Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Currently: December Edition

Hey there!  I'm back from Spain and trying to get caught up on life. Catching up has been extra challenging as I leave for a work trip to Chicago today and come back Friday, and I had my work holiday party last night. 'Tis the season to feel really thinly spread, I suppose!  I'm hoping to get some Spain recaps up on the blog next week while the trip is still fresh in my memory (spoiler alert:  it was wonderful!) but in the mean time, here's what is currently happening in my world these day!

Reading:  Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett. This is the final book in Follett's Century trilogy. I'm thankful that I'm reading it on my kindle as it's over 1,000 pages long! I love the books in this series as I learn so much about events of the past. The first book covered WWI, the second book covered WWII, and this final book covers the 60s through the 80s (so the civil rights movement, the era of the Berlin wall, Vietman, etc.). This is a period of history that I never learned about in school. It seemed like all of my history classes only make it to WWII, so it's been nice to delve more into an era of history that I know less about that I would like!

Loving: being back home. It's great to travel, but there's nothing like the comforts of home and the company of those you love. I'm honestly not at all excited to get on a plane today and spend 2 days away from Phil and Oscar! Womp, womp.

Frustrated: with my hip surgery recovery. I ran on Monday and felt pretty good during the run and my pace improved, but I had quite a bit of discomfort on Monday night and Tuesday. I have an appointment with my PT next week so we'll see what she says about my recovery. The bright spot is that other activites I do don't bother my hip. But for me, a workout regemine that doesn't include running is depressing for me, so I really want to figure out what I need to do to get back to running pain-free.  Le sigh.

Feeling: overwhelmed, honestly. Between holiday parties, other holiday-related commitments, and 2 work trips to Chicago in December, I'm feeling overwhelmed. I love the holidays and am trying to focus on the fun and excitement of the season, but I look at my calendar and see very few plan free days between now and Christmas!  I'm so thankful I did most of my holiday shopping before I left for Spain. 

Thinking: about how excited I am to get my hair cut next week.  I love my hair stylist and having my hair washed by someone else is sooo relaxing and comforting. Plus my hair looks so 'blah' right now so I could really use a fresher look!

Anticipating: hosting my annual cookie decorating party for my college friends and their kids on the 18th. This is the 7th year of me hosting it and it's such a fun tradition. We usually decorate gingerbread houses but this year we are going back to decorating Christmas cookies as the kids want to eat the houses and the packaged houses we buy taste AWFUL. I'm going to try making GF sugar cookies this year - hopefully they turn out!

Watching: Suits on Amazon Prime. Phil doesn't care for the show (he's not a fan of shows that have fast- or smooth-talking scripts) so I've been watching it on my own when he is out and about. 

Working: on finishing the scarf I'm making for Phil's mom for Christmas. I should finish it this week!

Sad: that the holiday season is so tough for the friends and family that have lost a loved one, especially a parent or sibling. I know their presence is missed 365 days of the years, but I know their presence is especially missed around the holidays. 

Grateful: that we'll get to celebrate Christmas with both sides of our families. We'll arrive at my parents on the 23rd and stay until Christmas Day. Then we'll head to Phil's mom's on Christmas day and stay there until the 26th. I love it when Christmas falls on a weekend as it makes seeing both families possible!

Listening:  to a new podcast called, Terrible, Thanks for Asking. It's hosted by a local woman who went through a string of awful, life-changing events 2 years ago (she miscarried, lost her dad to cancer, and then lost her husband to brain cancer in the span of about 5 weeks in 2014). This podcast is about acknowledging that sometimes when someone asks how you are doing, your response isn't "fine" or "good," it's "terrible, thanks for asking." Each week, she'll talk to a guest who is dealing with something challenging. I know this sounds super depressing but she manages to use humor and there have been nuggets of wisdom in the episodes I've listened to. The most recent episode about a woman dealing with a mistake she made in her career is excellent as it talks about how unwilling we are to forgive ourselves for mistakes we've made. 

Wishing: for snow!  Fellow midwesterners, don't hate me for saying this!  In my opinion, if it's going to be cold, we might as well have some snow on the ground.  I'm itching to get out on my cross country skis so hopefully we'll be blanketed in snow soon!

So I feel like I sound like a bit of a downer Debbie in this update, but I'm all about keeping it real, and right now I just feel a little bit over-tired, overwhelmed, and I'm probably still a bit jet-lagged, too! I think once I get these 2 work trips to Chicago behind me, I'll feel better about things!  I'm just soooo not excited to fly anywhere right now, even when it's just a 90 minute flight!

What are you anticipating, watching, and wishing for these days?

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

10 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 10 - YOU

Today I am thankful for you! 

I'll be forever grateful that blogging has allowed me to connect with people that have similar interests, hobbies, and ways of thinking, regardless of where we are geographically located. When I started this blog back in 2008, I had no idea how much it would enrich my life.  I can't imagine my life without all of you! Thanks to this blog, I have an incredible support system that is far-reaching, I've developed friendships that I know will be life-long, and I've explored regions of the U.S. and Canada that I wouldn't have otherwise.

So thank you, dear reader, where ever you are as you read this final entry of my Thanksgiving post series. And for my American friends, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

I fly to Spain the day after Thanksgiving so the lights of this space will be off until I return. I'll see you all on the other side of my next adventure!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

10 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 9 - Family

Today I am thankful for my family. 

As I've gotten older, I've realized that it's not a given that family relationships will stay intact. I've heard stories of families that have drifted apart or have been divided by arguments. This realization makes me even more thankful that my family has remained close. Granted, I don't see my family as often as I'd like as we are spread out across the U.S. and have such busy schedule. But that just makes me appreciate the time we spend together even more.

