Switching over

I wanted to beautify my WordPress blog but I couldn’t figure out a simple way to make that happen. I love my header but I wanted to made the sidebars more fun, vibrant, and unique. Not as easy as one would expect! I took a look at the Blogspot website and their blogs are much easier to customize. So after weeks of deliberation, I decided to switch blog websites. I am not sure if the change will stand but I am going to try it out for a few weeks and see which one I like better.

So please feel free to check out the new blog here:

http://www.friedpinktomato.blogspot.com

Let me know which layout you like better!

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Spring Essentials

Spring has sprung. And man it is BEAUTIFUL outside. My tulips blossomed this week and all of the flowers in the neighborhood look FANTASTIC! So with the wonderful weather and picturesque  plants, comes some spring staples. Here is a list of items I think every girl needs for the spring.

#1) The perfect strapless dress. Life is so much easier when you can throw on a sundress and flip flops and you don’t have to worry about putting together an outfit. I love strapless dresses. They are simple, stylish, and you don’t have to worry about getting tan lines. I love this “Franco Dress” by Lilly Pulitzer! The tie on the back is ADORABLE! You can find it here.

#2) A beach bag! Every girl needs a good straw bag. One of my favorites is the Vineyard Vines “Sunny Day Straw Bag.” You can use it has a spring purse or a beach bag… or both! This is one of my favorites. It is a little expensive but it is classic and will last for years. And I am a sucker for anything turquoise.

Check it out here!

#3) Pastel Polos– I love polos in fun, bright, and loud spring and summer colors. A pretty polo, jean skirt, and rainbows…pure spring perfection! One of my favorite polos is made by Southern Tide in “ocean blue.” It is a great color and the shirts are really soft, comfortable, and well-made. If you haven’t purchased a polo from Southern Tide, you should really check them out!

#4) Pink lipgloss- I love a light pink lipgloss for the spring. My absolute favorite color is Plushglass “Fulfilled” by MAC. The color is perfect for a nice, light, springy look! (PS-the color below is not “fulfilled.”)

#5) The “perfect” bronzer– Every girl needs and wants that sun-kissed look. I get mine from the most amazing bronzer ever.. It is made by Estee Lauder and it is call “Bronze Goddess.” I love the color and its slight shimmery sparkle. I also love its size. It comes in a huge compact. It will get you through spring, summer, and maybe even fall!

I still have a few spring essentials to add to the list. But my husband is home from the road and we have to watch the episode of Lost that we missed earlier this week. I hear it is a real doozie! 🙂 Let me know if you know of any other great Spring finds.

Ice, Ice, baby!

I am not a fan of cold weather. I grew up in Ft. Lauderdale, so I never had to deal with snow, ice, winter jackets, seat warmers, gloves, ear muffs, and all of the other stuff that comes along with the winter weather. I used to pray for snowy days and a white Christmas… that NEVER happened. We actually wore sweaters if it hit 60 degrees. So I guess you can say I am not “cold natured.”

The first snow of the year is still usually enjoyable. One snowman, a few snow angels, no school, sledding, hot chocolate (with a touch of Baileys)… thats usually great. But by the second snow, I am over it. Then I just feel useless. I don’t want to go outside because I think it is a pain to have  to put on so many articles of clothing. And I am not a fan of winter clothes. They are bulky and not very cute. My toes feel claustrophobic in boots and pedicures seem totally pointless. Then, when you go inside, you have to unbundle. You can’t do outdoor activities. Have you ever tried to hit a ball with a metal bat in the winter? Talk about a nasty sting. I am sorry, but I am not going to jog or even take a walk if it is less than 50 degrees outside. So that leaves you with the gym. And of course you can’t just throw on your sweats because it is too darn cold outside. So you have to get in all of your winter clothes, bring a change of clothes to the gym, and change there. Boo! I am not that dedicated.

I have a hard time walking outside to my car in the cold weather. And if you happen to walk to the car with me, you might as well forget about talking to me. I block everything out. Seriously, all I think about is staying warm and getting in the car as fast as possible. Everything else goes in one ear and out the other. Just ask my hubby, it drives him crazy. But I really can’t help it. It is my natural instinct.

I even walk funny in the cold. Its kind of like a mountain goat. I walk on my tiptoes and I cross my arms. I am not sure why I do this? Maybe my brain thinks it is helping conduct the heat throughout my body? Who knows. But Erik gets a kick out of it.

I am really glad my parents decided to move down south before they had me. My mom grew up in Canada and my dad in Buffalo. I wouldn’t last a week!

So needless to say, I am ready for Spring. So ready in fact, I am going to start wearing my Rainbows from this day forward. I decided to post some pictures from the lovely snow storm we had here in Nashville in late January. Good riddance Winter. Hasta la vista snow!

