Monday, December 9, 2013

pulling up roots.

The movers packed up our life this week and we've been spending the weekend scrubbing and sweeping our house. My hands smell like bleach and my arms feel like noodles after cleaning every nook and cranny that has collected dust over the past two and a half years. 

I had a lot of time to think while I was on my hands and knees wiping down the baseboards and do you want to know what I think? 

I think goodbyes are the worst. 

I've said a lot of goodbyes this week. To my coworkers, to my boss, to my dog sitter. All people who I have really grown to love. And each one was tough. 

The especially tough goodbyes were to my Navy friends, though. 

The girls I met here are good people. Seriously good. Like 'pour you another glass of wine and curl up with you on her couch when your husband is gone' good. Or 'give you homecoming advice because homecomings are sometimes awkward and she's been there done that' good... 'become like family because your family is a million miles away and so is hers and there is nothing like needing someone and she is there' good. See what I mean? Legit girls. 

And they're good at goodbyes. Because that's what we do in the Navy. We put down roots and then we pick up and move. And this time, those legit good people I met made it really easy to put down roots. and feel like I was home.  

Pulling up roots is the worst. 

Tonight, as we pack up our car and hand in the keys to our house and check out of the squadron, I am feeling the painful tug of almost three years of roots being yanked up as I say goodbye. 

And tomorrow, we'll do it all over again. We'll set off early in the morning for Jacksonville and a new home and new friends that we haven't even met yet and new couches to curl up on (and, because we're lucky, some old friends who we have met and some couches we already feel very comfortable on) and we'll unpack our life and put down roots all over again. And it's an adventure and it's bittersweet and today it sucks because saying good bye and pulling up roots are the worst. 

But saying hello and starting over again isn't so bad. 

So long, Virginia Beach. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013


I meant to write this post on Thanksgiving Day. But then there was cleaning the house and making pie and setting the table and friends and family and before I knew it, it was 11pm, I had a full belly and a sink full of dishes and my feet were tired. 

Then I was going to write it yesterday, but there was early morning shopping and trying to find parking at the mall and then a much needed nap and leftovers and before I knew it, it was 11pm again and I was in bed. 

So here I am, breaking all the rules and writing my Thanksgiving post two days after Thanksgiving. I'm thankful for your patience. 

I think it's the impending move and all the transition coming up and the past year of deployment and family sadness, but I feel more overwhelmed than ever with a grateful heart. 

So, in no particular order, I am so thankful for my friends and my family and for the cell phone technology that makes them seem not so far away. I'm thankful for my good health and theirs. I'm thankful for my Navy friends who have become like family and, even though it's tough to say goodbye to them, I'm glad to have made new friends that will be just a phone call away. I'm thankful for our home here; thankful for a roof over our heads and a full fridge, and even more thankful for our new home in Florida! I'm thankful for quiet mornings to write and chilly nights to curl up and watch TV, and a sweet brown dog to curl up next to me. I'm thankful for leftovers and pumpkin pie for breakfast. Even though we're basically going to be living out of a suitcase until the end of December, I'm thankful for friends and family to stay with in every state we'll travel to. I'm thankful for the Navy, giving us the opportunity to move again and have another adventure, meet new friends who we will come to love like family, and to see just a little more of the world. 

And I'm thankful for my husband, who I get to do it all with. Last year this time, he was around the world and I am so very thankful that today, he is just in the other room. (And I'm thankful for other people's spouses and sons and daughters and brothers and sisters who are around the world right now.) I'm thankful that he's a good friend and a good listener and that he's very even-keeled. He is the best part of a life I am very thankful for. 

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving as well and you're heart is overwhelmed with gratitude well beyond this holiday. 

(Wish us luck as we spend the next week putting our life into boxes and handing in our keys here in Virginia. After that, we're going to be crashing on a few couches from Florida to Wisconsin until after Christmas, when we can finally move into our brand new house! I'll see you where the wifi is good!)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

and they call it puppy love.

Sometimes Beau goes to the dog sitter's. 

Our dog sitter is named Kay and she is the sweetest person I have ever met. At Grandma Kay's, as she calls her home, she treats every dog like they are her own. The dogs can run around in her beautiful backyard garden and lay in the cool liriope plants on hot days. If they stay overnight, the pups are allowed to sleep with Kay in bed and she gladly snuggles up with three or four big dogs sometimes. Beau loves it there. As soon as we make the turn on to her street, he knows where we are and can't wait to get out and greet everyone. 

But the real reason Beau loves going to Kay's is for Bonnie. 

Kay has two Collies, Bonnie and Chesley, pictured above. All the other dogs love Bonnie, too. Kay jokes that she has her suitors; there's Halsey, the white Golden Retriever and Beauregard, the tiny designer breed, who, even at only ten pounds, tries to guard her from all the other big dogs. There's a Weimaraner, a Boxer, and a hound mix that love her, too. She the most popular Collie around. 

