Wednesday, August 29, 2012


**Please know that today I am actually in a good mood, this post is just a reflection of my thoughts last night and I am not sitting here sad**

Something about me, generally I'm a bubbly person.  I strive to make those in my life feel special, happy, and keep them smiling.  As a friend I'm loyal, sometimes more than people deserve, I'm supportive, and I'm the person who would drive hours in the middle of the night if you needed me.  My sister calls me a Care Bear b/c I care about people, again, sometimes too much.  While I'm a good friend, I've also been blessed with great friends (whom I've discussed in a previous post) who I know have my back and love me unconditionally.

My stress level has been pretty maxed out these days and I often find myself literally getting lost in my own thoughts trying to organize everything in my mind so I can start the next day with a clean slate so to speak.   I'm not even sure if I can call it stress but I figure anything that disrupts my sleep must be stress :) I've thought about how I wish Doc Brown would lend me his DeLorean so I can go back in time and talk to 18 year old Sarah and tell her exactly what to do, avoid certain mistakes, etc etc.  And then I realize, there would be so many people that I would never know if I did that.  Three of my cherished best friends in my life right now, would not be there. I'm not willing to trade that. 

Last night a friend was talking to me about something and at the end of the conversation she said "I just want you to be happy."  Of course this touched me greatly because when anyone in your life tells you they want you to be happy, and they truly mean it, how can you NOT feel special and loved?!  Her simple words last night opened something up and I found myself bombarded with so many thoughts but one common denominator.

Confession, my name is Sarah and happiness terrifies me.  I can't say I'm unhappy with life b/c while there are things I'd like to be different, I have a great life.  However, last night it just came rushing onto to me like a tsunami, I'm terrified of happiness.  Of course being the Care Bear I am, this put me in tears b/c I was finally able to confess to myself, "you're your own worst enemy."   How can anyone fear happiness??? While I've had and have a great life, I've also had people who have tried to take me down.  People who have taken my good nature and big heart for granted and attempted to manipulate that to their advantage.  I carry scars from my younger years even though all of that has been forgiven.  Someone told me years ago that I was afraid to be happy b/c I've been "unhappy" for so long (again I'm not unhappy but hopefully you know what I mean). 

This journey to a healthier me that I'm on, or trying to be on is the perfect example of this fear.  I hold ALL of the power, all of the control and yet what is holding me back? Fear of the unknown, fear of being happy. I"m terrified that I will reach this goal and still be "ugly", I'm terrified that something will happen and I will fail, I'm terrified that I'll be resentful and question people's motives in befriending/dating me.  I'm scared of letting my friends and family down. Every now and again I've briefly thought about this fear but I'd discuss briefly and then change topic and for some reason last night, it flooded me, it became a very real and vibrant realization.  I hold myself back from being happy; I've become so used to NOT liking myself that I stop myself from reaching a point where I'd actually like myself. That's a mighty big and tough pill to swallow to truly realize that it's been you all along. 

In every major emotional event of my life I always found that one song that was therapy for me.  I LOVE music for this very reason, how it can get you through life's ups and downs.  But how do you find a song about a person holding themselves back that TRULY depicts how you feel?  Somehow I managed to do that and I kid you not, I listened to this song on repeat until I fell asleep last night.  This song really depicts the emotions I felt last night.  I used to interpret it as something else but right now, it just......says it all.  Right now when I hear the lyrics I picture the Sarah who wants happiness talking to the Sarah who holds her back. 

So now, admittance has been completed, now I need to figure out the next step and find the kryptonite that I can use on the part of me that holds myself back.  Kind of exciting don't ya think? I'd be lying if I said I wasn't still scared, fear is a very powerful thing.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Pamper your bling

I have a bunch of jewelry, more than I knew I had and the collection continues to grow (THANKS A LOT CHARMING CHARLIES).  My dilemma was storing it all because I keep adding new pieces. 
I set out one day to find materials to make something myself but wasn't 100% on what I'd do.  I remember reading various ideas online but again, I needed to find something that was ME. 

