Archives for November 2013

Day 30: Well. I survived. You survived.

Oops. I did it again.

I blogged every day for thirty days and frankly, I can’t even remember what the hell I wrote about except that I knew when I started that November would be  a tough month and I wasn’t wrong so then to make up for having all of those stupid emotions I taught you how to make gougere.

We’re less than a month away from Christmas and we’re already eyeball deep in Elf on the Shelf posts on Facebook and my Christmas tree is up and there are presents underneath and you know, it’s finally hitting me that I’m in the home stretch of making it through 2013. I’m going to do it. I’ll get through.

I was trying to just get through November – to get through writing each day and trying not to get too many emotions on all of you and trying to not have a heart attack from stress and just get through it.

And now tomorrow is December.

Will I write daily in December?


(You’re welcome.)


What IS on tap for December?

Well, the holidays. DUH.

Also, I’ll be taking part in Lucrecer’s CELEBRATE photo challenge – I’ll post challenge pics here.

The annual cookie decorating party. Pumpkin’s holiday Christmas concert. The Princess’s second gymnastics meet of the season. Monkey bread. Lots of coffee. Treating myself to a bottle of Philosophy’s Gingerbread Man bubble bath and then rationing it out over the year. Attempting to get my work outs back on track and feel a little bit better about myself. Countless hours of HGTV background noise. Time spent with the people I love – both celebrating the holidays and just being absolutely. lazy.

It’s amazing to think another month is nearly over. Another year is nearly over.

I just keep looking forward to what’s ahead.

Day 29: Sometimes Traditions Change

Yesterday, the girls and I ventured over to taste test my mom’s stuffing before she put it in the turkey, before she put it in the oven (also, before she added the egg because salmonella’s no joke and we sometimes try to avoid food poisoning). Add more sage, add a dash more salt.

The Princess asked to stay and hang out with my mother while Pumpkin and I went home before dinner. It was early and I hadn’t even showered after my treadmill workout.

In the midst of their food preparation, they found out my stepfather wouldn’t be coming home from the hospital as they’d anticipated — we expected him home by Monday.

So it’s not really a surprise our dinner was off kilter. Used to having her husband’s help in the kitchen, mom struggled to get the timing of the meal right. She had to call my brother-in-law to come back over to cut the turkey.

Last year, Thanksgiving was in the recent aftermath of my grandpa’s stroke – and though it was off kilter, my grandmother still came to share the day with us. Yesterday, though, she went to my aunt’s house. Our dinner was just me and mom and my girls — and before dinner, Pumpkin in tears said, “I thought the holidays is when you spent time with family.”

(And then we ate massive amounts of stuffing and all was right in the world.)

And today, we varied from our usual Black Friday tradition. Instead of heading out before the sun, we waited until after 8 — and we took the girls with us. I don’t usually take the girls Black Friday shopping – there’s too many people out, and I can’t really shop for the kids if they’re with me. But, you know, you do what you gotta when things cause plans to change.

I’m a big believer in tradition and I knew that this year would be a bit of a chaotic mess. It was yesterday for Thanksgiving and I’m sure Christmas will be as well. We’re all still reeling from the loss of my grandpa, and this year, having spent so much time together in the nursing home during grandpa’s last days, we are all just backing away from each other slowly, retreating to separate corners. It means my kids might never again have the big family Christmases I grew up with, the family Christmases they’ve had before. We’ll do our best, and the girls and I will hang on to the traditions that we can hang on to – but I’m afraid that my grandpa was the glue holding a lot of it together.

Thursday Ten: Gratitude edition

I don’t really know how to write this Thanksgiving Thursday Ten post – because it seems a no brainer that I should write what I’m thankful for. Yet, I hate the idea of running the risk of being cheesy and cliche. And then I remembered, I am cheesy and cliched, so…. without further adieu – some stuff I’m thankful for. It’s not all serious.

