Lulabelle Reviews: Lays Flavor Swap Contender: Sweet Southern Heat Barbecue…..

Picture this: A beautiful, quirky woman appears on a video screen, announcing she is doing a review on potato chips. Right on cue, a cat’s face appears in frame, meowing for attention. The woman then flies into multi-task mode, attending to the cat’s needs and showing off the product she’s reviewing. The video was so well done, it could have been a commercial. No, I’m serious. Stop laughing. šŸ˜›

Why am I asking you to picture it? Because I lack the skills necessary, apparently, to convert the review video filmed on my ipad into a compatible format that WordPress will accept. šŸ˜¦ And yes to prep for my video debut I did my hair, changed my shirt and put on almost a full face of makeup (I even freakin’ BRONZED my face!!) Behold the high quality:

Photo on 2016-03-22 at 01.25

Purdy, ain’t it? Well, let’s just try and get passed (past? Grrr….it’s 2am and I can’t remember. Correct me in the comments) this and just be glad that in the video I only ate one chip so I have more to work with here.

Upon opening the bag, the aroma is not unlike regular BBQ potato chips. A potato smell with a tiny bit of spice.

The chip itself is thin and crunchy. The initial flavor is BBQ spicy, but the zing lingers on the tongue for a hot minute (ba-da-bum šŸ˜€ ) before sliding to the back of the throat. There is also a subtle smoky sweetness that reminds me of when I was a kid and we’d go to my grandpa’s for BBQ every summer. He’d prepare it the old fashioned way, outside in a big smoker/griller thingy……

Oh man, I just ate another chip and got a hint of nostalgia for simpler times. For when we’d visit grandpa and grandma B and have BBQ chicken and my grandma’s famous peanut butter pie. After lunch we’d go play outside on the swing or stationary bike (it was kept outside for some unknown reason. Probably using the same logic that makes some people in the south keep their washer/dryer units outside on the front porch. You don’t understand why, but you also don’t question it šŸ˜€ ).

So thank you Lays, for helping me remember my childhood and simpler, more wholesome times. Like before Donald Trump had any political aspirations.

I’m giving this flavor two enthusiastic thumbs up and hope it sticks around.


*FTC Disclaimer: This blog was not sponsored by Lays. All products were purchased for personal use.


Zero: How to Deal With Concert Anxiety…..

Chad and I just returned from a much needed weekend away. We came back refreshed and rejuvenated; or rejuveshed. šŸ™‚

We had tickets to a Jennifer Nettles concert in Evansville IN. She was headlining a concert of all women country performers. Chad bought tickets as a late Valentines Day gift.

Now I admit,Ā  I was anxious leading up to the concert, even though our tickets were on the lower level because of my agoraphobia. I just wanted to enjoy the whole experience and I didn’t want to let Chad down. And we didn’t have ear plugs and we were to be seated close to the front of the stage. My fear of loud noises was also something I worried about.

But you know what? For the first time I can remember, I had absolutely ZERO anxiety the entire time, from the time I entered the venue to the end of the concert. ZERO. Even when they changed the lighting after the intermission…..ZERO!!!

I couldn’t have been more excited about being able to enjoy an entire concert in a large arena without a lick of anxiety. To freely enjoy myself and the beauty of the music around me. With the love of my life by my side.

So today on the blog, I thought I’d give you some tips on enjoying a concert in a big venue if you have agoraphobia or any other anxiety disorder.

  1. Nap, nap, nap: If at all possible a few hours before the concert, take a nap. One of my anxiety triggers is doing too much or too much going on at once. If I haven’t had sufficient rest during a long day and have a high energy night, I’m more likely to go into a panic attack. I found that with a nap lasting at least an hour this weekend on the night of the concert, I was able to enjoy myself without panicking.
  2. If you aren’t familiar with the artist or band, do some research and play some songs online before going to the concert. I find that if I don’t do this and don’t know the songs, the instruments can overwhelm the artist and I can’t hear the lyrics. When I can’t hear the lyrics and it’s just loud music with a heavy bass and drums, I get frustrated and can’t enjoy the performance.Ā Ā 
  3. I’ve used this tip as far back as I can remember: Chew some gum and have something with you that you can do with your hands, like a purse. Chewing gum can help calm your nerves and having something to do with your hands can help to ground you and take your mind off what is going on around you.
  4. If you are able to, go to the venue before the event (like a few days before) and try and sit down in the seat you’ll have. Now, if you are extremely agoraphobic, you may need to try to do this as soon as you buy tickets for the event. Call the venue where the concert will be and ask if you can visit special when the venue is empty. In living with agoraphobia, I’ve learned that venue managers can be extremely understanding and want to give their guests the most comfortable experience possible.

