mini book.

as i mentioned previously, i created my first mini book with many thanks and a lot of inspiration from elise.  i needed something to get me motivated, was fast to put together and easy to ship.  after all, it was going to a. 

i must say, these mini books are my new obsession.  i'm seriously obsessed.  once i had the pictures and supplies, the amount of time it actually took to put the book together was trivial...hours at most.  i turned on a few episodes of glee and cut, taped & punched away.

i created this book as a 5x5.  while my theme was nothing more than the month of october (it was a great month for us), i didn't generally stick with a color pattern.  i tried to repeat a lot of the same techniques for a unified look and found that the photos did a great job tying in the colors.  in the future i'll be sure to order more 5x7 photos- i love the full photo pages!

there are a lot of photos so i only included my favorites.  to view the entire album, please view my flickr account.


a holiday weekend.

i hope you had an amazing thanksgiving with family, friends and other loved ones.
i trekked it to my aunt & uncle’s in virginia.  the weekend was a wonderful and relaxing- even with the drive.  there were some mainacs on the road and i hit a bit of holiday traffic, but it was well worth the trip. 
we ate, drank & were merry for the entire weekend.  a few walks & adventures are always welcome after a food-fest.


thanks be to skype.

isn't it amazing how easily we can chat with someone (and see their face if we're lucky enough) across the world?  not just afghanistan- but italy, australia or brazil...all from the comfort of your home, airport, office or car.  seriously, where would we be without skype?

let me say this: it makes deployment so much easier...and anything that makes a year-long deployment easier, is something to be thankful for in my book.  i often wonder how couples stayed connected during those long, long stretches in world war 1 or 2.  Not knowing when they would hear from one another or even go home.  a. and i are able to chat almost everyday and i'm so grateful for that connection.  while most of the time we spend typing, there are the rare occasions that we can actually talk or video conference.  and those days are amazing!

so thank you skype.  thank you for brightening our days and keeping it possible to chat often...especially during the holidays!


thankful for weekends.

{image found here}
lying in bed until noon weekends.
watching movies all day weekends.
hosting parties and game night weekends.
spending time with the girls weekends.
catching up on errands weekends.
crafting weekends.
chatting with a. on skype...for a while...weekends.
cleaning the house with rockin' music weekends.
hiking, biking or outdoor weekends.

and the best are when you can pack everything into two little days...perfect weekends.


a natural thanks.

as i mentioned yesterday, i have many things to be thankful for.  and one thing that i'm constantly thankful for is nature.  seriously.  don't think this is a cop-out.  second to my families, nature has been the second largest influence to who i am today.
i grew up swimming in the ocean, hiking and backpacking, canoeing and kayaking, mountain biking and snow boarding.  today, i've added snow shoeing and cross country skiing to my repertoire.  for me, it's more than the love of being outside or being active.  i'm constantly learning about who i am and what i'm capable of when surrounded by trees, sitting on a surf board or riding down a hill.  the lessons i've learned from the challenges & achievements i've faced while being in and around nature have given me so much self-confidence, an appreciation of my limits & helped mold my spiritual and political beliefs (seriously).  hence, why i need to thank mother.  nature, that is.
she is unpredictable, volatile, and unforgiving.  she's also a comforter &  provider.  seriously, think about it for a minute.  she can throw anything at you and if you are willing to adapt (and know how to), nature will provide everything you need to make ends meet.  it's amazing.  i am constantly in awe of nature and the surprises she brings.  the sunsets, storms, temperate lakes, fierce waves, cool breezes, beautiful flowers and gorgeous tress...this list could go on forever.  she has helped me change my life, reduce my impact and improve my eating habits.  from adventure to beauty to health, there is truly so much to thank her for.


a week of gratitude.

with thanksgiving a week away, i thought i would spend the days leading up to the holiday noting everything i'm thankful for.  even with a. away, i have so many blessings in my life.  let me tell you: life is good.

today i think i need to direct my gratitude toward the loves of my life.  the people who i would give a shout out should i ever win a grammy, or the olympics, or a free box of girl scout cookies.  my family.  

