• 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!

    dining-room

    nativity

    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?

    little-tree

    big-tree

    2015

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

    ornaments-in-progress

    stitches

    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.

    cookies

    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!

    crafty-nativity

    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!

    socks

    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…

    ollie

    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.

    frosty

    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.

    waterfall

    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.

    lei

    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!

    church

    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.

    beach

  • November 16, 2016

    Hawaiian Vacation: Road to Hana

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    Our second full day in Hawaii was the busiest by far.  My friend had to attend classes all day, so I met up with a tour group and went on the Road to Hana.  For those who are not familiar, the Road to Hana takes you along the less populated Eastern side of Maui.  There are about 620 curves on this road and much of it is one lane or so narrow that two cars passing must pass within inches of each other.  I do not recommend driving this road on your own – the tour group was lovely and not half as terrifying as if I’d gone alone.

    On the tour, we saw rain forest, waterfalls, and rainbow eucalyptus trees.

    waterfalls

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    splash

    We stopped at the Ke’anae Peninsula where we saw a church that was built in 1856 and was the sole surviving building of a tsunami in 1946.  As I approached the church, I felt so glad that I was almost alone because I could feel that the place was holy.  There was a peace there that I haven’t felt in many other places… I could have sat there for hours.

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    graveyard

    grave

    ghost

    Our next stop was Wai’anapanapa State Park where I explored a sacred black sand beach and a magical lava cave where legend has it a Hawaiian princess hid from her abusive husband.  When he found her, killed her in the cave – now the pools in the cave fill with tiny red shrimp  and the water looks like blood which locals say it’s a reminder of the princess.

    black-sand-beach

    cave-enterence

    flower

    Farther down the road was the Haleakala National Park where I was able to explore the cliffs, waterfall, and Oheo pools.  I went for a short hike which was so beautiful and green – I wanted to stay forever.

    ocean

    overlook

    7-pools

    water-fall

    The last stop was at the Palapala church which was built in 1857 and is where Charles Lindbergh is buried.  It was beautiful, but didn’t have the same holy feeling as the Ke’anae church did.

    lindburgh-church

    lindburgh-grave

    The last portion of the trip was on a terrible, terrible road.  It was so bumpy, my fitbit registered 3,000 steps while I was sitting in the van!  Our guide told us that the locals don’t want to repair the road – they prefer rough driving over having tourists crowding them.  I think I agree.

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  • November 9, 2016

    Hawaiian Vacation: Resort and Luau

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    Did ya’ll remember to vote yesterday?  Did you cling to your tv/radio/social media to follow every second of the tally?  Well I did and I’ve got to say, I am ready for a break from the politics and drama and fear and sadness… I’m ready to go back to Hawaii.  Since that isn’t really possible, though, let me take you on a little trip down my memory lane and you can live a little vicariously through my adventure for a while!

    mermaid

    My friend and I went to Maui and stayed at the Grand Wailea resort.  She was there for a work conference and I was just lucky to get to tag along.  The resort was the fanciest, most beautiful place I’ve ever stayed.  We had a ground floor room with a view of the ocean and it was perfection!

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    celebration

    The first night we were there we went to a luau.   I felt a little strange asking native people to put their culture on display in such a commercial setting, but I did enjoy the dancing and the stories that were told.  It’s amazing to watch!

    hula

    ribbon-dancer

    The second day we had to do some conference things and I didn’t get too many pictures.  It was pretty laid back and I got to touch the ocean for the first time in my life!  It’s so weird to me that some people grow up playing in the vastness of the ocean without a second thought.  I felt sure it would swallow me up if I stayed too long.

    fresh-fruit

    There is a small path at the resort that is lined with trees and plants that are all fruit producing which are maintained organically.  Because of this, you can literally just pick what you like and eat it right off the tree!  So, we had a little harvest party on our walk and a very kind man helped us reach the too tall star fruit.  It was glorious!

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    Another day we were there, I dragged my friend to a dedicated gluten free restaurant where I ate way too much.  I haven’t had fried food in 10 years… so this was amazing and horrible all at the same time!

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    I hope you’re enjoying my pictures and stories.  Check back next week for more of my trip!

  • November 2, 2016

    October Round Up

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    Happy November, ya’ll!  October went a little nuts and I got totally behind on my blogs!  I do want to share my round up for October, though, so here we go!

