My First Married Thanksgiving

Well, we made it through our first big holiday together as a married couple! It was a good day. We didn’t spend it with family since mine is so far away, and his is closer, but was still too far to make a one-day trip since I work tomorrow. We had what one of our friends called a “Friendsgiving!”

Some of Cal’s bandmates and friends came over, so I cooked for a bunch of boys. Which made me feel useful. I like hosting people and cooking for an army even if only a small handful come. We had turkey meatballs (because a real turkey was just too daunting), a ham, green bean casserole (made with my mom’s home-grown and canned green beans–you just can’t beat ’em), creamed corn, stuffing, my famous deviled eggs, rolls, and pumpkin cheesecake, which is my favorite Paula Deen recipe that I make every year, regardless where we are. And hot apple cider. Yum.

Even though it was a bunch of boys who I know don’t care about appearance, I still felt a little inadequate and insecure about our home. I just always had this vision that once I was married, I’d be in this nice house with nice stuff. And while we served the meal on our nice new plates and silverware from the wedding, we still sat at the family hand-me-down table from my grandma with chairs with nicks, broken backs and varnish coming off. The tablecloth was wrinkly, and the runner didn’t match. The small things like that sometimes make me feel like I’m not a proper wife. I know the important thing was that we spent it with good people over good food, but I long for the day when we can host a holiday in a nice big dining room with pretty chairs and matching table accessories, then sit in the family room with a fire going. That’s my dream.

I know it’s OK we don’t have that right now. We will some day. So for now, I am thankful we had friends to spend the day with, that we had a great meal, and have a roof over our heads in the first place. After we ate, the boys watched football and I dozed off in the recliner. Then realized I should be productive in the rest of my day and got up to do some writing, pack my lunch of leftovers for tomorrow, and call my mom.

What did you do for Thanksgiving?

Friday Feelings and My Big Reveal

In a previous post, I hinted that I was happy about things yet to be revealed. Well folks, here’s my reveal … drumroll please … I have a new job, and I start on Monday! Originally, I was going to wait to post about it until I had officially started, but then I thought, you know what? I have feelings about it now, and it’s close enough. Plus, now I can compare my pre-first day thoughts to after I do start.

I’m going back to writing full time. Yes, I truly enjoyed my job in social media marketing and learned SO MUCH here, but I miss writing and editing. A lot. It’s part of the reason I started this blog! It’s what I’m comfortable doing and what I think I’m good at. It’s my comfort zone. My warm bubble of happiness. So going back to doing that in a new place with an awesome manager and a few friends already there, I think it will be just what I needed. One thing I’m most looking forward to is decorating my new desk. What will it look like? I can’t wait to find out. Oh, the small things.

This is how I feel about change.

This is how I feel about change.

As the day is getting closer, I’m getting the usual jitters. Change is hard. The unknown is scary. I’m 99.9% sure I’m going to LOVE my new job. But what if I don’t? What if I regret leaving where I am for it? What if I don’t do well at it and my new boss and co-workers hate me? What if the building catches on fire the day after I start, and they have to shut down the company, and then I’m out of a job. I’ll probably become homeless, obviously. You see, this is what I do when something new is coming. I overanalyze and start fearing the worst. It’s never as bad as it could be, so maybe that’s why I do it. By expecting the worst sometimes, you’ll never be disappointed. That’s kind of a bad attitude to have, and it’s something I have to try to consciously change. I’m envious of people who are happy about everything all the time, even new things and the unknown. How do they do it?!

How can you say no to this?!

How can you say no to this?!

I wanted to go out on a great note on my last day. But, I wasn’t watching the clock close enough this morning, and Little Girl was snuggling me all cute and stuff, so I spent far too much time petting her and playing with her before even getting out of bed. So, I had to hurry up and get ready, and really wanted to look nice and do my hair purrty, but that didn’t happen. Oh well, what’s new.

I tend to be late for a lot of things, especially in the morning. I am awful at getting out of bed most days. It’s one thing I am going to have to figure out how to change at my new job. Ugh.

On another note, it’s snowing here right now, and it’s actually really pretty, dusting the ground and floating down from the sky. I know it won’t last long. It’s the start of real winter here, and before we know it, it’s going to be treacherous. Every winter I question why I continue to live in the North Dakota tundra. But as much as the weather is a nuisance, I love this city. It’s the perfect size with plenty of things to do. It’s got a small town feel in a large city.

