December 8, 2016

Stocking Stuff(ers) and Things

Fun fact: my camera, which hasn't been used in weeeeeeks, took one picture for me on Tuesday and then the battery died. It was 23 degrees and cloudy. I was not charging the battery and taking another picture.
Therefore, this is my "practice" picture. Usually I take 3 or 4. 


But this picture is really just to illustrate the point that winter is HERE and I'm layering up.

Also, my skin is dry. So I'm including some Rodan+Fields stocking stuffer ideas that will combat that dry skin. 




There's also Sunless Tanner, Gauze Pads for applying toner (I LOVE THESE!), and Broad Spectrum Sunscreen (if you're lucky enough to be on a tropical vacation this time of year :)

If you're looking for a bigger gift, the Lash Boost serum is getting rave reviews from consultants and customers.  There's a special that's running through January 2nd: with the serum, you get a travel pouch and a mini-eye cream. 







I sell Rodan and Fields and I whole-heartedly recommend the products. And if there's a product I don't use or don't like, I will tell you about it. All you have to do is ask my opinion and I'll be 100% honest with you. This is my disclaimer to say that, yes, it's a direct sales business but, also, the products actually work and I like to think that I'm providing a service by telling you all about them. It's not "stuff". It's not "things". It will not clutter up your house or fall apart after one wash or get lost at the bottom of a junk drawer. It will make your skin reach its full potential and heal acne, fix wrinkles, soothe dryness, and reverse sun damage. Seriously. 


Stuff, Things, etc.


December 6, 2016

The Gift of Deployment


I know that title sounds funny, and I know that, generally, people feel bad for the spouses of deployed soldiers. And I fully admit that I've turned feeling sorry for myself into an art form during certain time periods from the last 7 years.

However, going through the redeployment process (the process of coming back from a deployment) is a special kind of gift. Deployment in itself is a life-changing process for both spouses and I've gotten a lot out out of it, whether I've wanted to or not.

People cock their head to the side and say Awww if I say that Scott is deployed. Fellow military spouses usually just nod and give a tight smile, because they know exactly everything that is running through my head. I generally don't tell people my story unless it really happens to come up. I've noticed that it comes up a lot less these days than it used to; I don't know if this is because I'm less inclined to go there or because people are more into talking about themselves and I'm more into listening (i.e. just letting them talk).

Anyway.

One of my very first army wife friends told me that deployment was a weird and strange gift. (I may or may not have talked about this before...I can't remember.) At the time, I was very young and assumed that God was playing games with me and trying to torture me. However, over the years, I've come to realize that what she was saying was more than true.

A homecoming ceremony is better than anything I can actually imagine. The giddiness and happiness and all-encompassing joy you feel to know your loved one is anticipated to be in that crowd of camouflage is like nothing else. It makes the months of deployment worth it. It's like a thousand Christmas mornings wrapped into one (and none of us will get to live a thousand Christmases, so that's what I imagine it to be like). I never reflect back on it as a big deal. I never remember that feeling until I'm in that last week or so of the throes of deployment and then I remember and it all comes rushing back. Every homecoming ceremony we've done (four now, and some more ceremonious than others) materializes in my mind and I remember.

And, in all honesty, I feel bad for people who never get to experience this. I've been taught appreciation and perseverance and independence in a tough way. I am so very grateful for this. Deployment is hard. It's all-consuming in so many ways. But it has literally shaped me into the person I am. It's taught me patience and trust and reliance on God. It's made me wish time away and lament my luck and complain. It's made me cry happy and sad tears at once. It's made me fearful and anxious. It's made me realize how life can be chunked into befores and afters. It's made me appreciate my spouse in a way that we don't always remember to do. Even the messy house, the incredibly messy house, that I'm left with when he does get home...I appreciate that.


