January 18, 2021

This weekend...

... I stayed off of Instagram for a few days. I know everyone has their social media triggers. Mine is IG. Facebook is just bothersome and Twitter is informative. IG is an absolute time suck and comparison trap. 

... I cleaned/Cloroxed the trash cans and did a vinegar rinse on the Keurig.

....I highlighted my hair. I was so pleased with this Clairol version of highlights. I was not seeing results at all from the Loreal version anymore. This one turned my hair more of a golden, rather than just a blonde. The directions said something about "leave it on longer if you see a red tint". I see maybe more of a red tint than I've never had before (also, I've never had a red tint), but I like it. It's very natural/autumnal. $10 well-spent. Maybe next time I'll try balayage. You know what? That's a good goal for 2021. 

[picture to come during daylight hours]

....went to the local grocery store instead of going to Walmart. Wells broke the eggs at the checkout.

...Scott's friend came over for lunch and we had Panda Express. We're very high-brow. 

....I finished Bridgerton. Meaning, I watched 6 episodes back to back. 

... I finished one book and got halfway through another. 


...I watched the Chiefs game. We're like barely Steelers fans anymore. Something about them is just...off? Scott has been a Bills fan forever and I've always loosely (v loosely) followed the Chiefs because my brother loves them and they're in the AFC and I tend to only follow AFC teams. Now we're living in the Kansas City area and EVERYTHING is red, white, and yellow in these parts. Better than blue and orange, I suppose. 

...I placed a Beauty Counter order, and joined Band of Beauty. I only did this because I wanted two products and one of the products I wanted was the FREE gift for joining and it cost less to join than it did to buy the product. So I got two free products, the other product I bought, and the perks of B of B membership for a calendar year. 



...I bought a Loopy phone case. It's a thing I do: I buy phone cases. I don't know why/where this comes from, but it's a thing.  It's one of those running jokes that's not quite a joke because it drives Scott insane. Anyway, Verizon sent me a refund debit card for a bill we overpaid, so I used it to buy a phone case, among other things. 

....I front-loaded Wells on dentistry. I did this with potty training and it was a success. I bought a potty book and we read and looked at that thing every day for 3 weeks and then, all of a sudden, he was ready to potty train. This past week, I bought a dentist book and we look at it 2-3 times a day in preparation for today's dentist visit. Thoughts and prayers, please. 

...I also bought a regular doctor book this weekend, thinking maybe I can reason the hysterics out of him by reading about the doctor every day. He has his 2.5 year check-up next week. 


January 15, 2021

5 on Friday. 1/15

1. To start with, I bought myself a pair of Align leggings on Sunday. Happy birthday to me. I mean, I ordered them online. I have no idea if I'll like them. But since so many love those darn things, I figured that if there was ever a year to try, birthday number thirty-five is it. If you can't do something now, then when? 


Edited to add: I got them yesterday and they are kind of magical. That's my professional opinion so far. I have spent so much money on leggings that claim to be "like lululemon" that I figured I should just do it. I got olive green in a size 4. I never size down and prefer loose over tight so I just started with a 4. They seem to work. I'll try them on again before I decide to keep them. I didn't feel regret (just the usual shame that I spent so much money on something insignificant). If they work, it's worth it, right? I hate all my other cheap leggings right now.

2.  




The weather has been shockingly unpredictable and nasty this week. It's that Colorado-effect: the weather gets windy and warm before it takes a turn for the worst.  I had to unexpectedly take today off because I couldn't ask our sitter to travel 45 minutes in blowing snow and ice. The news is saying specifically "do not travel" (always reassuring). Obviously, it'd be a day where Scott has been made virtual and has a million things to do for 6+ hours. 
Question: do you ever get over the guilt of taking off work for things like this? 

A win: I did pull out my suede Sole Society boots from a few years ago and I like them again. Originally, I wasn't sure about them, but they work for me now. 

3. 


I made an ice cream cake over the weekend for my birthday. Wells dug in. 
Are you interested in the recipe? I have a ton of ice cream cakes in my Recipes


4.  We took Wells to Cabela's over the weekend. 





5. Bachelor: Ugh, Matt James might just be the best Bachelor ever. He has a level of empathy and compassion that we've LITERALLY never seen on this show. Of course, that level of empathy is going to get him in trouble when it comes to Victoria. 