1. I am thankful for love. To love, to be loved – it is what gets me through the toughest of days. There are people in my life who love me, people I love – and everything feels a little better when you know you’re not walking through the world alone. I’m not alone. And that’s… it’s really an amazing thing.

2. My new ritual at night is to watch episodes of Parenthood until my eyes get heavy. I’m thankful for Netflix streaming.

3. I have a roof over my head. An expensive roof, but it’s mine. And though I don’t know how it happens, I keep managing to keep a roof over our head and I’m so very proud of myself. Every month, writing that check for that mortgage payment is both an extreme bummer and a tremendous joy. “I did it!” I think to myself. I’m pretty pleased that I’m doing it. Even though I am really starting to hate home ownership.

4. I am actually slightly phobic of running out of things to read and so I’m thankful for books and magazines. Necessity has made me pare down my list of magazine subscriptions – but if I can get a deal, I will subscribe. I’ve also quit buying so many books – but I’ve found which library near by has the biggest selection. That’s some good information to know.

5. My body is capable of doing the things I need it to do. I don’t always love the shape I’m in, but I’m healthy. I am capable. I am strong. I have a break a sweat daily philosophy that I’m able to maintain because my body allows me to.

6. Moments of peace. Falling asleep listening to a heartbeat. Curling up in the couch with a book. Standing at the stove, sauteeing a pan of veggies. Sipping a mug of tea at the table. Peace shows itself in many ways.

7. I always thought that whole “It takes a village” frame of mind was a little bit of hooey – because I have always very much been an “I’ll do it myself” kinda woman, but…I am grateful for friends and family who are willing to help me out. A friend who gets the girls to school in the morning, a sister that fills in when there’s no school, acquaintances from book club who offer to get my kids to school if I’m stuck. My stepdad who can recommend someone to call when the furnace behaves badly. I’m nowhere without the people who help me, make my life easier.

8. I admit, I’m more than a little stressed out about life and how it’s all going to work out but there are people who have faith when I don’t have faith, people who believe that everything will be okay – those people make me almost believe that I will be able to get by again someday.

9. Hooded sweatshirts. I love me some hoodies. Aw yeah.

10. The ability to make new beginnings. I don’t know where I’m going or if I’ll get there. I have no idea where the stops along the way will be or whether or not things will get easier but I am grateful for a chance to start over, to try again, to have a fresh start. I’m terrified sometimes – I crave certainty and there’s not much in my life that is certain – but here I am, doing the best I can, and even though it’s far more chaotic than I’d like – I needed to start over.


Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. Sending love and mashed potatoes,


Day 27: Holiday Books for Children

Tonight as we sat at the dinner table, I was glancing at the flap of the book I was reading – you know, the part filled with praise and people saying great stuff about the books.

“It’s always good,” said Pumpkin.

“Well,” I responded, “you don’t sell very many books when you put bad things on their covers.”

“I wonder if they pay people to say good things about bad books,” was her reply.

Probably some do. But – I am not one of those who gets paid to talk about books. I get books in the mail and I’m happy for it because WE LOVE BOOKS – but the opinions are, of course, mine. I tend to avoid talking about the books we don’t enjoy but I don’t mind at all sharing with you the ones that we’ve loved.

This latest round of books are great for the approaching holiday season. The girls and I put up our Christmas tree tonight and I admit, I think I’m finally ready to find that Christmas spirit. Here are a few of the Christmas stories that we’ll be re-reading this season.

Twelve Days of Christmas Susan Jeffers

The Twelve Days of Christmas by Susan Jeffers

This story is a retelling of the classic “Twelve Days of Christmas” song, only it’s focused around a girl named Emma who finds a gift left for her by Santa and then imagines this great adventure where Santa saves the day. The illustrations are lovely – in fact, The Princess mentioned repeatedly how much she loved the art. I can never remember how the song goes so it’s kind of awesome to have a book as a cheat sheet.

