Wednesday, March 28, 2018

On Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever, the ailment from which I am currently suffering.  Winter has lasted way too long this year.  We didn't take our annual trip to Hawaii to break up the cold and darkness of the long Alaskan winters, for which I am truly in a state of regret.  We are still under about two feet of snow, probably more in select spots of our yard.  Yes.  The sun has returned, but that doesn't make the cold leave.

I'm tired of going from the car to a building and back to the car and back to a building.  This routine is getting OLD!!!  I want to be outside, which yes if I bundle up I can be, but I HATE THE COLD.  I don't have any desire to be out in it, trudging through the snow, pretending I love winter.  Nope.  No Way.  Not at all.  I'm over it and ready for some summer!!!

I've had a number of people say getting a "happy" light helps.  Maybe it does, but it's no substitute for sitting on the porch sipping iced tea and listening to the birds.  Yep, I have white noise apps to simulate nature sounds.  Again I will point out this does not change the fact that I am OVER winter.

I want to enjoy our yard, sit on the porch, read in the hammock.  I want to grill and eat dinner at our picnic table.  Instead, I'm sitting in my studio, staring out the window at the field of white snow and sipping peppermint tea as I write this.  The sun is shining and the skies are blue, and it 16 degrees with a crisp wind.

I've been trying to busy myself with cleaning, cooking, writing, reading and the like, but it's barely taking the edge off.  I'm so ready to be outside enjoying my flip flops, listening to my windchimes, sitting in my lounge chair sipping wine and wandering around our yard. 

This past weekend we started our seeds for the garden, which gives me hope that Spring may eventually come, but this year it seems like it's taking its own damn time getting here. 

Is anyone else suffering with me or am I alone?

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

On Living in Alaska

WARNING:  This could offend those that love living here.

We've lived here just over six years.  Do I love it here?  Nope.  Will I ever?  Nope.  Let me clarify, I don't hate it here, but I'm not staying for life.  I know there are millions of people watching reality tv shows, itching to live the "Alaskan Dream", but let me tell you there is a HUGE difference between dreaming about living it and actually doing it.

Since we've been here we've seen a lot of people move in and move out, less than a year later.  People up here tell stories about newcomers and those that can't hack it here.  There's the guy who sold his motorcycle because he heard there were no roads in the Interior.  There's the one about the couple who didn't realize it got so dark for so long here in the winter.  There's the wife that wouldn't move here because it's too far to do any "real" shopping.  And there's a zillion stories about the people who left because winter is just too cold.

The first thing I'm going to say is - GOOGLE IT!  With ever one of these stories I wonder if they even tried to find out about the state before they moved here.  Don't move to Alaska to live without doing any research.  No, I'm serious.  Ask before you move.  If you're moving for a job, like we did, ask about the area, the weather, how far it is to hospitals, movie theaters and shopping.  Learn about what's available in the area you'll be living in.

The second thing I'm going to say is - Don't move if you don't adapt well.  Yep.  If you aren't good at adapting to new environments, this isn't the state for you.  There are companies that don't ship here, there are things you won't find here and depending on your location you could be 100 or more miles from the "town", "town" being the closest big city for shopping and such.

We moved for a job.  Plain and simple.  If or when the job ends, we'll move again.  As we always say - we didn't drink the kool-aid.  Alaska is beautiful, but it's also hard.  The winters are long, dark and usually pretty damn cold.  The summers are short, with 24 hours of light, and depending on the season they are either smokey or wet.

We've seen -50 since we've lived here.  Only once and not for a very long stint, but it happened.  We drive 100 miles to the nearest airport and the closest Wal-mart.  We own two snow blowers and plug our cars in about 8 months out of the year.  We've learned to tolerate the moose that eat our garden and hold us and our dogs hostage in the house while they graze on our trees.

Everyone has a battle story of how they moved here.  Ours takes place in February, includes a trip on the ferry and a one day drive through Canada, a stay in a place called Border City, into a town that doesn't rent hotel rooms to people with pets.

I love living in our small town, but I look forward to the day that we wave goodbye and drive out of here.  I've lived over half my life in states where the winter is way too long, the summers are way too short and there really aren't any other seasons.

As I write this it -6 and March is nearly over!  Yes, it's below zero on the morning I am writing this post.  It will warm up today, most likely to somewhere about freezing.  This does not change the fact that March is nearly over and there is very little sign of Spring.  Our yard still has about a two-foot blanket of white snow on it.

Alaska is a state built for the hearty at heart and strong-willed, the rugged individual determined to make it in any environment.  If you love the outdoors, hiking, fishing, snow-machining, 4-wheeling, wildlife and isolation than the Interior of Alaska could be a perfect fit for you.  As for me, I want a place that has 4 seasons, with short mild winters.  Goals...we all need life goals.