It must be said that not all families get to experience a happy homecoming and, trust me when I say, military families' hearts break when they hear of tragedy. It becomes nearly impossible not to dwell on the idea of something bad happening almost all of the time. Compartmentalizing is key. This is where patience, trust, and reliance comes in; to not be fearful in the waiting, to trust that you will come through this one way or another, and to rely on God because you, dear military spouse, are definitely not in control. It took me a long time to give up my "control". I never really had any, of course. I just tried to control through my worry and fretting and that was not a productive way to live. Because the other part of deployment is that you have to go on living while they're gone; which is why this blog is so important to me. It's a record of my independent life that I've fought really hard for during these times of worry and stress.

I have tips for living the military spouse life and many thoughts on the subject. I do not consider myself an expert but I have experience and sometimes, in the military world, that's enough to qualify as someone who appears to know what they're doing.

December 5, 2016

Mondaying.

I'll be honest: I got really upset when I realized it was only a two-day weekend.

The dogs went hunting:


Because of the cactus...

the dogs have to wear rubber booties.



And I went shopping.

I got these slippers for less than $10 at Costco. They are amazing. I should've bought two pairs.


And then I came across a link that led me to Ulta's website and saw that the Smoky Naked Palette was 50% off yesterday. I was intrigued. I always said I would never pay $54 for one of these, but 50% off seemed like a bargain. Since Ulta is near Costco, I just stopped on my way. I asked the salesperson if the palettes were 50% off and she said she didn't know anything about that. Then I looked 3 feet away and saw a giant sign that said "SMOKY NAKED PALETTE 50% OFF". 


I almost told her she was an idiot and I *almost* complained about her at the register. But I didn't. I just bought my $27 worth of fancy eyeshadow and told Scott he could wrap it up for Christmas. 

We watched Penn State win the Big Ten.


We watched the Steelers win too. Victories all around.

I also made these cookies for the FRG. I made them last year and they were amazing...will be a yearly Christmas cookie from here on out.

I also made this Chicken Lo Mein and it was good too. 

And here's motivation for Monday:



I've been reading Daring Greatly and Rising Strong and what I'm getting is that up there ^. Brown says it and when I see "hustle", I think "facade". Perfectionism is a busy way of putting up a facade. 

So here's to cutting back on the hustle on this Monday. 

December 2, 2016

Friday Phone Photos

Just a few pictures I took this week.

It's been a tiring one. We're also in a huge season of waiting when it comes to the army and what's next (spoiler alert: we don't know what's next) so unsettled is becoming the day-to-day feeling.


The dogs went hunting last weekend. It was windy.

And then there's a dead bird in the house (Jett's retrieved kill).


Jett started destroying this pillow (he got in so much trouble) and then Scout finished the job.

I started The Secret Keeper. It's taking some time to get into, but I think I like it better than The Lake House. 

A professor I had in college said this in an article last this week. "Teacher exodus" is right. There's no incentive to stay in the field, other than loving what you do. 

Lastly, I get so frustrated with my day-to-day routine simply because I haul all this to work. Scott told me to buy a gallon jug (the water at my workplace is borderline undrinkable so I take my own), but I finally just bought a 48 oz Nalgene. That might help. I'm sooooo tired of filling up water bottles before I leave the house in the morning. I thought about keeping bottled water at work, but it just seems wasteful.  (Right?)

December 1, 2016

Confessions and things (S&T 12/1)

+I don't like Gilmore Girls.

Now that I have your attention...

+I also don't like tacos that much.
Sure, I'll eat them. But I will not actively seek them out.

+I (we) am (are) the worst pet owner(s).
We never sent in Jett's AKC registration paperwork. He's 2 1/2 years old.
When I found this paperwork a month or so ago, I decided to fill it out and send it in. I realized, since it required a signature, that I would, in fact, have to be Jett's owner.


I was just coming to terms with that fact when I realized you were required to list a co-owner and Scott might as well be on the paperwork too, and that also needed a signature. I decided to just wait and Scott could sign it himself.

+I'm a believer in vitamins, supplements, and protein shakes. However, I refuse to shop at GNC because I know someone who works there and this person is a terrible person. It may seem petty because it is.
(I hope the people from GNC see this.)

+We were reading a story about a snake a few weeks ago. A kid said, "I saw a snake like that!". I thought, I blew several snakes like that apart with a shotgun over the summer. I just smiled.

