Friday, March 25, 2011

Non-Jury Duty

This week I have become obsessed with the Brad Cooper murder trial that is going on in Raleigh.  (just Google Brad Cooper trial if you want to see all the news articles)  

I remember when this happened back in 2008 because I was working in Cary right near where everything happened.  This lady went missing.  Her husband said she had left the house to go jogging.  All these posters went up everywhere to try to help find her.  A few days later a guy walking his dog found her body in an empty new construction area not too far from their home.  

The media started reporting that the couple was going through a divorce.  They said there were affairs involved and he was controlling.  There was a custody battle for the kids between the father and the dead wife’s family.  The family won.  Then he was arrested for murder.  At that time I totally thought he did it from what was reported in the papers.  I was so mad and thinking why do all these men have to kill their wives?!  Why don’t they just divorce them and move on??

Well the trial started last week and all the reports I read things just didn’t add up in my head.  I thought there was no way he could have done this (even though the media was still spinning it like he did).  So I started listening to the trial live for the past few days.  

There has been no hard evidence against this guy!  I am starting to feel really bad for him.  He lost his job, his family, his life basically and been in jail for almost 3 years based on gossip!  These housewives and all of the dead wife’s family have been saying they just know he did it.  It is all based on their feelings and gossip about the guy.  The police have presented NOTHING as hard evidence that he did it.

I can’t even go into it all because I could go on for hours.  Nothing adds up.  All the testimony so far has made Nancy look kind of bad- shopaholic (complaining about $300/wk allowance, running up $40,000 in debt, and supposedly spending $3000 shopping in just one day), drinker, gossiper, cheater, etc. your textbook case of "desperate housewife” and I’m not talking about the kind on the TV show.  (which is sad because she is dead and not able to defend herself)  Brad doesn’t look so good either.  He cheated too, but he looks way better than her at this point.  

But that isn’t even the point to all this.  The issue is did he kill her? And there is no evidence that he did.  And the defense hasn’t even presented their side yet.  Plus there are so many little weird details that should have been looked in to and answered not pertaining to him as the suspect.

I mean he could have done it.  He has the motive.  I probably would have wanted to kill her (based on what has been said in court so far) had I been in his shoes and he does look a little creepy, but that is all just MY OPINION and that is the only thing that has been presented against him so far- people “feeling” it in their gut that he did it and all of Nancy’s bad talk about him to her friends.  I sure hope he doesn’t get convicted based on that.  

It all makes me wish I was on the jury (I know I couldn't have been because I already knew about the case, but still).  At the same time glad I’m not on the jury because I would be DYING to talk about how stupid and crazy this trial is!  And they aren’t even supposed to have an opinion about it all at this point!  I’ve never been on jury duty or even been to court.  Maybe I should have gone into law.

Do you guys have any crazy court stories or opinions on the case?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Weekend Wrap-up and Sunday Snippets

Hope you all had a fabulous weekend!  Don't the weekends go by way too fast?

Friday I went to a great new restaurant/bar in Raleigh called Chow. It was great! I meant to take a picture of the food to show you guys, but I didn’t remember until the end.

I had the Piedmont Burger which was a burger with melted pimento cheese and a fried green tomato (YUM!) and sweet potato fries (YUM!) and a Mother Earth Weeping Willow Whit beer (from Kinston, NC). It was sooo good!  In fact the best part about Chow was all the local brew choices. My friend got the Hummingbird (from Whitsett, NC) and it was delicious too!

We ate at the bar and watched the Carolina game.  The bartenders were freaking hot!  I will call them Hottie and Youngin.  Hottie had an amazing body and his t-shirt and jeans skimmed every inch of his body just right.  And he had a deep voice with a southern accent which I am a sucker for.  But my favorite was Youngin.  He had these big beautiful blue eyes, great hair and an easy-going demeanor.  He kind of looked like Zac Effron.

Saturday I went for a walk/run with my friend and our dogs. Cam overdid it. It was hot out and I think he got overheated and his pads got messed up too. He was about to die. He threw up in the car on the way home and was limping around like an old man all weekend. I took him to the vet today and she trimmed a broken flap off his pad. He also has gained 8 lbs. over the last month!! So he is on a diet now as well.