I'm glad we took the chance and moved here for the job.  We've made amazing memories and some amazing friends.  So I'll keep living here, adapting and making it work until we find out next adventure...the way things currently stand we have about another seven years, that's when hubby retires and we take the next step in our amazing life that we're building.

Monday, March 26, 2018

The House That Isn't There

by Stacy Petersen
(written 23 July 2008)

From the street,
Three steps climb a small hillside,
To a yard that is still mowed.

The frail driveway,
Worn by weather and time,
Guides the way,
To a garage,
Rundown with neglect.

Yet there is no house,
That a family would have shared.
No path to a front door,
That could have been.  
Not even a foundation, 
To reflect where the home stood.

Where did it go,
The house that isn't there?
Lost to flames,
Claimed by a bulldozer's angry rage,
Or was it the victim of a dream gone awry?

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

On Recipe Storage

I'm a recipe hoarder, or as I like to say, collector.  Collector sounds so much better than hoarder don't you think?  Regardless, of hoarding or collecting, I've spent all of my adult life searching for the perfect way to organize and store my stash.

I started with index cards and a small file box, which I quickly outgrew once I was married.  I moved into card file boxes, organized by type and separated into "tried" and "to be tried" boxes.  If you're new to here then you might not know I used to write a food blog, but that was in another life.  No, don't leave and go Google it.  It's gone.  I deleted it.  Anywho...from two long card file boxes, I moved into binders, which I still use today.  However, those binders don't even come close to holding it all.  I still have stuff all over the place.

Several years ago I bought some recipe software.  I was going to get organized and put all my recipes into it.  Fast forward 10 years and here we are with binders and software, some overlap in both.  In the midst of this came the advent of Pinterest.  Yep, you guessed it, there are recipes pinned on Pinterest, most of which I never revisit after pinning.  I also have a few handfuls of recipes on Google drive, from making recipes printable for the old blog.  Some of these are printed and in the binders, but many of them are just trapped in Google drive forgotten and alone. 

Then there are the notebooks I scratch ingredient lists into with one or two cryptic lines of text that are supposed to be directions for a repeat of the creation.  No one else can decipher these recipes, but they're on the list of "someday I'll get them written out for other people to use".  Who knows when that will happen. 

We haven't even talked about the cookbook collection that is hiding in my cupboards.  Yes.  Dozens of them, which I keep saying I'm going to sort and purge (insert wicked laughing here).  I have this problem, I love to read cookbooks like novels, but rarely do I make any of the dishes.  Some cookbooks I keep solely for one or two recipes.   

I need to get all of these darn things into one working format, which I really think the most functional form is the binders.  Binders aren't pretty, but they are functional.  We've talked about going digital, but who has the time to find the right way to do that and get it all into one digital keeper?  Besides, I'm a messy cook and it's much easier to wipe off a recipe in a sheet protector than it is to wipe off a digital device.

Do you suffer from this affliction?  How do you corral your recipes into a manageable form?

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

On Writing More

What exactly does that look like?  I'll be honest, I don't know.  For now possibly just more posting here.  Perhaps writing something to submit somewhere later on.  Feasibly some more short essay-style pieces.  If I'm truly honest, I don't know how long this desire will last.

I've craved and reveled in writing since I was young.  I wrote stories on my electric typewriter in Junior High.  Later in High School, I took both a short story and a poetry class, neither of which ended up being what I imagined they would be.  I've submitted a few pieces to short story contests, but that never went anywhere.  Looking back, I'm sure it was because I was writing high school quality work to send into a magazine with adults submitting a much higher level of work to the same competitions.

Later in my adult life, when we lived in Missouri, I was part of a writing group for a very short amount of time.  Just as I was starting to get back into writing, I got a much-needed job.  Said job and writing group weren't compatible.  Getting paid outweighed the creative endeavor.  I also started a food blog while we live there.  I wrote for several years and even morphed into a creative blog before closing and deleting it.  Why delete?  Because I was done with it and when I'm done I'm done.

Fast forward to today, well here we are, listening to me talk about wanting to write more.  I still don't know what that really means or what that will really look like.  I've continually been drawn to creative writing.  I have a stash of poetry that's never been made public, most of which was written in my late teens and early 20's.  I have a few incomplete prose and essays from our time in Missouri, little to nothing form our time in Texas and a few bits from living in Alaska.

Along with creative writing, I enjoy sharing what I know.  This blog space is a place for me to do a bit of everything.  I started blogging again as a way to air out my personal thoughts and share my views of the world.  I've created some categories and I've written some posts, but now I'm starting to see other possibilities and opportunities for me to grow and develop my writing.

Last week I posted this photo on Instagram and included the following caption...