Charlie the Ranch Dog

Charlie the Ranch Dog: Charlie’s Snow Day (I Can Read Book 1) based on the Charlie the Ranch Dog books by Ree Drummond

We’re kinda fans of The Pioneer Woman around here (well, her cookbooks and her recipes anyway… I hate to say it but the show leaves me kinda underwhelmed though I really love how she keeps her spices in mason jars), and that extends to Charlie the Ranch Dog. My youngest is a huge Charlie fan. Well, she’s a huge fan of most dogs – but when she saw this Charlie book in the mail, she may have squealed. This learning-to-read book is a bit young for my eight-year-old, but she loved the adventures of Charlie playing in the snow (and Charlie’s eventual longing for the warmth indoors).

Zoomer's Out of this world christmas

Zoomer’s Out-of-This-World Christmas Written and illustrated by Ned Young

Another dog book! When a space ship crash lands in Zoomer’s backyard, Zoomer and his brothers end up having a picnic with a family from outer space and sharing adventures before helping them mend their ship to send them on their way so they could get home in time for Santa’s arrival. A bright, funny story with lots of made-up words and creative and intriguing illustrations.

Biscuit's Christmas Storybook

Biscuit’s Christmas Storybook Collection

What? More dogs?! (Hey, we know what we like). This collection of Biscuit stories features nine stories – they’re short and easy to read so they’re ideal for your beginning reader. Both of my girls are far past the Biscuit stage of books – but your beginning reader will love them even though they’re not all Christmassy or even winter-y and some of them kind of seem like an odd selection for this Christmas storybook but odds are the only person in your home it will bother is you.

What are your favorite Christmas books for kiddos?

Day 26: Gray Skies and Lemon Bars

It’s cold today – cold and dreary. And I say this not because that’s news – it’s Michigan in November after all – but because it just is. This coldness, this dreary weather, it wears on me. The chill in the air lingers long after I walk in the door and shrug off my coat and kick my boots in the general direction of the mudroom.

This weather makes me want to sleep.

It also makes me want to bake.

And so today on the way home I stopped for lemons.

Lemon bars have been on my brain lately – partly because the friend who is helping me out in the mornings by getting Pumpkin on the bus said she’d help in exchange for lemon bars. And partly because today was a day that needed something sweet, something cookie-like.

Freshly squeezed lemon juice, the sweetness of sugar, a buttery pastry crust. Sigh. I love lemon bars and I typically hate fruity desserts.

Baking is therapeutic for me – the very action of measuring, stirring, mixing, pouring. All of it soothes my soul.

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I threw a load of laundry in the washing machine while the lemon bars baked. I changed into clothes to spend time with the treadmill. When the bars were done, I barely let them cool before slicing a piece to sample, nearly burning my tongue.


Absolutely delicious.

I can’t make Michigan stop being winter. I can’t make the skies less dreary. But a little bit of lemon lightness makes the day a little brighter.

Day 25: Flavors of the Day

Song that has caught my ear today:
Sometimes shuffle leads me to discoveries of songs that have been on my iPod forever. Today? “Always You” by Ingrid Michaelson. It came on when I was driving to run some errands tonight – so then I listened to it three times and I’ve listened several more times this evening. I love me some Ingrid.

Nagging Thought of the Day:
I really really want to put my Christmas tree up. Like now. The only thing stopping me is that my girls are with their dad and I won’t put up my tree without my daughters.

True Flavor of the Day:
Cuban pork shoulder with beans and rice.  Chris and I started prep for this slow cooker meal around 9:30 yesterday morning and by the time the Lions choked and lost the game, it was nearly ready. This recipe leaves some room for improvement – I think the fact that we used California oranges instead of Florida made a huge difference (local store only had CA oranges — but Florida oranges are juicier and sweeter, and as the recipe states, have a thinner peel).

