Erica's Blog

The Try Something New Everyday experiment

Today I walked the Million Bulb Walk (and Cuddle Duds)

The Norfolk Botanical Gardens creates a beautiful light display in celebration of the holiday season called the Million Bulb Walk.  This is the first year I’ve visited the display.  Normally, you would enjoy the lights from the comfort of your car however for a short period of time they open it for visitors to walk through the one mile path.

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Gingerbread peeps and candy confections welcome you into the gardens.

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Flowers and rainbows begin the light tour.

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No light display could ever be without fireworks!

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Caterpillars, mushrooms, butterflies and daisies…

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Close up…

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A rose…

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A sunflower…

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This Christmas tree was just one of several that was synchronized to the Linus song and Trans Syberian Orchestra – Christmas Eve/Sarajevo.

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I love shooting stars! :)

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A cutiepie elf!

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A busy elf.

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Wow…what a walk!  I started in Norfolk but ended up in the North Pole!

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Beautiful trees!!

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More beautiful trees!

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Happy Holidays!! :)

After reading this, you may feel like you’ve seen the whole show.  No worries…there’s still a ton for you to see!

P.S.  I did not see one bulb burnt out…I looked…obsessively…believe me, you would have gotten a picture!!

Side Something New:
I knew tonight would be in the 30s and despite my plan to wear jeans and a sweater I also knew I’d be freezing my bootie off.  Earlier I found Cuddle Duds at Walmart and decided  tonight would be a great test of their worth.

Cuddle Duds are new fangled long johns.  No longer do you have to suffer the old timey, waffle fabric long johns.  Now they use microfiber as insulation.  The advantage is a less bulky, more effective method to hold your body heat.

I purchased both the top and the bottoms for $20.  As I opted for the black pair, with just them on, I look like cat woman!!! lol. Meow…I then put my jeans and sweater on.  Immediately I felt warmer and loved that I didn’t feel like the Michelin Man like you do when you have on so many layers.

Overall, they kept me toasty on a fridged walk.  Definately a great investment!!  As I’m losing weight (down 36 lbs!!) I tend to get cold easily.  I’m truly pondering an whole wardrobe of these to get through winter!!  Or Bradley Cooper…either one would probably keep me equally warm ;)

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Today I began a crocheted bedspread

In my family, we draw names for Christmas.  I reached into the hat, chanting “someone easy…someone easy”….and drew my grandad.  Bummer!!  Love him dearly…but what do you give a man who wants for nothing?

I’ve mulled it over for weeks.  I tossed ideas around like a basketball game warm up.  Everything I thought of, I ended up talking myself out of.

We just celebrated his birthday in October and I completely struck out.  He used to like John Wayne westerns and I thought an easy to use, portable DVD player would reignite his love for those movies.  And if it worked out, it would make future gift giving easier.  The family could give additional movies, headphones, etc.  So I found a super easy player…just one button to operate.   I even found a John Wayne movie with 2 movies!  I charged the player up and prepped it with the movie ready to go.  When he opened the gift, he could just press play and see John Wayne shooting his gun, taking the bad guys down, and riding off into the sunset with the little lady.  I knew giving this kind of gift was a gamble…but if it worked, it would be perfect for him!

Yeah…not so much.

He was as kind about it as he could be but inevitably he told me he didn’t want it.  Luckily, I had cooked him a double batch of jambalaya and baked a pie my grandmother used to make for him.  He was just as happy with those as anything he recieved and needless to say, the only part of those returned to me were the empty dishes.

So my gift to him has to be something special and something that serves a purpose.  If I don’t pick the right thing this time, I know it will end up like all the others…living in the same box it originally came in and collecting dust for an eternity.

I mulled all these factors over and decided on a handmade, crocheted bedspread.  My grandmother always made hand work so I know he’ll understand the love and time that goes into it.  Hopefully that alone will encourage him to keep and use the gift.  And winter is coming (think Game of Thrones)…so a cozy blanket will keep him warm on cold, blistery nights at the Wall where he’s ready to ward off beasts and creatures that threaten…oh wait…sorry, kinda got swept away…

Anyhoo, let me throw in a few disclaimers.  I’m first and foremost a tatter…then a knitter…then a cross stitcher…then a crocheter.  So crocheting isn’t my strong suit.  Second,  the largest crafting project I have completed is a scarf (knitted).  The longest (timewise) project I have completed is a tatted doily (30+ non consecutive hours).

So…of course I would decide to take on crocheting a twin size bedspread the month before Christmas.  Piece of fruitcake, right?!

Today I researched different stitch styles.  There’s a whole slew of crochet stitches…probably as many as there are elves in Santa’s workshop.

