Category Archives: Happiness

Snapshots of Summer

This is merely a test. A test of my ability to use my scant photography skills to tell a story.

One of my personal blogging goals is to improve my photography skills. Truly.

So, here I go!

 

Top left: a picture of our present day, imperfect, life. As you can surmise, no acrobatic moves were employed to capture this scene.

You see my very plain, cheap looking kitchen countertops (which someday before long will be replaced with something that actually looks cool). There’s the bunch of lavender I bought because I was at a Lavender Festival a couple of weeks ago with my best Colorado friend, Adrianne, and it seemed like the thing to do. My original intention was to google what to actually do with this lavender; I overhead the lavender selling lady at the booth where I purchased this telling another customer about hanging it upside down and waiting for the oil to drip off of it. But I ended up getting distracted by life, per my usual, and 14 days (give or take) later the bunch of lavender remains on the top shelf of my kitchen counter. I guess I’ll have to toss it soon, but I certainly am up for suggestions if you have any.

Speaking of the Lavender Festival, Adrianne and I had a very relaxing time chatting and listening to tunes on the way home. I shared with her my new favorite summer song.

Adrianne informed me that this particular song was actually a cover of “Doin’ Time” by Sublime, which came out in 1996, so of course we listened to that version as well. I would have known about Sublime’s version of this tune had I not been busy mothering my spawn, who were 3 and 4 at the time. The genre of music I listened to at that time was “new country”. It was a phase of mine that thankfully passed.

What’s in the orange bowl? It’s a “rustic” bread salad, a recipe that came highly recommended by my beloved sister,  which was surprisingly not a hit. But more than likely, I used the wrong kind of salad dressing. Then there’s the half pint of vodka, which has become our go-to liquor (on those days when we are craft-beered-out) along with the Mio stuff that you add to said vodka for flavor (another suggestion by my sis, though this one was enjoyed much more than the bread salad thingy).

In the brown bag, there was a delectable cinnamon roll that I scarfed down the morning after taking this picture. It was purchased at the Farmer’s Market closest to me. Someone’s got to support small businesses-bakeries included, right? It would have been rude to do otherwise.

Then there’s a selfie taken in our “en suite” (‘scuse me, I’m feeling fancy and I’ve probably consumed too much HGTV).  In case you were wondering, this pic is very much not inspired by a Kardashian.

Then there’s the picture from ye olden times (resting atop my sister’s much nicer looking kitchen countertops), featuring my Grandma Pearl (one of two, not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this) as a child with her wacky hairdo. Youngest spawn has a mass of thick hair with a number of cowlicks.

Image result for images of cows licking
Check out that tongue! You got some competition Gene Simmons!

 Of course, being the obnoxious human that I am, I texted the photo to alert them that their hair is indeed genetic.

So for the actual beautiful pictures: the skies at my sister and brother in law’s place (aka my happiest place to be) in far northern Minnesota, when we were there last month visiting the fam. These pics capture the moments when we were sitting around the campfire, shooting the shit on a warm July night.

Then there’s the two pics of Hubs and I enjoying our first experience at Red Rocks. In the middle bottom pic, we are tailgaiting in the parking lot prior to the show. Good times. 

The pic next to that is of my new pedicure. One of my self-care “quirks” is that my feet need to look nice and pretty at all times. I don’t know where this comes from. Probably because sandals are my very favorite type of footwear and I don’t believe in showcasing them on gnarly looking feet (or seeing others showcasing their gnarly looking feet in sandals for that matter). I love that the nail lady (there’s a proper term for this, right? Technician perhaps?) offered to add a flowery design on my big toes. She did it free hand, using three different colors. I found this quite impressive. I’ll be back to see her again for sure.

20190804_115856
Me with Ray-darling. Yes, I’ve become one of those people who shops online for fun bandanas for my dog to wear.

I invite each of you to share your imperfect, weird, real-life photos that tell a story about what you’ve been up to this summer.

May your days be happy!

 Image result for emoji images

 

Nerding out on playlists and a new friend

I appreciate a good song. Just like when I was a teenager and I would tape the top 40 countdown directly from the radio (anyone remember Kasey Kasem?), I’ve got loads of thoughtfully put together playlists on my tablet.