Sunday I went to church. Here are my notes from the sermon (listen to the whole thing here):

Basically the main message was that if you really understand the Gospel and who Jesus is you cannot have a lukewarm reaction. You will either love him or hate him. He walked us through some of the reasons why people hated Jesus back in the day:

  1. Jesus included people of other ethnicities. (this one he related to our church and said the vision is for our church was to be multi-cultural but if you look around our church we are still really “white”. Yes, he went there. And he explained that in order for us to be multi-cultural we will not always do things exactly the way you think we should. We will try new music, new things, new styles. And he pretty much told us we need to stop being such “tightie whities.” Calling out racism in church…that was pretty bold I thought.)
  2. Jesus kingdom includes people with dark pasts and present struggles.
  3. Jesus’ movement was not a political movement. He said we are not political people, we are Gospel preaching people.
  4. Jesus would not immediately right all wrongs or end all suffering. I loved this quote on that subject: “Are we searching for Him for HIM or for what He can do for us?”
  5. Jesus focused on heart change, not external obedience.

We are getting ready to launch a new campus at church and I am going to volunteer for the First Impressions team for that campus. Luckily a friend from my Bible study group is going to rotate Sundays with me because committing to every Sunday is just too much right now. We are doing practice runs the next few Sundays and I got to meet some good people (including the super down-to-earth new pastor’s wife) so I am feeling good about this.

Also…drum roll please….no cigarettes in almost 2 weeks! Some days were really hard. I was irritable, anxious, depressed and it was all I could think about for a while, but the last 3 days haven’t been that bad. Only 5 weeks left to go in Lent. But I am thinking now it might not be as hard to just give them up for good.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

March Madness and Green Beer

I live in basketball country.  College basketball is like a religion around here because we have two of the best teams in the country right in our backyard.  Duke and Carolina.  I am the most indecisive person ever so I like them both.  Which everyone tells me that is crazy and not allowed.  Duke fans hate Carolina fans and Carolina fans hate Duke.  With a passion. It gets pretty nasty. When they play each other it is like a national holiday around here and that is all you will see on your Facebook feed all day. 

I am bad luck for a team though.  Every time I wear my Duke shirt, Carolina wins and when I wear my Carolina shirt Duke wins.  

We take March Madness seriously around here.  I remember in grade school them showing the games on TV during class.  I always seem to get in some bracket pool.  I have two brackets going this year, but I don’t feel awesome about my picks.  I have Ohio winning it all in one and Duke winning it all in the other.  (I bet just because I did this Carolina will end up winning it all or something!)

Do you do brackets?  Who do you have winning it all?

Today at work we had a March Madness/St. Patty’s day event where we had all the basketball games on these big projectors, FREE BEER, raffles/giveaways, and snacks like popcorn, big soft pretzels, and chips/queso.  Did I mention I love my job?!

I’m going out to an Irish pub tonight.  I will not be drinking Guinness though (not a fan).  My old roommate is from Savannah and we have been down there a couple times for St. Patty’s day.  If you haven’t been, you need to go to experience it at least once.  How are you celebrating St. Patty’s day this year?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sunday Snippets

Here are my notes from church today:

There sermon today was on Luke 4:1-13 which is on the temptation of Christ.  Basically Jesus goes out in to the dessert because God led him there and then he is tempted by the devil for 40 days all while he is not eating anything.  First the devil tells him to turn a stone into a loaf of bread to prove he is the Son of God.  Jesus says "no, the scriptures say people do not live by bread alone".  Then the devil shows him all the kingdoms of the world and says he will give Jesus authority over all of them if he will worship him.  Jesus says "The scriptures say you must worship the Lord your God and serve only him."  Then the devil takes him up on top of a mountain and pretty much dares him to jump off saying that scriptures said God's angels would protect him and not let him get hurt."  Jesus refused saying "The scriptures also say "You must not test the Lord your God."

That is faith.  When temptation is strong, believing God's word and knowing you will get through it.  But you know what the best news of all is?  Even if you fail a million times, God will not love you any less.  There is nothing you can do that will make God love you any more or any less than He does right now.