But she loves Beau. 

When we get into the gate, Beau runs past all the other dogs and finds Bonnie first. They wrestle and play all day, chasing each other around the garden, rolling each other in the dirt. She even hides on the other side of their pool and when Beau breaks the rules and runs across the pool cover to find her and gets yelled at, she comes out of hiding to take the heat with him. They share rope toys and bones and finally, when they're all tired out, they make sure to fall asleep right next to each other. 

It's really the sweetest romance you've ever seen. Kay, with all her warmth and hospitality, is one of the people I am going to miss the most when we move and I know Beau will be missing his sweet Bonnie as well. 

Lucky for Beau, however, his best buddy isn't deploying any time soon, so he'll have someone to console him when he's missing his girl. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

little beauties.

I've never written a post like this before and for the life of me I can't figure out why. I'm going to share with you some of my little beauty favorites. Because that's what girls do sometimes. One girl says to the other, "I love that lip gloss/haircut/top/nail polish! Where did you get it?" And then the other girl says, "Thanks! Let me tell you..." and boom! This is how beauty secrets are shared the world over. This is how I discover my favorite products and I think it's high time I share some love here. 

[Fun fact: If you ask a Milwaukee girl where she got her lip gloss/haircut/top/nail polish, she will proudly tell you how much she bought if for, too. We can't help it, but us Milwaukee girls love a bargain. And the only thing better than a bargain is making sure someone knows that you are fabulous AND you don't spend a lot on being fabulous. This has been proven in independent studies conducted by me.] 

So first up are the lips. I try and hide this from people, (namely my husband who really cannot understand the complexity of this issue) but I have a serious lip product addiction. The sampling pictured above are (literally) only a few of the lip products I have floating around in the black hole that is my purse. It feels a little freeing to admit this in a public place. But this is good news for you, because it means I try everything I can report back about the real winners. And take my word on these: 

Vaseline Rosy Lips: I am Chapstick devotee. I have sticks of the blue kind hiding in every nook and cranny I frequent because I hate to be without it. But recently I have discovered that Vaseline does the same thing for my lips when I don't want color, just moisture, but it gives the nicest little shine. I have a little tub in my purse (I'm not joking when I say I have errythang in there. If you need something to put on your little lips, you will be glad you asked me. It's like a Sephora shelf in there.) So I was pumped when I found this Rosy Lips at Target the other day. It is so perfect if you don't like gloss, but you want a little shine and moisture and just the most subtle hint of pink. I imagine this is a super complementary color on every skin tone because it's just so barely-there. Seriously, go get this. 

Benefit Coralista: I really love Benefit products. This gloss in an indulgent buy, but it's so worth it. Okay, girls, when I say "sticky lip gloss" everyone knows what I mean? That tacky, thick gloss that gets stuck in anything that touches it and you can't wear in even the slightest breeze because your hair will be glued to it? Can I get a witness? This is the opposite of that. It's so slick and the color is a sheer coral that layers perfectly over other colors or nothing. I really can't recommend this gloss enough because of the texture. And it comes in a bunch of colors

Bare Minerals Moxie in 'Show Off': On the other end of the spectrum, this gloss is definitely more on the traditional sticky side, but what it lacks in texture it makes up for in color. It's a baby pink that gives me a perfect nude lip to pair with smokier eyes. And the stickyness isn't all bad; as long as I'm not eating or, like I said, standing in a breeze where I'm constantly pulling my hair out of my lip gloss (Seriously, does anyone else have this issue? It might have something to do with the fact that my hair is usually a hot mess, but I mean, really...) it lasts a really long time. 

Clinique Almost Lipstick in 'Shy Honey' and 'Black Honey': Okay, I didn't take the caps off these in the picture because if I did, you would have seen the Black Honey and said, "Whaaat? Is this girl trying to bring back the dark hoochie lip circa late 90's?" And I don't want you to say that because this dark raisin lip color is actually so subtle with only one coat, it gives just the right touch, and I didn't want you to be scared away. Rumor has it (on Pinterest) that this shade really is perfect for every skin tone from pale to deep browns. Plus it has like a million reviews. The Shy Honey color is a baby pink. The whole line of Almost Lipsticks are super buttery smooth like lip balm but have good pigmentation like a lipstick. 

Moving on to the nails. Now I'm not one of those fabulous girls that gets her nails did, but every once in a while I like to pretend like I've got it together and paint my nails. These are my current cold weather faves. 