+I've read so many blog posts and informative pieces about bullet journaling that, frankly, it's embarrassing. The more I read, the more I'm convinced that it is absolutely, 100% not for me. But I still like to read about it.

+We were learning about the Civil War and a kid asked me if I was alive at the time of slavery. I didn't even bother to present the impossibility of this (because, really now, he asked the question in the first place). I just said no.

Stuff, Things, etc.

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November 30, 2016

Pinned.Did.Done 11/30



The background to these Pinned, Did, Done posts is that I treat my Pinterest a lot like a to-do list and I don't pin a recipe or tip without the intention of actually trying it. Here's what I've done since the last (long, long ago) post.

Ways to make and freeze winter squash. I did this in July when I got an acorn squash from the local co-op. It worked and the cubes are still in the freezer, waiting to be added to soups and stews. (Pin)

Napa Valley Chicken. This was good. Really, really good. I didn't have any white wine opened, so I just used chicken broth for all of the liquid. I dredged the chicken in a mixture of flour and breadcrumbs (because they were right there) instead of just flour. Also, I put it over couscous instead of rice. (Pin)

I needed something quick to take to a potluck and had always wanted to try the claim that pumpkin+cake or brownie mix is good. These 2-Ingredient Pumpkin Brownies were okay. They were very gooey and very pumpkin-y. I topped them with my own homemade cream cheese frosting so that made them better. I believe that the frosting is the best part of any cake or brownie anyway. I still prefer an actual pumpkin brownie recipe (which doesn't have the intense pumpkin flavor), but these are fine in a pinch. I'm not a huge pumpkin fan, so if you are these are good for you. (Pin)

Cleaning a coffeepot. I was kind of shocked that this worked. However, you do actually have to wipe down the coffeepot and kind of scrub the inside to get the full effect. Just letting the mixture soak and then rinsing doesn't clean it. It does loosen all of the grime and staining and makes it very easy to wipe out. (Pin)

These mini cheesecakes came out beautifully. I had never made cheesecake before. I made the caramel sauce listed at the bottom of the recipe to go with them, and then I toasted some pecans and mixed them in with the caramel sauce. Since I topped the cupcakes with this, I got my pecan pie cheesecake without having to make a gigantic actual cheesecake. (Pin)

30 Minute Dinner Rolls.  These were easy enough to make but sometimes I can't tell if baking in Colorado is off because of the altitude or if it's me. I use the convection feature on my oven because I've done some experimenting and found that convection will negate the altitude. If I use "convention", I have to adjust the recipe a little and/or things fall flat.  These rolls were heavy and biscuit-like. They tasted good, but I was interested in something light and fluffy so I may try another recipe for Christmas. (Pin)

What have you Pinned and (actually) done lately?

Linking up with Jenn with What's Hap"pinning" Wednesday.

November 29, 2016

Why I stopped checking my work email at home.


I actually put this practice into place and had been mulling it over for a few weeks, and then Gretchen Rubin did a podcast episode about it. So I knew this was justifiable and I probably need to tell everyone about it in order to hold myself accountable. 
These are the reasons why I stopped checking my work email at home AND I deleted the app for it from my phone:

1. I'm not on-call. This is the biggest reason. I work 7:45am-3:45pm. I am not obligated to anything other than that. I spend time most weekends grading papers or writing plans. Or in the morning before work, grading papers. Or at night, grading papers. All teachers do these things and I'm okay with that to an extent. It can't all get done at school; there's not enough time. But I am not going to be on-call for parent questions or updates about what's happening the next day from coworkers/admin during my off hours. There is nothing that can't wait until the next morning.
Sometimes I do allow myself to check my work email on Monday when I wake up and check my regular email, just because it's nice to know what I'm walking into.


2. It was giving me anxiety. So I would get these emails in the evening. And then I would fret. And I would worry. And I would commiserate and complain with coworkers via text. And it would literally overtake my evening (not that I was doing anything other than watching Jane the Virgin, but still). I don't need that kind of pressure. In this case, ignorance is bliss. I can't do anything about it at 7pm anyway.

