season was Brad. He chose Emily and gave her "the final rose." They were engaged. Brad and Emily did not get along and broke off their engagement soon after the show was aired. 

For whatever reason, people really liked Emily on the show. She has a sad story. Honestly, I was not a fan of her on Brad's bachelor season. And I may have done several blog posts prior to now trashing Emily. In the year or so, since Emily was on the Bachelor she has returned to Charlotte and I believe received a lot of help. Not financially (I'm sure the Hekdrick family has her well taken care of). But her personality is so much warmer. She seems more confident and I really have found myself identifying with her, as a single mom. 

Not to mention she's in Charlotte! Where I was born and raised, where my entire family lives, where BF lives, etc. Because Emily has a 6 yr old, she's insisted most of the show be filmed in Charlotte. It's awesome to see my own hometown in the national spotlight. I'm always so interested in where they go eat, go on dates, where the show is filmed, etc. 

I'm going to make my preliminary pick of the top 4 for this season. I had a top three, but added one more this past week. 

1st choice - Arie. he's a racecar driver, but indie car (way cooler than nascar). Super attractive, seems sweet. I like him a lot. He's from the netherlands, exotic!

2nd choice - Jef (1f). he has his own bottled water company. The closest thing to a hipster on the show. He seems authentic and kind.

3rd choice - Ryan. he reminds me of somebody that I used to know (not quoting Gotye, he really does!) But this guy's really cool. He's ex NFL, but runs a training camp for kids now. Nice southern boy from GA. Has a weird hair situation going on, but whatever.

New addition of 4th choice - Charlie. He had a tragic accident and fell off a porch and had to learn how to walk and talk again. I think he's a super great guy (not chris L level) but really sweet, caring, and I know he'd take good care of Emily.

Are you watching this season? Who are your favorites?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Foxy Friday

Posted By: Leah
If you've been following my blog for any amount of time you've seen my numerous diet, weight-loss and fitness attempts. I've done everything from vegan, to raw, to Herbalife to Weight-Watchers... and that's just in the past 6 months LOL! I guess you could say I'm just that typical yo-yo dieter. I'm linking up with my girl K with Down at Fraggle Rock who's started her own Friday link-up called Foxy Friday!

Through my extensive dieting, um, we'll say research (aka yo-yo dieter for life) I have picked up on a few things that I know work... undeniably tried and true tips and tricks to A- feel great (this is what it's all about, right?) B- drop the lbs and inches.
1- Fruit 'till Noon. I have done infinity posts on this, but I truly believe that eating nothing except fresh, raw fruit from the time I wake up until noon is the best thing I can do for my body. 4am - Noon is when the lymbic system (the body's natural detox) is cleaning out the 'crap' from the day before. Fruit is already a glucose, so it takes zero energy to process. Just try it sometime, you'll be full of energy. And if you're hungry, eat more fruit. It's just until noon, and unless you have a glucose intolerance/diabetes/hypoglycemia, etc. you'll benefit.
2- Water. Duh! drink 8 cups of water minimum daily. We know this.
3- Exercise. Duh again. I hate exercising, getting sweaty, all that, but it's good for the body and works.
4- No Dairy. This is a personal thing I've discovered and I LOVE all dairy (hello cheese and fro-yo and sour cream, and...) Yeah I know non-fat dairy has been proven to reduce fat along the mid-section, but it's also been proven by even more people to pack on the pounds. The cow's milk we drink was created for making a baby cow grow and thrive, not humans (this is a quote from my vegan days, but it's true).
5- The gluten monster. I love bread. Bread makes me happy. I want to have a carb party all the time. But for some reason it makes me pack on the lbs faster than anything else. HOW!? WHY!? I have a gluten tolerance, I LOVE IT! and I cry tears of sadness for all the celiac sisters. 
Here's me eating bread and smoked Gouda cheese and butter and I'm happy! My insides smile with joy because of the deliciousness. How can any of this be bad? It's French!

It's all about Moderation, people! But that's where I've failed on Weight Watchers (I'm a lifetime member who's tried going back 3 times and dropped out each time). Hi, My name is Leah and I know no moderation. I don't sit around binge eating (anymore... that's for another post!) but I really am an all or nothing girl. If I start eating not 100% healthy, it's a fast downward spiral.
"bagels and cream cheese for breakfast, grilled cheese for lunch, pizza for dinner? perfect day!"
 um... no.