1. These are just polish remover pads. I don't really think it matters what brand you get or anything, but I just like to throw it out there that they are super helpful to have when you travel. Because if you're anything like me, if you go on vacation you're like, "I'm gonna paint my nails so people think I'm fashionable and put together!" Then two days into vacay they're chipping and you're like, "Aw man! Now I look like a 7th grader with these chipped up nails!" So these are just nice to have when that mani starts looking rough. I didn't take a picture of it but in between colors I like to use OPI Nail Envy. This stuff is super pricey but it is legit strengthener and I can see and feel a difference in my nails after even using it once. I've been using it for years and my nails are really healthy looking and feeling. 

2. Nicole in 'Kourt is Red-y for a Pedi': Yes it's a Kardashian color (kolor?) but it's a really saturated, gorgeous red. Red is my go to nail color and this is my current fave. Any one got any reds that I should try out though? There is room in my heart for more reds. 

3. Nicole in 'Paparazzi Don't Preach': I'm ashamed to admit I have not one, but two Kardashian nail polishes. They were on sale, okay? Don't throw stones. This is a great pinky nude that is perfect for when I want something subtle, but I don't want to go bare. I also love nudes for my toes and, unless its summer and I'm opting for a bright Barbie pink, this is almost always when I use for my pedi. Just please don't let the Kardashian's know that I helped grow their empire in any way... 

4. and 5. E.L.F in 'Purple Pleaser' and 'Gold Star': I got these in a set of four for $5! (See what I mean about us Milwaukee girls and our bargains?) These are great colors for the holidays and, I'm not sure if it's tired yet, but I still love the 'accent nail' trend and the gold is great for that. I think you can only buy E.L.F. nail polishes in sets and right now at Target they have tons of them for very cheap. 

6. Clinique in 'Black Honey': I got this in a set with the Almost Lipstick and Black Honey lip gloss. This is the prefect deep, dark purple for winter. I adore edgy, dark nails and I think this purple is the right balance of edgy and sophisticated. 

My nail dilemma now is finding the perfect top coat. As you can see, I have a mix of cheap and nicer polishes, and I think both can last a long time with the right top coat. But alas, my search continues. If you have any tips or recommendations, pretty please tell me because these are the things that keep me up nights. (Not really. But I wish I lived the kind of life where top coats kept me awake at night. Maybe that problem happens to the Kardashian clan (klan?). 

Okay, this picture could really be a post of it's own. If you know me in real life, you might know of my deep and consuming love for all things Lush. This is just a sampling of my favorites from my bathroom, but I really could go on and on about this brand and how much I love their stuff. I would love this stuff just for the smells and for how well it works, but the cherry on top is their use of fresh, organic, and vegan ingredients where they can, no preservatives and fillers, and they reduce landfill waste by using no packaging or recycled packaging. But even if you hate Mother Earth and love synthetics in your products, (to each their own) you will love this stuff because it all smells amazing. Okay, so on to the goods. 

Body: Pictured here are two of their body washes. 'Twilight' is only available online now, but has the most intoxicating lavender scent. 'It's Raining Men' is a honey body wash that smells like honey and toffee and the scent lingers for hours. My only complaint about either of these is that there are no body lotions in these scents as well. Seriously, so so good. I have a couple other body washes, but these are my favorites. R even uses a Lush body wash for men that smells minty and clean and oh so handsome. The thing about all their washes is that they are really concentrated and they aren't made with a lot of water, so they're small bottles, but they last a long time. 

Hair: Okay, this really is where I get fanatical about recommending products. I love Lush hair products more than I love lip gloss, and that's serious love. Pictured here are 'Big' and 'Rehab', two shampoos and 'American Cream', a conditioner. Once upon a time I used all different kinds of shampoo and nothing seemed to do good things to my head. Pantene, Garnier, Aveda, Bumble and Bumble; nothing gave me good lather and clean rinse and felt clean after my hair was dry. The worst was Pantene, which gave me a waxy feeling and felt heavy. Then I started using Lush and my world was a better place. I don't know if it's because they have good, real ingredients or if it's just that my hair likes it more, but it is seriously good stuff. I started out using their solid shampoos (of which I can recommend a few if you are curious) but recently discovered 'Rehab' so I've been using that lately. But nothing compares to the lather you get from those solid shampoos. Then 'Big', which is a little pricey but lasts me a good long time, is my in-between shampoo. This shampoo feels like a salt scrub and lathers like crazy. My hair feels so squeaky clean and shiny afterwards. It's a perfect 'every other wash' shampoo if you use a lot of product or just a clarifying wash. I have heard that if you color your hair, the salt and lemon might not be ideal for frequent use. I just got my hair trimmed the other day and the stylist couldn't stop commenting on how healthy my hair was. I think I owe it all to Lush.