One such playlist I titled “Current Faves”. It is a work in progress, but so far I’ve got 18 songs on it. It’s my way of staying current. But not so current that it’s loaded with pop hits from BTS or FXY or whatever the youths are listening to on their Ipods. This playlist is mostly focused on a genre I have been digging for the bulk of my adult life: Adult Alternative. While most of my other playlists are chock full of songs that would be considered “classic rock” or “pop hits from the 80’s and 90’s”, my “Current Faves” playlist is comprised of songs that were put out in the 2000’s.

Such as:

Informer by Snow. I heard this song for the first time while listening to “The Current” on the MPR station out of the Twin Cities. I often listen to this program on my tablet as they always play a solidly eclectic mix of upcoming and formerly upcoming artists, and I often hear songs I have never heard before.

Now onto my “Current Faves” playlist. 

I’m not necessarily what one would refer to as a fan of rap or hip-hop, but this song has such a catchy melody. It reminds me of songs by the artist “Shaggy”. I think my friend CJ at Feeding on Folly would concur.

Take a listen and you may see what I mean:

I defy you to not shake your booty to this!

A couple of months ago, Hubs and I caught the band Greta Van Fleet on SNL. We really dug them. They, to me, are reminiscent of classic rock bands from the 70’s (Led Zeppelin especially comes to mind). I’m always intrigued by band names, including of course this one. It’s not like there’s a lead singer by the name of Greta. The band is comprised of male millenials, after all. Turns out, the band was named after one of the band members grandmothers. Isn’t that the sweetest?

Don’t you just love how this band looks like it just walked out of a 70’s supergroup album cover? And the lead singer! What a pretty face he has, right? He kinda reminds me of Marcia Brady’s crush, Davy Jones.

Image result for gif of davy jones and marcia brady

I’ve also got a couple of Elle King’s songs on this playlist. She is something else! Feisty, talented, and entertaining! She makes no apologies for who she is and what she represents.

Check this out:

 

Next month, Hubs and I are finally going to see a show at Red Rocks, after living about an hour from there for almost 3 years. Honestly, our decision to purchase tickets to see the Head and the Heart there was more directed by cost (some of those shows are ridiculously expensive!) than anything else. However, I knew a couple of their songs and since purchasing the tickets have been listening to them more and more.

I have so far added their songs “Rhythm and Blues” and “Missed Connections” to this awesome playlist.

Now, there’s one song I’m going to be putting on a new playlist I’ll be creating: The Ultimate Classic Rock Jam playlist. It’s inspired by our new housemate, Radar.

20190603_170334

Prepare to read anecdotes about this dude, folks!

 

 

Foodie Food Pics

So I’ve got a gazillion pictures on my cell phone of food with no place to go. Yes, I am one of those people. 

I tend to not post these pics on social media because, well…they are not necessarily well received. People find it silly. Annoying. Pointless. 

Truth be told, they are probably right. 

But the thing is, I have a blog. And I am a foodie. And I love to cook. Well, most days anyway. When I’m not feeling the cooking mojo, I like to eat out. Try new foods, new places. And on top of it all, a large chunk of my job is running a food bank.

Thankfully, my dear Hubs is also a foodie (though he isn’t necessarily a fan of this particular term-don’t ask me why). He and I quite enjoy partnering up in our cozy (aka small) townhome kitchen and whipping up tasty meals on a pretty regular basis. 

What makes it, um..interesting, is that I have a tendency to want to follow recipes to a “T” and he is a little more free-wheeling. He tells me that cooking this way indulges his creative side, which as an IT professional during the daylight hours, is a beneficial exercise. So, for the most part, I go with it. We decide which tasks each of us will do and we carry on with it. 

Now for my food pictures. 

I would be remiss if I didn’t include this pic of the nachos we made, which were loosely based on Chrissy Tiegen’s recipe in her new “Hungry for More” cookbook. 

Pay no mind to my naked foot and focus on this beautiful plate of nachos. I never said that I was particularly skilled at taking pictures of food, people. They were scrumptious! Fresh mushrooms on nachos was a revelation for us. As I recall, the primary difference in our version of this recipe was we added chunks of pre-cooked chicken breasts. It was a meal unto itself. 