Who do you like? I like Sarah. Abigail. Bri. I mean, how could you *not* like any of them? I feel like this could be a true love story-type of season. 

I still prefer a good Bachelor Party recap but, if I'm in the mood for a hate-listen (and if you are too!) go check out Here to Make Friends this week! They are biggest bunch of racist, misogynist, bigoted podcasters on the recap circuit right now. They said that Matt James can't possibly be as Christian as he's appearing to be because he's black and the producers are attempting to make him more palatable. Also, he (Matt James) is playing into gender stereotypes and it feels "icky" because he's saying that a man must support, love, and care for his family. 

Nice, right?  They are the worst. 

And they can't end an episode without calling at least one white person a racist; Victoria can't just be mean and a bully and tone-deaf, she also has to be a racist. I don't like Victoria at ALL but disliking someone doesn't make them a racist. Plus, they are so lost in their own virtue-signaling echo chamber that they won't even have someone on who disagrees with them. I love when Nick Viall is on because he challenges them. This week the guest was just, literally, an echo of whatever Emma said. 

Alright. I'm done. (And no, I don't subscribe but I'll pull it up for a good hate-listen every other week or so.)

January 13, 2021

2021's Smoothie Recipe

 


Smoothies are back!

I used to drink a protein/spinach smoothie every single morning on my way to work for about 18 months. 
While pregnant, I couldn't stomach the thought of a green smoothie; not because it made me sick, but because it was just gross. I've never been able to get back into protein powder, and I've definitely tried. 
So now, after trying out some Daily Harvest smoothies this fall (too expensive but very good, generally) and reading The Postnatal Depletion Cure (where the author talks a lot about nutrition), I've hopped back on the smoothie train. 

The best part is that Wells loves them. He eats them like ice cream with a spoon. It's a fun part of the day, sharing a giant smoothie.

Here's what I've been putting into them for the last two months.

Coconut water. For hydration and a little flavor.
Almond milk. To serve as a blending liquid but, really, does this have any other purpose? Does anyone actually *like* almond milk?
Dole Fruit Blends. These aren't super cheap, but they have a mixture in them, usually including something green. It's usually about $8-9 a bag and will last a week. Still cheaper than Daily Harvest!
Extra frozen fruit. Mango, pineapple, blueberries, or strawberries are my favorites to use to bulk it up. I don't like raspberries or blackberries.
Sometimes half a banana. I'm not a huge banana fan. 
Sometimes spinach. It depends.
Acai berry. Sometimes, if I have it. 
Collagen.
Chia/flax/hemp hearts. We buy this Trilogy mix and I put it on oatmeal a lot. It's fantastic if you blend it into a smoothie. 



Anyway, I don't measure anything. 

I try to make it thicker, rather than thinner, because Wells does get more out of it when he eats it with a spoon. I used to try so hard to get him to drink smoothies and, as it turns out, he just doesn't like to drink them. 

What's your favorite smoothie recipe or ingredient? I'm really on board with adding in my supplements, like flavorless collagen, this way. 

January 11, 2021

December 2020 Books

I have had formatting issues by the thousands while trying to write this post. I originally wrote it in Google Docs during a lunch break and the formatting did not come up the way I needed it to because I wanted to show some examples of pages from the books I read. So...I'm making do with this. Just like how we all finished up 2020, kind of dragging to the finish line, these are my last books of 2020. 

They were some good ones, so I knew I didn't want to shortchange this post. I've rewritten it just for you all.



Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

I liked the first 1/3 better than the last 2/3 and it became typically Backman-insufferable toward the end. Look at my review of Beartown to see what I mean by that; he can't just finish a book. He has to spin a wheel of random words and phrases and put them all into the last few chapters. He also splices up pages and chapters with lots of back and forth for no reason at all. 

All in all, I have very strong feelings about his writing because I don't like it. I know that an unpopular take. I would 110% bet something is lost in the translation too. However, I finished the book because I liked the story and he provided enough hooks at the beginning to make me interested.* 

Then I actually bought it for my mom for her birthday because this is the type of story she can appreciate. 