"You’re never too old to start something new or to grow into the person you wish you were. Never stop learning and never let fear control your path."

The question running through my head right now is do I really believe that?  Yes, inner critic, I really do.  I'm trying to put my fear aside and will need to use a little duct tape to shut the mouth of my inner critic and then we'll be on our way.

I love this idea from Elizabeth Gilbert's book Big Magic -

"Dearest Fear:  Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together.  I understand you'll be joining us, because you always do.  I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do in my life, and that you take your job seriously." 

She goes on to say that Fear can come on the trip, there is plenty of room in the car.  That fear can also have a voice but not a vote and she ends the section with -

"above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive."

What does this have to do with writing more?  To be honest, writing more for me is putting my fear in the back seat and telling it to shut up!  I'm always in fear of what others are thinking when I'm talking and sharing my ideas, thoughts, and insight.  I need to remind myself that writing in this space is a safe space, I'm in control and fear needs to sit this one out.  For me, fear and my inner critic are conjoined twins that egg each other on.

I'll leave you with this visual -  Creativity and I are going to be partners in crime, we'll be getting in our panel van and Fear and the Inner Critic will be bound and gagged in the back.  Yes.  Perhaps I do listen to too many True Crime podcasts, but that's a story for another day.

Monday, March 19, 2018

100 Days of Photos - Week 4 - The End

I can hear my friend Amy calling me a rebel as I write this.  I really can't make myself do anything that doesn't make my heart sing.  I made is 24 days into a 100-day project.  Let me just point out that I need to stop trying these things.  I NEVER complete any of them.  I didn't complete Inktober a couple of years ago.  I failed at the 30-day color challenge... and now this.  I must stop!  So here they are the last few shots that took us to day 24.

Day 21:
Selfie, no makeup, and messy hair.

Day 22:
Kitten paw.

Day 23:
Lemon Kitty.

Day 24:
Dinner.  Eating my stress with mac n cheese and fries with a glass of red wine.

The End.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

On Being a Pet Momma

Let's get one thing out in the open, right up front.  I have four children.  No, I did not give birth to them.  No, they are not human.  They are children none the less.

We currently have four girls, two dogs and two cats.  We talk to them like they are human and treat them better than some people treat children.  The sleep in our bed, they get on the couch, they make us crazy.  We buy them treats, toys and even clothing when needed.  I worry about them as if they are children when we leave them with a sitter for the weekend.

Our youngest has bad manners and is headstrong.  She loves to "taste" everyone who comes to the door.  No biting, just a bit of doggie mouthing and gumming.  She gets very excited when people come and she loves to talk.  She's the Houdini of the group.  Can get out of most anything that she finds confining.  She loves treats, being free and sleeps on her back under our bed at night.  Hedy is a mixed breed rescue dog, part husky, chow and rottweiler.  She's a bit misunderstood and is totally a momma's girl.

The "baby" of the family loves treats and belly rubs.  She's sweet and loves her daddy.  Snores like a hibernating bear and will do anything to go bye-bye in the car.  Thinks she's tough, but only from the confines of the house or the front porch.  Loud noises make her run for the bunker, aka the downstairs tub.  Matilda is a Toy Aussie, also a bit of a rescue dog.  She's the princess of the house.

The one with the most energy in the house will also come running when the treat drawer is opened.  She steals things small things like buttons and coins off of the counters in the night.  She loves to sleep under the covers and hide in the closest when we're gone for long periods of time.  Lemon came to live with us when some of our family needed to give her up.  She's a tiny calico full of playfulness.

Our oldest is a crabby girl, most people call her mean kitty, including me.  She was a pound baby.  I've had her since she was tiny.  She's 17 now.  All black and full of sass.  She screams at everyone and would prefer it if we left the faucet in the tub on for her drinking needs.  She hisses, and occasionally swipes, at anyone that doesn't live here. Ashes is an unknown bread, but full of attitude. 

Anyone that comes to visit expecting our pets to behave like well-trained animals will always leave a little shocked.  I tell anyone who stays overnight, or for any length of time, to shut their door at night if they don't want an unexpected bed partner or two.  Yes, they beg and yes, they do get table scraps.  They are spoiled, ill-mannered and full of love.  If you visit, expect to leave covered in hair and maybe even a little dog slobber.  They are our children, they live here, you do not. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

March Currently

I've been listening to a variety of things as of late.

I'm about halfway through reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  I'm trying hard to finish this one, but I'm not sure it's gonna happen.  I could really do without the excerpts that are comments from her blog readers.  There have also been a few spots where I just want to shout - "get to the point already".  I think I can honestly say at the halfway mark, I won't be reading any more of her books.  Her writing style really isn't a good fit for my reading style.

