Thursday, December 31

2015 Goals Review

With 2016 nipping at our heels, it seems like a good time to look back on the goals I set for 2015....

+ Stay positive
I spent a lot of my younger years calling myself a "realist". This is the first year I can honestly say I felt like I looked at the world with a positive (albeit skeptical) eye. That's not to say I haven't always had a relatively positive outlook on life, but this year I really tried to see the good in every person and situation. I tend to be very quick to judge people, so whenever I caught myself doing that, I brought myself back around to a more positive way of thinking. I'd say this goal was a success! (Yes, I'm positive about that ;D)

+ Be more present, more aware
This is an constant struggle for me as I seem to go through life with my head in the clouds most of the time. I felt slightly more grounded this year though, which means I was more present, more aware. I think yoga has helped a lot with this; I've certainly been more aware of myself and how my thoughts and actions can affect everything else in my life... Being more aware of my immediate surroundings will always be a work in progress though.

+ Shop local
Hm, this could go either way. While I was definitely more conscious of where my food/clothes/materials were coming from, it didn't stop me from buying things that weren't local. I think I succeeded in the overall philosophy of the goal, but not the goal itself... does that make any sense?

+ Keep up a regular yoga practice
Heck yeah I did! I went to at least one class per week all year, but usually more like 2-3 classes per week. I tried to practice at home at least once on the weeks when I couldn't make it to class. And I attended two yoga workshops! Both for arm balances, both informative and so much fun. This is a goal I'm super proud of achieving after not having a regular yoga practice for the past four years.

+ Participate in an Instagram yoga challenge
Nope, didn't do this. I'm still a little camera shy, especially when it comes to social media!

+ Run another 5K
This did not happen. This wasn't even thought about; I think I ran consistently for about two months at the beginning of the year, and then not at all.

+ Post more recipes on the blog
I actually succeeded at doing this! Still not nearly as many as I would have liked to have posted. But here are a few favorites from this year: whole wheat banana chocolate chip muffins, browned butter espresso brownies, turkey stuffed peppers with poblano crema, roasted summer vegetable quiche, and iced key lime pie fossil cookies.

+ Keep reading
Well, I didn't read much, but I certainly did keep reading! I also read pretty much only books off of my bookshelf, which helped me pare down my books a bit. I would have liked to have read more, but hey, there's always next year!

Speaking of next year, I guess it's time to start thinking about my goals for 2016....

Wednesday, December 30

B.Read List 2015

I've been slacking on posts lately; I just realized I have a bunch of drafted posts I completely forgot about. Mostly because I never ended up editing photos for them. Hm. Well, here's a quick one for ya!

Favorites: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams; Naked by David Sedaris
Least Favorites: The Master and Margherita by Mikhail Bulgakov; Blindness by Jose Saramago
Re-reads: The Books of Lost Things by John Connolly; Naked by David Sedaris; The Fuck-Up by Arthur Nersesian; 32 Stories by Adrien Tomine; Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman

To summarize: The list is short this year. My reading goals for this year were to read one book per month and to read only books from my bookshelf. While I didn't come close to accomplishing the one, I did accomplish the other (mostly)! The re-read list is long this year because most of the books I read were books I had read way back in high school and early college years. It felt good to re-read them and finally take them off the shelf for good. I cheated a little because I went out and bought the first three books from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, but I'm so happy I did because they were my favorite books to read this year! I'm currently part-way through the third book; once I finish I'll have to purchase the rest of them. I can't help but hear it in the actor's voices from the movie version... does that happen to anyone else? I just picture Mos Def and Martin Freeman the whole time I'm reading the books!

Just a note about the two books that were my least favorites - they were both gifted to me by friends long ago! The Master and Margherita shouldn't even be on this list because I did not finish it. I just couldn't bring myself to keep reading. And Blindness wasn't terrible, but it was terribly slow-moving. I don't feel any better off for having read it.

What did you read this year? Anything you'd recommend?

Friday, December 25

Merry Christmas

Here's the holiday card we sent out this year; a virtual version for all of you!
Merry Christmas!

(Family photo by Rebecca Gudelunas)

Thursday, December 24

Project 365, 349-355

349/365: Our left-overs anniversary dinner! Pulled pork bacon burgers and fries. And beer. And whiskey.

350/365: Shutterfly offered me a free magnet with our holiday card order... of course I picked a photo from our wedding. I love it!!

351/365: I love how it looks as though the hop is blowing space dust on the succulent candles. Except it's more like real dust, honestly.

