hello, conscience

I had an interesting day today.

No need to expand on that.  Let’s just think of it as the ‘conditions’ of the experiment.

And, after a two week hiatus (due to the Chef’s Event last week) I was back at yoga today. I’m not sure what the best expletive is for class tonight ~ WTF?!? or Wow!!!

When I rolled up, I knew I needed to hit up the mat.  I didn’t know it would be so tough.  And today’s meditation was a goodun’.  It was the idea that other people’s thoughts of you help you to identify where you are getting stuck ~ it helps you find the path to enlightenment by becoming aware and understanding of your own personal short-comings.

Urgh.  That’s a whole mind-full! (Mine-field? What?  I kid, I kid!).

I have a boat-load on that whole subject, but mostly tonight wasn’t about my ‘interesting’ day at work, or my incredibly challenging yoga class (which, btw, I completely adore, and missed SO MUCH last week ~ urgh, work!).  Tonight was about the very long and intense discussion the man and I had while folding laundry/making dinner.

We talked about life, and careers/jobs, and the fulfillment aspect of whatever it is one is doing for living.  It was thought-provoking, because life isn’t about what other people think equals success ~ life, your own life, should be about what feels like success to you.  It’s a wee bit difficult to articulate exactly the feelings and thoughts we discussed because it was a long and in-depth convo, but I guess the bottom line is this ~ where a person’s priorities lie tend to dictate the course of their life.  As in ~ if following the generally accepted timeline of adulthood is important, then the man and I are woefully behind schedule.  But if that’s not #1 on our list?  Well, then … theoretically, the world is our oyster.

And luckily for us ~ we’re in oyster territory.  Which makes me smile.

 

recap

So, last week was a pretty crazy and fun week for the man and I ~ and it was only dampened by the fact that, true to form (I have silly bad luck), my nearly brand new MacBook Pro needed not only a new battery, but a new hard drive, at the tender age of 3 months.

So I wasn’t able to blog at all, which was a huge bummer.

Because …. !!!!

Not only did we have The Chef Event last Tuesday ~ which was a ton of fun, despite being completely underwater with the constantly pouring rain (no worries ~ it was held inside!) ~ but, it was the year anniversary of Ambler Symphony’s concert at Hope Lodge.  This year, the man was able to join me, and once again we brought some yummy cheese and charcuterie from the restaurant, and two bottles of really good wine (everyone make note ~ if you haven’t tried a rose yet ~ run to the liquor store and get Charles & Charles Syrah Rose from Washington State ~ you will not be sorry!).

On Thursday ~ and I know you’re not going to believe it ~ but we had our neighbors over for dinner, and I actually cooked.  No cheating involved ~ except for the taco seasoning! ;)

We had antelope burritos with cilantro sour cream and homemade guacamole.  In general, pretty successful, although I was a little bummed out that the sour cream didn’t reflect the cilantro flavor the way I wanted it to ~ I guess there’s always next time.

On Friday (yes, I know, we’re social butterflies! ~ haha) we spent the evening enjoying FriEndsDay (a twist on WeHangsDay when Wednesday’s don’t work out) ~ and excellent grilled Orange Ruffy with mango salsa, and sides of Israeli couscous and summer squash.  We even squeezed in a fire pit ~ niiiice!

Saturday was our first weekend at home in a few weeks, so we reverted to some of our favorite things ~ a long hike with Lucy in Valley Green, and then we headed into the restaurant to do some taste-testing of nightly specials (oh, go on, twist my arm!).  After dinner, we discovered a pretty amazing beer ‘haven’ a few blocks away ~ where our bartender proceeded to instruct me on a variety of brews, and hops in general.  So incredibly knowledgeable ~ I could have sat and learned all night, but I couldn’t keep drinking beer!

Sunday was a day for us ~ I was a little under the weather, and spent most of the day cuddled on the couch with my puppy, who was very accommodating and smelling deliciously of puppy.  Have you ever seen “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”?  If you haven’t, you should.  Really enjoyable piece of cinema.

And that brings us back to Monday.  Today was comfortingly ‘boring’ in it’s normalcy.  Lucy and I did four miles this morning, and this evening, the man and I grocery shopped and did a strength-training workout before sitting down to watch Master Chef .  Ah, suburban life!

