Saturday, December 31, 2016

My December

December flew by this year and I never got around to jotting down a few of my favorite memories.  So before the year comes to an end, let's talk about December.  A month in review.

At the end of November, a few days before Thanksgiving, I popped down to the garden for the final visit of the year.  I collected what was still growing to make my Thanksgiving dinner: Swiss Chard, kale, chives, scallions, one little onion, celery, sage, and time.  It was the perfect final garden harvest of the season!




My little garden is all tucked in for winter.  I never made it back to pull out the plants I mentioned harvesting above so they will be stumps to deal with in May.  But that's not a big deal at all.  Every other bit is neatly mulched over for winter, winter peas are planted, and four varieties of garlic are planted.  I can't wait to see her again in spring 2017!




I met a sweet friend for drinks at a very fun bar in town.  We're both newly on the bourbon bandwagon and had the best time trying some amazing beverages!  Hamilton is practically PH.D in bourbon, whiskey and rye and has been the best personal resource on the subject.  If you're a fan too, what's your favorite?  




I went to a screening of Hamilton's Albany with our amazing local PBS station, WMHT.  It was fantastic and if you can find it online, you should absolutely watch it.  The screening was at the Albany Museum of History and Art, where District and I once again decorated a Christmas tree.  So after the viewing, I popped in to get a photo of myself awkwardly standing in front of the tree.  Classic!

I am in love with this outfit.  For several years now I've been a big fan of white jeans in winter.  They're on trend, yes, but they also just look lovely.  I was pleased as punch with my giant Mermaid pearls, oatmeal sweater, white jeans, and pink ballet flats.  




I was tickled when my dad agreed to come with me to the screening.  We actually spent a good amount of time together in November and December and it was nice to have those memories.  

He's clearly thrilled that I once again forced him to take a selfie with me.  I don't care...just happy to have the snapshot for posterity.




I'm still trying to figure out if I fit in over on YouTube or not.  Writing is more my thing.  But it's fun to be creative and learn new mediums over there too.  I never even promoted this video about things that are NOT better than sex.  {I told you I was growing up my blog!}



I went to an Elf party.  It sounds more interesting than it is.  It was a party for families...and KK...and an elf came to talk to the kids and report back to Santa.  It was so cute and clever.  But as always, I did not fit in.  But I mean, I'm the only person I know without a family.  So sometimes I just have to take deep breaths, put on some antlers, and do my best to talk about kids and schools and family plans.  In the end, I had a great time.  The antlers only lasted a few hours though...they hurt my head.




Another friend and I spent an entire day making 20 dozen pans of cinnamon rolls.  I only took one because I just do not need more temptation in my home.  The rest were for her holiday and to gift to teachers and such.  I just have fun helping her for one crazy, exhausting day before Christmas.  I came home that night to shower, eat, and fall asleep before 9.  




Thankfully, the very next day was one of those dreary, snowy days when I had zero plans.  I was basically in my pajamas all day and it was everything lovely and relaxing!




Christmas Eve was spent with District and half of Albany at their annual Christmas Eve party.  It was a lot of fun to see everyone and of course, see my baby bestie H before Santa spoiled him rotten.  Check out those extra special Christmas pajamas he insisted on picking out himself and wearing.  A random shirt and summer shorts.  His momma knows when to stop picking battles.  He'll probably want to wear the monogrammed Christmas pj's in June.




Christmas morning was spent with just me and my daddy.  It was so sad without my sweet Sadie there too.  But I baked up those cinnamon rolls, real bacon {I rarely make bacon and when I do it's usually turkey bacon so I refer to the good stuff as "real bacon" every time I make it now.}, berries, and coffee. Simple, but my favorites.  Then we headed out to the farm to see the whole family in the afternoon.

I was so nervous and didn't sleep much the week leading up to it.  The stress of imagining the worst from family and being heartbroken still over Sadie had me so on edge.  As is often the case, it all turned out fine.  Everyone behaved, gifts were given, food was eaten, laughs were had, and we all survived another year.




My contribution to the Christmas dinner was this giant Blue Hubbard squash that I stuffed with a rice mixture.  {For my own memory, the mixture included: wild rice, pork sausage, caramelized onions, apples, and dried cranberries.}  I was told by three people that it was a bad idea and that no one would eat it because most people don't like squash.  I was so over Christmas though by the time it rolled around that I was completely out of hoots to give on this one.  I was so set on making this dish and just didn't want to discuss it.  

