Thursday, May 27, 2010

Harmony defines harmony as, "agreement; accord." It can also be defined as follows:

"Harmony is the inner cadence of contentment you feel when the melody of life is in tune."

- Sarah Ban Breathnach

Amidst my "internet ramblings" yesterday, I stumbled upon this quote by one of my favorite inspirational authors (ladies, if you've never picked up this book, I highly recommend it. I am working my way through it for the nth time.) I thought this Friday morning would be a perfect time to share it with you :)

Well, how are you, friends?! It's been a whirlwind week over here in "Amy-ville", and suffice it to say, I am SO glad that Monday is a paid holiday for Memorial day. Ahhhh! (remember, this is angel singing...just reminding you in case you've forgotten-- it hasn't been heard on the blog in a few weeks :) Oh , how I am looking forward to sleeping in next Monday-- I feel like this (long) weekend that is coming up will be my reward for making it through this week.

... because this week? Oh my, it's been a doozy.

There have been several (what I will refer to as) 'character building milestones' for me this week, including: J and I surviving our first 'semi-serious' illness as a married couple (J caught the flu, I *knock on wood* am still hanging tough) and my first truly panicked call to the vet (Gracie pranced around a bit too hard on her stitches and bled all over our downstairs. She is absolutely fine. I have about 10 new gray hairs, I think. ... I really hope I am just joking about the gray hairs.)

However, as it always seems to go (thank heavens) there were some really wonderful (or at least funny) milestones that occurred this week as well. You might even say, even with the 'crazies', life remains balanced and, in fact, 'in harmony'. See for yourself:

  • Laurie and I ran together (first time outside of a race), and it was fabulous. I think this may be the one arena where "sisterly competition" is good for us :)

  • We saw a snake on said run, and I didn't scream like the scared girly girl I am a banshee. In fact, I stepped closer to get a better look. ... Trust me bloggies... this is huge.

  • To combat some of the stress, I have been a baking machine. We're talking smothered pork chops, mac and cheese, and the most wonderful (and possibly easiest!) peanut butter cookies I've ever made!

  • I took a nap on Sunday afternoon!

  • I finally tried the infamous "green monster" that has been taking the blog-world by storm! ... After a few tweaks (the first one reminded me that I do not, in fact, like banana flavor. Subsequent 'monsters' masked the banana flavor a bit better, and were a lot more enjoyable :)

  • I finally got the chance to visit the salad bar at "The Raisin Rack" when my Mom and I went there for lunch to celebrate her birthday! It was just as epically wonderful as I had imagined it would be. For those of you not familiar with this store, it's kind of a small scale version of "Whole Foods".

  • While Gracie and I were watching "The Bachelorette", I discovered that she has a sixth sense about such things, and (without fail) would stand on the keyboard (watching via Hulu, so I could spend time with my little girl in the 'Quarantine Room') -- causing the show to pause during the most cringe-worthy parts-- my kitty is brilliant.

  • There was a day this week during which I consumed 5 cups of coffee. ...Not particularly a smart thing, but a milestone nonetheless :)

  • I found the Answers to life's biggest questions. (not really.... this is just a fun link I found via yahoo, while I was checking my email. I thought some thoughts were insightful, while others were at least good for a smile. Enjoy!)

  • I started learning how to use google.documents-- which means I am finding new ways to share things with ya'll!

So, life is chugging right along :) Another important milestone I reached this week was realizing that I have definitely fallen into the "I'll do it when things calm down" trap.

Let me explain: I feel like things have been going at a frantic pace ever since we moved into the new house (at the beginning of April... can you believe it's been almost 2 months?! I sure can't...) and I find that I keep saying, "maybe next week I'll get to it (think about it, do it, etc.) ... when I am not doing x,y,z...." Well, it seems to me that I will always have and X... or a Y... or a Z going on in my life-- and more than likely, I'll often have some combination of all 3.

... And that's a good thing. I need to cling to every moment, loving it for what it is. I need to be truly present. For goodness sake, I need to stop making excuses to myself, and just get up and go. And I'm working on that. I want to be able to fall into bed every night and sleep the sweet, contented sleep of one who has poured her heart into every waking moment and lived in the now, rather than wasting time sighing over certain realities that might not be ideal.

And so, with that in mind, I think it's time for a good list, which is (and always will be) one more step in the right direction :)

Good List

1. J. I know he will help and support me through all the 'character building milestones' yet to come :) Furthermore, I know it will be because of him that I will be able to overcome and push past each one.

2. "The Battle Hymn of the Republic". Ever since I was a little girl I have wanted to sing this with a choir-- as it has always touched me profoundly. Finally, this summer I will have my chance.