So there you have it. Having concert anxiety that is multi-faceted can be embarrassing and frustrating, but I hope you found these tips helpful.

Remember you are NEVER alone!


tara thompson picture

Here we are with Tara Thompson who opened for Jennifer Nettles. She’s amazing and SO funny! And moments after this picture was taken, she signed my purse. šŸ™‚


LAFF: Feline Pattern Baldness…..

The other day I saw the following meme on Facebook:


Now I’m not a parent of tiny humans, but I can tell you having worked in education for ten years, when the school announces they have a lice problem, EVERYONE gets phantom itches!!Ā  And you become an expert at ducking and dodging that one cute kid who insists on hugging you.

I can also tell you there is a lesser known equivalent for cat-parents; it’s when your cat mysteriously starts losing fur…..the first thing you think??


And of course after this thought enters your mind, the only thing you can think about is, well, fleas.

Now it is highly likely that this hair loss has another cause. In times like these it’s best to think positively…..and so I made a list of reasons WHY MY CAT HAS LOST PATCHES OF HER HAIR…..

  1. Dye Job Gone Wrong: See, she’s getting older and a smidge self conscious about going gray–even though half her fur is already naturally white. But she processed the new color a bit too long, causing her hair to fall out.
  2. Fashion Statement: Much like the grunge style circa 1990’s, the feline grunge movement is starting to pick up steam. Causing cats to participate in aggressive grooming until their hair is patchy and grungerrific.
  3. Oops!: She may have gotten a little too close to the vacuum when it was running.


So that’sĀ  all I could come up with. After a talk with the vet this afternoon I’m feeling even more confident that it’s not fleas.

If your cat is also losing their hair in patches, you are definitely not alone! Just remove the bottle of feline Clairol from their hiding place under the couch and their hair should start growing back soon after. šŸ˜€


Lulabelle Reviews: Lays Flavor Swap Contender: Korean Barbecue…..

Ok, this year Lay’s has turned it’s annual contest on it’s head. I feel like they aren’t even trying anymore. Not that the first contest, to create their newest flavor, really made much of an impact. It can’t really do much when the winning flavor is only available for a few weeks after the contest ends (I’m looking at you, Wasabi Ginger šŸ˜‰ ). Although my sources tell me that this flavor has found it’s way back onto shelves in limited stores. I’ll be making a trip soon to validate this story.

So what is Lay’s doing this year to freshen up their battle of the flavors?? They are taking one new flavor and an old flavor and having the public vote on which stays and which goes. Honestly I’m not for sure which flavor is old or new, so my review will be based solely on taste and smell. And how the chip makes me feel about my life choices :-D.

Chad picked up a few bags of chips for me last week so here we go. Today’s flavor of choice: Korean Barbecue. Let’s do this…..

Let me quickly state that I’ve actually never had legit Korean barbecue, so I really don’t know what I’m going after. Upon opening the bag and taking a whiff, I definitely smell a baked potato smell with a little bit of a spicy element and a tinge of grease. Definitely food-trucky smelling. If you’ve ever been by a food truck, this will make sense.

The taste is a light barbecue pork flavor, the tiniest touch of heat and it finishes off with a little bit of smoke. The after taste is tangy with an after buzz of heat on the tongue.

I hope these will be available long after the contest is over because an occasional bag of these would really enhance my otherwise mundane life. šŸ™‚

Bon Appetite, ya’ll!!

Photo on 2016-03-17 at 15.13

**This flavor has been deemed delicious and given a 4 paw rating by the resident culinary expert, Her Royal Highness Princess McFussy-Butt šŸ˜€ **

In Tribute to a Humble Legend…..Thank You Devon!

Over the weekend I discovered with sadness that my favorite English teacher from high school had passed away.

Devon Schrock was a staple in my Christian high school for many years (the school has a long standing tradition of allowing students to call their teachers by their first names). My sisters had him, my cousins had him and one of my aunts had him. He taught students in junior and senior year. His senior year class was most memorable for a research paper that he required. A 40-page behemoth on any given topic. Now, to aid his students, Devon taught you how to do each step. In turn, he prepared his senior class for their next adventure; college.

