Thursday, November 21, 2013

"When Are You Going To Have Kids?"

I've said a million times on this blog that I am "an open book". And that is true 95% of the time. But sometimes, things are too hard for me to talk about. For the past two years, I've privately (with the support of a handful of my nearest and dearest) dealt with some hard truths. Now that I have celebrated my 30th birthday AND Ryan & I have celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary, the frequency in which people ask when we are starting a family has doubled, at least. That is a really baited, heavy question for us...and I finally feel ready to give everyone the real, true answer.

Since before we even got married, people were asking when Ryan & I would start a family. We decided we would wait two years to just enjoy being married. So, after we celebrated our 2nd anniversary, all bets were off! Over the next year, I was certain I was pregnant a few times, and even got a false positive once. But alas, no babies. In 2011, I went to see my OBGYN because I was starting to worry. My doctor held my hand as she said the words "PCOS - Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome". I immediately thought back to 2009 when I landed in the ER with bursting cysts on my left ovary. I picked up only the key phrases as she spoke. "Imbalance of hormones, irregular menstrual cycle, cysts on the ovaries, trouble getting pregnant, weight gain/trouble losing weight." Check, check, check, check, check.


I closed my eyes to clear the tears, trying not to freak out. Nothing in my life had felt as constant and real as my desire to be a Mother. It wouldn't be IMPOSSIBLE for me to get pregnant...just unlikely. We talked briefly about options, medications we could use to try to get pregnant on our own, things I could do to try and "boost" my natural ability, in-vitro, etc., but I needed time to digest it all. In a way, I'm still digesting it.

I would be lying if I said there haven't been moments when I feel hopeless. The first several months after my diagnosis were the hardest. I almost couldn't be around babies. A co-worker and his wife brought their new baby into work, and I had to run to my office and close the door so they wouldn't see me crying.

Then we add Ryan into the mix.

Once all of that started happening, I knew that trying to have a baby immediately - if we even COULD - was not the right choice. I needed to take care of my husband, and myself, first. All I can tell you right now is that we absolutely do want a family. And I do realize I am not getting ANY younger, but right now there are so many factors at play, that the best thing for us to do is focus on one thing at a time. Right now, my top priority is Ryan and getting his hormones in check so he is back to feeling like himself, naturally, all the time.

I still have moments of over-whelming sadness. Sometimes I have to fight to keep myself from wondering if I'll ever mother my own children. But mostly, I've accepted that these are the cards we were dealt. Ryan and I have endured so many hardships together, and I know this one will be no exception. But until we get it all figured out, the answer to the pressing question "When are you going to have kids?" will remain the same.

I don't know. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Ryan's Battle Continues

As promised, I wanted to give a more detailed update into Ryan's battle with his hormones. If you need a refresher, you can read Parts One, Two and Three first if you'd like.

It's been about 9 months since my last update. And what an 9 months it has been. After seeing the pellet treatments working well for Ryan, we were no longer able to afford or get financial assistance to afford those treatments, so I began doing lots of research to find him a new doctor. Eventually, we picked a group of practitioners who work SOLELY with hormone deficiencies. I called to set up Ryan's first appointment, and one of the partner's spent almost 40 minutes on the phone with me, discussing every little detail of the past year.

Our biggest problem with his previous treatment was that the Doctor at that practice never pushed very hard to find the CAUSE of Ryan's imbalances. And that felt very important to us. So, when we went to Ryan's first appointment with the new practitioner, we stressed our concern about that. Immediately, we were told that Ryan would need an MRI to confirm or rule out a possible growth on his pituitary gland, which is the main hub for all things hormone related. (The MRI came back all clear. No growth or mass.) He also told us that the pellet treatments that Ryan had been receiving was actually doing as much harm as good. By giving Ryan just concentrated doses of testosterone, Ryan's body had essentially stopped trying to produce any on its own. Which means, Ryan would be dependent on artificial testosterone for the rest of his life. The pellets were also causing Ryan's testosterone levels to yo-yo constantly, causing him to "crash" when the pellets began to wear off.  And on a (very) personal note, it also caused Ryan's body to stop producing sperm - which is pretty important when you haven't had children yet. All of these things combined made it pretty clear that a new course of treatment was needed.

Our new team (there are 3 partners at this practice) started Ryan on a different hormone that will help re-start Ryan's natural testosterone production. We also found out that because his body had completely stopped making its own testosterone, that caused his body to INCREASE the production of Estradiol (essentially the "male version" of estrogen). While ALL hormones are important for both men and women, the most important thing here is the proper balance. And Ryan's is way off.

So, he has now started a treatment plan that includes injections 3 times a week (given by yours truly) to BOOST testosterone production, and a supplement twice a week that slows his estradiol production. The down side? It takes a while to work. So for the time being, our keyword is WAITING. Waiting for the old testosterone treatment to completely wear off to get an accurate count of what his body is actually doing. Waiting on the new treatment to kick in. Waiting on his body to respond (or not). And while this whole process is tough on me (it's SO hard to watch the man I love struggle), it is 10 times harder for Ryan. He is just so sick of it all. He wants to feel good, normal, like himself.  Many people seem to think that once you start new meds, the problem should fixed overnight, but sadly that is not the case. So, my focus lately has been on keeping him as positive as possible. I KNOW that, eventually, we will figure all of this out and he will be back to 100%. In meantime, your good vibes, thoughts, prayers, love (whatever suits your fancy) are much appreciated. :)

Friday, November 8, 2013

5 Years

In the past 5 years, I've learned a lot.  Not just about marriage, but about love. What it really means.