my family started out so small and intimate.  obviously we had my extended family who played a large role in our lives as we grew, but my family was a unit.  we cheered each other on, fought like mad and loved each other unconditionally.  they are the reason i am who i am today and i'm so thankful for such awesome friends.
then, i fell in love.  to the man of my dreams.  he swept me off my feet and carried me away from my family to create another.  our family.  our own little unit.  and i love it.  i love the adventures we have and the amazing connection we found within one another.  of course, two is never enough, so we adopted two handsome boys.  and everyday i am so grateful for our life and our little family.
marriage wouldn't be complete without the family that comes with it.  and a. comes from an amazing family.  i have the brothers i never had and more sisters to add to my circle.  the humor and love and kindness within this family is astronomical.  and they love who a. and i are when we're together.
and then there is the family that chose me.  the amazing people in my life who have accepted me with open arms despite my quirks.  this family is open, honest and full of laughter and grace.  there is no judgment- only love.  i truly value every moment we spend together and i am so thankful for each and every one of these friendships.
without each of these families, i would not have grown into the woman i am today.  and i happen to like who i am, so i owe them all a huge thank you.  thank you for loving me and for being my rock.  i love you all so much!



there is an age-old debate about running: should you or should you not run with music?  

as a non-runner, i've always preferred to run with music.  however, as of lately, i've been running to a different tune (nice pun, eh?).   with the stresses of work, the daily banter, music and phone calls, i've found myself craving the quiet.  i have enough ramblings in my head to write a novel (or a blog) and thought i would opt to listen to myself for a while.  and so far, so good.  

for the past couple months, my runs have been music free.  i wish i could say the transition was easy.  i used music to get in the zone and distract myself when i was mentally ready to shut down.  but the music also dictated my speed and energy.  as the music increased, so did my speed.  But in another regard, when the song stunk, so did my performance.  now, i'm not saying the minute i dropped the tunes i qualified for the olympic trials, but i think my running has improved.     

i find the rhythm of my foot falls and breathing somewhat meditative.  i also play games with myself (and have learned new ones thanks to some other running purists) during my runs.  for example, i ran the veterans day three miler without music, and found myself for the last mile and a half counting in odd numbers to 100 (or 101 if you want to get technical).  if i made a mistake, i had to start from the beginning.  these brain teasers help distract me and i find i focus more on the quality of my run rather than just going through the motions.  i'm running because i want to, not just to get in the miles.

i'm sure there will be days when i want to run with bon jovi or tom petty, and i will.  i'm not a die-hard purist.  after all, running's supposed to be fun enjoyable.  so, i'll keep running sans-tunes for now and hope that as my dependency on music decreases, my running continues to improve.

*ps. did you notice the new bling on my sidebar?  as you probably know, i'm always up for a challenge- especially one that claims to keep you in shape over the holidays!  check it out and sign up for a bootie busting season!


the weekend, briefly

this weekend was the perfect blend of productivity, creativity and laziness. 

saturday started with a bit of work around the house- cleaning and winterizing and getting ready for friends.  i made some time to work on another mini book i started last week and made soup, from scratch.  i felt uber productive because not only was it my one day to get things done, but i didn't have internet.  for the entire day!  so i was able to prioritize and spent way less time dinking around.

friends came over, good times, yummy food and lots of laughter was shared.  we decided to end the night watching eat, pray, love.  this was the second time we attempted to watch the movie...to no avail.  we ended up eating popcorn & chatting instead.  i guess there's always next time.
sunday, despite the copious amounts of wine we consumed, i woke up early to run a veterans day three miler with some friends.  it was a small race, there were only 55 people running, but the race had spirit.  the weather was perfect & the course had a lot more hills than i was expecting.  regardless, everyone finished proudly and broke the times we were hoping beat. 
i just wish it was still the weekend....


first week paperless.

to be honest, i thought this would be a cinch.  seriously.  i really try to be aware of my waste, but once i eliminated disposable products from our kitchen, only then did i realize how much i actually rely on them.  for example, i put my oatmeal in ziplock bags each morning, i cleaned mirrors with paper towels, i placed paper towels over my food when microwaving, and i cleaned the stove and counter tops with lysol wipes.

i've had to adjust some of my habits, and really, once i came to terms with it, it wasn't that hard.  i keep my oatmeal in tupperware, i use microfiber cloths for the mirrors as well as dusting and that old trusty sponge becomes my go-to when cleaning after my cooking sessions.  as for the paper towels in the microwave...i'm still figuring that one out.

