2011 January | Somewhere in Middle America

I totally had a Folgers moment the other day.

J’s alarm goes off about an hour and a half before I roll out of bed. Sometimes I hear it, sometimes not. If I do, I usually fall back to sleep immediately, not stirring again until the sound of the shower and humming of the bathroom fan rudely wakes me up.

But earlier this week, I slept through his alarm and had no idea he was no longer lying next to me in bed until I got a whiff of pumpkin. Yes, pumpkin. J had sneaked quietly back into the bedroom carrying his mug of coffee, a pumpkin-flavored blend, and the warm, spicy fragrance crept into my nose, gently waking me up. *I stretched my arms over my head and gave my husband a sleepy smile, wishing him a good morning.

Waking up to the smell of coffee felt just like a Folgers commercial. I quickly peered over my shoulder to make sure that I wasn’t being filmed through the window. It’s too bad I wasn’t. It would’ve made a helluva advertisement.

* Ok, maybe that last part didn’t actually happen. More likely, I scowled at J for waking me up before my own alarm beeped and then rolled over, pulling the duvet over my head in an attempt to ignore the morning.

(image by Cindy Loughridge via Mary Ruffle)

I wouldn’t normally visit a botanical garden in the winter. Truthfully, I wouldn’t normally visit a botanical garden, period. I think they’re kind of boring.

But on Sunday, Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha’s botanical center, hosted a Tu B’Shevat event that was free to the community. Normally I wouldn’t attend a Tu B’Shevat event either, but J was asked by our synagogue to sing a couple of songs during the musical portion of the afternoon.

So there we were, celebrating the Jewish New Year for trees while Omaha was buried under at least six inches of fresh snow. I had about two hours to kill while J was rehearsing to wander through the spring flower show, an indoor garden featuring plants and flowers that blossom during the four seasons. Fifteen minutes later, after taking about thirty photos, I was done.

Do you enjoy wandering through botanical gardens or do you find them yawn-worthy like I do?

When we were finally able to leave, we drove to our friends’ house to visit them and their baby for an hour or so. We brought with us the chocolate frosted Funfetti cake we made the night before, when the snow prevented J and I from going out for dinner or dessert. Mmm… There’s something about Funfetti that rights any wrongs of the day, don’t you think?

I’ve been so obsessed with researching restaurants that I haven’t given any thought to what my family should do in New Orleans when we aren’t eating!

(Wait, you are supposed to go sight seeing while traveling and not just eat?)

The New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau is overwhelming, to say the least, and design*sponge’s 2008 New Orleans City Guide features more boutiques than tourist attractions.

I’ve been told that Bourbon Street, The French Quarter, Jackson Square, The Garden District and Magazine Street are the areas of the city to visit, and, like every big city, New Orleans has a plethora of museums to check out.  According to the CVB, New Orleans has museums celebrating art, military history, architecture, sports, Voodoo and Mardi Gras. A Voodoo museum? Maybe not. I have to say, though, I’m kind of intrigued by the Pharmacy Museum. Have you been?

So, friends, I’m looking to you to help me build my perfect itinerary. We’ll be there for about four days. What should be on our New Orleans “must see” list?

(photo via Flickr by Wilfried Vogel)

What do you love about traveling? A novice foodie, I love experiencing the local cuisine of whatever city I’m visiting. Which is why my taste buds have already begun salivating in anticipation of my first trip to New Orleans in just a few short weeks.

A couple of months ago, my father suggested that the entire fam plan a weekend getaway someplace warm during the winter. Some how my mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law, husband and I all agreed upon New Orleans. Granted it won’t be bathing suit weather, but it will be warmer than Omaha!

But who needs beaches and bikinis when you have po’ boys, jambalaya and gumbo? Of course we’ll have to try beignets at Cafe Du Monde, but I’m actually more interested in checking out the local hot spots rather than the typical tourist traps like Emeril’s restaurants.

Since the Food Network always seem to be on in my house, I’ve been paying attention to any time somebody mentions New Orleans cuisine, especially on “The Best Thing I’ve Ever Ate,” and jotting down the names of the restaurants suggested. Here’s what’s on my list so far:

K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen for Blackened Louisiana Drum

Cochon Butcher for Boudin Sausage

Domilise’s for Shrimp Po Boy

Now I need your help. Have you eaten in NOLA? Leave your restaurant recommendations in the comment section below!

(photo by FNP via Flickr)

Raise your hand if you hate doing chores.

I do!

Unfortunately, housework is an inevitable part of being a homeowner — and a grown-up.

I’m over at Elizabeth Anne Designs Living today discussing my resistance towards becoming the next June Cleaver and debating whether a cleaning checklist will help me master my recurring responsibilities.

PS – If you missed my post last month, click here to read why I think husbands and wives need wish lists in order to ensure happy gift-giving.

(image via Flickr)

What a whirlwind week in the world of astrology.

On Wednesday I was an Aries, the zodiac sign assigned to me when I was born on March 22 thirty (almost thirty-one!) years ago. On a good day I was generous and courageous. On a bad day could be moody and impatient.

On Thursday I was told I was actually a Pisces. I could live with that, I thought. Maybe I’ve always been more like a fish (well, two fish) than a ram. As a writer, my strengths are my creativity and imagination, which are also strengths of Pisces. I’m sensitive (sometimes to a fault) and frustratingly indecisive. I’m guided by my emotions; I have the tendency to be lazy unless I’m doing something about which I feel passionate.

