Monday, December 31, 2012

30 x 30; Buy a New Car

I mentioned this not so very long ago; when I graduated high school and turned 18, my parents bought me a car - what a lucky girl, right?
I drove that car for 10 1/2 years. It was nearing the end of its time with me and we were looking at possibly trading it in for something newer and a little more grown up. It also happened that buying a new car was one of the items on my list of 30 x 30.

Then December 10th happened, and after a week and a half of calls to the insurance company, it was finally determined that I would never see my little car that could again. Trade-in plans were foiled, new car plans were seriously expedited, but trying to stay on the bright side - this meant I was getting a shiney new car.

I started my research and we decided we would go after Christmas (because they would certainly have the best deals then...right?)
Online research told me that VW had the best year end deals - seriously, Sign Then Drive, check it out. So, a few days before Christmas we headed over to our local VW dealer to compare models and get a better idea of what kind of deal we might get. We decided that a Passat would be the best fit for me. It got just as good MPG as the smaller Jetta, and it should still suit my needs when I'm in my mid to late 30's and *hopefully* have a family to tote around.
The sales guy opened up with an amazing deal - dude, its the end of the year - and we went home to think about it.
Then I remembered something kinda important... I know a guy.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Into 2013...

I will be ringing in the new year in the 'Bu. My parents own a small beach house out there and are letting my sister and I call dibs on it for the night.

This year has been madness, and I can't really believe some things that happened in January through March were actually this year. 

Since this is probably the last chance I'll have to post before it's 2013, I want to take a second and appreciate some of the more monumental things that happened in 2012, as well as some of the things I'm hoping for in 2013. With plans going the way they are so far, it's looking to be a year full of adventures. 

Let's focus on the amazing, shall we?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Our Christmases 2012

Christmas celebrations started early for our family this year. Big sis and I got ourselves all up and married in the last few years, so we now have to divide our Christmases between our family and our husbands'. We were alternating which Christmas to be home with our parents, so Tim & I haven't seen them on Christmas in 3 years. :(

Starting next year, we have officially changed the schedule and we will both be at our parent's on the same year...

But this year, we got an extra Christmas celebration by gathering on the 21st (after little sis got into town, but before big sis left) so we could exchange gifts, eat dinner together, and decorate a gingerbread house.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Wishing you...

If Christmas were a place, it would be right around the corner. Festivities are picking up, family is heading in and out of town, and I will be in front of my computer (a little) less often. There are people to see, yoga classes to absorb, and treats to bake!

I just wanted to take a second to wish you all the very merriest holiday

Happy Christmas, one and all!



Thursday, December 20, 2012

Remember What You Love

Y'all know this - It's been a rough week and a half for me. A roller coaster that put me in a mental and emotional place I didn't want to be in. A lot of self doubt, a lot of not knowing, a lot of anger.

Today is the last Thursday before Christmas. It really forced me sit down and think about the things I am grateful for this holiday. I really love the holiday season, so it was important for me not to let it be ruined. When you find yourself crying when you try to sing along to Christmas songs, its a sign that something needs to change (or you're PMSing. whatever.)

Now... maybe it's because I don't host the holiday, but Christmas has never stressed me out. Gifts can get pricey, but its easy to make adjustments according to your budget - and anyone truly worthy of receiving your gifts won't care how much you spent on it.
I love baking and decorating and wrapping presents. I love the sounds and the smells, and I don't even mind staying late to help clean up. It's the other stuff that makes Christmas stressful - the everyday stuff that still needs to get done amidst all of fun things I want to do more.

It's been kind of surreal this last week or so - floating in and out of the holiday spirit.

I literally just got up from my desk and got knocked back out of it. The phone calls continue...

Here's to cold mornings in Malibu and wearing big fuzzy sweaters. To blue skies in December and Christmas lights contrasting the green grass of our neighbors lawns. I may not be feeling awesome right now, but I have the highest of hopes for tomorrow.

And in a minute I'm going to put on the Rockin' Christmas channel on Pandora so I can focus on the things that make me smile - like the giant hug I'm going to get when Tim sees his Christmas present next week, and making gingerbread houses with my mom and sisters tomorrow night.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bye Bye, Baby

When I turned 18, my parents bought me a car as a birthday/graduation present. Last week I was in a car accident and this morning I found out that she's been declared a total loss.