I'm exploring how my personality type - INFP.  I took the Meyers Briggs test online at to learn my type.  Now I'm focused on trying to figure what changes I need to make to fit my type and my life better.

I love reading non-fiction, and really love finding subjects that fill a learning aspect for me as well.  Right now that little space is dedicated to essential oils and how to add them into my life more.  

The 100 Days of Photos project has just passed the 20 photos mark, today is day 23.  I have less than 80 days to go in this project.  I'm not sure I'm learning much with this project, but I am taking more photos, which was my goal.  Some days I struggle to get one and others it's so easy to get multiple photos.  

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

March Staycation

We did a long weekend away this past weekend.  It was a staycation of sorts.  We drove the 100 miles to spend the weekend in Fairbanks.  It's our closest "big" town with a population of a little over 32,000.  The big city of Fairbanks includes shopping, multiple restaurants and even the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

We did a lot of eating out.  We're food people and one of our big things, when we go on vacation, is eating, staycation or not.  We decided to eat at places we've never eaten while we were there.  Breaking out of our comfort rut.

Stop number one, lunch on our day of arrival.  One of the food trucks has recently opened a new restaurant serving Indian food.  We're big Indian food lovers and knew we had to try it.  So glad we did!  Spice It Up is a small order at the counter location with a limited menu, but the food is delightful.  We both enjoyed a Lamb Gyro and shared two Samosas and an order of Naan.  Everything was delicious.  I would say that these were some of the best Samosas I've ever eaten and the Naan was prepared to fresh to order.

For Breakfast the next morning we hit another place we'd been meaning to go back to - The Cookie Jar.  We'd been to The Cookie Jar for lunch a little less than a year ago and not been too impressed.  This time was a much better experience.  I had the Biscuits and Gravy Platter and hubby had the Corned Beef Hash.  Breakfast was outstanding, service was great and the restaurant was much warmer this time.

We spent a couple of hours at the Museum of the North, located on the Univerity of Alaska Fairbanks campus.  It was a nicely curated museum, but certainly not a $14 value.  We'd heard a lot about this museum and how great it was.  Again I say nicely curated, but not worth $14.  The upside was we went on the weekend, so didn't have to pay for parking.

After our museum wanders, we set out for our next mean - lunch.  We headed across town to the Alaska Cheesesteak Company.  Yummy eats here.  This was another walk up and order at the counter kind of place, with a limited menu, but the food was fantastic.  Hubby had the Jalapeno Jack and I had the Breaded Portabello.  We both added fries and a drink to make the meal complete.  This is a must stop for any cheesesteak lover.

Are you wondering what we did for dinner both nights?  Domino's Pizza!  We live in a town where you can't get delivery pizza, so this is always our treat when we stay overnight in Fairbanks.  We shared a pizza the first night and had buffalo chicken bites and garlic knots the next.

We always get a suite at the Hampton so we have space to spread out and a couch to lounge on.  We don't watch TV.  We usually read and sometimes I knit.  We enjoy ending the day with a beer.  Much of this blog post was written there this weekend.

Besides all the eating and the museum, we did some shopping in store we don't always get to when we're on our usual "supply" run.  We enjoyed not rushing through things and checking off lists.  We enjoyed just being together and unwinding for a few days.

Have you done a staycation?  What did you enjoy?

Monday, March 12, 2018

100 Days of Photos - Week 3

Day 14:
I'm a daily journaler, usually at the end when I crawl into bed.

Day 15:
Feet up and hair down, end of the day.

Day 16:
Morning view, with green tea and more journaling.

Day 17:
My favorite pen, goes everywhere my Midori Traveler's Notebook does.

Day 18:
Indian for lunch.

Day 19:
Historic brick of tea, from an exhibit at the Museum of the North in Fairbanks, AK.

Day 20:
Knitting in the car. 

Only 80 more days to go!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

On Being Married

...and they lived happily ever after.  Okay, but what did that really look like?  The boy gets the girl and they ride off into the sunset, but then what?  No one ever tells you what a truly happy marriage is about.  It's not about the end of the love story in a movie, it's about all the stuff that happens after that sunset. 

It's about...

Repeating favorite one-liners from movies and songs, all the time.

Doing the laundry and never folding it.

Cooking, hopefully together like we do in our house. 

Cleaning the kitchen and taking out the trash. 

Talking about mundane things from your day. 

Funny pet names. 

Silly grade school humor, including fart jokes. 

Riding in the car and not talking for miles.

Being comfortable in silence together. 

Having someone to travel with. 

Adjusting bra straps and sinching up suspenders. 

Accepting the clutter and the habits of the one you love. 

Remembering and reminding. 

Never going to bed mad. 

Snoring and talking in your sleep. 

Meltdowns during the high-stress parts of your life together. 

