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Thursday, August 28, 2014

the cakery

During our recent trip to Portland, I stopped by a special bakery.  When Paul used to live in Portland, I would grab breakfast or a treat at Baker & Spice during my visits.  I was pleasantly shocked to find out that this bakery is responsible for The Cakery *and* a beautiful book called Vintage Cakes.  The Cakery makes the most beautiful cakes and bakery goods and has the coolest baking accessories and books for sale.  

Vintage Cakes!  Don't worry, I've rechecked it out from the library so I can try to make my own layered cake.  Just have to decide what the special occasion will be...

An amateur baker's dream - all those amazing books!  And that mixer!  And the colors!  Ah!  

Of course my eye was attracted by these macaron books.  Can you blame me? 

Look what else I found: People's Pops.  The Cakery has great taste.  

I loved the Cakery so much I visited twice during our four day trip to Portland.  I sampled macarons and one of the best chocolate chip cookies I've ever had.  

Paul and I also picked out a special lemon cake for our little celebration of his dad's birthday.  The taste was so good it made me really want to try out one of the cake recipes from  Vintage Cakes

One of the cake makers in action.  It reminded me of watching the wedding cake makers do their magic at the cake shop I worked at in high school.  Maybe with more practice I can be a tiny bit as talented as they are some day.  Anybody want to volunteer to eat my practice cakes?

Until then I'll keep dreaming...and reading Vintage Cakes.  Check back next week for some peeks inside the book!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

things i don't do

If you're a regular reader here, you know that I love writing goal lists.  I've shared a lot of goals over the past two years.  Writing down goals and envisioning new ways to grow and develop has been really healthy for me. 

Conversely though, if I focus too much on what I need to do or "should" do, I can feel overwhelmed.  So today, inspired by Robin Long and the #mindbodymat challenge, I'm sharing a list of things I don't do. 

Here's how Robin explains the "things I don't do" list:

The concept...has become a powerful tool in reminding myself of which things matter and which things don’t. Now that we have glimpses into other people’s lives through social media it can be really easy to compare and think that we need to do all the things that everyone else is doing.  But the good news is, we don’t have to. We get to pick and choose how we spend our time (for the most part). 

It’s a gift to be inspired. But every so often I have to come back to who I am and remind myself of  the things I do and the things I don’t do.  

I'm going to add to that description that my "things I don't do" list is not the same as a "things I should be doing" list.  By putting these things on my list, I'm releasing myself of responsibility for them.  This list is about letting go of things so that I have time for others.  
  • I don't ride my bike regularly.  I like to ride it occasionally, but I don't use it to commute.  
  • I don't make fancy meals.  About once a month I'll make a fancier dessert or food thing that requires a few extra steps.  But I keep my cooking extremely simple.
  • I don't DIY.  Although I admire people who do, I usually prefer to BIM (buy it myself).
  • I don't organize my photos.  They all sit on my computer in the order I uploaded them. 
  • I don't sew or make my own clothes. 
  • I don't return my library books on time. 
  • I don't keep up with painting my nails. 
  • I don't eat healthy all the time.  I like desserts, and I don't see that ever changing.
  • I don't achieve all my goals.  And that is the biggest release I could give myself.
That was one of the harder lists I've made.  I kept wanting to put things on that I don't do but want to do, which would have defeated the whole purpose of the list!  This is something I think I'll need to keep coming back to and reminding myself of when I'm "shoulding" myself too much. 

What would go on your "I don't" list? 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