*I was kind of horrified by how horrified all of the characters were at the mere prospect of a gun. For everyone who insists that the U.S. military is too big and costly, this is why: we need to help everyone else in the world who does not feel comfortable with protecting themselves. 

Love Thy Body by Nancy Pearcey

I did a book club for it and I listened to it on Audible+ but this interview the author did with Allie Stuckey is probably worth a listen if you're unsure where to start. 

Let's begin with: I hate the title so much. The narration wasn't great. And even listening to the author speak in interviews wasn't my favorite. However, the information is important. If you're a more liberal or progressive Christian, I recommend it as food for thought. The basic idea is that biology trumps feelings, facts equal biology, and facts outlast feelings. Our physical bodies matter. It's actually very difficult to describe the ideas addressed in the book without offending someone, somewhere, but I don't know...maybe we need to be offended. I needed to be offended at one point and I'm glad I was. Being pushed out of your comfort zone is important sometimes. 

The Postnatal Depletion Cure by Oscar Serrallach 

I could go on about this for awhile. I don't agree with all of it because it gets a little eastern mysticism-ish but I took away a lot. I now add collagen and maca powder to my smoothies, for example. Highly recommend if you are pregnant or postpartum. There are other books out there on this topic too, so I'd pick up at least one if you fall into the categories of being pregnant or having young children!

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab 

This is the type of world-building I can get behind. There are rules to the book but it's not so cemented in fantasy that I have to envision what the place might look like (i.e. The Hunger Games). There's a fantastical element but it takes place in actual locations. 

Got very interesting toward the end (this was a tome, at 450ish pages), and I think it's perfectly set up for a sequel. 

4 stars

People Like Her by Ellery Lloyd

This is a must for anyone who participates in consuming influencer culture. The beginning was great. The end was weird and, I think, the authors got lazy with it. If they knew where it was going before starting the beginning, I see it. But the beginning was much better than the end. A solid 3 stars and I didn't like the cover.  (Also, trigger warnings should be included and I can tell you what those are if you'd like...don't want to give a lot away in my review.)

Pretty Little Wife by Darby Kane

A thriller. Pulls you in. I enjoyed it. Another where the beginning was also better than the end. It, also, got weird toward the end but I appreciated that it gave you only bits of information at a time and you had to pay attention or you'd miss clues/important plot points. 

3.5 rounded up to 4 stars. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------

So those were my books for December 2020 and that landed me at 54 books for 2020. I'll take it. 

Have you read anything on this list? I have a ton of books reserved at the library in an effort to get 2021 off to a productive start! 

In case you missed my (rather rambly) IG story last week, I am listening to nonfiction this year instead of trying to read it. This shouldn't take away from my physically-read books at all, but will just up my total altogether by the end of the year (if I stick with it). 

Linking up for Show Us Your Books!

January 8, 2021

5 on Friday. 1/8

 #1 I don't know if I'm proud of it, but we did a third Christmas in Kansas. So we had Christmas morning again on New Year's Day. This is where Wells got the gifts from us (we made no mention of Santa but he's already made that connection between Santa and presents). 







#2  It's literally embarrassing: almost nothing makes me happier than a new Longchamp. Again, I'm embarrassed by this, but it is what it is. 


#3 Both dogs went to the vet this week for Lyme booster shots. They were not happy. When Scout realized where he was, he turned his back and wouldn't look at us. When Jett realized what was happening, he played dead and wouldn't let me get him out of the car. Fun.



#4 If you need a laugh...


I am not from the midwest, but I've spent so much time working with people who ARE from the midwest (mostly in Colorado) that this is all so familiar now. It's just basic vernacular to me at this point. 

When you have a Google Classroom, you have to have a bitmoji, I've realized. In preparation for if I need one in the future, I spent 2-3 hours trying to create one a few weeks ago. It is a giant virtual waste of time. But necessary. 

Who just doesn't like anything anymore? 