When Ryan and I got engaged, I was over-the-moon in love with him. I smiled every time his face crossed my mind (which was a lot) or his name crossed my lips (which was also a lot). I got butterflies when he was near me. I knew with every fiber of my being that he was The One.  And if you'd asked me back then if I thought I could ever love him more than I did then, I probably would have said "not possible".  My heart was already busting at the seams.

But that was 5 years ago.  And a lot of life can happen in 5 years. 

These 5 years of marriage have changed the way I look at love. See, back when we got engaged, we were very much in love, but we were still in the very beginning stages of figuring ourselves, and each other, out.  We hadn't yet mastered the true partnership of marriage (and I am not saying we are masters now, but we are a whole heck of a lot better at it). We have encountered some exuberant highs and some substantial, devastating lows. We've gone through crappy moments that were my fault. And crappy moments that were his. We've yelled at each other, fought with each other (and FOR each other), balanced each other. We've celebrated together, cried together, laughed together, SURVIVED TOGETHER. And through every moment, every step of the way, we've held tightly to each other. No matter what the obstacle, even when we stumble (both separately and together) we never let go of each other. Not for a moment. Because as wonderful and earth-moving as our love was 5 years ago, it can't hold a candle to the love we have now. And as cliche as it is, if you asked me today if I thought I could ever love him more than I do right now, I would look you straight in the eyes and answer a resounding "YES". Now I know that with each passing day, week, month, year, my love for him will continue to grow. Because WE will continue to grow.

Wednesday night, I decided to dig out the disc that holds all 2000-or-something wedding pictures from our photographer. I hadn't looked through all of them since we received them, 5 years ago. And because our love has grown and changed, I found myself drawn to pictures that I hadn't been before. Then, I was focused on what was the most pretty, the most "Facebook worthy" (as terrible as it is to admit that). Now, I allowed the emotion behind the pictures be what spoke to me first.

Like the look on Ryan's face when the doors opened and I started my walk down the aisle to him...
The look on the right may not seem like much, but its the face he makes when he is trying to hide his excitement. I didn't recognize that look 5 years ago. Now, it's one of my favorites.

And how I couldn't keep my eyes off of him...

Or the first moment we shared after the ceremony, before anyone else was in the room. He starting crying as soon as we were out the door, and he was embarrassed for anyone else to see. So we stole a moment away...

And how he kept pulling me in closer and tighter as we shared our last dance...

Happy anniversary to the man whom I am still over-the-moon in love with. Who still makes me smile when I think of him, or talk about him. Who still gives me butterflies when he is near. Thank you for teaching me about real, true love these last 5 years.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The One Where I Update My Blog

So, I took some time off from all things social media. And it was a beautiful thing. But now, I have so much to say that I hope I can even organize it all into some kind of order.

As I've discussed before, I'm a life-long anxiety sufferer. Though I lived in "anxiety-remission" for almost 5 years, recently I suffered an unexplainable relapse. For days I was fighting my old symptoms, and after doing some serious soul-searching, I realized it was because I suddenly felt incredibly overwhelmed. Like, by EVERYTHING. I am someone who will openly admit that sometimes I need to isolate to deal. I get so lost inside the feelings that I start to lose MYSELF, and I have to become keenly self-aware to re-gain my footing. And sometimes that includes removing myself from parts of my world (like social media). I realize that probably makes me sound supremely selfish, and maybe it is, but its how I've ALWAYS coped.

I think, for me, part of why I needed a little hiatus from social media was 100% personal. Its often hard for me to look at the lives of others on Facebook or Instagram (admittedly, several times a day) without comparing it to my own. And sometimes I get panicky that my life isn't like someone else's.  I'm going to give this topic the attention it deserves soon...but for now, let's move on.


I realized recently that it's been quite some time since I've done anything remotely close to an overall life update. So that's how I'm going to throw myself back into my blog.

We have been crazy busy the last few months.  I'll admit, our full calendar might be partly to blame for my sudden recurrence of anxiety. It often leaves us feeling like there isn't enough time in the day...however, as I type those words, I can't help but smile because that just means that we are lucky to have so many wonderful people and opportunities in our lives.

We've also been on an emotional roller coaster with one of our furbabies, Chloe. About a month ago, she was diagnosed with Mid-Stage Renal Failure. Basically, her kidneys are shutting down. She is in stage 2 of 4, which means that there are still treatment options, but that the damage that has already occurred cannot be undone. We are on a treatment regimen, and assuming it all works properly, we should get more time with her. :) In the meantime, I just have my fingers crossed that she won't hate me when all is said and done, since I'm the one giving her an IV twice a week and shoving pills down her throat when needed. I think that's the hardest part about having pets. You can't EXPLAIN to them that all of this is to help them feel better.

The most notable update is about Ryan. After a hiatus from the "working world" to focus on his health, he has started a new job! As far as his recovery...well, its still an uphill battle. We've changed to a new doctor and are trying a new type of treatment - which basically means we've started from scratch. I've definitely noticed a significant backslide in his progress, which we were warned about, and its been tough on both of us. Just because we KNOW what the problem is, doesn't make it any easier to cope with when his symptoms start showing back up. I have many moments where I wish more than anything that I could just take this all away from Ryan and suffer through it myself. I'll give a more detailed update on this soon!