20190310_170718

 

Below I present you with Food pic #2. It’s a chicken breast sauteed in olive oil, slathered with homemade pesto sauce and mozzarella cheese with brown rice and succulent mushrooms on the side. Super simple to make, healthy, and delicious! This is actually on the menu for tonight. 

20180618_181017

Then there’s this gorgeous plate of authentic hummus I enjoyed with warm, fresh pita bread at a middle eastern restaurant in Kansas City when we visited friends there in February. 

20190204_113402

I recently made a pineapple upside down cake and brought it to work. I couldn’t resist snapping this pic below of the jar of maraschino cherries used in this recipe. “Real Cherries * May Contain Pits”. Quite the metaphor for life, don’t ya think?

20190512_163005

Come on, fellow foodies-share your food pics in the comments!

 

 

Keeping the Love Alive

alcohol anniversary beautiful beverage
Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd. on Pexels.com

 

It’s Valentine’s Day this week people! Are you psyched? Do you have plans with your beloved? Or is this just another day for you? 

While our plans have not exactly been fleshed out yet, Hubs and I will most certainly take the time to celebrate this holiday in one way or another. It’s tradition for us. At the very least, Valentine cards will be exchanged, and a dinner not made by us will be enjoyed. Nothing too fancy or exciting, but it certainly isn’t going to be just another, regular, uneventful day for us. 

I can safely say that I’ve got some experience when it comes to romantic love. Hubs and I will be celebrating 29 years of marriage this coming May. I’d say that qualifies me for sharing the best long term romantic relationship advice I can shell out, correct?

FB_IMG_1529931654530Me and Hubs in beautiful Colorado, 2018 

I could say things like “Never go to bed angry” (yes, solid advice but we have all heard it before). Or “Have weekly date nights” (easier said than done, am I right?). 

But I’m not going to do that. I’m simply going to share with you what I have found works for Hubs and I. The things we’ve discovered along the way that keep us together. Keep us satisfied. Keep us interested in staying married. 

  • Celebrate every chance you get. Revel in the mundane. This might mean an impromptu dinner date with your beloved just because it’s Friday and you both made it through the week unscathed. Or maybe a meeting got canceled for one of you, leaving you unexpected time and space to spend together, so you decide to uncork that bottle of wine you bought on vacation two years ago that has only been serving as a dust collector that whole time.

  • Engage in activities together which you both enjoy in equal measure. I think it’s safe to say that every long term couple out there has got at least one activity they both enjoy doing. Do it together! Maybe it’s cooking. Or hiking. Or antiquing. Or collecting bobble-head dolls. Whatever it is, enjoy it together as often as you possibly can. Some serious bonding and great memories are to be had if you do.

  • Give each other a break. Be kind always. If your partner comes home cranky and bone-tired at the end of the day, give them a hug. Have a plan B if the original plan was to go out and socialize with others. Be okay with that. Trust me on this one, it took me years to get to the point where I could do this without any resentment. And it’s given me much peace. 

  • Make your relationship a priority. If you have kids, don’t hyper focus on them.  Don’t let your entire world revolve around them all of the time. They will only be in your day to day lives for so long. Remember that the time will come, and quicker than you think, where it’s just the two of you again, like it was in the beginning.

  • Make time on a regular basis to talk about your future together. The hopes and dreams you have. The perceived obstacles to achieving your dreams. Problem solve together. Put it all out there. This gives you a path. Things to look forward to, a north star for your relationship. Don’t allow yourselves to simply slug through every day like bots, focusing solely on the present. 

  • Encourage each other’s personal hobbies. I think we have more to bring to the table in our relationships when we take time to do things on our own. For instance, Hubs decided when he turned 48 last year that he wanted to teach himself a musical instrument. He told me that he wanted to engage the left (or is it the right?) side of his brain, since so much of his work time as an IT project leader relies heavily on the right (or is it the left?) side. So he bought himself a ukulele. He practices it regularly, with my encouragement and blessing. I’ve noticed a change in his life outlook and that his sense of playfulness has increased since taking up this fun hobby. For his part, he is highly supportive of me and my blogging. So much so, that (as I mentioned here), he bought me my very own Chromebook specifically for blogging. I think by encouraging each other’s individual hobbies we are showing respect for each other’s autonomy. If we each have pursuits that provide enjoyment to us, it’s only natural that those good vibes will affect our relationships in a positive way. 