3. Weekends are for things unrelated to work. They just are. It didn't bother me quite so much when Scott was deployed and I spent a lot of time doing schoolwork on the weekends and was okay with that. Last year, it wasn't an issue anyway. This year is...different. Something had to be done in order for me to maintain sanity. Therefore, I stopped checking work email at home around the end of October.

4. Most people don't reply on the weekend anyway. Not because they have a personal policy against it (hello there), but because they're just busy with other things. So, me doing business on the weekend wasn't actually getting me anywhere.

What about you? Are you willing to *work* on the weekends?

November 28, 2016

My Thanksgiving break is over.

I did finish all of the Christmas decorating so that's something.

Made this.



First, motivation. Because it's Monday. Sigh.




Secondly. If you've never seen one of my November recaps, read this (if you're so inclined), because this November just added to the list, as a deployment ended in November. It's always November.

Thirdly...

I'm not really sure where Saturday through Wednesday went. I spent a lot of time reading, cleaning/decorating for Christmas, walking dogs, and just puttering around. Scott has also been working on the basement remodel a bit more.

On Thursday, I did make pretty much what I said I would, minus the rolls because I didn't have milk. For an over-planner, I'm pretty bad at planning sometimes. After we ate, we made plates to take to the barracks and Scott was able to check in with all of the staff duties, which was really nice I thought. I remember the days in Alaska, where he'd have staff duty at the company on weekends and/or holidays (Has it really been 7 years since we got to Alaska? Yes, it has.)

Very interested in what's happening on that counter

We finished the evening with a Steelers game, which is always nice to see in Colorado.

I never eat Chipotle these days. I haven't craved Mexican food in almost a year, but I felt like this on Friday night. 

On Friday, Scott went hunting and then we went to look for a new dishwasher (!!!!!) and ran a few errands. The dishwasher will arrive in two weeks. #victory

On Saturday, I made a cake for Scott's birthday and I got him these...




I contacted Kori Clark monthsss ago after reading about her on Nichole's blog and thought there'd be no better gift for Scott (and no better way to spend any money I'd put towards a birthday gift) than to commission some portraits of the dogs.

Sunday, I went to the grocery store and the downward spiral of absolute misery began: another week is beginning.

In order to make myself feel better about this, I ordered a planner...I looked at Plum Paper's site many times over and just could not find a cover I liked. I know this sounds ridiculous but I couldn't justify spending $32+shipping on a PLANNER if I didn't like looking at it. I would end up hating it and discard it by February (which is exactly what happened with last year's knock-off Day Designer). I also didn't want to order a Happy Balance planner simply because it was the same price and I didn't know what I was getting for that money. I'd never held one or seen a review anywhere. I'd just noticed them on an Instagram account and thought Neat.

So, I went to Erin Condren to drool over that watercolor design I brought to your attention months ago. Lo and behold, EC was having a 30% off sale and I was sold. I paid what I would for a PP or a HB planner (minus shipping...always minus the shipping) and since I've had ECs before, I know what I'm getting. I would like to run a study of 4 or 5 different planner brands, used side by side for a few months, in order to really be able to tell someone what they're getting for their money and what is the best use for each. I adored my plaid EC back in 2012 and I did use my EC in 2013-2014 to death. So while they are bulky, that is not a deal-breaker. I think I used them fully because I paid so much for them, therefore I'll be stuck with this one whether I like it or not. If I buy cheap planners, I'll buy more. I spent $40 at least on "planning"-like materials in 2016, including what I use for school.



And that was the highlight of my weekend. Other than that, we sat on the couch and watched The Crown and Shameless. It was wonderful.

November 25, 2016

Christmas listing...



Yesterday, I listed a bunch of things I'm thankful for...which means that today I show my gluttonous side. That's how Thanksgiving works, right?
Just kidding...

I wasn't originally going to make a Christmas list this year, but my mom asked me what I wanted and then Scott asked me what I wanted, so here we are...