(play for appropriate ambiance)

I heard the statistic that 50% of women's magazine articles are about how great you already are and the other 50% is how to lose 10 lbs in 2 weeks because you're not ok. It sucks, but it's how our society is... Actually, it reminds me of Mystery (don't act like you already forgot about The Pickup Artist...aka best reality show ever, aside from Ali's season of the Bachelorette with Chris Lambton).

Mystery's whole deal on The Pickup artist was that something inside us all (females and males) responds to positivity, but a little bit of negativity or 'Negs' as he called it, thrown in  iswhat truly motivates us. A Neg is more of an underhanded compliment.  It sounds positive, but yet it says nothing good – or bad.

The the magazines say: You're beautiful, you're smart, but if you were a little more fit, your life will be even better, but you're okay now. And no matter how much we try to dismiss these negs, I think that's what keeps us motivated. Yes, we want to feel amazing and look amazing and have confidence. It's the little internal battle that keeps so many of us going. We try so hard not to be insecure but we are. Sucks.

Anyhow, I fall victim to the negs all the time. And thats what keeps me motivated in some weird, competitive way. I kind of enjoy trying new diets, seeing what works. Keeps life interesting. But that's just me, what keeps you motivated? I'll be back next week with what I'm actually doing to get my health on. Until then, have an awesome weekend!


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

So What! Wednesday - on being popular.

Posted By: Leah

So What! I'm popular. Like very popular (sort of). You know how rainbows are the hot theme right now? And clothes are all colorful and bright and stuff? Apparently somehow google got ahold of my blog (oh hi blogger!) and loved my rainbow cupcake post. And I'm suddenly I'm a top rainbow cupcake image. My blog's hitting at 6,000+  views a day for the past 2 months. every day. truth.

So What! Speaking of overwhelming amounts of views for my blog, I'm offering free sponsorships on here for June! WHAT!? crazy talk, right? Nope it's real! Check out my post HERE from yesterday with all the details. You know that while these rainbow cupcake baking fenes are on my blog, they'll be seeing my sponsors on the right too... Just sayin' (and to the amazing ladies who've already contacted me I'm SOO beyond excited. If I could hand-pick who I wanted to swap with you guys would be it! seriously!) 

So What! You wanted to sponsor but you don't have a button, duh I do those too. Just click the post. I hook you guys up. Or make your own. Just make sure it's 265 pixels wide.

So What! I'm still paying to sponsor 2 blogs for June... and I think this helps us all... if exposure is what you're looking for. And I respect so many blogging ladies out there, I'm excited about taking part in their blogs next month... I have 2 giveaways I'm hosting and guest posting... and more!

So What! Last week at work the computer that was supposed to be used for the program I was doing wasn't turning on, so I had my personal laptop (for my own entertainment). And... because the work one was broken, I volunteered mine for the speakers to use at the program. Pretty much everybody in Greensboro, NC (slight exaggeration) got to see my hot-mess of a desktop including  a zillion semi-inapropriate pics of me. Like I said, I'm popular (sort of).

So What! here's an example of said-pics on the laptop. Just a thumbnail hanging out, except on a huge like 10ft x 12ft screen projected it's more like a 2ft x 4ft pic. yikes. (I'm wearing spanks so you can't really see up my skirt... but I didn't have a chance to explain this)

So What! I wear TOMS every single day to work. I have ones that are more 'formal' aka glitter. Ok, I have 5 pairs. It's just because they cover up my HK ink. And they are comfortable.

So What! I heard that kid's toms are cheaper, and possibly have a little different (possibly cuter) shape and different design options. They have really big sizes for girls, like adult sizes. Who knew? I need to look into this more (ok no I don't how many pairs of shoes do I need. I have like 30).

So What! speaking of 30 (weird segway) I feel very very old now that I'm 32. I was cool with 30, cool with 31, but 32's getting to the 'mid 30's' which is practically 40. OMG I need to get productive with my life already!

So What! My city is popular because they're hosting the John Edwards trial. Yay Greensboro, NC. You've gotten to host a trial for the almost vice president.