Until feels good to be back! 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


It's been over a month since my last blog post.  That was not intentional.

However, I am now intentionally taking a little break - not only from my blog, but from social media in general.  I just need a refocus, to re-energize, to recenter.  

So, BRB. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Grilled Potato Salad

I haven't blogged a recipe in a while, and since I am admittedly struggling for blog-spiration since wrapping up my 30x30 "series", now is as good a time as any!

As I continue to battle the bulge, I am kind of always on the look-out for healthier versions of my favorite foods. (Although, let's be real...pinto bean cookies just aren't the same.) Well, last week, I stumbled upon a recipe for Grilled Potato Salad. It looked amazing and I decided to give it a whirl.

Potato Mix:
2 lbs small red potatoes
1/2 small red onion (I like to use white or yellow because we aren't really red onion fans)
1 tsp veg oil
2 tbsp parsley
1/2 c dill, roughly chopped
2 tsp chives, chopped
salt & pepper
Dressing Mix:
1/2 c EVOO
2 tbsp whole grain mustard
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp honey
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp pepper
3 tbsp green onion, chopped
Chopped bacon

Start by par baking the potatoes. While the potatoes are in the oven, mix the "potato mix" in a bowl and  set aside.   

Once the potatoes are almost fully baked, slice them in half and toss with the "potato mix" ingredients. Slice onions into rounds. Grill the onion rounds and potatoes, face down, for 5-7 minutes. (I didn't grill the onions...I got ahead of myself and had already chopped them. I think grilling them would have made a great addition to the flavor.)

Meanwhile, mix the dressing.

Once grilled, dice the onions and mix into the potatoes. Cover with 1/2 the dressing, stir well and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Taste and add more dressing if needed. Mix in green onion and bacon. Serve.

As usual - for me at least - nothing is perfect the first time and while this was VERY good, it needs a little tweaking. Specifically, I added about 1/2 of the dressing and felt like that was enough, but after we started eating, I realized it could have used more. I would also let is sit longer than 5 minutes next time so that the potatoes could really absorb the dressing. HOWEVER, this was very tasty and I will definitely be making it again! 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

30x30 Wrap-Up

Since we are going on 2 weeks since I crossed over into thirty-dom, I thought I should dedicate one (super long) post to my Thirty Things To Do Before I'm Thirty list.

Need a refresher? Start here. I'll wait.

I think the easiest thing for me to do is go line by line before I wrap it all up. Settle in, kids. Let's do this!

1. Start a bucket list. - Click the link to read my bucket list so far!

2. Start making concrete plans for future things that I can't talk about right now. - Just read the last paragraph. :) Nothing is set in stone yet, but it's something we WILL achieve in due time.

3. Chase a storm. - This one came to fruition, kind of, ON my birthday. Storms rolled in mid-afternoon and Ryan & I drove directly into them. But, I've also moved this item onto my Bucket List, because I'd like to do it more on purpose next time. 
It was raining so hard in the "eye" of the storm that you couldn't see more than 15-20 feet in front of you.

4. Visit JFK Memorial Plaza - I'm sad to say, I didn't get this one done. Yet. But more on that in a moment*...

5. Learn more about wine. Besides "it tastes good". - This one was fun, haha. We looked into a few local winery tours, but couldn't find anything that worked with our time frame and budget. So instead, we decided to do some of our own research and then we headed to Trader Joe's (you can't beat their prices) to pick up a few bottles we wanted to try. Each of the four we chose had decent descriptions, but when we arrived home and started cracking into the bottles, we looked them each up online to read more about them, where the grapes were grown and the process behind making each one.
My favorite was the Albero. I am definitely a light, sweet-ish white wine gal. Especially if its sparkling.

6. Weigh less on my 30th birthday than I did on my 29th. - I got to check this one off my list pretty early on. In March, to be exact. I'm happy to report that I currently weigh less than I did on my *28th* birthday too. <BIG HAPPY FACE HERE>

7. Learn a new skill.- Click the link to read more!

8. Go to one concert a month.- Okay so here's the deal. I consider this one achieved even though I didn't get to any concerts in March or May. BUT, I saw SIX shows over the last six months (three of which featured multiple bands) so, I consider that a WIN. I saw The Punch Brothers in January, Imagine Dragons in February, The Lumineers AND Edgefest Music Fest in April, Summer Cut Music Fest in June and Summerland Guitar Fest in July.

9. Record music with Ryan.- Still working on this one*. I really put this one off, actually. Mostly because I'm scared. It's been a long time since I've done any singing publicly. And Ryan doesn't really love playing his instruments in front of people (even though he is incredibly talented). We are quite a pair. BUT, we are going to do this.

10. Create a coffee table book with photos I've taken in Instagram. - In the works RIGHT NOW*. I wanted to wait until after my 30th birthday so I could include those pictures too.

11. Do one Pinterest craft a month.- I did about 6-7 Pinterest crafts total, but it wasn't "one a month". Sort of like the concerts situation, I still consider it done even though half of them were done in one weekend for a good friend's baby shower.

