Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"How I Got This Way"

As most people know, Regis Philbin stepped down as host of Live his long-running morning talk show a few months ago after hosting the show for the past 25 years. It was sad to see Regis leave the show since Regis Philbin seems like an institution on morning television. I've had plenty of time to watch my fair share of morning television since my accident and I've enjoyed watching Regis in action nearly every morning for the past eight years.

Regis recently released a memoir that he wrote about his life called How I Got This Way. I decided to buy the audio book from iTunes and I'm so glad I did because it was really good. The audio book was narrated by Regis himself, so that was really neat to hear the book read from his own voice. I couldn't have imagined listening to the book if it had been read by anyone else. His book shed more light into his life and his more than 50 years in show business.

Regis graduated from Notre Dame University in 1953 with a degree in sociology, however, his true desire since the time he was a young child was always to be a singer like his idol, Bing Crosby. On the day of his college graduation Regis told his parents about his lifelong dream of becoming a singer, and he even sang Crosby's hit Pennies from Heaven to parents. When he finished singing he noticed that his mother's eyes were filled with tears – tears of disappointment. When I heard this part in the book I thought it was SO sad! I can't imagine how Regis must've felt in that moment.

After that discouraging experience Regis decided to part with his dream of being a singer and instead decided to go into television. Regis' early television career had lots of ups and downs and disappointments and Regis went into detail about his feelings of inadequacy and failure. He said that for years he wondered if he had any talent at all, and if he did, what was it? I had no idea that Regis struggled so much in his early years since he's always seemed so successful to me, but I guess that's just because I've only ever known him as the older famous and accomplished Regis Philbin instead of the Regis Philbin of younger days. It just goes to show that fame and success doesn't always come naturally and just takes time/work, even for the "rich and famous."

Regis talked about a lot of famous, well-known people that he's crossed paths with over the years who have influenced him in some way or another like Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, Cary Grant, Johnny Carson and Jack Parr. He also talked about other people that he's interacted with over the years; people who have amazed and/or inspired him in some way that he's learned valuable lessons from like Jack Nicholson, Bill Cosby, Jerry Seinfeld, George Clooney, Donald Trump, Steven Spielberg and David Letterman. There were even entire chapters in the book devoted to the most special people in his life like Kathy Lee Gifford, Kelly Ripa and Joy, his wife of more than 40 years.

Regis ended each chapter in the book with "what I took away from it all" where he recapped whatever situation/person he referenced in that chapter. I really enjoyed hearing what Regis had learned from the different experiences/people in his life. It made him seem more likable to find out that Regis has experienced so many "normal" emotions and had many average or less than desirable experiences.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Kenny G

I love music and instruments and I'm always envious of people who are musically inclined since I am not. However, there's one instrument I really don't like the sound of. Saxophones. Whenever I hear the sound of a sax it inevitably makes me think of Kenny G.  And when I think of Kenny G, I think of shopping malls. And elevators.

For me, music has a nostalgic quality that can take you right back to a certain place/time, even if you haven't thought of that particular place/time in quite a while. Hearing Kenny G music does this for me. It takes me back to when I was a little girl and it makes me think about going on loooong shopping trips to places like department stores in the mall (like Famous Barr or JCPenney). Lots of men don't enjoy shopping, but my dad was the opposite. He would take his sweet time as he vacillated over this and that as he tried to narrow down what he wanted to purchase. I can understand weighing out your options, but there comes a time when enough is enough and you just need to decide! I just remember being bored out of my mind and playing in the different clothing racks with my younger sisters who were always along for the ride. Ugh… those were the days!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Q-bomb

Before my accident I used to love Quiznos. Don't get me wrong, I still do, but I haven't had a toasty sub from Quiznos in at least two or three years. A long hiatus like this would've been unimaginable torture eight years ago when I was a frequent patron of Quiznos, but now I guess I've weaned myself from Quiznos' addictive powers. I'm actually almost embarrassed to admit how often I used to eat there at the risk of making myself sound like a glutton, but that just lets you know how much I adored it! (For the record, I used to eat there at least twice a week, but sometimes even three or four times!) A toasty sub could always cheer me up or make a good day even better!