So What! Remember BF's surgery? post HERE. Well.... he had complications that landed in an exciting passing out in the bathroom episode and a trip to the ER. But the only reason I'm even bringing it up is because he went to the Dr. today who said he's on the road to recovery. Yay BF! I'm ready to do more posts about fun stuff I do with him.

So What! The posts I've done with Gavin recently instead have been very popular.... almost turning me into a Mommy Blogger... but no! I will resist that title always.

So What! I can't believe I've been too busy (home, work, everything) do to a proper Bachelorette post... we're already 2 shows in! But very quickly: I like Arie, Ryan, and Jef (with 1 f). I also like the dude who fell off the porch but I forgot his name :/

So What! I do have my next vlog with Gav done. I really wanted to edit it and make it awesome for you guys, but I have zero time homies :( (I was trying to spell homes but that just sounds like I'm not at home)

So What! It feels good to be busy. I'd much rather be busy than sitting home watching Rachael Ray, Nate someone I've never heard of, Wendy Williams... you know the line up.

So What! I've gotten some feedback on how narcissistic my blog is (speaking of me being popular). Uh DUH! Have you seen the title? It's the lovely life of LEAH. If you don't want to read about me talking about cool stuff I'm doing... read something else in your free time. And um... have you ever met me, it's pretty much the Leah Show. OOH that would have been a good blog name. Dang...

What are you saying So What! to this week? 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Button swap in June! I want to sponsor your blog!

Posted By: Leah
Exciting news, I'm offering an opportunity to promote your blog on Lovely Life of Leah for FREE in June! All that I ask in return is a button swap... my button on your blog. And a minimum of one shout-out (mention) in a blog post of your choosing directly linking to my site.

I love to promote the handmade community, blogs of all sizes, and fashion, beauty, accessory and other items for ladies and children.

Who might sponsor my blog? You! Bloggers, handmade companies, fashion, and beauty stylists. Let me help you expand and grow your customer and readership base!

Ad spaces run for 30 days and begin on the first of the month.

*I require that your button be 250-pixels wide and 150-pixels high. I will crop/resize your rectangular button for free.

Do you need a button? I will make one for a small $10 fee for my time and creativity. You may use this button all over the web. I’ll include the html code as well as the jpg (example below) All I need is a couple of your favorite photos and I’ll put one together for you. Email me at leahwinstead*at* if you want a button creation for your ad space.

- I had a high day of 6,333 visitors in May, 2012.

Giveaways are always welcome! Interested on me doing a review of your item, let me know!

I also guest-blog, please contact-me at leahwinstead*at* for
availability and requirements.

*All blog button swaps subject to blog approval. I reserve the right to remove your sponsorship if I determine that your blog content is unacceptable to me or if you do not fufil your agreement to display my button, and include in one post.

C'mon get happy!

Posted By: Leah

One of my favorite topics to talk about is how to bring more happiness into our lives. I consider myself pretend to be an expert, just becaue I've been successful in bringing happiness into my own life. So many people see me and just assume my life is so wonderful and always has been because I appear to be so cheerful and bubbily all the time. And yes, this is true for the most part. My life really doesn't suck currently, but this absolutely hasn't always been the case. I created my own directional guide of what steps I took to get my happy-back. And you can get your happy back too.

And... if you're a new reader (HI!) this might help you learn a little more about me, because obviously you want to know (why else are you reading this? :)

So who am I and what makes me the expert on finding the happiness in everyday? I'm a single mama, I'm a working mama, I have had debt, I've experienced loss, I have been like all of you and at times wondered 'why me? how did this end up being my life?'

I'm happy to report that in a very short time I was able to completely turn my life around, to realize my 'new normal' and to become happy again. Actually, forget 'happy again' I was able to live a life of freedom and purpose. To embrace what I truly enjoy. A life filled with experiences beyond my wildest dreams of what I thought possible. And today I'm going to share with you some tips to make your own life this 'lovely.'

