welcome ... enjoy yourself

Thursday, February 28, 2013

it's the little things: work edition

The little things make all the difference so often for me.  It's the little everyday things that can cheer me up or lighten up my mood just enough to get out of the hum-drum-ness that can infect my daily life.  Right now, my mini succulents and cactus, my daily Tazo vanilla rooibos tea (courtesy of Starbucks), and my Cream of Wheat breakfasts are brightening my work days.  
Recognizing the power of little things reminds me of one of my all time favorite quotes from Stranger than Fiction
As Harold took a bite of Bavarian sugar cookie, he finally felt as if everything
was going to be ok. Sometimes, when we lose ourselves in fear and despair, in
routine and constancy, in hopelessness and tragedy, we can thank God for
Bavarian sugar cookies. And, fortunately, when there aren't any cookies, we can
still find reassurance in a familiar hand on our skin, or a kind and loving
gesture, or subtle encouragement, or a loving embrace, or an offer of comfort,
not to mention hospital gurneys and nose plugs, an uneaten Danish, soft-spoken
secrets, and Fender Stratocasters, and maybe the occasional piece of fiction.
And we must remember that all these things, the nuances, the anomalies, the
subtleties, which we assume only accessorize our days, are effective for a much
larger and nobler cause. They are here to save our lives. I know the idea seems
strange, but I also know that it just so happens to be true. And, so it was, a
wristwatch saved Harold Crick.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

we interrupt your regularly scheduled post

For a SNOW DAY!  I woke up to a big blanket of snow -- all over my car and our parking lot.  As I complained to Paul about having to dig out the car, he suggested checking to make sure work wasn't cancelled.  THANK YOU PAUL!  I opened the best email of all time: work closed due to snow!!  

I am enjoying my snow day.  Started with a lovely breakfast of pancakes and eggs.  Then my friend Mary came over for a little snow man and cookie making.  Fun and yum.  Pedro and Bella are enjoying their snow day too.  Now it's time for a nap and some movie watching.  Thank goodness for snow. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

in the midst of winter

I received this card from a Chicago friend who sends out "Cope with Hope" cards seasonally.  I think her photographs and cards are such a simple, thoughtful little gift.  This one was timed perfectly.  

I've learned that an increase in my happiness is usually achieved by improving my attitude.  I've been longing for spring and having a difficult time living in the present - living here in February with the cold, the wind, the cloudy days, and the snow.  When reading this Cope with Hope card, I realized mentioning over and over again how much I detest February and want spring to come may not be the best way to foster my happiness.  In my defense February has never been a kind month to me and my family, and it's usually around this time of the winter that I become completely impatient for spring.    

But for the sake of my and everyone around me's happiness, I will try to foster my internal summer and to be attentive to the joy and happiness of the present moment - even if the present moment happens to be February.  Honestly, I feel a little better already identifying the issue and writing this post.  I know winter won't last forever, so I will do my best to appreciate the last bits of snow before the arrival of warm weather and sunshine. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

make me smile monday

This video is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.  The first five times I watched it, it also made me cry (tears of joy, not sadness).  Hope you enjoy the "world's first live lip-dub proposal." 

Friday, February 22, 2013


TULIPS!  One of the first signs of spring - one of my favorites actually.  I love how colorful and hopeful they are.  They never fail to brighten my mood.  Hope you are having an excellent Friday and have a wonderful weekend!!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

today i'm thankful for

Cute new shows that remind me of spring ... watching Pedro try to skate on ice covered sidewalks ... support from old friends ... writing letters ... laughing so hard my stomach hurts ... getting to spend time with my family ... hearing birds chirping on my morning walk ... working with awesomely passionate advocates ... ginger ale and cream of wheat ... Southwest Airlines free flights ... leaving work early ... health insurnace ... fancy nail polish ... tea and dessert dates ... picking up books from the library ... having lots of places that feel like home ... staying in touch with old coworkers ... getting to watch adorable babies ... succulents ...feeling motivated to work ... long weekends ... painting ... feeling inspired to create 

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

the great gatsby

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year receds before us.  It eluded us then, but that's no matter -- to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther...And one fine morning----

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

In anticipation of the new movie coming out, I recently reread F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsy.  I last read the book in high school and honestly didn't think much of it at the time.  Having low expectations going into it, I was blown away by it this time around.  There was so much that I missed when reading this as a sixteen year old.  There's a lot of subtelties and nuances that could be missed if you were just speeding through for a homework assignment. 

For those of you who don't remember or somehow missed this in high school, The Great Gatsy tells the story of Mr. Jay Gatsby, a self made man living an extravagant lifestyle in New York in the 1920s.  The reader comes to realize that Gatsby's elaborate parties, his huge Long Island massion, his fancy clothes - all are part of Gatsby's ideal vision for himself, a vision that can only be completed by recapturing his long lost love Daisy Buchanan.    