Pamper: Lush is famous for it's bath products; bath bombs, bubble bars, soaps, and lots of other fun things like massage bars and foot scrubs. Pictured here is a bath bomb called 'Avobath'. Made with lemongrass and avacados, you just plop it in the tub and it fizzes and dissolves into sweet, soft, scented water to soak in. I've used a bunch of different "flavors" and they are so luxurious. If there's a Lush store near you, it's fun to just go pick out ones that smell good, but the online store has good descriptions as well. The bubble bars are basically the same, only they make bubbles, too. (Aren't you glad I'm here to help decode these things for you?) I know not everyone is a bath person, (I think a comedian once called baths "dirty person soup") but if you are, these are so perfect. The other thing pictured is 'Mint Julips' lip scrub. It's made with sugar and you just rub it all over your lips to slough off dead skin. I mean, a lip gloss fanatic like me has got to have a good lip exfoliator. 

Okay, if you're still reading after all my long winded beauty picks, I've saved a special treat for you as a reward for sticking it through to the end. 

Pictured above is my favorite thing in my whole makeup drawer: E.L.F. Mineral Eyeshadow Primer. Let's start with the basics; if you've never used primer, then go get some. Primer is exactly what is sounds like- it's a base layer to prime your makeup. Foundation primers help smooth out your complexion and keep your foundation put all day. Eye and lip primers do the same thing and can also help keep shadows from creasing and lipsticks from feathering and fading. They are wonderful tools and virtually every makeup line from the cheapest to the most luxe have their version. I used to only use primers when I was doing dramatic makeup for a night out, but I've seen the error of my ways and use an eye primer for every day makeup because it means my eye makeup looks fresh for 12+ hours. (If I'm being honest, I usually have to touch up my eyeliner a bit if I'm going from day to night, but shadows stay put and look good for the long haul.) 

Now, just like Lush, I can probably write a whole post about on E.L.F. makeup because I love love love it and it's ridiculously cheap, but for now I will just introduce you to this little holy grail of eye primers. For only THREE measly little dollars, it does what much more expensive primers do and keeps your shadow fresh and unmoving all day. How do I know? Because I bought this a few years ago and was impressed with it's staying power, but I figured if this little cheapie did so well, then the name brands must be better right? With only one exception it is just as good if not better than several name brands I've sampled. The E.L.F. is definitely my top pick for a cheap, every day primer that you can stock up on. The exception? When I am doing formal makeup for a night out or for low lighting and need more dramatic eyes, I prefer Bare Minerals Prime Time. It's a little more tacky (in a good way) and just holds the deeper shades and the black liner a little better. But for every day? Definitely the E.L.F. hands down. Love this stuff and you really can't beat $3. 

So that's it! My current beauty faves and obsessions. 

What about you? What are the products you can't live without and can't stop recommending? I'd love to try out something new! 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

goodbye rent.

We've been keeping a little secret over here. 

I didn't want to say anything until it was 100% official. It's almost 100%, but I just couldn't keep it in any longer over here...

We bought a house! 

Our loan approval is almost complete and we close next month, so I figured I could go ahead and spill the beans. Let me tell you the story of this little house that will soon be ours...

Once upon a time we found out we were moving to Florida. So we started house hunting. Actually, I started house hunting, and by house hunting, I mean stalking real estate listings. We knew which part of the city we wanted to live in so that narrowed it down a lot. Which was good.

One day we found a great little house right around the neighborhood we wanted and lo and behold, it was a new construction! Which is good because that means no one else has lived in it and dirtied up and gotten their all dead skin cells all ground into the carpet. (Feel free to get grossed out about that for a few minutes. Seriously. Look at your carpet and just think about all those dead skin cells. I bet you never even thought of them before and now that's all you can think about. You're welcome.) So here we were, looking at this brand new, not even finished house, right smack dab in the neighborhood we wanted, and it was dead skin cell free. 

But it wasn't for rent. It was for sale. 

Pause for dramatic effect. 

We're not buyers! We're renters! We love renting and paying someone else's mortgage and replacing someone else's flooring that our dog chewed up back when he first got out of doggy prison and keeping someone else's appliances in good working order and walking around on someone else's carpet with someone else's dead skin cells in them (Seriously, it's kind of an issue for me...). Who doesn't love renting?!

Even though we love it so much, all it took was a little sweet talking from the realtor to convince us that buying might not be a terrible move. (She was smooth.) We weighed our options, prayed about it, and finally decided that maybe if we just saw the house itself, we could make a decision. So we drove down to Jax to check out the house and it just seemed perfect for us! 

Three bedroom, two bath, fenced in yard for Beau. Some more of my favorite touches? 

-Bathroom in the master bedroom; perfect for not cleaning when guests come over. Come on, who doesn't just love knowing that when people come over, there's a room in your house you can just hide all your dirty clothes and towels and not clean out the toothpaste from the sink? 
-Covered front  porch with a porch swing! How quaint and Southern! 
-Screened in pack porch with a ceiling fan. Also quaint and Southern and perfect for drinking outside on hot summer nights without getting assaulted by mosquitoes. 