I settled on the granny square stitch (pun a happy accident) but found a video that converts the end product from square to rectangle, ideal for bedspreads.  Youtube rocks!!!

I acquired the yarn a few nights ago…I just happened to be in the craft store…I kinda go there some…ok, frequently….well, practically nightly.

I love this yarn! It’s truly simply soft…
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The video I found seemed easy to follow however the instructor assumed the viewer had experience in the granny stitch.   Luckily I did.

First step: Chain 58 stitches.  This took me 8 tries.

Try 1…I’m rusty at crocheting but remembered I liked a particular hook brand.  I have both Boye and Susan Bates but couldn’t remember which I preferred.  Of course, I started with the Boye and realized it’s not that one.

Now, reader beware…I’m about to get all craftastic-nerdy on ya.  The Boye hooks are great…I love them for thicker yarns as the hook shape allows for more room.  They also just look like a traditional crochet hook and probably my first so definitely a sentimental favorite.  The Susan Bates hook has a sharper, more narrow head which seems to grip the yarn better.  My chain stitches come out more even with the Susan Bates and in the end, the whole foundation of your project is the chain…so even is key.  I’ve tried the Addi hooks.  Love their looks but they seemed too bulky in my hands.  I guess I’m an old fashioned, steel hook girl.
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Once I found my preferred hook, I reworked the chain only to realize I didn’t count (Try 3).  I recrocheted the chain but had split the yarn (downside of using Susan Bates hooks) early on so had to take it out (Try 4).  I then reworked the chain only to not be happy with the tension (Try 5).  I redid the chain concentrating on the tension and the yarn, but forgot to count again (Try 6).

Ok…gonna focus on it all and make this work.
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Try 7 looked great.  *happy dance*  I figured I could move on to Step 2, begin row 2 which is the granny square stitch.  As I added the granny square sttiches, I realized my tension was too tight.  Ugh!! *not so happy dance*  I always knit and crochet tight.  So I took the whole row out, started again and finally recrocheted it to slight perfection.

Finally!!  The first row :)
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And second!
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I worked on the blanket all afternoon and evening…
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Geez…seeing as this is my largest crafting undertaking,  I envisioned it going faster than this.  You know, like I’d be done by now.

And I thought if this worked out well, I have a few other difficult to buy for peeps on my list that could use an Erica-made cozy blanket.  But at this rate, my grandad might have it by next Christmas!!  And the thought of doing others seems laughable now!!

I’m thinking with the holiday next week I can get pretty far on it.  I’ll keep ya up to date on the progress here. :)

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Today I battled a flat tire

I have a zillion million things to do today…that’s an exact figure. And I have been cranking out the work this morning.  Let’s just say, I almost had my 10k steps by 11am.

One task is to do the final mowing of the year.  I’ll admit…this task could have been done ages ago.  And I’ll further fess up…I’ve been procrastinating.  I usually don’t mind mowing.  I pop in some earbuds, cue up some music and bee bop along all the while belting out the tunes…luckily I have no close neighbors and the empty fields that surround my house have yet to complain about my singing.  Secretly, I think they like it…that’s my story anyways.  But since the whole bee sting incident…not once, but twice…that I still, to this day, have a scar from (physically and emotionally).  So, I’ve been a bit leary to mow.

I walked out to the barn and found that the mower had the audacity to have a flat tire.  I raised my fists in the air and said “A flat tire is NOT on my to do list!!”  Argggghhh!!  (I get piratish when life throws me lemons!)

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Ok…this should be no biggie right?!  Just put some air in and be good to go.  There’s a compressor right by the mower so this should be a cinch.  I turned the compressor on, it ran for maybe a minute and then it turned off.  Awesome…it’s up to pressure.  I tried to fill the tire but no go.

I’m a girl and know I have no brains for mechanical, hardware stuff.  It’s Erica Flaw #3,864.  So, what’s a chick like me to do?!  Call Daddio!! The compressor used to belong to him and well, he’s a super handy guy and he’s my superhero so he’ll definately know how to save the day.

He walked me through some problem shooting.  “Check this knob…check this hose…You said it ran?…How long?…What does the gauge say?… Check the breaker…”  I almost felt like I was talking to Geek Squad.  Then he declared “It must have died…”

Died?!!  Uh…NO!!  Unacceptable!!!

He asked if I had a portable air compressor.  There’s a garage overflowing with stuff so something like that should be hidden in there somewhere.  I called the Hubs.  He said we didn’t.

Well, shiver me timbers and blow me down (more lemons…more pirate talk).