352/365: Speaking of candles, I've been remembering to light this one. It's starting to get interesting!

353/365: Shawn doesn't write grocery lists on paper like a normal person.

354/365: My friend Alina saw this in Sweden and thought of me! It's a tomte. Basically a Swedish Santa-gnome.

355/365: We joke that Lloyd likes to get his tan on. He's always seeking out the sun; Sylvester, not so much.

Just wanted to pop in and say, Hey! I'm still here. My work schedule has been different because of the holidays, and holiday parties, and all that jazz. I have two weeks worth of blogs to catch up on in my blog reader.... so if you're in the same boat as I am, here's another post to add to your feed that you won't look at until after the new year!

Merry Christmas-Eve!!!

Wednesday, December 16

Second Year Reflections

On Monday Shawn and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary. And by celebrate I mean, I worked until 4:30pm then we spent an hour figuring out where we should go eat, walked over to the restaurant and found it too busy for our liking, so we walked around the block while weighing our other options. We finally decided to pick up a six-pack at the deli down the street and make the most of our left-overs at home. Of course it was lightly raining during this whole charade (the kind of misty rain that doesn't seem like much but then you realize you're soaked from head to toe and you've only been standing in it for a few minutes...), so we were drenched by the time we arrived back home and thoroughly pleased with our decision to choose the couch over a cold pair of bar chairs. We ended up putting on Netflix's Bill Murray Christmas special while making pulled pork bacon burgers and fries. Yes, you read that correctly... our leftovers consisted of a half pound of ground beef, a little over a cup of pulled pork, two strips of bacon, and a few whole wheat hamburger buns. There's nothing like starting our third year as a legal couple with some over-the-top indulgence, no?

The first few months after we got married pretty much everyone we know asked us "So what's it like being married?"... at the time, it didn't feel any different. Shawn and I have known each other for eleven years, and have been living together for over five of them, so getting married really didn't feel like any significant sort of change. But now that we're two years into this thing, I've changed my tune. Forgive me for this awful metaphor, but....

Marriage is kind of like two people on a row boat together. You can both coast along and hope to get somewhere eventually, or you can put in the effort together and enjoy the ride. Sure, one person can row the boat on their own, but that's a lot of weight to push without the help of the other person. And as anyone who has been in a row boat knows, it’s not always a fun ride, and one wrong move by either person can rock the boat and then you both get wet (although sometimes, falling into the water isn't such a bad thing because you're more determined to row that damn boat once you both climb back in). But if you can enjoy the scenery, and you're both willing to put in the effort, the ride is beautiful.

Was that awful? That was awful. But I think it gets my point across.... relationships take work. Not all the time, I mean, a lot of the time it's smooth sailing (see, there I go again!) and those are the times that make it all worth it. Being married is a whole different beast, because you're tied to that person for real. It shouldn't change how you feel about each other, and it certainly shouldn't make things more difficult. But it should change your perspective at least a little bit. Relationships can be a bit selfish and still work. But marriage isn't selfish. A marriage takes two people. I'm not saying you need to give up being yourself, (Please, don't ever do that. You are amazing!), but you have to figure out what it means to be your best self when you're with that other person. Most of the time, that means setting aside your ego. Most disagreements happen because one person is too proud to let the other person have their way. Marriage is a give and take, and sometimes you're the one doing the giving, and other times you're the one doing the taking. These past two years have been a journey in finding the balance between the two.

Dude, you can't row that boat on your own. But you can watch the sun set over the lake's horizon every evening and cherish those moments together, and the work it took to get there.

(All photos taken by the lovely Rebecca Gudelunas of Wide Eyed Studios. We wanted "Christmas-y photos" for this year's holiday card. Don't worry, you'll see that one once I know everyone has received theirs! Also, I realized Shawn and I haven't had any decent photos of the two of us together since our wedding! So forgive me for this schmoopie-heavy post.)

Tuesday, December 15

Project 365, 342-348

342/365: That cat tower was the best dumpster find ever! I love catching both of them in there at the same time.

343/365: Lloyd was "helping" put up some new ornaments.

344/365: Practice makes progress. See also, unrelated, homemade roast pork sandwiches.

345/365: My colleagues are... interesting people. This is on the back of the door to the basement.

346/365: Tree lights!!! Shot with the new camera that Shawn bought us for Christmas!


348/365: Lloyd also doubles as a pillow in his spare time.

