• February 22, 2017

    February Round Up

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    I hate to say it, but this month really sucked, ya’ll.  Work has been incredibly stressful and after being out sick for a week, it became that much more stressful.  Right.  Plus, I was sick forever which is never fun.  Because of it, I had to miss out on plans with friends, a couples massage with my hubby for Valentines, book club, and I was still sick on his birthday too so he ended up having to cook for himself and was still sleeping in the guest room in hopes of self preservation.

    *sigh*

    I am trying to find the light, though, and focus on what good there has been this month.  Because of my illness, I was able to read a lot.  My books this month were Spook by Mary Roach, Bonk by Mary Roach, and I’ve started the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.  Clearly, I really enjoy Mary Roach’s snarky, scientific writing.  She’s provocative, honest and real which I found so refreshing that I just kept looking for her books.  She does have a couple I still haven’t read, but by the end of the month I was ready for a change.  Outlander is spectacular.  I’ve seen the television show already and thoroughly enjoyed it – so far the book and show line up quite well with each other, but, of course, the book is better.  I am loving the insight and thoughtfulness that the book is able to provide, something television and film rarely really get right.

    I also spent a lot of time listening to music.  Not just any music, though, Broadway music.  Specifically, the soundtrack to Hamilton.  Clever, fun, informative, and relatable are not words I ever thought I’d attribute to anything about early American history… but Hamilton does it!  Someday, I will see the show.  Probably a mediocre band of performers from a local theater group, but I will see it.  And I will know every song by heart when I do.  Probably because it’s the only thing I’ve listened to all month.

    Before getting sick, hubster and I did make it to the movies to see Hidden Figures.  I loved everything about this movie – the characters, the set and costumes, the story, the significance of a story like this in times like this…  So. Good.  If you haven’t see this yet, go now!  Take your daughters, your sisters, your mom… any woman you can find (men, I suppose, should also see it.  It’s just so, so important for women to see right now).

    I have also discovered a new snack food that I am super obsessed with.  Harvest Snaps are surprisingly amazing.  I picked up a couple bags on a whim when I was grocery shopping and fell in love.  Or, in obsession.  They have the consistency of a Cheeto, but don’t have all the nasty artificial crap on them.  My favorite flavors are the tomato basil lentil beans and the lightly salted snap peas.  Mmm…. so yummy.  And if you try really hard, you can convince yourself they are healthy.   *grin*

    Finally, now that I am feeling better, hubster and I are working on making up for missing his birthday and Valentine’s Day!  We’ll be making fondue and eating cake all weekend long! It’s not quite the same, but at least there is cake!

    And there you have it!  February was hard but not wholly unpleasant.  Just remember to look for the good things even when you’re not feeling the good things.  <3

  • February 15, 2017

    UGH

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    Well, it’s that time of year, I guess.  I’ve been sick with a really bad cold for a week now and I’ve gotta say… I’m so tired of this!  I am one of those people who resist illness pretty well, but once I do get sick, I get really sick.  So, yeah.  That’s where I’m at right now.

    I am fortunate, though, that the job I have offers paid sick time and I was able to stay home and let my body heal for a few days without sacrificing my paycheck and ability to cover costs at home.  I know not everyone has this option, so I’m trying to look on the bright side.

    Anyway, I hope to be back in full force next week – wish me luck!

  • February 8, 2017

    Manly Valentine’s Ideas

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    I don’t know how your man feels about Valentine’s Day, but mine hates it.  It’s not that he doesn’t love me or want to show it, but the idea of being made to spend a ton of money or make some grand gesture just for the sake of a holiday makes him crazy.  He’s not really a sappy kind of guy… very sweet, but not sappy.  This is a little unfortunate because I like the idea of a day dedicated to thinking about love and the person you love.  So, to help you ladies who know what I’m talking about, I’ve come up with my top 5 ideas for a Valentines Day that is romantic, and manly, enough to please everyone.  *grin*

    1. Steak Dinner

    Food is the way to every man’s heart and what could be more manly than a steak dinner?  Of course, if he’s a vegetation or doesn’t enjoy steak, you should probably think about substituting this with whatever his favorite food is.  Whatever you choose, you can make a special meal yourself (or, even better, together!) or you can reserve (in advance!) a seat at a favorite restaurant.

    2. Gift basket with his favorite beer/cider and snacks

    Remember how food is the way to a man’s heart?  Well, I’m pretty sure snacks and booze are a close second to an all out meal for most guys.  Ideas for things to include: a bottle or two of beer or cider, a growler with a coupon for a fill, and snacks (jerky, cookies, mixed nuts, dark chocolate, etc.).