Before I sign off and climb into bed ~ I just want to send a very Happy Birthday message out to Minda.  She’s a birthday diva like me, so I hope today was a great kickstart to her summer of freedom (#teacherenvy!).  Happiest of happy, my friend.

for my daddy

I am pretty sure I have one of the best dads in the whole wide world.

He has always believed in me ~ and helped make my dreams come true.  Even if he didn’t fully understand them, or think they were particularly good ideas.

He always made sure I was taken care of ~ in the best ways he knew how.  He still does ~ even though I’m all grown up.

My daddy was my hero as a child, and he is even more of a hero now, when I understand all the sacrifices he made to give my brother and I the lives we had growing up.

When I look around, and see all the people out there who didn’t have a dad like me, I know how incredibly lucky I am and continue to be because of who my father is as a man, and as a parent.

I will never ever be able to say thank you enough ~ for the small things, like letting me sleep on all the long drives to and from PSU for football games ~ or the big things, like rescuing me my freshman year of college … and from Chicago a few years ago.

This is just a very small thank you on a very small stage to my daddy, for being the best dad out there, and one of the best men I have ever known.  xoxo.

Thank you, from the very bottom of my heart.

Love, Mouse.

The Great Chef’s Event

This evening, despite the weather, the man and I are headed into the city for Alex’s Lemonade Stand & the Vetri Foundation’s huge fundraising event, The Great Chef’s Event.

If I had a functioning computer, I’d upload pictures tonight and tell you all about it.  But since I don’t, that’s where we will be ~ noshing on some seriously delish eats and hobnobbing with the best and the brightest in the NYC and Philadelphia restaurant business.  My goal is to meet Tom Colicchio ~ or Joe Bastianich (not 100% sure who will actually be in attendance!).  I think Joe was there two years ago (hazy memories) but since discovering MasterChef last year, I have become a huge fan.  He’s also pretty inspirational in regards to running and healthy eating/living.  It would be a big honor to get to shake his hand.

And when I do get my computer back, I’ll add pics!  I’m super excited, because it was amazing a few years ago.  I’m sure it’s just gotten bigger and better!

 

when music makes your heart smile

Every once in awhile I come across some music that just makes my whole world feel better, no matter how eeyore of a day it is.  Since my nearly new Macbook has gotten sick and is currently checked into rehab (aka the Apple Genius Bar), blogging for the next few days may prove challenging.  I figured I’d share something happy to perk myself up.  My newest playlist obsession.

Nicknamed “Hart of Dixie” since a lot of the songs I first heard there ~ it consists of the following …

~~~~

As Good As I Once Was 

~ Toby Keith (Honkytonk University)

I smile like a giddy child EVERY time this comes on (and on a short playlist like this, it comes on a lot!).  I then manage to belt out every work with a twang, still smiling and giggling like a little kid.  I love this song.

Run (feat. Sugarland)

~ Matt Nathanson (Modern Love)

This song gives me butterflies, and I love Jennifer Nettles’ harmonization on the chorus.  Plus, she’s got a kick*ss voice.

This Love

~FM Radio (Out of the Blue)

Just a sweet song ~ I feel like I should be driving a pick-up through the country on a sunny day with the windows rolled down every time I listen to it.  Heart, heart, heart.

A Woman Like You

~ Lee Brice (Hard 2 Love)

Speaking of driving a pick-up on a sunny day with the windows all the way down … the man and I first heard this song driving home from our Memorial Day weekend camping trip, and the lyrics just got me right.here.  I hope that the man feels about me the way Lee  Brice feels about his lady in this song.  Beautiful.

Touch

~Josh Abbott Band (Small Town Family Dream)

I just like this song.  And it was part of my fav ep of the season ~ had.to.have.it.

The Trouble with Girls

~ Scotty McCreery (Clear As Day)

Okay, so I don’t watch American Idol (which a lot of people find weird since I love to sing so much) buuuuut…  I never really got into it.  I first saw Scotty McCreery on Hart of Dixie and was blown away that a guy who looks like him has a voice like his.  Plus, this is just a really sweet song.

~~~~

Yes, only six songs, but you may recall that I’m a repeater, so I quite enjoy listening to the same songs over … and over … and over again.  :) Hope you’re listening to something that perpetually makes you smile.

 

 

Boston

The man and I have safely arrived home from our whirlwind trip to Boston.  We spent the majority of yesterday and today in the car, and now, we’ve flopped on the couch to enjoy a few precious moments of ‘relaxation,’ and watching the Tonys.

