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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Just for Grins

Something happened in the deep part of my soul after the fire that burned my niece & nephew's house down. I think I just realized how precious their lives are & how quickly they could be taken away. (And by the grace of God they were not that day.)

These kids have always woken up parts of me that I didn't know previously existed. When Danzig was born, he saved our family from chaos. My family was going through a rough time, as all families tend to do, and here came a little blue-eyed, blonde smiling boy who has never known a stranger. Nearly two years later, here came Pepper Jo. A firecracker of a child. Full of her own devious ideas, but still playing copycat to everyone around her.

Over the past month or so, I've seen these kids nearly every weekend. Pepper Jo has taken to asking my mom to call me at random times throughout the day. And Danzig literally leaped from excitement the last time I walked in the front door.

I love these kids. More than I ever thought I could.

I just wanted to spread a little bit of smiles, giggles and warm feelings your way. Hope this did the trick ♥

PS - Daznig was too cool to take photobooth pictures with us. Angry Birds was just too important to put down ;) But here's a cute picture of him from a few years back.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Things I Don't Do

Sometimes you read a book & can't put it down because it's speaking so directly at you that you fear if you look away the magic will fade. That happened to me last weekend when I picked up Bittersweet.

I've had this book sitting in my "to read" pile since the summer. But it kept getting passed over and ignored. I never forgot about it, but I just kept picking up other books on my list instead. So last weekend, while I'm in between book club books, I went for it. And I read all 250 pages in two days.

The book is about life and loss. There's so much to it that there's no way to concisely sum it up more than just that: life and loss. There were moments in the book that answered questions that I've been pondering, and other moments that gave me questions that I previously didn't know how to ask.

It was refreshing, encouraging and enlightening. I finally found another human person who likes champagne as much as I do (too bad Shauna lives in Chicago....) who also has exactly the same taste in music as me. I seriously thought I was alone on that front.

So before I bore you with a long review of the book (I won't), I just wanted to share one little part that I can't get out of my mind. Ready? Good. Here goes...

There's a theory presented in the book that you are able to do anything that you want to do. The hard part is figuring out what to give up.

I found myself so overwhelmed in February that I have been walking through a fog since then. Most of March & the early part of April were spent on the couch at home in a daze. I lost all productivity and motivation for anything because I had tried to do too much. What Shauna does in the book is list out the things that she "does do" and the things that she "doesn't do". It's a way to keep focused on that what matters, and to have a reminder that it's OK to not do it all.

I interrupted my reading time this weekend to take Max to the dog park. Totally worth it.

Here's my list:

Things I Do

I work hard at keeping a marriage full of trust, grace, love and open communication. I work to stay connected to my husband and to keep making lasting memories with him.

I continue to increase my knowledge of web development for both my full-time day job and freelance projects. I believe this is where my career is headed long-term, and I'm interested in investing in its worth.

I experiment with cocktails and spirits. I have Fueled by Cocktails as my experimental venture to spread my love of cocktails to others. This is my creative outlet and my time away from a computer.

I share my life on the internet through my lifestyle blog. I share my thoughts and opinions, beliefs and experiences on anything I want to. It is important to me to keep a record of my life, and I believe an online journal like Interpret As You May is the best place for me.

I pursue a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and put a lot of emphasis on the food I am eating. This includes occasional Whole30's, physical therapy appointments, massages,  reading/buying cookbooks and spending a lot of time in the kitchen.

I do the things that I have to do to live - grocery shop, keep my kitchen (somewhat) clean, eat clean, live on a budget, laundry. These take my time & are important so that I can do the other things on this list better.

Things I Don't Do

I do not garden and I do not subscribe to CSA's or regularly visit a farmer's market. While I'd like to do all of these things, I can get good produce from our local open air market and local butcher.

I do not follow a lot of people on the internet. I know I am one of those people on the internet, but I do not bust my butt trying to visit them all. This is one of the reasons why my following doesn't grow very quickly, but a "large following" isn't one of my goals.

I do not join the leadership of organizations. I do not participate on boards, committees or councils. I will attend meetings and events as a participant, but that is about it. (The same goes for joining adult sports teams.)

I do not pursue friendships with people who do not put as much effort into our relationship as I am willing to give. I do not pursue friendships with people who make me feel less than I am, or who I have nothing in common with.

I do not get regular manicures, pedicures or waxes. I do not regularly go shopping or update my wardrobe. I do not experiment with my hair or makeup. (I also do not do DIY crafts, home projects, or much of anything else you can find on Pinterest.)

I do not fill up my calendar every day, and I definitely do not book two things in one day.

Of course there are a lot of other things I do that aren't on here. Participate in a book club, make friends (and make those friendships better), travel, visit family, throw parties & events, etc. All of those things are important to me, but I think it's good to set apart what things are more important to me.