One Good Thought About Snow for the Day:
I love how a snowy night is never entirely dark. I don’t love snow, y’all know that, but there’s this hazy glowy light when it’s snowy.

Other Thoughts About Snow for the Day?:

Way to Avoid all the Yummy Food in the Breakroom Technique of the Day:
Sliced red and orange peppers from home, eaten at my desk while fantasizing about the cookies that are in the breakroom and waiting just long enough to go into the breakroom that all the good stuff is gone thus ensuring I’ll fit into my pants for another day.

Movie I Plan To Watch at the End of the Day:
Flight. I started watching last night. I’ll finish watching tonight. I’m skipping past that whole plane crash part though. NOT watching that sequence again. Also, don’t be surprised if I ask the pilot of every future flight if he’s drunk.

Fortune of the Day:
I’m kind of addicted to fortune cookies – and buy them in bulk from World Market. Today’s fortune: Contentment is just around the corner for you. Look forward!

Trip Down Memory Lane of the Day:
One of the awesome things about my 365 is that I can easily look back to see what I was up to a year (or two or three or four…) ago! Looks like a year ago today I bought flowers. Callas are my mom’s favorite – so odds are, I bought this one for mom and gave it to her eventually…after photographing it!

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Least Favorite Physical Feature of the Day:
Whaddup round cheeks?! Where did that come from? Of all the features I usually think are too big – my nose, my thighs, my feet – it’s been a long time since I thought my face looked round. Must be defective work bathroom mirrors because once I left the office I had cheekbones again.

Favorite Physical Feature of the Day:
My eyes. I have two of them. That’s awesome.

Copout Blog Post of the Day:
This one, but hey, at least I’m not whining about stuff. Right?

Day 24: The Constant Chirping Is Driving Me INSANE

All day long, there’s been a high pitch chirping in my house. Chirp. Chirp. Chirp.

It is surely a smoke detector – since I tested the carbon monoxide detector and it is a) fully functional and b) not the culprit of the constant chirping – however, there are so many smoke detectors in this house (all about safety), I can’t seem to tell which one it is.

I stand under one and suddenly the chirping is silent – unwilling to either confirm or deny its role as the source of the noise.

And so I sit on the couch.

Chirp. Chirp. Chirp. It feels like it’s right next to me, the noise, but it’s not.

And it could well drive me crazy. Waiting for the moment when it happens to chirp at a moment when I’m in the room – that will end this, this constant annoyance I’ve felt all day being unable to detect and stop the noise.


Day 23: And So It Snows…

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I woke up this morning and looked out the windows and was sure that my eyes were behaving badly with all the white I was seeing. That my eyes would be screwy would be no surprise – I’m overdue for an eye exam (I have one scheduled, it’s all good) and I’m kind of half convinced that at some point over the past few weeks, I mixed up my right and left contact – and so I keep switching them back and forth seeing if I can see any better. (I’m sure that’s behavior totally frowned upon by eye care professionals).


All that white garbage wasn’t my eyes being stupid.

It was snow.

The expected high temperature today is less than 30°, and I’m cold and have already said more than once: “That’s enough! I quit winter!”

So, I didn’t really have anything to blog about today. I had a great dinner last night with a friend of mine, and great coffee this morning with Chris… and I dug in my archives for my picture of the day today last year.

And it was this. A light dusting of snow. Just like today.

It’s interesting sometimes to see life that way – today versus a year ago today.

Fun to note that a year ago today, I was probably cursing Mother Nature much like I am now.

The sun is shining and there’s no snow in my yard. It’s still cold outside – and will be for days – but I’m warm with a cup of coffee by my side.

So it begins, winter. The season I hate the most. Hoping to avoid numbness and ginormous electric bills.