This is really the only good picture of the house so far because it's still a baby house. When it's finished next month, I will make sure to get it decorated as soon as possible and get some pictures up! It's a very exciting and grown up step for us and we couldn't be more excited to move in! 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

truth in advertising.

We were out shopping and we saw Beau's twin in a mattress ad. We couldn't believe how much the mattress dog looked almost exactly like Beau and how well it captured almost exactly what our lazy Saturday mornings look like! 

...sort of. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

good choice.

This was the very first picture R and I took together. It was right after we started dating in our Junior year of high school. He asked someone else out to homecoming by writing her a note in study hall. She declined because she already had a date, but suggested he ask me. He asked me, secretly hoping she would cancel with her date.

She didn't, he took me, and when it came time for the dance, we decided to go to a coffee shop instead.

It was the first of a lot of good choices.

During that first date on a rainy October night, sitting in the coffee shop on Lake Michigan that became the backdrop for a million more dates, we talked about all the things that 17 year old kids talk about; where we were applying to college, our families, what we wanted to do with our futures. We talked for two and a half hours over Dreamsicle smoothies and I knew I liked him immediately. 

Another good choice. 

That was ten years ago this week. Now, on a similarly rainy October night, I'm sitting in a house filled with pictures and memories collected from a decade of sharing my life with that boy. A decade!

Starting with the choice to become an "official" couple way back when that picture was taken, we've been making choices about our relationship and the people we are together. We don't have it all figured out, not by a long shot, but ten years and a decade of growing up has helped us make a few good choices along the way. 

We choose to put God first. Because we know if we didn't have Jesus setting the example of grace and forgiveness in our relationship, the two of us would have wound up in jail by now. 

We choose to put each other first. We love our families and we love our friends, but we are each other's most important priority. We stick up for each other and we cheer each other on no matter what. 

We choose not to take ourselves too seriously. Life is short. We choose to laugh, to relax, not to get too caught up in the drama. (R usually chooses this first and then I see how well it works for him and I catch on.) 

We choose travel over stuff. His car has no air conditioning and we don't have cable and our couches have holes that the dog chewed into them. But we've been on more road trips than I can count. Traveling is our favorite kind of date. (Not that there is anything wrong with choosing stuff. Hey, I want to come sit on your nice couch and watch cable, so someone has to choose stuff!) 

We choose to take the advice of couples who have been doing this longer than we have. We know we are a long way from having it figured out and we are glad to soak up the wisdom of people who have been there, done that. 

We don't always make all the right choices but we try our best, we employ heaping doses of grace, and in the end, we try to stay friends. It seems to have been working our for us for the past decade.

This is the most recent picture of us, taken a few weeks ago at a baseball game, a million miles from those two kids on the couch.

This man is the best choice I have ever made. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

question marks and sweaty palms.

It seems there are question mark looming in our future. Don't you hate when there are question marks? I do. When I don't have all the things planned out ahead of me, my palms get sweaty. And that just adds to the list of things I worry about. 

We know where we're moving in a few months, and that's good, but still the question marks loom. Mostly for me it's job related question marks: where will I work? 

I have a love/hate relationship with the idea of working. On the one hand I like to feel purposeful and I like the idea of contributing to society at large, but on the other hand I hate having to put on pants and actually contribute to society at large. If I had my way, I would work from my bed (not even the couch, because ain't nobody got time for that!) and just make the world a better place from underneath my covers. 

Somehow I have not been able to convey "excels at snuggling a Chocolate lab until embarrassingly late in the day" and "oversees hours of Hulu programming while still un-showered" in my professional skill set on my resumes. Ah well. 

Until my dream job falls into my lap, I have to actually put on pants and look for real work. And since I can't make the world a better place and contribute to society from my bed, I have to find a place to contribute in Jacksonville. And with every submitted resume and every afternoon spent in front of the computer looking at job search sites and reading every article employing military spouses and how to find work in a city you don't even know the street names in, the question marks loom. 

The best I can do is search, apply, wait, search some more, apply some more, and remember that every time I have found myself in a similar situation in the past, at a crossroads with question mark looming, God has been faithful to provide and show me his will for my life, and pray that he will be faithful again. You might not find this job search method on any career websites, but it seems to be the only method that stops my palms from sweating and I think I'll stick with it for now. 

I'll let you know how it goes...

Monday, September 16, 2013

making our next move.

I admit, I left you all with a bit of a teaser in my last post. It's because I love teasers and also because a post about where we're moving next just couldn't share a post with news about my typo at work and a puppy in a hot dog bun. Too many important topics in one post.

So I saved the news for this post. 

R got orders to his new duty station a few months ago, but I wanted to keep it under wraps until we were pretty sure it wouldn't change. Because things in the Navy change a lot. We military spouses have a pretty hardy, "I'll believe it when I see it" attitude when it comes to orders, deployment dates, and all kinds of other fun things. So I waited and I waited and now I'm knocking on wood and writing this post to tell you all that we're headed to... Jacksonville, Florida! 