    3. Massage

    Pretty much everyone I know enjoys a good massage – whether you send him to a professional (or go together with him as a date) or give him a more intimate experience yourself, he’ll enjoy being nice and relaxed!

    4. Something from his favorite movie/show/book/comic

    If you’re looking for something a little more tangible – something you can actually wrap up and give to him – you might look to his fandoms.  Search for artwork, Pop Figures, or t-shirts/hoodies that reflect his favorite characters.  Etsy is a great place to find this kind of gift.

    5. Something to support his hobby

    Look to what he spends his time on.  Things like art supplies, games or game accessories (eg: headphones, miniature figures, manuals, dice, etc.), gym stuff/sports gear, and fishing/hunting supplies will be a big hit.

    The most important thing about Valentine’s Day is to pay attention to your fella and do something nice that reflects his interests.  I don’t know any men who love red and pink hearts or fancy, overpriced flowers… so rather than getting wrapped up in the commercial side of the holiday, get wrapped up in things that will show you’re genuinely supportive of him and his stuff.  And if he’s any kind of decent guy, he’ll happily do the same for you!

    <3

  • January 25, 2017

    January Round Up

    OOoooh man.  This month isn’t over yet?  Really?  Still going for about one more week, eh?

    I’m pretty darn over it.

    First of all: the snow.  Good gracious God in heaven, the snow.  This January we’ve broken records with the snow.  Now, I am a mountain girl and totally ok with snow and all that…. But this city of mine ain’t really ready to deal with what Mother Nature is layin’ down!  I actually shoveled the street in front of my house a couple weeks ago.  Yes, you read that right, I shoveled the street.  Frankly, there were no other options besides staying home for all of January.  So. Yeah.

    You’d think with all that snow, I would have had lots of time to read lots of books.  Joke’s on you though, because I was shoveling all that snow in my street instead of reading.  For January, I was only able to just keep up with my book club requirements with A Day of Honey by Annia Ciazadlo and Gulp by Mary Roach.  I enjoyed A Day of Honey, but I really loved Gulp.  She is super provocative and sarcastic – it actually made me think about Jenny Lawson’s books a lot.  Can’t wait to see what the other ladies at book club think about it!

    There were a couple of new (well, new and new to me) shows I have been enjoying.  The first was A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix.  Can I just say that Neil Patrick Harris is a genius?  And that I love him?  It. Is. So. Good.  The second show I’ve been obsessing over is Jane the Virgin, which I never thought I’d say.  Actually, I never thought I’d watch it, let alone love it.  For those skeptics like I once was… just give it a try.  It’s way too complicated to really explain here, but it’s basically an Americanized telenovela with all the drama you’d expect, but also with lots of great humor to balance it out.  Please, just go watch a few episodes, ok?  Ok.

    This month we are also starting up a new D&D campaign, so I’ve been doing some character building.  I’ll be playing a gnome wizard named Moonie Mugglewump and I’m really excited about her!  Think, Luna from Harry Potter mixed with Kvothe from the Kingkiller Chronicles and a bit of Judy Hopps from Zootopia.  Fun, right?  First game is this weekend, so we’ll see how I get back in the swing of it all!

    Aaaand the last thing I have to share with you for January is that I’ve started a Bullet Journal.  I’ll do another more detailed post sometime about bullet journaling, but suffice it to say that I like the layout options and tracking method a lot so far.  I have been enjoying the creative aspects and also use it to help with mindfulness.  I am not a great artist, but there is hope, I think, for me yet!

    So, there you have it.  This was my… interesting… January (sans political issues/concerns/ fears/hopes/whatever because this should be a happy place for me and for anyone out there who is reading).  Here’s hoping that February will have better surprises in store!

  • January 18, 2017

    Hope

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    Hope.  This year – 2017 – I decided that I would focus on hope and make it a priority to stay positive in all the varied aspects of my life.  Since then, I’ve been thinking an awful lot about this post and trying to figure out how to convey all of the things I want to you.  I’ve wracked my brain and started this a hundred times in my head.  But, if I’m being completely honest, I have also been fervently avoiding this post.

    You know how when you ask for courage, life tends to give you all kinds of terrible challenging things to be courageous about?  Or you ask for patience and life presents you with trials that make you feel… not so patient?  That’s kind of how I am feeling right now about hope.  Sometimes I just don’t feel very hopeful.  Sometimes I think it would be better to pull the covers over my eyes and pretend the world doesn’t exist from the comfort of my bed.

