The Love of Your Own Life

Ah, Valentine’s Day.

I do. I love me.

The day of love so many tend to loathe while others welcome the warm fuzzies with gigantic appetites that rival my admiration for wine.

The feel of Love Day for certain peeps.

As a kid, I carefully crafted a Valentine’s Day mailbox for school every year (you know, back when you could celebrate shit in school without the worry of the teeniest tiniest chance of offending someone). Students weren’t required to participate but I can’t remember when a kid didn’t. Everyone in class gave everyone a Valentine. If a kid didn’t have a Valentine’s Day box, my teacher always had an extra shoebox or two wrapped in red paper. No one was left out.

Will you be mine?

I was always lucky that I had a family who liked to celebrate everything, so no holiday was left out. Not even one that I often hear guys claim is “made up” for women to get gifts. (Well fellas, if you treated your gals “special” all the time, grand gesture days wouldn’t be needed, now would they? You could simply just get a well meaning card or write a note from the heart any day of the year but I digress). We’d wake up to little Valentines on our chairs at the kitchen table, maybe along with a box of chocolates. Always excited for the party to take place that day at school.

Fast forward to high school when the day of admiration became a sport of sorts.

If this high school Glamour Shot doesn’t make you want to be mine, I don’t know what fucking will.

The Honor Society sold carnations for a dollar and the members would drop the carnation off to your designated Valentine anonymously. Some peeps had armloads. Some had none. I just wanted a pink one.

Some girls got called to the office and paraded delivered – delivered in a vase and everything – flowers around school. It didn’t matter if it was from their dad, grandparents or boyfriend. I was one jealous bitch. Then, in an instant, that all changed.

Because I became that girl.

Oh hi. I got the flowers…and then some.

The Honor Society members delivered carnations during first period. I was in concert band every morning with my sweet silver Doc Severinsen trumpet at my side. Open flung the doors and our band instructor stopped our warm-up. A group of kids came in hauling carnations in large buckets for their soon-to-be owners. While I was hoping to get a flower or two, my eyes laid sight on the mother of all Valentine’s day hauls. A gigantic, white stuffed teddy bear with a red bow around its neck, holding a bag of Hershey’s Kisses. So enormous, you couldn’t see the person transporting it.

About as big as this dog I gifted Princess B a few years back.

I think I literally turned green with envy at whomever was going to be the recipient of this stuffed animal. I mean, I thought I would get a flower or two because my girlfriends and I always sent them back and forth. But this, this shit was different. This was the stuff that warm and fuzzy, cheesy as fuck Valentine’s memories were crafted.

Being in the brass of the band, I sat in the last row of the room. And I’ll be damned if that fucking bear didn’t inch its way closer and closer. I kept thinking…which girl had a boyfriend that sat near me. I couldn’t wait to see who was going to get the pristine bear.

As the hidden stuffed animal transporter walked behind me, I almost gave myself whiplash looking to my left. But to my unabashed chagrin, that motherfucker was lifted over my head and sat into my lap. Hershey’s fucking kisses and all. To this day, that is one of my best Valentine’s Days (which may seem a little sad since my day of love peaked in high school but I mean, it’s true).

And it didn’t come from a love interest. Or the non-existent boyfriend I had at the time. It came from a friend. From a best friend who (although didn’t take me to his senior prom and I will never, ever let him forget it) remains a bestie to this day.

Oh the bangs. On both of us.

The teddy bear came from Scooby.

We share a love of stuffed animals. Obvies.

Relationship game still on point today.

This gesture seemed like the grandest of all gestures in the universe at the time. All of these years later, it still does. My gay best friend gave me the best Valentine’s Day memory. Why? Because he didn’t have to do anything. But he loved me and wanted me to know. Isn’t that just a simple thing to do?

Grand gestures aren’t needed (but if any of you have a Louis Vuitton en route for delivery today, professing your love for me, I am not going to turn it down). A single flower is nice. A card will do. A simple text message. A smile, a hug, a thank you. Whether it’s love or like in today’s climate, bringing happiness to any and all of those around us isn’t really that hard. We just have to be kind to let one another know that we like – or even love – them.

If force dancing with your head taller than you female cousin at your uncle’s wedding isn’t a grand gesture of love, what is?

More importantly, regardless of whether we are madly in love with our kids…

I mean…

COME ON.

