Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Weekend Update

This weekend had some great goings-on, but mostly has been epically chill. Kevin and I have stayed up entirely too late ("is it really 4:45am?!") and watched a few great DVD's, finished the final season of Monk (*sniff*), and enjoyed this beautiful weather - it's been in the 70's all weekend! In California, 70 feels perfect; here, it's cold (but that is far from a complaint).

Thursday night we went to a Stars game. Friday at work, I was unexpectedly offered 4 tickets and a parking pass for that night's basketball game - Dallas Mavs vs Memphis Grizzlies (I am so current on sports, I have never even heard of that team! ;) I wasn't sure I could put them to use with the late notice, but my boss (who is awesome, by the way) gave them to me anyway. I asked around and made some calls ... ultimately it was just Kevin and me at the game, and we had a great time.

The seats were awesome for sure and the game was great, though we lost by one point. I don't watch sports on TV; I am of the opinion the best way to enjoy sports is live and with great seats that I can't afford myself but will gladly accept as gifts. ;) I was sorry we couldn't share them with friends ... next time!

Mavs in action. (we were 5 rows from the court!)

Mavericks Dancers at halftime.

Got our picture taken for the fan page.

Rooting for the home team!

Saturday was a quiet day; cleaned up the house some, watched some more 'Six Feet Under' which we just recently started; I think Kevin got it since Michael C. Hall is in it, and we love 'Dexter'. It's a pretty good show, though some of the characters are really irritating. I suppose I have this feeling at the start of any new series or a movie: I have to take a little time to figure out if I like it depending on how the character(s) develops to know if I can relate to them and therefore stop being irritated by them. For example, the mom on 'Six Feet Under' is hugely obnoxious to me, but I think I'm starting to see that I can understand her vulnerability and the reasons why she has closed herself off to her feelings - and I can respect that she's starting to let them out again. Some people close up shop mentally and emotionally and never bother opening again and being themselves. You have to respect people who - even though they were dead before - try to live again and get in touch with themselves. You have to see that you are a certain thing in order to take action on that thing (or feeling or whatever). If you don't know that you don't know, you can't fix it. That's a pretty sad reality for humans. Enlightenment is the ultimate achievement but if you've never achieved it, you don't know how great it really is and just brush off people who promote its greatness. What else is there if we can't at least be enlightened and go through life with deeper knowledge and levels of thought?

Today is Halloween. I have to get some candy before it's too late! We have been procrastinators this year and haven't gotten anything but a little bag of chocolate eyeballs and some candy corn for ourselves.

The cats are acting crazy right now; they are chasing after one another in the den, galloping around the room and hiding behind furniture. They take a quick break for 2 bites of food and are back at it again. Then yowling to go outside since it's so pretty out today. I don't mind them hanging out in the backyard, but I am a little on edge if I can't see where they are, if they are hiding under a shrub or have turned the corner of the yard. I have had both of my cats run away on separate occasions and do not enjoy running after them, or worrying that they are getting run over by a car or getting scooped up by another person in the neighborhood who will then keep them without posting signs or calling the vet's number on their tag. Some people think I (and others like me) are crazy but ... my animals are like my kids. I don't have human children to know what that feels like, so those of you who are offended by my comparison can go off with your internal dialogue about how sacred parenthood is and how your kids changed your life and finally gave you meaning and that you would stand in front of a Mack truck for them ... I respect that though I have to say if your life was meaningless before your child came along, then something is wrong with you. But in the absence of human children, my cats are my babies. And I love them. If they run away, I'm scared; if they never came back, devastated.

And yet, we wrap them up in rugs just to be silly ... can you see the disgust on her face? 'Stupid humans' ... If we ran away, I think she'd be thrilled!

Carmen burrito. So cute, and yet so vicious.

This morning I slept in again. It was nice; though I hate feeling like I've wasted part of my weekend just sleeping. It feels so slothful. Anyway, I got up and made some coffee (coffee = functionality!) and whipped up an omelet. Eggs, salt and fresh-cracked pepper, then some chives and a handful of grape tomatoes, whole and a small sprinkle of cheese. Best Sunday brunch-fast ever!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Our first hockey game of the season!