Barnsley Gardens Resort

So I wanted to share an amazing resort Erik and I happened to stumble upon at the beginning of the year. I went to a charity auction for the local Children’s hospital in Atlanta, GA and noticed several of the items had not been bid on. One was a night’s stay at Barnsley Gardens Resort in Adairsville, GA. I decided to bid on it. At the end of the evening, I won several items, including the night at Barnsley Gardens. It is located at the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains about 60 miles north of Atlanta.

I checked out the resort online and it looked beautiful! So Erik and I decided to have a low-key New Years Eve and stay at Barnsley Gardens. We ended up booking two nights and got reservations for their special NYE dinner.

When we arrived at Barnsley it was better then we ever expected! It looked like something out of a fairy tale. All of the cabins were adorable. The decor inside the rooms was sweet and southern. There was beautiful antique furniture and the most adorable bathtub. Our room had a king sized feather bed that was so comfy! We were thrilled.

Our bedroom

Our Cabin

We stayed in cabin 1855

Living Room

The fireplace and television

The bathroom

Our cute antique tub!

The property at Barnsley was just as beautiful! It is located on 1,400 landscaped acres.  A fun way to tour the property is by golf cart. You can rent one at Barnsley’s golf shop for $10 per hour or $40.00 per day. There are beautiful gardens and trails to explore. There is even a cute museum that displays the history of the property. The gentleman working at the museum was awesome. He was full of fun facts about Barnsley and shared great stories with all of the guests!

There are tons of fun activities you can do at Barnsley. There was a BEAUTIFUL golf course. As soon as we saw it, I knew our parents were going to have to come with us on out next visit. They also have an amazing spa. I think the boys can go golf and the girls can go to the spa on our next visit!  The shooting grounds offer high-end hunting, fishing, wingshooting and fly fishing school. At the outpost ou can take out canoes and kayaks (free of charge!!) and schedule horseback riding lessons or bicycle rentals. The resort also offers a grecian-style swimming pool, tennis courts, a fitness center, and 12 miles of hiking trails. They even have awesome lawn games. We saw croquet, bocce ball, and horseshoes set up!

On New Years Eve we enjoyed an amazing four course meal at the Rice House. The lobster bisque was out of this world. It was served in a soft, fluffy, pastry bowl. I ended up eating the entire bowl. YUM! We had a delightful salad and our steaks were cooked to perfection. We ended the meal with a delicious chocolate lava cake with vanilla ice-cream. Great food and great service. We were impressed!

love love love this!!

Then to finish the night off right, we went to the NYE party hosted by Barnsley Gardens. It was free to all of the guests. They had an awesome DJ and the fairy godmother handed out NYE party favors. We danced the night away and ended the evening with a gigantic frog drop. Think ball drop like NYC but instead of a ball, they dropped a paper mache  frog. The fairy godmother also threw out inflatable frogs. And some of them had prizes taped on the bottoms. It was a little hectic, lots of intoxicated people fighting over inflatable frogs, but it was hilarious to watch and a complete blast!

The infamous frog drop!

Overall, New Years Eve at Barnsley Gardens was a great success! So much so, we even want to get a group of friends together next year and do it again!

So if you are thinking about taking a nice, relaxing, and fun vacation in the near future, check out Barnsley Gardens. I really think you will be impressed.

Miniature Australian Shepherd- 11 weeks

When I was trying to research Miniature Australian Shepherds, I had a hard time finding photos of the puppies at different ages. So I thought I would post some of Fender at 11 weeks. He is growing but is still quite small. He is all fluff. When we bathe him we realize how small he really is. He is so smart! And the pup has ups. He literally jumps right onto the couch and right off the bed. He is a character!! We love him so much.

Proud Wife

So Erik and I had to make a pretty hard decision recently. We had to decide whether or not Erik should move up to NYC to pursue his modeling career. He has modeled for several years but never full-time. It was more of a hobby that he did to make extra money while he was a starving rock star. But he kept getting modeling opportunities without really trying. He definitely has a gift. Besides being gorgeous, he is extremely photogenic and is completely comfortably in front of the camera. I like to brag on my hubby because he is never brags on himself! 🙂 haha!

He spoke to some folks at the Ford Modeling Agency up in NYC and they explained that they would love to represent him but they needed him to live in New York City for awhile. Castings come up last minute every day and a lot of their clients are located in the city. So in order to pursue a modeling career seriously, the move was pretty necessary.

It was a hard choice to make. We just bought a beautiful house in Nashville, TN. We just got a new puppy. The members in Erik’s band, Florez, are all in Nashville. And my job requires me to stay in the south. So… what to do?

I didn’t want Erik to regret not pursing the modeling thing a few years down the road. He has so much potential and such an amazing talent that I would hate for it to go to waste. His success is still uncertain but I wanted him to at least give it one good try. He felt the same way. He had to give it a shot.