How did this happen? Astronomers explained that the Earth has slowly been changing its position in relationship to the sun since the study of astrology began 3,000 years ago, which has caused a one-month bump in the alignment of the stars — and has added a 13th zodiac sign, Ophiuchus.

These are the new dates:

Capricorn Jan. 20-Feb. 16
Aquarius Feb. 16-March 11
Pisces March 11-April 18
Aries April 18-May 13
Taurus May 13-June 21
Gemini June 21-July 20
Cancer July 20-Aug. 10
Leo Aug. 10-Sept. 16
Virgo Sept. 16-Oct. 30
Libra Oct. 30-Nov. 23
Scorpio Nov. 23-Nov. 29
Ophiuchus Nov. 29-Dec. 17
Sagittarius Dec. 17-Jan. 20

But now, on Friday, I hear that I’m actually still an Aries. Wait, what?

Susan Miller, founder of Astrologyzone.com, took to her Twitter account stating:

What a frenzy! You are the sign you think you are, the sign you knew since you were little! Nothing has changed!

On Good Morning America, Miller said that the stars can only be read the way the ancient Babylonians did. She explained the astrological community “made a consensus that when we go by the old formulas and the old algorithms, they work.”

So, we all freaked out about sudden personality shifts for no reason? Maybe I’ll hedge my bets by reading both the Aries and the Pisces horoscopes from now on.

Did your horoscope supposedly change? Which do you think is more true to your personality – your old or “new” zodiac sign?

(Zodiac signs by Parada Creations)

Before the holidays, when the crisp fall weather hinted it was time to turn to winter, I began a desperate search for a new pair of warm pajamas. I was frustrated because I wasn’t able to find anything at Target or Kohls appropriate for somebody under the age of 65, and I didn’t bother looking at Victoria’s Secret because I assumed their sleepwear would be just as trashy as their lingerie.

Then, out of the blue, Soma Intimates contacted me about their new “Personality PJs,” a collection of sleepwear with prints that match up with personalities including: GLAM, FUN, CHIC, WILD, CLASSIC and ROMANTIC. I hadn’t thought about checking out Soma Intimates because, well, we don’t have one here in Omaha, so I took their “Personality Quiz” online, and they sent me a free pair of “FUN” pajamas in the Doggie Bone print.

Thanks to the 8 inches of snow we received on Monday, I finally had the chance to spend a guilt-free day lounging in my “Personality PJs.” When I first unwrapped them I was afraid I might actually get too warm wearing them; they looked really heavy. But the modal/cotton blend was actually very comfortable, lightweight yet still cozy. I loved that they had a bit of spandex in them to help keep their shape. I was also impressed that even the brass buttons had a design on them and that they came with an extra button just in case.

I’m always anxious about ordering pants online without trying them on first because my hips have a bit of curve to them and my inseam is a tad longer than a “regular” but not long enough for a “tall.” I was pleasantly surprised that the pants fit almost perfectly. They skimmed my hips and didn’t cling anywhere. My only complaint is that I wish they were a couple of inches longer because I prefer when my lounge pants graze the floor, and I had to hike them down a smidge so that they’d be long enough.

Although there are none in Omaha, there are 130+ Soma boutiques nationwide. Or you can visit Soma.com, and I highly suggest you do because their “Personality PJs” are now on sale. Sold as separates, you can now score certain styles for just $27 a pair. Although you can no longer take the “Personality Quiz” online, I have faith that you can determine for yourself which pattern best matches your personality. And if you wind up with the Doggie Bone pattern, let me know. We can be pajama twins.

For information on sponsored posts, please email me at pj at somewhereinmiddleamerica dot com.

fashionably ombré

too lazy to get my roots done

My problem is really laziness coupled with indecision. I’m debating whether to go back to my natural brown hue. I’ve been blond for almost two years now, and while I have to agree that blonds have more fun, brunette suddenly seems more sophisticated. Plus, I think I’m ready for a change.

Then again, in the February issue of Lucky, hair and makeup artist Sunnie Brook Jones is featured with some hot ombré locks. 

Should I stay blond, go back to brown or rock the poor man’s ombré for a while longer?

(Rachel Bilson image via Studded Hearts, Sunnie Brook Jones image via Shannen Norman)

Bored because there’s nothing to watch on TV on Mondays, J and I decided to have an impromptu game night. We pulled out Rummikub, which we play once or twice a year – usually when we’re spending time with my in-laws. The last time we played was while we were visiting J’s mom in Cleveland over Christmas. I won three out of 4 rounds that night. (We don’t keep score according to the rules. When we play, if you clear your rack first, you win and the round is over.)

Sometimes, if I see that I can make a big move – or win the game! – on my next move, I start giggling uncontrollably. It’s just nervous, excited energy, but I’m sure it’s really obnoxious. It happened in Cleveland and again last night and really annoyed J. He got his revenge, though, by beating me in the two rounds we played, but I was only left with one or two tiles each time.

Before we started we made ourselves sundaes with strawberry ice cream, caramel syrup and homemade whipped cream. So tasty!

I had to let Briscoe off his leash in the backyard this morning so that he could play in the snow. (Yes, I take him potty on a leash in our fenced-in backyard because he still hasn’t mastered the “Come!” command and is easily distracted by all of the squirrels and bunnies. I am also convinced he will escape through the slots of the fence or underneath.)  He wore his navy sweater to keep warm and to remain visible.