Wow, I’m really getting off track here, huh? Then again, it is Friday. Isn’t that what Fridays are for? I’m really looking forward to my weekend. I have to do laundry so I have nice clean clothes ready for my first week at the new job, and I’ll probably plan out every outfit for each day so I don’t have to think about it in the mornings. I’m going to finalize my Thanksgiving menu and start shopping for ingredients. Our mall is also having this event Sunday evening where you pay $5 to get in, but then each store has lots of sales, so we’ve gotta get some Christmas shopping started. Most years by this point, I have almost everything purchased and wrapped already, but the holidays really crept up on me this time. But then again, this is the busiest year I’ve ever had, and there’s lot of other things going on.

Our kitchen table is a complete disaster zone, piled high with our homebuying guides, bills, magazines and who knows what else, so I hope to get that under control. And while I’ll be going through bills, it seems a good time to set up a new financial system for our shared bills, which is something I’ve been meaning to do ever since we got married. At least all of these to-do’s will keep my mind off of worrying about the new job. Fingers crossed I love it as much as I think I will. And there isn’t a freak disaster that shuts the place down and makes me homeless.

October Reflections

Well, I’m many weeks late on this, but October was a really lovely month for me. Actually, 2013 has been a great year, but I’ll share more on that near the end of it:)

In October, it was my birthday, yay! I had friends over for board games and snacks. Low key and fun, just how I like it.

I went to two concerts (and for free – perks of my job!). At both, I was far more into one opener than the main act, but it’s still fun to see live shows no matter what. Miss May I and Black Veil Brides were the highlights for me. Love those bands, and they are so good in person! I had seen each before at Warped Tour, but this time they were in my town and had longer sets.

BVB rocking it. Pardon the poor photography.

BVB rocking it. Pardon the poor photography.

I went to my first-ever professional sports game. It was my wedding gift to my husband – two tickets to see his favorite team, the Minnesota Vikings, and his sister and brother and their spouses joined us. I’m not much for football, but enjoyed the whole experience anyway. We played the Carolina Panthers, and lost. Like, really badly. Truth be told, the biggest reason I selected that game to go to was because the other team’s mascot was a kitty. That was for real my logic.

Go Vikings!

Go Vikings!

Afterward, we had dinner in the funniest little restaurant called the Friendly Buffalo. Gotta love small-town, local joints. It was amazing food. I had a french dip with chips, and they even make their own french onion dip.

The Friendly Buffalo was a win after the Vikings loss.

The Friendly Buffalo was a win after the Vikings loss.

I had a book club meeting with my gal pals and we discussed what was probably my favorite book we’ve read so far, “Gone Girl.” Talk about a page turner! I couldn’t put that thing down!

I went to a meetup of content professionals in the area to discuss video strategies for businesses, and it was so incredibly interesting and helpful. I took so many notes.

I went to a friend’s Halloween/birthday party where the theme was celebrities and red carpet. Most everyone else went as cool young celebs like Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, and the birthday girl as Adelle, but my husband and I went as oldie but goodies Betty White (though I really think it turned out more Barbara Bush) and Mister Rogers. It was so fun.

Betty White and Mister Rogers - our Halloween costumes.

Betty White and Mister Rogers – our Halloween costumes.

I tried a brand-new restaurant in town that everyone’s buzzing about. It had a cool, hipster decor, and the food was really good. I had the cutest mini margarita, my friend and I shared fried chicken skins (sounds weird, but it was incredible), and had tacos. Mine were far too spicy for my tastebuds to handle, so the husband got to enjoy my leftovers.

Trendy tacos

Trendy tacos

We met with a financial advisor as the final step in our first-time homebuyer education program. It gets us one step closer to buying our first home, and we have some good ideas from him to tackle reducing our debt, raising credit scores, getting a loan and picking a home.

And now that Thanksgiving is near, I am so excited. It’s our first big holiday together as a married couple. I’ve already started planning the menu, and will be cooking for some of our friends. Plus our Christmas photo cards are in, and it’s taking every ounce of effort I have to not send them out now! Wheeee!!

Wedding Planning Tips & Lessons Learned

For work a little while ago (I help a local wedding venue with their social media and marketing), we decided to create a little handout to use in mailings and at wedding shows; something that would be informational and helpful to brides. Thankfully I had plenty of personal inspiration to draw from my own recent wedding.

It’s sort of text-heavy from this view, but the front is designed all pretty and such. Here’s my tips:

avalon

-Start early. The more you do early on, the less you stress as your big day comes nearer.

-Be budget smart but splurge on the big stuff. While you may need to go outside your budget once in a while, you also don’t want to create large debt that follows you into long into your married life. It’s OK to skip the personalized reception napkins and welcome bags for out-of-town guests if it means you get the best photographer and tastiest food.