I'm sorry I don't have a photo of the completely masterpiece for you to fawn over but I forgot to take one.  It looked so amazing and tasted even better.  Everyone who ate it, loved it, and and very little was left at the end of the night.  Two cousins and one aunt split the leftovers between them because they loved it so much.  

And did I mention that I grew this bad boy?  Homegrown from seed!




I consider the whole dumb ordeal a win on my part.  And with that, Christmas was over.




So how was your holiday season?  Did you do anything fun or different this year?  Did you survive family time?  And seriously...if you're a bourbon fan...give me your tips...I'd love to know what I should order next when out for drinks with friends!

XOKK

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Homemade Marshmallows Three Ways

Years ago when I first got my beloved pink Kitchenaid Mixer, I made marshmallows for the first time on a lark.  They were a huge hit, I think more for the novelty factory than anything else.  But years later, they are still my thing at Christmastime. Some people make and gift cookies or fudge.  I make and gift marshmallows to all the tiny humans in my life.

Over the years I've tried several recipes, but the one I go back to consistently is Alton Brown's.  It works every time.  If you've never tried making your own marshmallows, this is the best recipe to use.  As long as you follow the instructions, have a stand mixer, and a candy thermometer {can be purchased for $5 at any local grocery store if you need one or if yours breaks...not that I know that first hand or anything...just you know...hypothetically of course}, it's very easy and can be done with kids.

HOMEMADE MARSHMALLOWS

Ingredients:
* 3 packages unflavored gelatin
* 1 cup ice cold water, divided
* 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
* 1 cup light corn syrup
* 1/4 tsp kosher salt
* 1 tsp vanilla {or other flavor} extract
* 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
* 1/4 cup cornstarch
* Nonstick spray

Directions;
* Place gelatin into the bowl of your stand mixer and add 1/2 cup of water.  Set whisk attachment next to mixer so it's easy to put on immediately when needed.  

* In a small saucepan, combine the remaining water, granulated sugar, corn syrup, and salt.  Place on medium heat, cover, and allow to cook for three to four minutes.  Uncover, clip on candy thermometer to the side of the pan, making sure the bottom of the thermometer isn't touching the bottom of the pan.  Cook until mixture is exactly 240 degrees.  This can take anywhere from seven to 10 minutes.  But be sure to stand close and check often to be sure you don't go past 240!

* Once mixture reached 240 degrees F, immediately remove from heat, pour mixture over bloomed gelatin in stand mixer bowl, add whisk attachment, and turn on low.  Move briskly but very carefully as you do not want 240 degree boiling sugar to get on you!  Turn the speed of the mixer up to high and continue to whip until the mixture becomes thick, white, and fluffy.  It will feel lukewarm on the side of the bowl and will take about 12-15 minutes.  

* Add vanilla extract {or other flavor of extract of your choosing} about one minute before the mixture is finished.

* While mixture is mixing, prepare your pan as follows.  In a small bowl, combine confectioners' sugar and cornstarch.  Very lightly spray bottom and sides of a pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Add a few tablespoons of the sugar/cornstarch mixture to pan, move it around until completely coated.  

* When marshmallow mixture is finished mixing, pour into prepared pan with spatula.  Allow marshmallow pan to sit uncovered for at least four hours, preferably over night.  Dust flat surface {I do this in a large sheet pan to attempt to keep the sugar dust contained} with thick layer of remaining sugar/cornstarch mixture.  Turn marshmallows out into this surface.  Using a large knife or a pizza cutter, cut into squares or desired shapes.  A very light coating of nonstick spray often helps the pizza wheel to move easier through the candy.  Toss marshmallows in a generous coating of the sugar/cornstarch mixture so that all outer surfaces of each marshmallow are no longer sticky to the touch.




And that's it!  Really very simple and doesn't take much time at all.  The time in the mixer is almost entirely hands off time.




This year I packaged the marshmallows up in little gift bags, as well as cute little takeout style boxes, lined with parchment paper.




I made three flavors this year: strawberry, pumpkin spice, and vanilla bean.  