1- Get rid of the bad in your life. Ok bad is a little too harsh. Get rid of the things that make you anything less than happy. Whether it's a job, a house or a relationship; toxic people and places bring you down. Yes, this is scary. Change is hard. Maybe it's something you deep down know you need to do. Maybe it's something society may judge you on, like if you're a stay at home mom... hate it... and want to get back to work. Maybe it's a relationship or even marriage. Don't stay in a bad situation just because you don't want to become a statistic. Get brave and do what you need to do. Seek the support to make this change. Help is out there. My city has a Women's Resource Center. I'm sure your city does too. They can help with all of this. For free.

2- Love yourself. Now that you've had the courage to change, you will be feeling on top of the world. Or you'll be scared, wondering if you did what was right for your family and more importantly, yourself. Whatever the outcome, I truly believe 'everything happens for a reason.' As Joel Osteen says, 'stop being a victim and be a victor.' Do what you need to do to put yourself first. Trust me on this, if you don't put yourself first, no one else ever will.

3- Find faith and hope. Many people choose to attend church for this. But... sometimes church can be the reason of guilt in other people's lives. Find a way to serve the greater good. This can be through volunteering, donating your time or skills. Everyone has something to give. Only you know what your unique skill is. And if you don't think you have one, know you'll discover it. Do some soul searching and find what you have to give. Hope shifts, hope changes. But you'll find it.

4- Be open to new experiences. Don't say no to an opportunity just because it scares you or is something you've never done before. You may find your new favorite activity. You may discover a lifestyle different from your own that you were meant to live. For me, after I got divorced, I went vegan for a while. I lost 20 lbs, felt amazing, and regained all the self confidence that I had lost. I am totally back on the meat and dairy now... but during the time it was the best decision I could have made. For my self-esteem, my karma, all of that :) PS I have a zillion vegan tips, recipes, etc over on the right ---->

5- Be positive! This is sometimes hard. Especially with blogs, and social media. That's where we go to vent, to gain support from friends, from other people similar to ourselves. But misery loves company. You are the one who can make the decision to have a good day versus a bad day. You are the one who can force a smile and suck it up to make it through the day. No, life is not always sunshine and roses. There will always be situations that you're faced with that are not fun. Make the decision to be positive and anything will be easier to deal with.

What makes you happy? Things that make me happy are having a clean house (even though I hate to clean), feeling confident (even if that means wearing make-up and I don't think I have the time), eating healthy (even though it takes more planning than I want), exercising (even though I hate it). Doing the things that make us happy sometimes isn't easy. Sometimes it is. The more you practice being positive, and living the life you know you need to live, the easier it gets.

Know that end of the day, your happiness lies within yourself. You're the one out there making this happen. Yes, other people will be positively impacted, but just spread the happy. Let them know what it is that works for you. What your secret to happiness... and if you truly aren't happy, if it's something that needs professional help there is no shame in getting it.

PS the pic at the top is totally a throw back to this POST literally right before (i mean not hours, like weeks) I made the decision to get separated. I do miss wearing all that bling lol. A girl's gotta sparkle : )

Monday, May 21, 2012

Bingo Pool Party & Graduation

Posted By: Leah

Gav and I got to go to a Bingo pool party! Such a great party theme. 
Oh well. I seriously love my Kate Spade sunglasses. So so so so much. 

Check out the bingo in the background. Gav got bored after the 1st round lol!

My sister graduated from college this weekend!
Technically she graduated early, last December (smartypants!) and has been living in Nashville doing an internship planning weddings. She was hired by a photography team and will be helping them and doing wedding planning. Such a fun life! I can't wait to finally go visit! Apparently Nashville has a hibachi pancake place Gav's dying to try out too :) 

Gav looked adorable for her graduation party... seriously how do I have such a handsome little doll!?
His bowtie is from Mandy with Mama and the Dudes' etsy shop MamaMandolin
Button down-from H&M
Shorts-Old Navy

Here's Gav and Sarah (laying on a corn hole board) Fun stuff!

What did you do this weekend?

Friday, May 18, 2012

I finally got to read 50 Shades of Grey. My Thoughts...

Posted By: Leah
With BF laid up on the sofa earlier this week after surgery, I had plenty of time to FINALLY read 50 Shades of Grey, the 'mommy porn' book I've heard about NONSTOP for the past couple of months. I don't even know where to begin. I first have to say that:

1- I normally never read books ever (aside from children's books to Gav), this was just a rare opportunity AND I got the hookup on the book :)
2- I am not a literature snob, notice my mentions of Twilight below.
3- I am not a prude.
4- I heard nothing but amazing things about this book from EVERYONE.