Little things. 

Lowering your expectations.

Laughing at the same inside jokes.

Balancing checkbooks and paying bills.

Being in love, but more importantly, being loved.

It's about finding someone you love being naked with.

Being married is about all the little, less than glamorous things in life.  There won't be rose petals all over your bed every night and baths by candlelit are something in the movies.  It's way more about dirty socks on the floor, coats on doorknobs, getting dressed out of the laundry basket, changing the cat box, and eating breakfast for dinner because anything else sounds like to much work.

The next time you think marriage is about living happily ever after, remember what that really looks like.  Leave your rose colored glass behind.  The real thing is so much better, trust me.  All the little things, good or bad, make marriage so much more than happily ever after.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

On Not Having Children

It's really simply amazing the thoughts people think about women who don't have children.  It's also simply amazing how rude other women are about the whole concept.  Now that I'm 40 no one is asking me about having kids anymore, thank heavens, but when I got married at the age of 29 that was a hot topic of conversation.  I used to come home from work at least a few times a week and complain about the constant topic of children.  My husband always said it had to be a female thing.

Let's face it, men don't go through the barrage of questions women do.  It all starts with "why don't you have a boyfriend", then you get a boyfriend.  Next, they ask "is there's a wedding in the future", you become engaged.  Next, come the questions about a date for the "big day", finally a date is set and you tie the knot.  Questions don't stop there, they always move on the badgering you about when are you planning to start a family, to which I very often wanted to reply "None of your damn business."  Which, let's be honest, would have been easier the awkwardness of explaining why we didn't want kids.

When you go out on a limb and explain that you won't be having children, most women jump to the conclusion that you hate kids.  Never, ever does it cross anyone's minds that you just genuinely don't have an interest in having your own.  I've been called selfish, told I didn't know what I was missing out on, and even been given sympathy for how empty my life must be.  REALLY?  It was our choice, and we choose no.  End of conversation.  This wasn't about how anyone else felt about our decision, this was what was best for us.

This merry-go-round went on until I reached about 35 or 36.  Then it mostly mellowed out to people asking if I had kids, me saying no and them saying "that's to bad".  To which I very often wanted to ask "for who"?

I'll be quite frank here, this is by far the worst question to ask ANY woman.  Why?  Because you have no idea what she is really going through.  We choose not to have children, but there are many women who desperately want a child and are struggling to make that dream a reality.  When you ask that woman about having children you are kicking a woman while she is down.  Would you ask her when she's having a baby if you knew that was a daily struggle for her?

What I really want to say every time I hear someone ask anyone questions about starting a family or having more children - SHUT UP!!!!  It is none of your business!!  If you know me personally you know I'm leaving out some less than PG additives here but in all seriousness mind your own damn business and stop asking when a woman is going to start a family.

Everyone has the right to make so many choices in life,  why is it so against the grain for a woman to accept another woman's choice not to have children?  I can't count how many times I wanted to go off on other women and tell them things like - "I'm not missing out on a damn thing", " No I don't hate children", "I'm not selfish", and my favorite "What gives you the right to look down your nose at me for not having any children".

I have tons of friends with children, many of which I love as if they were my own, but I don't want to talk about anyone's pregnancy, not yours, your friends, your sisters, your daughters, or your neighbors.  No.  Really.  I don't.  If there isn't more to your life than having babies we can't be friends.  I wasn't put on this earth to populate it, and there are many other women out there like me.  If you're one of these women, I hope this gives you strength to stand by your choice and know that saying no to having children is perfectly acceptable.  Your life can be full with or without children.  Support that woman who doesn't feel called to be a mother, don't badger her with questions about having babies.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Raw Thoughts

What if I wrote what I really thought?  No really.  What if I actually wrote all the things I think.  All the raw uncensored emotions that run around in my head.  Would you read or would you be a troll telling me how stupid I sound?

I'm always full of questions and unrequested advice.  Sarcasm and words often flow out of my mouth without much thought.  I talk too much, which magnifies when I'm wound up in anger, frustration or on the edge o tears.  I'm jampacked with opinions that are mostly unwarranted and judgments no one is ever seeking.  I come off sharp and even mean at times without really meaning too.  I've been told my whole life that I'm loud and bossy.

Again I ask, would you read it if it wasn't censored?

I have the vocabulary of a well-educated sailor.  I make my Marine husband proud because I have a mouth that would make a church lady blush and a Marine welcome me to the chow hall.  I don't have a college degree, and no I don't want one.  I also despise people who look down their nose on those without one.