So then I called my Uncle.   He has every tool known to man.  Literally, he has 4 garages/sheds which could stock a Snap On truck, a Home Depot, and a Lowes.  I asked him, does he have a portable air compressor?  No.

Out of 3 guys, I’m still stuck with a flat tire and an overgrown, ugly yard.

At this point I decide to take matters into my own hands.  And go to Walmart.

Let me explain how I look today.  I got out of bed, threw my hair up into a headband AND a monster clip, put on a shirt and an oversized sweatshirt, yoga pants…and flip flops.  I didn’t put contacts in so I’m wearing my throw back to a 1950s librarian glasses.  No makeup.  And probably the worse sin of my ensemble…chipped toe nail polish. And I’ve got dirt smudges all over as I have been hauling limbs to the burn pile…a premowing task.  No worries…I will not post a picture out of concern for your eyes.

I admittedly look like a hot mess.  But I’m so determined to get the yard mowed.  (1) It’s the next item on my to do list and we all know you can’t haphazardly jump around on a to do list. (2) I have failed to tell you cold rain is heading my way.

I calculated the calateral damage of being seen like this.  I figure the worst that could happen I would end up on People of Walmart.  And I would deserve it.

So I scurried into Walmart, headed straight for the automotive/hardware section.  I walked the aisles up and down, parying I would find what I needed so I didn’t have to ask and viola!  I found the portable tire pumps.

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Now, in my head I have invisioned a pump that plugs into an outlet…because that’s what I need.  However, in the real world, one would probably stuck on the side of the road, without an outlet and would need a car charger plug, which is what all of these are.  Ok…I’m flexible…maybe I could drive the truck close to the barn, use the charger outlet and pump the tire.  Then I read they only have 10 foot hoses.

Alrightie, someone’s gonna walk the plank and swim with the fishes… (yah, even I’m over the pirate talk).

Luckily, my Uncle called me just as I was pondering the red manual pump (bottom shelf).  He said he did a have a portable compressor that I could come get!!!

Woohoo!!  Finally things are looking up!!

I headed over to his house, picked up a small, not so portable, but will do the job, if it doesn’t cripple me carrying the heavy thing, air compressor.  He asked me if I had the right hose and adapter.  I guess my blank stare told him all he needed to know and he handed me a hose with the attachment.

I raced home as the clouds started to roll in.  I’m behind on my to do schedule but I believe I’m gonna make this happen.  I hooked everything up, pressed the button and the tire instantly came back to life!!

Insert happy dance here!!

I hopped on the mower and started conquering the grass monster.  I swear with every swipe, old man winter turned the temperature down a degree.  Half way through, I regretted my flip flop choice and even 2 shirts couldn’t keep me warm.  But I refused to get off the mower.

3 hours later the yard was mowed (and I was a popsicle)!!  Oh, it looks 12 million times better!!  And then an hour after, the rain moved in.  Woohoo!!

Erica 1…Mower 0…Lawn 0…
Rematch scheduled for Spring 2015

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Today I took an evening stroll on the beach by myself

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I love the beach at night.  And I’ve been needing this trip for years.  Tonight, I just hopped in my vehicle and ended up at the oceanfront.

There’s just something about the beach in the evening that pushes my reset button.  The crisp, salt filled breeze cleanses my soul…the rolling waves carry away my worries…walking as close to edge of the water without getting wet toesies… well that’s just plain fun!!

I saw this meme on Facebook earlier..

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The answer is yes :)

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Today I started a photo blog

Today I am starting the Clean Eating Challenge.  During the first week, we only eat raw fruit and veggies.  This should prove to be interesting.  I will be documenting everything I eat on separate page.  Yah, I’m skeered but this morning smoothie was pretty good so we will just see how the rest of the week goes.  Because I know I will encounter all new things with eating raw, I’m counting these posts as my something new for this week.

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Today I registered for a Clean Eating Challenge

I could make so many funnies right now like…

Not sure why I need a clean eating challenge,  my dishes and utensils go through the dishwasher regularly.

Or

I always use a napkin.  Rarely do I have food smeared on my face.  (Exception: eating wings.  Doesn’t everyone get sauce from ear to elbow?)

Lastly…

Do they mean clean as in boxing terms?  Clean fight?  I never hit my food below the belt…

Alright…that’s out of my system.

So yes, I signed up for a 3 month clean eating challenge.

One of my friends posted about the challenge on Facebook.  I followed the link and read all the features:
11-12 week program
Weekly educational classes online
Teams and cheerleaders to support you through the program
You earn points for food choices, exercise, sleep
Top earners win prizes at the end of challenge
Average member loses 8-10% of body weight…top losers lose 20%+
They stress this is a food only program.  No pills, no shakes, they aren’t trying to sell you anything.