While they were all pretty, I have to admit I didn't really care much for the pumpkin spice flavor.  So I kind of considered that one a bust.  Vanilla is consistently my favorite but in the past I have made chocolate, almond, coconut, lemon, cinnamon {probably my second favorite after vanilla bean}, rum, and cherry.  




As a trio though, they did all look so lovely and cheerful together!




What's your signature holiday gift from the kitchen?  Have you ever made marshmallows?  And what flavors do you think I should add into the mix next year?







Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Hamilton Is My Election Silver Lining

This morning's post was heavier than I intended.  Which is what happens when I just write and let it flow, instead of planning posts like a good blogger.  I'm not complaining...just explaining.  That said, let me take a moment to share one of my sweetest stories from 2016.  I want this memory in the books to cherish forever.

This summer I reconnected with a college chummy, Hamilton, after losing touch for the better part of a million years.  Give or take.  But by reconnected, I simply mean we started following each other on Instagram.  That was it.  An occasional like of photos was the extent of our reconnection.  

Then the election happened.  And the Cheeto won.  And I cried.  A lot.  I knew that Hamilton was just as overwhelmingly upset, so I reached out and started a conversation.  It was small at first.  But a few days later, it was clear, I had found a silver lining.  

I keep saying we reconnected, but that's inaccurate.  While we were friends in college, it was nothing like the personal friendship we have formed over the last few months.  It's more like the Universe was saving this friendship for the right time.  When we would both be in a very different place and mindset and would be able to appreciate each other more.  And perhaps the Universe knew all along that this is exactly when we would each need a new old friend to talk to daily.

I found myself saying recently that I wished Hamilton had been in my life years earlier.  But I later realized that there's a purpose to the timing.  And it all just makes my heart smile!




From sisterhood to train rides and giggling over every last detail that happens in my head, Hamilton is an absolute peach and my very own election silver lining.

Cheers to bourbon and big hugs in 2017!

XOKK




Not Wishing Away 2016

As a whole unit, 2016 was hands down my very worst personal year.  I lost my baby, I lost love, I lost trust, I lost direction, I lost faith in humanity, and I lost myself in the mix.

But I refuse to wish away this year.  Or any year.  As much as I pretend I am aching for a change at the stroke of midnight on January first, I am in tears at the thought of leaving this year behind.

My Sadie was alive for five months in 2016.  I had five precious months and 11 beautiful days with her, and it breaks my heart to see distance grow between our last cuddle and conversation.  I fell into a full on panic attack the other day when I started thinking about my birthday in February and her birthday in April of this coming year, without her here in our cozy little home together.  It terrifies me.  I honestly have no idea how I am going to get through those days.

For every minute I felt alone in my lifetime, my Sadie made them better.  She knew all my secrets and loved me anyway.  

I also went through some huge personal breakthroughs.  And even though many of them ended in tears, I've worked hard to find silver linings and lessons along the way.  

But lean in because I am about to tell you the most honest statement of the year...

I don't feel strong enough to leave 2016 behind.

It's true.  I am working on getting stronger.  I am working on everything.  But I'm scared.  Scared about distance, scared about failure, scared about success, scared about the unknown, scared about the inevitable, scared about not being able to figure anything out, scared about moving backwards instead of forwards, and incredibly scared about the thought of more loss next year.

I've let fear rule my little life, though, for far too long.  In part, I've discovered, because I start with a big picture.  The completed project or idea.  And then the daunting fear of not knowing how to get from zero to 100 will paralyze me.  

So one of my goals for this new year is to just focus on the next step.  Just the very next step.  Find my way forward a single step.  The way a child works on a math lesson.  I need to take my personal bubble back under control.  New management.  And we're starting with the basics.  I am only allowed to focus on one next step at a time.

2016 was the year the house came crumbling down around me.  2017 is going to be the year I build it back up, brick by brick, one at a time.  Cracks will remain.  They are always going to be there, in the corners, like battle wounds from days when my foundation came apart.  But the house will be stronger and beautiful in a new way.




I'm going to get there.  And I'm going to laugh and smile along the way.  Because even when life is gloomy, life is still pretty damn funny too.  And next year, I am just not going to lose sight of the humor as much as I did this year.  For more than 20 years, my personal mantra has been, "You have to laugh at yourself, you'd cry your eyes out if you didn't."  {all the bonus points if you can tell me where that's from!}  Fewer tears and more laughter are on my agenda next year!