I loved this story, loved the dialogue, loved the way the characters are revealed and developed, loved the language.  Though the book is relatively short, I realized that the story is written so that you're forced to take your time with it - the same way that speed bumps help you to slow down in a park and enjoy the scenery.  I recommend giving this book a first, second, or even third chance, old sport. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

missouri botanical garden: orchids

This weekend Paul and I made a very quick trip to St. Louis to visit with family and check out the orchid show at the Missouri Botanical Garden.  My trip to the garden started with a lunch adventure with my mom, sister, and two little cousins.  My little girl cousins are 3 and 6 and are at the age when every other thing out of their mouths is hilarious.  I laughed so much with them that my eyes watered and my stomach hurt.  It was awesome.  I also bought them some cute little plates for a Valentine's day present, and they liked them so much they ate their pizza dinner on them later that night!  Coolest cousin status confirmed!  

I went a little picture happy at the orchid show and wanted to share some of my favorite shots.  Being around this many pretty things (combined with all the laughing) put me in such a great mood and had me feeling so refreshed.  Which is the ultimate cure for mid-February blues.  If you're in the St. Louis area, I highly recommend checking out the show!

Monday, February 18, 2013

make me smile monday

One of my favorite songs and one of the most adorable actors of our generation.  I love the feeling that everything is right with the world - the feeling that if you had a soundtrack to your life Halls and Oats would be prominantly featured.  The feeling usually coincides with the beginning of spring or a beautiful sunny day.  Since today is neither, I'll just settle for channeling Joseph's energy. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

our new bathroom

Say hello to our new bathroom.  "Hello new bathroom!"  I love it.  Its like showering in a hotel bathroom every day. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

happy valentine's day!

I am shamelessly in love with this holiday.  A whole day dedicated to telling people you love and care about them?  Sounds good to me!  It might be commercial, but what holiday isn't nowadays?  I think it's all what you make it.  When I was in high school without a boyfriend (the ultimate Valentine's Day hating combination), I decided I would embrace the holiday as a day to tell all the people besides my non-existent boyfriend how much I love them.  This was before the invention of Galentine's Day, but I still feel that way about Valentine's Day.  

Valentine's Day clebrations can be as diverse and complicated as the different ways we experience love.  I have one coworker who is spending Valentine's Day with her uncle who lost his wife in a tragic accident a few years ago.  Another coworker had a cake today to celebrate the finalizing of her divorce proceedings - which had been going on for two years.  She shared this morning how blessed she is to have such wonderful people in her life who helped her get through all the difficulties of losing her husband.   Loves comes in all shapes and sizes.  

In honor of this wonderful holiday, here's a little present from me to you: a love mix!  Hope you enjoy and hope you have a love filled day!

Valentine's Day playlist
1. Simple SongThe Shins, love's such a delicate thing that we do, with nothing to prove2. Kiss to Build a Dream OnLouis Armstrongsweetheart, I ask no more than this
3. You Belong to MeCarla Brunisee the market place in old Algiers, send me photographs and souveniers 
4. Far AwayIngrid MichaelsonI will bear three girls all with strawberry curls, little Ella and Nelly and Faye
5. This Must Be the PlaceTalking Headshome is where I want to be, but I guess I'm already there
6. I Can't Make You Love MeBon Iver, you can't make your heart feel something it won't
7. FidelityRegina Spektorby protecting my heart truly I got lost in the sounds I hear in my mind
8. Gray or BlueJaymay, I'm remembering you singing and bringing you back to life
9. Business TimeFlight of the Conchords, but Wednesday we make sweet weekly love10. TaxiHarry Chapin, through the too many miles and the too little smiles, I still remember you
11. Reasons to Love YouMeiko, take my hand and let's dance
12. Total Eclipse of the HeartBonnie Tyler, every now and then I get a little bit restless, and I dreamof something wild
13. Sea of LoveCat Power, I wanna tell you how much I love you
14. Our HouseCrosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, you put the flowers in the vase that you bought today15. Let's Stay TogetherAl Green whether times are good or bad or happy or sad

If you were trying to find music to help you ignore Valentine's Day, check out this little treat from All Songs Considered.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

happy ash wednesday

Growing up, I was encouraged to do something extra for Lent rather than give something up.  I've continued this tradition and decided to write a handwritten note/letter/card every day for the forty days of Lent.  I am super excited about this and even made myself a little chart to keep track of my letters.  Not only will I be working on my commitment skills, I'll also be doing something nice for someone else every day.  

I'm a firm believer that Lent, the forty days between Ash Wednesday and Easter, should not be a time of suffering, pain, and sadness.  Regular life can already have enough challenges (especially in the dreariness of winter) without feeling like you need to suffer to be closer to God.  I see God in my relationships with others, so I will work on strengthening those.  Changing my approach to Lent completely changes my feelings about Ash Wednesday from a slight dread to a slight happiness (it is still Ash Wednesday after all). 

