Friday, January 31, 2014

Five Minute Friday Link-up: My Hero

Five Minute Friday

I'm linking up again for this week's Five Minute Friday with Lisa-Jo Baker! I enjoyed writing and linking up on her blog so much last week that I went back this week to rejoin the writing fun! 

It's simple. She posts a topic. You write for 5 minutes. No extreme editing, no worrying about grammar, punctuation or spelling. Just write! You can go to the link above to check out Lisa-Jo's five-minute write and all the other writing for the post too!

This week's topic is HERO. 


She makes me smile when I am down.
She helps me laugh off the tough days
and celebrates the joyful ones.
She motivates me and calms my fears.
She is my partner in crime.
She never lets me down.
I can’t wait to see her every Friday night.

She pushes through even the toughest times in life:
When anxiety is standing at the door, she knocks it down.
She went to class, took exams, and got good grades when my dad was dying; she graduated college.

She lets things rolls off her shoulder.
She’ll kick someone’s ass for me if she had to.
She’s my twinsie, just born six years later.
I know I can get through anything because I have her.
She’ll answer my call, no matter the time.
She'd walk through two feet of snow for me in high heels
and laugh about it a week later.
But she'd do it and wouldn't complain one bit.

She’s my sister--my baby sister.
And I love her.

She is my hero.

 Love you, Rach!!!

Thanks for reading! 

Who is your hero?

Love and happiness <3 Holly

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What a Wednesday!

I seriously love my students. I teach English as a Second Language (ESL). My students are from different countries all over the world and are in different stages of learning English. Some hardly speak English at all and can communicate with small phrases, gestures, pictures, and translators. Some speak more intermediate levels of English and are in the process of learning more academic language, becoming better readers and writers. Others are advanced and will soon exit ESL; they are close to proficient in English. 

Every day my students say the cutest and funniest things because, let's face it, English is a crazy language. We say things that don't literally mean what we are saying. We use words in funny ways, and words can have so many different meanings. One of my students found this out the other week after looking up a word in the dictionary that had 15 different meanings. He hit himself in the forehead and yelled, "Oh my gosh!" It was too cute! To him, English can be very, in Japanese, "mendokusai," or in English very "frustrating" or "bothersome." And I totally get their frustration! Sometimes it takes all my energy to try to explain our crazy, "medokusai" language to them in pictures, gestures, and limited phrases.

I always say, though, that I need to write a book of the cute things that they say in class. I do get a kick out of their cuteness and confusion with the English language. Sometimes they look at me like, "Why the heck do you say that, Ms. Gilbert?"

For example, I usually drink tea at school, and today, I had this mug with me:

One of my girls ran up to me in ESL because she was so excited to tell me about something that she finished (we had been working very hard on it). She was so proud of herself. Once she got to my desk, she stopped, looked at me drinking out of my mug, and a look of shock came over her face. Here is the conversation that followed:

Student: Ms. Gilbert, why are you drinking out that cup?

Me: I'm drinking tea. This is for my tea.

Student: No, but you're not a dog!

Me: Oh, you mean what my cup says?

Student: Uh, yeah? (Look of dumbfoundedness on her face.)

Me: In English, when we say, "I'm a dog person, it means I like dogs the best. Out of all pets.
        I like dogs more than cats, or turtles, or hamsters, or any other pet. Just dogs. You          
        could be a cat person if you liked cats the best

Student: (Eyes wide.) Okay, Ms. Gilbert, but I still don't think you should drink out that cup!

I tried!!!! Sometimes I don't think they believe me and my English explanations!!!

Another funny thing happened when I was helping a student write a summary for a book she read called Stick Dog

A few of my students were all working at computers at the same time, so they could hear me working with this student. Here is the conversation that took place:

Me: Okay, let's start by talking about who the main characters are. Do you remember the
        names of all the dogs in the book?

Student 1: Oh yeah...Stick Dog, Karen, Stripes, Mutt, and Poo-Poo!

Student 2: Hahahahahahaha! Poo-poo!

Studnet 1: (Looks at Student 2.) Why is that so funny?

Student 2: You know Poo-poo? It sounds like poo-poo? (Eyebrows up. Looking at Student 1
                    like, why don't you get it?)

Me: (Hoping Student 1 figures it out, so I don't have to explain it to her.)

Student 1: (Turns to me.) Is poo-poo something bad?

