TBT: La Beauté de Paris

Photographs I took during my trip to Paris this summer

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Authentically Aurora

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I’m a Fixer Upper

Chip and Jojo

Have y’all seen that show Fixer Upper? It’s about this adorable couple Chip and Joanna Gaines who buy questionable houses in great neighborhoods and flip them, transforming them into dream homes within the budgets of their clientele.

Fixer Upper has been on HDTV for three years, but as a solely Netflix girl myself, I’m a little late to the house flipping party. But now that it’s on Netflix, I’m watching and loving it. Who doesn’t love a good before & after story?

While watching an episode last night, it occurred to me that this week (fraught with the stress of almost-swimsuit-season) I have been brainstorming how to do a fixer upper on myself. Oh, this body has so much potential. If only we could fix this here and update that there… Yes, gentlemen, that’s generally how the female mind works. Our bodies are perpetually a canvas; a project; a fixer upper just begging for updating.

I made the mistake of trying on swimsuits yesterday. That was really the impetus for this whole concept of transforming myself through my very own personal fixer upper. I have estimated my costs as follows:

MANICURE

PEDICURE

HAIRCUT

WAXING

STITCH FIX

In these house flipping shows, there’s always a budget crunch, so when I was considering the slush portion of this month’s budget ($300), I decided to pluck my own eyebrows instead of having them threaded. I’ll also shave my own legs instead of having them waxed. Together, that should save me about $60 and keep me within budget.

Then there’s always some disaster – some unexpected expense, like foundation or electrical issues. In my case, it was realizing that even the cutest clothes Stitch Fix has to offer can’t fix up this body until I shed some tonnage. I’d like to lose about six pounds in the next three weeks, but there is a cost associated with losing two pounds per week. The weekly cost?

DIET AND EXERCISE

Spending $300 on a spa day and new clothes? Sign me up. But depriving my body of delicious cookies AND sweating it out at the gym?! That may be more than my personal budget can handle. I was okay with all of the other expenses, but this last one – the unexpected disaster that is those six extra pounds on my hips – may do us in. Looks like this Flip may turn out to be a Flop! 

Authentically Aurora

P.S. Handy as he is, Seth almost took a job as a general contractor for a custom homes business earlier this year. I’ve decided that we need to get married STAT and start flipping houses. We’d be even more adorable than Chip and Jojo.

(P.P.S. Seth, if you’ve found my blog by now, I’m just kidding about getting married stat. I’m not envisioning myself in a white dress by Christmas. Please don’t freak out and break up with me on Monday. xoxo)

Silver Lining of Seasonal Sickness

Four SeasonsI get sick every year at the season change.

When the blazing heat of summer fades to the coolness of fall, and again when the freezing winter temperatures warm to the sunny sixties of spring, I can count on getting a head cold.

What others tout as the best weeks of the year, I consistently dread as two of the bitterest weeks in the world of weather, mostly because they are two of the bitterest weeks in the world of Aurora’s immune system.

Sure enough, we had a shockingly beautiful weekend here where I live – sunny and sixty-five with a light breeze. So, naturally, I woke up on Sunday morning with a sore throat and a headache. I can just feel the head cold coming on, despite the gallons of water and green tea I’ve drunk all day, the 800 mg of vitamin C I’ve pushed and the steroid nasal spray I’ve snorted.

I’ve become an all-out druggie in the hopes of kicking this virus before it takes hold, but today at the office, I discovered that maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to stay sick for a few days after all.

I get rebuked all the time for not spending more time at the water cooler socializing with my coworkers. In my end-of-year reviews, I am always told that I need to actually care what Sharon planted in her garden this weekend or how Donald’s football team did in their playoff game.

Even if listening to Gertrude’s twenty-minute dissertation on quilting techniques makes me want to claw my eyes out, I have been coached to at least pretend to take interest in my colleagues’ lives outside of work. Apparently productivity and efficiency mean nothing in the face of warm fuzzies and verbal petting.