Former student Jeremy Friesen had this to say about Devon:

“To this day I maintain that my English classes were the most important class(es) for my career as a software engineer. (Devon) was an exacting teacher. He taught me the power of words. That precision in language is so very important if I hope to convey both meaning and intention. Each word, sentence, and paragraph on the page was my thoughts made manifest. I was the owner and subject to the scrutinizing red pen.

Just this past year, I stumbled upon my Senior Thesis, an essay on the Lord of the Rings and its Christian symbolism. I read through it. I realized I had never taken the time to re-read that paper; At several points my words were jumbled and unclear. And Devon rightly marked up that paper.

I’ve since discarded that paper, though I find myself hoping the disposal of it was just a dream. Because I believe, if I were to re-read that poor handwriting, I could conjure the voice of a most gifted teacher.”

Devon was a pretty hard grader, and rarely gave extra credit. My junior year I remember we watched the movie, Roots. At one point in the film, a slave runs away from his master’s plantation. When he is captured, his master cuts off his toes so he can’t run away again. Our assignment was to write a one page (It may have been two) paper on if we had been the slave master what we would have done to keep our slaves from running away.

I thought it over for a minute, and then began to write a one (maybe two) page essay on why I couldn’t answer the question because as a Christian, we are not to own people as property.

If this was some sort of moral test, I was gonna pass it!

I ended up turning in the paper a day late. As was Devon’s policy, late papers were always marked down a few points. So it came as a shock when I got my paper back after it had been graded and it showed 3 EXTRA CREDIT points!! (Keep in mind, Devon seldom gave extra credit).

Now, I tend to be too honest for my own good. I always have been. Eh, for the most part ;-). But that day I was especially honest because I went up to Devon’s desk and reluctantly told him that my paper had been a day late.

I’ll never forget the look on his face. It completely fell and he sighed deeply and said, “Ah, I wish you hadn’t said that!” He then took out a pen and made a mark. Striking out one of the three extra credit points. Leaving two. šŸ™‚

It wasn’t just rare moments of extra credit grace that made Devon so memorable. It was also his sense of humor, sharp wit, and his love for Jesus.

Every Monday at the start of each class, Devon would preach a sermon. Something short, sweet and to the point. Extolling the virtues of daily Bible reading and prayer. Then he’d lead us all in a prayer.

Sometimes during this sermon, it being Monday and all, especially if you had him early in the morning, a few unlucky souls would fall asleep. Devon would then casually, while still preaching, walk over to a glass of water on the bookshelf, walk it slowly over to the unsuspecting victim, and slowly pour it over their head until they awoke.

There’s a legendary story where the water in question once came from a nearby pond. šŸ˜›

Then there was the time in the late 70’s that he predicted a time when, due to an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, we would develop huge butts to cope with sitting all day.

I suppose he was a bit of a psychic. šŸ˜€

So thanks for the lessons and memories, Devon. Rest well and we’ll see you on the other side.


Lulabelle Cooks Without a Net: Girl Scout Cookie Thin Mint Smoothie……

I had high hopes for this one. Seriously. Just read the title. I mean, what could possibly go wrong with a smoothie whose main ingredient is freakin’ THIN MINT GIRL SCOUT COOKIES???

It turns out, plenty. Ah, let’s just get this one over with…..

So, I had good intentions. While eating a frozen girl scout thin mint cookie last week,Ā  I had a great idea for a smoothie. So tonight I carved out a little bit of time to ‘speriment. Let me break down what happened next:

This story actually began a few days ago when I completed step 1. Taking out the blender from the refrigerator and dumping out the contents of my last smoothie fail. I then discovered that the blender needed a good soaking in hot soapy water overnight. The next day I washed it out again and left it to dry in the drainer. Which brings us to tonight’s events.

I excitedly took a sleeve of Girl Scout Thin Mints (16 cookies) and crushed them the best I could with a rolling pin. Then I put them into the blender with about a 1/4-1/2 cup of frozen spinach. I threw in some milk (eyeballed it so I have no idea how much there actually was) and a cup of vanilla yogurt. The one ingredient that I intended to use but discovered we were out of was protein powder.

After plugging in the blender, I liquified the mixture, stopped the blender and opened the lid. For some reason it began to separate immediately. But it only seemed like it was the spinach that separated and swam to the top, covered in chocolate-minty goodness. Undeterred, I grabbed a glass and poured myself some smoothie.

I could definitely taste the chocolate and mint, but it wasn’t as sweet as I had expected. And there was definitely an earthy element to it thanks to the spinach. Actually that was what was left in the glass when I finished. About a half of an inch deep of tiny spinach shards. Like a sweet pesto sauce without all the good stuff, like actual pesto.