12. Read three books. - Oops. Apparently I don't make enough time for this. I still have a stack of unread books*...

13. Take a yoga class.- I feel like I have a lot of "not done yet" in a row here. I WILL try Yoga*. But I'm not ready.

14. Step out of my fashion comfort zone.- I DID THIS! I really took this one seriously. Partially because with my weight gain, I lost a lot of confidence so I would hide under my clothes and even after losing almost 40lbs so far, I was STILL hiding under my clothes. Partially because I got tired of hearing Ryan (lovingly) make fun of me dressing like a "grandma" aka all covered up. Mostly because I realized that I still COULD dress fun, or revealing, or however I wanted. I wore clothes that made me feel uncomfortable and/or made me stand out, but most of the time I ended up feeling okay wearing them. I even ordered a pair of PINK pants this week! (I wear black pants or dark jeans. Period.) But nothing took me out of my comfort zone like the dress I wore to a couple of weddings recently. I've had it since I got married but it hadn't fit in YEARS. I wore it and I felt TOTALLY out of my element and COMPLETELY self-conscious, but guess what? I survived it. I even got a few compliments along the way. :) (Special props go to my husband for teasing me into cuter clothes, and to my BFF Kim for making me believe that I could actually pull it all off.)
The Scary Dress

15. Take a completely spontaneous day/weekend trip. - In the spring, we took a trip to Colorado and a trip to Saint Louis. Both were planned less than 2 weeks before leaving. That's about as spontaneous as I get. ;)

16. Learn how to grow something edible.- I tried. I really did. We planted some chives...and they didn't grow. It was a tough defeat for both of us. Someday, we will have a yard. And in that yard, we WILL learn to grow things. I just don't think apartment living is conducive for farming, unless you can convert your patio into a green house. Which we cannot.

17. Donate to 3 organizations I love.- I have donated to two of three. The other will get their donation SOON. Like as soon as I decide who to donate to. ;) I am completely torn between the ASPCA and Project Limelight. Any opinions? As far as the organizations I've already given to, I have donated to the local public radio station we listen to the most, KXT and to Save The Arctic which helps protect the habitat of my favorite animal, the Polar Bear, specifically from oil drilling.

18. Conquer something difficult in the kitchen - like souffle or crepes.- This one is still pending*...I have decided to try souffle. As soon as I get my wits about me.

19. Put an unnatural color in my hair.- I DID color my hair before my birthday buuut, it wasn't unnatural. I had also planned to chalk my hair for my birthday party, but I never got around to it. I still might do this, just for fun, though*.

20. Say "YES" to everything for an entire day.- Click the link to read more!

21. Learn how to fold a fitted sheet.- Click the link to read more!

22. Ask my parents for each of their 5 favorite movies. Watch all 10.- I have worked my way through exactly half of them, so far. I have found its harder than I thought to find copies of some of my Dad's picks. He loves his old movies! How about a breakdown within a breakdown? 
                           Mom's Picks:
                           -To Kill A Mocking Bird
                           -Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone
                           -Its a Wonderful Life
                           -Last of the Mohicans

                           Dad's Picks:
                           -Treasure of Sierra Madre
                           -Adventures of Robin Hood
                           -Usual Suspects
                           -Philadelphia Story
                           -Shawshank Redemption

23. Buy a record that came out the year I was born.- Click the link to read more!

24. Give up sodas for an entire month.- Click the link to read more!

25. Spend more time exploring Denton.- Click the link to read more!

26. Try two new recipes a month.- I most definitely did this. I just didn't blog about many of them. But, Ryan is my witness. It happened, mostly successfully!

27. Once a week (or so?), write a different friend to tell them how I truly feel about them.- I am finishing up my last few letters. They will be in the mail by the end of the week. And you know what? It felt really, really good to just allow myself to be mushy and open and tell my girlfriends exactly how I feel.

28. Get a tattoo.    Maybe. - Yeah...I changed my mind about this one. I've always loved tattoos. Always. I think they are beautiful and interesting and inspiring and telling. I've almost gotten one about 10 times. But I never do. And after doing some serious soul searching, I realized there is a reason for that. As much as I love looking at other people's ink, I have decided that its just not ME. 

29. Participate in 5 truly random acts of kindness. - I try to do lots of little random acts of kindness every day. I compliment people often (genuinely, of course), I open doors, I let people in in traffic, I smile at strangers. I even gave a homeless man my coat once, years ago (it was an over-sized, gender neutral Dallas Cowboys jacket, for the record. I didn't make some poor guy wear a pink petticoat or anything.) But for this list, I wanted them to be more substantial than that. Let me tell you where the hiccup was in this item. We don't have tons of extra income, so I wanted to try and make these random acts about actual ACTS - not large, strictly monetary "handouts". I've followed through with THREE acts so far: Leaving a stack of quarters in front of a soda machine, "paying it forward" in the Starbucks drive-thru and leaving a Free Movie Ticket voucher in the lobby of a movie theater. I really find joy in this, so I will undoubtedly complete the two I have left*, and more I hope!  
The free movie ticket voucher I left on a bench. We saw a movie and when we came back out, it was gone. :)

30. Make a list of everything (EVERYTHING) I want to accomplish in my life.- This will be an ever-growing list but what I have written so far, I carry with me in my wallet.