Anyway, today when good ol’ Hank asked me about my weekend and I mentioned off hand that I spent all day Sunday feeling like I was coming down with a cold, he suddenly had to run off to a meeting. Surprised, I shrugged to myself, only to find (groan!) the ever-chatty Kathleen walking into the coffee area. She went on and on about her daughter’s work in Japan until I coughed and then suddenly *poof!* she was gone, too.

So I have discovered the silver lining to my seasonal sickness: I can play nicely with the other children, listening attentively to all of their adventurous tales of mediocrity for a full five seconds before coughing abruptly and watching them scurry away from me, fearful for their lives (or perhaps just their health).

It’s a win-win situation: They stay healthy, and I get to wander the hallways of the office in peace. Victory is mine.

Authentically Aurora

Nick the Strict – Part III

Akiane Co-creation

When Nick and I met up for our second date (the aforementioned “fun” walk in the park), it was blessedly only 97 degrees outside – not even triple digits! It was perfect walking weather such that my foundation only partially melted off of my face. I had chosen a preppy-but-athletic look, sporting a bright pink tank top with black running shorts and sparkly stud earrings (seriously, girls, what do you wear for a date like this?!). I will say that Nick looked good in his black athletic tee and basketball shorts, although I’m not sure how he didn’t sweat to death.

He had arrived at the park nearly twenty minutes early and, for some unknown reason, felt the need to text me to let me know that he was already there. I, of course, then felt rushed and stressed as I dashed home from work to change and then got back behind the wheel to drive to the park in rush hour traffic. Needless to say, my greeting smile was a bit forced as I screeched into a parking spot next to the walking trail.

We had a nice conversation at first, with Nick telling me about his kids at school (classes started this week) and some of his hobbies (fishing and volunteer work). But the conversation turned sour when Nick asked me about my hobbies. I have an engineering degree but love the arts – music, painting, dancing, etc. So I told Nick about one of the paintings I’m working on now, and then I started raving about Akiane Kramarik, a child prodigy who has painted a beautiful portrait of Jesus.

Nick interrupted me mid-sentence and blurted out, “She painted Jesus?” As such a zealous Christian, I thought he would be pleasantly intrigued, but his tone was accusatory as he went on, “That’s idolatry. Don’t you know we’re not supposed to make graven images?“I was taken aback. As someone raised in the church, I am familiar with the Ten Commandments, but I thought Nick’s approach was extreme. The purpose of that commandment was that followers of God worship Him only and not other false gods (e.g. Baal), man-made images (worshiping the created instead of the Creator), or – as in Jesus’ New Testament teachings – more intangible idols like the love of money.

To call a painting of Jesus idolatry is ridiculous. It’s true that if the viewers worshipped the painting itself, that would be idolatry, but Akiane painted that image as an act of worship to Jesus himself! She was honoring God, not insulting him, through her use of these phenomenal God-given talents. Akiane and artists like her glorify God when they turn their gifts back to Him in praise.

I didn’t want to get into a fight, but I stood my ground calmly and rationally. Nick has more of a passionate, intense, emotion-based style, so he attacked me verbally, not even stopping for breath so that I could get a word in to counter his onslaught. “Contentious” was the word that came to mind as I looked at his contorted face.

As he ranted on, in my head, I thought, “Look, punk. I was raised in the church, am the granddaughter of a pastor, have led multiple bible studies, have done mission work on five continents, and even went to seminary. Just stop now because you are blatantly wrong.” But externally, I let him get it out of his system while I watched the clouds drift by, pink-rimmed by the brilliant sunset, and imagined how I would paint them.

Nick clearly didn’t have ears go hear the truth, so I didn’t bother to disagree later in the evening when he told me: a) who and what I should and should not pray for, b) what Christian women should and should not wear, and c) what my relationship “red flags” should and should not be. I think I’ve certainly got that last one down, and dude, you’re sunk.

Well-intentioned but Pharisee-like Christians such as Nick are part of the reason there are so many atheists in America today. And that makes my heart sad.

Authentically Aurora