I loved how JD related these to three temptations we face in today's world:
1. Prioritizing the gifts of God above God Himself
2. To go around God to get the will of God
3. To interpret God through your circumstances rather than God's word

You may have also noticed I have a countdown to Easter on my sidebar with the days remaining in Lent noted.  I gave up smoking for Lent.  I can't even talk about it.  I'm embarrassed that I even do it in the first place.  I am afraid I am going to fail.  I am sad, because as bad as it sounds, those 4-5 cigarettes I had between getting home from work and bedtime were my friends, my comfort.  I miss it.  I'm cranky and moody and sad and scared.  All over stupid cigarettes.  And it was only a few a day.  You would think it wouldn't be so bad.  But I haven't had a puff since Tuesday.

I don't know how this is going to turn out.  I don't know if I will last until Easter.  And then once I get to Easter, I don't know if I will never pick up a cigarette again or what.  But today I was filled with comfort knowing that no matter what happens it won't make God love me any more or any less than He already does.

Oh, and please a note to non-smokers:  Please don't be so judgmental of smokers.  Smokers know what they are doing is bad for them.  Most of them have internal struggles with it that you can not imagine.  We already feel bad enough about ourselves so please don't make it worse.  In fact, I think that can be said for most people in general, even the cocky ones.  Most of us are our own harshest critics and the last thing we need is someone else to tear us down.  What most of us desperately need is someone to build us up.  Maybe today you could say the kind or encouraging word that could make all the difference to someone in your life.

In the end it's not about behavior modification, it's about heart change.

And please bear with may be a few moody, bumpy, cynical weeks for me.

Friday, March 11, 2011

New Favorite Restaurant in the Triangle

Last month my team at work got to go to a fancy team dinner at my favorite restaurant in Raleigh- 18 Seaboard.  There are a ton of restaurants in the Triangle that I still have on my list to try, but they are all the types of places you need to save up for.  18 Seaboard has topped my list for the past few years though.

That night I got this:

Cracklin’ pork shank with blue cheese grits, spinach, and apple-onion compote

It was good, but not my favorite thing I've had there.  I also had a mojito which was delicious!  The atmosphere there is nice and I  found out in the summertime they have outdoor dining that I might have to try!

But last night we went to a place in downtown Durham for my boss' boss' birthday- 604 West Morgan.  First of all this place is not easy to find.  It is in an old warehouse district and the signs are hard to see and then parking is impossible to find and then you are confused about where to go in because it is the same building as some fancy loft apartments, but you can't enter through there and have to walk around to the back of the building.

But once you get in, it is really pretty.  It would make a great romantic date night spot.  And the food...OMG.  Everything I had except for the bread was so good!  The bread was just blah.  We had the crab cake and the tomato & mozzarella appetizers which were both good but I did not get a picture of. 

For my main course I had this:

Lobster cognac sauce- scallops, crabmeat, shrimp, mussels, cream, black squid ink pasta
It sounded weird and might not have been my first choice, but I had seen it mentioned in some good reviews of the restaurant and after I tasted the crabcake, I knew they could do seafood well.  It was sooo good!  Almost everyone got something different and all their plates were practically licked clean so I take that as a good sign that everything else is pretty good too.

But my favorite part of the meal was this:

Apple Cake with Vanilla Bean Gelato
I splurged and got dessert and I'm so glad I did because this was freaking heavenly!  I ate every last bit of it.

It's not cheap- my bill was $61 including the 2 glasses of wine, main entree, dessert, and tip.  But I definitely want to come back here again soon!  I think it has outed 18 Seaboard as my new favorite.

Some of my other favorites around here are:
The Flying Buiscut
The Peddler
Twisted Fork

Places that get a lot of hype that I wasn't impressed with:
Angus Barn
Poole's Diner
Humble Pie

Places on my ever growing "have to try list":
Magnolia Grill
Four Square
Bloomsbury Bistro
Watts Grocery
The Federal
The Peidmont
Elmos Diner
Bella Monica

Any other suggestions?

What is your favorite restaurant and why?  Is it the food, the atmosphere, the drinks, the service?