Not only did she take me places, but she went everywhere with me. When I moved to Alabama in 2006, we shipped her out so I could drive around T-town.

After graduation, we caravaned safely back from Tuscaloosa to SoCal. 

At the continental divide

Monday, December 17, 2012

YTT Update; Week 10

I briefly thought about doing a YTT update every week, but I thought I would run out of things to say. I am also pretty surprised that we've just finished week 10 of the 14 week program. I don't know how I would have found time to post a yoga recap every week. It would have been two lines. "Today we learned about the bandhas and the skeleton. It was good."

Maybe you didn't know this, but if you are in yoga teacher training that runs through December, its pretty likely you'll end up having two weeks off for "winter break", and here we are. Week 10 has just ended and we are on YTT winter break. Class will resume after New Years. I'm a little sad, but I'm not complaining. I'm planning on using this extra time to play with sequencing and try and memorize some more of these dang Sanskrit names. Lucky for me, their memorization is not essential for earning my certificate - but it would help. :)

We're finally learning how to put classes together, which is pretty cool. Yesterday my group and I split an hour long class four ways. I did the beginning and baby warm up. It was so cool and scary to teach a group more than one pose for the first time.
I was standing in the front corner, drinking hot green tea and looking at my notes every now and then. I wish I'd walked around a little bit, but no sense dwelling on it now.
The week before we'd partnered up and taught one on one, but teaching a group is so different. So many critiquing eyes & ears!
I practiced my section the night before to make sure I could figure out what to say and that it ran about 15-20 minutes.
Getting up there and actually teaching though - is so unlike just running through it aloud in the middle of the kitchen floor.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

And then the holidays were stressful

This week started off on the wrong foot when, on the way to work on Monday, I was in a car accident. I'm not going to go into detail, but it happened and it was rough. I held it together through all the "jive" (as my dad put it). Phone calls to our insurance agent and adjuster, talking to the CHP and tow truck drivers, getting chauffeured by my husband to the tow lot, back home and then to my parents' to borrow a car, and finally driving into work where more phone calls ensued.
When I finished the phone calls, I guess the shock wore off and I sat at my desk thinking about what happens now.
It's Christmas time. It's the most expensive time of the year - on top of gifts, we just paid our property tax (oof). I was overwhelmed by "what ifs", and I sat there staring blankly at my computer screen, trying to let myself relinquish control, but hanging on to my plans as hard as I could.
I swallowed hard, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath.

It is what it is, I told myself. Whatever happens is going to happen and I'm not going to make it better by worrying about it.

I treated myself to fried fattening foods, chocolates, wine and cocktails (yes, both) for the rest of the day. Letting go was going to have to be life encompassing for the day.

One "person" who really helped me let go, was this lady.

I hope she makes you smile today too.

In honor of Panda's total spaz out - at one point she actually stepped on my face. ouch. - and letting go of what might be, submitting for the approval of the midnight society, I call this story...

my Be Happy linkup post.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Kitchen Adventures; Candied Clementine Peels

Remember how I did that juice cleanse? I just posted about it. Maybe you read it, maybe you didn't. I don't know. I don't know your life. ;)

Basically, it was decided that since we've invested in a juicer, we would have TONS of produce in our house, including a giant bag of clementines from Costco. I always wondered who bought those giant bags of produce, and now I know... because it's me.

For a while I was just tossing the peels. Who wants to eat them anyway? They're bitter and stringy and, well, not delicious.

Then Tracy Benjamin posted this recipe on Shutterbean and it was like a lightbulb went on in ma brain.

No longer would I waste the peels of these delicious snack-sized fruits! It was time to turn this bitter discard into something downright delicious.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Recap Fall 2012

When does fall officially end? Are the seasons different because I'm in SoCal? Does that kind of cancel out winter?

I'm confusing myself.

Here's my "Fall" aka mid-September through Early December in Instagram...

We started off with a bang. Our anniversary wasn't even over when sickness crept into our house.