But I think I managed to fix my recipe so next time it’ll taste way better….

First, take out the blender and pour in some milk. Leave out the spinach, yogurt and protein powder. Take out a sleeve of Thin Mints. Leaving them whole and unblemished, pour the entire sleeve into the milk in the blender. Grab a giant spoon and pull up your favorite episode of anything on Hulu. Sit back and enjoy your giant bowl of Thin Mint cereal.

Happy Eating!

PS: after finishing your giant bowl of cereal, head on over to my cousin’s blog where she talks about crossfit. Yes, this is different than actually doing crossfit, but it sounds way too intense to do right after you just ate your weight in cookies. šŸ˜‰

PPS: Nearly 24 hours after making the said smoothie, I look into the fridge and this is what greets me.Ā  I observed that the smoothie had separated completely into 3 distinct layers.Ā Chocolate cookie layer is on the top, the middle is your greens–ie mint and spinachy goodness and the bottom layer is your milk and yogurt, in other words; dairy. So really it’s like a regular food pyramid, without all that healthy junk like fruit and grains.


LAFF: Where Lulabelle Gives You Tips On Changing the Sheets on the Bed When Your Cats Refuse to Get Off the Bed

Blogger’s note: Keep in mind the following tips are ones that I’ve not actually tried as the oldest just jumped down from sunning herself on the window ledge and now has to take another nap on the bed. Before I start trying to change the sheets. I’m outnumbered 2 to 1 and should probably wait for reinforcements. Although doing this solo could make for a good blog.

**Plot Twist**

OK people, this is gonna be an “In Real Time” entry. Strap yourselves in and make sure your helmets are secure:

7:19PM-This is the point where the blogger decides she needs some sustenance for the task at hand and grabs a can of soup; *Campbell’s Chunky Grilled Chicken and Sausage Gumbo to be exact. She then settles in to watch the latest Grey’s Anatomy episode.

8:25PM-After a Thin Mints break, in which time the blogger was hoping one or both cats would get off the bed, she screws up her courage and goes into laundry room to retrieve clean sheets.

8:32PM-Upon entering the bedroom and turning on the light, blogger only sees the oldest cat on the bed. As the youngest probably felt a sense of impending doom and hid herself in a place not yet found.

8:33PM-Deciding to take it slow, blogger changes the pillowcases first as this would not require the oldest cat to move from her position.

8:40PM-When the last pillowcase is in place, blogger throws off the blankets to ready the bed for the fitted sheet, and discovers the youngest. She’s doing yoga and chanting to stave off an anxiety attack but once she’s discovered, she bolts out of the room.

8:42PM-While the oldest fakes sleeping on blogger’s side of the bed, blogger positions herself on Chad’s side and begins slowly rolling the dirty fitted sheet off the bed toward her side. The oldest is now snoring.

8:48PM-As blogger goes to roll the fitted sheet, the youngest jumps up on the bed. Blogger continues rolling and the youngest moves to the other side. When the sheet is all the way on blogger’s side of the bed, the youngest jumps down, as the oldest is almost completely wrapped up in the sheet and not at all happy. She growls her disapproval and chases after the youngest. The chase ends right outside the bedroom door where the food bowl is kept. The oldest remembers how hangry she is and sits down to dinner. Blogger readies for phase 3 where the clean fitted sheet is placed onto the bed.

9:01PM (yes it took me 11 minutes to put on the fitted sheet. King-sized fitted sheets are about 90% harder to properly place than regular fitted sheets, and the sad part is, I’ve gotten good at it. )-Fitted sheet and blankets are in place and the cats were otherwise occupied the whole time so there were no interruptions or fears of nervous urination on places that shouldn’t have nervous urination.


Honestly I’m sitting here scratching my head. Every time before when the cats were awake and I’d try to make the bed, they would make a game of jumping up on it and getting in my way. To the point that I’d have to lift them off. But they’d still think I was playing so they’d jump up again. And I’d lift them off but they’d jump back on. Like annoying, furry boomerangs.

Today was a breeze.

Which scares me a little bit because this more than likely means they are planning something big. Likely involving massive amounts of vomit only discovered at 3am when you are on your way to the bathroom. Barefoot.

Stay Tuned, ya’ll!


*Campbells Chunky soup did NOT sponsor today’s blog, but they might want to start, judging by the ridiculous amount of soup cans we have stashed in the pantry.