In other news I have been in bad form this week.  I have been moody, gossiping, putting my foot in my mouth left and right, lazy, down, thinking if only I were super skinny and super rich I would be happy (seriously what do skinny rich people have to complain about?)  I know this sounds so hypocritical from my Sunday Snippets post, but I am merely human and struggle with a lot of the same things we all do so, don't judge mmmkay?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sunday Snippets

My notes from church today might be a little hard to read.  They changed the bulletin from a booklet style to a one-pager.  It's great for the environment but it was at the sacrifice of the handy notes section on the back.  So I just tried to squeeze in my notes on the front:

We are starting a whole series on Luke which our pastor describes as the "Gospel for skeptics".  Today we focused on people who wonder how there can be a good God who loves them because of all the hurt and disappointment they have experienced in their life.

We went through the story of Zechariah and Mary getting the news that they were going to have children in Luke 1.

Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth were old and had not been able to have children which was huge back then because that meant they had no one to take care of them in their old age and just not being able to have children in general is really sad for those who want to.  An angel comes to Zechariah and tells him his wife is going to have a child but he had doubts in what the angel said because they are so old.  Since he did not believe what the angel said he was made mute from that moment until after Elizabeth had the baby.

In the middle of Zechariah's story is the story of the angel coming to tell Mary she is going to have a baby and he is going to be "Son of the Most High".  Mary had her reasons to doubt too.  She was not married and she was a virgin.  But she responded with wonder and amazement instead of scorn and doubt to what the angel told her.

Do you trust God's promises?  Do you really believe that He will work all things for good in your life?  Do you believe He can do anything?

The main takeaways I had from the sermon were:

1. God does not punish you for your sins.  Jesus paid the price for your sins on the cross.  So if he were to punish you for your sins that would be unjust and God is not unjust.  He will however discipline you like a coach would.  If you ever played on a sports team, you know that if a coach is pushing you to be better it is a good thing.

2.  Sometimes God may withhold things in your life that keep you from finding your joy in HIM.  We try to find our joy in all kinds of things- romance, children or having the perfect family, our jobs, our physical appearance...but you will never find your true joy in those things.  If you keep trying to chase your joy by pursuing those things at the expense of everything else, God may hold them back from you so you will realize where you need to look for your true joy.

3. People normally have 4 different reactions to disappointment in their lives.  In my case I will relate this to my disappointments with romantic love:
- Blame the thing itself: Love doesn't really's all a lie.  I hate hurts too much.
- Blame yourself:  I suck at relationships.  Something is wrong with one will ever love me.
- Blame the world: There just aren't any good guys out there.
- Realize you were meant for more and who you are in God's eyes- God loves me more than any man ever will.

I'll do another one that I bet a lot of other women can relate to- being skinny enough:
- Blame the thing itself: If I was just skinny enough I'd be happy.  I hate my weight.  I want to throw the scale out the window.
- Blame yourself:  If I could just eat only 5 grapes and run 10 miles/day...why can't I make myself skinny?  What is wrong with me that I can't get skinny enough?
- Blame the world: All those stupid beauty magazines and skinny models and actresses have made me this way.  Why is the world so obsessed with being skinny??
- Realize you were meant for more and who you are in God's eyes- God gave me this body and I should be more concerned about what is on the inside than what is on the outside.

(trust me I realize how superficial these struggles and disappointments are, but they are two of the biggest issues I find myself complaining about consistently.)

It doesn't mean God doesn't want me to pursue those things at all, but they will not fill that void in my life.  Only my relationship with Him can do that.  And I need to trust that God is working ALL things for GOOD in my life.  He wants good things for me.

And I need to keep in mind that this life is not all there is.  When I die, no one will remember whether I was wearing a size 2 or 12 or if I had never had a movie love moment or that picket fence and 2.5 perfect children.  And at that point it won't even matter and it will seem silly that I even wasted time worrying so much about obtaining them at all costs.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Beauty Secrets Revealed

One of my aspirations for the new year was to wear make-up more.  I used to only wear make-up for special occasions but now I am starting to feel like I need a little something every day.  Here is what is usually in my beauty arsenal (and yes I include the deodorant because I love Degree never rubs off on my clothes like other ones used to):

Here are the other basics:

Foundation is either Clinique City Base or Benefit's Some Kind-A Gorgeous. Both are a cream to powder finish and very light.  I used to use BareMinerals and still use the Mineral Veil occasionally, but all those powders were just too messy.  The cream to powder ones I've tried are ok, but I don't LOVE them.  I'm still on the hunt for the PERFECT foundation.