*So, here is the thing. I started off strong. Then I got a little lax and busy. Then I got re-motivated and knocked a lot off in the last 2 months. There are several items still in progress or that still need to be done - and I WILL be doing every single one of them before the end of the year. Hopefully sooner than that, actually. I also learned (and have advised several friends recently) to give yourself a full year for this list. I only gave myself 6 months.

That being said, I still consider this a complete success. I had an absolute blast, learned a lot about myself, did things I otherwise might not have done and it helped me really enjoy the last six months in my 20s. I HIGHLY recommend this to everyone. Even if you've already hit 30, or even if you're still years away from it.

Make a list. Actually do them. Trust me, it will be awesome. :)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

So, I Turned 30

It happened.

I turned 30.

The world didn't stop turning. I didn't wake up a different person. It wasn't so bad.

The night before, I allowed myself to have a moment. I reflected on my 20s. They were a roller coaster. I experienced some of the greatest JOYS and HEARTACHES of my life within that decade. And as I glanced at the clock at 7:30pm, I realized that I had only a few hours left before that chapter of my life was over. I felt sad and excited at the same time. Ryan & I stayed up until midnight so that I could "cross into my 30s" holding his hand. I was almost afraid it was going to hurt or something. At 12:01, Ryan squeezed my hand and wished me a happy birthday and I drifted off to sleep with tears in my eyes.

When I woke up the next morning, my birthday, all that sad anticipation was gone. I was happy and excited! My birthday was on a Friday, so I had taken the day off to spend with my Mom before I celebrated with my friends. We had an awesome day together - having lunch, getting pampered (manis and pedis) then doing a little shopping. Then I headed home to start getting ready for my party.

It's been a LONG time since I've had an actual birthday party. It just didn't feel necessary for all the random years of my 20s. But it had always been a dream of mine to rent out the local roller skating rink that I went to growing up for my 30th. Doing something that is so closely associated with childhood just really appealed to me. And because I was going to relive an activity from the 90s, we decided to make it a 90s theme. It just seemed fitting. I made a playlist with all of my favorite 90s songs and planned 90s "costumes". I was seriously OVER THE MOON when almost all of my friends showed up in 90s attire, too.

"Happy Rachel Birthday". Why not!

Ready to hit the rink.

My little younger brother & I

The BEAUTIFUL and delicious cake my friend Dixie made for me!

Almost all of the party attendees. I love you all and am SO very glad you were there to celebrate with me.
I'm lucky to be surrounded, loved and supported by these amazing people.

It was truly the perfect night. One of the best of my life, in fact. My only regret was that the rink had a capacity limit and I couldn't invite everyone I know, haha!

I'm starting to get excited that what people say is true - the 30s are the BEST. :)

Coming soon...a re-cap of my 30x30 list!

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Most Difficult Thing In Life Is To Know Yourself

Recently, my good friend Shell blogged about the importance of getting to know ourselves. I feel like I know myself pretty well, since I tend to live inside my own head a lot, but as I was reading through her questions to herself, I found myself really having to think about how I would answer some of them. So I decided to take the time to take her survey and get to know myself a little better - and sharing it on my blog so YOU can get to know me a little better too! It was funny, really. Some of these answers have never changed, and others seem to change daily. It was fun and self- educational, haha!

*My Favorites (which are ever-changing), RIGHT THIS SECOND:

Color: Green. Always green. Any shade.
Drink: Sparkling ICE (that’s the brand) Sparkling Water.
Food: Mexican – I think I could survive on fajitas and guacamole!  
Place: Colorado.
Dream Travel Destinations:  Sweden (and really all of Europe), Australia
Book/Currently Reading: I’ve started like 4 books in the last 6 months. I haven't finished a single one. I’m obviously very committed to them.
Male Musician: Matt Corby
Female Musician: Patty Griffin
Band: Alt-J, The Oh Hellos, The Neighbourhood
Hobby: Music (listening, watching live, making), Swimming, Dreaming (day and night), Watching movies
Nail Color: Gum Drop by Orly, Sally Hansen Lacey Lilac
Morning or Night: Night!
Movie: This Is The End, Pitch Perfect
Male Actor: Tom Hardy and Charlie Hunnam
Female Actor: Anna Kendrick and Emma Stone
Sign: Cancer (Fits like a glove.)
Guilty Pleasure: TV, Dr. Pepper
Favorite Flower: Roses and Peonies
Dream Car: Project/Old: VW Microbus, VW Karmann Ghia

Practical/New:  Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
Good Habits: I drink a lot of water, I eat fairly healthy, I express my feelings
Bad Habits: I'm addicted to my cell phone (especially Instagram), I'm incredibly self-critical, I cannot break up with sweets, I am TERRIBLY indecisive. (I have to stop listing things or this will go on for days. Hence the whole "self-critical" thing...)
Dream House Style: A mix of mountain rustic (lots of wood and stone) and contemporary-traditional (dark woods, clean lines, warm and inviting)
Move or Stay Put: MOVE!!!!!  
Need to make more time for: Exercise!!!!!!!
Currently Working on: Myself - physically and mentally, Big Picture plans for the future, not comparing myself to others so much.

Ask yourself these questions...see which ones are easy to answer and which ones take a little more thought. It was eye-opening for me! :)

"The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself." - Thales

Friday, July 5, 2013

A Weekend Full of Check Marks

As I mentioned in the post below, realizing that my 30th birthday is now only weeks away re-lit the 30x30 fire. Over the weekend, I was able to cross FOUR items off of my list! 