I made caramel mocha brownies to make myself feel better. It was mostly spiritual. ;)

My mom trained me to takeover as designated maker of fig pinwheel cookies.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas Wishlist 2012 & a Stocking Stuffer Giveaway

100% serious. I'm a grown up. (Ok, maybe 90% serious)

Husband and I try very hard to be financially responsible, but if I really wanted, I could run around town and blow all my money on things I want this time of year. How-ev-ah, because it's Christmas, I have made a list of fun things I would like to have at my disposal.

My Christmas Wishlist

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Kitchen Adventures; Maple Pecan Bars

I finished my juice cleanse on Wednesday night and all I could think about on Thursday were baked goods. I wanted to make everything. I wanted the sounds and smells of the holidays to take over my house. So, when I got home I busted out the wrapping paper, gifts I'd bought, put on Love, Actually, and flipped to the cookies sections in some of my favorite cookbooks.

I needed to find something to make that wouldn't involve a run to the store... until it dawned on me that I didn't have eggs. I wanted to bake and I didn't have any eggs... Seriously?

Movie paused. Grocery list written up. Reusable bag grabbed.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

30 x 30; Juice Cleanse

Right around Halloween this year, I was sitting at my computer thinking about when and what kind of juice cleanse I should do.

How long should it be? When would it least impact my day to day life and have the most benefit? Should I buy a juicer? or use a juicing company? What companies were out there?

I feel like I should tell you that I've done cleanses before, but this was my first one without solid food.

I didn't fully weigh the pros and cons of everything because I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do when.

After Thanksgiving. Short cleanse (3 days plus pre and post cleansing). Not buying a juicer since I didn't plan on doing it again and my husband had no interest in doing it with me.
Found 2 juice cleanse companies that looked good. I picked one and ordered my juices.
Decided to start on Wednesday, November 28th. I thought about starting right after Thanksgiving, but I had a mark party/pottery boutique scheduled with my mom for the 27th and I thought that would over-complicate things.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Holiday Mark Party & Pottery Boutique

Hey guys, my mom makes beautiful pottery. She's so talented. Seriously.

I'm a mark rep, which is awesome too. :)

Tuesday night we had a holiday boutique. She got out all of her amazing pottery, I brought out my mark. demos , and we had people over for shopping and snacks.

I had a big table set up in the living room.

The bath & body line is my favorite, especially the Jasmin.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Holiday Spirit

It's the holidays now - for real.

Halloween, Thanksgiving... over. I'm ready for Christmas and New Years and pretending it's snowing outside when it's barely 60 degrees.

Sunday after Thanksgiving, Tim brought the tree up from the garage and I got started decorating.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Kitchen Adventures; Whole Wheat Honey Goat Cheese Biscuits

I already told you I am slowly working my way through the Joy the Baker cookbook.

I had two Thanksgivings. I made these for Thanksgiving; Part 2, also known as "Thanksgiving-er"

They struck me initially because I freaking love goat cheese. I also love honey and biscuits. I pretty much had to make them. That was that.

Friday I was much less stressed out than I was on Thursday. I went for a jog in the morning. We lounged around and leisurely cleaned while we waited for hub's parents to arrive.

The biscuits were the last thing to get put in the oven. Leisurely means don't even bother getting everything out first. Just grab as you go.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving-er

Husband and I are little fat kids on the inside. Is that okay for me to say? Probly not, huh?

Oh, well.

It's important that you know this about us. We have inner fat kids. It's a thing. Sorry if I'm offending anyone.

We. Really. Like. Food. (and usually not the good-for-you kind)

So it's only appropriate that starting last year - our first married Thanksgiving - we have two Thanksgivings every year. We spend Thanksgiving day with my family, and then his family drives up on Friday and we have a second Thanksgiving, which has been dubbed Thanksgiving-er. Because it's more Thanksgiving? I guess?

Last year, we were both actually really sick on Thanksgiving, so we missed part 1 with my family.

Thanksgiving-er is smaller scale - since there are much fewer people - but its a thing we do... maybe because we are looking for any excuse to gorge ourselves.