Next I dust Benefit's Hoola bronzing powder just under my cheekbones and along either side of my nose and a touch on my forehead and chin.

Then I rub a little bit of Benefit's That Gal on my cheeks.  (Apparently you are supposed to use it under your foundation, but I like to apply it after).  It brightens your cheeks and kind of gives you a natural glow.  I LOVE this stuff!

Then I use NARS blush in Orgasm which is a peachy pink color.  It's the best blush/color I've tried.
Then I line my eyes in Cover Girl's Liquiline Blast Eyeliner in Black Fire

The next two products I use have been discontinued so I am open to your suggestions for what to replace them with when they run out.  For my eye shadow I use this gray color cream shadow from Clinique that comes in a small tube and I just apply it with my finger.  Then I use a touch of this shimmery white powder called Show Offs from Benefit in the corner of each eye.  I've had this stuff for years and I am going to be so sad when it runs out completely.  I know you are supposed to throw away make-up after a certain time, but I just can't toss this stuff because I have found nothing else like it.  It only takes a tiny dab in each corner to really brighten and open your eyes!  I also use a little under each eyebrow sometimes as a highlighter.

Then I curl my eyelashes and use either Benefit's Bad Gal Lash or Cover Girl's LashBlast mascara.  (Although next time I think I am going to try Dior's DiorShow mascara because I have heard great things about it.

I have other products that I rotate in sometimes- different eye shadows, some concealer if I feel I need it, and different lip glosses if I feel like wearing more than just my Carmex  lip balm that day.  But those products are my everyday basics.

As you can tell I love Benefit cosmetics.  Most of the time I buy the limited edition value sets they have at Sephora.  They are a great deal and you get to discover new products you wouldn't have thought about trying and end up loving.  This is the last one I got:
Benefit Beauty in a Box

For moisturizer I love Sephora's Body Butters but they have either repackaged them or discontinued the kind I like because I can't seem to find them anymore.

For my face I use Neutrogena's Deep Clean Cream Cleanser.  If I could bring myself to spend more I would use Bliss Fabulous Foaming Facewash.  And I either use Clinique or Oil of Olay moisturizer.

For my nails I use Nail Tek Intense Therapy, OPI polish, and Out the Door topcoat.

For my hair I switch shampoo and conditioner brand every time I replace them.  For some reason I think this prevents build up and keeps my hair healthy?  But I do seem to keep going back to Healthy Sexy Hair Soy Milk shampoo and conditioner.

I LOVE my Chi straightener (it's lasted for YEARS and works wonders)  and for a finishing touch I use a dab of Got2Be Smooth operator.

Guys will never understand how much time and money we spend on beautifying and my routine is even pretty basic compared to others I think.  I don't keep my nails painted everyday and my daily routine from shower to finish is only about 30 minutes (and most of that is spent drying my hair!)

So what are your beauty secrets and favorite products?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Late Late Night

I couldn't sleep last night and ended up catching some of the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon show and it was actually really good!

This cracked me up:

They also announced his very own Ben & Jerry's flavor: Late Night snack. It's vanilla ice cream with chocolate covered potato chip bits and a caramel swirl. Sounds weird but I kind of want to try it.

What late night show do you watch?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wishful Wednesday

Went to a Hurricanes game last night.  If you didn't know, my dog is named after my favorite Hurricanes player- Cam Ward (such a cutie!).  I love the Canes and I want a black jersey...badly.

These are Seven for All Mankind Dojo jeans.  My uber stylish friend Kristin has a pair and I have been coveting them for years.  I just can't bring myself to pay that much for a pair of jeans...but someday...