I'm a rare mix of political views, mostly conservative and I'm a Christian.  I don't believe life is fair, nor should it ever be.  I believe you should accept your limitations and push yourself to be the best you.  I hate political correctness.  I also detest the 'liberal' woman platform.  I believe in equal rights and equal pay, but I also want to be treated like the lady my mom thought she raised.  Guns don't kill people, people do.  We need to stop blaming the world for everything and start being accountable for our own actions again.

Still reading?

I think manners, life skills, typing, and handwriting should still all be taught in schools.  Parents should be parents, not friends with their children.  Children should be taught that the world doesn't revolve around them.  The world needs more common sense and more kindness.  Being polite is huge, be more!

Hey you...yeah you, the grumpy one with the scowl on your face who thinks the world is against you.  Wipe the scowl off your face and return the smile to that stranger at the Post Office.  Hold the door for some and say thank you when someone holds it for you.

Still with me?

Stop assuming you know everything.  Never stop learning.  Everyone can teach you something, EVERYONE!  Be open to kindness, and return it.  Basically, stop being an ass and start being a human.

Monday, March 5, 2018

100 Days of Photos - Week 2

Here we are in week two!  Here's hoping I can keep the momentum going in week three.

Day 7:
I have a small thimble collection, that I've had for years.  I have a few vintage one and some wooden ones with a smattering of ones my mom gave me.

Day 8:
This ring brought together two special pieces to capture some sacred memories.  On the left a piece of sea glass from our honeymoon and on the right the original garnet from my engagement ring.  Made by Meg Jewelry created this custom piece and I wear it nearly every day.

Day 9:
Is there really any better way to eat peanut butter than straight from the jar?

Day 10:
Adding to my essential oils collection.  I recently singed up for the Recipe Box from Simply Earth.  Each box includes a few essential oils, recipes and everything you need to make the recipes they include.

Day 11:
Friday night drink after a long week.  Don't judge I work around teenagers.

Day 12:
Saturday Night Date Night.  Pub steak, garlic mashed potatoes, brocolini and a nice glass of Troublemaker Red.

Day 13:
Grapefruit Yogurt Cake, go get the recipe over here at Shutterbean.  Was delicious!

13 days in and I'm still managing to take a photo a's to hoping week three keeps the flow.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

On Building New Habits

Are new habits that hard to build or are the old ones just too hard to break?  Think about that a minute. Sip your coffee or tea and we'll come back to that in a minute.  I recently turned 40 and started thinking about a lot of things, especially my habits and that very notion popped into my head.

We all have habits, good ones, bad ones, big ones, small ones.  Some of us are creatures of habit, some of us don't even realize we have habits.  We even refer to some of our habits as routines.  I think everyone is trying to change their bad habits and build good ones.  Often we let society dictate what our good habits and bad habits should be.

I'm totally a creature of habit or routine as it may be.  I like to get up and enjoy my first cup of coffee before I really engage in too much conversation.  I like to be awake for a while before I eat breakfast.  I want a shower, every morning.  As of late, I've made morning Yoga part of my day four to five times a week.  I've added a cup of green tea into my daily routine and I've brought back the use of essential oils.  I also drink roughly 48 ounces of water every day and journal daily.

It's honestly a struggle for me to form a new good habit.  Maybe that's because some of my bad habits are just so darn easy, like loitering on social media.  Yes, it really is loitering.  You have that tab open because you just can't bring yourself to close it, or maybe you can't bring yourself to turn off notifications.  We'll come back to notifications in a minute.  Don't worry I'm not pointing fingers.  I'm just as guilty, but this is a habit I am working to break.  The good habit that I'm trying to put in its place is reading. 

Before we get into my reading habits let's talk about notifications for just a minute.  Notifications are extremely distracting to you, those around you and they pull you off task constantly.  Want to get more done in your day?  Shut off the notifications on your phone.  The shock, the horror!  What is she talking about?  I could never do that!  Y, s you can.  What's more is you should!  I have all the notifcations turned off on my phone except three things - texts, email and banking.  Only two of these make noise - texts and banking.  My email is just the red dot with a number of messages.  On top of that, when I go to work my phone goes on vibrate and stays that way until I return home at night.  Now that we have that little bit of housekeeping out of the way let's jump back to what I was saying about reading.

I'd love to tell you something cliche like I'm an avid reader, but I'm not and I have never been.  Why?  Oh, the reasons are many and the list is long.  One of the main reasons is that I prefer non-fiction and good non-fiction is hard to come by.  We won't talk about how long it took me to figure out I'm a non-fiction reader.  If a book is overly technical and written in an "I'm so brilliant and you're not tone" I'm out.  I give a book about 30 pages to capture me and keep me reading.  Otherwise, it's dumped and I move on.  Life's to short for bad books, bad coffee, bad food, and bad wine.  I like a book I can learn something from, that isn't presented from a pedestal by the writer.