some "green" supplies i'm pining after are:
-unpaper towels.  these would be a great alternative and i wouldn't feel horrible about wiping up spills and other messes as i do now with my hand towels.
-glass storage.  you can never have too many.  it's a great way to always know what leftovers you have on hand, an alternative to plastic wrap and sandwich bags, and for frozen storage.  i saw a great tip here for storing frozen meals, so hopefully your freezer won't be full of containers.
-reusable bags.  luckily these can be found everywhere, but there are a few that have caught my eye: these, these, these and these.
-and i'm currently making my own cleaning solutions using some of the information i found on this website.

only once did i break.  and this reason involved a big, fat spider.  i neglected to take a picture to share- i was too concerned that it would run away and hide under my pillow.  i had a friend over and she's the one who spotted it.  so i wasted no time and grabbed a paper towel and basically i feel this use is completely justifiable but felt i needed to share since i did, technically, break the rule.  only after the fact did jen inform me about the broom method (smash and slide).  indeed, there is no waste- but you'll have spider guts down the side of your wall.  yuck.

so... so far, so good.  i'll continue to post as the process continues to evolve.  and any comments you might have that will help me through this process are greatly appreciated.


thank you.

first and foremost, i want to thank a.  thank you for all you do and the millions of sacrifices you’ve made; not only this year but in the years past and the years to come.  you are an amazing man and i am continually grateful to call you my husband and best friend. 

i would also like to send another huge shout out to all the amazing men and women who have and are currently serving our country bravely.  i may be biased since a. is one of these few brave men, but the tremendous amount of sacrifice they make to keep us safe is insane.  everything you do for us and this country is hugely appreciated- and hopefully the “thank yous” are expressed more than one day a year.

so please be sure to take a minute and thank the armed service members in your life.  they totally deserve a hug, maybe a kiss and heck, even a huge balloon bouquet.


on repeat.

i just can't get enough of this song.  i'm that girl that can listen to the same song/cd for days, weeks, or months without getting sick of it.  and right now this song as been playing over & over & over.  needless to say, i'm definitely not done listening.



i would classify myself as an environmentalist.  a. prefers captain planet or tree hugger, but either way, i'm a lover of the earth and a fighter of her world.  but i'm also a bit of a hypocrite because i love (and i mean love) all the niceties of this life...i love taking my car on long road trips and flying in airplanes.  i love buying new books & beautiful paper.  i prefer to write to-do lists rather than type them.  & i love my gas fireplace and thermostat in the winter.  but i do try to reduce my impact on mother earth and the landfills as often as possible.  

two things that i've learned to heavily rely on are: paper towels & lysol wipes (obviously these don't reduce my impact).  these are two of the most convenient and easy to use products out there (along with ziplock bags).  but they are so wasteful & so easy to eliminate from my day to day life.  through some reading and a bit of inspiration from the no impact man, i have decided to take a stand against paper products in my kitchen.  for two reasons.  one, it's expensive.  paper towels, ziplock bags and lysol wipes are not cheap.  i remember when i was young, my mom would get mad at us for using paper towels to wipe our hands or to dry the countertops.  also, we re-used ziplock bags...mostly because of their expense.  second, there are alternatives.  lots & lots of alternatives.  there are dish towels and washcloths to replace paper towels, tupperware (preferably glass) to hold left-over food, and a natural cleaning solution can take over for the lysol wipes. 

the ease of these paper & plastic products make them so hard to give up.  but if i change a few things abut our kitchen, i'm sure after some time, they won't be missed.  so i decided, for one month, i'm going to go paper-free (in the kitchen).  some days this is going to be really tough & i'm going to have to do a little extra planning to make sure i can keep up this commitment.  but if the no impact man can do it, then so can i!  i feel as though i've moved somewhat in the right direction over the past few months as i try to buy what i can in bulk, cook meals as much as possible, and compost.  but this will take it to the next level.  it'll be the "greenest" kitchen on the block.