Tonight was our first hockey game of the season! Awesome seats that we shared with friends, Bethany and Neal; epic nachos, a couple beers and some shell-your-own peanuts for a 360-degree experience. The Kiss cover band, human bowling, and a couple on-ice fights didn't hurt. ;) The Stars played horribly and handed over a few *easy* goals, but it was still a good game and good conversation with friends. Here are a few photos from our fun evening. Then, it's bedtime for me. Happy Friday!

Your! Dallas! Stars! ... Just wouldn't be the same without the fog machine.

It's not a hockey game at the AAC without the build-your-own nachos

I now pronounce you hockey fans. ;)

There's something undeniably great about a beer and a hockey game.

Kevin and me, enjoying the game.

Today's Good Things

It's been a pretty stellar Thursday overall. I'm staying positive, getting hoards of work done, and being nice to people; this is always a good start. On top of that, I have been complimented for my style, appreciated for my work, and consulted for my advise. A trifecta of confidence boosters all in the same afternoon! *smile*

It got me thinking about some of the good things ... Here is today's list:

1. FREE Dallas Stars tickets, and sharing them with friends. I got 4 free tickets (amazing seats!) to tonight's Stars hockey game and 2 free parking passes. We were able to share them with another couple who we haven't seen in forever; we can catch up with them and put the tickets to good use all at once. Not to mention the killer AAC Supreme Nachos, a tall Miller Light and a bag of shell-your-own peanuts to make it the perfect hockey game experience. I can't wait! Photos to come! =)

2. This beauty of a dutch oven which, at $200, will have to stay right where it is: online!

I love admiring pretty things (you don't have to buy to appreciate) and getting ideas for when I try to find them for way cheaper. It's always exciting finding something beautiful for a fraction of the price at Goodwill or a yard sale. I found a great Shabby Chic brand lamp for $5 (a steal!) at Goodwill and got a $14 lampshade at Home Goods; the lamp with no shade retails for $25. Yay for savings!

Not too 'Shabby' for $5. =)

3. Discovering another person's perspective. I enjoy talking with people who I'm still in the process of getting to know (a new friend or co-worker, or an old friend) and realizing their perspective is usually more multi-faceted than might be assumed. And learning, too, that there are many commonalities between myself and that person.

4. Starbucks House Blend. 'Nuf said.

5. Christmastime! I am so excited about it this year because I get to set up my tree and decor for the first time in our new house.

I'm pretty sure I will be whipping up a batch of THESE come December!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The one that got away

I've been thinking this morning about the ocean. I have always loved the ocean (any ocean really). But it's been a conflicted affection, since I also seem to have an innate fear of it. For my friends, vacation consisted of hiking and camping trips and weeks spent in Europe visiting family and sight-seeing, which seemed entirely foreign and exotic to my family of beach bums. For as long as I can remember, Summer vacation consisted of a lengthy migration to the coast - Florida, Alabama, even Hawaii once - and spending as many hours of the day for at least a week right on the water. I remember vcation in California, too, with my aunt, uncle and cousins; Disneyland and bonfires in the sand on chilly nights. I can see us from a distance as though I was a stranger passing by the tableau. I remember coming home - humid and familiar, unexciting - with a deep tan and sand in my shoes, and wishing for more dinners at waterfront restaurants with the glow of the lights on the wet sand. I remember wishing I was alone, that no family or familiar face was there to draw me in and distract me from ... myself. There is something wonderful and spiritually sparkling about being alone with the ocean.

There is something magical about the ocean, primordial maybe. Something that draws me to it, but warns me not to get too comfortable. I love the crystal blue of the water, tainted only by the shimmering gold sand caught up in the swirling, foamy waves. The salty air and burnishing sun. And the tiny sand crabs that wiggle between my fingers. I love standing in the sand, just at the edge of the water, and seeing how long it takes for the waves to bury my feet in the drippy, saturated sand.

