the best of intentions

Posts tagged family

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one mess of a thursday

So… yesterday. Yesterday, I cried in my cubicle… for no concrete reason. Then I went to Target and impulse purchased a new pair of black leggings. On the way home I hit Arby’s for a jamocha shake. After Chipotle for dinner, a beer, and some serious tv/husband/furbabies time, I went to bed feeling a much less whelmed. 

Recovering from an unsolicited freakout is always considered a victory. But it should not require retail therapy, a perfect concoction of chocolate, coffee, and ice cream, our vice dinner, alcohol, and so much veggout time to do so. 

One day I will learn that there are methods other than countering one day that was bad to me with four things that are bad for me. 

Luckily, today I’m on my way home to Ashtabula for some shop time with Momma and quality time with the extended family from Indiana. Although I’m sure there will be plenty of not so great for me food, nothing heals the broken like home and family. 

Here’s to that.. 

Filed under family home girl shit

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wild and wonderful

We spent last weekend in West Virginia for Courtney & Tom’s amazing wedding. It was exactly what I think we all needed and will go down in the books as one of the best of all time. 

And when I say we, I don’t mean just the husband and I. The best thing about my best friends is that three years after graduation, after the loss of one of our own, several address changes, one international move, the subsequent return, and now two weddings, we’re still very much a we. We still refer to each other as my roommates. Not my old roommates, not my college roommates, just my roommates.  

And personally, I hope that never changes. 

Everything about the wedding and reception was absolute perfection. 

I mean, go ahead. Try to tell me that you have ever seen a more beautiful bride. Yeah, I didn’t think so.  

The rest of us clean up pretty well, too. 

But then we do things like this, and any credibility we’d earned, goes right out the window. 

The husband and I even managed to take a somewhat respectable photo. 

Brittany tried to one-up me with my own man, but Chad and his background creeping saved me. 

Of course, we danced our asses off. 

And sang a whole lot of Gaga. 

Kimmy did things like that.

And Brittany made faces like this. 

Essentially, we may have fancied ourselves up with make up, dresses, high heals, suits, and ties, but we were still exactly the same as we’ve always been. We were silly, happy, drunk, and completely, head over heals in love with each other. 

These are the kind of friends that save you from yourself. The kind that last a lifetime and that are always at the core of your heart. 

These are the people who remind me of how infinitely lucky I am. 

Congratulations Tom & Courtney! Thank you for a beautiful day and a crazy night. Well done, friends.  

Filed under best friends weddings ohio university love family

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for the record: my tattoo

Over the weekend, one of my favorite bloggers—Lauren of Better in Real Life—got herself a badass little wrist tattoo. I was and still am so excited for her. In March 2008, I got inked for the first, and thus far only time, on my left wrist. Today, I want to share that story with you. 

At the time, I was three months away from graduating, mourning the loss of an opportunity (and the only post-grad plan I’d bothered to consider), and feeling an all-around sense of uncertainty. For the first time in my life, I had no idea what was next, and it scared the shit out of me. I had no idea where my life would take me, and that left me feeling torn. I’ve always been a wide-eyed dreamer and a total homebody. I want adventure in my life, but I’m very dependent on my family, my friends, and a sense of home. 

As I started thinking about the people in my life who I so desperately need, I found myself looking to the stars a lot and I wasn’t sure why. Then I thought of my (paternal)grandpa, and it all started to make sense. Grandpa passed away when I was in seventh grade. He was the first person my brothers and I really lost, in that he was the first person we’d ever really had; he was ours. A few distant relatives had passed, even our great-grandmother who lived with our paternal grandparents, but hebelonged to us. He defined such a large part of our life, and then he was gone.

My parents, who never really took us to church and aren’t particularly religious, had to explain to three children all the hows and whys of death. I remember coming home from his calling hours on a particularly clear night. They told us to find the smallest star in the sky. “That’s where Grandpa is now. His star is the smallest because it’s so new; it will get bigger with time. But he is there, and he always will be. He can see you and you can see him.”