My top three favorite sandwiches of all time at Quiznos were the turkey, ranch and Swiss, the honey bacon club and the roasted turkey on Rosemary Parmesan bread with red bell pepper sauce. Mmm… my mouth is watering just thinking about it!

I was ecstatic when a Quiznos opened 5 minutes away from my house in 2004, but it only stayed open about 18 months. It was truly a sad day when it closed! It wasn't that I was still eating there several times a week, but it was just nice to know that when the inevitable Quiznos hankerings came I could send my mom, sister or one of my friends on a Quiznos run.

Is it just me, or does Quiznos not seem as popular anymore? Maybe it's because I never see TV commercials for it anymore, or that a few of the Quiznos restaurants in my area have closed, or maybe because I don't eat out very often anymore, but I just haven't heard anything about Quiznos in quite some time. Sad!

One of my friends that I went to Quiznos with most often nicknamed Quiznos "the Q-bomb," so that's what we affectionately referred to it as. I still think it's a fitting name. Unfortunately for me (or maybe fortunately for my waistline) the nearest Quiznos is a good 20 minutes away. Maybe I'll have to remedy my long absence from Quiznos some time soon, because it's been way too long!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My Interest with Pinterest

Pinterest was something that I hadn't even heard of one year ago, but now it's all the rage. I signed up for Pinterest last summer, but then I never really went back to learn how the website worked. Months later I decided to go back and take another look. I found it a little confusing at first, but after playing around for a few hours I was a pro. And I was hooked. Since then I've found so many great ideas. I can't personally carry any of the ideas out on my own, but fortunately my mom or sister Laura have been good about helping me experiment by trying new things (mostly desserts!).

I have to admit that Pinterest can be a little addicting since it's so fun to find new ideas, but I'm really good about only spending a few minutes on it here and there when I need a break from what I'm doing. If you want to follow my pins, click here.

I've found so many fun and useful things. One of the most useful things I've found is a recipe for homemade laundry detergent. My mom has been making a homemade liquid laundry soap for the past few years that she really likes, so when I found the recipe for this dry laundry detergent I decided to send it to my mom to see if she might like it even better. My mom whipped up a batch and has been using it for over a month. She likes it even better than the liquid laundry detergent she'd been using, so I was very pleased to find something that impressed my mom.  This laundry detergent is relatively easy to make and extremely cost-efficient. (Who knew that laundry soap/detergent is so expensive? Not me, since I've never bought any before. Actually, I think I've only done two or three loads of laundry my whole life since my mom always did my laundry prior to my accident. It wasn't that I wasn't capable of doing it, it's just that my mom always did it since she enjoys doing laundry so well. You heard it right, my mom LOVES doing laundry!)

Anyway, I can't remember the blog where I originally found this homemade detergent recipe (I should've pinned it to one of my Pinterest boards, but I didn't), but the woman writing the blog said that she made a batch of the detergent and it lasted about eight months (she did four loads of laundry a week). You only use 1 tablespoon of detergent per load (yes, only 1 tablespoon!). It only cost my mom $15 to get all of the supplies that she needed to make it. As I said, my mom loves it and she's going to keep making it.

Homemade Laundry Detergent:
1 4 lb 12 oz box Borax (2.15 kg were 76 oz) found in the detergent aisle
1 4 lb box Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (1.81 kg) found in the cooking aisle
1 box Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda 55 oz (3 lb 7 oz) found in the detergent aisle
3 bars of Fels-naptha soap, found in the detergent aisle
2 small containers of oxyclean or store brand oxyclean (try to get about 3.5 lbs total (1.58 kg))
*You can also use pink Zote soap instead of Fels-naptha.

Start out by grating your Fels-naptha soap just like cheese. **Don't worry the Fels-naptha will dissolve in your washer even if you only use cold water.

Toss all ingredients in a 5 gallon bucket lined with a garbage bag. This part makes your whole house smell great. Once everything is thoroughly mixed store soap however you like. I chose a jar that I keep above my washing machine, I also got a little scoop to keep inside. Wasn't that easy? Sure was! Enjoy your soap. Use 1 tablespoon per load.