So if you're looking for a quick, inspiring read, I'd suggest picking up Bittersweet. It's brilliant in its simplicity and honesty.

Friday, April 18, 2014

This Week.

This week has been a series of tasks and settling back in to routine. After being gone for the past few weekends & having the kids visit us, we haven't had a week with a weekend at home attached to it in quite some time. But for the next five (5!) weeks, we have just that.

So we've been settling back in, trying to recover from all the craziness that has been going on around us since January.

I've now been to four physical therapy sessions, and was allowed to do a few (very short) planks! Heather did my hair at work, and I am now officially in love with fishtail braids in my hair. Especially because I now have a ton of purple in there ♥

Max is settling in well. He's the most quiet dog on the planet Earth. If it weren't for his tags, I'd never know where he was in the house. I've taken him on a few morning walks, and C has taken him on a few afternoon runs. Every morning this week he has jumped up on our bed as if to tell us we've been ignoring him all night long and he's ready to play.

C & I have our own routines to settle back into. We've both been really stressed out, and are finally out of it. We're currently craving the company of each other, which isn't a bad thing. Also, there's so much good TV coming on right now. I'm dying to see the second episode of Fargo! And The Americans is keeping us on the edge of our seats. (Good job, FX. You're winning right now. And Louie is about to start back up too!)

I'm on day 5 of Whole30. So far, so good. I'm keeping a daily account of my meals & how I'm feeling over on my Tumblr account. I'm hoping this daily diary will help me stay focused & on task. I've fallen in love with PaleOMG's website & have made almost every meal so far from her archives. These Cilantro Chicken Nuggets were my favorite.

The rest of April & all of May is going to be a time for me to get my ducks in line with my web development freelance work, Fueled by Cocktails & this blog. I spread myself too thin in February & am just now recovering from that. I'm really excited to throw myself back into all of these projects!

I hope your week has been fulfilling & that you have a lovely, relaxing weekend. I think we're taking Max to the park!

First & third picture by Heather, because I take pictures of her too. It's a great arrangement.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Last Meals

So, this is probably the worst way to transition into a month of Whole30, but the week before I dive in, I always make one "last meal" for C and one for me.

The "last meal" for me is a celebration of food & usually a literal celebration with friends as well. I always go for what I'm craving now so that the cravings don't come up in the middle of the month! (And my cravings get really impatient when they're not satisfied.)

The "last meal" for C is more of an apology. He doesn't do Whole30 with me, but is a good sport and eats whatever I cook for dinner throughout the process. To make up for the upcoming month, where I'm usually cranky for a while and then really annoying for the rest of it, I make sure he gets something he wants. It's a present & my way of showing him how much I appreciate his support ♥

So, curious what our last meals are? They differ every time, but here's what it was this week....

C is a more adventurous eater than I am - but when it comes to picking what he wants to eat, he usually tones it down. He likes what he likes and it doesn't vary very much. This week's last meal was a classic - one that I've made many times before...

Mashed Potatoes,
and some sort of side veggie (usually Peas).

Usually I make my meatloaf full of veggies and spices. I tend to fancy it up. But this time I kept it as classic and basic as I possibly could (although I actually used 1/2 pound of sausage... so I didn't keep it exactly traditional). I also make the best damn mashed potatoes known to mankind. Not that I want to brag. But I do. It's an art in our house & I blame our weight gain our first year of marriage solely on the realization that we could have mashed potatoes whenever we wanted.

As a surprise, I threw in a homemade banana pudding pie. This was the first time I'd ever cooked my own pudding & I will never buy boxed pudding again. Ever. The meringue on top was just a perfect little cloud of sugary perfection. ♥

My last meal is usually completely random and whatever I'm craving at the moment when I have to decide. This week, it meant Indian food & Huevos Rancheros at brunch (with mimosas, of course!).

Recently, my favorite Indian food restaurant in town opened a second location less than 5 minutes from my house. I decided to order food from them on Thursday night and ate that with a bottle of champagne on the side and trashy TV on the other side. It was the most perfect, indulgent night ever. So relaxing & so tasty!

This weekend, we were at a wedding, so I took advantage of the event and forced a few friends out to brunch the morning after to celebrate friendship and surviving the last wedding from our friend group. We decided to do everything tapas style and worked our way through a variety of dishes, including Huevos Rancheros made with lamb sausage. It was delightful.

[Brazos has come a long way with brunch over the last year.]

And now that is out of my system, it's time to focus on the upcoming 30 days of no dairy, grains, legumes, sugar or alcohol. This time around I'll be sharing a daily account of what I ate, what recipes I made and how I'm feeling over on my Tumblr account. I'm hoping this will help me stay focused throughout the month ♥

And as I said above, this is probably the worst way to start a Whole30 and while I take great pleasure from this little tradition, I encourage you to find a healthier & more productive way to jump in.

(All images from Wikipedia.)