-Be you. You want your wedding to reflect your personalities as a couple, so break a few rules and insert special touches and moments into your day.

-Enlist the help of friends. Ask your crafty aunt and/or super organized friend to help you with the details. Making favors with friends is fun, and saves you money!

-Register wisely. Sure, you want to scan every kitchen knick-knack you see, but winding up with five different toasters doesn’t do you much good. Register for what you truly need first, then allow both your and your fiancé a couple of fun items too.

-Relax. You (probably) only get to be engaged once.  Savor the experience and don’t get too caught up in minor details. Remember, no matter how the day goes, you’ll still get to marry the love of your life.

-Be present. Your wedding day could be a blur, so make sure to cherish every moment with the special people in your life. Let your mom and girlfriends be there for you, and sneak off for some alone time with your man.

-If you’re not leaving right away for your honeymoon, invite guests to a day-after brunch. This gives you more time to visit with the people who came a long way that you didn’t get much time to catch up with.

-Honeymoon! You spent months planning the wedding of your dreams. Treat yourself to a relaxing break bonding as a married couple. You deserve it.

-Remember your vendors. You’ll make some great connections with various businesses, so show the extra-special ones some love with kind reviews online, referrals or even repeat business for future event needs.

The above was all very straightforward and “safe” for PR purposes, but for you bloggy friends, I’ll share a little more about some other regrets, and one embarrassing story.

Said embarrassing story goes like this: It’s maybe a month before the wedding, and it was just one of those days. I had entered into full-on panic mode a couple weeks prior. I had WAY too much left to do and not enough time to do it. I felt like I had to be superbride and do it all on my own (sure, I had my maid of honor help with a few things here and there along the way, but I didn’t ask for all the help that I hadn’t yet realized I needed). Hunting down missing RSVPs, doing seating charts, organizing schedules, assigning day-of tasks to family and friends, DIY-ing decorations, planning the honeymoon, writing our vows, I swear the list just did not end. One night after work when I was trying to tackle it all, I just had a meltdown. I had picked up some fast food for dinner, because who has time to cook when there’s a wedding to plan?! I was eating it with my then-fiancee and remember just feeling so overwhelmed and stressed and upset to begin with, but then the mushroom and swiss started dripping out of my burger and onto the couch and my clothes. I balled up the rest of the burger and angrily threw it in the bag. I moved on to my sundae. I had let it sit for too long, and it was drippy and soft. On the way from container to mouth, it fell. Enter meltdown. I screamed and put my hand in the container, picked up the rest of the ice cream and just smeared it on my face, shouting something to the extent of “I may as well miss my mouth because I can’t hit it even if I tried, and my life sucks and nothing is working,” then threw the rest of the ice cream on the coffee table and smeared it around.

My fiancee looked at me like he had just witnessed something straight out of one of those real housewives shows, and he had. But worse. About 30 seconds later, we laughed, because what I had just done was so ridiculous. And he cleaned up my whole mess. What a guy. That moment made me realize I was a hot mess and needed help.

Remnants of the table decorations

Remnants of the table decorations

Some time after, I gave him some to-dos and pleaded with my crafty friend to help me with the table numbers, escort cards and other crafty things I felt inadequate in my ability to do myself. She did, and thank God. Shortly after, we had a craft party at my apartment with me, four girlfriends, lots of colored paper, lace doilies, glue sticks and all sorts of unknown craft items she had brought with her. It was one of the best moments of the engagement. Not a big moment like the shower was, but a small victory. I had my wedding army, and we were attacking my to-do list. It felt amazing to accept help and get so much done. I really should have done it sooner. I didn’t get a great shot of my table numbers (dang!), but you can see one in this shot from the reception.

One other regret that I didn’t realize until recently was that I didn’t have a photo booth or disposable cameras at each table. I have plenty of photos of me and the bridal party, but not enough of my guests. I have some candid ones from the reception, but I really wish I had one nice posed photo of everyone who came. Sometimes I’ll have a hard time remembering who came, if they stayed for the reception, what they were wearing, etc. That day was such a blur that I just don’t remember as much as I would like. Sure, I have the guestbook, but it’s not the same. I want to see the smiling faces of everyone who came!

If I could get married again, I’d do a lot of things differently. But, that’s life, right? We live, we learn. I can’t go back in time, so for now, I at least get to help with my maid of honor, who is now engaged herself and guide her so she doesn’t make my same mistakes.

If you’re also married, what’s your biggest regret, or something that you learned? Did you have an epic meltdown like I did?