Hope you’re staying cool and are also relaxing … staring tomorrow, it’s back to business as usual!

We loved Boston and can’t wait to go back … pics up soon!

my side of the fence

Today, I discovered the Voice Memo app on my phone.  I use the word ‘discover’ loosely, as I have always known it existed, but never thought I’d ever have use of it.

And yet, this afternoon, as I was driving and my thoughts were coming rapid fire, I thought how much I wished I could write things down, capture the moment somehow.  At which point a lightbulb went off, and I talked to my phone for 4 minutes.  Even weirder, it played back through my sound system when I was done.  So it was just me, sitting in my car, literally listening to my thoughts.

I most assuredly yammered.  But once I got comfortable talking to an application, my thoughts clarified, and by the end of the four minutes, I knew what it was I was trying to say.

It’s very easy to gaze across a fence, and feel one of two ways.  Envious, of the other, seemingly more green lawn.  Or condemning, of a lawn you feel is not to your standard.  Perhaps, when looking at that ‘greener’ lawn, you think if only you had their resources, you could tend your lawn better, and be happier.  Or, when looking at the rag-tag lawn, you think how much happier you must be, because you have come so much further with your gardening.

But the thing is, regardless of that unspoken life timeline we all know exists, life is neither a race, nor a competition.  Often times, people are searching for validation of their life choices ~ “Yes, I’m doing the right thing”, “I’m on the right path”, “You approve”.  But the thing is, so often all those people whose opinion we are searching for?  Too wrapped up in themselves ~ because at the heart of it, we’re all pretty selfish and narcissistic beasts.  So now we’re competing against the idea we hold of what other people may or may not think of us.  Exhausting!

The only person who can tell you if you’re doing the right thing, walking the right path ~ is you.  The man and I have a lot of friends, and they all have different lifestyles ~ none better or worse than ours.  Yes, occasionally I get myself all worked up about owning a home and being married (I’m human, I whine).  But what I really want to do is travel.  And be healthy.  And write.  All completely possible to do from our cozy little abode.

I love my life ~ but I really love my life when I remember to appreciate it for what it is.  And here is what my life is to me ~ a mosaic of all the choices I have made to try to be the person I want to be.  I love my man, and I love my puppy ~ I love the apartment we live in, and our awesome backyard. I love our neighbors.  I love cooking dinner ~ for just us, or for guests.  I love that I see my parents and the man’s parents on a regular basis.  I love our network of friends.  I love our traditions.  I love when we go on road trips, and have lazy daydreams about adventures we will take some day.  I love the simple routine of days.  I have come, over time, to appreciate the city we live near.  I feel blessed and thankful for so many things ~ it seems silly to constantly stress or agonize over the things we may not have.

I know that there are people out there who wouldn’t find my life fulfilling.  I am sure that people live lives I wouldn’t find fulfilling.  But here’s the miracle of it all ~ if we stop comparing and racing and counting and measuring for just a second, we would all see that we have chosen and molded and crafted the path we walk ~ and we have the power to change it, if it isn’t what makes us happy.  My life makes me happy.  It isn’t important for my choices to make anyone else happy ~ or meet anyone else’s standard.  When I fall asleep at night, my hand cradled in the man’s hand, I am completely content with being exactly where I am.  That is the greatest blessing of all.

 

 

improv

I have completely dropped the ball on interesting (or any!) recipes for WeHangsDay.  But today, I got a little inspired.  The man and I have been uber busy  for the past few weeks, so Monday through Thursday feel like our ‘laid-back’ days.  Which means I have been a really punk cook of late.  In fact, the exec chef of my restaurant completely believed I couldn’t cook.  Great confidence boost.  But we didn’t want to buy a ton of groceries because we’re in Boston for the weekend.  So we checked the cupboards.  And here’s what we had to work with …

Quinoa.

Chicken.

Oy.

Our original idea was chicken served over quinoa with zucchini and black beans.  But I modified it a bit with a recipe I found online, plus some insight from my exec chef (yes, the non-believer ~ he converted!).