The other habit I'm trying to foster, or maybe I should say resurrect, is daily photography.  Once upon a time, in a life light years from where I am now, I used to shoot film and never left home without my camera.  Now I have a camera in my pocket, thank you iPhone, but I rarely stop and shoot anything.  If you follow this blog you may already know from Monday's post, that I've challenged myself to take 100 photos in 100 days.  This is enough time to develop a habit, assuming I stick with it and don't dump it by week three. 

These may seem like little things, even easy things, but even the little things are often the hardest to change or start.  We get set in our ways and are often too lazy to break our own daily grind.  If you died tomorrow would you be happy with the memory you'd leave behind for your family?  Would you leave behind a memory of constantly checking your phone for social updates?  Would you wish you'd done more with your life, learned more, gave more, shared more?  Just some bits of food for thought. 

What's one habit you want to work on?  What's one good choice you want to make today?  Leave me a note in the comments, I'd love to know who's striving for changes, big or small.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Recipe Review: Two Peas & Their Pod Soft Peanut Butter Cookies

I love peanut butter anything!  I'm that girl that only needs a spoon and a jar.  I'm also a snob about my peanut butter.  I prefer Jiffy Natural over any other brand...and please don't ask me about Adam's Natural peanut butter my answer will offend anyone that loves it.

Over the weekend I found myself craving cookies.  I'd been texting with a friend on Saturday and she told me about the cookies she was making, after that I couldn't get cookies off my brain, thanks, Amy!  When Sunday rolled around the cookies on my brain had turned into a full-blown craving for peanut butter cookies.  I'm sure there are dozens of recipes for peanut butter cookies in my recipe box, including the one I grew up eating, but I wanted a soft cookie.  I set out on a mission to find a recipe that would create soft cookies, but wouldn't create enough to feed a neighborhood of hungry teenagers.

In my search, on Pinterest of course, I came across a recipe from Two Peas & Their Pod for Soft Peanut Butter Cookies.  The recipe said it made two dozen.  The ingredients were simple and I had everything.  Big bonus, because I'm not leaving the house on a Sunday afternoon for anything, not even to make cookies.  Yep, this was the recipe for me.

This recipe turned out a delicious cookie and produced three dozen cookies, with a few tweaks.  They are soft but have a good chewy texture.  Hubby even likes them, so it's a win!

Soft Peanut Butter Cookies
(Recipe adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Extra granulated sugar, for rolling cookies in

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet parchment paper and set aside, skip this step if using a baking stone.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a second mixing bowl, cream together butter and peanut butter together until well combined.  Add the sugars and beat until well mixed.   Add in egg and vanilla extract and mix until egg is well incorporated.  Add in the dry ingredients, a little at a time, until there are no flour streaks in the dough.

Using a 1-Tablespoon cookies scoop, cookie dough into balls, roll in granulated sugar, and place on prepared baking sheet, about 2-inches apart.

Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes or until they have spread out and begun to crack slightly, and cookies are just set. Don’t overbake.  Cookies will be slightly puffy in the middle and will flatten as they cool.  Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet 4-5 minutes, or until they have set up. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

On Friendship

Source - Pinterest
Friendships are such a unique dynamic thing.  They come in all phases of our lives, are constantly evolving, ever growing and sometimes only last for a season.  At a certain point in your life, much like romance, age won't matter.

I have friends that are 20 plus years older than me that I just click with.  Many of these are friendships that happened in unlikely ways but have bloomed into friendships I treasure dearly.  These are the friends that have no inhibitions and are totally the people I discuss those things no one else thinks is dinner conversations.

Then there are the friends that are more than 20 years younger than me.  Several of these friendships started out almost in a mentorship way and with time grew into friendship built on common interests.  They're the friends that keep my heart young and challenge me to look at the world in new ways, the friends I push to be strong and grow their dreams.  Friends that I support and reassure, lending a mature ear they can turn to and open a door so they never feel alone.

Source - Pinterest
Let's put this on the table's okay to have more than one bestie.  The shock!  I have two best friends.  Both of them are from different points in my life.  What's even harder for some to understand is that one of my best friends is a GUY!!!  Yep, a married woman with a male bestie that isn't her hubby.  This is the friend that knows all those juicy stories about me, the stories that can embarrass me at a party, but has been there through thick and thin.  The guy who told me the tough to hear things that made me a better woman.  My other bestie and I have a creative connection that grew into an amazing friendship that I wouldn't trade for the world.  She's the one I text regularly and share photos of creative accomplishments with.  The one who shares my intense love of Mexican food.  These are the two friends that are more than friends, they're family.  They're the best friends I can put miles or years between communication lines and still pick up right where we left off when next we connect. 