That said, I'm just going to be here in my little corner of the North Pole savoring what's left of 2016.  The lows might have been low but I'd never trade them in for the highs with those I love so dearly.

XOKK






Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Monday Is A Bad Employee

Oh Tuesday, you have no idea how excited I am to see you right now!  Monday was here yesterday and she is was an absolute disaster.  Just late, lazy, and incompetent.

On top of getting nothing accomplished, Monday seemed to create more problems and more work every step of the way.

But that's not all.

Monday spilled her coffee in the morning and then spilled her second cup of coffee at lunchtime.  Monday also brought our least favorite weather with her, heavy, wet snow.  How rude!  Monday had a headache and a tummy ache and somehow scratched herself.  And then...you'll never believe this...guess what else Monday did around 9PM?

Guess!

She got into bed with a mug of hot cocoa and homemade marshmallows and spilled it in her damn bed!  In Monday's defense, she was watching political news and got herself all riled up.  She knows better!




But that's a lot of drama and clothing and a change of bedding in a single day.  Oh Monday!

So Tuesday, it's just you and me on deck today.  We have to do all the things and fix all the things and try not to spill any of the things.  We have to right this ship so we can go get drinks tonight with friends.  Tuesday, it's up to you, girlfriend, to be a better employee than Monday.  

I believe in you, Tuesday!  Now show me what you've got...

XO KK


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sadie Sunday: 7 Months And Daily Yoga

Oh my baby, today is the seventh month without you and that feels impossible.  How have I gone through life without holding your little paw for seven whole months?




I have my good {read: don't break down sobbing} days and my bad days.  If no one ever again tells me that time will heal something, it will be too soon.  What a crock!  Time heals nothing, we just adjust to a new {and weird} normal.

This past week I looked for you a lot.  I can't help it- it's just so ingrained in me to walk into certain rooms at certain times and look for you.  It's so strange because on one hand it makes it harder when I have those split seconds when I look for you and have to remember you're never going to be here again.  It reopens the wound.  But on the other hand, I don't ever want to forget one little moment of your life.  

I thought about doing Blogmas {a daily blog post for the 24 days leading up to Christmas} or Vlogmas {a daily vlog post on my YouTube channel for the 24 days leading up to Christmas} this year.  But instead, settled on challenging myself to practice yoga every day in December.  So far, I've been diligent!  

But yesterday evening when I was doing a yoga video on my bedroom floor, as I often have done for years, I just started sobbing.  I could feel what it was like to have you come in the room and kiss my forehead.  I could hear our little conversations.  And as much as I never want to lose that very tangible memory, I wish I could learn to better absorb the wave of emotions.  




One day I will get through writing more than two sentences in these Sadie Sunday posts without tears running down my face.  Today's not that day, but I do believe it will come.  No matter what happens though, you are and will always be the little love of my life!  

Namaste, sweet Sadie!

XO Momma

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Volunteer Of The Year

Last night was so special for me.  My dad was honored for his big heart and tireless volunteer efforts for the city of Troy, NY.

Dad is quiet.  Hates to be the center of attention.  Content to stand in the back of the room.  He works hard and gives everything to his community.  But quiet kids are rarely seen in life.

No one was more surprised than he was when the BID told him they were honoring him {plus one business and one organization} at this annual event.  I'm not sure either of us knew what to expect but it ended up being an amazing evening.  I'm the proudest daughter ever!

My father volunteers a lot.  He was raised that way and raised me to do the same.  I remember being really young and my dad talking to me about giving your time and shopping local to support your community.  Those were two of my moral foundations I suppose.  

So many of my dad's friends came and it was just so lovely to see his circle of support.  He was so humbled and appreciative and I just know he left feeling loved.

It's not at all news to me that my father loves his community.  But it was such sweet news to realize that this community loves him right back!




My heart is beaming with pride over my kind, loving, and dedicated father being honored in such a big way last night!

XOKK

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

12 New Puppies For Christmas

Recent conversation with my father...

Dad: I've been searching for part of your Christmas gift for a long time and finally just found it online!