So now, a dozen or so years later, when I miss him, or anybody I’ve lost, or anybody at all, I talk to the stars. They bring me so much comfort and peace of mind. They keep me from ever feeling alone.

On that perfect day in Athens, I got one star for each of the seven people in my life who I know I will always have: (from top to bottom) Momma, Jake, Luke, Nana, Daddy, Kristy, and Pam. 

It probably seems weird that so much of my story is about my Grandpa, and he isn’t represented in those stars. But I wanted my tattoo to be about what I have, not what I’ve lost. And to this day, thoughts of my grandfathers still fill my heart with too much pain to bear.

For the record, what came next was the love of my life—of a boy who doesn’t like tattoos but loves me anyway. 

Filed under about me tattoo for the record family

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the weekend that was

As per usual, our weekend was crazy busy. But I have to say, it was sooo good. The kind of good that requires a second post on Tuesday about one particularly glorious home improvement project that was (almost) completed with the in-laws on Sunday. 

But let’s just start at the beginning…

Thursday afternoon I came home to a birthday gift from my favorite Jersey girl. (I know what you’re thinking. Yes, my birthday was in August, but she works for the Red Cross and was dealing with a hurricane at that time. So she gets a pass.) Inside the cutest little brown box, I found a Starbucks gift card, these adorable office supplies I’ve been coveting for months, and the hardware for a perfect morning. 

(Every cup of coffee should come with a compliment!)

Friday was classified by some household to-dos, The Great Pumpkin Roll Incident of 2011, a glittery pedicure, and movie date with the hubbin.

(Bill doesn’t like all the photos I take so he’s started punishing me by displaying this lovely face which passes for acceptable during the quick glance my camera gives me before going back to a live screen. Thus, I now punish him by posting these photos online.) 

The Ides of March was phenomenal. With an Oscar worthy cast, I didn’t expect much else, but it exceeded my highest expectations. It also spawned an argument a discussion between Bill and I regarding the beauty, or lack there of, of Marisa Tomei. (For the record, I’m in the she’s freaking gorgeous corner.)

But most of my weekend, and the main reason for this particular weekend deserving a post all its own, is these adorable faces:

Meet Mia and Leo, my brother and sister-in-law’s two perfect pooches. Jake and Mal were out of town for a wedding and we got to puppy sit. They are polar opposites and a total blast.

Leo has been slow and sedated since they brought him home almost three years ago. He was already three years old when they got him, so most of his puppy was gone. But I’m not sure how much get up and go he had in him even as a puppy. He is desperate, pathetic, needy and so cuddly. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t love him to pieces.

Mia is a wild child. She’s energetic and hard-headed and usually doesn’t sit still for much more than a couple minutes. She’s just over one year old and still has quite a bit of puppy in her. Only after she’s been considerably exhausted does her sweet side come out, but it is really something. She’s such a big animal but at one point this weekend she put her paw on my knee more gently than I thought possible. 

I spent a good hour and a half in Jake and Mal’s backyard Saturday morning with Leo, Mia, and our two monsters. As you may have read, Rory is very high strung and usually doesn’t deal well with Leo and Mia. And after adopting Izzy, she’s been even more protective than usual. 

So I took them over with me Saturday morning hoping that any animosity could be dealt with before our sleep-over that night. Jake and Mal’s yard has always been more dog-friendly than ours because it’s fully fenced and gated. But to my surprise, there was no animosity to hash out. Izzy was a little skittish in the very beginning, but within five minutes, they were all completely comfortable and calm.

I think it may have stemmed from a mutual distrust of the neighbor lady who had the nerve to spend a beautiful Saturday afternoon in her own backyard. 

Our sleep over Saturday night also went as well as could be imagined. Bill and I watched a couple rentals while the dogs basically played musical corner of the carpet. Despite being in furbaby pardise, I only took one photo—a Milkbone action shot. 

Four puppies in one shot is practically an impossible feat, but this weekend I had so much fun trying. 

Bonus: Patriots for the win! New England defeated the New York Jets 31-20. And the game was even broadcast here. I did not, however, get to watch it due to aforementioned home improvement project. 