At the same time, I have an in-born aversion to water that's too deep for me to see through (for this perhaps-not-entirely-justified reason, I will never enjoy rivers or lakes). The farther I go out, the blacker the water gets; I can't quite handle that, as though some mysterious predator waits for me just beyond the ledge of sand that takes you from happy Summer vacation to Jaws. Once, while innocently belly boarding near the shore, I saw one of these just below my feet:

One year in Florida, my parents rented a red plastic kayak and my eager brother decided to row the two of us out as far as possible, while commentating our trip with "Wow!" and "This is awesome!" and "Isn't this amazing, Nat?" ("Um, no as a matter of fact") while I'm practicing relaxing breathing techniques in an attempt at warding off a panic attack. I kept asking for him to stop rowing (my paddle dipped in and held still in an effort to slow us down was a pointless exersion). We kept getting farther and farther out; blacker and blacker water. Eventually, I saw several even blacker forms under the opaque water, with wet black fins cutting the surface and gliding past, literally a couple of feet from our small plastic craft. NOTE: Kayaks are likely one of the least reassuring watercrafts; thin, easy-to-capsize plastic boats don't do much to allay my fears as we cut through solid black water.

The fins, I realized, belonged to a couple of porpoises ...

Back at last on comforting sand, I vowed never to get in a kayak again.

Despite some low points in our relationship, I still can't get enough of the ocean. I keep going back, and every time I do, there is something enchanting about it; it never gets old, it never disappoints. The only disappointment is having to eventually leave. I saw a photo recently of someone camping on the beach: a tent piched against the dunes, and the waves mere yards away. How wonderful. Can you imagine the dreams you'd have while sleeping to that soundtrack?

Gulls and surfers on Manhattan Beach - Cali., 7/2010

How many waves til they're buried? - Manhattan Beach - Cali., 7/2010

Santa Monica Pier - Cali., 7/2010

Sometimes, my mind reminds me of the misty-filtered sunshine, the fog on my glasses and salty-sticky skin. And the feeling that the ocean is the one that got away.

Driving the PCH - Cali., 7/2010

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A shot in the arm: boosting my photography collection

I decided to update my art folder on Facebook today and found a few photos I had forgotten about. Some are perfect straight from the camera, but I think a little Photo-shopping never hurt. Here are a few photos of mine -- some old and some newly taken -- that I edited this morning over hash browns and coffee.

A new day for Grandma's glass

You want fries with that?

Palm Sunday

I wonder what's up there?

Many years ago, I took this photo. It probably shouldn't have happened; the room was very dark, darker than the photo will let on. The exposure was very long -- I can't remember how long -- for a hand held shot, but it came out clear. A little pushing and pulling in the darkroom ... 

Fort Smith Wagons

Pumpkin Bread: Take 2

A new day. A new recipe. And a delicious loaf of pumpkin bread, at last. Good ole Martha came through for me. The only changes I made were to replace the Ginger with Cinnamon and Allspice and to decrease the sugar.

Preheat oven to 375.

Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium bowl ...

2-1/2 c all-purpose flour
2 t baking powder
1 t salt
2 T cinnamon
1 t allspice

Mix sugar and wet ingredients, then add the dry ingredients ...

1 c brown sugar, packed
1/2 c granulated sugar (recipe called for 1 c)
1 15 oz can pumpkin puree (plain pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling)
3 eggs
12 T butter, melted and slightly cooled

Once all the ingredients are combined, pour into a greased bread pan (I had enough batter leftover for 6 muffin tins) and bake for 55 minutes til toothpick comes out clean (muffins were done in about 25 minutes). Cool for a few minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a cooling rack.

A cute way to serve this is on a cake pedestal with a small pumpkin in the center and then surround it with halved slices of the bread. The cake stand I used is blue (you can see the base of it in the photo below) -- it contrasted nicely with the warm orange tones of the bread and the baby pumpkin.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Just one of those weekends.

This has been a really great weekend. Some things are really stressful right now and there's nothing I can do about it. I guess that's the thing that makes stuff stressful: not being able to change it or make it better? Sucks. Why are people horrible? And why do some people just seem to be OK with that? I'm sorry; I'm no good at putting up with people's BS. Don't pull that s*** on me. I mean that as nicely as possible. But seriously, that is enough to make me want the hermit's life.

Anyway ...

I think a great start for my weekend mornings has been getting up early. During the week I have to be up even earlier so I guess waking up at 8am is technically 'sleeping in' but for me it's a great way to start the weekend - instead of lolling about in bed til 11 which makes me feel like I've wasted part of me weekend. However nice it feels to be in bed and surrounded by fluffy pillows, it feels even better to get up and be productive and not miss out on the morning sunlight and a cup of coffee to start the day.