This year both Thanksgivings were a success.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Kitchen Adventures; Orange Cranberry Bundt Cake

I come from a pretty large family. Not crazy large - I spoke to a friend who's family crams 40 people into a 2 bedroom apartment for Thanksgiving - but decent size large. We were missing some folks, but we ended up having 18 people. As long as I can remember, we've done Thanksgiving potluck style.
This year my mom was a little concerned that we wouldn't have enough options for dessert, so I went looking for something awesome and different to bring,
I thought about bringing that mixed berry bundt cake I made a few months back, but decided I should make something that ties in better with Thanksgiving flavors. So cranberry it was, and orange was a nice accent.

This came out super yummy. It calls for a tons of sugar, but just do it. Seriously. You won't be sorry.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

The word "happy" is in the greeting we give and receive all day long today.

Thanksgiving day can be stressful for a lot of us. All of the cooking and cleaning and guests and prep.

Why not just take a moment, step outside of all the things you need to do today and embrace the happy? No matter who you're with, where you are, or what's being served. Whether you have a traditional Thanksgiving spread with a thousand people around you, or a TV dinner next to your spouse, take a second, smile and wish whoever is with you a happy Thanksgiving.

The above picture was taken in 2009. That was the last time I was with my family for the holiday. Last year I was sick on Thanksgiving. I spent most of the day in bed - with my in-laws staying at our house - and the year before we spent the day with Tim's family.

I am so excited to be able to spend this holiday with my wonderful family, and I hope you are excited for your holiday too.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Story of Panda

I thought since I have that adorable photo of her on the right side of the page, I should tell you a little bit about my dog-child, how we came to be a family, and some of her more amazing personality traits.

Yes, I know its silly to write a post about my dog, but I'm mostly doing this for myself.

In the beginning of 2010, I was not a happy camper. I was working somewhere I was unhappy because it was the only job I could get after college. I was getting home hours before my boyfriend, only to sit on the couch and eat my weight in cheese and crackers. I was still adjusting to living with someone full time, which was not easy for someone who had gotten used to living alone in college and liked things her way.

I was lonely and frustrated, so I threw out the idea of getting a puppy. The initial response was "we don't have time, and we don't have the space, and I don't want a little toy dog". I'd had these thoughts too. Neither of us are toy dog people, but I needed something to look forward to when I got home from the office of unnecessary drama, and I was convinced a puppy would be just the thing.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012: Prep

We're kind of hosting Thanksgiving this year. It's like a mini Thanksgiving.

Thursday we'll be going to my parents' house. I'm bringing risotto (maybe pumpkin this time) and bundt cake. Easy peasy. I'm pumped.

But FRIDAY, Friday has been dubbed "Thanksgiving-er" or Thanksgiving Strikes Back. Long story short, Tim's parents didn't want to drive up early, so they're coming up on Friday morning and we're having a smaller separate Thanksgiving with them. My parents may come too. I promised my mom we would not force her to eat a lot.

But even though it's small, we still have to get our house ready for guests. We haven't had anyone stay in our guestroom since June, and then Tim worked from home most of the summer, which turned my sewing/computer room into his office, and all of my stuff got piled up on the bed. Sorry potential guests.

I am by no means a domestic goddess. It is a challenge for me to clean the kitchen every day, but I do it because I love to see my kitchen sparkle - we worked hard enough on it.
Our house is always a mess. I shudder to think what it will turn into if we have kids.

But it's been especially messy lately for a couple of reasons. Hubs has been absolutely SWAMPED at work. He ends up bringing work home with him and the rest of his time is spent doing things that take his mind off work - unfortunately, that doesn't including cleaning.
And on top of that, I am in yoga teacher training right now. I'm actually only in class 9 hours a week, but top that with all the studying I have, plus hours of taking yoga class, observing, and assisting, and my schedule is jam packed.
It's also really important to us that we don't use our free time being couch potatoes, so we make sure to get some kind of workout every day. Staying healthy also keeps our house from being clean.

But enough with the excuses. Things are the way they are, and this weekend I am cleaning like a mad woman.