Me: Well, let's just not go around saying poo-poo at school. Unless you're saying Poo-Poo, 
        the name of the dog in your book.

Student 1: Why? Why is it bad?

Student 2: (Staring at me now too.)

Me: It's a word people may say if they have to go to the bathroom.

Student 1: they have to go to the bathroom! (Thinks for a second.) Is that 
                   why people say they have to pee-pee too?

Me: Yeah.

Student 1: That's kind of weird.

Me: Yeah. It is.

Student 1: Oh my gosh...

Me: What's wrong?

Student 1: Eeww. The dog's name is Poo-Poo, like poo-poo!

Student 2: Ms. Gilbert, she got it.

And that is the story of my life....

Love and happiness <3 Holly

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tried it Tuesday

Last week I didn't have the greatest of weeks. I had a migraine from Thursday night through Sunday evening. So I didn't get to enjoy much of my weekend. I spent most of the weekend sleeping and sitting on the couch with a heating pad on my head. I had grandiose plans of working on my loft, hanging up some pictures in my living room, and reading. Well, I didn't get around to any of that! C'est la vie! The good side of all of this, though, is that that was the first headache I've had like that in a long time--maybe months. I went and got a massage yesterday and I do feel better. I actually slept through the night for the first time in a week!

I thought I would share a few new things I've found over the past week that I am really liking this week! This week is a real hodgepodge of different goodies that I've found. Hope you enjoy them as much as I have!


Does anybody else love Giada De Laurentiis as much as I do? I love her cooking shows and how accessible her recipes are to the "average" cook. My mother-in-law over the years has gotten me a few of her cookbooks as gifts and I love them. Bjorn and I also love watching Food Network Star where Giada, Alton Brown, and Bobby Flay are mentors to the contestants. I love the way the three of them banter back and forth. You can tell they all are such good friends. 

Well, anyways, I recently found out that Giada has written a new series of kids books! They are too cute! They are called Giada De Laurentiis's Recipe for Adventure. There are three books, and each takes place in a different city around the world (Naples, Paris, and Hong Kong). In each book, the main characters, sister Emilia and brother Alfie, get transported around the world by their for new food adventures. Each book also comes with two recipe cards based in the city featured in the book that are perfect to inspire a love for cooking and cultures in kids! Right now I'm reading the Naples Adventure, and I put the Hong Kong adventure on hold at the library too.

There is a fourth food adventure book coming out in June based in New Orleans.

                                                            Source                                                                 Source

                                    Source                                                                   Source


Bjorn and I have been really loving Bath and Body Works candles lately. We didn't own any until about six months ago (I know I don't know why either!), but we love burning them at might while we're sitting on the couch before we go to bed just relaxing. After Christmas during a sale, I bought two new scents, and they are great! One of them is almost gone! The first scent is Applewood Bonfire (almost gone) and the other is Bellini Cafe. Applewood Bonfire has this great outdoorsy smell of campfire on a cool night with just a hint of apple. I thought it would be too strong for me, but it is definitely not! Bellini Cafe smells very fresh and clean. It smells like you just opened a bottle of champagne. I really like it! 

They still have Bellini Cafe at Bath and Body Works, but I think Applewood Bonfire was more of a fall scent. I don't see it on their website anymore. They do, however, have a bunch of new scents out! My all time favorite scent London Calling is back!! It's a tea and lemon scent. It smells like a hot cup of earl gray tea! And American Boardwalk smells pretty good too! It smells like caramel corn :) I may pick that one up when they have their next sale because I have a coupon!



When I was in between sleeping on the couch with my migraine, I was looking at YouTube videos and found an amazing musician who I had never heard before. His name is James Vincent McMorrow. I can't stop listening to him! I am totally buying both his albums!

Cover, "Someone Like You"

Puppy Toy

My dog, Rufus, has OCD. Yes, he does. My dog is seriously my dog. I'm sure I have him for a reason :) He has always obsessively licked things: blankets, the couch, pillows, his brother, my arms, his paws, etc. It's even gotten to the point where he's licked his paws raw where they even bleed. 

This past year, I took him to the vet and asked them about it because it has gotten worse as he got older. My vet said that he most likely has OCD and it's just something that is specific to him, not his breed or anything like that. Some dogs just present obsessive activities like licking to the point where they just can't stop. She said we could put him on medication that may have side effects, or we could find ways to keep his brain occupied and tire it out so that he doesn't feel the need to lick as much. We both agreed medication may not be the best option.