Kindle Paperwhite. I have an iPad (from 2011) that is in good shape and I use it for everything, including reading on the Kindle app. It's just so inconvenient to take places because it's huge, so mostly it just sits on my nightstand. A Kindle would be a breath of fresh air.






Planner --Either a Plum Paper planner in the new year but I can't decide on a cover I like.


Or a Happy Balance Planner. They come in 6 month installments, which is perfect for me. 





Pilates ring.--what I'd love is a reformer but I don't have a thousand dollars lying around or the space for such a contraption.



Slippers. I think I like these ones?




Northface fleece. This one looks nice and fuzzy on the inside.




Blankets.

I'm linking to Pottery Barn just because they're pretty, but I'm not picky. I love new throws. 


A new Penn State sweatshirt (or two). When you live far from home, people represent themselves by their "home". I need something new to wear to work on Fridays. I was wearing my Happy Valley t-shirt at Costco a few weeks ago and a man with a PSU shirt on said "Class of '86...I'm on the alumni board". It brings you together, with complete strangers, in a new place.

This one. 






I'd like socks too, but I'm going to put that in small letters because last year that's all I got from both my parents and from Scott.

In reality, this is just a list of things that I would like and will likely eventually buy for myself. I would really REALLY like a new dishwasher (the one in this house is from 2003) and I would really REALLY like new living room furniture. However, when Scott asked me what I wanted and I said, "What's something WE want?", he laughed and said, "Oh, is that how new furniture happens?".

Fingers crossed.


What's on your Christmas list???



November 24, 2016

Thankful Thursday (S&T 11/24)

As it goes, I'm going to post some things I'm thankful for on this Thanksgiving. I mentioned that I was following along with The Balanced Life's 30 Days of Gratitude and I have, indeed, been writing down 3 things I'm grateful for each day.



My biggest gratitude goes toward this deployment being over and, fingers crossed, life just resuming to normal in many regards. Life won't always be easy or perfect because that's not how life works, but it will be rounded out in a way that it hasn't been for the last year.

This is the list of what I've been writing down. It goes in order, starting November 1st, but the items/people/things are specific to each day. They are random and some are funny. But it's really easy to tell what kind of day I was having by looking back at the 3 things for that day.

Coffee
Cool breezes
Boots
Teacher friends
Shameless (new episodes while I grade papers)
Good mail days
Clear skin
Showing up on time
Podcasts
Friday nights
Hot chocolate
Puppy snuggles
Kindess of strangers
Friendship
Enjoying a book
Not having to go anywhere
Good audiobooks
Skype
Chick-fil-a
Kids who kind of listen to me
Working ahead at school
Coworkers who are friends
Nice parents (of students)
Sweet potato fries
{insert name of particular student}
{insert name of particular student}
Neighbors
The end of Girls on the Run
{insert name of friend}
{insert name of friend}
Professional development days
Fridays
Veterans
Girls on the Run is officially over
Pandora
Pilates
Puppy playdates
Email
Clean sheets
Tomorrow Scott comes home (I wrote this 3 times)
Today Scott comes home (I wrote this 3 times)
Peace
Deep breathing
Days off
Scott (I wrote this twice)
Christmas cards
Podcasts
When the dogs go hunting (I get to relax)
Text message support
Saturdays
Coffee
Sleeping in
Hallmark Christmas movies
Clean floors
Pumpkin cookies
Shameless (starting the series from the beginning with Scott)
Christmas decorations
The ability to help others (I saw a homeless dog so I bought him/her a bag of food...Scott said "most people give that guy cash, you did it the smart way"...because I had time, I was able to spend 30 minutes driving to Target and back again to drop it off...which leads to the next item on the list...)
Time off
Jett and Scout (The other day, Jett ran off while I was walking the dogs and I was so worried about the little ginger...I pushed the vibrate button so much that he ran back to the house and was apparently clawing at all the doors, wanting to be let in, but I was still in the field with Scout. All's well that ends well.)

What are you particularly grateful for? If you're in the U.S., Happy Thanksgiving! If not, it's almost Friday :)


Stuff, Things, etc.