...and taking yoga and going out for brunch with my hubby. ;)

Thursday night I started to tackle the guestroom. I cleaned up most of the junk that had collected on the floor, put all our suitcases away in the closet, packed up my art supplies. I meant to bring a stack of old financials to work with me on Friday to shred, but I spaced, so I'll have to do that this week.

Friday night was more cleaning. Because I went to yoga in the morning, I had the whole evening to GSD (get sh*t done). Two loads of laundry, folded and put away. More guest room mess tackling - mostly getting crap off the bed because it really should not have been there anyway - that place is for Panda naps. ;) I also managed to sweep up the clumps of dog hair off the stairs.

Today I am hoping to finish everything else. Change all the sheets on both beds, vacuum (luckily, the robot can take care of the living room), dust, put away random clothing items (shoes and socks that get taken off and left wherever), put the upstairs bathroom back together, put fresh towels in the guest bath, organize the workout equipment, clean the wood floors, maybe even go over all the stainless steal with some fancy stainless steal cleaner.

The biggest hurdle is what to do with all the junk that doesn't necessarily have a place. I'm going to try and throw as much of it out as possible, but I already know most of it won't be tossable.

Once I'm done cleaning, maybe I can attempt to make our place look a little festive. Who knows!?

Do you have family staying with you for Thanksgiving? Do you have to do as much cleaning as I do?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Reminder To Be Thankful

I needed a moment this morning. For the last 36 hours or so I've been in a major funk. I hoped making a quick detour to the ocean would help me clear my jumbled slightly depressing thoughts. It did, but I'm still working on shaking off the funk.

I read too much into things. If a friend doesn't text me back fast enough I think "maybe they don't think I'm as good a friend to them as they are to me. Am I a bad friend? Did I do this to myself?" It's bad (and ridiculous, I know). I have to remind myself that just because I don't have a lot of friends doesn't mean that the ones I have aren't amazing and don't love me as much as I love them. We're grown ups. We have lives and are too busy for each other sometimes. It sucks, but it's real.

So, I'm turning this around. Right now, as I write this, I am shaking it off. Maybe not literally as that would be difficult.

Thanksgiving is exactly one week from today. I'm a little stressed out about it. Maybe that's where all this is coming from. Anyway, November is supposed to be all about being Thankful. Some things I'm thankful for today, in particular, are friends.

Dear best friends (including sisters and momma),
I love you and I am grateful that I have you. Thank you for meeting me for coffee and pedicures and talking about silly movies and puppy dogs with me. Thank you for hugs and for laughter. You are the best.

Now I can focus on cleaning my house for when my inlaws come up next weekend... because that mess, that mess is a whole different kind of animal. For real.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Kitchen Adventures; Pear & Goat Cheese Tart

I've been entering a lot of giveaways lately. What can I say, I like free stuff. :)

Since it seems like quite a few people enter these things, I am not surprised at all when I don't win. It also makes it extra exciting if I do win. So, when I got an email from Sommer of A Spicy Perspective that I had won her Harry & David giveaway, I got pretty dang excited, followed by a twinge of worry. What was I going to do with all those pears?

That lasted all of 5 seconds. I decided I would make a tart before the basket even showed up on my doorstep.

I love tarts. I love pears. I love cheese. It was going to happen and there was no way around it.

Google, my cookbooks, and my favorite blogs were inspiring, but none of them had the perfect recipe.

I did some mishmoshing. A little Emeril with some America's Test Kitchen, a little from someone I'd  never heard of, and some inspiration from inside my pantry.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Big Sunday; A Wedding and Yoga Milestone

When I was 20, I joined the speech and debate team at my community college. You can laugh at the nerdiness. I'm cool with it. You'll see why as you read on.

During my second semester, an older girl who had done speech a few years earlier, rejoined the team to participate in some of the oral interp (acting) events. Her name was Jenny, and together with another girl, we were part of our teams Interpreters' Theatre, which meant we spent a lot of time together. I kind of latched onto her like a big sister. She was funny and we'd sing together and goof off in hotel rooms on tournament weekends.

It's been almost eight years since we met, and she's remained one of the few people from that team I've stayed in touch with. We had our communication droughts, but in the last two years we've been able to catch up and in some ways, its like having my speech big sister back.