Regardless of whether we are madly in love with our romantic partner…

Thank you boyfriends of yesteryears.

Regardless of whether we are madly in love with our friends…

Regardless of whether we are madly in love with our careers, jobs, co-workers….

Regardless of whether we are madly in love with extended family…

Regardless of whether we are madly in love with our fur babies (which you all know I’m bat shit about)…

Regardless of what it is in your life that you love, be madly in love with your own authentic self first.

Yep. This about sums it up for me.

If you don’t love – let alone like – yourself as your own #1, no one will love the you who is meant to be loved.

Bitch, I’m a Queen. A Queen Bitch Supreme. And I know it.

Be your own damn Valentine.

Make some snacks.

Toast to yourself.

Appropriately colored libations required.

I’m taking myself out with First Mate tonight – same as we did last year – to not only toast to our love of one another but also to how bad ass we both are in our own right.

Now treat yourself to your version of a stuffed teddy bear this Valentine’s Day. You deserve it.

Be the love of your own damn life.

Love ya, mean it.

CBXB

CBXB!

 

 

 

 

Happy Mani-tines!

What’s a holiday (and yes, Valentine’s Day is a holiday) without a matching manicure?

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Ring my bell.

Hokey? Duh. Cute? Absolutely.

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Let your fingers spread the love.

After applying a base coat, apply two layers of pink and wait for it to dry completely (or you will not be feeling the love with smudged nails) before swiping one thick layer of red on the tips of your digits. Follow with your choice of top coat (I prefer Seche Vite Dry Fast top coat).

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Essie in Short Shorts and E! Live From the Red Carpet.

Now go get your nail love on!

CBXB

CBXB!

Weekend Winks – Road Trips and Bridges of Terror

Oh what fun it is to decide on a last-minute road trip for Valentine’s Day. While running around the office Friday, trying to tie up loose ends before heading out of Nashville, I forgot the garbage wasn’t my purse as I slung it up over my shoulder…forgetting it was trash but wearing it like it was Louis Vuitton.

Packed and ready.

Stylish new accessory.

Being that it was Valentine’s Day, I must share my two Iowa loves as they celebrated all things hearts.

Double to love.

Double to love.

While my niece typically doesn’t get to indulge in sweets, Valentine’s Day was an exception and her reaction to dessert went a little something like this…

Nothing but love for chocolate. True woman.

Nothing but love for chocolate. True woman.

As I had received news that family wasn’t doing well in Missouri, I embarked on a solo road trip with my fingers crossed I would be able to find my way in the dark, with ancient MapQuest directions (if you were wondering if anyone in the world uses MQ anymore, old school ladies like me do) as my GPS couldn’t connect when I was driving through large metropolises with whopping populations of 907 folks.

Takin' it back to 2003.

Taking it back to 2003.

I was cruising at high speeds of 45mph when I suddenly hit a bridge. A bridge where I was sure to die on if any other vehicle came from the opposing way. A bridge that I was fairly sure flesh-eating zombies lived under. A bridge that took more than four minutes to drive across with what was sure to be a 500 foot drop into the Mississippi River.

Bridge of terror.

Immediate sweaty armpits and white knuckles.

Arriving shortly after midnight in Joplin, MO, I was greeted by my immediate new friend Lucy.

Sweet Lucy.

Not too sure if she likes the Nashville visitor yet…but cute as hell!

I traveled to visit a family member who’s not feeling so hot these days (one who helped move me to Nashville years ago).

Memories

Then.

current

Now.

As I went to settle into my room, I almost pissed my pants seeing the photo display on the dresser, which reminded me of the game…

Which one of these is not like the other?

Which one of these is not like the other...

Clue. It’s the chick in the ultra fabulous suspenders.

For those of you who don’t remember, Joplin had a mile wide tornado rip through the heart of its city in May of 2011. I was curious as to what the path of the tornado looked like presently, so I was given a tour of the remnants.

Shrapnel

A tree stands with snarled metal.

still stuck

Still stuck after three years.

A lone tree in the tornado zone has been painted honoring the victims, the city heroes and the volunteers who came to Joplin after the devastating storm.

Spirit tree.

Spirit tree.

Memory wall by Conoco

A painted memory wall by a local Conoco station.

