Wednesday, August 24, 2016

That Puppy Love

When I first decided that I wanted a dog, way back when we still lived in our second apartment, and weren't able to have one, I always knew it would be an undertaking. What I didn't know, that I wish I could go back and tell my past self? Getting a puppy is 10x the work of getting an older dog. I don't know that I'd go back and change our decision, because Luna is the cutest thing on the history of the planet, but man I'm learning a lot from this experience.

This is Ms. Luna Lovegood Nottingham. She's an American Bulldog and currently (looks at calendar) just about 14 weeks. Which means, that we've had for about 6 weeks and I am not lying at all when I say that time has completely flown by! This little girl grows like a weed. When we got her she was all roly poly and full of extra skin. Now, right before my eyes, I've gotten to see her transform into a strong and intelligent little miss.

It's been interesting to see how her capabilities change, even by the week. First we learned potty training, then sitting, then laying down, and the list goes on and on. I have such a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that she's so smart (and also completely stubborn) with her own little personality. Yes, she drives us completely batty at times. But the fact that we're her world, B and I, it makes me smile. Even when I'm kind of upset at her for doing something wrong, I love her to death.

What's funny is that I used to look at people with pets and wonder why they were always so intent on pampering them, and praising them. Well, I learned my lesson quickly. It's because there's this whole level of unconditional love there that is just intoxicating. Dogs are excited when they wake up. They're excited when you come home. They snuggle. They want to chase. They just want to lay their head on your lap and stare at you lovingly. What other entity in the world is that giving of their love? It makes me want to earn that, and so I sigh and put up with the accidents, and the teething, and the fussiness. She's worth it.

Truth be told, I think this whole process has been a great lesson for B and I. We've learned a lot about ourselves, our tolerance levels and how to factor another being into our daily schedule. It's also been a groan inducing, hilarious, romp through figuring out how to deal with Ms. Luna and all her quirks.

Puppies are not for the faint of heart, people. Not at all. But in my opinion? Luna is so worth it.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Patio Musings

It's much too beautiful a day to be inside, so I'm out on the patio at the table. Sitting here makes me wonder, how many people actually utilize the patio furniture that they buy? Are there more people out there, like me, who spend actual time in their backyard for reasons other than barbequing or entertaining? I could sit out here all day, with my laptop and a stack of books. That's why I bought this damn thing ;).

I know I haven't been typing here quite as much. I was shooting for once a week, but then my journal itch started up and suddenly my paper journal became the haven I needed for my words. I bought myself a pack of colorful gel pens, and I've been scribbling away in my mad handwriting. Documenting feelings, both the good days and the bad days. When I was younger I used to try to only write the good things in my journal. But then I realized that isn't a valid representation of who I am. There are good days, there are bad days, and sometimes there are those balanced days that are a bit of both. What's the use of trying to lie about it? If I can't be honest with myself, then there's no purpose at all to writing things down. So I've tried my best to just write whatever the hell I feel. If it makes no sense to anyone else but me once in a while, so be it. So be it.

Happily, having a quiet place to retreat to has really improved my mood. Spending time out here, spending time on the couch in a patch of sun (I may or may not secretly be a cat), has gotten to be something that I do often. I still keep up with chores, and cook, and do other adult type things. But I don't feel guilty about taking a few hours for myself either. As the laundry spins happily in the dryer, I'm outside and typing. It's all about balance.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Lazy? Or relaxing?

I choose to use the word "sluggish", rather than lazy to describe this weekend. "Lazy" has so much negative connotation behind it. In a world where people are constantly on the go, always having to move quickly, it's seen as a waste of time to relax. Even when people are on vacation, they end up spending so much time on tours, hikes, and events that they forget to just unwind. To just be still.

If there's one thing that I've learned in life, and that I actually had to stop and remind myself of lately, it's that it's okay to be still once in a while. It's perfectly okay to sit quietly on the couch, and rest. Or to read in your favorite chair, for hours. Or, in my case, to drag everything you want to do for the day out to the lawn, and enjoy the sunshine.