Last Sunday, the time changed and my friend married the man of her dreams. I only met him for the first time that day, but I truly believe that. They are perfect together.

I felt so blessed to be able to be there and share that time with them. I might have gotten a little misty-eyed when she walked down the isle.

Monday, November 12, 2012

30 X 30; Make Tabbouleh

I made TABBOULEH! Yaaaay! This was on my list of 30 things to do before I turn 30.

I'm all about honesty here. Do not follow the recipe I did for tabbouleh. It calls for 2 teaspoons of salt.

Seriously? I should have known better. Salt is a major ruiner for me. I barely like it to begin with, and then when there is too much. Bleh. Gross.

I will make tabbouleh again, but I am for sheezy (just said that) going to talk to my Jiddo first. For my non-middle- eastern descendant readers, that's my grandpa, and I really should have talked to him first, but I thought, "I have this book. Should be easy peasy"

It's a salad, so yes, it's easy, but if you grew up with a tabbouleh made this very specific way, and then you go and try and make it some other way and think it's going to taste roughly the same, you are in for a world of disappointment.

So, I made tabbouleh, which I like to spell "tabouli" because it's more fun that way. It didn't work out great.

But I made it. Successes and failures... at least I learned.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Dharma Code

Gah, I am really having a hard time starting this. Wednesday's practice was so intense and beautiful. I want to be able to share that with you, but just saying "On Wednesday night, we explored a deep and beautiful yoga practice" sounds so trite.

I'm going to roughly explain to you what we did. If you feel inclined to try it for yourself, which I encourage, please do so. You may explore depths of yourself and understand your partner better than you ever have before. 

You will need a partner. ;)

But first you will need yourself, a pen, and paper. 

Imagine that you are 100 years old. You have accomplished everything that you set out to do. All of your loved ones have gathered to pay tribute to your life's accomplishments.
Select one person from this group, who will give a tribute speech to you. Now take about 10 minutes and, in their voice, write what they would say.

It was awkward at first for many of us to write tribute to ourselves, but I began to think of it as shaping my ideal self - creating who I want to be and what I want to have accomplished when I am 100.

Once you've written it all out, go through and circle the verbs - if they apply to something in particular, leave them together. If your verb is "appreciate", include what you want to appreciate. Ie: "appreciate beauty".

The consolidate everything you circled into one sentence beginning with something to the extent of, "I am here to..."

Then talk to someone about it. (hopefully they've written one too) You can help each other really pin down your sentences into their simplest forms.

What you've come up with is called your Dharma Code.

I feel like I'm in a good enough place that I can share mine.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Rain is Smiling at Me

I have so much I want to say today about happiness and life and intention and good stuff, but for the link up, I'm going to keep this short. Hopefully tomorrow I can post something a little more in depth about my journey .

Last night in teacher training we did what's called a yoga nidra, which is basically a meditation on the edge of consciousness.

As part of the practice, we paired up and shared our dharma codes (what I'm writing more about later). It breaks down into your ultimate intention. The simplest statement of what you want to accomplish in your life. We helped each other hone in on and simplify our statements.

It created a really beautiful understanding between partners. It was surprising to me how similar our statements were, especially once we had broken them down into their very basic meaning.

So much of what we had to say dealt with love and light and openness.

I carried so much of that feeling of openness, honesty and connection to my class with me through the entire night, and it continued when I woke up this morning feeling amazing.

It's raining today. While that usually brings a sort of gloominess to the air, today I feel like it is bringing freshness, like it's cleaning the air so that we can better breathe in the energy and life.

It's beautiful. Don't roll your eyes. ;)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


I'm gonna keep this short and sweet.

I am not a political ranter, and I am not about to become one.

Today is a day of mixed thoughts and emotions for me.

I love being an American. We are so lucky to be able to live in a country and a time that affords us the right to contribute to how our country is run.

I am also heartbroken by the amount of hate the election season inevitably brings to the surface.

That is why I keep my political opinions to myself. Everyday I am surrounded by people I love who disagree. I am not willing to sacrifice the relationships in my life so that I can win a heated argument about whether or not abortion should or should not be legal and in what circumstances.