What struck me the most was a lone cross standing in a barren field, which is all that is left of what was once a Catholic church. During the tornado, the priest was alone, took cover in a bathtub and all that remained after the storm was the cross and the man of the cloth, who survived.

Lone cross and preacher

Rubble and remnants from the church.

While Joplin is most certainly back up on its feet, seeing the devastation caused by nature can certainly take your breath away. Which is why we needed a Starbucks pick-me-up after the tour of town.

Starbucksing it up.

This man loves black coffee like I love Captain Morgan (and Teddy).

After a few days of fun visiting, it was time for me to trek the eight hours back to Nashville. And I was feeling pretty foxy about being able to drive in the daylight until I saw this….

Uh...Houston

That f’ing bridge in the light of day. Way scarier.

The sun shone brightly on what seemed to be a 400 mile bridge that was about as wide as the doorway into my mini manse.

Roller coaster

This feeling equates to the slow course uphill of a roller coaster…

As I was holding my breath, crossing my fingers, toes and legs again hoping to not encounter any oncoming traffic I was so terrified that naturally I stopped to snap a photo.

No semis please

No semis please. PLEASE!

Upon defeating the bridge for the second time in three days (with the need for more deodorant), I turned my scorn toward the snow still on the ground.

SNow?

Snow? At least it’s sunny.

While being all dramatic on the road, I was quickly put in place by my sister who sent me a photo of their Iowa driveway last night.

Shut the fuck up, Southerner.

Shut the fuck up, Southerner.

Two little furry faces were awaiting my arrival home and I’ll let you guess which one is extremely tired of being a host…

Please. Find him a home.

Please. Find him a home.

While I’m not usually a hearts and flowers, mushy gushy kind of gal here I must say that to have your health, you have everything. With recent cancer diagnoses of a close college friend and a dear uncle in California to the illness invading my Joplin family, it’s never a bad reminder to be thankful for who you have and squeeze them tightly.

Teddy’s almost turning blue right now.

Cheers!

CBXB

CBXB!

Who Needs Hallmark?

Ah, Valentine’s Day.  So many ways to say you care.  All kinds of ways to rack up $42.00 buying cards.

Skip Hallmark this year and make your own keepsake for anyone that you love (or kinda like).

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Minnie Pearl + Reba + Dolly Crockett +  Elvis = LOVE.

Hosting a recent party, I needed decor but couldn’t spend a small fortune sprucing up my mini manse. I decided that favors masked as decor would be the perfect productions for the party and double as Valentine’s Day treats for my girlfriends.

What you’ll need:

Plain wooden frames you can find at any craft store.

Acrylic paint of your choice.

One piece of scrapbook paper per frame.

Modge Podge (a crafty gal’s BFF)

Small sponge brush

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Frames, Michael’s. $1.00 per each.

To begin, lay down a plastic covering (not paper – trust me on this) over your work space.

lay plastic or some sort of covering on the floor before you get started

Trace outline of the frames onto the decorative paper.

trace outline of frame with pen

Lay the frame down flat and tear along the edges (a ruler can be used in place of the frame when tearing).  The middle can be tricky and I typically cut slants with scisscors to get a section started.

tear on sides

Set paper aside and paint the frames (I use gloves so as not to mess up the mani! Jewels, not tools. OK?).  One thick coat of paint typically does the trick for me because I tend to choose bright colors.  I only paint the front and sides of the wood but you could do the back as well (I have no patience, as it takes longer).

paint paint paint

Once the paint is completely dry, put one thin coat of Modge Podge on the front of the frame.

once paint dry, put on thin coat of modge podge

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Carefully lay the paper onto the frame, starting from the center (this will help alleviate air bubbles) and press down firmly in small circles.

Carefully lay the paper on the frame, starting in the middle, to avoid air bubbles

Once the paper is in position, add another coat of Modge Podge (I use the one with a little glitter, of course) over the entire frame, sealing in all of your hard work.

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Have your frame expert carefully inspect your masterpiece.

Approved?

Set aside to dry or let your cat lay on it

Once frames are completely dry, insert a favorite photo.  Then let friends bask in the glory of their one-of-a-kind artwork (or maybe that’s you basking in your glory of frame making. Whatever).

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Party decor!

Who needs a Hallmark card when you can have a $3 frame labored in love?

CBXB

CBXB!