     

    soup

    My hubby has struggled with a deviated septum his whole life which makes it hard for him to breathe properly, especially when he’s trying to sleep.  So, this fall we decided it was time to get it taken care of and he went in for surgery.  Everything went great and he’s said that he feels so much better now!  He’s able to sleep so much better than before!  To help him heal, I made homemade chicken soup and it was ah-maz-ing!

     

    hawaii

    After the surgery was done and we knew everything was good, I confirmed my girls trip to Hawaii.  A friend of mine was planning to attend a conference for her work and I talked her into letting me tag along.  The trip went splendidly and you can bet there will be tons of pictures and more detail up next week!  *grin*

     

    books

    I also read a lot this month – fall always gets me into the mindset of study,  books, and cuddling up with blankets and tea.  This month I read Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, and Stir by Jessica Fetcher.  If you haven’t read Jennys blog or books, you really should consider giving it a try.  She’s quirky and fun but she also talks about deep, important issues like parenthood and mental illness.  I also enjoyed The Girl on the Train which is a thriller/suspense novel.  I really liked the mystery of it and trying to figure out what was happening along with the main character.  Stir is a memoir for my book club about a woman whose recovery from illness was aided hugely by her love of cooking and food.  I haven’t quite finished yet, but so far it’s been really wonderful!

    Despite all the busy-ness of last month, we did still manage to see a couple of movies.  The first was Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.  I really liked Tim Burton’s take on the story and its overall darkness.  Some things were, of course, left out from the book… but it was so good it wasn’t too hard to find forgiveness for Tim.  We also saw The Girl on the Train which was pretty good.  I preferred the book and felt that there was just a lot more suspense and intrigue than the movie.  My husband did not read the book, though, and said that he was able to follow it just fine and liked the movie well enough.  One thing I do want to understand is why they would change the setting from London to New York?  It made me unexplainably sad.

    Lastly, Halloween!  Because of the crazy, busy, expensive, and exhausting way this month went… I didn’t get to do my decorations as planned.  This makes me really sad because now I’ve failed my 30 before 30.  Hopefully next year we can get our stuff together and carry out my plan.  We did enjoy the fall colors, candy and baked goods, and pumpkin everything in October and that helped a little.  We watched some classic scary movies and drank lots of hot tea.  Now, we’re in November and I am realizing just how much I have to do before Christmas… how did we ever get this far into 2016?!

  • October 5, 2016

    Boots and Sweaters: An Ode to Fall

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    The air is chill, leaves start to turn,

    Greetings, Autumn, my dearest friend.

    Summer was long and relentless,

    I’m so glad you’ve come ’round again!

    Red, yellow, and orange,

    The colors of warmth are ample,

    But you bring with you a bite and a frost,

    Of winter to come – a tiny sample.

    Oh, glorious Autumn,

    All around, the leaves are beginning to fall,

    Out come countless sweaters and boots,

    Basic girls make videos to show this seasons haul.

    Pumpkin everything, we cry!

    Out come the PSL marked Starbucks cups,

    Salted caramel, slouchy socks, and flannel,

    Even scarves and booties for their pups!

    A basic white girl who loves you, Autumn,

    That, I may be.

    But it’s okay – I really don’t mind,

    I celebrate you proudly!

     

    loved

  • September 28, 2016

    September Round Up

    Wow, you guys, September came and went in what feels like a flash!  I don’t even know how we got here!  I guess a big part of this whirlwind month is that it was so busy (which is why I don’t have any pictures!  Sorry in advance)!  Here’s a little review of all the things!

    If you missed it, I started out September with a major hair cut for charity!  You can read more here.  It was such a rewarding and relieving event – plus I love my new hair!  It’s been so much easier to get ready in the mornings  which gives me a ton more time – I actually started doing dishes before I leave for work!  *haha*

    This month was my hubby and my 8th anniversary!  We usually try to go on a trip or do something big like that, but this year we just had too many other things going on to pull it together.  We did go out for a couple of nice dinners and had a lovely picnic lunch in the park, so it was still very nice.  True to our (sort of) tradition, we didn’t get each other individual gifts… we got one big “gift” for the both of us:

    That’s right, friends, we got a new washer and dryer for our anniversary!  I should have taken a picture of the ancient, rumbly, terrifying old machines… but let’s just say they were way past their prime and we needed the new ones!  Our kitty isn’t terribly impressed and I still don’t really know how to work the darn things, but I am a happy laundress!

    rat-queens

    This wasn’t a great reading month… too many other things got in the way.  I did enjoy a new (to me) comic called The Rat Queens.  The art style is glorious and the comic itself is the perfect balance of adventure and comedy.  There is quite a bit of strong language, so be aware of that, but it’s still really fantastic!