Sounds like fun!  I’d do about anything for points, especially if I get a prize!  And, uh…top winners lose 20+% of their body weight…sign me up!!!

I clicked on the registration link and learned it would cost $125.  At first I was shocked.  $125!  Right before Christmas season?!  But I thought about it for a bit.  If the program lasts 12 weeks, that’s about $10/week or $1.50/day.  $1.50 is about the cost of a soda.  I’d be willing to chuck my soda budget to get healthy…I mean, I’ve gotta chuck sodas anyway.

And if all I have to do is make sure to wash my food before I eat it, this will be a cinch!!!
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Today I made Green Tomato Cake

I hear ya…Green Tomato CAKE?!  “Eeewww!”

That’s what I thought…until I tried it!

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My dear friend researched some recipes and stumbled upon this gem.  Within a few days of discovering it, she whipped that cake up and brought me a piece.  I took one melt in your mouth bite and fell in love!!  The tomatoes almost tasted like apples!

If you happened onto a game show and they gave you a taste but you had to guess the key ingredient to win $5 million and you had 10 guesses, you would still lose the moola.  Emeril could find himself on the game show and STILL lose!

Sorry…I have full faith in your and Emeril’s taste deciphering abilities but the green tomatoes in this recipe is that deceitful!

I decided to try out the recipe for myself.  I had plenty of green tomatoes as I’ve been collecting them from the farmer market for about 2 weeks now. (The darkest green tomato came from my vine this morning!)

To start, put on some tunes!  You can’t do anything without some music!  I usually cue up the music channel on the TV.  Today I picked Top Hits.

First, I chopped the tomatoes to “All about that Bass” and “Boom Clap” & “Sing“.  Yes, I sung along.  Yes, I danced along too.

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Then add a tablespoon of salt, mix around and let sit for 10 minutes or so.

While that is sitting, grab your softened butter (1 stick) and 2 cups sugar.  Now, I am infamous for forgetting to sit out my butter.  I have two cheats.  If you’re lucky enough to have a hot day, throw the still wrapped butter into a stainless steel bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set out in the sun.

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Today however, the clouds decided to dominant the sky.  So option 2: place still wrapped butter into microwave at 10% power for 2-3 minutes.

I creamed sugar and butter together.  I used my handy Kitchen Aide mixer to do all the hard work.  I sung along to “Scream and Shout“.

Next add the 2 eggs.  “Sleeping with a Friend” played as I cracked the shells.  Mix those well with the creamed sugar/butter.

I preheated the oven to “Don’t“.  350°F.  I also greased and floured a 13 x 9 pan.  Ed Sheeran is getting quite a bit of air play today!

Next up, mix dry ingredients: 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon of nutmeg, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of baking soda.  “Fallin” playing in the background.

Now this is the point I call the recipe out for being stupid and make some corrections.  What sense does it make to add the raisins and walnuts to the dry ingredients?  And then you’ll add the tomatoes in separately?!  No sense whatsoever!!  Adding the flour will already make the dough stiff and hard to stir.  Then you’ll at the chunky ingredients to make it even harder?!   And then add another chunky ingredient later? Nah Nah says this baker!  I added the flour to my mixture using the mixer and then hand mixed the 1/2 cup raisins, 1/2 cup walnuts and 4 cups of tomatoes in.  Yep, I worked my biceps.  Better I put in some elbow grease than the ingredients be obliterated in the mixer.  All of this was done to “Timber“, “Cool Kids” and “Rather Be“.

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The oven reached temperature.  The mixture has been appropriately mixed.  The pan has been greased and floured.  We are ready to finish this cake off and bake away.  I scooped the batter into the pan and threw that bad boy into the oven.

I cleaned the kitchen to “Best Day of My Life“, “Habits“, “Trojans“, “Reverse“, “Harlem” and “Rude“.  I always tear the kitchen up when I bake! After about an hour I returned to a baked goodness!!

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As you can see, I had to perform a taste test.

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Yumee!! :)  This time I sang and danced to my own tune “Mmmm…this cake is good”.

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Today I sat in a pod chair

(I’m an honest person so I have to tell you, I did this yesterday.  But I already wrote about a something new experience and this experience could not be cast aside.)

I hope I called the chair by the right name.

I shopped for some furniture today for the soon to be built craft building aka Tatty Shack (“tatty” references to tatting).  When I walked into one of the stores, I spotted the chair and had to try it out!  This chair reminds me of the scene in Sleepless in Seattle

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But the chair isn’t like a regular couch or chair where you look completely natural trying them out.  It’s odd.  I feel awkward trying it out.  Who knows why…I know I make no sense…I mean it’s a furniture store.  They want to sell you furniture  Obviously,  they want to sell this chair.  That’s why it’s here on the sales floor…with a price tag.