Anyway, I encourage everyone to try it since it's extremely inexpensive and takes minimal time/effort to make. Who knows, you might find that you really like it! (If you do try it, be sure to  leave me a comment and let me know how you like it.) If you have any questions, just e-mail me or leave a comment.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


I've been wanting to try sushi for some time since the only time I've ever had it was years ago when we made it with my sister Sharon. I didn't like it at the time (the sushi we made didn't have raw fish in it, just vegetables) so I wanted to try it again to see if I would like it made with raw fish. I asked my sister Laura to bring some over. I was a bit skeptical, but I went into it with an open mind. I didn't like it. It wasn't horrible or anything, but it wasn't that good, either. My sister Laura urged me to not completely give up on sushi since there are lots of different kinds. I look forward to trying more kinds of sushi in the future and hopefully I'll find some that I like.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Dream Big!

I find myself daydreaming a lot because it's fun to think about where I'd be and what I'd be doing if I weren't paralyzed. What kind of nurse would I have been? Would I be married by now and what would my husband be like? Would we have children yet? If so, how many and what gender? Where would we live and what would our lives be like? Would I be a good wife and mother? My answer to so many of those questions is "I hope so." I know it's no use speculating on the "what ifs" but it's hard not to.

When I think about my life, I have a long list of small dreams and a short list of big dreams. Of course the things that matter most are health and prosperity for myself and my family. But if you asked me what my ultimate dreams are, they would be these:

1. To get married: After my accident I felt like this dream was suddenly off the table and something I'd never be able to experience in this life. That was a devastating blow since being married has always been (and still is) my number one dream in life. I know the chance of a man falling in love with me is much more slimnow that I'm paralyzed, but I'm not completely counting it out like I did right after my accident. The fact is, I'm really amazing and I know I could offer someone a life of joy. Granted, our life wouldn't be "normal" or traditional, but I know we would be happy. I've actually already picked out the man I want to marry, but now it's just a matter of getting HIM to fall in love with ME! (But that's a story for another day.)

This is the St. Louis, Missouri Temple, and it's where I will get married if/when I ever get asked. And this is the kind of wedding ring I want. (No engagement ring needed – just a nice, sparkly diamond wedding band!
2. To have my dream house: Since my accident it's been my dream to have my own the handicapped accessible house. Don't get me wrong, I'm very grateful to live in my mom's house where I have my own room, but I would LOVE a house of my own to share with my mom (and husband) where we both have our own space, but we still live in the same house.
I love, love, love built-in furniture. Although I love dark, cherry wood best, I think I would opt for white shelves, like the ones in the pictures below so that the dust wouldn't show quite as much. I just want a nice, bright house with high ceilings and white built-in furniture to give it a clean and open feel.
 3. This is a silly dream, but I'm determined to make it happen! I want to meet Anderson Cooper; or rather, have HIM come to meet ME since it would be really difficult for me to get to NYC! My desire's so strong that I even wrote AC a letter and submitted it on his talk show's website. If you know me at all, then you know that this is SO not my style since I'm shy and I don't like to draw attention to myself. However, I'm finding my desire to meet Anderson so strong that it's trumping all else and I'm deviating from my normally shy and withdrawn ways!
I'd like to be able to see my family more often, but flying in a commercial airplane is really out of the question since I'd have to get out of my wheelchair. I think a private jet would be the way to go so that I can stay in my wheelchair. It would also be nice to have lots of money so that I could live a comfortable life and not have to worry about where the money to cover my needs is going to come from. (Being disabled can be quite expensive! Fortunately, I have wonderful medical insurance so I really can't complain.)

Well, that about does it for my small list of big dreams. I'm not asking for too much, am I?! ;)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Modern Day Titanic

[I know this is no longer "breaking news" but I wanted to make a blog post about it since part of the purpose of my blog is to keep a record of current events.]

I've thought a lot about the Titanic over the years, and I didn't think there'd ever be another catastrophe  that could even come close to rivaling "Titanic" proportions since technology has come such a long way in the past 100 years and things like that just don't seem to happen anymore. I guess this is just another reason why you should "never say never."