Remember this beauty of a daybed from Ballard Designs that I wanted for my spare bedroom/office/home gym?  Well I found an almost identical one at Ikea:
Do you think I could paint it to look like the Ballard Design one?  It's like 75% less than the Ballard Designs one!

I want this book.  Has anyone read it?  What did you think?  Do you do anything suggested in the book?

We played this game at Bible study last week and I LOVED it!  So fun!  My favorite morning radio show- Bob and the Showgram also plays this game every week.  I want it!

 A co-worker at my old job told me about this bar in downtown Raleigh and said they had the best Mojito she had ever had (probably my most favorite drink ever!).  Today I got this email from yummy do these drinks sound?

Come join us for some special anniversary drinks today. We have a keg of Sexual Chocolate from Foothills, First Frost from Fullsteam, and sparkling cider on tap from McRitchie. We will also have a strawberry infused gimlet on special to remind us that spring is on the way. And there is some Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve Bourbon we just got in.

I've been wanting to try this bar for a while.  Would it be too Charlie Sheen of me to go by myself and try out their menu?

Finally...if I ever get super rich I want one of these houses!  My family has been going to Atlantic Beach every year for over 25 years.  This community called Sea Dreams is right down the road from our timeshare and I have been adoring them since I was a kid.  I'm ready for summer!  Anyone else?

On a side note:  I never loved Charlie Sheen, but for the past 2 days I have been on a drug and it's name is Charlie Sheen.  He is freaking hilarious.  I know he's crazy and a past(?) addict, but he just might be a genius because I bet he has doubled his fan base over the last few days.  Someone please give him a reality show.  Duh....winning!  Yes, yes you are my least in the "get my name out there" way, but I'm willing to bet it is at the sacrifice of your health and family life.  But keep it up because you're entertaining the heck out of me!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Being a Zeta for life.

Posting that picture of the old sorority house really did make me miss those days.  Living there was crazy at times and at times the time of our lives.  So many memories.  It got me to thinking how much Zeta shaped me.

So I took a look back at our creed to see how being a Zeta shaped me:

To realize that within our grasp, in Zeta Tau Alpha, lies the opportunity to learn those things which will ever enrich and ennoble our lives; and it's true! I learned so much about relationships and forming lifelong bonds with friends. I learned some hard lessons too. I definitely think I learned many things that enriched and ennobled my life.

to be true to ourselves, to those within and without our circle; This one is easier said than done.  Girls can be catty, hold grudges, and be moody.  It's hard to stay true to you when you get wrapped up in drama but this is such an important lesson to learn in life!

to think in terms of all mankind and our service in the world; True dat!  I started volunteering in the sorority and carried that through year after year since then.  Hello Mission Trip #1!

to be steadfast, strong, and clean of heart and mind, remembering that since the thought is father to the deed, only that which we would have manifested in our experience should be entertained in thought; This is a great little tidbit of wisdom.  I try to monitor my thoughts now before they take me down a very bad path.

to find satisfaction in being, rather than seeming, thus strengthening in us the higher qualities of the spirit; to be real. to be authentic.  so me.  I love it!

to prepare for service and learn the nobility of serving, thereby earning the right to be served; again I started volunteering in college and found a way to do so every year since!

to seek understanding that we might gain true wisdom; which is why I am always asking why and trying to find answers to hard questions.

to look for the good in everyone; I've really been practicing this one lately.  Some people you encounter rub you the completely wrong way and it is hard to see past that, but once you do, you might discover something you really like!

to see beauty, with its enriching influence; pretty things, breathtaking things, artful things will always make me happy!

to be humble in success, and without bitterness in defeat; yeah as long as you don't beat me too many times at Phase 10!

to have the welfare and harmony of the Fraternity at heart, striving ever to make our lives a symphony of high ideals, devotion to the Right, the Good, and the True, without a discordant note; yeah I seem to remember a discordant note or two, but it is hard to be a unified group of girls all the time on every issue.

remembering always that the foundation precept of Zeta Tau Alpha was Love, “the greatest of all things.”

Best last line EVER!  And I do truly love all my Zeta sisters!

Where you in a sorority?  What did you learn?  Do you still hold true to the original purposes or creeds of your sorority?