    Perhaps that is just it, though.  Perhaps hope (and love and gratitude) is not meant to be a feeling so much as it a choice.  Perhaps hope means dragging yourself out of bed when you’d rather stay hidden.

    In 2011, Michelle Obama addressed a group of young women leaders in South Africa and said “You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.”  She goes on to say that when people start asking questions and begin having these conversations… these are acts of hope and the ripples grow exponentially outward from there.

    So, I guess what I am saying is that if the world is overwhelming, and you know you can’t solve all of the problems you dearly wish you could; If there seems to be no good or joyful thing to keep you going; If you’re struggling – choose hope.  Choose to crawl out from the protective covers of bed and begin again.  Find a thing that you care about,or a thing that gives you peace and let that be the first stone dropped into the water and watch how the ripples spread.  Your question or thought or passion may ripple so far that you become a source of hope for someone else who needs it.

    In the coming months, I implore you to find your hope and spread it around like wildfire.

  • January 11, 2017

    Books of 2016

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    If you’ve been reading the Bliggity Blog for awhile, you will know that a couple of years ago I challenged myself to read a book with a title from every letter of the alphabet.  Well, 2016 is the year I finally finished the challenge!  The last few letters were:

    E – Every Last Tie by David Kaczynski

    N – Name of the Wind (Kingkiller #1) by Patrick Rothfuss

    R – Reading Lolitta in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

    T – Ten Days in a Mad House by Nellie Bly

    V – Valentine Grey by Sandi Toksvig

    X – X-it by Jane George

    Once the challenge was complete, I kinda went to town with all the books I’ve been hanging on to as well as a bunch of books for book club!  I’ve really enjoyed having a group to read and discuss books with – it’s been really wonderful and I’m tempted to join another (goodness… would I have time?  Maybe a YA lit group?).  Anyway, in the past, I’ve always given a synopsis or review of the books I read, but this year there are just too many.  I enjoyed most of these books, though, and would recommend them all to the right reader!  :)

    Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

    You’re Never Weird on the Internet  (Almost) by Felicia Day

    An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Alder

    Push by Sapphire

    Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

    The Wise Man’s Fear (Kingkiller #2) by Patrick Rothfuss

    As Always, Julia edited by Joan Reardon

    Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling

    Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

    A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

    The Rat Queens

    Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking by Anya van Bremzen

    Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

    Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

    The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

    Stir by Jessica Fechtor

    I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

    Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

    Buffering by Hannah Hart

    Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson

    Currently, I am reading A Day of Honey by Annia Ciezadlo for book club and it’s been really good.  I’ll continue to keep record and share with you how things are going and what I’m new things I’m finding!  Right  now, I am on track for my goal of reading 30 books in the year before I turn 30!  :)

  • January 4, 2017

    Resolutions

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    Well, friends, we survived the dumpster fire year of 2016!  Pat yourself on the back and wave a banner – you did it!  No matter how bad things got, you stuck it out with me and came out on the other side battered and bruised, but alive.  Good job!  Depending on where you and and what your life philosophies may be, 2017 is either looking really good or really scary for you – but you know what?  We’re gonna survive it (and hopefully thrive in it…) just like we did in 2016.

    Every new year, my husband chooses an overall theme for the year.  I’ve never really done that before, but I think this year deserves a theme: Hope.

    If you’ve been reading my blog in recent months, you will know I went to Hawaii with a dear friend back in October and I learned a lot of things about worldviews and lifestyles.  I learned a lot about the idea of Aloha and it struck me as something very hopeful.  Since then, I’ve been sort of working towards a lot of my resolutions in wishy-washy, nebulous ways, but I want to really make them a priority this year.  I want to make real, concrete change in my mind and my life:

    Be more present
    - Bullet Journal
    - Meditation
    - Less phone/tv time

    Be more grateful
    - 1x per month, do something nice to thank the awesome people in my life
    - Weekly gratitude journal – bullet journal section
    Be less “busy” and more productive
    - Less distractions – tv, Facebook, etc.
    - Set real goals and try to meet them

    Be more open to people and opportunity
    - Check in with friends and family
    - Think outside the box more – try new things

    Be healthy
    - Less sugar
    - More water
    - More exercise

    To me, these things really represent hope.  Being real and grateful, opening myself to the universe and what’s in it, and moving forward with positivity in my heart, mind, and soul.  This will NOT be easy.  It’s not necessarily all things that can be measured, but it’s things that I  know can make a real difference between dumpster fire despair and hope.  Find hope, ya’ll and cling to it for dear life because life is dear.  And YOU are dear.  Take care of yourself this year.  <3

  • December 28, 2016

    December Round Up

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    Whelp, looks like I managed to miss most of December, huh?  *sigh*  My goal was to have a homemade Christmas, which we did… but I totally underestimated how much time that would consume!  So, here we are with the monthly round  up and I’ll try to touch on everything we enjoyed this past month!