  • One thing I can’t stress enough when it comes to long term couplings such as ours is the importance of being a good roommate. Peace and harmony become the norm as opposed to the exception in the day to day when both partners choose to share their living space thoughtfully. Little things go a long way. Such as taking care of the laundry before the pile gets too big and without having to be asked. Cleaning up the dishes you dirtied while playing your video game in the home office. Asking your partner if they would mind if you turn on your music, before turning on said music.  I’m not talking about catering to your partner and constantly putting their needs and preferences first; I’m talking about giving the consideration to your partner that you want to receive from them. 

  • And since I’m giving long term romantic relationship advice here, I would be remiss to not mention a key element in any successful long term pairing: Sex. I mean, when you think about it, it’s what brought you together in the first place. Not that you and your beloved hopped in the sack the minute you first locked eyes (not that there would necessarily be anything wrong with that), but honestly, would one really make the choice to embark on a long term relationship without being sexually attracted to their partner? I think not. So make time for it. Keep your expectations realistic. It’s not always going to be knock-your-socks-off orgasmic bliss. And that is ok. It is normal, in fact. Enjoy the skin to skin contact. The eye to eye contact. The intimate pillow talk, expressing how you feel about each other and the life you’ve created together. Plan for this on a regular basis. Savor this time together. 

 

My Favorite Week of the Year

This week, the one sandwiched between Christmas and New Year’s, happens to be my favorite week of the year.

Why, you ask? Because the Christmas season always gives me long lasting warm fuzzies. I’ve rested, laughed, played, ate well, got new things to enjoy. I’ve gotten to speak to the people I love the most (by phone or video chat).  There’s no more frenzied planning for another year. NYE is a week away, so that’s something to look forward to, even if Hubs and I have no major plans. Work is more chill too.

Essentially, I’m more relaxed during this particular week. I feel more thoughtful, more grateful for the sweet life Hubs and I have created over the past 30 ish years. My head is in a space where I’m contemplating the future; though with no great sense of urgency. I’m kicked back, fuzzy socked feet upon our coffee table, relishing the present and pondering the future.

20181225_174454

Side note: the pic above reminds me of a a hilarious Christmas post I’m still laughing about. Funniest line: “I told you those would confuse her, Judy”.

This pondering includes what my New Year’s resolutions intentions might be. The intentions I may have for this great blogging adventure I embarked on almost two years ago (I must refrain from over-analyzing the “dud” posts I’ve penned in that time which very well may have kept me from having more followers). The intentions I have for my personal life (staying in better touch with friends and family near and far, the myriad of home improvement projects Hubs and I want to make, travel-both in the U.S. and abroad, and of course, like every other slob out there, losing a good 10 lbs, give or take). The intentions I have in my work life (improve communication, my organizational skills, increase my education on such things as aging and food insecurity in the U.S.). My intentions re: my spiritual journey (how I can better live out my faith and follow Jesus’ examples).

text on shelf

Note that I am not calling any of the above “resolutions”. That simply puts too much pressure on me. The term is too concrete, too demanding to be part of my inner vernacular. If 2018 has taught me anything, it is that life is gonna do what life is gonna do. Curveballs will occur. Jobs may change, people will die, unexpected setbacks will emerge. That’s the deal, folks. Like it or lump it, as they say.

My primary objective, “intention”, if you will, for this one glorious week, is to reflect. And come out swinging in the new year.

How about you, folks?

*Photo above courtesy of Pexels

All in for Fall

Fall has arrived here in Colorado. It seemed to happen almost overnight. Or maybe I’m just not as observant as I could be. The temps are now pretty steady in the 50’s at this point so the days of wearing sandals on the regular are gone, at least until March or April anyway.  The leaves are changing and as I’m driving around I’m treated to the sights of beautiful maples with rich hues of burgundy, gold, and orange.