my health vision

"So often we get stuck in a rut and just keep doing the same things day in and day out regardless of whether or not those things really line up with kind of woman we want to become. We focus on our daily tasks, we focus on our kids, we focus on work…we focus on everything but the future we are creating."
I've been participating in the Mind, Body, Mat challenge from The Balanced Life the past week - the short Pilates workouts and the daily self care challenges.  Today's challenge is to write a health vision of where I want to see myself in five years.  The instructions: "Take 10 minutes to write a health vision for your future.  Create a detailed picture of what kind of woman you want to be in 5 years.  Write in the present tense and dream big!" I'm sharing my health vision here for accountability.  I loved writing it, and I hope I can really live up to my vision for myself! 
Five years from now...
I feel whole and healthy.  The culmination of little efforts and changes over the past five years have resulted in a noticeable change in my overall health.  I was already a relatively healthy person, but I still felt out of shape, ate plenty of processed foods, felt anxious, and generally focused on avoiding sickness instead of building health. 
I started by doing enjoyable exercise, and finding ways to move my body everyday.  Continuing with roller derby taught me to love my body and to build strong muscles by shifting my focus to what those strong muscles would help me do.  Instead of exercising because I "had to," I exercised so that I could become a better skater with better skills.  Balancing out my roller derby workouts with Pilates, stretching, walking, and yoga helped me cross train and heal my body. 
As I exercised more, my body felt better - I stood up straighter, I could enjoy more activities, I had more energy.  And I just wanted more of those feelings.  So I started eating better and paying more attention to what I was putting into my body.  I cut out a lot of processed foods, made more of my own meals from whole foods, and saw foods as having healing potential for my body.  I even learned more about the medicinal qualities of certain foods and herbs and used them to help my body heal naturally.  I've gradually began craving food that is good for me instead of what I used to crave -- sugar, desserts, fats, and any other fatty, greasy foods.
Exercising and eating for health lead naturally to wanting to feel better emotionally and spiritually.  I had already learned a lot about self-care, and with this foundation I became happier and more centered.  My happiness came from feeling calmer and less anxious.  I took breaks from technology, lived more simply, focused on life giving relationships, and prioritized prayer and meditation.  I am so glad that I made the daily effort to get myself to where I am now instead of always thinking I would make time for it "someday."  Because now that someday is today, and I am happy with who I am. 
If you're feeling inspired, let me know what would be in your health vision!!  And take a look at The Balanced Life -- it's my favorite health and fitness website!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

the porch garden

My favorite oasis this summer has been our little porch garden.  I had big dreams for it, and I'm happy to say my little porch garden has lived up to a bit of my dreams.  

Over the past month I was so busy that the only time I spent on the porch was pure relaxation.  Which was absolutely awesome.  When things slowed down last week, I realized that the garden could use a little TLC.  I pulled a few weeds, replanted a few things, and snapped a few shots. 

The whole process felt so rejuvenating.  Like a reawakened hobby.  And I think the plants appreciated it too.  

Things have been growing slowly this summer.  The weather has been cool, and my pots don't get as much sunlight as I'd like.  So the basil is tiny and the tomatoes are few, but just the process of growing has been relaxing and rejuvenating.  And that's exactly what porch gardens are for right? 

Monday, August 18, 2014

today i'm thankful for

cribbage dates with my love
a porch garden update
peace found while gardening
a donut from Cranky Al's
watching the pups play with their new toys
the first caprese salad of the summer
brioche bread and a red velvet macaron from Rocket Baby
meeting new year-long volunteers in Milwaukee
my first Irish fest!
having a whole weekend to hang out with my hubby and catch up on "me time"

Friday, August 15, 2014

four simple goals: july (recap)

It feels like I blinked and suddenly July was over, and I was half way into August.  Thanks to switching from working a full time to now working two part time jobs, I completely missed sharing my four simple July goals update.  I didn't even remember to set four simple goals for August.  But don't worry, I'll be getting back on the wagon and setting my goals for September. 

I felt so proud of the goals I accomplished in July that I still wanted to share them -- even though July is a few weeks past. 

1. I gave my best at roller derby, and I passed my 101 level WFTDA skills test!  This was a huge accomplishment for me because I really had to push myself to skate faster and with greater skill than I had done before.  Since I passed the test, I can now skate with the more advanced skaters in the rec league, learn how to make contact, and learn more about how to actually play derby.  Up until now, I was developing my basic skating skills.  For safety reasons, the league makes sure you can stay on your skates before adding hitting and blocking - which makes perfect sense to me! 

2. If you're a returning reader, you've probably noticed that my blog has a new look.  I put a lot of work into switching my blog platform from Weebly to Blogger and to update the overall design of my blog.  I'm really, really happy with how it looks, and I feel like it reflects my style much better than my last blog design.  I feel like I can grow with this design and keep adding fun elements to continue strengthening the quality of Finding Joy.  I hope you enjoy the new look - feel free to let me know what you think of it!

3. Total fail: did not send any photos to friends.  Look for this goal to end up on future goal lists.

4. I was also really proud of how I took time for myself in the midst of a very busy and very stressful month.  There's a line in one of my favorite Youtube meditation videos that says "the world will not come to an end because you are taking time for yourself."  This thought has stayed with me and has shifted the way I think about productivity.  Giving 100% of my time to a task doesn't actually help me finish faster or work better.  In fact, I become tired more quickly and burn out. 