Saturday I woke up and got ready for my 11am appointment: getting my hair cut. I stopped at Dunkin' Donuts, where I seem to be getting all my coffee for free lately, and then cruised over to a local place called Vince's and got an unexpected bob. My mind was set on something even shorter (I am officially over hair; I think it's completely overrated and am ready to be done with it!) - something low maintenance and non-traditional. But the stylist assured me it wouldn't work for my hair which - apparently in the last 10 years has gone from curly to not curly without my even noticing it - wouldn't suit the picture of the really short cut I showed her (Ms. Mulligan pulls it off so well though!). I went with her expertise. I actually enjoy the way it is now. It works with my bangs, but I think I might let them grow out.

I still want this haircut! ... next time.

 For now, here is my bob ... it's even shorter in the back.

After my haircut, I went to Aldi (have I mentioned how I enjoy shopping there?) for a few basics, then back home to clean for our dinner guests.

Got the big pumpkin at Aldi for $3 ... he looks so cute on my porch!

Our friends Pam and Jim (I think of 'The Office' every time) were coming for pizza and we had dusting and vacuuming to do. Then we cleaned ourselves up and enjoyed an evening of pizza and salads and wine, then some games with brownies and coffee til midnight.

Today I was up at 8am and out of bed by 8:20. I woke up to this ...

She decided my stomach was the best place for a morning cat nap. ;)

Once I got out of bed, I cleaned out the dishwasher out from last night with 'Radio Lab' in the background. I got yet another free coffee from Dunkin' and this time picked up a few donuts for a totally unhealthy but easy Sunday breakfast. Kevin and I are working on 'Dexter' season 4, so we watched a couple episodes in our pajamas so we can send this disc back tomorrow (Netflix!). One episode left in the season and I'm addicted! Can hardly wait to see what happens!

This afternoon we went to Home Depot and spent more than anticipated on home maintenance projects. Isn't that the way it goes? Weather stripping, caulk, air filters, steel wool, programmable thermostat (on sale, at least!) ... and of course 8 more things we need but didn't get ... there's always next time. Stopped in at Goodwill and found what looks like the toaster I grew up with, complete with faux wood 'panels' on the sides. Fun flashback that made me smile.

Made me remember the fire I started with the oven mitt when I was a kid. Oops!

When we got home Kevin got started right away working on stuff around the house. And I got started in the kitchen getting dinner prepped. Kevin grilled the steaks and I made the mashed sweet potatoes, sauteed greens and sauteed mushrooms (heaven). A Hornsby's Crisp Apple cider for Kevin and a glass for Chardonnay for me finished off the meal perfectly.

It's a lovely evening to be outside ... the windows are open, too. I think they've been open for a few weeks now. I'm looking forward to our electric bill this month! We have hardly used the A/C and all our other electrical needs are relatively small in comparison. Thank you, Mother Nature, for helping us save some cash! =)

All that to say ... this has been a really nice weekend. And it's not even done yet ... still the rest of my evening to enjoy with Kevin and maybe a brownie and definitely the season finale of 'Dexter'. Happy weekend to all!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The worst thing about having cats...

...Is, by far, the litter box. It stinks. It's big and bulky. It is most definitely unattractive - hideous, even. And it has to be cleaned constantly. The little flecks of litter under my feet? They don't help either.

I have two cats who are my children.

Smiley, I found on the roof of our last apartment in Dallas, tiny and damp after a Summer rain, his huge bat ears sticking out of his little head. Just a few months later, I thought we had lost him. I posted signed and walked the neighborhood for hours; I got home and found that he was shut into our closet. He tends to be skittish and jumpy, but when he is relaxed, he's the sweetest thing. He loves to cuddle and have his chin scratched. He is a Type B and usually won't be forceful. He is a very smart cat.

Baby Smiley, Summer 2007

My handsome boy, Sept 2010

Kevin found Carmen by the dumpster of all places (at our old apartment again) on a cold December afternoon. She was so small, just a few weeks the vet said. Her little eyes were still baby blue. We bottle fed her for what seemed like forever and she was constantly hungry. She is very coy and thinks she is god's gift to the world. She is a Type A and thinks she owns the place. She struts her stuff around the house and is slowly letting me pet her without immediately starting to bite me. Kevin has perfected the art of being a little rough right back at her and making into a game.