One way to try to help calm his brain is physical activity. In the winter this isn't as easy because of the cold. It's also hard in the heat of the summer. Because Rufie has a flat snout, he can have trouble breathing in the really hot months and can get overheated easily. To try to offset this, I bought him some new toys. He loves chasing toys, so we've been trying to play more when Bjorn and I come home from school. He's so cute too! He carries his new toys to us sometimes and wants to play! He's not the most active dog, so getting him to play more is great! Here are his new toys:



My vet also suggested getting Rufie a toy that challenged his brain. I finally found one at Pet Co. that I thought he could play with, even with his flat snout. You hide training treats in it, and then Rufie has to figure out how to get them out like a puzzle. I do have to kind of put the puzzle pieces on a diagonal, so he can get to them. But it works! Here he is figuring it out for the first time! He really likes it!

I'm hoping this helps my Rufie calm his mind a little!


My sister, Rachael, loves blush. I have always been more of an eye shadow girl, so I told myself that I would venture outside my one typical blush that I always use, every day and try something new. So I did! Here is one new blush that I tried. I am glad I did! I really like it! I've actually used it almost every day, and even bought a different one, so I'm not a one-note-blush-wearer!

I love this blush! It looks a lot brighter than it goes on your face, but you do not need a lot. It is a very bright pink sweep of color on your cheeks, but I feel like it really brightens up my face on those really tired mornings. And it only costs $3! I bought mine at Target.

Wearing pink passion blush

Milani Eye Eyeliner

I love eye liner. I never used to wear eyeliner, but I'm loving it more and more! Recently I found Milani's Infinite Liquid Eyeliner at CVS for $6.99, and I really love it! I bought two colors: unlimited (06), which is a rich, chocolate brown and forever (04), which is a really rich gold color.  I love wearing the chocolate brown by itself or layering the brown on first and then the gold in a thin line above the brown. That's my new favorite combination. The only complaint I have with the gold eyeliner is that it that it can get clumpy when you pull it out on the wand applicator. I really have to watch and make sure that I get the clumps off before I apply it to my eyes. The one great thing about though is that it claims to last 24 hours. I have never had a problem with it wearing off! 

Milani Infinite Liquid Eyeliner in Unlimited


Bjorn and I love Pinot Noir. He bought a new one from Kroger last week for us to try. It is called Redtree Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir is one red wine that doesn't usually give me headaches, so when I drink red, I stick to it. Redtree is smooth and has a creamy finish. I definitely tasted some hints of cherries in it. It was $8.99 at Kroger.


Rachael and I found this fun game at Target called Story Cubes. The premise is that it's a story generator. A package comes with 9 cubes and each side of the cube has a different picture. It's supposed to spark kid's creativity and story-telling skills. You roll the cubes (however many you want), and then you decide how to combine the words into a story. I am going to try using it for my ESL kiddos to spark some creativity and vocabulary use in their story writing. We'll see how it goes! Rachael and I also thought it'd be fun to play too! At Target, one pack of story cubes is $9.99. There are different sets you can buy like "original," "voyages," "actions," and "enchanted." On the storycubes website, there are different suggestions for how to play too!

I hope you enjoyed reading about some new finds! Anything new you found that you've been enjoying?

Love and happiness <3 Holly

Monday, January 27, 2014


December to February is the month of celebrations for me and Bjorn. My sister in-law's birthday is close to Christmas, then there is Christmas, then my birthday on New Year's Eve, my mother-in-law's birthday is in January, and then Bjorn's is in the beginning of February. 
The one thing we are not short of over the holiday season is a celebration!

I have to say, I have had a great time celebrating over the holidays! It has been a blast! I've done a lot more than I usually do--going to musicals, concerts, having fun hanging out, and I have been just enjoying life! 

Here are some highlights of our celebrations over the past two months...there will be a few more to come once Bjorn has his birthday soon :)

Meredith, my sister-in-law's birthday:

I ended up giving Meredith her birthday present early because I was taking her to a concert, and it was happening before her birthday! We went to the Q102's Jeff and Jenn Christmas Show. It was so much fun!!! We saw A Great Big World (amazing), Christina Perri (amazing), and Colbie Caillat (amazing!).  We had so much fun!