Me: You can find everything online.  

{In my head thinking...I gave you a list...with every item hyperlinked for your convenience...not to sound ungrateful but please don't go rogue on me...let's just keep it simple and buy the shirt I requested from Old Navy that's on sale for like $15 right now and call it a holiday...}

Dad: I know, I found it online.  But I had trouble because I could only find it in huge quantities and only needed 12.

Me: Oh good.

{In my head...12??...12!!!...12 of what??!!...Please say he at least got the shirt...also please let it be 12 new puppies...or bunnies...I'm allergic to bunnies but who cares....please let it be 12 new puppies or bunnies...plus the shirt...it's a cute shirt!}




It's probably something simple like pens, but let's all collectively cross our fingers I'm Instagramming your face off on Christmas morning with my collection of new puppies!

XOKK

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Finding Gratitude


Today will include yoga, cooking a delicious meal, and going to the movies.  It's going to be a long but great day...I just know it!  

This year hasn't been easy.  Actually...it's been one of my worst years.  Just no way to sugar coat things.  But that doesn't mean I can't find plenty for which I am exceedingly grateful in my life...




My friends are my chosen family.  And holy smokes do I owe them big time after all the tears they've mopped up this past year.  They are pillars in my life who don't judge or walk away.  These amazing women just love and laugh and love some more.  I don't know how I ever got so lucky.  

My garden is my sanity saver.  I've always had an interest in gardening and plants, but it wasn't until I got my own community garden plot several years ago that I realized what a mental health benefit gardening cloud be in my life.  It gives me focus and a goal.  It requires me to problem solve {which feels a heck of a lot less lovely in the moment, but give me a bit of liberty today} and continue to learn. It gets me out in the sunshine and fresh air for hours on end.  I meditate and talk to my plants and then come home and make some incredibly delicious meals.  Gardening is delicious!  I feel truly lucky to have such a great Community Garden program in my city so that I have the space to play in the dirt!

My dad is my dad but also my good friend.  We all have complicated family relationships.  I don't have a relationship with my mother...so there's that.  And my dad and I are far from perfect.  But we are incredibly close and just as it has been for my entire life, we are happy as a little family of two.  I wouldn't be who I am without all the love and support from my dad over the years.  He fought for me and raised me and protected me in a way that would still be considered unusual by today's standards. I'm so lucky to spend my holiday with him this year!

My yoga mat is my health saver. I'm still learning and I still have periods when I don't get on the mat. But then I have weeks when I get on at least five times and those are the weeks when my world just works better.  Both my physical and mental health are so much better for every minute I am on that mat.  Even on off days when I take extra child's poses or days when I fall out of every other position.  I'm still better off than when I started.  

My Sadie is my heartbeat.  Forever.  I am so grateful that we had the most amazing 14 years together.  Every single thing in the world was better for me because of her.  Always, always, always...nothing but gratitude and love!

I hope everyone is having a kind holiday.  Today is a hard day for a lot of people, for a lot of reasons.  So I simply wish you a day where you feel kindness.  Anything more than that can just be a bonus!

Big hugs and love,
XOKK 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Finding Happy: Texts With Friends, Home Tours, And Snowy Barns

Ever on a quest to find my happy, I've been trying to be better about engaging in conversations and activities that bring a smile to my face.  Despite struggling with all things election, I managed to have a pretty great weekend!

Friday night was brought to me by the letter T.  For text.  I had three great conversations with three old friends, one of whom I've just recently reconnected with after more than a decade.  It was so amazing to talk and laugh with these amazing humans.  I truly felt like a lucky soul as I tucked into bed that night!

Saturday morning I went on a tour of a once beautiful home.  It sits up on a hill and overlooks all of Troy, NY and the Hudson River.  For the past 40+ years it's been owned and occupied by the local housing authority.  So the bad is that it's long ceased to be the beautiful home surrounded by beautiful gardens that it once was.  Instead it's offices for the housing authority and surrounded by public housing.  The good is that given it's current use and what I'm sure is a microscopic budget, it's maintained many of the amazing details.







I should have taken more photos of the fireplaces but this one below was hands down my favorite.  The marble, Italian, is not my personal favorite but was frequently used here in Troy 150 years ago.  It's all original.  The fireplace insert though, is what set my heart a flutter!  I've never seen anything like it and would venture it's the only one like it in the city.  