My Furbabies

A big part of my life, outside of being a newlywed, is my pets. I’ve had animals around my whole life and couldn’t imagine it any other way. My crew right now includes a dog named Brick and two cats, Captain and Little Girl. They sure do keep my life interesting. Brick and Little Girl are usually in some kind of mischief, sometimes together, while Captain is an old soul and prefers to spend his time napping. Playing for him involves casually and slowly reaching out his paw to a nearby toy. That’s it. No batting, no chasing, just holding. That takes a lot of energy though, so after that strenuous workout, he has to nap again.

I will admit it. I play favorites. Captain is my golden child. To me, he can do no wrong. He’s a good cuddler and sleeps next to me all night long. Brick is next, and he is just so darn cute. Even though he’s part Boxer, he missed getting the Boxer personality, and he’s a pretty chill dude. That is when he’s not eating something he’s not supposed to (past incidents include getting into a loaf of zucchini bread, a tub of cookies, bird seed, and even an unopened can of pumpkin filling. Yes, he bit right through the aluminum. Don’t worry, he’s fine.).

We like to joke about Little Girl because she’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. She’s a ditz. And is soo annoying during the night and in the morning. She meows, like constantly. And jumps from dresser to dresser, knocking things off onto the floor, then crawls all over us at night, only to repeat this activity pretty much all night. The small percentage of the time she is not doing that, she’s a pretty big Daddy’s Girl. She LOVES snuggling with my husband. She just crawls right up on his belly and parks it.

They all get along pretty well. Brick pretty much ignores the cats, unless they come up to him. Captain likes to headbutt things, and he tries with Brick, but he just doesn’t get it. Little Girl will occasionally try to play with Captain, but it usually ends up with Captain running away (it’s a slow run), or him pinning her down and licking her. They do groom eachother, which is cute … until one of them has had enough and then it ends up in them fighting and we have to break it up.

Jade and Oak

Anyway, this post is part of the Pets Are People Too linkup with Jade & Oak and Karly Kim.  So with no further ado, here’s a ton of pictures of my pets just because.

Brick had a birthday party in the park!

Brick had a birthday party in the park!

Me with the whole group

Me with the whole group

Looking oh so fresh

Looking oh so fresh

Yes, Little Girl does have a party dress.

Yes, Little Girl does have a party dress.

Brick, oh so stoic.

Brick, oh so stoic.

She also has a princess costume.

She also has a princess costume.

He looks scared most of the time, even when being loved.

He looks scared most of the time, even when being loved.

Frog legs!

Frog legs!

Sleepin' in a drawer.

Sleepin’ in a drawer.

Not a big fan of antlers.

Not a big fan of antlers.

Captain attended a pet walk with me in the park

Captain attended a pet walk with me in the park

Window watchers

Window watchers

Finding My Style

My Catfeats shirt that I absolutely adore.

My Catfeats shirt that I absolutely adore.

You know how when you buy a new piece of clothing you become a little bit obsessed with it? You wear it the very next day after you buy it, and as much as you want to wear it every day after, you also don’t want people to think that’s all you own or that you’re a weirdo. I’ve had a few things I bought recently that I am still pretty obsessed with. Now, here’s the disclaimer: I am not a fashionista by any means. Fashion has never come easily to me. I wear what I like and what is comfy (usually), but I do have a little bit of a desire to look nicer sometimes. A few friends of mine are super cute and trendy, and I envy how easy it comes to them. When I want to look like that, I have to try hard.

One of the things I wanted to do as a married woman was try harder when it comes to style and fashion. It just didn’t seem wifely to wear my Hello Kitty and Spongebob T-shirts anymore. I had been hanging on to some clothes that I’ve owned literally since junior high. I rarely, if ever, wear them anymore, but sometimes I can have hoarder tendencies and keep things out of sentimental value. But then one day maybe a month or two ago, I just decided to overhaul my closet and dressers and get rid of the things I have that are stained, don’t fit anymore, or that I just simply don’t wear for whatever reason.

My most recent fave find at Target.

My most recent fave find at Target.

It felt soo good. I donated about three bags worth of clothing, which felt good in itself, but I also felt proud that I tackled it. I felt more confident about the items left that I like more and wear often, and treated myself to some shopping for a few replacement items like new tank tops and shirts that seem to better fit my style and my life right now.

On that shopping trip when I was browsing at JCPenney, I started out in the juniors section because, well, that’s where I shopped for about 10 years or more and was simply pure habit. I was specifically looking for some basic black and white solid tees that I could pair with cute jewelry and scarves. I wasn’t having much luck, so I just kept wandering around till I found things that I liked and needed. After awhile, I finally looked up and realized I had circled the store and was in the middle of what I used to think of as the “old lady” section. But, know what? I loved that clothing and picked up a few items there without even realizing it.