#20 - Say YES to everything for an entire day
When I first added this item, I made the immediate decision that I would not tell ANYONE what day I said YES to everything. (Can't have people taking advantage, you know? ;) ) And I stuck to that! On Friday, I said YES to every (reasonable) question I was asked. Every favor someone called for. Every choice made. I was 100% agreeable. And it left me in such a good mood, that I carried my "agreeable" attitude on throughout the weekend. I might start doing this more often. No joke, I felt really happy at the end of the day!

#21 - Learn how to fold a fitted sheet
When my Mom saw my list, her very first comment was "I know I taught you how to do that!" Well, she probably did when I was much younger...but I don't remember it and I've never successfully done it.

Until this weekend, that is.

After washing our sheets, I got out the laptop and took to YouTube. I dragged Ryan into the bedroom and tried to fold our fitted sheet with the first video. Buuuut, it didn't work out so well. We were getting so confused about which corner should fold into which corner.

After our first attempt failed, I decided the only logical thing to do was to ask Martha Stewart.

Okay, I didn't ACTUALLY ask her...but enough people did that she had a segment on her show about it! So, again, YouTube came to the rescue. We watched it twice, then when we started it over for the third time, we followed along with them...and the most amazing thing happened! The fitted sheet ended up FOLDED! It wasn't perfect, but it was executed properly. And that counts for something, right?!

Cooper had to see what the fuss was all about.
But, even with this newly acquired skill, I may just take Martha's last bit of advice and "take it out of the dryer and put it right back on the bed". ;)

#23 - Buy a record that came out the year I was born
This was easily one of my favorite items on the list...and as I started to hunt for a record that was released in 1983, I knew it couldn't be just any record. I wanted it to have some kind of significance. I took to the internet and narrowed it down to a handful of records from 1983 that I'd love to own before it hit me. Soon, I became obsessed with finding one record in particular.

The Police.

My parent's listened to a lot of The Police when I was a kid, and I have very vivid memories of begging my Dad to play "Don't Stand So Close To Me" over and over. And I knew that the #1 song the week I was born was "Every Breath You Take", so the hunt was on for Synchronicity. First, I asked my brother to check his collection. (Somehow he ended up with ALL of my parents records. We are talking HUNDREDS, y'all.) And, as these things often go for me, he has every single one of their albums except for the one I needed. I checked Half Price Books and called Good Records in Dallas. No luck. So then, I put it on the back burner...until Saturday. Upon our second trip to Denton over the weekend (more on that in a moment), we decided to check Recycled, and there it was! One lonely copy of this 1983 gem - and the cherry on top? It was $5. We scooped it right up and as soon as we got home later that night, it went directly onto the turntable while we made dinner.

#25 - Spend more time exploring Denton
I have lived in Texas my entire life. Its not my favorite state, overall. (I know, so blasphemous for a Native Texan to utter those words.) There are really only a few places in Texas that I really love and one of those places is Denton.

We spent the better part of Friday night and Saturday afternoon/evening in Denton over the weekend. Just walking or driving around, popping into a few places along the way.

On Friday night, we tried a new restaurant - Rooster's Roadhouse. It might be our new favorite burger joint. (See what happens when we explore?! We find "new favorites"!)

While walking down one of the Denton streets (Locust, I believe), we stopped to admire a mural that had been there for YEARS...but I'd never noticed it before.

Then we stopped into one of my favorite places in Denton. No, technically that is not exploring Denton, but it was necessary to complete # 23 on my list. 

I could spend an entire day looking a records. Easily. 

We poked around the town a bit more and after we had had our fill of "exploring", we made one last stop at the famous Beth Marie's for a sundae. Okay, so, I've been here a dozen times at least, but it was my Denton trip and I do what I want. ;)

Even though I have officially checked this item off my list, Ryan & I both decided that this challenge would be an on-going one. Especially if we end every trip with Beth Marie's (or Yogurt Fusion)!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

30 Days

As I start to type, I can't help but hear Europe's "The Final Countdown" in my head. In 30 days, I will no longer be a 20-something. This rapidly approaching date has left something looming over my head.

My 30x30 list.

I always waited until the last minute to do school projects. My Mom used to call me a procrastinator. My Dad called it "working well under pressure". That didn't really fade as I got older. Ryan's famous line is "why did you wait until an hour before bedtime to start this". When I first started my list, I felt like 6 months was plenty of time to conquer 30 things. Well, guess what? Six months kind of FLIES by. I've now had to accept the fact that there will probably be several items that just don't get checked off my list. However, this "final countdown" of sorts has also re-ignited my fire to power through as much of the list as possible and really try to enjoy the last 30 days of 20-dom.

So, I'm re-evaluating, re-focusing and hopefully I'll be making a hefty dent in the next month. It's officially crunch time.  Wish me luck!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Brownies Are A Need

I am a walking Sweet Tooth. (Yes, I just made that a title. Because it is.)

For as long as I can remember, I have been the type of person who just plain LOVES sweets. And sometimes I get an itch for a specific type of sweet that we don't have in the house. Which forces me to a) get creative or b) get over my craving. For the record, option "b" rarely happens.