Once upon a time we lived in Florida before we moved here. But that was the Panhandle, and no offense, but I'm pretty pumped no to be going back there. (Oh let's be real, here. I keep telling people we're moving to the cooler half of Florida. I mean, can you blame me?) 

Anyway, we're headed down south to the land of the palms in a couple months and I'm experiencing a serious case of bittersweetness. One the one had, I've made life long friends here and the people I work with and the spouses from our current squadron have become like a little family to me, and I am going to miss our lives here so much. On the other hand though, we have old friends in Jacksonville that we can't wait to live near again and Jax is a very cool city with a very cool vibe. It's a happy predicament to have made a home in one place and to be looking forward to making a home in the next. 

If you've been reading along with me from the very beginning, this will be the third move since I started blogging. (Also if you've been reading along with me since the beginning, you get all the gold stars for staying interested in my ramblings this long!) Stay tuned as we wrap up our Virginia days and head off into the Florida sunshine for our next adventure! 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

a peachful week.

Here are some things about my week. In no particular order. 

Here is my ridiculous typo at work today. I'm making an activity manual for our scripture based software. The phrases in bold are statements about who we are in Christ. I'm not really sure who I am in Christ anymore.  

I have a husband who loves me so much he brings me a glass of wine without me even asking while I sit here and peruse Pinterest like an absolute bum and he doesn't even judge me. (He does however roll his eyes when I text him the awesome hilarious pictures that I find, like this.) 

(He walked past while I was writing this post and saw this picture and rolled his eyes again. He may have even sighed an exasperated sigh as well. Whatevs. I'm at peach with my Pinterest addiction.) 

I have anxiety over changes. I don't like changes. At all. When I was little my parents had to bribe me to even change my underwear. I would lie and told them I already had, but I had those tattletale 'days of the week' undies and by Wednesday, my Sunday undies were calling my bluff. (Also I was a gross kid. A gross kid who just couldn't handle changes.) The good news is that I have grown to love certain kinds of changes, like changing my underwear. The bad news is I haven't embraced all types of change, like moving to a new city and finding a new job and leaving all the friends I've made here. More on that new city and those new changes in a later post. (Don't you just love a cliffhanger!?)

Some of my close friends are entering the pregnancy and new mama world. It's wild to think that I'm finally at the age where my friends having babies is not a scandal worthy of an MTV show. It's like, normal now. Also they're buying houses. What is happening, people!? But these are happy changes, so I'm okay with them. Also, as a side note, I have officially jumped the divide from "Ugh! No one wants to see pictures of your slobbery baby on Facebook!" to "Yassss! More pictures of babies on Facebook! OH HELLO INSTAGRAM!" So if you're reading this and you have a baby/toddler and also you're my friend on Facebook, please know that there is no such things as too many pictures of your baby. Unless they are digging in their nose. On second thought, especially if they are digging in their nose. 

These are just little tidbits of the things that make up my life this week. 

Here, on your way out, have a picture of my dog, who is far too existential to be placed inside of a hot dog bun.  

Thanks for reading. Peach be with you all. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

that's what saturdays are for.

I love Saturdays. They are my favorite day of the week. Saturdays are for sleeping in and drinking coffee late into the morning in my pajamas and being in no rush to get things done. 

Saturdays are taking pictures of Beau. (Because that's just what my phone needs, is more pictures of Beau...) 

Saturdays are for long bike rides. 

Saturdays are for bottling my first batch of beer. In two more Saturdays, it'll be time for drinking them! 

Saturdays are for afternoon naps and reading in bed and snuggling with my two favorite brown haired boys. 

Saturdays are for beer tasting. 

And Sundays? Sundays are for Packer football now! And blogging about Saturdays. 

Hope your weekend was wonderful! 

Monday, September 2, 2013

so the story goes.

I have long been enamored by stories. I love stories from the past. I soak up my family stories. These are the stories of immigrants and housewives, divorces and births, stories that make up my family's history, the roots that start deep and lead up to me. I love hearing a funny story, an adventure story, a love story. My friend's and my family's stories are where I get to experience their worlds; the world of traveling through Europe or being in the Navy or becoming a new mother, through the eyes of the people I love the most. Lately, I've even loved the sad stories. The stories that pour out of people who have also buried someone they love or seen grief up close are becoming some of my favorite kinds of stories. I love hearing a good story and I love telling a good story. I've even decided recently that I'd rather call myself a storyteller than a writer. Writing takes work and practice and discipline. But storytelling? That comes as easy to me as breathing.  Lately this love has been growing in me, stirring into something that feels important.