So here goes my review... 
I'll start with the fact that 50 shades is a direct Twilight rip off. Ana is the main character in 50 Shades and she is IDENTICAL to Bella. From her nieveness to clumsiness, to the fact that her mom is flighty and off living with a random new step-dad. Both girls are pale, dark haired and apparently think they are 'average looking,' but have a bunch of guys into them. Bella works at some outdoor store and Ana works in a hardware store (same difference), some guy who works with them (both books) has a crush on the girls. Boring, nothing ever comes of it in either book. Both take place in Washington state.

Christian Grey IS Edward. Even his hair color, skin color (minus the glitter), all of that is the SAME! He is older and has a 'magnetic personality.' And he stares Bella, I mean ANA down all the time because he 'can't figure out what she's thinking.' Christian Grey shows up when Ana's all drunk being a mess by tracking her cell phone (stalker). Edward shows up when Bella's out on the street about to get accosted (stalker). UGH 50 shades, stop copying Twilight!

Ok next reason I dislike 50 Shades (oh wait, you just caught on) is because I don't think the writing is that good. I mean maybe I was thrown off by the fact Grey uses Ana's obsession with her to make her (and apparently a zillion girls in the past) into a SEX SLAVE!  WHAT!??? yes, this is real talk about the book. Ladies... why did you not mention this in ANY of your infinity tweets, blog posts, fb posts etc? I would have appreciated a head's up! And Ana's all into the sex slave lifestyle (it's concentual), however the writing of this book is not good describing this. You know how Twilight's an easy read, and you can get through the 500+ pages in like 2 days? Well...the writing of 50 Shades really is not good. Example: it's getting all racy then Ana says "He touched me there." Yeah that's it. And when he does something to her especially freaky the book just has Ana thinking, "Oh My." Um... yeah, I can come up with some more colorful language. And I'm sooo not a prude. trust me on this. I think based on the language used even Twilight, about high school kids, is more hardcore.

My other dislike of the book is the whole 'mommy porn' that it's supposed to be. I honestly was expecting a well written harlequin romance. Or... as I was reading it, I thought it would be like Breaking Dawn. 50 Shades was A- not well written (IMO) and B- NOT a romance. It's just about this poor nieve girl being a sex slave. Stuff about nipple clamps and yeah... not my thing. Once the book got into the sex-stuff it really was not as interesting.

And yes, I read the Twilight series back in the day and I kind-of liked it. The cheesy Twilight movies ruined it for me. So maybe 50 Shades will be the opposite... maybe the movie will be good and the series not so much. That works out better for me, because I normally never have time to read.

Have you read the book? Did you notice these similarities? Did you think it's 'mommy porn' and you think I'm a prude who doesn't appreciate a good book? (Feel free to say so, because I clearly am in the minority for not liking it)

If you haven't read it, I'll leave you with these direct quotes and page#'s... and you decide:
"He’s my very own Christian Grey-flavored popsicle....Hmm … My inner goddess is doing the merengue with some salsa moves (p. 137)"
"—from makeup remover to soothing balm for a spanked ass, who would have thought it was such a versatile liquid. (p.277)"
"My inner goddess is doing the dance of the seven veils … Oh my … It’s a curious feeling. (p.362)"

I thought the whole book was super Lame. sorry. I REALLY wanted to like it :(
I would have rather stuffed my face w/ 50 shades of gray ombre cake.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Taking care of BF

Posted By: Leah
Remember my bday post HERE with BF in pain, throwing up, having a bad time on my bday last week? He had a rare kind of hernia and his surgery was this week. BF made the above card for his surgeon, you know...just to brighten his day. This pic is via his IG. Yes, BF really gave this card to his surgeon.

The morning of his surgery, BF's nurse asked if he had a living will. BF put this one together and posted on IG and FB to make it official.

This is what BF normally looks like:
And here's him getting ready to be knocked out with some good general anesthesia. (iPhone in his hand lol)

I have had a busy couple of weeks at work and being out with Gav sick and for my bday, I really needed to go into work the morning of BF's surgery. His parents took him and brought him back to his house, and I got there around 3pm expecting him to be in excruciating pain.