So I ventured out and found these two items at Bed, Bath, and Beyond
$39.99 Towel Bar (I didn't buy the circular ones)  Bed, Bath, & Beyond

$6.99 Silverware drawer organizer  Bed, Bath, & Beyond
 The bottom of the silverware organizer is meshed with various holes and I thought, this would be PERFECT for my earrings.

Here is the outcome, sorry for the lighting in the pictures but my bedroom is in a weird "lighting" area :)
Towel bar and shower hooks I found at a local store  (Eiffel Tower is a jewelry holder my sister bought for me because I have a huge love for Paris, it HAD to stay)

Silverware organizer hung backwards against wall, PERFECT for some earrings and the top I use for some bracelets and rings

Another necklace shot

As my collections expands I'll need more space but for now, this is perfect because I can add the extra shower rings to the bar. When I make my next DIY jewelry holder I'm going to try the corkboard/fabric idea I've seen buzzing around online...just need more wall space!

Have a great Monday!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Tapping my creative side

In the past few years I've been playing around with making photo slideshows.  I made my first one about 4-5 years ago when one of my roommates graduated law school and was moving out.  It was a tribute video to the years that the three of us lived together made with photos capturing the various memories we had made.  It brought her to tears, which is always a fun thing to do :)

After making this I found that I wanted to make more but I didn't have any reason for it.  No significant events occurring so I put it on the back burner and my creative candle started to flicker out a little bit. 

In 2010, my dad showed me a couple songs by a musician he had been talking to and he (my dad) really wanted to use these pieces for the upcoming annual DoD (Dept. of Defense) Navy and Marine conference for all firefighters.  This conference is held once a year and firemen from all over gather for a week of, conference stuff hahaha My dad asked me to make 2 slideshows, one to be shown at the finale dinner for the Navy and Marine group and one to be shown at the finale dinner for all the groups.  

These two videos were so much fun to make because I hold a special place in my heart for the firefighting men and women because my dad is a firefighter and this profession is a significant part of my childhood.  And also, I absolutely LOVED the music and the lyrics.  My father said that people at the conference absolutely loved what I had done and I received two standing ovations (YAY ME!). 
Here they are:    "This One's for the Firefighters"  shown to all groups        "The Storm"    shown to Navy and Marine Corps.

A couple months ago I was approached again to make a video for a couple who were both celebrating their 60th birthday.  Ironically I will be a bridesmaid in their youngest son's wedding so of course I was beyond honored making this for them.  I mean their lives and love for each other brought my best friend her prince charming so yeah, I had some emotional investment in this one :)

Now I recognize that my work is quite amateur, which I don't mind b/c I feel it gives it a personal flair but I am currently researching programs that I can use to expand myself and become more "professional."    My sister mentioned out how I should outreach to local businesses who do this kind of work and see if maybe occasionally I can free lance for them or somethign along those lines.  I have to admit, if THIS were my job, I would LOVE it!!! I'm just not sure where I should look exactly.  Hmm, something to think about!!
Currently I am making a piece that I hold VERY close to my heart!  My best friend asked me to make one for the rehearsal dinner prior to her wedding this November.  I have to admit that just gathering the photographs for this one tugged at the old heart strings (I AM SUCH A SAP!).  I am beyond thrilled to make this one and I admit I feel like this has to be my master piece, but what I love about creating these is that you can't go wrong and it gives my mind time to just...breathe :)   Is it possible that I could turn this into something more than a hobby?  I wonder!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Mmm Mmm Meatballs

This recipe is absolutely amazing!!! Some may be scared that lamb is used but if you've never tried lamb and are too nervous, I suggest using ground chicken or turkey.  Ground beef can be used as well, but the other ground meats are more tender than ground beef BUT if you've never had ground lamb I suggest trying it.  Don't fear the unknown, embrace it!