Carmen as a kitten, Dec 2007

Full grown and gorgeous, Jan 2010

I would do anything for them, and have, including spending ungodly amounts of money to ensure their health and well being, and bending over a stinky litter box more often than I'd like. Where do you keep it, anyway? In the garage? In the bathroom? I currently have it in one of the bathrooms, but had it for a while in the far corner of our kitchen, which was not really preferred but a nice open space for a huge plastic box. If I could eliminate entirely the need for a big, stinky box for their poo, I would.

I am wondering now if toilet-training (yes, toilet training!) is a feasible alternative to a littler box and just how difficult this might be? It might be worth investigating, and I think I might be up for the challenge. With my cats, I know it would most certainly be a challenge for all parties. Nothing about them has ever been easy.

One thing I have to say has made life with cats slightly easier and more pleasant is the introduction of Soft Paws. Kevin and I (it is a team effort, for sure) have applied these handy little plastic nail 'covers' to both our cats and found we can now be affectionate toward them and welcome them onto our furniture without being clawed to shreds or having to reupholster, respectively. It's not a rare day I've gone to work sporting bright red welts on my hands (on one occasion, my face), compliments of Carmen. She is one vicious little ... mhmm. God forbid I try to pet her - she turns right into a little bundle of barbed wire. Smiley on the other hand is my sweet little (actually huge - nearly 16 pounds) awkward boy and wouldn't claw me for anything, but likes to 'play bite'. He enjoys sharpening his claws on the rug or chasing after Carmen so hard that his claws dig into the couch. But now my skin and furniture is impervious to their natural weapons.

Sometimes, the house is quiet ... Aug 2008
The litter thing? Still unsolved. Inspired by my conundrum, I Googled 'toilet training cats' and found several interesting options including this available at Amazon for less than $30. Check out the Litter Kwitter system:

I can just see the late night infomercial now.

Their website is complete with video coverage of cats at all stages of training (which apparently takes 8 weeks usually) hopping onto toilets and doing their thing. How cool is that?! I'm officially interested.

If you are a cat parent, where do you keep the littler box(es)? Or have you ventured into the world of cat toilet training? I'd love to hear your cat stories! And I'll try to keep this updated with any radical changes I might implement in the future. ;)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Hmm. Well, this is embarrassing.

OK so ... Note To Self: try out your food every time before clicking 'Publish Post'. My pumpkin bread endeavor was a complete and epic failure! Not sure what went wrong, as I followed the measurements and instructions to a T (except of course for my spice and vanilla modifications which shouldn't affect the consistency of the recipe). I'm so upset!

I pulled the loaves from the oven and let them cool. I sliced into the regular loaf and found that it wasn't at all what bread should look like. It was almost like a pudding; very soft and tacky on the inside, though the outside was perfectly cooked and a little crispy. Kevin said it was like bread with a pumpkin pie filling. The flavor was great; but the texture was a total failure. What a let down. I let it bake for the recommended time at the recommended temperature, and the toothpick came out clean on both loaves. I even cut into the bundt and it was just the same (I thought maybe since it was smaller it might have been done, but ... nope).

Is it the recipe? Is it the weather? ... Is it me?

I suppose not every kitchen endeavor is a roaring success (at least not every one of MY kitchen endeavors). I will simply have another go at it and see how it turns out.

Pumpkin Bread Fail. =(

Time for the season's first batch of pumpkin bread!

The poll on my blog has officially closed. The tied-for-first winners as your 'favorite thing about Fall' is 'pulling out your cold-weather wardrobe' and 'the smells and flavors of the season'. Seeing that it's currently 70 degrees here in big D, my cold-weather wardrobe will have to hang out in storage a little longer. But the warmth won't stop me from baking some pumpkin spice bread to coax the cool weather into coming back - and sticking around this time!

I borrowed the recipe from my own personal foodie crush, Alton Brown. I cannot go wrong following his lead in the kitchen. I followed the recipe almost exactly, but I nearly doubled my Vanilla, bumped up the Cinnamon, and sprinkled in some Allspice. Also, the recipe calls for 3 cups of fresh pumpkin, but I used a can which is about 3-1/2 cups (not to mention easier and faster than carving and baking a fresh pumpkin). My last modification was to decrease the sugar from 1-1/2 to 1 cup.