I think there is power in sharing our stories. It's where we meet and laugh and cry and heal and we are reassured that we are not alone in thinking or feeling the way we do. It's where we get to experience awe and wonder in a world where awe and wonder are sometimes hard to come by. It’s where we connect in community, where we strip away some of the put-togetherness and get down to some of the realness.  And somehow I can't seem to shake the notion that this is big. Telling the stories is a big, important thing.

I'm working on a project, something that I'll keep under wraps until it becomes a little clearer to me exactly what it is. But I'll give you this clue: it has to do with telling stories. And while I work out what this project will look like, I figured this might be a good place to practice telling some stories. I suppose that's what I do already, I tell stories of homecomings and home brewing and stories about a Chocolate Lab. But I think there are bigger stories swirling around inside me; stories of grieving and family and marriage and growing up, stories about the world around me. Don't worry, there will still be stories of that Chocolate Lab, but if I seem a little more nostalgic or a little more sentimental, it's because I can't ignore the stories that keep swelling up inside me.

Thanks for reading along as I tell my story.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

something's brewing.

This weekend, R and I tried our hand at something I think he's been wanting to do for a very long time: we home brewed our own beer! We are serious craft beer lovers around here. In fact as of this weekend, R has toured 27 breweries (he's been to more, that's just the official tour count!) and I've been to about a third of those. In addition to going to breweries and making pilgrimages to highly rated beer stores around the country, he also frequents beer rating sites to profile and rate the new beers he tries. Somewhere along the line, he lured me into the world of good beer and I've slowly been morphing into a bit of a beer nerd myself. 

So, making our own beer just seemed like the next logical step! R finally decided to take the plunge and get a home brew starter kit from Northern Brewer when we were visiting Milwaukee. The kit gives you everything you need to brew a five gallon batch of beer. You can choose from three different starter recipes and we chose the Irish Red Ale. So Friday afternoon, we put on some good music, poured ourselves a beer, and started brewing our very first batch! 

It all starts with some water. 

Some recipe kits come with specialty grain, which give the beer color and aroma. You steep the grain like tea in a mesh bag. 

R emptied the grain after steeping it and casually mentioned that there are all kinds of recipes for using the spent grain. I did a little research and came up with something. More on that later. Back to our beer! 

After steeping the grain, you add liquid malt extract. Beer is really only four basic ingredients; water, malt, hops, and yeast. (Remember this for your next beer tour, class!) People who know their stuff brew with all grain malt, but beginners tend to use the liquid malt extract as a way to cut down on equipment and steps. We are beginners, thus the jug full of liquid. 

Then comes the important addition of hops. Hops are what give beer it's distinctive taste and they are an important ingredient. This red ale isn't too hoppy, but R's next batch may be an IPA which is much hoppier. More hops usually equals more bitterness. After this, the young beer is called wort until you add yeast, then it gets to be called beer. (Feel free to write this down and impress the tour guide at your next brewery tour with all your knowledge. But if you get a free pint out of it, then you owe me one!) The wort has to boil, which gave me a little time to look up those spent grain recipes and play with the camera a little. 

I found a great recipe for spent grain dog treats on the blog 17 Apart, (which also had lots of other great recipes of all sorts and lots of beautiful photography and shots of their sweet Weimaraner, Basil, so check them out!) I love spoiling Beau and I had yet to try any homemade puppy treats. I figured since it was the weekend of Beer Firsts, I may as well make some spent beer grain treats. 

Speaking of Beau, this picture has absolutely nothing to do with beer, but I wanted to show the world one of Beau's weirdest/cutest little habits. Sometimes, if I'm just standing around, Beau will come stand in between my legs. He just calmly stands there for a few minutes between my knees, then walks away. It's weird and precious and it's why I love that dog. 

I think it's an unwritten rule that when you are making beer, you must also be drinking beer. We don't write 'em, we just follow 'em around here. 

This warning is on the side of the bottling bucket. Don't let your baby drink the beer? Don't get your baby drunk? Don't get drunk and brew your baby? 

Okay, so maybe Beau and I were relaxing on the job a bit. No worries though, I didn't get drunk and brew Beau. 

After the wort boil, the most important ingredient gets added: yeast! This is really where things get cool and science-y. (That's an insider term, class. Science-y!)

Once you add the wort and the yeast to the fermenter, all the magic happens. Basically, the brew you've created is just malted grain and hops; the yeast is what makes it beer. 

The beer magic happens when you hide the fermenter away in a cool, dark place for a few days. While it's hiding in your office closet underneath R's dress whites, the yeast wake up and eat all the sugars in the malt. They fart carbon dioxide and poop alcohol and voila! Beer is born! It's a little crass, but it's actually really cool to see the airlock on top start bubbling and foam form because millions of actual living organisms are hanging out in your closet making beer for you. Very science-y, indeed! 