If you recognize Lent, what do you do for the forty days?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

a winter weekend and fat monday

We had a beautiful snow storm at the end of last week that gave everything a peaceful winter glow.  It's since turned into a gray semi-gloss winter slush, but the picture above reminds me that the slush was worth it for these pictaresque sights.  It was also worth it for the snow driving adventure I had.  Snow driving is kind of like bumper car driving - hopefully without the bumps - you're only half in control of your car, and you're not exactly sure how your car is going to respond to your direction.  As long as you take it slow and avoid other cars as much as possible, it's a ton of fun.  Take my word for it.  

My winter weekend also included the second roller derby bout of the season.  Attending events like this is part of my winter survival strategy - survival is contingent on staying active and getting out of house as often as possible.  The Brewcity Bruisers' second match was just as entertaining as the first.  The Crazy Eights crushed Maiden Milwaukee and the Shevil Knevils enjoyed their second win of the season beating the Rushin' Rollettes.   (Don't you love those team names?)

This "mascot" attends every match.  Don't ask me why.  It's roller derby.  That's explanation enough.

My wintery weekend transitioned into a wintery week with the celebration of Fat Monday (trust me, it's a thing).  A new great restaurant called Wolf Peach recently opened in our neighborhood, taking over an old great restaurant at the same location.  Wolf Peach's food is absolutely delicious and is served semi-tapas-semi-family style.  Last night I indulged in bottomless Mussel Monday and lost count after I had eaten about thirty museels.  My self restraint only went into effect when I successfully managed to say no to dessert (but only because my friend asked for the check before I could ask for the dessert menu - it was Fat Monday after all).  When you all come visit me in Milwaukee, I promise to take you for a bite at Wolf Peach.  Or at least give you directions to Wolf Peach.  I definitely promise you that.  

Did you have a good wintery weekend?

Happy Fat Tuesday!  Laissez les bons temps rouler! 

Monday, February 11, 2013

make me smile monday

Starting my day with a cup of warm tea and honey always makes me smile.  Especially when the tea bag comes with inspirational sayings like "Appreciate yourself and honor your soul."  Happy Monday!  Hope you find something to smile about this morning.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

fun facts from fun friends

I consider myself very lucky when it comes to friends - especially friends who share my quirky sense of humor.  One of my college roommates sent me this little rubber ducky card that totally made my day.  Only my friend Kelly would send me a card full of fun facts about penguins and Rubber Duckies.  Facts I can now share with you!

Did you know...
- the little blue penguin is the smallest penguin at 40cms and 1 kg? 
- Rubber Duckie was first mentioned in a Sesame Street book in 1971, making Ernie's beloved friend 42 years old? 
- the Galapagos Penguin is the only penguin to live north of the equator? 
- that penguins spend half their time on land and the other half in water?
- the world's largest Rubber Duckie stands 40ft tall?!

Hope you enjoyed learning more about penguins and Rubber Duckies!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

clam chowder recipe

Nothing comforts me more on a cold winter night than a warm, tasty dinner.  Last night for dinner I wrestled up a pot of delicious clam chowder and was so surprised by how easy it was to wrestle up!  From start to finish, the chowder took less than thirty minutes and tasted ABSOLUTELY delicious.  Thanks America's Test Kitchen!!  This recipe is a very easy, semi-creamy, semi-vegetarian recipe.  The original America's Test Kitchen recipe used bacon, but it's not available unless you sign up for their site, so looks like you'll be going semi-vegetarian this time meat lovers.    

*You will be using the clam juice in the clam cans before you add the clams in this recipe.  Do not waste the clam juice!

Saute 1 large onion in 2 tablespoons canola oil in large pot.  Stir occasionally until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add 2 tablespoons flour and stir until lightly colored, about 1 minute.  Gradually drain clam broth from cans of clams.   Add 3 medium boiling potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds scrubbed and cut into 1/2 in diced pieces).  Add 1 large bay leaf and 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme.  Add 1 can of vegetable broth.  Boil for about ten minutes or until potatoes are cooked through.  Add 4 cans clams1 can evaporated milk, 3 teaspoons dried parsley leaves, and salt and ground pepper (if necessary); bring to simmer.  Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaf, and serve immediately.  Serve with a delicious sourdough bread.  Adapted from America's Test Kitchen. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

my super bowl scarf

Being in hibernation mode inspires me to make the most of my sedendary, indoor activities.  This combined with my increased time off has led me to pick up a few creative hobbies I'd been neglecting.  After I finished this simple song lyric painting, I pulled out my knitting materials.  The yarn you see above had been taking up room in my knitting basket since I finished JVC...five years ago.  Yikes.  Fortunately, sitting in front of the TV for several hours Sunday night watching men in tight pants, a powerful lady in a tight outfit, and up-tight folks on Dowton Abbey gave me enough time to finally finish my longest in-progress project.  And now I have a new fancy scarf to keep me warm!  Huzzah for fancy practical projects! 

Do you like to knit?  I learned from my mom many years ago but my skill level is nowhere near hers.  If this cold weather has you inspired to learn to knit, I recommend this simple "how-to" from Design Sponge. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

make me smile monday

For your viewing pleasure on this cold, snowy Monday morning: "Paperman."  A new full animated short film from Disney.  I thought it was pretty adorable.