#5 Finally, I have no big Bachelor thoughts this week. Like I said the other day, I'm all-in on Matt's personality. I feel that I have gone into this not liking him because of his connection to Hannah B (gag) and Tyler C (blech). But I've been pleasantly surprised! He's wildly better than Peter on every level and so much better than Colton and Arie and Nick and....
I mean, the bar is low, but my expectations are higher than usual. I'm not crazy about the women though. I think Tayshia had better guys than Matt has girls. Make sense?





January 6, 2021

*cUrReNtLy in January 2021*

We welcomed in 2021 with a round of fails. 

Propane. Still dealing with this. We left the exact amount of money in a check that they asked us to leave and then they left a bill for more than the check.


Trash. We screwed this one up. Between the ice storm last week and not remembering what day it was, we forgot to put the trash out in time. Now we'll have an extra week's worth of trash to figure out. We can't put it in the garage because of attracting mice and we can't put it outside out of the can because of wild animals tearing it apart. Not to mention that load of cardboard we need to get to the recycling center this week. So. much. cardboard.

Post office. To whoever believes the post office is good and genuine and just doing the right thing, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. They are a bloated, debt-ridden government entity just like the rest of Washington D.C. Hashtag swampy. They've operated at a deficit for decades. Sure, they have extra pressure on them because everyone sits at home and orders online these days, but we do make a lot of excuses for them. Mail carriers are great most of the time; the idea of the post office is valuable but not feasible in the long-term. Think how the Michael Scott Paper Company couldn't operate for more than like 2 months without bottoming out. That's how the post office works. They don't charge what UPS/FedEx charges and they can't make a profit because of it. 


ANYWAY...I had a hold on our mail while we were away and it wasn't delivered on the day it was supposed to be and then I was like "I should check on this" and then I didn't and just gave it two more days and it was all delivered on January 2nd instead of December 30th. It's like I couldn't even muster the energy or desire to go to the post office because I knew they wouldn't be able to help me, even though that was the location where I filled out the mail-hold form. I just feel like it's talking to a wall if I go there with legitimate questions about such things. 

Ice storm. We arrived home to an ice storm last week and we're 99% sure someone stole something from our property while we were gone. They only people who knew we were gone were the propane company and the post office so... 


But here we are. A new year. 


Beginning... lots of new TV. I started Bridgerton on Monday night and I couldn't look away. Holy cow. So good. 

The Bachelor started this week...I'm all-in on Matt’s personality! Thoughts?

We're watching season 3 of Cobra Kai, and I'm anxiously awaiting the next season of Better Call Saul on Netflix. That is the best show. If you enjoyed Breaking Bad, you need to watch Saul. 

And, since I'm listening to a Gossip Girls podcast, I was thinking of restarting the series. I haven't watched it since I was 9 months pregnant and just hanging out at home. 

Feeling... like everyone should start off their new year with this book:


It's political, yes, but it's common-sense driven and he doesn't really pick a "side". I listened while I was cleaning and organizing all weekend. It's perfect for 2021 if you're resolving to think for yourself. He actually explains the best ways to do your own research while going over the turning points of his political past. 

Organizing... this was a long time coming, but I tackled the Christmas decorations. It took me all weekend. I worked during nap times and while Wells was awake, but basically....


I took all of our Christmas tubs, took out every decoration, took down all of my decorations that were out, and repacked it all. I threw away a lot when it came to gift wrapping (I almost never use the paper two years in a row and wrapping paper is a PAIN to try to pack and move when it's easier to just buy new each year) and piled up a few decorations I didn't really like to give away. 

I was able to whittle from 6 tubs down to 5 and now I have the extra tub to use for Wells' outgrown clothes and toys I've just been piling up in the basement. 


I also took care of the "fall" tub. I was completely out of room and it was all just piled in the basement. But I got rid of all of our Halloween costumes from the last 10 years...things we will never wear again so why was I keeping them?...and that made a difference.


There's a "spring/summer" tub too but it's pretty sparse. I don't decorate much for anything other than fall or Christmas. 

(That was literally my weekend.)

Resolving... I posted what I'm happy about from 2020. It's a pretty comprehensive list. All in all, I'm satisfied with the year. 



Wondering... With all of the talk about Peacock and The Office leaving Netflix: Is there anyone else that The Office Ladies podcast has completely RUINED The Office for? Jenna Fischer is the worst. I don't care and don't need to watch when I already have every episode memorized. I own most seasons on DVD but we also don't have a DVD player anymore, so...