Favorite things this week:
  • Getting the (one) parking permit for our building: Our town is weird... they only offer one street parking permit per building, regardless of how many apartment units are in each building. It's first-come-first-serve, so one lucky person got it last year for our 18-unit building, at the price of $20 for the whole year. If you miss out on the street parking permit, you can only get permits for the municipal lots around town, and those cost $35 per month!!! Parking permit renewal starts in December, so you better believe I was the first person in line this year! And I got it! Now I don't have to worry about parking my car for a whoooooole year.
  • Homemade pulled pork, because seriously, there isn't much better than that. I've been trying to keep track of all the different ways we use it so that hopefully I can make a fun post about it soon.
  • Adulting Ornament shopping: My girlfriend Briggette and I spent the better part of an afternoon shopping for ornaments for her huuuuuge tree in the house she and her fiance recently bought. We went to Michaels and two different Targets. Then we had lunch at a local pub, and then we went grocery shopping. It felt like a very adult way to spend an afternoon. At one point, she was trying on coats at Target and I asked "Are you sure you don't want the larger size? Will you be able to wear a thick sweater under that one? You're only wearing a thin shirt right now....Ahh! I sound like a mom!! What is happening?!" (Mom, you taught me well.)

Friday, December 11

Fun Finds Friday #113

It's a DIY ukelele, you guys!!

It's definitely on the pricy side, but I love the LBA

This looks like the perfect skirt for twirling!

Happy Friday!!!

Thursday, December 10

Project 365, 335-341

335/365: This is a proper start to the week.

336/365: I received a package in the mail and Lloyd was all about the box. See also, quiche, unrelated.

337/365: Slightly food-photo-centric this week.... made some vegetarian quesadillas that were the bomb. (Do people still stay that??)

338/365: Chasing sun beams, and colorful beer cans.

339/365: Our apartment complex decorated the vestibule for the holidays.

340/365: Cherry bars. I am not usually a fan of cherries, but hot damn, these were tasty!

341/365: I hosted a craft night with some girlfriends! More photos to come.

Favorite things this week:
  • Hosting craft night! I had been planning a ladies craft night for a while, and got (what I thought to be) far too much food in preparation. We ended up eating pretty much everything, drinking a lot of beer, and making a few crafts. I love hosting small gatherings; I love the preparation and bringing people together. It just doesn't happen very often because we live in an apartment complex and I don't want to upset my neighbors.
  • Spending some time with my sister. My sister rarely comes out to Philly, but she drove out and joined us for craft night! We still need to make plans to exchange gifts before she and my brother leave for Spain in two weeks. The older I get, the more I appreciate spending time with my siblings. Or maybe it has to do with the older they get...
  • Holiday decorations around town. It finally feels like Christmas! Our town put up lights in the trees and little wreaths on all the lamp posts. Now if only it would snow....

Wednesday, December 2

Gift Guide: for Yogis

Yoga has become an important part of my life over the past year, so I'd like to slowly bring some of it to the blog as well. I thought a gift guide would be a great place to start; even if you're not a yogi, I'm sure you know someone who is!

  • The Daily Greatness Yoga Journal seems like a fun way to document your goals and progress.
  • I love when the teacher chimes the wind chimes at the end of class.
  • Though not necessarily yoga related, a cute teapot is practically a must-have for post-yoga relaxation.
  • I'm a fan of a bracelet that reminds you to slow down and breathe.
  • More arm candy (especially om-related) never hurt anyone.
  • I love breezy simple tops when it comes to being comfortable for practice.
  • I've had my eye on a travel-friendly mat for a while. It folds up like a book!
  • Though I don't often use props, I recently found out about the awesomeness of bolsters.

Tuesday, December 1

Project 365, 328-334

328/365: Plant maintenance day. Shawn moved all the plants so that they would get more sunlight. I didn't realize how many we had until I saw them all lined up! Can you tell that we enjoy beer too?

329/365: I've been training in bread baking at work... I made all the loaves this day!

330/365: Lights, camera, action!

331/365: Lloyd looking pensive. Apparently I didn't take any photos of actual Thanksgiving... but I'm sure you can all imagine what it looked like. (Insert turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, and dinner rolls here)

332/365: Nighttime cuddles.

333/365: We got our Christmas tree Saturday evening! With all the bird and squirrel ornaments we have, there's a woodland critter party all up in here!

334/365: I LOVE CHRISTMAS. So does Shawn; he had been hounding me for weeks about getting a tree. It really does make the whole place feel cozier and brighter.