After we finished brewing the red ale and it was safely in the closet, I made small one gallon recipe kit that we also picked up. This one is a honey ale, but not just any honey ale! It's the recipe used by the White House kitchen staff after President Obama asked them to try their hand at home brewing! The official White House release is really interesting and if you've got 5 minutes, watch the video, which shows the White House chef making the exact same beer I'm making in this picture! I mean, if that doesn't taste like sweet American freedom, I don't know what does! 

So I made my little batch and nestled it into the closet next to R's big batch and in a few weeks, we'll bottle. Home brewing is a test of patience because the bottles need to sit another couple of weeks before we're able to crack them open and drink the beer we worked so hard for. 

In the meantime though, I was able to use the spent grain from the big batch to make the dog treats! I dried the grain in the oven while we brewed, them mixed them up today with a little peanut butter, eggs, and flour. I rolled them out and cut them into hearts and baked them.

They're all natural and apparently, pups love the grain flavor. Beau tested some for quality before we packaged some up and tomorrow I'm shipping them off to some of his friends and cousins around the country. The spent grain from the little batch of honey ale is getting made into honey almond cranberry granola bars tomorrow. So, out of two batches of beer, we also get dog treats and people snacks. Not too bad for first timers!

I'll keep you updated on our first batches progress and other beer recipes we try. It was such a fun way to spend an afternoon and I think it's the beginning of a great new hobby for us!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

there was wisconsin.

This week we got back from my favorite place on Earth: Milwaukee. I haven't been to a lot of places, but I'm sure it's the best of them all. Because Milwaukee is where our families live and where we grew up and where it's perfectly acceptable to drink a beer at 11am. And all these things, plus a couple more, equal the best place on Earth. So this trip was filled with exactly those things; friends, family, and beer. 

There were a few other things as well. Here they are in no particular order.

There was the Wisconsin State Fair, an annual event that my family takes pretty seriously. I have chronicled our love of the Fair several times. This is R enjoying a butterflied pork sandwich, which is the Unofficial First Thing You Have To Eat As Soon As You Get To The Fair. (Yes, I make up these rules.) If you don't eat the pork sandwich when you first arrive at the fair, you'll jinx your whole day. All your fried foods will be soggy, the cream puff line will be too long, and it'll rain. Luckily, we are pros, so we shared a pork sandwich and the rest of the day went swimmingly!

There were baby animals. And sweet nephews who were enthralled by the baby animals. 

There was food on a stick. In this moment, there was candied bacon and a deep fried bratwurst. Which we washed down with a beer. Of course. 

There was Uncle R and another sweet nephew having a quiet moment in the DNR building. Because sometimes the Fair is a lot to take in if you're two, so Uncle R knows just the right quiet spots for two year olds. 

There was milk. Flavored milk to be exact. Chocolate, root beer, and cherry vanilla milk. And paired with beer flavored doughnuts, they were the quintessential ending to a perfect Wisconsin Fair day. (I know what you're thinking and the answer is yes, every stereotype you have ever heard about Wisconsin and beer is true.)

There were other things on our trip. There was a baby shower for one of my best girls, Megan. So naturally, there was baby shower preparations. 

And during those preparations, there was crafting, and champagne, and catching up on our lives because we are adults now and scattered all over the country. And in between the champagne and paper scraps, there were some girly tears because these are legit women and legit friendships and we all know how lucky we are to have this.

And for the very first time in our little circle, there is a baby! So there were sweet little moments of saying, "Here, put your hand here. Can you feel it?" And there were gasps and oohs as we felt that sweet little baby rocking and rolling around. And the conversation and laughter and champagne went long into the night because summer nights in Wisconsin with your best friends who are usually scattered all over the country are rare and precious and should be savored accordingly.

There was also more time with my brother and my sweet nephews. Uncle R found a cool little climbing rock in a local park, made specifically for working on technique. So there were boys of all ages testing their skills. 

And some had some impressive skills. 

There were triumphant summit bids. 

And while the big boys climbed, there was a date on the playground with this handsome guy who is just so cute I can't stand not to photograph him. 

And in between all the family and friends, there was a little time to get some coffee and take our camera out and photograph the city I love.

(And some other things I love.)

There was a cookout at R's parent's house with both families. And there were puppies who love licking the face of their favorite little messy eater.

There were cigars and bourbon and, yes, more beer. 

There was my sister's sweet Pit Bull Roxy who knows how to charm the fellas, like my father-in-law. 

There was wine and lots of conversation that, of course, went late into the night. Because, again, when you find yourself on a back porch, stuffed with a great meal, with all the family that you love so much, you just don't want to hurry those kinds of nights. 

There were quiet mornings of writing and drinking coffee on that same back porch with my favorite pup. 

And now we're home and there is our little family, avoiding unpacking and reluctantly getting back in to our routines... 

Until next time.