Filed under weekend recap family furbabies

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fall favorites: pumpkin roll

In an attempt to have a more active and engaging autumn, I’m starting a new series here at BEST—fall favorites. I’ll be presenting to you all the things I love about this season, and in doing so, I will of course be seeking those thing out. 

We’re starting fall favorites off with my favorite fall dessert: pumpkin roll.

This is something I was introduced to through my life long best friend Pam and her fabulous momma whom I have affectionately referred to as Aunt Debbie since circa 1996. I cannot say enough wonderful things about this family. I couldn’t love them more without loving my own family less. 

debbie and pam

The boys and I were such spoiled children, having a mom, two grandmas, a slew of great aunts, and one surrogate aunt all of whom could cook and bake like Betty Crocker. We had one of those if you go hungry it’s your own fault childhoods. (Now if only I had the metabolism to go with it.)

Despite still having no interest whatsoever in pumpkin pie, I have loved pumpkin roll since I the very first time I tried it. If memory serves me right, this was sometime during high school. And based on my handwriting on the recipe, I’m assuming that’s about the time I made my solemn vow to learn how to make it. I remember Aunt Debbie saying it’s so easy. But she says that about everything she makes. On Friday, I found this easy and simple propaganda to be a complete lie. I felt dirty and deceived. In retrospect, it probably would have been easy if my 17 year-old self had written down the recipe correctly. 

Sugar. Every dessert calls for sugar, Sarah. 


I didn’t think to take any photos of trial by error round, but it wasn’t pretty. Picture the above left photo except much thinner and bubbly, like a thin crust pizza dough. I actually realized my error after tasting the not-so-sweet-icing, and then Googling another recipe to double-check things. Turns out both the bready part and the icing needed sugar. 

Mystery solved, crisis adverted, round two: so easy. 
(Despite a double-baking process due to a miscommunication between me and the oven. Read: I thought she was still on, when in fact, she was not.) 

So, on Friday, pumpkin roll became my grace, not perfection moment of the week, as well as my fall favorite. I encourage you to give it a try, even if that means Googling a recipe. (I don’t blame you for not trusting me.) 

And if you’re lucky enough to have a surrogate family member or a close friend who makes your life beautiful and delicious, reach out to them with your love and gratitude.


Pumpkin Roll Recipe:

Cover a 10”x15”x1” cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.

Mix together:

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup packed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3 eggs

Pour onto cookie sheet and spread evenly. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. 

Lift foil and roll from pan. Sprinkle roll with ~1 cup confectioner’s sugar, and roll foil attached. Set aside to cool.


  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp melted butter

Beat until smooth. 

Once cake has cooled completely, unroll and spread filling on top of confectioner’s sugar. Re-roll without foil. Place seam down wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate. 

Before serving, dust with confectioner’s sugar and slice. 

Filed under fall favorites recipe family

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wanted: vintage travel posters

I have a confession to make. I’m a bit of an art snob in training, by relation. (Read: This character flaw is not my fault.)

“Jacob started it.”

Seriously. He did. 

Here’s the thing. When your brother was a studio art and art history major in college, and he gifts you awesome things like these, you just can’t go picking up something like this… 

… from the Bed, Bath, & Beyond, and slap it on your wall with a “Well ain’t that just pretty as pink flamingo picture.”

Okay, so you could. But you’d never hear the end of it. And considering he deals with my grammar snob tendencies, I concede to making thoughtful and original art choices. (I know, my life is soooo rough.)

My main criteria is as follows: Anything I like which also happens to be vintage or original, plus family photos and anything he gives me. As often as I can manage, I also try to please the hubbin. (Pretty manageable, although I still tend to get anxious and am still a bit of a commitment-phobe with most art.) 

However, I am proud to say that I do have a particular genre I’ve fallen for that also happens to qualify as blog-worthy cool: vintage travel posters. Feast your eyes on the following Etsy finds.



south america




great lakes


pan am


My love affair started five years ago when I picked up this perfect print in Chicago, one of my favorite cities of all time.