When I was younger, I used to understand how important that was. On summer days, I'd take an armful of supplies out on the lawn and stay out there all day. Books, journals, snacks, and a bottle of water. All piled up in my arms so that I could hang out in nature until it got too cold to stay there. I loved the bird song. I love the rustle of wind in the grass and trees. I loved the kiss of sun on the back of my neck. To be still, and appreciate being outdoors.

I needed that this weekend, and so I relived it. And you know what? It worked like a charm. Never underestimate the power of being calm. Of being content. Of being relaxed. It's okay to hustle! But it's also okay to take a quiet day to yourself.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Life Philosophy

Do you have a philosophy of life? If so, what is it? If not, what is your method for making important decisions?

So I wrote down a bunch of journal prompts in an excel sheet, numbered them, and now when I feel like writing I just pick a number and start typing. Pretty cool, huh? That way if I'm not feeling particularly inspired, I have a jumping off point. I'm hoping this will keep on on the path of at least posting a few times a month. Journaling is good for the soul.

Well, anyway, down to the prompt shall we?

I think if I had to describe my philosophy of life, it would be to take things one day at a time, and appreciate all the small things around you. 

Once upon a time, when I was much younger and much less beaten down by life, I used to think that having a plan was the only way to get through. I obsessively planned out my college years, and the adulthood beyond. I just knew I'd graduate in 4 years. I'd be a teacher, and I'd have 3 kids and a big house. Oh, yeah, and I'd do that all by the time I was 25.

College came, and for the first two years I worked my ass off. I had no time for friends, or the beach, or anything really because I was too busy sticking to my plan. You can't graduate with a teaching degree/credential in 4 years without taking 14+ units a semester. I was exhausted. I was frustrated. I took a step back, and realized that I was hurting myself but not giving myself any time for the real college experience. That was the first time I let the reins loose, albeit a tiny bit, and it felt good.

College came, and went. Suddenly I was faced with a wide world full of everything... except jobs. Yup, I graduated right during the recession, when teaching jobs were few and far between. The substitute list in our district had over 800 people on it. It was daunting. I was angry. Didn't I just work so hard in college so that I could get out, get a job, and get back on my plan track? What the hell was I going to do now? Needless to say, I freaked out. I admit, I cried a bit. Then, I let go of the reins a little more and just found a job. It was kind of what I wanted to do. It made money. It let me stay in the city I had fallen in love with. So be it.

You get the picture. Life kept hitting me with unexpected road blocks, and after a time it finally battered my plan to pieces. The funny part is though, that the more that happened, the happier I was. I realized that you kind of just have to let things happen sometimes. I mean, you can't be a spectator. You've got to get out there and seize opportunities. But I also learned that you can't plan everything. Life won't let you. So I've accepted that, and I've learned to love it.

Now, when I make big decisions it's all about potential. When I chose to take my new job, as a part-time, as-needed worker, I was leaving another possibility. I chose this one, because the potential for something permanent was higher. It was a risk, but I figured it was a risk that was worth it. That's what my life has become. Weighing potential, weighing risk, making decisions based on that. It's worked! For other things, like our wedding for instance, I decided that it wasn't worth my mental energy to try to freak out, or plan too much. I was just happy that the potential in that instance was marrying the man that I loved. If he was there, and I was there, everything else be damned.

My life is about potential. It's about possibility. And, as much as I can make it, it's about positivity. Loving the good things, appreciating the small things, always looking forward.

Monday, May 2, 2016


Ah, Young Adult fiction. To those you of you who aren't ravenous book readers, that little button up there might not make sense. I'll explain. This week is the week we celebrate YA, or Young Adult fiction, as a genre. We celebrate the stories that help teens deal with the tough stuff. We celebrate the stories that show us that strong characters can be 16 years old. We celebrate the stories that I wish I had as a teen, and am now a huge part of the publicity for. I know I don't normally post book related items on this blog, but this is something that's important to me.