3. Waterproof mascara ;)

4. Caprese salads.... mmmm....
5. Ooooh. New peanut butter! I finally got to try this (PB&Co. Cinnamon Raisin Swirl), and it is everything it's cracked up to be.

6. The weather this week has been amazing (haha... until this morning, which has been delightfully warm, but rather overcast.) Oh yes, am I ready for summer!

7. Ponytails and baseball caps.

8. Turquoise. It just says summer to me...
9. 'Birthday $$ financed" mini shopping sprees :)

10. Hope everlasting.

So now that we've covered the 'life-y stuff", the 'big stuff' and the 'good stuff', let's move on to the 'weekend stuff'! This weekend I am looking forward to finishing at least one book tending my (2) flowers, sleeping in late (Saturday, Sunday AND Monday, if I have any say in the matter!), and spending time with our family on Sunday. J and I are also looking forward to a 'double date night' on Saturday, when we'll do dinner and drinks with a friend of mine (gah... who, I just realized, I have known for 10 years?! Crazy... and very, very cool :) We'll be headed to an Italian restaurant in Gahanna, which has garnered some rave reviews (if I haven't mentioned it on 'el bloggy' yet, I am a fan of all things "carb". Love, LoVe, LOVE good pasta and Italian food!)-- I'll give you my take on it next week. Also, maybe J and I will have the chance to go on a "one-on-one" date to the movies this weekend (as you might remember, we were hoping to go last weekend to see 'Iron Man 2'... but then J got sick.)

Do you have any good plans for the weekend? Will you visit family and/or travel? Also, an apropos question for the weekend: what is your favorite picnic food?

Mine is definitely potato salad . .. or s'mores. ... or anything grilled. It's way too hard to pick just one :)

(PS: I apologize for the wonky spacing... after messing with it for upwards of 10 minutes... I gave up....)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Looking back, Looking forward and The Now :)

Good Friday morning, everyone!

First things first:

This is fabulous. Make it tonight. (& the recommended wine complements the dish perfectly!) 2 items to note, however: Red cayenne pepper is not a suitable substitute for red pepper (at least, not in the same measured amount ... whoo-- sPiCy!!)... unless you are insane ... or want to drink half the bottle of said wine, and then lie on the floor with your darling kitten and a pounding headache for the rest of the night.


So I know I told you I'd put up a post for you last night, but in addition to the pathetic occurrence all ready mentioned above last night I made the executive decision to unplug, relax, and just have a "date night" with my husband. It's been a stressful week for both of us, and it was really nice to just sit and enjoy each others' company in a quiet house ( I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but this may be my #1 on my "Owning a house Good List". the QUIET. Love, love LoVe it. ...Apparently I am getting old.)

I also found great joy yesterday in making our special "date night dinner" (which, as I may have mentioned before was awesome. Imho, it was totally like something I could have ordered at a restaurant...only spicier ;) One of my favorite quotes from the movie 'Julie and Julia' was this:

"Chocolate cream pie! You know what I love about cooking? I love that after a day when nothing is sure, and when I say nothing, I mean nothing. You can come home and absolutely know that if you add egg yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick. That's such a comfort."

- Julie Powell, Julie and Julia

Because it's true. I know I may not cook very often (truthfully, I don't cook half as often as I would like), but oh, when I do-- it's wonderful. And when I say that I am not so much bragging about my cooking abilities (which I consider to be adequate but not stellar or particularly innovative) as I am giving thanks for a few moments of respite.

I love chopping things up and measuring things out. I like stirring constantly and the brief, frantic moments when you need to bring everything together at once. I love the way cooking completely consumes you so that you have no capacity to think about anything but the task at hand (this means a lot coming from me. I am, indeed, the woman who always has a list going in her head-- a bona-fide multi-tasker...) It's another one of those blessed opportunities in life where it's not so much the outcome, but the journey & process of getting there.

Of course, the outcome is also (typically) one of my favorite parts as well :) Om nom nom.... (And, for the record, I did not make a chocolate cream pie. I made brownies with a healthy dose of semi-sweet chocolate chips mixed in. Equally yummy, if not as labor intensive.)

And since we've covered the "now" (I think you can probably tell that with this post we have returned to a more cheery Amy-like tone-- it's amazing what a date night can do for your spirits!) I did want to update you on how last weekends' BIG* party went! (*It's the biggest party I've ever hosted.)