(Hit play for my soundtrack for this post. I know you like for me to give you some ambiance while reading). 

I was absolutely shocked to see BF standing outside waiting for me to drive up! Apparently the morphine from the anesthesia knocked him out, but also made him feel great when he woke up. Maybe a little too good.

BF's parents left, and I was excited to hang out with BF that afternoon, because he seemed just fine... well ... that didn't last long. By evening he was in big time pain and, by nightfall he could no longer stand up, let alone sit up. He was 100% stuck laid flat on the sofa. This was fine by me, except when he had to go to the bathroom. I won't go into details, but standing was not his thing. It involved both me and him to help him stand and walk. One time around 2am his standing resulted with with bf passed out on the floor.  Yeah. I was in the kitchen getting bf some water, luckily only a few feet away.

I did not leave BF's side the whole time I was there. I slept on the love seat while he slept on his downstairs couch. I read 50 Shades of Grey (My very lengthy Review coming TOMORROW! with excerpts. yay)

By taking care of BF when he was in this amount of pain, it took me mentally back to the first few weeks I was home with Gav. I was responsible for another human and I had no idea what would happen next. Just like taking care of BF. Would I have to call 911 if bf passed out again and didn't wake up? BF's mom told me I could call her at any hour of the day or night, so that was good. But being there alone with him, in the middle of the night, I was just a  little bit scared even though I didn't want to admit it.

BF told me the morning after he passed out I looked terrified that whole night. I knew I could handle any situation with BF. I just would have to make a phone call if I needed more help. I think what scared me was not bf at all, it was that I was mentally taken back to a difficult place. A time that I had pretty successfully blocked out of my life. Those first few weeks home with Gav I absolutely dreaded the nights. My new normal was lack of sleep, crazy hormones, and the overwhelming feeling of helplessness and responsibility I had never felt before.

Even when Gav was sick a couple of weeks ago, he could tell me that it was his stomach that hurt. And he was just throwing up, nothing I couldn't handle. It was when Gav was a tiny newborn, who was sick and on the billiblanket, and refused to nurse. That's when it was overwhelming. And as a first time mom, I just had a c-section and was forbidden to walk around much. I had family who came up and who were there to help me. I even had a husband who was attentive. It was the nights that were so so  hard. Everyone was asleep and I had too much pride than to wake anyone up and ask for help. I didn't want people blaming me for being tired driving 5 hrs home after seeing me and Gav, I didn't want people getting mad that I needed their help in the middle of the night, blaming me that were tired at work the next day. So I dreaded the nights because I was the only one responsible. I had a mental countdown and it was a countdown of how many hours it was daylight until I was left alone with this baby, this helpless, fussy, tiny life I was 100% responsible for at night.

I had forgotten about those nights, about the countdown of daylight hours and those feelings all came flooding back when I was taking care of bf. I wish I could say that this time it was different, that I had a new found confidence in myself. But I didn't. I was just scared. So I sat awake in the dark and read 50 Shades of Grey on my iPad. I wish iPads had been invented 6 yrs ago when Gav was an infant. 

I also thought about what it would be like now home with an infant. But this time with Gav there too. And I just couldn't imagine it. It was beyond overwhelming to me. I have friends who are moms and do this, but with young YOUNG kids very close in age, and dogs they have to let out, and dinners they have to cook, and houses they have to clean. Those mamas who can do all that and more are the superheroes in life. And it's the hardest, most unappreciated, zero-pay job there is. The strength they find is amazing. I am in total awe by them and wish I had the strength they have.

By the way, this was all me having some kind of internal battle with myself. BF really was okay. Yes, he's still in awful pain, but he's surviving. He was able to somehow walk himself to the bathroom (ok the backyard) when I was asleep that next morning. I left him in very good hands with our friend C when I had to leave to go back to work and BF spent last night by himself and he survived. His parents are there in the same city. It's just hard for me, who lives 2 hours away, who is responsible for picking Gav up at school and making sure he's okay too.

And I guess in the end, that's really what life's all about. Knowing the different types of pain. How to help others dealing with pain. and how to deal with your own pain.

duh... this totally was what was coming next:

Source: via Gil on Pinterest

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