Although it’s technically neither vintage nor original, I’m in love. She’s a reprint and thus fit into my then-college budget. And considering Jake was with me on that trip, I’m assuming he approves.

She’s definitely top-five for souvenirs. 

And just because, here’s the cozy little corner she calls home. 

P.S. I very seriously considered retaking this photo because of the mess going on with that curtain. 

Filed under art love wanted family

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my crazy-talented brother

My older brother has two unbelievable talents. He is an extremely gifted artist who also happens to have psychic tendencies. Or at least he did, once. 

I adopted the older of our two dogs, Rory, just before Memorial Day in 2007 when she was barely four weeks old. Now she’s four YEARS old and has remained one of the constants during a very transitional period in my life. I love her infinitely and can’t imagine life without her, but I’m not one of those crazy people who would commission a painting of her dog.

Or, am I? 

gilmore two     gilmore 1

Yep, that’s Rory Gilmore, in all her glory. Except Jake painted this almost two years before she was even born. It was originally titled “Man’s Best Friend,” and featured a pin-up style barmaid inset near her shoulder. Once we realized how undeniable the resemblance was, I had to have it, which meant the pin-up had to go.  

I don’t think I ever actually asked Jake for the painting, but this past Christmas, he gifted it to me. The thick oil paint took about six months to dry just on the patch where he covered the barmaid. Then he sprayed it with a sealing treatment, and it was FINALLY delivered to me Monday night. 

I am OBSESSED with it. 

gilmore three

Right now, she’s perched on our mantel demanding me to finally get to work on our living room makeover. She is far too cool for our hodge-podge room. And at the same time, she has definitely upped the homey feeling of our brand-new (been here almost a year) home.

While I’m bragging, here is the other piece of art I have with my brother’s name in the corner.

jake one

It’s called “… then get up and be it!” The title is taken from lyrics of a Ted Leo and the Pharmacists song, “Me and Mia,” Ted Leo being the performer depicted. It was created using a method called print making that I cannot understand, no matter how many times he explains it to me. 

He gave me this print a few years ago and I have been really appreciative of it lately. 

That’s the thing about my big brother—he usually knows things about me and what I need before I do. He knew that I would adopt the strangest dog ever, who would grow long and lean and look great in turquoise. And he apparently knew that one day I’d need someone screaming at me to just do all the things that have been bouncing around in my head heart.

In my opinion, your siblings are the people in life who have the opportunity to know you the best. They are forever tied to your past and always looking toward your future.

I take comfort in knowing that he will always know me this well. 

Filed under family bragging rights art

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paint the town (and everything in it) red

My grandfather was an interesting man.

He wore long pants and flannel shirts in the summer. He’d buy any pair of shoes he could find at Goodwill, no matter the size. He would make the same phone call to my dad every single day in the winter—something to the effect of, “Be careful. And remember, the bridges freeze first.” He loved watermelon and hated pizza. He smelled like chewing tobacco, and I mean that in a good way. His first name was Delus. He had a thing for hideous baseball hats. And he drove around town in an old dump truck he’d procured from who was, I’m sure, one of Ashtabula’s finest. 

But my favorite of all his little quirks was his need to paint everything red, including the aforementioned dump truck. To him, it was the end-all-be-all. If you really loved something, you’d paint it red. 

I’m not sure if it’s because of him or not, but over the years, red has definitely become one of my fail-safe colors. So when my parents purchased an unfinished picnic table for us a couple weeks ago, I jokingly remarked that I’d paint it red for Grandpa. My dad’s face lit up in the quiet way it does only for Delus. When he asked if I was serious, I simply answered, “Why not.” Then he made me promise that I’d stain it rather than paint it. (Apparently the paint will chip after a few months in the sun.) 


Here’s the end result of phase one. I’m debating on a little customization, but that’ll be a project all on it’s own. Thus far, I’d say it’s pretty damn red—and pretty damn pretty.

Grandpa passed away when I was in seventh grade. That seems like a lifetime ago and some days my mind has trouble putting together a clear image of his face. Lucky for me, my dad looks exactly like him. I just have to remind myself of that every once in awhile. 

Filed under diy family