The verdict: Success! I had a wonderful time playing hostess, we didn't lose any cats in the multiple openings & closings of the doors, and I think everyone enjoyed themselves! (Judging by the conversation and laughter, both of which were freely flowing for the duration of the celebration.) ...Also, I didn't have to cut cake, which is always a "win" in my book! (As I explained to J, everyone has something that they "just don't do". I don't cut cake. I think it has something to do with not wanting to be saddled with the responsibility of giving people too little or too much .... cake is serious stuff, bloggies.)

... And of course, after everyone left, J and I were completely wiped out-- which I also consider to be a measure of the party's success :)

Finally: Looking forward. I feel like I say this quite a bit, but this weekend is looking pretty relaxing. I am doing a 5k with my family tomorrow (Saturday) morning (rain, rain, stay away!!); J and I need to give grass planting another try; and I'm hoping we'll get in a "real-go-out-date-night" on Saturday evening (Iron Man 2?!) ..We shall see :) I love weekends full of promise and possibilities (even if they do make my Fridays pass extremely slowly...)

Your turn: weekend plans? Seen any good movies (in theater or at home) recently?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The good stuff.

"Quickie" post tonight, friends... but I promise you I'll "fill in the blanks" tomorrow.

Suffice it to say, I picked up Gracie at the vet today after an overnight stay (ughhh... talk about your whopping dose of 'Mommy guilt" ...) and I need to spend the evening snuggling and kissing my little girl.

But, because I don't need a whopping dose of 'bloggy-guilt', too I like you all an awful lot... here's a quick rundown of life in Amy-ville lately... plus pictures... PLUS a list. ...Really, this isn't such a bad little post after all ;)

Life as I know it (here and now: 6pm on Wednesday night....welcome to chaos.)
  • Gracie. My sweet, sleepy girl. Oh, how Mama missed you.
  • Baron = spaz. ... Methinks his "comfort your own" gene is all too quickly replaced by the"primal, must survive and protect ME" gene. (Read: apparently Gracie smells like "vet" and so Baron is on the defensive, growling, hissing, and snapping. Lovely. Needless to say, he got booted out of the room really quickly.)
  • Currently I am blogging here:
  • ...and on the table next to me rests a devotional ... with a half empty bottle of Miller on it. If there is a more candid snapshot into my life tonight, I don't know what it might be. Truly, it's simple: I love God; I love enjoy beer. Sometimes you need (a lot of) both to get you through an evening.
  • Weather this week = yuck. Cold, rainy, and decidedly un-May like. I am ready for the sun & warmth to return
  • But this? This chaos here? I'll take it. Because sandwiched between the crazy times, I find myself breathing in little moments like this one (see below.) And these are the moments I live for.

(J & Gracie snuggling. Actually, they are both asleep. I am listening to the snores that prove it.)

Good List
  1. J. Sometimes I have a hard time putting into words what he means to me, but trust me, it's enough... and so much more.
  2. good, long nights of sleep
  3. cupcakes!!! Courtesy of the lovely Laurie :)
  4. breathy, kitty sighs from the sleeping lovely next to me. (heh. that would be Gracie.)
  5. good books; great escapes
  6. chocolates that inspire me (... even if I did have to eat about 5 to get a good message like this. actually, now that I think about it, one might argue that was part of the good stuff.. you know... the fact that I had to eat 5 dove promises...)
  7. soft blankets for snuggling under, and cushy (orange) 'writing chairs'
  8. romantic comedies. because some nights are for laughing, loving, happy ending type movies
  9. sweat pants
  10. "What a gift of grace to be able to take the chaos from within, and from it create some semblance of order." - Katherine Paterson
And, like always, I'll leave you with the good stuff. Because there is oh-so-much good stuff here tonight. My rainy, grey work days and the stressful 'in-betweens' will not define me, but rather, it's the good, little moments that are writing my story.

What are you thankful for today? What tops today's Good List?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


All right... so I hope this post title isn't cheating you too much. ...And while I agree that this picture here doesn't look like progress all by itself... well, ya'll didn't see it before we stripped and sanded it:

TaDah! Almost done!

And just for fun, a picture of the "finished" (just need to be screwed into the frames) chair cushions... and a little 'Baby G." lovin' while we're at it:

So, as I may or may not have told you earlier -- J and I have tacked this "refinishing the table" project now because we are hosting a huge* "birthday/housewarming party" on Sunday afternoon. We'll have 21 people in the new house-- and, quite frankly, if J & I don't finish this table, all these lovely folks will be sitting on the floor. (Hm. Come to think of it, I probably didn't mention the party earlier because I've been trying to remain blissfully ignorant for as long as possible. Read: I am a master procrastinator.)