I'm not one for superstitions, but last Friday (Friday the 13th) was a doozy for the 4200 passengers aboard the Costa Concordia cruise ship. At 9:30 (just 2½ hours after leaving the port of Civitavecchia) the Costa Concordia hit submerged rocks that tore through the hull as it sailed past the island of Giglio off the coast of Tuscany. As the ship took on water the captain tried to turn it towards the island's port, but the ship started to sink and list to the side. Apparently the Captain made an "unapproved and unauthorized" deviation in course, sailing too close to the island to show off the ship to locals. (At least this is what I've gathered from the reading I've done about online about the sinking of the Costa Concordia.)

"Somehow" Francesco Schettino, the Captain of the Costa Concordia ended up safely in a lifeboat, instead of going down with his ship. Schettino said he had no intention of escaping. He said, "I was helping some passengers put the lifeboat to sea. At a certain point the mechanism for lowering it, blocked. We had to force it. Suddenly the system unblocked itself and I tripped and I found myself inside the lifeboat with a number of other passengers." I don't know about you, but something sure sounds fishy!

Fortunately there's a transcript of the exchange that took place between the Coast Guard official and Schettino, and he sure sounds like a real piece of work! The Coast Guard official repeatedly told Schettino to get back on the ship to oversee the rescue efforts, but Schettino kept making excuses. This was my favorite line, "Schettino, you may have saved yourself from the sea, but I'm going to make you pay, I'm going to make your life miserable. Get the (bleep) on board!" Schettino has since been arrested on charges of manslaughter. (Not to mention the half billion dollar cost of the cruise ship that he's culpable for!)

Fortunately, most of the 4200 passengers survived the ordeal, but as of right now the death toll stands at 11 (with 24 people still missing, including a retired couple from Minnesota). All things considered, there could've been a much higher loss of life, so I'm glad that the majority of the passengers survived. Still, it's extremely sad for those 11 people (and the 24 missing passengers who are likely dead).

A picture says 1000 words, so I'll illustrate this post with these pictures since they show just what a mess things were. They really put things into context, and it's amazing to see just how big a ship the Costa Concordia was.
Here's a picture of the giant hole in the ship's hull, as well as Captian Francisco Schettino getting arrested.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Disney Princesses As Role Models

Yesterday I came across a fun article on Moviefone's website called "Disney Princesses: 'Beauty and the Beast' to 'Sleeping Beauty,' Ranking Them As Role Models." I liked it so much that I wanted to write about it on my blog, but it was so well written, and I knew I would never be able to do it justice since I'm not a very talented, clever writer when it comes to things like this, so I decided to copy the article as is. I hope you find it as enjoyable as I did.

Virtues: She's the "fairest one of all," but she's quite the humble young princess. She loves forest animals, cleans and tends for the cottage she thinks belongs to children, and then befriends and cares for the misfit dwarves. She's a vision of loveliness inside and out, always trusting and helping others.

Flaws: There's a line between trusting and gullible, and poor Snow crosses it when she bites into that Old Hag's poisoned apple. She's not the brightest of the Princesses, and her naivete hasn't aged well with time.
Virtues: Like Snow White, Cinderella is a friend to animals -- even rodents! The mice and birds adore their Cinderelly so much they even make her original, albeit doomed, ball gown. She's gorgeous and self-sacrificing and never complains, even under unthinkable circumstances.

Flaws: In the face of her step-mother and step-sisters' cruelty, she never once resists -- humbly accepting her lowly place in their lives until she's visited by her Fairy Godmother. If it weren't for Prince Charming's persistence, she'd still be wearing rags and scrubbing floors.
Virtues: Having been blessed by fairies with beauty and song, Aurora (brought up as Briar Rose) is not only gorgeous but talented as well. Like all of the old-school princesses, she's sweet and gentle. She dreams of falling in love and having a life outside of her humble home with her elderly guardians.

Flaws: There's not much to Aurora. She's kindhearted and lovely and instantly falls in love with Philip, although at the time neither of them knows she's the hidden princess. And let's face it, she showed no restraint when it came to that spinning wheel!
Virtues: The flame-haired mermaid is courageous and curious and talented. Her voice is renowned for its beauty, and she's quite the adventurer -- wreaking all sorts of havoc for straying too far from her underwater home to search for treasures from above the sea.