I respect your opinions and I hope that you have taken the time to educate yourself before coming to a conclusion on any issue. I hope that you will respect mine as well and trust that I have done my best to make informed decisions.

My thinking is this - these people and these propositions did not come out of nowhere. There are reasons upon reasons that individuals have been elected and nominated and propositions have been written, revised and discussed. We are all trying to make America better. A Vote for Romney or Obama - or whomever you disagree with - will, in all likelihood, not ruin this wonderful country. We're just trying to determine who and how we, as a country, can help make America the best.

Do what you gotta do, but make sure you vote.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Kitchen Adventures; Butternut Squash Risotto

I don't know about you, but I spend a lot of time online... like, a lot.

It's an everyday challenge for me not to spend my entire paycheck online shopping for anything and everything that caught my attention

This means near daily checkups on my favorite shops, including - of course - Anthropologie. Did anyone else notice the link to their magazine on their website? I stumbled onto it by accident. Didn't mean to hover over the magazine link when I saw a picture of a vibrant orange squash and the words Winter Squash Risotto.

Oh. My. Gooooooooooosh.

So, I made it. I had to, really. There was no escape.

Let's start with some lemon-sage oil. Have to be ready.

Oil and sage leaves go in a pan on the stove.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Oh, hey there, Saturday #8

This is kind of different from my normal Saturday posts. A beloved friend of mine is getting married tomorrow. We're all part of a photo sharing site, so Thursday when they posted pictures from their rehearsal, it got me thinking about our rehearsal - which, of course, sent me searching for photos of our rehearsal and dinner.

When I found some of these amazing moments captured, I decided that I would share them. So, today's Saturday post is a whole slew of images from our rehearsal dinner. Look how smiley we are. It gets me all mushy.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Kitchen Adventures; Bourbon Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

I got home from work earlier this week and all I could think about were sweets; leftover sugar cookie dough in the fridge, fig pinwheel cookie rolls in the freezer, chocolate chips in the pantry and overripe bananas on the bakers rack.

I had polished off the sugar cookies while hubs was out of town, and I didn't want to make a new batch of icing.

I cut up some pinwheels and threw them in the oven. There were 16 cookies. I ate 10 of them, maybe more. I lost count. Ask Tim how many he had. I had the rest.

I still needed to do something with the bananas before they got all icky and nobody wanted them. I had bought them for banana bread pudding, but custard required too much attentiveness. That would have to be postponed.

I did have everything else I needed for Joy the Baker's bourbon spiked banana bread. I treated myself to her cookbook a few months back and I love love love it. I have at least 20 recipes marked off, and so far have tackled 2 of them.

There's just a touch of bourbon in this recipe, but it doesn't make it taste boozy. It just adds a really lovely, subtle flavor that comes right up to the edge of warming and then stops.

So, I gathered up everything I needed and got to work.

Smashing bananas...

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy Day After Halloween!

We don't get trick-or-treaters at our house. It's okay, I guess. It doesn't hurt my feelings. Our house is small and well hidden.

I didn't do anything distinctly Halloweeny yesterday. There are three people at my office, so dressing up didn't seem like a good idea.

Hubs has been super stressed out about work, which is a bummer.

I got home from work yesterday, ate too much banana bread and Halloween candy, and resigned myself to the couch, where I ended up folding laundry, tired, and depressed.

Knowing full well that this would not do, a little after 8pm, I managed to get off the couch, walk up into the dining room, lay out my yoga mat, and put in the Plyocide DVD from P90X2.

I have not been so good about challenging myself with cardio/full body workouts. Yoga can be exhausting, but there's no running or jumping, so it's not an activity that causes a lot of folks to get winded. So, this was the first time in a while that I attempted a P90X2 workout. Not sure exactly why I picked one of the hardest ones, but I did, and my body told me so multiple times throughout.

It killed me. Killed. I had to use the pause button THREE TIMES last night. That's unheard of for me. I am a power-through-it type of girl, but when I finished, I was overwhelmed by the kind of exhaustion that only subsides when you say to yourself, "I did it."