NOTE: Allspice is native to Central America and southern Mexico and is NOT a combination of multiple other spices. It's a berry, harvested unripe, sun-dried and then ground into the powder form usually used in cooking and baking applications.

Pumpkin Spice Bread 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine the following dry ingredients:

2 c All-Purpose Flour
2 t Cinnamon (I think I used about 1 T)
1 t Baking Powder
1/4 t Baking Soda
1/2 t Salt

Mix the following ingredients in a separate bowl, then pour and mix into the above dry ingredients:

1 c Sugar (the called-for 1-1/2 cups sounded like a lot to me, so I used only 1 cup; I tasted the batter after everything was mixed together and it was sweet enough for my taste and didn't overwhelm the pumpkin and spice flavors)
3/4 c Vegetable Oil
3 Eggs, whisked
2 t Vanilla (again, I doubled this - Alton only called for 1 t)

Prepared batter, before adding the pumpkin.

 Once all the above ingredients are combined, fold in ...

3 c Pumpkin (You can get canned Pumpkin or canned Pumpkin Pie Mix; get the plain Pumpkin)

Love having this in my kitchen again. =)

Loaf and bundt pans ready for the oven.

Pour batter into prepared (read: sprayed with non-stick spray such as Pam or buttered and floured) loaf pan, muffin tin, bundt pan, etc. (The recipe made enough batter for me to fill a regular loaf and almost-fill a bundt pan - I think the bundt might make a nice snack for the co-workers tomorrow!) Bake for about 1 hour, 15 minutes or until (say it with me!) a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the bread cool in the pan for a few minutes then turn out to a cooling rack.

Bundt loaf ...

... and traditional loaf, cooling on the kitchen table.

I enjoy pumpkin bread shmeared with a little cream cheese, but it's also good toasted with a little butter, or a drizzle of honey, or plain or eaten with a cup of tea. However you like it, just enjoy lots of it and experiment with your recipe, too. I thought about trying my recipe out with some chopped pecans, dried cranberries or raisins.

Feel free to share your favorite recipe or ideas for yummy add-ins to a basic pumpkin bread recipe. Thanks for reading!

PS - Speaking of pumpkins, isn't this Pumpkin Dutch Oven fantastic? Too bad it's $150 and wouldn't be used for more than a few months a year (unless you are a die hard pumpkin fan).

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Contendedness ... and Morning Glories again.

This morning (well, actually it was noon) I sat in my backyard eating an atrociously late breakfast and enjoying the mild air and the birds and bright green of everything. Sometimes I think I might enjoy sleeping outside and waking up to that - there's something primordially therapeutic about Nature.

Last night I fell asleep on the couch and was awakened by a hug; Kevin had seen me asleep and came over to wake me so I could go to bed. Instead of saying "Natalie, it's time to go to bed" or shaking me or something, he instead sat by me on the couch and hugged me. I woke up with a flood or warmth all through my body. That's what Nature is like.

It got me thinking about being comfortable. And thinking about my house. I realized Kevin and I have lived in our house less than 5 months. We are by no means 'moved in' or 'settled', but that first unfamiliar rush and feeling of being in a new place and new walls and colors and the light coming in at different angles through all the windows...It's already slipping away. It doesn't take long, I thought, to lose that first love, that buzz of excitement over something new and ... exciting. It doesn't mean it is not exciting anymore: when I think about it, I'm still very excited and very very pleased to be in this home with my husband. But it doesn't feel quite so exhilarating anymore. 

Got me wondering, too, how people can hop from relationship to relationship probably just looking for that feeling of newness again - something different - just to know it will be gone soon and they'll be off to the next better thing. Is it really better to feel that heady buzz or to simply be happy where you are and with whom you are? What's better? Truly, we can never be fully happy or constantly happy.

I'm not so sure that buzz is as good or as exciting and thrilling as I thought when I was younger. As a kid, you let movies and other people and your unstoppable imagination tell you what life is all about and it's thrilling - only for the fact you haven't actually experienced it yet. So ... maybe it's not that these new experiences are exciting, it's simply that they have been previously un-experienced and are therefore new and maybe just a little overwhelming.

I am happy in my house. It's not glamorous or even as nice as my friend's houses or that person's house across town. But it's my house that I share it with my family and I love it. It's beautiful to me. And even after 5 months - though it's not quite so exciting waking up and thinking every morning 'Wow, this is my house!' - it still is and I still love being here.