But still, I feel weird.  And I’m alone so it’s not like I can point to my fellow shopper and say “He/She double dog dared me to do it.  I HAD NO choice…”  Because, yeah I’ll throw you under the bus to still look like the sane one.

As such, I just walked by it the first time, acting like nothing was up.  I had to buy time to scope who was watching.

Good…no one.

I took another trip around and stopped by the chair.  I looked at it’s pristine, shiny white shell and peeked at the price tag.  I stood back and looked at it a bit more and then walked away.  Again, I needed to REALLY make sure no one was watching me.

Good…not a one.

Alright, this time I walked by and stood in front of the chair.  Hmm..it’s quite the low rider.  I turned around and lowered my bootie, just hoping for the best.

Nice, cushy landing.  Wow!  It’s actually very comfortable!

I leaned back to snuggle in and just look around.  The opening really does eliminate about 60% of your view.  And being in a 1/3 open egg really makes one feel cocooned…safe…in your own world.   And the sound…the chair cancels out quite a bit of sound.

Ooo…this is nice!!

About this time I decided to take a panoramic picture to show y’all.

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Took me a few tries (operator error and artistic indecision) but I got it!

As I finished up my photo, a guy walked by, peered in to the chair.

Guy: “Everyone has to try out the chair.”

Me: “Oh…this isn’t just a chair…it’s an experience!!”

Guy: “Absolutely…very true”

Ack!  I’ve been made!!!

Well, if my cover is blown I might as well make the most of it.

What did I do?  I twirled.  I twirled around in the chair…wee!!  Wow!  What fun!

I stopped and pondered what all I could do.  I could imagine curling up in the chair, reading a book or crafting or napping or day dreaming or praying for restoration from the lie I just told…the possibilities are endless!!

Time to get out.  I almost didn’t want to leave.  It already felt homey.

Anyhoo, H and G!

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Today I visited a Flip Flop Shop

I love flip flops as much as I love to breathe.  I love the comfort, casualness, and versatility of the simple foot wear.   If they could just figure out a winter flip flop, I’d be golden!

When I heard they have a store solely dedicated to flip flops, I had to visit and see for myself!

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I walked in and felt transformed.  Like I had just walked off the boardwalk into a cute beach shop.  Island music played above, a cool breeze followed me in, some coconut foot “chapstick” enveloped my nose.  The only thing missing is the sand between my tosies.

I began shopping the sale selection.  The first section I came to happened to be the sale section.  Flip flops AND a sale?!  Woah!  Wait!  When did we walk in to utopia?!

I have a very average size foot.  Like the most average!  And sure enough…I couldn’t find anything in my size.  Thats’ s ok.  I didn’t let it get me down.  I mean,  there is a WHOLE store of flip flops to explore!

I perused down the wall, studying each flip flop.  Some seemed average.  I’m sure they were higher quality than my usual Walmart fare but nothing really jumped out, grabbed me and dove onto my feet, which you know, happens to me a lot.

That is until I spied these:

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Have you EVER seen a more beautiful pair of flippie floppies?!  The paisley and swirls for actually sewn into the material (faux leather?).  Oh, they took my breath away.  Then, I glanced at the price tag and took a double take… $90+!!!  I choked!

I would have to admire them from afar.

Then a little ways away, a gleem caught my eye.

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Gray flip flops with a huge, glitzy stone. But $30+?!  Umm…I could grab a pair of my cheapies and bedazzle them myself..and still have enough left over for a beachside Mai Tai.

Earlier this year I bought my annual stock of flip flops at my neighborhood Wally-World (aka Walmart).  Four pairs…less than $30.

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I loved the Flip Flop Store…and I never knew my feet needed chapstick!!  But for my cheapness, it will have to be categorized under window shop only.

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Today is this blog’s 1 year anniversary!

Welp, it’s been a year!

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I could go into how much I’ve learned by doing this project.  How I have done things I never thought I would.  My personal growth…

But yada yada yada…

My blogs are always all about me.  All about my point of view.  My crazy antics.  Today, I want something different…there I go again!  Me me me!

Let’s make this you you you!

Thank you, you awesome peeps!   : )

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Thank you for reading my ramblings.  : )

Thank you for your comments!  Thank you for your likes!

Without your readership, this would be all for nothing.  You’re crucial to this project!

Look at you beautiful, awesome peeps!!  You’re awesome!!

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So again, thank you! : )

On to year number 2!

 

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