Troy, NY, was once the third wealthiest city in the Nation, in great part due to the iron work production. So it's likely this insert was made locally.  If you zoom in, you'll notice that the top of the insert has a spot for a tea kettle.  This fireplace is in what was once the lady's parlor {because lawd knows men and women shouldn't sit in the same room...faint!} and I just can't get over how beautiful it is!




Saturday was stunning.  So warm that I didn't need a coat and the sun was shining brightly.  Just the happiest of happy days!  

There's so much that I miss about Sadie, but topping that list is our long evening walk.  Knowing the weather was about to change, I got out to do my favorite Sadie walk in the late afternoon.  It felt so perfect.  And for the first time since she died, I didn't cry on the walk.  

This is one of my favorite views in the entire city.  And one that I bet most locals have never seen.  It just always feels like a step back in time to me.  Something about it has always felt a wee bit magical!




Again...Troy is known for architecture and iron work.  Please notice the elaborate iron railings with the pineapple toppers.  There are a few homes in the city that have these pineapples and I swoon over all of them.  




Brick and brownstone.  I personally have three {all very different} favorite styles of architecture.  You're looking at one of them.  Old {like 200+ year old} Dutch farmhouses and old FL or CA Spanish homes are the other two.  The running theme is OLD.  It tickles me to no end imagining all the lives and moments that have happened in these homes and on old cobblestone streets.  I love being part of a city and home's history, rather than the other way around.  




Do you see the Labrador?  Isn't it adorable?  I'd love to know the story behind adding a matching pair of dogs to your front stoop.    




The weather completely changed on Sunday.  I woke up to snow.  It snowed about a month ago, but it all melted quickly and we've had really nice fall weather for the most part this year.  This though, is the real deal.  The snow will come and go over the coming months, but winter is definitely here for the long haul now.  

Determined to stay on top of my happy, I picked up a Starbucks treat, turned on some Christmas music, and went snowy barn peeping for a bit.  Hard to argue with a view so charming.




So that was my weekend.  Low key and lovely.  Now tell me about yours.  Did winter find her way to your neck of the woods?  What's your favorite style of architecture- are you into old homes or new homes?

XOKK

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sadie Sunday: Our First Photo And A Dream Meeting

Dear Sadie,

You were just four or five months old here.  We were both so young!  I had no idea what I was doing as a new puppy momma.  Look at how tiny you were!  You still had your puppy fur on your paws and legs!  Adorable!




I wish so badly that I had more of these photos.  But do I ever cherish the few we were able to get together.  

You came to me in a dream this week!  It made my world right again to be able to see you jump up on the sofa.  Please don't ever stop coming to my dreams, sweet girl.  

I usually have a point to these #sadiesunday posts but today, it's just a little ramble.  I miss my baby.  I thought this grief business would get easier.  It turns out, in some ways it gets harder.

You have my heart forever, sweet Sadie.  

Until our next dream meeting...

XO Momma

Saturday, November 19, 2016

About Last Week: Sweet Potatoes, Art Museums, Christmas Trees, And Yoga

Sweet friends, tell me about your week!  Any shake ups, break ups, or successes to speak about?  Give me the skinny!

Because I'm now doing Thanksgiving with just my dad this year, I'm trying to figure out our little menu {that won't be little because it's impossible to make a little Turkey dinner...but it's okay as I love me some leftovers!}.  Do you have a favorite sweet potato recipe you use?  I have a box of sweet potatoes that I grew in my garden this year so I definitely want to use those as a side dish.  If you have a family favorite you can recommend, please share!






Do y'all still {or did you ever} coupon?  I used to be a rock star at couponing.  It was a sport for me.  But after a few years, I just grew exhausted.  It was harder to get big deals without going to 43 stores each week.  I'm pretty loyal to Price Chopper {because it's five minutes from my house} so I miss most of the other store deals.  It also became such a time suck.  It took so long to organize and clip and find deals and prep and then adjust in store and oy vey I just sort of gave it up.  Oh sure, I use a coupon here or there, but noting major like in years past.  All of this is to say that once in a blue moon, like say this week, I get a bee in my bonnet and make a little coupon magic happen for myself and get that sweet deal high again.  It's not enough to bring me back to the high savings but high time investment days.  It was fun though to save 65% this week at the grocery store.  