I emphasize that the table is being done now because it was always just a when, not if. When J and I got our own house, I begged my parents to let us have their old dining room table. My parents replaced this table with my grandpa's dining room table in 2005, after he passed away (*sigh*.... can I just take a small break here and tell you how much I hate the term "passed on"?! I'm not sure I can put my finger on why I so strongly dislike that phrase, but I think it's because it seems a little too candy coated and frou-frou. Barf. ... But, here I am, blogging with the abominable phrase. ... Somehow, in this instance, "passed on" just seems more respectful and dignified than "died." & my grandpa is worthy of all the respect I can pay him... he was a great man-- definitely worthy of a future post. in this instance, all I can say is "meh." ... moving on.) And so this dear little table has sat forlorn in storage, just waiting for someone to bring it back to use. This table is special to me (and I fought for it!) because of all the memories I have of special times spent gathered around it with my family. Holiday dinners were spent around it (including special Thanksgiving dinners with Grandma and Grandpa), board games & homework were conquered (ahh... I remember agonizing over word problems with Grandpa at this table... "If train A leaves from Dallas going at X mph, and train B leaves from Austin going at Y mph, where do they pass each other? ... More importantly to me was always, "Why do I care?!"), and we told many many stories around the table ... oh, how we laughed.

And so you see that-- more than a piece of furniture-- I was inheriting a legacy. I am so excited to feed my babies, girl-talk over coffee, and (because I know we will) cry together and work through the hard stuff at this table. As a side note, I was originally going to put this table in our dining room-- and was a wee bit irked when J took one look at it and said," nuh uh... it'sway too small for that room. it's going in the kitchen." But, the more I think about it, the better I like the idea. I mean, big family gatherings will probably always take place in the dining room, but the beautiful everyday things? The early morning coffee & kisses? The afternoon snacks and homework? The weeknight dinners & catching up with each other after hectic days? That, my friends, will take place in the kitchen. Therefore, I am more than okay with having this "piece of my history & piece of my future" in the kitchen :)

"Table stuff" aside (and to be honest, thought it's been hard work, it really hasn't taken as much time as it could), the week has been good (overall). Monday & Tuesday were a little bit rough, but I think we have settled in gracefully. My other big accomplishment for the weekend was putting the screens in the windows, so the cats and I have been enjoying our evenings drinking in the fresh air from the comfort of the couch (mama has been drinking in some wine as well... like I said, rough Monday...also, I say "the cats and I" because J has been "blowing up his monday frustrations" in the evening downstairs with the PS3... hehe.) I have definitely been living for my evenings at home -- I'm still in the honeymoon stage and I consider housework a joy (may this stage last me the next 40 years!)-- I look forward to coming home and tackling a new project, followed, of course, by the relaxing afterwards.

All right, enough chatter... let's get into some more good stuff:

Good List

1. J. Happy 26 years, my love (5/9)! May your 27th year be a wonderful one!
2. This may be the country girl in me speaking, but I believe that sometimes you can measure your happiness by the amount of dirt on your hands (... even after you've passed the age of 4!)
3. Fresh air in the house, after a long, long winter :)
4. Staple guns (oh.yes. this made my "chair covering endeavor" SO much easier ... even if I did jam it about 5 gazillion times ;)
5. Warm summer nights spent laughing and talking with good friends. Friday night was absolutely perfect--and it filled a little place in my soul I'm not sure I realized had been missing. ...Just. Perfect... (...and hey, Gary, you made the good list!)
6. Sunday morning brunch (TJ's pumpkin waffle mix = LOVE)
7. Highlighters.
8. Good surprises (like forgive me my ignorance, those of you with green thumbs the "green stuff" in our front flower beds that it finally sprouting beautiful pink flowers.)
9. Celebrating a truly beautiful development for two people who could not deserve it more. (Yes, it's decidedly vague for now-- but I am excited to share more with you soon!)
10. My little sister is home for the summer ... Which make me oh, so happy :) (among other things, it means I don't have to go see 'Eclipse' multiple times by myself!)

Things I am looking forward to:
  • The weekend (first things first, right?!)

  • Finishing the table (!!)

  • PA weekend in June (OMG! I just realized that I can take you all along with me. Brace yourselves -- this will be fun :)

  • J & I are planning a mini-vacation in September to celebrate our 1st Anniversary. I'm excited to see how plans develop, and then (obviously) to celebrate with him!

  • ... On that same note: I'm (I hope not stupidly) looking forward to defrosting our wedding cake and eating it .....

  • Half marathon in August (same one that I loved last year! excited to blow my PR out of the water this time around :)

  • Fall (I would like to clarify that I am by no means wishing time away here. It's just that it's never too early to start salivating over apple cider, crunchy leaves, crisp mornings, and that striking sun against the deep blue that is a fall sky.)