I've been married for nearly 6 years and I wouldn't think of dropping my relationship just because that first rush and blush and flurry are long gone. I adore my spouse and there is nothing and no one who can replace him - not even that intoxication of new attraction. I don't comprehend people who don't allow themselves to be content with the things they have (yes, allow; I believe it's within ourselves, not the circumstances around us, to be content). Of course, I want new and different things, too but ... isn't there a line to be drawn? Can't you want new things, like a throw pillow or Christmas ornament or bed sheets, without also feeling like you have to completely rework your life? Don't question those good and wonderful things - those big things that really matter.

All that to say, I'm thinking about contentedness and constancy and realizing how rare they both are. I'm realizing how vital it is to appreciate the small things - something I have observed for many many years in a select few people and I appreciate them so much for that example - and not sweat so much over your house or your husband or wife who isn't perfect. Love them. Love life. Be content. Everything will eventually let you down, at least a little, but that doesn't mean you can throw it away.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cruncha Muncha!

Last night, during a moment of rabid, unbridled hunger, I decided to literally throw together a bowl of trail mix and then eat ½ of it all by myself. My state of mind may have been altered, but I am of the opinion that this spur-of-the-moment trail mix pretty much rocked. We have so many ingredients the pantry that are perfect for trail mix and I got sick of them sitting there NOT being in trail mix.

Obviously trail mixes are very different and you can add anything you want really: any dried fruit, any nut(s) you like, any chocolate pieces or candy, etc, etc.

Here is what I used …


½ c Peanuts (unsalted)

½ c Walnuts (chopped, though slightly bigger pieces wouldn’t hurt)

½ c Almonds (raw, whole)


¼ c Dried cranberries

¼ c Yogurt-covered raisins


¼ c semi-sweet chocolate pieces

¼ c Andes baking morsels

Mix all of this together in a bowl.

Portion out into bags for on-the-go munching if you want. I made a bag for myself at work and left the rest in a Tupperware at home. This is a really healthy snack with all the good fat and fiber from the nuts, but it’s easy to go overboard and eat way too much because it's so darn yummy! If you were going to eat JUST almonds or JUST peanuts, you wouldn’t (shouldn’t) eat more than a handful – maybe a ¼ cup? – so just eat it in moderation.

Let me know if you have a favorite recipe for trail mix!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Well hello, Fall. *There* you are. =)

Fall is here. I am so happy. The feeling is indescribable; irreplaceable; irresistible!

I have a few Fall decorations around the house - just a few - because I love the warm colors and fragrances of this season so much. Tonight, I got some mini pumpkins and gourds for the porch; now all I need is a wreath for the wall just above the arrangement (it has a sturdy nail in place, just waiting for a seasonal wreath!) and I'll be good to go.

Inside, I have some little ceramic pumpkins in assorted colors (they are actually individual soup bowls). I have a few on the coffee table along with a delicious Spice Cake candle (So delicious! I just lit it last night for the first time) and some nesting baskets. Also in the living room, I have a few metal tea light holders with large, medium and small pumpkins on the front.

And on the kitchen counter/island, I have just a few assorted things I'm not quite sure what to do with yet - a Caramel Pecan candle, Bergamot candle (gotta get my Earl Grey in there somehow!) and a mini ceramic pumpkin. Also there is another of the larger ceramic pumpkins that lost his cap (same as the ones of the coffee table) that I filled with the rest of our Salt Water Taffy from the State Fair.

Our windows are still wide open to the cool air, though it was hard getting up this morning since it was SO cold - in the 50's! Maybe it's time to pull out the flannel sheets and start replacing the clothes in my closet with the clothes in my cedar storage closet (such a nice way to store 'overflow' or out of season pieces).

Tonight is pizza night. Not homemade. Though that is on my list of things to try! I have yet to make a homemade pizza crust, but I have found some that are yeast free and I'm wondering if that will help achieve a thinner crust, which is what Kevin and I prefer. We'll see.

Warm pizza, cool night air, and a movie with my hubby. What a nice way to spend this Fall Monday evening.

How do you decorate for Fall? Do you like Harvest or Halloween decorations? Let me know how you celebrate the season!


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