I hung out in the Albany Institute of History and Art for a few hours yesterday.  The first hour was waiting on District, who was running late.  The second hour was decorating a Christmas Tree any way we saw fit.  The luxury of having boxes upon boxes of ribbons and ornaments and beads to pick from and going to town gives us such a giggle.  We went with a simple red and gold theme this year, with a big madras bow that I made.  There are only a handful of things I can do well in life: baking pies and making bows top that list!




Oh and how cool is this table outside the cafe?  It's filled with sugar and meringues.  I just thought it was so cute for the holiday season.






I made a quick video tutorial on my favorite Turkey {or chicken} and Rice soup.  It's under two minutes if you want to take a peek.  

I've did yoga every day this week.  It's just barely enough to keep the cuckoo in the clock right now but I'm do my best.  

And finally, project organization is half done.  I finished half and then needed to be done until I could focus again this weekend.  Hoping to finish it all up by Sunday night.  It feels good to get things organized and put away and piled up to donate.  

XOKK

Friday, November 18, 2016

That Girl Thought She Was Fat

I posted this photo to Instagram yesterday on a whim.  It's been up on a pegboard near my desk for more than a decade and I just sort of noticed it and snapped a pic yesterday.  But it wasn't until hours after I posted it on IG that I really looked at it closely.




I look so cute {as do my pals L and Bestie, whom a few might remember from blogging days of yore}.  I was thin, had cute hair, and looked great.  I was 21, living in a cute apartment, getting good grades, confused as hell about life but holding my own, in a sorority, on the sailing team, and doing 400 million other fun things in school.  

But 17 years ago when this photo was taken in a random parking lot in Jacksonville, FL before the Georgia/Florida game, I felt insignificant and fat.  

Growing up, my mother was always on a diet.  Always.  For most of my junior and senior high years, she was on and off of this diet where she ate these doctor prescribed cookies.  Six gross little rubbery cookie-like but barely edible diet blobs.  That's all she ate each day.  

That left an impression on me.

Because of her relationship with diets, specifically, I always knew I would never go on one.  She struggled.  I look back and feel for her.  She would cook up beautiful meals for us, but would microwave two of those nasty cookie things for herself.  

So I've never been on a weight loss diet.  My opinions on meal substitutes of any kind are strong and negative.  That is just not a path for me.

My relationship with my body image though, until recent years, hadn't crossed my mind.  

Every woman I know has body image issues of some sort.  My chest and tummy have always been my sources of body shame.  I'm insecure and uncomfortable all the time because of my mid section.  I just never feel good enough.  Sometimes my insecurities even keep me from enjoying life moments like swimming with my Godbabies or going to an event in a fancy dress on a "fat" day.  




But as I looked back at that photo of that cute girl with her sweet friends, it hit me that she felt exactly as I do right now about her body.  She was so self-conscious.  She felt like the ugly duckling at all times.  Literally at all times and in every social group, she felt like the odd woman out.  Just as I do today.  

I'd give anything to have that body and face and hair today though.  That young girl who felt oh so adult was lovely and funny and pretty.  It's a crying shame she never knew it.

I cringe when I think about how I will feel as I look back on photos in another 17 years.

There just has to be a better way to go about our lives than not realizing your value on any level until a decade later.  Holy inefficient use of time!

This past year and a half have been my so called #yearofyes and I've done a good job of pushing myself out of my comfort zone more.  Next year, my personal focus needs to be something along the lines of self-acceptance and body positivity.  I just don't want to get to the end of my life and realize I missed out on enjoying it because I was so caught up in having a pudgy tummy.  Life isn't going to wait for me to get a better body image.  Life will keep passing me by if I don't learn to love the body I'm in as it carries me from moment to moment.  

Adulting is so flipping hard!  

XOKK

Thursday, November 17, 2016

You Take The Good, You Take The Bad

Without going into details, going to my family Thanksgiving is no longer an option.  This election changed everything in my tiny world and family holidays top that list.  I've been really crushed about it- it sucks to no longer feel welcome, wanted, or comfortable.