Makes : about 36 meatballs
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes

    1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, minced (about 2 TBS)    (I used dry, worked just fine)
    1 TBS paprika
    2 tsp ground cumin
    1 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp ground black pepper
    2 lbs. ground lamb
    1 tsp coconut oil
    2 medium onions diced (about 2 cups)
    2 garlic cloves crushed (about 2 tsp)
    2 tsp paprika
    2 tsp ground cumin
    1 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp ground black pepper
    2 medium tomatoes diced (about 2 cups)
    1 1/2 cups water
    2/3 cup tomato paste
   1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, minced (about 2 TBS)

In a large mixing bowl, combine the parsley, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper with a fork.  With your hands, crumble the lamb into the bowl and knead until all of the ingredients are incorporated.
Moisten hands with water and shake to remove excess.  Measure a level TBS of lamb and roll into a ball between your palms.  Line up the meatballs on a baking sheet until it's time to put them in the sauce.
Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet or pot. Add the onion and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the chopped tomatoes to the pain and stir about 1 minute.  Add the water, tomato paste, and parsley, mixing to dissolve the tomato paste.
Bring the sauce to a boil, then gently place the meatballs in the skillet, cover, and reduce heat to simmer.  Cook 40 minutes covered, then remove the lid and cook an additional 20 minutes, until the sauce has thickened.  Sprinkle each serving with a few teaspoons of chopped pistachios

**This recipe was found in the cookbook titled Well Fed, which can be found at**

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Insurance 101

I have no idea if anyone will read this but my god I hope so because that will mean that I may have helped someone out there.

Saturday I had a dental procedure done which was step one of a pretty lengthy process.  Of course they verified my benefits and what my liability would be.  After paying them over $700 in less than a month I finally had time to do some research and VOILA they are robbing me! They are crediting on the fact that I will not research and find that they are not only over charging me but collecting money that IS NOT due to them!  This is where I am thankful for those years as a call center representative at an insurance company and those years spent planning curriculum training call center reps the ins and outs of policies. 

So if ANYONE reads this who hasn't taken the time to find if their medical or dental provider (aka doctor) is robbing them, I hope this helps you!

Top 5 MUST DO's
1) ALWAYS read your Explanation of Benefits.  You know those annoying pieces of paper that pile up in the mail when you have a few doctor's visits, READ THEM! Even if you already do, keep practicing this because you never know where money has been collected that wasn't due. 

2) Understand how your policy works.  Not just what a deductible is and if you pay 10% or 20%, understand ALL OF IT.  If your doctor is in network, also make sure he/she is a contracting provider with your insurance carrier.  Majority of the time if they're in network, they're contracting, but just to be safe, double check this!  If your doctor is contracting with your insurance carrier that means that they agree to the CARRIER'S fee schedule.  So for example, if a doctor charges $100 for a service and the insurance company states their fee is $75.00, the doctor has to write off the $25 difference.  Case closed.  If they're contracting there's no arguing this. 

3) Do your research!!   If a provider advises you have to get a procedure done and they go over your "liability" with you before scheduling the procedure, RESEARCH!  Ask them for procedure and diagnosis codes so that you can call your insurance company and verify for yourself what will and will not be covered.   DENTAL coverage isn't influenced by diagnosis codes as much as medical procedures, remember this!   Especially with dental procedures, please get into the practice of researching!  This is how I found out what was going on with my dentist.  I assure you, it's worth the effort!  Allow me to share my situation :)
I was told that the extraction I had done would cost me $1075.60 and of course they wanted the payment up front.  Well I don't have that kind of money to throw around so they graciously (note sarcasm) broke it into 3 payments of $333.56.  Well b/c I was so nervous they gave me nitrous oxide to relax me which increased the balance a bit plus I elected to have the oral cancer screening b/c screening is always a good thing.  Anyways, I knew something wasn't right in terms of my liability and I really thought "MAN I have HORRIBLE dental insurance"  so I did some research today.  Turns out, my insurance actually DOES pay them for all of the services I had done AND my actual liability is only about $350 so THEY owe ME money back now.  REMEMBER THIS!  If a provider is willing to discuss your liability with you before you have the procedure and they want payment right away, RESEARCH!  I'm not saying all of them practice this way, but just be safe and protect yourself!