Anyway, is this just a "me" thing? (It might just be a "me" thing.)

Linking up with Anne for Currently!

January 5, 2021

Best Gifts of Christmas 2020: a round-up

(No affiliate links. Just sharing for fun! I love seeing what others buy/get for holidays so I thought you might too.)

I shared what we got our 2.5 year old for Christmas and his grandparents, aunts, and uncles also got him some fun gifts: tractors, trucks, Lincoln Logs, lots of puzzles and games, a stuffed polar bear, books, clothes, a new winter coat(!), a tool bench, and so on. LOTS of stuff and we are so thankful. This kid isn't getting a darn thing until his next birthday. (FWIW, he's already "bored" and just follows me around all day, despite all of the new toys.)

When it comes to adults, I wanted to share a little of what I got for relatives and what they got for us, because now I have confirmation on what works, what is liked, and what was a good buy. This isn't everything, but it's some of the highlights. 



This s'mores set. If you need something to do this winter at home, it's a steal for $23. I saw a blogger recommend an absolutely gorgeous s'mores set-up that was a "quarantine purchase" and it had cost almost $80 from like Williams-Sonoma or something. No, thank you. This was perfect and has high reviews from the families we gifted it to. It works! Don't forget to add in the s'mores ingredients if you're giving as a gift. They're not included!

This charger that I gave to Scott. I don't know what those reviews are about; he's already gotten his $10 worth of use out of it. I also gave him a wok so we can perfect our fried rice. Scott got, among other things, a meat thermometer and a Hydroflask thermos from my parents, which are both very useful (and I told my mom those are things he wanted). Sometimes useful gifts are just the best ones. Like the new slippers I also wrapped up from Santa (those were half-price on Black Friday). 

I gifted copies of Hillbilly Elegy to more than one person. Also, I gifted a Book of the Month 3-month subscription to my cousin. I rarely buy books but this is such a fun treat each month. 

Blue light-blocking glasses. Bought some for us and gifted a pair. I like these ones because they don't have the odd orange tint.

I got myself these glass mugs I've been eyeing for over a year just because I think they're pretty and I never buy mugs anymore, and also these Kate Spade studs I've had in my Amazon wish list for quite awhile. (These are not small, dainty studs..which is what I had wanted..but they're still really pretty and I'll make an effort to wear them.)

I also got a similar coat to this at the PX for a fraction of the website's price. And I got this a bag and told Scott it was from him. (Mine is a "desert" color but this gray one is very pretty too!)

My mom and dad got me the Stars Above robe. It's as fantastic as I'd heard and runs big so size down. And we got a new rice cooker (see: goes with wok) to replace our 15 year old one. 

We also gifted a lot of gift cards and books...I tend to give away more obscure books that are favorites of mine, hoping they haven't been read yet by the recipient!

Our big gift to ourselves was considered and ordered on the day after Christmas. We bought an exercise bike on Amazon. No, not a Peloton and not even a Bowflex (they have wait lists and are still more expensive than what we want right now). We just want a way to get in decent cardio so we'll try this one and I'll report back. It has great reviews. There ain't no gym time happening around here so anything is better than nothing. The on-base gym is open to only soldiers and is only open in two-hour chunks of time throughout the day. We've tried and Scott can't make it work with his schedule since he's still doing virtual learning. 

I've already found a bunch of online f-r-e-e workouts but if you have any bike workout recommendations, send them my way!

Linking up with Tanya!



January 4, 2021

Stuff and Things I'm *Glad* I did in 2020

Resolutions aside, I had set no goals for 2020 (that I recollect anyway) so I have nothing to recap. Along with that, I have some personal goals for 2021 and things I hope happen but...if 2020 taught us anything...maybe I won't get too hung up on measures of success. Mostly, I have post-it notes in my planner with things I want to try to get to or accomplish each month. *insert giant shrug here* We'll see what happens.

These are some things I can feel proud about from 2020, though. 


I'm glad I...

Moved halfway across the country. It was good for the soul to discover a new place and settle into a bigger house. 

Went home for Christmas. 