But then a really sweet thing happened.  On the Wednesday after the election, my dad and I were talking and out of the blue he said we would spend the holiday together, just the two of us.  I never imagined he would do that.  I had been tearing myself apart thinking about being all alone on Thanksgiving.  Now though, I get to spend the day relaxed with my Daddy.  I'll cook up a simple but delicious dinner and we can have a low-key holiday together.  

The bad, but with a sweet ending.

I'm suddenly in a big time organize and purge mood.  I have to strike while the irons are hot so I took everything I want to sort and put it in a GIANT pile in the middle of my bedroom floor.  Which feels horrible and daunting, to be perfectly honest.  But...I know that the end result will be less junk in my life.  I'm all about that right now.  Wish me luck though as the next 24 hours of working my way through the storm I just created is going to be taxing.

The good, but with a messy beginning.





See...life really is on a spectrum.  The bad isn't always the worst, the good isn't always the best, and none of it is easy.  

XOKK

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Coffin In My Garden

I've been planting artichokes for four years, however they've only fruited the first year.  Which I now know was a fluke.  Artichoke plants typically only fruit on 2nd year and older plants.

My issue is that I'm living about two zones too cold for them to reliably survive over the winter.  {Though they totally could have survived last year with our mild winter and I am ticked I didn't think to do this last year...but I digress...}.  

I love the plants- they are so unique and beautiful so even if I never get them to fruit, I imagine I will always grow them for aesthetics.  But as artichokes are one of my favorite vegetables, I'd really love to get them past the big, green plant stage and into the food producing stage.

And that's how I ended up with a coffin in my garden.




Okay...it's not really a coffin.  It's one of the chicken wire hoops that I use in the spring over the young squash plants, filled with straw, covered in a cheap plastic shower curtain, and placed over the cut artichoke plants.  My theory is that it might act as a bit more insulation to keep the plants from dying over the winter.




We'll see if this works.  If it does, I might get to eat my own home grown artichokes next summer.  If it doesn't, I'm out the cost of a cheap shower curtain.  Small price to pay for the potential of delicious artichokes next year!

It definitely looks creepy though.  Which kind of amuses me, so it seems to be a win on all fronts at the moment.

What experiments do you have brewing in your garden, home, or life right now?

XOKK

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Let's Talk Like Old Friends

Let's talk.  Like friends.  Because we are friends, old friends in many cases, at this point.

So how are you?  How was your Monday?  And can you believe that the election was one week ago today?  




My Monday was productive for the most part.  But then I started to get what I thought was a sinus headache mid afternoon.  That merged into a full fledged migraine by late afternoon and left me in tears.  Not the kind of wailing tears that happen when I think too much about the horrible election or losing my Sadie.  But the kind of tears that just seep from your eyes when you are in real pain.  Not crying- just tears.  

So by 8:30 PM I was in my pajamas, under the covers, with the lights off.  Monday and the migraine won.  

What else...oh Glennon announced she and Abby Wambach are dating.  I actually loved this announcement but I know others felt differently.  I think it's just so awesome when humans feel less and less boxed into one of just two ill-fitting labels.  Life, and everything in it, is on a spectrum.  I also suspected they were dating so perhaps that's why it was less of a shock for me.  I don't know much but I do know this gloomy season needs more bright spots...even if it's our favorite writer offering up a bit of a firework on a Sunday night.

Do you live in a city that has protests happening?  What are your thoughts on them?  Personally, I find them so uplifting and inspiring.  I wish so badly that I lived in a larger area and could participate.  I imagine it must feel so inclusive to be with a group of so many beautiful humans chanting for love instead of hate.  

What are you cooking lately?  I made a Butternut Squash Lasagna the other night and holy moly is it delicious.  It's super time consuming to make, so I only make it about once a year. It's huge though,  so that makes up for the time it takes to put it all together.

Also, someone please give me a virtual high five!  I've managed to stay the heck away from Facebook since Wednesday morning.  It was so toxic for me and just adding to the chaos in my head and heart.  I might go back next week or I might never go back.  Hard to say.  All I know is that right now, it feels darn good to not play in that sandbox.  

Alright sweets, time to start this day and start checking things off the list.  I hope your Tuesday is a great one!

Hugs {because everyone, regardless of politics or religion or anything else is need of more hugs!},
XOKK

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