     

    animal-vegetable-miracle

    The book club book for October is Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  That’s the only book I’ve really made time for so far.  The focus is on eating well from local sources to promote health, seasonal eating, and farming.  I like it a lot, but Barbara can be a bit preachy in her writing – I often feel like she’s wagging her finger at me like I’ve done something terrible.  She also sets the bar for her cause so high that I’m less inspired than I could be just because I know I could never measure up to her standard.  Worth a read if you’re interested in her ideas, but take it with a grain of salt.

     

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    Besides being too busy to read much this month, I’ve also devoted a significant amount of time to my new favorite show: Outlander.  I’ve been meaning to read the books (and I still will), but I just couldn’t wait to watch the show any longer!  This is one of the most beautiful, thrilling, emotional, and intriguing shows I’ve ever seen and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone who likes romance, Scotland, time travel, politics, history, or deep stories that make them think!

    On YouTube, I’ve gotten addicted to Carpool Karaoke.  A lovely co-worker suggested it after First Lady Michelle Obama was on and oh. my. gosh.  So fun!  I really love James Corden and he’s done a really lovely job with the series.  Michelle was my favorite guest so far, but I also really loved Adele and Elton John.

    Because I’m a multi-tasker, I’ve been planning for a short trip to Hawaii while watching all those YouTube videos.  that’s right, next month I’ll be boarding a jet plane with my BFF and enjoying the surf and sun in Hawaii!  We are super excited!  I’ve been researching and learning and planning all month and am practically packed already because I’m so excited.  *grins*  Don’t worry, you’ll hear all about it when I get back!

    Lastly, I ran a 5k this month with my husband.  The last one I did was about a year ago and I’ve been exercising a lot, so I figured it would be easy.  Guess what?  It wasn’t.  The course was very different (lots of hills and running on dirt) and I just struggled so much!  I was pretty disappointed, but I learned for sure that I am really not a runner.  I’m just not.  This realization made my hubby sad since he enjoys running, and he was so encouraging and supportive… he even tried to convince me that we’d run together at home and he’d try to help me get better.  Poor thing… so much hope was dashed that day.  I’m glad we did it, but don’t hold your breath waiting for me to try again!  *haha*

    So, that’s my big story for this month.  I hope you are enjoying this time of transition from summer into fall as much as I am!  Go play in some leaves and drink some coffee!

  • September 21, 2016

    Photo Fun

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    It’s fall, ya’ll!  If you know me, or if you’ve been reading this blog, then you know that I LOVE Fall!  In honor of the first day of fall being tomorrow, I decided to deck out my house with fall things and candles.  We also spent some quality time with the pup playing with the ball and walking the neighborhood to enjoy the beautiful, cooler weather!  I hope you enjoy my little start of fall photo diary!  *grin*

     

    dining-room

     

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    aaaand some close ups!

     

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    pantry

     

    pumpkin-muffin-mix

    These muffins are really yummy!

     

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    mmm… look how yummy!

     

    roses

     

    fireplace

     

    jack

     

    ball

    Happy boy!

     

    walkies-for-ollie

     

  • September 14, 2016

    Tabbouleh Inspired Quinoa Salad

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    Now that summer is winding down and fall is nearly upon us, I’ve gotten a little obsessed with this simple, hearty meal.  Using tons of veggies right out of the garden with a little quiona and feta… this has to be one of the best things I’ve come up with so far!  And the great thing is, you can use this alone for a lunch or light dinner or you can serve it alongside a nice steak or pork chop!  It’s easy, versatile, and super healthy… what more could you want?  *grin*  I hope you love it as much as I do!

    Tabbouleh Inspired Quinoa Salad Recipe

    By Erin Published: September 14, 2016

      Now that summer is winding down and fall is nearly upon us, I've gotten a little obsessed with this simple, hearty meal.  Using tons …

      Ingredients

      Instructions

      1. suppliesGather Ingredients.
      2. Cook the quinoa (Rinse 1 cup quinoa in a fine mesh strainer, then put in pot with 2 cups water (or 2 cups broth if you prefer) and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes. When done, remove from heat at let stand 5 minutes.)
      3. Cook the edamame according to the packaging and cut the other veggies.
      4. When the quinoa is done, add the edamame, chickpeas, tomatoes, green onion, parsley, mint and feta to the pot. Toss to combine.
      5. 4. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour into the bowl with the quinoa and toss until combined. Season with additional salt to taste if desired.
        yum