Meredith and I waited outside in the freezing cold forever! The tickets said the doors opened at one time and the website said another! Well, we got there at the wrong time, so we ended up waiting outside for an hour! We couldn't feel ours toes, but got great places to stand inside!

Our view

My outfit

Here's a little of Colbie singing:

Here is a link to A Great Big World's Song "I Really Want It." They are one of my favorites! They are just so upbeat! Their CD just came out and I LOVE it!

Here's a link to Christina Perri's new song "Human." She is so amazing live! She is coming with Birdy to Bogart's in the Spring. Meredith and I can't wait to see her!

My Birthday: New Year's Eve

The day before my birthday, Bjorn, Rachael, and I always go to Jungle Jim's for some fun appetizer snacks and drinks to make on my birthday. I was a little anxious that day. To read more about that, you can click here. But overall, it was a super fun trip. Here are some highlights from our trip:

The day of my birthday, Rachael and I always go out shopping. Then we come back home and cook some yummy food and just hang around the house with Bjorn and the puppies.

Me and Rachael Shopping

Hanging out on my Birthday in Bed

Nom Noms!!

Crab Dip

Roasted Shrimp with Homemade Cocktail Sauce

Artichokes with butter sauce for dipping

Not pictured: lamb sliders with goat cheese

Pink Champagne Cupcakes from Cupcake Crazy

Cute new hair clip from Anthropologie that I picked up while shopping.

For one of my birthday presents, Bjorn's sisters got me tickets to see Walk Off the Earth at Bogarts. It was so much fun! We just went two weeks ago. Parachute opened for them. I hadn't listened to Parachute in a long time. I don't know what I was thinking! They were fabulous! Here is a song from Parachute and Walk of the Earth:

Parachute, "She is Love"

Walk off the Earth, Cover of "Royals"

Walk off the Earth, "Red Hands"

Walk off the Earth is super fun! They put on a crazy show, throwing instruments around the stage and dancing. They play covers and their own original music.

My Mother-in-Law's Birthday

My mother-in-law's birthday is in the middle of January. We went out to eat at BrewRiver  and then back to my sister-in-law's house for dessert. It was delicious! It was a triple celebration together for Bjorn's, mine, and my mother-in-law's birthdays! 

We had olives and pickles for an appetizer. Bjorn and I split fried green tomatoes with fried oysters, and then I had a "high-end" (as I like to call it) grilled cheese with their house-made pickles. It was fabulous! I have kind of been addicted to making grilled cheese and pickle sandwiches now! For dessert we had chocolate Texas sheet-cake (a really rich, fudge-like brownie cake with chocolate chips mixed in) and key lime pie. It was a yummy night!

Next up is Bjorn's birthday! I have a few things that I am debating between wanting to do for his birthday, so I'll let you know what I decide!!

It was a busy, but fun two months of celebrations! Whew!

How do you celebrate birthdays?

Love and happiness <3 Holly

Friday, January 24, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Visiting with My Dad

For this week's Five Minute Friday, I found someone who loves Five Minute Friday as much as me! I'm linking up with Lisa Jo and her Five Minute Friday Post topic: Visit. If you like to write and want something quick and fun to do, you should check out her blog! Every Friday she posts a Five Minute Friday topic, you write for five minutes, share your writing, and can read other writers' five minute musings too! It's really fun!

Five Minute Friday

Here's what I wrote on the prompt Visit:

I never knew how I should feel about visiting my dad at the cemetery. At first I would go and sit by his gravestone with the view of the pond, talk to him about my day, laugh about how much the geese loved to leave him presents on his stone, and just sit.

At first, it made me feel connected to him in some way—like when I went to the cemetery, I was visiting him. Sometimes, it made me sad to think of my dad like this—buried in the ground, in a place where I would never see his face again. It would bring me flashbacks of his funeral. The rain poured down like cold stones as we ran from the car to the tent at his grave-site. It rained on his wedding day.

But this is no longer my reality. Going to the cemetery is just a quick stop to say hello. It’s just a minute to walk around peacefully, looking at the beautiful trees and that pond with the silly geese. Maybe it’s bringing my dad flowers; maybe it’s just looking at the beautiful headstone.