I've been a reader since the beginning. As a child, I devoured every book I could get my hands on. In school, I had teachers that gave me extra time to visit the library, because I'd already read every book in their classroom. As a pre-teen, I made it to a point where I'd read every "age appropriate" book in the public library, and so I started reading things like Anne Rice's vampire series at age 11. (Shout out to my mom for always letting me decide what I was ready to read.) I've always been a reader.

What I didn't realize until I became a book blogger, six years ago (oh wow, that was a while ago), was that I missed out on the YA aspect of my reader journey. At the time, YA wasn't a thing really. There may have been books that should have been classified as that, but they weren't marketed and they weren't put into my grabby little teen hands. As I read them as an adult, I realized quickly how important these books were. They dealt with things I remembered dealing with as a teen. Sex, drinking, fake friends, and even abusive relationships. Suddenly, I was seeing all the things in books that I wished someone had given the opportunity to read about when I really needed them the most. Books are great at empathy. When you find one that just KNOWS what you're going through, it's cathartic. I wish I'd had that as a teen.

So now, as an adult, I proudly read YA. I read it, I soak it all in, and I use it as a means to recommend books that I think people might need at certain points in their lives. You're never too old for these books. Some of them are so poignant, so deep, that they bridge the gap effortlessly. I've found more books to love in YA than in any other age group of reading, and I'm not ashamed of that.

So, now you know. Read YA. Love YA. Share YA. It's important.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Joy of Cooking

I was going to write this long post about self care, and admitting when you need it, and then my brain decided that writing about cooking would be a much better topic. Since I'm trying to just let whatever wants to come out when I write just come on out, I decided to go with it. It kind of borders what I was going to talk about anyway, just with more pretty food pictures. And who doesn't love food?

Cooking is one of the things that I lost during my battle with anxiety and depression. Now that I'm far enough away from it, I can admit that's what it was. If you asked me during that time what was wrong with me, I would have just told you that I was fine. Just tired. Just stressed at work. Just just just. All of that may have been true, but the real fact was that it was all mashed up together, roiling under my skin and making me feel awful. I couldn't face it, which means I couldn't deal with it, which means I couldn't get better. I stopped doing a lot of the things I loved. Cooking, nail painting, puzzles. I spent a lot of time sleeping and watching tv. Which, for those of you who know me, know that isn't me. I have nothing against people who watch tv, mind you. It just isn't me.

Anyway, I'm proud to say that I have my cooking mojo back! That, above all else, has proven to me that I'm feeling better. I have the want to cook. My mind dances with possible recipes, I find myself lovingly picking out ingredients at the store, and standing at the counter doesn't even phase me as I chop away. I love watching all the things that are in front of me slowly turn into something cohesive and enjoyable. It makes my heart happy, and I so missed that feeling.

This week I made a Korean Beef Bowl recipe, some Swedish Meatballs and this all veggie stir fry. I'm trying to incorporate a lot more vegetables into our diets, especially now that we're not going out to eat constantly instead of cooking at home. It's been a lot of fun to try out new recipes, and B has been a trooper through it all. I know sometimes he gets slightly miffed at the large amounts of mushrooms I put in things (I love mushrooms way too much), but he always is willing to try the new crazy recipes I find, and I'm happy to report that he's found them pretty tasty so far. I missed feeding someone else. Watching someone eat what you make, and enjoy it, is a feeling that is hard to explain. 

Today I ventured out to a Japanese market to go and get some ingredients for shumai. I haven't made that in so long, and it's kind of ridiculous how excited I am to sit for an hour and stuff those little wrappers. I also found out today that Lakewood is starting its own little farmer's market right down the street from us on Saturdays, which I'm thrilled about. Nothing is better than wandering the rows of fruits and veggies. Soaking up the sun. I feel good. I feel productive. I feel like cooking. There's a joy in cooking, for me. So, don't be surprised if I bombard you with pictures of food in the coming weeks. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

New Mornings

This morning, that picture of glorious coffee is calling my name. For those of you out there in blogging land, or those of you who just like gorgeous photographs, I'll point you to Pexels. It's a website where talented people share their photos, free for personal use. I love going there to just glance through snapshots of other lives, and also to get inspiration to write posts like this. There's something to be said for a good picture. It has the power to set the atmosphere. This photo right here? It calls to me with its aura of contentment and, since I feel that way right now, we're right in sync.