  • Our first Christmas in our home-- really developing and celebrating our own traditions

  • ...and something even better than Christmas, which will arrive in early December :)

What are you looking forward to? Short-term or long-term, this is the sweet stuff.

Happy Wednesday, bloggies. Have a good one!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Spaghetti Night

Happy hump day, bloggies! (..And happy Cinco de Mayo!! Tip back a cervesa or two for me tonight :)

Well, while today was unfortunately "one of those days", it redeemed itself this evening with 'Spaghetti Night' (which was anything BUT unfortunate!)

Now, I know we've all got our own 'spaghetti nights' ... those evenings when it feels like everything has just gotten to be a little too much and nothing but comfort food will do to soothe your tummy and your spirits. You may know these nights as something different ('Chinese takeout night'? 'pizza night'? 'wine & chocolate night**'?)

** Eh hem: I would like to state for the record that I have never done 'wine & chocolate night' (at least in the dinner sense, as we are discussing here), as my (wonderful, loving, MEAT eating) husband would never allow it. J happens to be a very traditional 'meat and potatoes' type of man... and I choose to love him in spite of that (while attempting to introduce some variety with varying degrees of success every once in a while, naturally!) Of course, if we (hypothetically of course) were talking in the general sense, my husband one might argue that 'wine & chocolate night' is every night .... I digress.

Anyway, I think the fact that my 'comfort food night' = spaghetti is due in large part to my parents. We didn't eat spaghetti too often, but we did rely on it as our go-to meal on the needs-to-be-quick-because-we're-exhausted-but-happy nights -- like the first night on vacation, after a long day of travel. (To keep this tradition alive, J & I cooked spaghetti together on the first night of our honeymoon :)

Spaghetti continued it's designated 'comfort food' role in my life as I got older, becoming my runner's meal of choice for carbo-loading before a race. When I was in high school, fall Friday nights were spent with the cross country team in celebration and anticipation of the next day's meet. Clearly, spaghetti is destined to remain first and foremost in my heart as my favorite go-to comfort food.

...Lord help us all J if I ever become spaghetti intolerant...

Anyway, it's Wednesday, and you know what that means: LIST DAY!


Good List
1. J. My fabulous, hilarious, meat-loving husband. May our days always be filled with this much laughter and love.
2. Coffee...
3. Running in the morning. Love, LOve, LOVE. (now to keep it up for at least 20 more days... 21 days builds a habit, right?!) Although it's hard to drag myself out of bed initially, I love the cool of the early morning, the pinky-reds as the new day comes into being, and the soft, sparkly dampness of the waking world.
4. Spaghetti (duh.)
5. Library books.
6. Leaf blowers. (Oh. My. What did we do before these?! My lovely neighbor lent me his last night to blow the grass off the sidewalk after J mowed, and it took the time down to about 3 minutes flat. Glorious.)
7. New projects (J & I have our work cut out for us this weekend, as we are breathing new life into a dining table and chairs that used to be my parents. We'll be re-covering the chair cushions and refinishing the top of the table. I couldn't be more excited -- although your good thoughts are appreciated, as you wouldn't exactly call me a "crafty person" ... I'll keep you updated!)
8. Pens & "Fresh" notebooks
9. Sometimes, making a lot of noise in the kitchen is absolutely called for. You know what I mean. Banging pots and pans can be quite therapeutic :)
10. Two "fuzzies" sleeping next to me as I write. Did you know that cats can purr in their sleep?! Love it.

A few GPs
(GP = "guilty pleasures". Also known as: "things I might be slightly embarrassed to admit pause before I admit that I love" ...)
  • Sunday afternoon naps
  • Singing at the top of my lungs in the car
  • Glee
  • Jacob
  • Sweatpants
  • Eating spoonfuls of peanut butter straight out of the jar
  • Piles and piles of unread books
  • OPI nail color
  • Nickelback
  • Peanut butter-(marshmallow) fluff sandwiches
Questions: What is your "spaghetti night"? What are some of your GPs?

Monday, May 3, 2010

I'm not the only one who is having a love affair with the new windows:

'Big B.' (Baron earned this nickname once we got Gracie. He is by no means a "fat cat"... but he is larger- 12 lbs of lovin'- and next to 'Baby G', he looks like The Hulk... Anyhoo...) loves watch our "backyard wildlife" (bunnies, birds, the neighbor's dog-- and, as you can see, squirrels....) through these windows. Sometimes he gets so excited that he chirps to them, and races back and forth across the back of the house to 'follow them' as they move through the yard.
I love watching his joy.
I know a lot of times my 'love posts' seem very heavily weighted toward Gracie... but make no mistake, I am completely smitten with my little man as well :)