Here’s what I am loving about this particular fall season:

  • Waking up to those dark mornings. I know, it sounds a little weird, but there’s a coziness I feel when I’m padding down the stairs in pursuit of a cup of hot coffee, of course, in the wee hours after a good night’s slumber and the house is shrouded in the quiet darkness. It’s peaceful and comforting. Though some mornings as a result I have to put up a pretty good internal argument against crawling back under those covers.
  • Cooking hearty meals and delectable, soul warming desserts. Recently, I made a recipe I’ve had forever and came up with a way to make it even more scrumptious. I will share that recipe at the end of this post. I also made my blogger friend CJ’s apple cake on Sunday and it was seriously the bomb! I highly recommend it! I got a lot of compliments from my co-workers when I brought it to work yesterday. It’s the perfect go-to for fall potlucks.
  • Bringing out the fall wardrobe. I was smart over the summer and picked up a few pieces while thrift store shopping to add to what I already had. My girly-girl side came out as I tried on different combinations of things to wear to work and when simply being out and about this fall.
  • Speaking of fall wardrobes, another thing I’m getting pretty psyched about is Halloween costumes. As I mentioned in my fall themed blog post last year, being empty-nesters has allowed us to re-claim this holiday for ourselves. I am currently pondering what costumes we will be donning this Halloween. Contenders are me as a good witch and Hubs as Johnny Cash (my version of super heroes for these times we are in) or “Blue Waves” (which we fervently hope come via our ballot boxes next month). Here’s us in our costumes last year…20171028_201957 (1)
  • Voting season: oh, so many reasons to be happy about this. Like perhaps there will be a surge in the number of Americans casting their ballots. Perhaps sane, rational, not geriatric and not all male candidates will be elected this time. Also that it-namely, the constant political ads and political junk mail-will be over on 11/7.

Now for that promised recipe:

French Dip Sandwiches

Disclaimer: I wrote down this recipe eons ago on a recipe card, and if I could credit the cook who I got it from I would, but I have no earthly idea who that would be.

Ingredients:

3 lbs. beef chuck roast

2 Cups water

1/2 cup Soy Sauce (I always use the low sodium kind)

1 tsp. dried rosemary

1 tsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 bay leaf

3 whole peppercorns

French bread

Put the beef in the crockpot. Mix up all the other ingredients (minus the french bread of course) in a bowl. Pour it over the beef. Cook on high for 5-6 hours or low for 8 hours + if you like. Shred or slice (depending on the level of tenderness) the beef and put between two slices of crusty french bread.

My attempt at morphing the leftovers (which I froze last week and am thawing as I write this) into something even better is this: Slice yellow onions and saute them in butter. Drain the liquid from the beef and cook it in a saucepan, possibly adding additional water and beef bouillon. Heat up the slices of beef in the microwave. Put the broth in soup bowls and add the onions, then the beef. Top with shredded mozzarella. Cut up chunks of the french bread and toss it into the soup bowls. Voila! French onion soup, my way.

What are you jazzed about this fall season? 

 

 

 

 

My just in case post

This could just as well be called the “Where I’m at” post.

This is the post I’m writing just in case I don’t manage to get my act together and create a new post to publish on Wednesday centered on one specific topic.

Because I have company coming soon.

The company that is coming is my dear sister in law, my husband’s one and only sister.

20170521_143113
Miss Mary and I on her last visit to Colorado

Because I’m also working this week (one only gets so much paid vacation as a part timer) and I’m determined to make my sister in law’s Colorado vacay as awesome as can be, I’ve been in a bit of a mad rush these last couple of days planning meals and activities for us to enjoy together this week.

Bottom line-publishing a blog post is not quite as high on my list of priorities at this particular moment in time. 

Please know that I am not complaining. This planning and hosting people we love coming from hither and yon in our empty nest is totally my jam.

I’ve got a ton of draft posts started, which have largely been inspired by interacting in my new bloggers group on Facebook (shout out to Gin and Lemonade blogger’s group!). One is a movie review. Another is about food. Another is a funny anecdote about my mom. It’s a toss up as to what I will actually publish next.

But truthfully, you probably won’t see any of these posts this week. Because I will be too busy enjoying catching up with Miss Mary, showing her the sites (likely many of which neither Hubs or I have not yet seen), and of course, working.