I hopped in and out of the shower, threw on the comfiest t-shirt I could find, and rejoined my husband on the couch feeling a thousand times better. I don't even remember what we watched. It doesn't matter.

The moral of this story is, if you have time for a workout and a shower. Do it.

Some other random happiness from yesterday:

They finally replaced our skylight! It was broken before I went to Florida last month, so it took them just under a month.

I planned when I'm doing my juice cleanse for my 30 X 30.

I won a Harry & David gift basket from A Spicy Perspective! I may hoard it all to myself. I haven't decided yet.

Major Panda snuggles last night. She was all up in our faces. Nonstop hug & bite fest.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Kitchen Adventures; Halloween Sugar Cookies

I'm a little embarrassed to admit this.

Before Saturday, I had never made sugar cookies by myself.

We'd made them growing up, but it was always my mom or one of my aunts making them. I just showed up for the decorations.

I've been seeing adorable Halloween themed cookies all over the web lately, so I decided for Halloween weekend, cookies were in order.

I decided that Alton Brown's recipe was the best way to go. Oh, how right I was.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


I've had a blog for a long time. Since they days of livejournal, I've been posting random whatsits on the interwebs, but I just recently started exploring the blogging community and making friends.

I'm pretty excited about that. I've gotten in contact with some truly amazing and inspiring bloggers. So, I've decided to start button swapping (for freeeeee).

Christie over at bedsidesign made me this lovely button to match my blog. She's super sweet and I'm so thankful that she offered to do this for me!

Hopefully soon I'll be able to add some more button options so, if you want to swap, you'll have your choice.

If you think you might be interested, email me at calyssajean (at) gmail (dot) com or leave me a comment!

In the meantime,  I'm just going to grab some buttons from blogs that have been inspiring me lately. Check them out. Seriously. They're pretty great.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Kitchen Adventures; Pumpkin Ricotta Gnocchi

I've been looking for an excuse to cook with pumpkin. Since Halloween is basically happening all around us (all grown up celebrations were this Saturday and all the kiddos will be out on Wednesday), I may or may not have been lazily scouring the net when I found a recipe for Pumpkin Ricotta Gnocchi.

I don't know if I've mentioned this yet, but I lost my keys. They're somewhere in the house, but I have no clue where. That means I've been using spares for over a week. It also means that I don't have a key to the office right now. So on Friday, when I got to work before everyone else and couldn't get in, I decided to make a quick run to the nearest grocery store for some not-so-essentials. I came back to work with half gallon of milk, 4 miniature pumpkins, 5 bananas, a pack of Starbucks Via that was 50% off, and a tub of ricotta. 

I totally bought the ricotta specifically so I could make this recipe. I never just buy ricotta to buy ricotta. I always have something in mind.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Oh, hey there, Saturday; #7

We have entered the modern age! We now have fast enough internet that both Tim and I can be on the internet at the same time and it doesn't impact our browsing speed! It felt like it took forever to set it up, but it's finally working. I have 6 tabs open, Tim's playing Modern Warfare and it's awesome.

It's Halloween weekend! We don't get any trick-or-treaters at our house (we're hidden in the back of a condo complex), but I like to get a little festive anyway. We just bought a few pumpkins - which I'm thinking about painting - and put them out on the patio. We also stocked up on fun-size candy, like these teeny tiny bags of teeny tiny gummi bears. You should have seen me at the store when we found them. I may have squealed.

Last night when I got home from work, I swept up the patio. The Santa Anas have been coming through town, so all the tree scraps from the entire neighborhood were on our patio. I should have taken a picture of the pile. It was too big for our giant broom. I heart having a nice clean patio. It's so much more relaxing.

Yesterday was also a big day for Alyssa's wardrobe. My pants from Old Navy came. They are too small :( So, I'm planning a trip out to exchange them today. I did buy myself two new shirts, which I later realized are very similar in color scheme. At least they're not black. Baby steps.

Today is a big cooking/baking day for me! I've got sour dough rising (when do I not?), all the ingredients for pumpkin gnocchi, and a recipe for sugar cookies. All I need are a couple Halloween cookie cutters and maybe some more parchment for pastry bags.

Happy Saturday, all!