This month I felt inspired to take mini breaks in the middle of tasks to calm down and relax.  The importance of self care was reaffirmed for me: I emerged from a crazy time more centered and calm than if I had pushed myself and not paid attention to my needs.  Nothing fell apart, nothing failed - I was completely successful!  Yay for taking time for self care!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

holy hill

Last weekend, Paul and I took his dad to Holy Hill, the tallest point in Southeastern Wisconsin.  We thought we would knock two things off the site seeing list and hike a bit of the Ice Age Trail too.  But, the Ice Age trailhead wasn't marked very well, and we took the stations of the cross path up to the top of Holy Hill instead.  It was still pretty cool, but it means we'll have to make another trip for me to cross an Ice Age hike off my goal list.  Above you can see one of the stone path markers on the way up the hill.   

The woods were really beautiful.  I always love when religious sites are integrated into really beautiful parts of nature. 

At the top of Holy Hill is the National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians.  It's a Catholic shrine dedicated to Mary.  The church had a gorgeous style, some breath taking mosaics, cool windows, and a great view to boot! 

We continued our hike all the way up one of the basilica's towers -- all 178 steps!  I have to say it was a little easier than climbing up the Arc de Triomphe or to the second level of the Eiffel Tower.


The view from the top.  We made it!

The view of the other tower.  Paul enjoyed pointing out that this tower only had a ladder going up inside - no stairs.  I decided I was just fine enjoying the stairs in our tower - no several story ladder for this girl.


This is a view of some of the artwork inside the shrine.  I really liked the different colored marble and the lighting highlighting some of the mosaics. 

I'd love to paint a ceiling like this some day.  This reminded me of one of the church ceilings we saw in Paris last summer.  Probably why I liked this one so much. 

Thanks for taking a lot at my pictures of Holy Hill.  If you're ever in the Milwaukee area in the fall, I recommend taking a drive out to Holy Hill to get a view of all the beautiful trees changing colors.  Actually, that'll be happening here before I know it.  I am not ready for that!  Summer, please stay forever!  Or at least just a few more months. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

today i'm thankful for

the view from the top of Holy Hill

a weekend without any work

spending time with my husband and father in law

surviving my first three hour roller derby practice

actually enjoying walking the dogs around the neighborhood

afternoon naps

watching the beagle boys hanging out with their Grandpa

Irish, Mexican, Italian, and Fish Fry - all in one weekend

having time to curl up with a good book

homemade vanilla ice cream
picking the first cherry tomatoes

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

today i'm thankful for: summer edition

not ever needing my winter coat
taking my time outside because the weather is so beautiful
harvesting vegetables from the garden
porch sitting
long walks with the pups
so much light and sunshine
shorts, tank tops, and flip flops
sleeping with the windows open
green leaves and flowers everywhere you look
being able to park anywhere because there's no snow/ice mounds blocking the street
concerts in the park
csa boxes and so much fresh produce
farmers' markets
riding my bike
tan lines
the feeling of warm sunshine on my face
what else do you feel thankful about in summer?

Friday, August 1, 2014

this week in the garden

Last weekend some of my fellow gardeners and I spent a Saturday cleaning up the community garden.  We weeded the herb circle, took care of the strawberry plants, and attacked the thistle.  We're hoping that chopping off the tops of the thistle will keep them from going to seed and propagating even more than they have done over the past couple of years.

Things in the garden are just gorgeous right now.  I'm especially in love with the herb circle - the borage, chamomile, and dill complement each other so well and the colors all pop. 

The thyme has also gone to flower recently.  I love the delicate purple flowers. 

We've had such a cool summer that the tomatoes are growing pretty slowly.  Luckily the plant has some flowers, so hopefully that means I'll have some tomatoes to eat in the not too distant future.

I am so happy with how my nasturtiums are looking!  Due to last year's success growing them, I picked a few additional varieties to grow, and they are all so colorful!  The ones below remind me of a creamsicle. 

The other big garden success story this season is my kale. After my lettuce finished, my kale was free to grow to its heart's content.  And grow it has.  It tastes delicious, and since my CSA has less kale than usual this season, I'm really glad I decided to grow it.  I have been officially converted to a kale lover. 

And last but not least, our three educational plots are all growing really well.  We have a bean plot, a three sisters' plot (corn, beans, and squash), and a potato plot.  You can see our corn above.  It's a couple feet taller than me at this point!  Can't wait to taste it!