4) Please be kind to the call center reps (HAHA)  I say this b/c I was once one of them and trust me, they're not crazy about their job and they are simply just the messenger.  The people who answer your call don't process your claims and generally have pretty much no power to do much besides pass your complaint onto a supervisor, so please be kind to your reps :)  They're just making a paycheck to pay the bills.  Some of them are quite rude I know but kill em with kindness and be the better person

5) Never be afraid to let the provider know you'd like to verify your benefits. Don't ever let anyone bully you into trusting them.  As the patient you have the right to know what you're paying for and if what you're being billed is legit.  I've come across some staff members who didn't like that I asked for codes b/c I wanted to research myself but if they're practicing honestly, it shouldn't be an issue. 

I don't know if anyone will read this or find it useful but I'm putting it out there b/c A) I needed to vent and B) maybe someone out there WILL read this and it will help them.  Or they'll pass it on, who knows :)

That's all for now!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Let's do this

In an effort to keep myself going on this journey, I've decided to pull a Bridget Jones and log my intake and output everyday.  As well as the daily thoughts that may be consuming this fabulous mind of mine. 

Today isn't a good day, in fact this week isn't a good week.  I had a molar extracted Saturday so for the past 3 days I've been on a mushy food diet: applesauce, mashed potatoes, frozen yogurt, and that's about it. I doubt I've gained any weight since my caloric intake has dropped but we shall see tomorrow morning. 
Also, I have to admit I have a nasty habit which has gone since the extraction of said molar and that's smoking.  Smoke free since Saturday and due to my paranoia of dry socket, I've remained this way.  Of course I have a horrible headache which I assume is caffeine and nicotine withdrawal so today, even though I didn't feel very good at all, I took a walk during my lunch "break."  Managed 30 minutes before getting dizzy (side effect from medication) but 30 minutes is 30 minutes.

I will be happy when this healing process is over and I feel back to be self again!!!

Ever have the feeling that for the first time in your life, things are about to go your way?  Yeah that's kind of how I've been feeling, not sure why but I'm going to go with it!

Friday, August 10, 2012

I'll Stand By You

A quick glimpse into my childhood, I'm a former Air Force brat.  My life consisted of moving every 2 years, which to those who have never experienced this sound scary but this is the only life I know.  I've always adapted very quickly and well to new environments and I've always made friends easily.

Now, I'm 36, Air Force days behind me and I have to say that through the years of all of my moves, I've managed to be blessed in gaining a group of women who have impacted my life in some way and have been a support system every woman should have in their life. 

Today I woke up thinking about my friends and just how lucky I am to have such an amazing support system.  What I love most about my friendships with these ladies is that no matter how much time passes between conversations, we ALWAYS pick up right where we left off as though no time has gone by.  I also know that if I ever needed any of them, without question or hesitation they would be there for me and vice versa.    While I have a number of friends, these ladies I happily categorize as my very best friends.  If any of you should ever read this, I love you all mucho!!! XXOO!

(In alphabetical order b/c I have no favorites)

Amy - former boss/coworker
I met Amy at work and instantly we became great friends. One night Amy had an allergic reaction to brand of beer and she literally died in the passenger seat as I was rushing her to the hospital.  She stopped breathing and when they pulled her out of the car she was purple and I have never been so terrified in my life.  The doctor said if I would've hit just one red light, she may not have made it.  Since that night, we've been closer than ever.  It's not until a moment like that when you realize how important people are in your life. She doesn't give herself enough credit but she's one of the strongest people I know. 
Amy hates having her picture taken so this is the best I can do :)

Chrissy - my cousin
As kids, I would spend time with Chrissy when we would visit Wisconsin for the holidays, which wasn't often.  As adults, I've developed a relationship with her that wouldn't trade for anything.  Now that we're older and wiser (for the most part), she's become someone I can turn to when I'm having a bad day or just need a good pep talk.  I'm so thankful we've rekindled the childhood friendship we had and she's just an amazing human being!