Went back to work. This was very valuable for me. I am in a full-time position but it's not my own classroom and I feel like I half-belong, if that makes sense. This feeling was amplified when the birthday list came out for January and my birthday wasn't on it. While I don't love people knowing my birthday (it's just awkward?), it's just one of those things that makes me feel like I don't *really* belong. 

However, getting dressed and going somewhere and using my brain has been enormously helpful and good for my mental health. I also have learned a LOT. Especially in a year where teachers are refusing to go back to work in many parts of the country(!), I feel like I'm doing my part and no one can say I didn't try. Trust me when I say that being out among the living is good for you and sitting at home alone all day is not. 

Saw a counselor. I did spend the better part of 2020 still talking to the counselor I used to see in Pittsburgh. We did all virtual meetings from March onward, but this was just more convenient for me since her office was 45 minutes away and I used to have to take Wells with me. Covid helped me there. I don't want to say she was enormously over-the-top helpful, but it was a good experience overall. She offered a few bits of wisdom that have stuck with me but that's about it. It was a good year to have a counselor! If you are struggling with the effects of 2020, I recommend it for the new year. 

Got new glasses. Last February, I went to the eye doctor and got a prescription for new glasses. It'd been about 10 years and my old ones were un-wearable because they were too strong. In October, I scratched my cornea and had to wear glasses for almost two weeks. If I wouldn't have had these new glasses (Warby Parker, $95), I'm not exactly sure what I would've done. Definitely my smartest move of 2020, in my personal opinion. 

Took an anti-fungal pill. Oh my gosh, this is weird, but just listen: when I was pregnant, I ended up with a toenail fungus that would not quit. My immune system just stopped in December 2017 and everything that could befall a person, infection-wise, hit me at once. It never got better and eventually got worse, and started to spread. I tried every topical I could find, including prescriptions. Nothing worked. Finally, I talked to my doctor last spring about taking an oral pill. She gave me what I wanted and I had to have bloodwork done twice to check liver function while taking this pill and it was 3 months of taking this thing EVERY DAY but...at the end of 3 months, it worked. It completely and totally worked and I'm so glad I did it. My toenails are completely back to normal. (Okay, maybe this was my smartest move of 2020?)

Read the Bible. The entire Bible. I'm giving myself until January 11th to finish it because I didn't start until January 12th last year. However, I am likely going to start it all over again, with fresh eyes and a different translation on January 13th. I can share details if you'd like! OR, if you have a study to recommend, send it my way. 

What's the very best thing you did or accomplished in 2020?


December 31, 2020

Christmas Travels 2020 Part 2

*I don't know that explanations are ever needed for decisions made and the risks people assume in the time of covid. However, I know many people have decided to hunker down and spend the holidays away from family and friends. For us, especially being military, we are accustomed to spending holidays on our own. This time, our leave was approved and we took it. The military made adjustments to their schedules to allow families to travel. In our case, we were planning on traveling. This is where I add that Scott's dad is in pretty poor health right now and this was likely our last chance to take Wells to see him. Risk assumed and risk taken. If you chose to spend this holiday with your immediate family, that's fine too! We've had more than one of those Christmases. Our norm is holidays with just us so hopefully some of you learned that's it's fun to create your own traditions. I actually really enjoy doing that too. Every year is different and this year was different as well.*



 






The dogs sat by the door in sheer panic every time Scott went outside. 



My parents fed him so many cookies.



Checking out his uncle's police car... 


...while clutching a toy police car. Right now, Wells is super into police cars and excavators. 





Wells' vehicle tour continues. 
When we left my parents' house, he said "goodbye red truck!" to my dad's truck. 



First time sledding and first time being pulled by a sled dog (Jett).


Obviously this isn't every picture, but it's a summed up version of our time in PA. 


Oh. And Scout on my mom's new chair. His favorite spot is normally my dad's chair. I applaud my mom for accommodating this dog and his whims.


And then, on the way home, we had to switch out a truck tire and the dogs looked on in great concern. 


So did Wells. I rehydrated. I never drink enough water when we travel. 
(I applaud Scott and his technical and mechanical abilities to no end.)


Cracker Barrel in a hotel room. 


We have one more Christmas to do this weekend.