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    As soon as Thanksgiving was over (ok, ok, ok… a little, teensy bit before it was really over) I pulled out all of my Christmas decorations and went to town on our house.  And since I felt like we needed a little extra cheer this year, I found a pencil tree to put in our entry way too!  So.  Two trees.  I threatened to put up a third, but lost the oomph to do it.  Ah, well, there’s always next year, eh?

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    big-tree

    2015

    Then it was time to get started on my Homemade Christmas goal from my 30 before 30 list!

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    The first craft I started was these beautiful Nordic inspired ornaments.  These became gifts for family and friends and were a lot of fun to make!  We also decorated our own home with them – we tried to stick to a red and white theme this year and they added something really special on the tree.

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    In addition to ornaments, we gave friends and family Christmas cookies.  I made so. many. cookies.  And I learned how to use a cookie press (I think I need one of my own now…) for Danish vanilla cookies.  Oh, and the bread!  I made eggnog bread  and monkey bread for Christmas morning!  I was in the kitchen a lot this December!  *nods*  So glad my folks took care of us for Christmas dinner!

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    Another craft project I worked on was this beautiful nativity.  I’ve always been frustrated that I can’t find a realistic nativity with Middle Eastern people – Jesus was not white, ya’ll!  Anyway, I loved the concept of the silhouettes, so that solved it all for me!  :)  Click here for full instructions and info on where to get the vinyl designs.  The last step is to spray the glass with Frosted Glass spray paint stuff… but it’s been so cold this December, I was afraid the temperatures would ruin the paint.  Next year, it’ll be frosty glass!

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    Another favorite thing I did this month was the Secret Santa at work.  I always get too into it, but it’s really fun to spoil one of the amazing women I work with and let her know how much I appreciate her!  And I’ll admit, I kind of like being spoiled by someone else too!  Anyway, the most hilarious gift I received this year was socks with bandanna wearing corgi’s on them.  So silly – I really love them!  I think Ollie approves too…

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    I didn’t have a lot of time for things other than all the crazy Christmas shenanigans, so I didn’t really consume much media.  I did make it out to see Fantastic Beasts  and Where to Find Them early in the month and Rogue One the weekend it came out.  I also caught Hairspray Live on NBC and I read one book for book club – Yes Chef, by Marcus Samuelsson.  We stayed home a lot and watched old Christmas movies while I worked on crafts too, so that was fun.

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    And there you have it!  I’m pretty sure that’s all I’ve got for this month!  Sure felt busier than it looks like it was… but I learned my lesson!  I will start Christmas crafts way earlier next year!  I hope you enjoyed your holidays this year and felt the love of friends and family.  Best wishes for a safe and happy new year – see you in 2017!

  • November 30, 2016

    November Round Up

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    Ok, ya’ll, I am not gonna lie.  I am sooo tired right now!  November is kicking my tush this year with the stuff and the friends and the other stuff and everything.  Ugh!  I suppose it’s really a good thing that I’m tired, though, because it means that I’ve been busy.  I’ve spent time with friends and family.  I’ve gone out and stayed in and started some fun projects!  So, despite my tiredness (and lame-o lack of pictures), I want to share my November with you!

    The month started out very stressful and mentally/emotionally exhausting with the elections and news and everything that went with it.  I was convinced that the world was going to end no matter who won and who would be there to pick it all up and put it back together again?  *sigh*  I certainly don’t feel good about what happened and I am not in any way comfortable going forward… but I think I’ve moved from depression into the acceptance part of the grief stages.  It’s a wary and tired and sad acceptance and in no way means that I accept the bad and terrible things that will come from this decision… but it’s a place where I can at least stop thinking about it for a little while and feel ok.