Favorite things this week:
  • Getting our Christmas tree! I was trying to figure out how many trees we've gotten together now and I think this is the fifth one. (I don't think we had one our first year of living together.) This one is my favorite so far... we walked around the tree lot for a while, slowly narrowing down our favorites. I wasn't sure about it until we brought it home, but it really is great! Even better? Opening up the box of ornaments and finding all the ones that you had forgotten about.
  • Making plans with friends; My friend Jess and I made plans to go to New York city in January. She mentioned that she hates winter (what?!) and she likes having something to look forward to, so we decided we'll go to NYC and eat fancy food, drink fancy booze, and generally feel fancy. It is nice to have something like that to look forward to.
  • Being absolutely ridiculous with Shawn; So, I've definitely never mentioned this here before, but Shawn and I have dreams of being awesome at karaoke. This means we spend a lot of our time together standing in our living room, singing fairly loudly along to songs. (I'm sure our neighbors love us....) We're trying to narrow it down to a few core songs... which means we play anything from Queen to Backstreet Boys to Bon Jovi. It's quite a sight, really. You should have seen Shawn trying to dance like Freddie Mercury. (Actually, be happy you didn't see that.) Seriously though, nothing compares to being able to be your(weird/crazy)self with someone.

Friday, November 27

Fun Finds Friday #112

This clock!

I really like Lisa Congdon's travel sketches.

Thinking about adding these tights to my sock drawer.

+ I don't necessarily believe the non-photoshopped claim, but regardless, these photographs are amazing.
+ Has anyone tried the 7-minute workout?
+ Charles Young is taking origami to a whole new level by building a city out of paper; color me impressed!!!
+ Farmhouse dreams.
+ This mobile polaroid printer is pretty neat!
+ I don't know about you, but I'm constantly judging people... I can't help it!
+ I like Molly's gift guide for homebodies. That's me!
+ This tool is pretty darn cute.

Happy Friday!!! I hope you all had a great(ful) Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25

Project 365, 321-327

321/365: Same subject, different angles.

322/365: I sent this photo to my mom to show her that Lloyd thinks the gifts are for him. Actually, I think he's really just interested in the bows.

323/365: Someone bought a zebra print dress from my Poshmark closet, so I drew a quick zebra on the thank you card.

324/365: Speaking of Poshmark, I got two awesome dresses in the mail. Can't help but do a little shopping myself....

325/365: We switched cat foods a few weeks ago and Lloyd has had so much energy since the switch! He keeps trying to get Sylvester to play with him, but Sylvester isn't interested. I don't think our cats know how to be cats....

326/365: I spent a few minutes admiring the color and patterns in Target's pajama section.... almost went home with some pizza pajamas.

327/365: Caught the sunset before meeting my friend Amy for dinner at a local pub I had never been to. We got fried pickles and they were awesome. I followed it up with some bison sliders.... why don't I eat sliders more often?!

Posts have been few and far between these past few weeks, and I don't see them picking back up again before the new year. I seem to have lost my focus lately and I'm working on getting back in tune with blogging and building up some better content. The new year seems like the perfect time to roll it all out (along with a new layout). In the meantime, these 365 posts and the Fun Finds Friday posts will be my focus.


+ Fighting a cold/seasonal allergies that have left me with a sore throat and an incessant ringing in my left ear for the past week. I think it's allergies because it's all sinus related, and the constant shift in temperatures lately hasn't been doing anything to help. I worked a nine-hour shift yesterday and then came home and took a four hour nap, watched Grandma's Boy, then slept for another eight hours. I didn't get anything done yesterday, but I do feel somewhat better today!

+ Looking at a to-do list that is ten bullet points long, half of which relate to the upcoming holidays, the other half of which relate to important adult stuff, like taking care of the recent recall on my car, and paying bills....

+ Blasting classic rock to tune out the construction workers playing pop radio way too loud outside, and trying not to get angry about the fact that their construction project was supposed to be finished over a year and a half ago; at least that's what we were told when we moved in.... The noise and disruptive conditions have gotten progressively worse over the past few months but our apartment company doesn't seem to care one bit, despite Shawn sending them an angry email (or two).

+ Realizing the vast discrepancy in the amount of photos I take of Lloyd versus Sylvester.... you guys, it's not that I don't love them equally! (Actually, if we're being completely honest, I may be partial to Lloyd, but can you blame me?!) Lloyd is clearly just more photogenic. Though, my friend Amy took some really great photos of both of them with her new phone on Sunday. Clearly I owe you (and Sly) a cat photos post.

+ Sipping lemon green tea every day to soothe my throat, warm my belly, and get me through the day.
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