& i'm up for the challenge.  so as of today, paper & plastic products are no longer allowed in our kitchen.    no matter what.  for one whole month.  who's with me?


squash soup.

soup weather is offically here!  not that i ever need a reason to eat soup (yes, i’m the crazy person who’ll eat soup on a 90 degree day), but when the air chills and you hold a warm cup of soup in your hands, it’s hard not to feel happy.  i happened to have a few squashes left over from my csa that i was looking to use & decided to try a “butternut” squash recipe.  most of the squashes i had on hand were not butternut squash, so i picked some up just to add a bit of the butternut flavor (because it’s so distinct).  after a bit of searching, i landed on this recipe.  i modified it a bit to fit my needs (and what i had on hand) but not by much.  let me just say this…it’s ah-mazing!  enjoy!

squash soup
yields 4 servings

6-8 cups of squash, seeded and cut into chunks (any fall or winter squash should work wonderfully)
olive oil for brushing
1 tablespoon of kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more for seasoning
4-5 cups of vegetable stock (more if you prefer a watery consistency)
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 cup of half and half
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg

1. preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. brush flesh of squash with olive oil and season with 1 tbs of salt and 1 tsp of pepper.  roast until flesh is soft, about 30 - 35 minutes.
3. scoop flesh from skin and add into pot with vegetable stock and ginger.  bring to a simmer and puree with a hand-held blender.  add cream and nutmeg and return to a simmer.  season with salt and pepper.


a lofty list.

i started a twenty-seven while 27 list a while back.  well after i was 27 but with enough time ahead of me to know i could accomplish this list.  then, as a. started to pack his bags, i started yet another list.  a list of things i would accomplish while a. is away.  doing this helped me get excited about the year to come & the things i would be able to do (and brag about not only to myself, but a.- and now you).  so here is my list.  some of which i've done, but want to do again and other things i've always wanted to learn & do.

learn to play one song on the guitar
go cross-country skiing
scuba dive
volunteer for an organization
find a church
learn to roll a kayak
bake bread (and no, banana bread doesn't count)
partake in three triathlons (different distances preferred)
learn to use a sewing machine & make stuff
get a library card & use frequently
join a biking club
do a polar bear plunge
reduce my reliance on paper towels
decorate our bedroom
learn photoshop elements
start/join a book club
learn to snowboard...well
take a letter press class
go rock climbing (indoor & out)
plant a garden
learn to can
learn to use my camera

so there it is.  my lofty list for the year.  and the best part is, that doesn't include my goals for each month.  i'll be sure to share those sometime as well, but i might get overwhelmed if i do it now.  now i just need to prep myself for the fun & learning ahead of me and the glorious feeling of drawing a line through that accomplished task.  it's fun to have something to look forward to.


ah november

i always find november so appealing.  it humbly arrives after a wild and rambunctious holiday.  it graciously brings warm feelings of the holidays, chilly weather, festive gatherings & warm hearty food.  about this time i often find myself dreaming of decorations for the table, hot cider, warm fires, christmas wrapping ideas, holiday plans & all the yummy cookies i’m bound to enjoy this season.  snow is starting to fall, so this year, it already feels real.

(in my opinion) i have a busy month ahead of me.  i’m starting my workout regime so between that and my day job, my days are already really full…and let’s be honest, exhausting.  i’m also working on a project for a.(i started it over the weekend and am so excited to hear what he thinks) & i will post it once he gets it.  i also started (today is day dos) a 2-week mini book class with elise. while this isn't a huge time commitment, i want to make sure i’m getting the most out of it.  also, my official "list of things to do while a. is away" begins today as well (actually yesterday, but you know what i mean).  i'll be sure to share that montrosity so you can cheer me on!  whew.  there's a lot on my plate. 

 but none the less, welcome november!  i’m just relieved october is over.  time for something new.


a holiday weekend.

i love a fun-filled holiday weekend.  while i spent plenty of time playing catch-up, i also spent some much needed time with friends and working on projects. 

saturday got off to a rough start with a 4am wake-up call from atticus (one of our two dogs).  poor things decided he absolutely couldn't hold it anymore.  it's times like those i wish i had a doggy door.  i decided to make cookies for a get together i was attending later that evening.  since i hate to bake, this was a huge feat.  i found what appeared to be a yummy pumpkin chocolate chip recipe and started to bake.
how yummy do those look?  well, with six cookies cooling in the pan, and the rest on the baking racks i went about my day.  sometime while i was getting ready, atticus decided to help himself to a treat.  and this is what i was left with...
so, the trick was on me.  you win some and lose some i guess.  i made it to the fiesta with six cookies and a great story. 

the rest of the weekend was full of typical holiday activities...eating, crafting and spending time with friends.  look at this amazing pumpkin my friend carved- isn't it lovely?
now with the holiday season in full swing, i'll have to give the cookies another shot.  only after the dogs are outside.