Chrissy and I as kids, sadly we don't have any current pics of us together

My beautiful cousin today

Debbie - coworker
I don't even know where to start when it comes to Debbie :)  This woman is truly one of the most amazing people I have ever met!  I've witnessed her go through gut wrenching pain and watched her rise from the ashes beyond victorious.  She inspires me in so many ways that as I sit here trying to type my thoughts out, I'm at a loss for words.
When my family moved to the DC area, I had the choice to follow or stay in California.  I stayed and Debbie invited me to live with her.  For over a year we lived in a one bedroom apartment which couldn't been much more than 600 square feet.  Our beds were side by side separated by a nightstand, we were literally Janet and Chrissy from Three's Company.  Living in such close quarters can wear on people and there was a time where we both thought our friendship wouldn't survive it.  We moved into a new 980 sq. ft. apartment, had our own rooms, it was a great day!!! 
Once again, living AND working with someone can take a toll and again we questioned if our friendship would survive.  Over 12 years later, we're still the best of friends and we love how we managed to overcome so much and still have our friendship in tact. 
To live through what we lived through and hold onto a friendship is very rare and I'm blessed to know that no matter what I can call Debbie anytime and she'll be there.
Debbie is also a huge inspiration when it comes to my physical journey.  When we met she was a size 26, I'm not sure of weight but she says it was "A LOT!"  Today Debbie is a size 6 or 8 and just looks amazing.  Knowing that she knows first hand how hard it can be really inspires me.

Gorgeous Girl

 Jessie - coworker
When I met this lady it was an instant connection.  Jessie is the friend whom I can be super SUPER silly with and call crying my eyes out if some evil male hurt me.  We can both laugh for hours for the craziest things and we both provide each other with the emotional support that sometimes a girl needs. 
Jessie has given me so many pep talks when I doubt myself and has always been that one person I know could make me laugh when I have a bad day.  I love how when we spend time together we're a couple of kids and I can be my goofy self around her.  Not that I can't with other friends but she doesn't look at me like I'm crazy when I act goofy b/c she's right there with me :D 

My beautiful Jessie :)

Jessie is my daily reminder that life is too short to be upset or mad or sad, instead we should break out into song or dance randomly and laugh at the silly stuff often.  I cannot imagine my life without this girl for she has been my saving grace more than I can remember.

Liz - my baby sister
Oh sweet Lizzie, what can I say about this girl :)  I've known her since the day she was born and cannot imagine life without her. 

Me feeding Liz, yeah my parents picked those glasses out

My sister and I are two very different people but we have a very strong tight bond.  She's a very smart and witty woman and I'm just so proud to be her sister!  Her laugh is infectious and her loyalty to those she loves is out of this world.  I know a lot of people say their sibling is their best friend, but my sister truly is one of my very best friends.  I don't think there's a day that goes by when I don't hear her say "I love my sissy!" and how can that not melt your heart :) 
We are often mistaken for twins when out in public but we just do not see it.  In fact, besides similar noses we don't see the strong resemblance everyone else sees. She's also 5'9" and I'm 5'6" :)
This lady has such a huge heart for people and does what she can to help anyone who needs it.  She has helped me get through some hard times.  As sisters of course we occasionally bicker and disagree, but at the end of the day we'd take a bullet for each other. 
My beautiful baby sister

Sarah - aka my ninja

It's ironic that alphabetically Sarah would come last because I know she would say it's because they save the best for last :) 

I actually was friends with Sarah's mom (at work) before I met Sarah.  I remember her mom telling me how I'd get along with her daughter, little did I know the friendship that would blossom from that.

I hold a special place in my heart for this lady because I have watched her grow and change in so many ways that I feel like she's my little sister.  From the beginning we clicked and have shared some great laughs and good times.  We have been each other's therapist during the tough times in life and have watched each other journey from one life adventure to the next.  I know that I will always be able to count on her to give me that kick in the butt when I need it, that smack across the face when I'm acting crazy, and that encouragement when I feel I've failed.  She is my non-sugar coater and someone I can always rely on to tell me like it is, but in a supportive way :)    

Clubbing with my favorite couple
This fall I will get to see her marry her best friend and Prince Charming and I know I will be a crying fool on that day!
She's an amazing person, funny, smart, driven, and just an all around cool chick!   I'm very thankful that I have her in my corner and I'm so proud of the woman she has become over the years.
My gorgeous Ninja