    To distract myself from the pain and fear, I read a lot this month.  And I read a lot about amazing, powerhouse women (weather they would agree with me on that assertion or not, I don’t know).  The first book was  I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai.  That woman… dang.  Talk about an inspiring message that taught me that even little girls can make a difference in the face of terror.  No matter how insignificant you think you might be, Malala teaches us that you can be so much more.  Oh, God, how appropriate.  The second book was Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes.  Aside from the rich and famous aspects of her life, I actually found that I identify a lot with Shonda.  Introverted, unsure, and just brave enough to try to do better, Shonda spoke right to my dorky little heart.  And the last book I read in November was Buffering by Hannah Hart.  I had no idea how deep her hurts and struggles ran.  She talks in her YouTube videos from time to time about not being accepted by her super religious father, but there is so much more.  Ugh.  And yet, Hannah is giving and cheerful.  She has moved past her past and intentionally works to make the world a better place.  Seeing a theme here yet?  *grin*

    Let’s move on now to some more powerhouse women that I spent time with this month.  Hubby and I went to see Moana in theaters on Thanksgiving day.  It was so good!  Such a beautiful message of self discovery and following your passions!  I wish I’d had more role models like her when I was a little girl!  Not only was the story great, but the animation and art were gorgeous too!  Love, love, love!  And my TV pick for the month was Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.  I loved the show when I watched it start to end in my early 20′s and I loved the revisiting of all the characters now!  I know it wasn’t a perfect telling, but I really liked to see where everyone ended up, even in their imperfections.  Grief can do that, you know?  Throw you off track until you feel like you’re drifting and struggling to find your way back… so. good.

    Moving on to more traditional things now, we’ve entered the holiday season of 2016.  Thanksgiving was sort of uneventful for my family.  Hubby and I went to see Moana and ate tacos on Thanksgiving day.  We went over the weekend for a slightly more traditional meal with my parents which was very nice.  Nobody talked about politics (not once!) and it was actually quite relaxing.  Yay!  And in the midst of all of this, I also started decorating for Christmas and started several Christmas crafts.  I love Christmas and my darling hubby indulges me by helping put up decor and letting me take over the house with craft supplies.  It’s wonderful.  I can’t say too much, though, because I want to devote more time and focus to it in some posts next month (so stay tuned!).

    And now, I fear, this wall of text will drive you all away!  Please don’t go!  Or, at least, don’t be afraid to come back!  Hopefully I will be able to share more pictures and such next time.

    Happy Holidays!

  • November 23, 2016

    Hawaiian Vacation: Aloha, Mindfulness, and Meditation

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    Welcome to my third and final post about my Hawaiian vacation!  I hope you’ve enjoyed visiting the beautiful island of Maui with me this month!  You know, I’ve always heard people say that Hawaii is a special place.  I always assumed that they meant it was beautiful and fun and a good place for a vacation.  While these things are all true, there is really something special about that place.

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    ocean

    While visiting, I spent as much time as I could learning about the history and culture of Hawaii.  I talked to a few locals, including some fabulously interesting Uber drivers, and I feel like I really gained so much from their insight.  You see, Hawaiian culture is incredibly inclusive, respectful, and spiritual – something I think the mainland needs a big lesson in right now.

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    friend

    It seemed like everything done and everything said had special meaning and history.  People would go out of their way to help or to share a smile with you.  This was at the resort, restaurants, shops, tours, car rides… literally everywhere I went.  People were so happy to share their culture and stories with me, it was really wonderful!

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    You’re probably familiar with “aloha” meaning both hello and goodbye?  That is true, but it also conveys respect and love and spiritual connection.  One tour guide explained that native Hawaiian language has limited words and many words are combinations of words, so “alo” is like the uplifted face – the connection you have with another person or god or nature, and “ha” is like your life breath – your spirit and being.  So, “aloha” is that respectful, spiritual connection to people, to god, to nature, to… everything.  And remember in Lilo and Stitch when Lilo says that “ohana means family and family means nobody gets left behind”?  That is true, but ohana also extends to all Hawaiian people.  And notice that “ha” also shows up in ohana?  They put caring for the whole community very high on their list of priorities.

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    Every encounter I had while in Maui was extremely positive and I could feel the energy of the people around me.  Once away from other tourists, I could sit and think and absorb the good vibes that I’ve only ever felt in Hawaii.  I took as much time as I could to meditate on the things people told me, to really feel their words.  One gentleman I met spent a good bit of our conversation encouraging me to bring Aloha to the mainland – to spread their love and peace to a nation that is in turmoil and feeling so much hate right now.  I hope I’ve done this… I hope people meet me and feel loved and respected.  I hope I don’t lose the lessons I learned  in Hawaii in the coming months and years.  And, while I don’t necessarily expect that you really get what I am trying to convey by reading these words alone, I do hope that you will also go out and be a light to your community.  Connect with your life breath and treat every relationship as sacred.

    jellyfish

    sunset

    Peace.

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