Quinoa with Chicken & Veggies

What you Need:

Part I:

3 star anise

All-Spice (2-3 tbsp)

2 cinnamon sticks

2 cups dry quinoa (rinsed)

2 tbsp EVOO

S & P

4 cups water

Part II:

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, thawed & sliced into strips

1 zucchini, cubed

1 tomato, cubed

1 small onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, pressed

2 tbsp EVOO

6oz crumbled feta cheese

8 fresh basil leaves

Juice of 1 lime

What to Do: 

1.  Bring 4 cups water and star anise, all-spice and cinnamon stick to boil. Allow the flavors to saturate at bit. Once the liquid is dark(ish) yellow,  strain out star anise, cinnamon stick & all-spice.  Add quinoa.  Bring back to boil and immediately lower to simmer.  Cover with lid, allow to simmer until broth is absorbed, the quinoa is fluffy, and the white line is visible in the grain.  (Approx 12 minutes).

2.  Heat 2 tbsp EVOO in a skillet.  Cook pressed garlic and diced onions until onions clarify (are translucent).  Stir in chicken strips.  Cook until they are slightly pink in the middle.  Remove to a  bowl.  (Don’t panic ~ we’re not going to leave them slightly under-cooked!)

 

 

 

 

3.  Add additional 2 tbsp olive oil and zucchini to skillet.  A few minutes later, add tomatoes.  (Okay, so the thing is, you can add them at the same time, which is what I did.  But zucchini takes a little longer to soften than tomato, so to maintain the integrity of the tomato, I suggest adding it a few minutes after the zucchini).

4.  Once the zucchini is soft, return chicken to skillet and sprinkle feta & basil leaves on top. Fold in.  Squeeze the juice of one lime into the skillet.  Make sure chicken is fully cooked and hot.

 

 

 

 

5.  Serve over hot quinoa.

Yummers!  Very successful WeHangsDay for my taste buds!

hatfields & mccoys

As we watched the end of “Hatfields & McCoys” last night, I kept thinking over and over again, as the ashes settled, did either side look back on the hardships and the ruins of their families and think their actions were worth it?

Obviously, we’ll never truthfully know.  The mini-series implied it ~ but first hand accounts are few and far between.

But it made me think about actions in life.  Is the instant gratification worth the long-term pain?  Usually not.  Is hanging on to anger and hurt and pain healthy – in any way?  Definitely not.

But it’s more complicated than that, as we all know.  Life doesn’t exist in black & white.  Knowing the logic and reason behind something rarely takes the coloring and tinges of emotion out of the picture.

It’s really easy to get caught up in the small things.  And once you get caught up in them, they slowly become the big things, because having fixated on an issue, it grows at an exponentially fast rate.

It’s an interesting thing to wrap my brain around.  Thinking that events snow-balled to the point that Hatfield and McCoy men charged at each other in a battle with the intent to kill ~ not for justice, or freedom or a noble cause, but because two men held fast to feelings of injustice, and as time grew, their hatred engulfed not only them, but their kin as well ~ is craziness.  I mean, utterly incomprehensible, other than the fact that it actually took place.

I can think back and admit that there have been times in my life that I have walked away from friendships, and now, couldn’t pinpoint the exact cause.  It all just came together and was, for me, the best option.  I don’t carry a significant amount of hate in my heart ~ hating is exhausting, and gives credence where it is certainly not due.

But it makes me stop and think about the things that are niggling in my heart right now.  Is anything worth destroying precious relationships over?  In the end, it’s the people in your life who give life its substance.  And while sometimes you have to walk away, most of the time small perceived injustices aren’t worth holding onto.

Just my rambling thoughts for tonight.

 

my camelot

It is an infinitely comforting thing, to be curled up in a sweatshirt and snuggly blanket on a cool evening.  It was surprisingly chilly today, and the rain didn’t help matters.  At one point, when I looked up from work, it was nearly dark outside, with rain streaming down.  Eeyore day, indeed.

Sometimes, when all the stars align ~ or, in a better description, a perfect storm occurs ~ everything comes into crystal clear perspective for one breath-taking moment.  For me, it brings to mind the idea that King Arthur sings about in Lerner & Lowe’s “Camelot,” ~ … for one brief, shining moment …   In that moment, you feel fully content.  There aren’t nagging feelings of inadequacy, of being judged, of not fulfilling your potential, of being dissatisfied.

Today, when I got home from work, and the man and Lucy Lou came out to greet me in the drizzle, I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.  My puppy’s soft nose nuzzled me, and the man kissed me hello and then pulled my bags from the car.  And even though life isn’t perfect, and every day will present a new difficulty, challenge or ‘character-building’ experience, having a family to come home to and share the simplest acts of life is an amazing thing.