So we decided that he would fly up to NYC this past Wednesday and he would work his butt off and try to have a successful modeling career. It is a hard profession because work is never guaranteed and you are not on salary. You only get paid when you get booked. So we really had to step out in faith that He will provide. Sometimes faith requires us to take a bold step to reach our personal goals. Sometimes there can be just as much faith involved in taking personal initiative as there is in waiting passively for the Lord to provide. As Erik moves forward in his modeling career, unexpected obstacles will arise which throw us back to waiting on the Lord for guidance. But for now, we have decided to take initiative and start working towards his ultimate goal of becoming a successful model.

So Erik just left for New York City on Wednesday. Yesterday was his first casting. He got awesome feedback and the job it between him and one other guy. So that is really good news. I have a good feeling that he is going to do great up there.

I am so proud of him. Now I just have to figure out how to entertain myself. We usually entertain each other. It is going to be a hard couple of months but I know we will work through it!

Cancer Sucks

For the most part I try not to talk about my mother’s cancer. When she was first diagnosed, I really didn’t want to talk about it with anyone. It was too soon, too new, too hard, and all too real. I think I have tried to avoid the subject because it is so much easier to pretend that its not really happening. I just tried to convince myself that everything was fine and it would all blow over eventually.  But then it didn’t. The prognosis just kept getting worse.

I remember when I first realized my mom was sick. I had just moved to Nashville so I spoke to my mom on the phone pretty often. I noticed her voice sounded different. It was hoarse, but not soar throat hoarse… something was definitely off. She would cough uncontrollably.  I begged her to go to the doctor. We actually got in an argument about it once. She eventually went to get it checked out and the doctor thought she had acid reflux. Some of the symptoms of acid reflux are dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) and hoarseness. So the diagnosis was believable. But after more than a month of taking medicine to treat it, her voice still sounded funny.  Eventually she went to an ear, throat, and nose specialist and they found her tumor.

My parents right before mom's diagnosis

I will never forget that call. I was driving to Zoe’s to pick up some food on my lunch break. My dad called my cell. I answered it and immediately knew something was wrong. “Jaime, your mom has been diagnosed with cancer.” It was like a dagger in my stomach. I felt nauseous. I felt weak. I felt helpless. Then I started balling. I couldn’t control myself. I couldn’t stop sobbing. “Are you sure dad? Is she going to be ok? I want to come home right now, I want to be with you guys!”  I could tell my dad was crying. My dad crying? Until that point I didn’t even know that was possible. I knew things were really bad.

The feelings I felt that day are really hard to explain. It was such a deep sadness. I had never felt anything like it. I was sad and even mad in some ways. Why my mom? She was supposed to have a sore throat, at the very worst tonsillitis. She was only 48 years old when she was diagnosed. She wasn’t a smoker. HOW DID SHE HAVE THROAT CANCER?! It wasn’t fair. I was devastated and wanted to drive to Spartanburg to be with my family. I called Erik and he came and found me hysterically crying in the parking lot.

Do you remember when you were little and you would cry so hard it was actually hard to breathe? Then your stomach would start convulsing and you couldn’t even say a full sentence? Yeah, thats how I was. I was helpless, like a little three year old. My whole world was crashing down right in front of me and I didn’t know what to do.

At first we thought her cancer was stage two. Treatable and not life-threatening. Less than a week later they determined it was stage four. When I got that news, I didn’t know much about cancer. So I didn’t really know what “stage four” meant. So I was upset but a little clueless. Within a week she was going to Wake Forrest for a major operation. The doctors determined they had to remove her larynx. We knew this was going to be a possibility but we didn’t realize it was going to happen so soon. We had planned to have mom tape record herself talking. Making funny remarks, telling jokes, telling stories… that way whenever we missed hearing her voice we could just listen to one of her recordings. Unfortunately the procedure happened so fast, there was no time to prepare, and no time to record her voice.

I was in Nashville at Mercy Ministries the day of her operation. It was on the same day we had the Christmas celebration for the girls in the home. As I sat in the Mercy home, watching the girls open their gifts, I worried about my mom’s outcome. My dad finally called, several hours later than I expected. The surgery had taken longer than the doctor originally thought it would take. Those were the longest hours of my life. The surgery went well. They removed mom’s larynx without any major complications. It was a blessing. But at the time it felt like a curse, at that very moment I realized I would never hear my mom’s voice again. So now, I call home when I know everybody is gone, that way I can hear her voice on the answering machine. I close my eyes and pretend it is her talking to me. I usually cry when the machine beeps. Cancer really sucks!

Luckily my mom is a fighter and her strength has been an inspiration to everyone around her. I think I am done writing about her cancer today. Its wearing on me a bit. I will try to finish writing about it some other time.