Playing rummy at the lake!

My younger sister and me (some people think we look like twins!)

At the lake with Evie and Charlie

My adorable parents, who will celebrate 47 years of marriage next month!

My handsome nephew, Matthew, and me.
I am also thankful that I have a large extended family that has remained quite close. Things like Facebook and Instagram have allowed me to stay in touch with family members that live far away. But I'm glad that our annual Julia Child event brings some of my mom's side of the family together!  We had about 30 people in attendance this year!

What are you thankful for today?

Monday, November 21, 2016

10 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 8 - Phil

Today I am thankful for Phil.

"Love is friendship that has caught fire. it is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses." ~ Ann Landers

That quote by Ann Landers sums up my relationship with Phil oh so well. We've been through a lot together. We've been through big things like the loss of a parent, dealing with my diagnosis and on-going treatment of RA, and career changes, and we've been through smaller things like my hip surgery and the day-to-day challenges of life.  I'm glad that no matter what life throws our way, I've got a strong partner by my side to help me get through it all. He's my best friend, confidant, and he still gives me butterflies. 

I waited a long time for the right person to come into my life.  Far longer than many of my friends and family members. But Phil was worth the wait. 

What are you thankful for today?

Friday, November 18, 2016

10 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 7 - Performing Arts

Today I am thankful that I live in a city with such a vibrant performing arts community. 

I feel very fortunate to live in a city with so many different performing arts venues.  We have so many theaters, some of which are beautiful, historic buildings. It's been said that Minneapolis is 2nd to New York in terms of theater seats per capita, although this has been challenged by other cities, such as Cleveland.  But it's fair to say that we have many theaters!

When I lived in Charlotte, it made me realize that I was taking Minneapolis's theater scene for granted. That's not to say that there weren't opportunities to take in live theater when I lived in Charlotte; there were just far fewer opportunities and a smaller selection of shows.  So when I moved back to Minneapolis, I vowed to do a better job of going to shows.  I think I've done a pretty good job of doing this as I've gone to a number of plays and concerts since moving back, and I've also gone to speaking events.  Most recently, I saw Colson Whitehead, author of The Underground Railroad, at an event hosted by MPR and our local newspaper.

Tonight, I'm going to Stephen Sondheim's musical, The Company, with 2 girlfriends. In case you haven't heard of this, the synopsis is:  "On the night of his 35th birthday, confirmed bachelor, Robert, contemplated his unmarried state. Over the course of a series of dinners, drinks and even a wedding, his friends explain the pros and cons of taking on a spouse. The habitually single Robert is forced to question his adamant retention of bachelorhood during a hilarious array of interactions."  The girlfriends I'm going with are also in their mid-30s and unmarried so I think we'll be able to relate to the subject-matter pretty well.  ;)

Besides attending this show, I already know that I am going to 2 other events in the first quarter of 2017 - one with Phil, which is his Christmas present, and one with his mom, Joan, which is her Christmas present.  I'm so glad I came up with awesome "experience" type gifts to give them both this year!

What are you thankful for today?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

10 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 6 - Food Blogs

Today I am thankful for food blogs.

How did people meal-plan before the advent of food blogs??  While some of my recipes come from cookbooks I own, the vast majority of the recipes I make come from food blogs. As someone that eats a gluten-free diet, food blogs are especially helpful. That's especially true when it comes to baking because when you bake gluten-free foods, you usually can't just swap out glutenous flour for gluten-free flour. Other modifications are needed and I don't have the patience to go through the trial and error process of figuring out how to make a recipe gluten free.

I make recipes from many different blogs, but my 'go to' ones are:

1. Iowa Girl Eats - Kristen, the author of this blog, has celiac and her son has a dairy intolerance, so this is my #1 source of recipes (besides being gluten free, I tried to limit my dairy intake). Her recipes are easy and straightforward and she has many 20- or 30-minute meals.

2. Minimalist Baker - I love this blog so much that I splurged and bought her cook book. She shares recipes that are vegan (but can easily to modified if you want to use eggs and dairy products) and many are gluten free. I love that her recipes often call for fewer than 10 ingredients and many of the entrees are one-pot meals.

3. Simply Recipes - This isn't a gluten free blog, but she clearly indicates whether it is gluten free.  There is such a wide variety of recipes on this blog so I often check here first if I have an ingredient I want to use but don't know what to do with it (ex: I had some leftover jicama from another recipe so I came to this blog to get some ideas on how to use up the rest of the jicama).

4.  Skinny Taste - Gina, the author of this blog, shares healthy and low/lower-calorie recipes. This blog also has a ton of recipes so I will often come here when I'm looking for inspiration on what to do with an ingredient.  I also really like her recipe index as she has many different ways of categorizing things, like "one pot," "lenten friendly," "whole 30," and "superbowl." She also groups recipes by the number of weight watcher points in each serving, which would be super helpful for anyone on the weight watchers plan.

What are you thankful for today?  What are some of your 'go to' food blogs?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

10 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 5 - Travel Opportunities

Day 5:  Today I am thankful for the travel opportunities I've had this year and the ones to come.

I've gone on some great trips this year, and for that, I am very thankful. I always appreciate the ability I have to visit other parts of my country and the world.  I've been on some great trips with Phil this year, from our relaxing trip to Mexico in February...

Just looking at this photos slows down my pulse
to our adventures in San Francisco with Kyria (who was a phenomenal guide!) ...

to the exploration we did in the Bend, Oregon area!

And my 2016 travels won't end there as a week from Friday, I leave for a week-long trip to Spain!!

What are you thankful for today?