These last two days have been a new kind of mornings for me. It's both still weird, and still amazing, to wake up in a quiet house. Our bedroom furniture came yesterday, and I'm starting to see our house slowly pulling itself together. I'm loving every minute of it. I have to stop myself from worrying about every little thing we still need, everything still to be done, and remember to enjoy the fact that we're getting settled somewhere that belongs to just us. To myself and B. We have a home.

It's nice to wake up and, even though I'm still tired because commuting via train isn't always easy, feel like life is good. It makes mornings more bearable, and that's improved my mood greatly. My heart is happy.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

30 Things That Make Me Smile

So, today is the BIG DAY! We get the keys to our house today, and I know that the next few weeks are going to be dedicated to painting, sanding, cleaning and moving. After the last two months, and stressing out endlessly over escrow, I'm deeply in need of something to set me back to zero. 

I haven't been myself lately. All that passion I normally have for things, all the energy that I usually put forth, it was hiding somewhere inside me. I'm finally starting to feel normal again. To feel like my bubbly, silly, and sometimes totally nerdy self. It's a good feeling! So it's time to journal. Time to reflect on all the good things. I think once we get settled in at the house, I'm going to start a journaling jar, to pull a prompt out of on Sundays. Maybe it'll get the creative juices flowing!

Anyway, here's the prompt I was given by Tumblr today.

Make a list of 30 things that make you smile.
Challenge accepted.

1. Planting things. Flowers, vegetables, anything.
2. Cooking a big meal, hopefully successfully!
3. Eating ice cream (especially chocolate!)
4. Finding something in a book that is just SO ME.
5. Sitting and just listening to the right music.
6. Doing puzzles.
7. A warm breeze that smells like summer.
8. The sound of birds in the trees.
9. Having someone in my life who just gets me.
10. Looking at old pictures.
11. Spending time with friends I haven't seen in a while.
12. Watching people enjoy things I've cooked/baked.
13. "Window Shopping" for things I'll never actually buy on the Internet.
14. Snuggling on the couch.
15. Finding someone who is just as excited about something as I am.
16. Lying in the warm sun.
17. When that perfect song comes on, to complement what I'm reading at the time.
18. Everyday items shaped liked whimsical things.
19. Miyazaki movies.
20. The sound of wind chimes on a breezy day.
21. The smell of the ocean breeze.
22. That first sip of a new bottle of wine.
23. Getting unexpected snail mail.
24. Lazy mornings with the hubby.
25. Wearing crazy patterned socks under an otherwise professional outfit.
26. Buying the above mentioned crazy socks!
27. Talking to my mom on the phone, about everything and nothing.
28. Going for a walk on a beautiful day.
29. Shopping at Farmer's Markets, and talking to people who are passionate about their wares.
30. Honestly? Writing this list.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

A New Chapter

I've been thinking a lot about writing lately. It seems like every time that I get to a point where I actually want to sit and journal, something happens and I forget about it. Which is sad, because there's so much good that has happened over the last year that I haven't gotten a chance to write down! 

The beginning of last year was an uphill battle. Then, my temporary job turned into a full time job. A full time job that I actually really enjoy. Then, the hubby and I were able to get out of debt. Which was amazing! And now, we've come to the point where we can actually own a home. How amazing is that? From possibly being unemployed, all the way to being a homeowner. It's like a Cinderella story, and I honestly couldn't feel more blessed. I know hard work had a lot to do with it. I also know that sometimes life just smiles on you, and I'm thankful!

Anyway, I want to write in here a bit more often. It'll be a nice place to chronicle that joys and woes of being a new homeowner. I can't wait to garden, to have a real size kitchen to cook in, and to stop having to deal with crazy upstairs neighbors. So much goodness awaits! I hope I'll remember to document it.