Flaws: She renders herself literally voiceless and abandons her home for a guy. That's not exactly a good message to send young girls. Of course, everything ends with a happily ever after, but she makes a rather unwise decision to barter with Ursula.
Virtues: Belle is smart. The "peculiar girl" of her village, she loves books and prizes intelligence and character above popularity and good looks. She turns down a proposal from Gaston, her town's most desirable bachelor who's nonetheless a dim bulb, and winds up falling in love with the Beast despite his frightening appearance ... and the fact he's imprisoned her.

Flaws: Her only major flaw is believing Gaston and the townsfolk would listen to her when she explains the Beast isn't a threat to them.
Virtues: Unhappy and bored with her sequestered life in the castle, Jasmine -- the Sultan's daughter -- longs for adventure and flees to visit the marketplace, where she stumbles upon Aladdin. She and Aladdin realize they have a lot in common, even though he's a "street rat" and she's a princess. Jasmine falls in love with Aladdin, even though he's a commoner.

Flaws: OK, so she's a bit of a diva, but in the context of this humble and sometimes docile lot, that's not a flaw at all!
Virtues: The 17th Century daughter of the Chief Powhatan is Disney's first historically based Princess. She's brave and adventurous, and despite how corny that 'Colors of the Wind' song is, Pocahontas follows her heart to aid and then love Captain John Smith.

Flaws: We'd love to rank Pocahontas higher, but the movie is controversial and riddled with inaccuracies, so we suggest supplementing the movie with books about the Native American princess or waiting until the kids are old enough to see Terrence Malick's "The New World."
Virtues: She fearlessly disguises herself as a boy in order to take her father's place in the army. As a conscript, she trains as fiercely as her male cohorts and proves herself without revealing her true identity. Since at one point she's deemed unfit for marriage, she finds her worth in helping her family and country. Of course, eventually Mulan does find love -- with a commanding officer who understands her abilities as a warrior.

Flaws: It's a shame Mulan is one of the underrated princesses, because she rocks. Her only flaw is that she had to deceive those around her about who she really was to serve in the Imperial army.
Virtues: Now here's a princess with ambition. She's hard working and is determined to earn enough money to start her own restaurant -- a dream of hers passed down from her late father. She's intelligent and self-possessed, and even when she agrees to kiss the frog -- and subsequently becomes one -- never loses sight of herself.

Flaws: She might be the only princess who waits a beat too long to admit that she's fallen in love. But again, it's fine with us, because she gets her man AND her dream restaurant!
Virtues: She's fiercely protective, powerful and loyal. When Eugene needs to be saved, she doesn't hesitate to rescue him with a toss of her long and magical hair. She's willing to sacrifice her happiness to ensure her dangerous "Mother" doesn't harm Eugene. Rapunzel also falls in love based on character and not status, since Eugene is a reformed thief, not a prince. She sees the best in people, even those who are labeled outcasts or misfits.

Flaws: Having been imprisoned in a tree for her entire life, Rapunzel is understandably naïve, but that's not her fault.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Brett's Birthday and Baby David

Today was my brother-in-law Brett's birthday, so Laura, Brett and their kids came over for a late lunch/early dinner. We ate Papa John's pizza and Laura made "heaven and hell" cake for Brett's birthday cake. This was a recipe that Laura had recently found on Pinterest's website that she'd been wanting to try. It had four layers of cake – two layers of devil's food cake and two layers of angel food cake (hence the heaven and hell), along with peanut butter mousse between each layer of cake with a chocolate ganache coating that covered the outside of the cake. (Doesn't sound like there are any calories in the cake, right?!) The cake definitely had an interesting texture since angel food cake is a soft/spongy cake, but it was really good (especially with the peanut butter mousse).

Pictures of Amy and the birthday boy, Brett, along with the sinfully delicious cake:
Here are some pictures of baby David who will be four weeks old on Wednesday. It's hard for me to visibly notice David's changes since I see him so often, but I know he's grown and filled out. So much has happened in the past month and it seems like David's been here a lot longer than just four weeks! I love kissing his velvet soft cheeks and breathing in his wonderful "baby scent"! All I can say is that my little Davey Jones (that's what I call him) is a definite keeper!

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