Day 22: Things I Wish I Knew How To Do

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  • Make cappuccino/latte art
  • Make chicken without either overcooking it and drying it out or undercooking it and giving everyone salmonella
  • Resist a box of CheezIts
  • Play piano
  • Rig the lotto so I win
  • Knit or crochet or whatever the hell it is people do to make these super cute coffee cup sweater things
  • Make homemade pasta
  • Play the guitar so it doesn’t sound like someone who doesn’t know how to play guitar
  • Give a flawless video interview (seriously, HR people, WHY is this a thing?)
  • Parallel park
  • Get a good picture of the moon
  • Cure cancer
  • Slow my brain
  • Drive without getting mad at all the stupid people who don’t know how to drive
  • Make my hair look fancy and Pinterest-y
  • Install hardwood floors
  • Appropriately price my photography services and the resulting products so as not to undersell my talents
  • Make a brownie sundae with zero calories
  • Put outfits together so I look more chic than chump
  • Apply eyeliner
  • Well, and makeup in general
  • Walk in heels without looking like a Clydesdale
  • Fix things so I don’t have to hire other people to fix things
  • Come up with a post every day for 30 days without resorting to lists

Thursday Ten: Stage Makeup and Panicked Mothers edition

1. The Princess arrived home from school yesterday, plastered with makeup from her school musical dress rehearsal. I’m not unfamiliar with the practice of slathering your face with makeup for stage stuff – just…wasn’t prepared for my kid to look SO OLD. And she did. I was relieved when she scrubbed the makeup off and looked her age again. She’s beautiful without all that stuff. I know it’s cliche but, she doesn’t need it.

2. Her musical is this evening, and her first gymnastics meet is this weekend and whoa it’s kind of ALL ABOUT HER the next few days. That’s okay, it’s all fun stuff. She’s been working hard – can’t wait to see her work in action.

3. Sometimes when I’m watching HGTV, I want to grab the realtors by the shoulders and shake them and say, “YOU’RE WORKING TOO HARD TO SELL IT. YOU’RE LOOKIN’ DESPERATE.” (And then I think less than eloquent things like “you can’t polish a turd” – a saying I hate, but it’s what comes to mind when the realtor is all “Oooh look at these arched doorways” and the potential buyers are like “Duuuuuude, the kitchen is LIME GREEN, though.”

4. The wheels of planning are turning for the annual Cookie Party. I wish I could remember what year I started it – but I do love it. It’s one of my favorite holiday traditions. Hundreds of cookies. Tons of sugary frosting goo. Sprinkles galore. And the kiddos and their friends.
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5. I cannot believe Thanksgiving is next week already. I’m so ready to eat turkey and stuffing, though. It’s definitely one of my favorite meals on the planet. Also? I don’t have to cook. I just get to show up and eat great food. So full (of win).

6. It’s taken me over a week with this book I’ve been reading – and I’m still not done. I can’t tell if the book is that bad or if I haven’t been reading enough (both).

7. I’ve modified my work schedule to allow for four shorter days versus three normal ones — mostly out of necessity. I’m not sure how I feel about it – but we do the things we gotta do, right? And who knows, the shorter days might be good. I have been so busy in the office that it might be a nice change of pace to leave a bit earlier and spread the work out to a fourth day. We’ll see. There’s certainly less traffic when you leave work at an off peak time, which is nice.

8. Cooking Light had a ton of crock pot recipes in this month’s issue and all I’ve been thinking since is, “YUMMMMM Cuban pork and black beans and rice.” My shorter work day means I have time to cook dinner – but I love to use the crock pot. Especially in winter months. Coming home to the smell of a delicious food cooking is heavenly.

9. I lost my eyeliner so I look very tired.

10. We haven’t even had the first real snow fall and already I’m craving the end of winter or a trip to a warmer climate. Not sure how I’m gonna make it through this winter! Every time autumn comes to an end and the days start getting shorter and COLDER, I wish I lived somewhere I could wear jeans and tee shirts and hoodies all year – no snow boots, no jackets, no hats, no gloves. But nope. Here I am. Freezing my ass off. Again.