Life also brings us friends that are only meant to stay in our lives for a season or two.  These are the friends that I outgrew or have outgrew me.  These are the friends that years later, I still think about when I hear a certain song that conjures up a memory that makes my breath to catch in my throat.  These are the friends that I wonder about at odd times.  The friends that have taken a different path in life and traveled through my heart, leaving footprints and memories.

I feel like all of these friendships, and all the ones in between, help shape our character.  They fill the needs and the voids as we travel through our lives, lending support and encouragement along the journey.

Maybe a few of you are wondering why didn't I talk about my husband being my best friend.  The simple answer is because he isn't.  Don't go off half-cocked and get offended and find this statement appalling.  My husband is so much more than a best friend.  Our relationship is so much more intimate than any friendship I've ever had, could or would have had.  Soulmate is so cliche, but it's such a better definition of the amazing relationship I have with my husband.  I understand that many couples see their spouse as their best friend and I'm not saying that's wrong, I'm only saying that it's not how I feel about my relationship with my amazing husband.

Monday, February 26, 2018

100 Days of Photos - Week 1

I started this project on Tuesday.  That's the when, but what about the why?  Well, the why is a little more complicated.  I miss taking photos, but it's way too cold and way too frozen for me to wander around and take amazing photos of foliage this time of year.  I'm a little burned out on my usual artist medium of card making and pen and ink drawing.  I feel like I need to feed my creative soul.  I also want to capture more of my everyday life.

Why 100 Days?  Because I've seen other people do 100 Day Projects.  You can see more and learn more about The 100 Day Project and what other people are making by checking out this link.  There's no commitment other than a creative medium and 100 Days.

Day 1:
What's on my desk.  There's more to my creative endeavors than card making and art.

Day 2:
Our kitchen table, we've turned into my husband's parents...I'll just leave that there.

Day 3:
Seafood Scampi, dinner out with a girlfriend.  Not pictured the bottle of wine.

Day 4:
Hedy.  She's the youngest of our four fur children and our most rambunctious.

Day 5:
Putting essential oils back into my life.  The bottom two books are new, as in got them this past weekend.

Day 6:
Soft Peanut Butter Cookies - Recipe Review coming soon!

I'm enjoying the challenge of both taking a daily photo and remembering to take a daily photo.  I also really like the fact that there are no rules beyond the daily photo.  Snippets of my life, one photo at a time.  Do you take daily photos of your life?  Have you ever done a 100 Days Project? 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

What is Sexy?

What is sexy? Does that question conjure up images of thin, well toned, barely clad women?  That's what society has influenced us to think and to believe, but what is it really?  We're lead to believe that it's about how we look. 

I asked if I was sexy and I was told yes.  I asked what made me sexy and the list he gave included things I never thought about.  Things that are who I am, not how I look.  Then he asked, "don't you understand that?"  I had to answer no. 

I'd never thought about or considered what makes someone sexy is their mind, their heart, the kind things they do.  I'd been drinking the stereotypical cool-aid of the media, thinking that sexy was about being thin, having long hair and big boobs.  Go ahead and laugh, but the next time you're standing in a grocery store checkout line look at the magazines and tell me that's what sexy is portrayed as.

I've struggled with my body image for years, and while I think I'm winning one battle at a time, this is no easy war.

I tired of being labeled.  Curvy, "Plus size", and even overweight by a few healthcare professionals.  I'm a woman, a healthy woman. Could I stand to lose weight, maybe, but according to who's scale and at what price?

I'm tired. Tired of feeling bad about my body. Tired of talking about diets. Tired of talking about losing weight. Tired of hearing about other peoples food "issues" and diets". Tired of hearing people say "I can't eat this or that". Tired of feeling bad because I don't want to workout, give up certain foods and drop a size or three. Tired of thinking everyone is judging me because of how I look.

I'm 5'8" and I weight 206 pounds. I enjoy food, love desert and look forward to a good glass of wine.  I love this line from an article I read a while back - "The diet industry lives in an ocean of body negativity, twisted science, and behavioral Russian roulette".

If you desire is to change your lifestyle and your body to get healthier I'm all for it, but can we please stop talking about it all the time. There is more to life than the latest diet craze and the latest exercise routine.  I'll be honest, it's mentally taxing on everyone when the conversation is constantly about food restrictions.  It makes everyone uncomfortable when shame looks are shot at someone for eating the dessert you wish you were "allowed" to have in your restricted lifestyle.  And don't get me started on body shaming, it hurts to know so many women would rather tear each other apart than lift each other up.

Everyone has a judgment to pass on the statement above. Some might think "she should drop some weight" and some might think "I wish I was her". Here's the thing though, life is going to happen whether or not you're living it or waiting until you get back into those smaller jeans. 

Remeber Sexy is so much more than how you look.  What's your sexy?