A few weeks ago, I suddenly had an overwhelming craving for brownies. In that moment, brownies were not a want. Brownies were A NEED.  I will admit that despite my "Nothing From A Box" baking mentality, I've made brownies from a box more times than not. It's just so easy that way...and gosh darn-it if Betty Crocker hasn't nailed the box brownie. But alas, on this particular day, I didn't have a box brownie mix at my disposal so I dug out my old brownie recipe and crossed my fingers. Since I love baking, I try to make sure my pantry is always stocked with the basic baking essentials. So, I started pulling ingredients out of my pantry and soon realized I had all of the necessary pieces of the brownie making puzzle. Soon, brownies would be MINE!

Fudge-y Brownies
1/2 c butter, melted
1 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 c flour
1/3 c cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt (I used 1/8 tsp if I am baking with SALTED butter)
*If you like nuts in your brownies, add 1/2 c chopped nuts of your choice - but we are brownie purists in the Naslund house

Heat your oven to 350* and grease an 8x8 baking dish.

In a mixer, mix together the melted butter, sugar and vanilla. Beat the eggs with a fork, then add them into the butter/sugar/vanilla combo, mixing well.  In a separate mixing bowl, stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Slowly incorporate into the mixer, beating it on low until full combined, then on medium until all the dry ingredients are mixed in fully.

Pour into the baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick can be inserted and removed with no residual batter.

Yes, that is a LOT of "testing for batter" holes...but I really wanted those puppies to cool. ;)

After taking my brownies out of the oven and sampling a little piece of the corner (like I always do), I was reminded that this brownie recipe is one that really requires frosting. It just needs a little extra sweetness, plus frosting helps keep in the moisture. I started to dive back into the "baking shelf" portion of my pantry and soon realized that I didn't have a pertinent frosting ingredient. I was out of powdered sugar. Well, what a happy accident that was, because what came next has revolutionized my brownie making.

The Perfect Brownie Frosting (I named it, but I didn't create it. This round goes to google!)
1 c sugar
1/4 c cocoa
1/4 c butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients but vanilla in a sauce pan and bring to a boil on medium-low, stirring often. Let boil for about one minute. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla.

Cool partially, then mix with a beater until it is a smooth, fluffy consistency. 

 Spread over the brownies!

I let them set for about 20 minutes before cutting into it. It was EXACTLY what I was craving. I served Ryan a piece and watched his eyes light up. The best (food) compliment ever is one that is paid with a full mouth - and that's exactly how Ryan delivered his "Babe, this is so good". ;)

You know those moments when you just COULD NOT wait the two seconds it would take to snap a pic BEFORE sticking a fork into dessert? Yeah. ^That.
I think it's safe to say I've officially ditched the box brownie...

Monday, May 27, 2013

This Is Water

Recently, a good friend of mine sent me a YouTube video and said he was interested to see what I thought of it. It was one of those moments when I couldn't help but think that a Higher Power was at play because it came in a moment when I needed it the most.

Lately, I've found myself more easily "bogged down" by life's BS than I've ever been before. Stress has felt more stressful, hurt more hurtful, petty frustrations more frustrating. I've been in a foul mood more often than not - and I absolutely HATE feeling that way. But as I listened to David Foster Wallace's words, I was smiling, nodding, fighting tears and accepting the words he spoke.

As we go about our lives, a day at a time, I think sometimes we lose perspective. When we have obligations on top of obligations, we (at least I) start to feel stretched thin and find myself isolating. As the video states, its easy to allow ourselves to feel frustrated and annoyed by all these things we encounter on a daily basis. Its easy to just sink into the mundane moments of our lives and stop seeing those around us as human beings, but instead seeing them as things that are preventing us from achieving whatever is on our personal agendas.

Since watching the first time, I've found myself realizing when I'm hitting that grumpy, annoyed, frustrated wall, and doing my best to fight my way back to a place of "zen". On more than one occasion, I've played the video and just listened to his words while I work. While I found the entirety of his words powerful and moving, it was perhaps the last few sentences that impacted me the most. And even though you've hopefully already watched the video above, I will leave you with them anyway -  "The capital T truth is about life BEFORE death. It is about the real value of a real education, which has (almost) nothing to do with knowledge and everything to do with simple awareness. Awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us all the time, we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over - This is water." 

Take a deep breath and say it with me. This. Is. Water. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Another 30x30 Check!

As my 30th birthday rapidly approaches, I am suddenly feeling the pressure to knock the (many) remaining items off my 30x30 list. I've started to accept that I may not get them all checked off...but I am going to give it my best effort!

One of the items I was especially excited about was #7 - Learn a new skill. I had a list of skills I would like to learn (that's right folks, a list within a list!) and basically just waited until an opportunity presented itself. And a couple of weekends ago, one did!

Long story as short as possible, we got a new, larger mattress/box spring set and that meant our existing bed frame wouldn't work for us anymore. Our old bed frame sat super low, almost on the ground. Ryan built us a nice, semi-temporary frame for our new set, but our bed now sits a good 2-3 feet higher than it did before. This didn't create a problem for us (seeing as Ryan and I are giant-sized at 5'10 and 6'3) but our aging kitty, Chloe, could no longer jump onto the bed. We kept the piano bench at the end of the bed for a few weeks, but it just wasn't practical. So, we decided to go super "crazy-cat-people" and build her some little steps.

When Ryan told me that we already had every thing we needed to build the steps, he jumped right in...and it hit me. I've never built anything with my own two hands. I sheepishly asked Ryan if I could help. I half expected him to roll his eyes, but instead he was quite enthusiastic! So, we headed to the garage to get started.