I don’t go that often anymore. I feel connected to my dad every day. I feel him everywhere. I feel him in my laugh. I see him in my youngest sister’s smile and the squint of her eyes. I see his likeness in my middle sister’s eyes and the color of her skin. I feel him in the craziness of life when his voice whispers in my head that everything will be alright. I dream of his hugs. I feel him in my heart every day. I love having a place to visit if I want to, but I don’t need to anymore. I know that he is with me every second of every day. I like that. I’m better with that.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Meat and Me

If you have read some of my earlier posts, then you know that I have a weird relationship with meat. Yes, meat. Like the kind you cook for dinner. The kind that you buy raw (my issue) and cook until it reaches the required doneness (my other issue) so it doesn't make you sick (the issue that I obsess over). I think that makes my point.

Previously, I talked about my issues with chicken (here and here) and how I hated, and still do to some extent, touching and working with raw chicken. That one can really set my OCD off! The past few years, I have been a lot better with this one. Every once and a while I get an obsessive thought about coming down with salmonella or getting some crazy incurable chicken virus, but I quickly squash my OCD thoughts and move on.   

Sometimes I also have trouble eating steak. Yes, steak! I used to not be such a big meat eater. I ate mostly vegetarian or fish and ate meat a few days each week. I feel like Bjorn and I still do that now. I even don't eat a lot of red meat to this day, but every once in awhile, I just want a steak! I don't know if my body is just craving iron or something, but sometimes, it just sounds good!

My problem with steak goes back a long way with me. My parents always cooked steak until it was well-done; nothing against the way my parents cooked steak, but I always found it chewy and unappetizing. It wasn't until I was older (and I met Bjorn) that I tried steak cooked medium. Then my eyes were opened to how great steak could taste. Even though I love a great medium-cooked steak, my OCD tends to not let me enjoy my steak and spins out of control wondering what kind of deadly disease I can get from eating a steak cooked less than well-done.

After the first cut into my steak, I can't stop staring at it. And then my obsessive thoughts start. Is it cooked enough? What if it's not? What if I eat it, and it's not cooked enough? It could have mad cow's disease! It could have some crazy flesh eating bacteria that no scientist anywhere has ever discovered yet, and of course, I'm the first victim. I could die a slow, flesh-eating sickness death because no one has a cure for this undiscovered sickness. It just too risky. 

Me unsure about eating my steak. Lord, help me.

Of course, my rational mind knows this can't be true and that I'm going to the crazy reaches of my OCD brain, but I can't stop my OCD. OCD is just soooo convincing. After putting a piece of delcious (seriously), medium-well done steak in my mouth, my OCD screams, You're going to get sick! Spit it out! Don't eat it! You could die!

As you can tell, I am not thrilled here. My mind is racing.

But of course, I don't because in my head, I know I shouldn't. I should push passed my anxiety and eat the damn thing, but OCD sucks! It makes my anxiety shoot out the roof. I really convince myself that I'm going to end up in the hospital with mad cow disease or that whoknowswhatsit-unknownaphobia with no cure. 

Seriously, the meat eating and getting sick from it or dying from ingesting it is a HUGE OCD trigger for me. Illness and sickness have always been.

Fast forward to today: I have gotten much better at stopping the OCD thoughts once they come into my head. Since I don't have to calm myself down from some high anxiety level, I don't have to visualize anything or do physical activity. What usually works for me now is rational mind over OCD mind and sheer will-power. Since I've been working on it for so long, this works more now. 

Once the thought crosses my mind, You're going to die! First, I usually chuckle at my OCD, more for help in the attacking and winning the battle factor (it gives me confidence). Then, what I do next is probably the most important. I suck it up, have my rational brain yell, Shut up!!!! in my mind and then physically shove a piece of steak in my mouth, chew it, enjoy the taste of it, and swallow it. It's like a "so there" OCD! Shove it! 

After that, I continue to eat the steak that I ordered because I wanted to eat it, and I engage in conversation with my dinner company. It could be about my day, their day, boogers on the carpet, I don't care! I just have to keep something in my mind, so it's not filled with OCD thoughts! I have just realized that a full mind and willpower win over OCD a lot of the time for me.

I even ate some of this deliciousness that Bjorn ordered last weekend at Dilly Deli. Mmmmmm! It was fantastic! 

I asked for another bite....okay, maybe two other bites! But I kept talking and eating, and not one OCD thought popped in my head! That's the first time that ever happened! I couldn't believe it!

And that, in some sort of rather large nutshell is my history with meat. Thank you mind for staying strong in the face of OCD!

Love and happiness <3 Holly