Hair tied back, make-up free, safety goggles in place - yet I felt surprisingly feminine!
First, Ryan gave me a quick run down of all the tools we'd be using and what they all did. I'm not completely clueless and have used a drill before, but my power tools knowledge stopped there. He showed me his diagram for the steps, and we got to work. Ryan laid out the materials, showed me his technique for accurate measurements and, per my request, made the first cut. Then, it was my turn.

My first experience with a circular saw!

Making my first cut!
A pretty straight cut, if you ask me! And yes, I used power tools in flip flops. Probably not the best choice considering my terrible luck with foot injuries...

Once all the cuts were made (half of which were mine!) it was time to start assembling.
Starting to come together!

Almost finished!

After it was all screwed together, I filled all the holes, cracks and seams with wood putty for added stability and we left it over night to set.

Only one fingernail was harmed in the making of these steps - which I glued in place. I am still a girl, after all! ;)
The next day, while I was busy doing things around the house, Ryan went out to the garage to add the carpet to the steps.

I'm so proud of the finished product!

The cats immediately started to investigate the new addition to our bedroom.

Chloe uses them every day, and Cooper has found several uses for them - like a hiding place!

The next day, I got this text from Ryan while I was at work...

I have to make mention that Ryan is an incredible teacher. He is patient and thoroughly explains each step.  We aren't big on "traditional gender roles", but I generally leave all the building and repair to Ryan because he is good at it and enjoys it. But now that I know how, maybe I'll start helping with projects more often! Until then, every time I see those little steps in our bedroom, I feel a great sense of accomplishment - and a greater understanding for why generations before us took such pride in building things with their own two hands instead of just running to the nearest superstore to buy them.

This one was a pretty awesome CHECK off the list. :)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Take Your Brand And Shove It

Over the past few days, statements made by the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch have gone viral. Statements that are not only judgmental, hurtful and segregating, but also incredibly telling of the world we live in. If you haven't seen the statements I'm referring to, I urge you to read them. (I also feel the need to add my usual "settle in for a long post" disclaimer...)

Essentially, A&F's CEO doesn't like "large" people. (Read: FAT.) He doesn't want them wearing his clothes. Or shopping in his store. Because his store is only for "cool kids". And the only reason they provide sizes XL and XXL for men, is for the "larger, athletic types".

Naturally, I was repulsed by his statements. Not only because I am "large", but because I am a human being. And I take issue with so many things about this situation that I am having a hard time even separating my thoughts into comprehensible sentences - but, that's never stopped me before.

"He wants thin and beautiful people." 

Guess what - I used to be called "thin and beautiful". And I used to shop at A&F. One Christmas, when I was 16, I got basically an entire, new wardrobe from that store. And now, I'm disgusted that my generous parents ever gave money to such a terrible person. NOT TO MENTION, who decided that only "thin" equals "beautiful"?! That just could not be farther from the truth. Forgive me for sounding so cliche but beauty truly does come in every shape and size.

Even when I could have been classified as "thin and beautiful" as a high schooler, A&F clothes never fit me right. I'm tall. They did not make clothes that were tall-girl-friendly. So, even though I could wear their sizes, they were always too short for me. Case in point is the picture below, taken on the above mentioned Christmas morning when I tried on all my new clothes, only to find that most of them made me look like I was wearing child-sized items.

That was not intended to be a 3/4 sleeve shirt...

Over the next couple of years, my natural curves started to fill in. I didn't have a problem with it until I realized that some of the super trendy stores no longer carried sizes for me. A&F was the worst of all. By 18, I was at my peak height of 5'10 and wore a size 10. I was active and fit and still "thin" by most people's standards. (Except mine back then, but that's another post all together.)  But, even though A&F carried jeans that were marked as size 10 - they weren't. I could pull a size 10 off the shelf of any store and it fit like a dream - expect A&F. In their dressing room, I would jump up and down trying to shimmy into those ridiculous, over-priced jeans, to no avail. Back then, though, at least they carried XL shirts, which I was forced to buy - like in the picture below. (I wore a Medium everywhere else.) To me, the message was clear even then without coming right out and saying it - this store is not for you, Big Girl.

Size 10. Too "Fat" for Abercrombie & Fitch.

“Candidly, we go after the cool kids."

Even beyond the hatred of "large" people, its the exclusivity that A&F clothes are only for "the cool kids" that really makes my blood boil. As if times aren't tough enough for kids - with bullying at complete epidemic levels - we now have the CEO of one of the most popular brands for kids further exacerbating the problem. Telling a generation, a generation with serious self-esteem issues, that these clothes aren't for you if you are a mathlete, or play the french horn, or join the show choir. Those are the cool kids, if you ask me. The kids who aren't afraid to be themselves. In middle school, I stopped hanging out with the "popular group" because they were mean to everyone else, and it was a giant, earth moving thing to me. I basically lost 80% of my "friends". I came home crying one day that my life was over because I'd never be "popular" again. My Mom told me that a true sign of popularity was to have friends in every circle - to have LOTS of friends - not just one elite group. You should listen to my Mom, Mr. CEO.

But, since all you seem to care about is what makes someone "cool" and physically attractive (BY YOUR CONTORTED STANDARDS), you can take your brand and shove it.