That was the moment I realized I had grown up (fashion wise, anyway). I was no longer the teenager trying to fit in by shopping at Wet Seal. I don’t like anything that store sells anymore, but 16-year-old me loved it. I had graduated from junior’s to women’s and was completely happy with it.

These days, nearly all my clothing is from Express or Target, and I recently discovered a love for New York & Company. Wet Seal is completely behind me, and my old fashion is now sitting in the thrift store, and that makes me really happy.

Kitty face flats

Kitty face flats

One thing that I don’t think I’ll ever give up is what my friend calls “cat couture.” Yes, I am a crazy cat lady, and I love to show it. I have cat calendars, photos and knicknacks all over my desk at work and at home. I love my cat clothing too. Well, to be fair, all animals, because I also got the cutest flamingo print shirt at a local boutique. But my kitty face flats and flowy cat print shirt I just can’t get enough of. By the way, Catfeats is the greatest website ever for cat enthusiasts. I love everything they have. I’m like a kid in a candy store on that site. I also love the Animal Rescue Site because they have great gift ideas, and every time you purchase, you help animals!

Well, I got a bit sidetracked there, but the point is that in my new life as a wife, I’ve embraced my style, whatever it is right now. I don’t hang on to old items that no longer represent me, and I try to dress nicer because when we look good, we feel good. And that is good.

Taste of Tuesday: Asparagus Pesto Chicken

Isn’t it funny some of the things we hate as children but grow to love as adults? For me, two of those foods are asparagus and pesto. I wouldn’t touch either as a kid, for no reason really because I refused to even try it.

Then, one day it all changed. Well, two days technically. The first was in college when I was in the school cafeteria and I saw this tub of green goo. I had no clue what it was, but I had to have it. I slopped it on top of some noodles and gave it a try. It was amazing. That’s the day I discovered pesto.

Fast forward a few years later to the Harrah’s steakhouse in Las Vegas for a work dinner. My boss ordered some asparagus and passed it around the table. I took it just because it was in front of my face but wasn’t really sure about it. But then I tasted the most delicious vegetable my palate had ever encountered, and my life was changed.

Now, these are two of my absolute favorite things to eat. One day on Pinterest, I discovered a recipe that contained both of these glorious items, and didn’t hesitate to try it. IT WAS AMAZING. It’s now my favorite meal to make at home because it is so tasty and easy. Here it is:

pesto asparagus chicken


Chicken and Asparagus in Pesto Sauce

Ingredients
• 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4″ thickness (I’m kind of lazy and left them unpounded and it still tasted just as good)
• 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
• 1 pound thin asparagus (or 2lbs thick), trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces (I used the thin kind so it’d cook quicker and I could eat it quicker, and I doubled the amount so it was very asparagus-y)
• 1 cup heavy whipping cream
• 2 Tablespoons prepared pesto (I like the Bertolli kind in the small plastic tub, and I added far more pesto than this out of my love for it)

Instructions
• Cut chicken breasts in half crosswise to make 6 pieces (or in however many pieces you want. I just kind of chopped it up till I got bite-size chunks)
• Season evenly with salt & pepper
• In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat
• Add chicken and cook for 4-5 minutes per side, or until golden brown and fully cooked
• Remove chicken from skillet, set aside & keep warm
• Add asparagus to skillet and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until just tender (a little longer if you’re using thick asparagus)
• Add cream and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until reduced by half
• Stir in pesto
• Return chicken to skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes longer, or until heated through.
• Serve immediately with rice, pasta or couscous.
This is part of the Tasty Tuesday linkup with Blissfully Miller and Let’s Get Bananas.

Happiness and Bridal Showers

One of the best feelings in the world is just being purely happy. Hopeful, excited, optimistic. For reasons that I’ll likely share soon, I’m just feeling really good about things right now. Good changes are happening, and I’m excited about them. Not that my life is perfect by any means, but overall I’m pretty darn lucky. It’s easy to lose sight of that sometimes, but then something happens in your life that just makes you feel so joyful again.

Aside from my wedding day itself, when I look back on the last year or so, the one day that stands out to me the most that I felt that same joy was on my wedding shower this last April. Now, I hafta say, I’m one lucky lady because I only wanted one, but I got THREE showers! I know, right? My childhood best friend’s mom wanted to throw me one in my hometown in Indiana, so I had the first over Thanksgiving weekend, and then my new sister-in-law offered to throw me one in my husband’s hometown in Minnesota for his side of the family. I felt honored that I even got to have three showers and had so many people in our lives showing us their support.

The shower that I had in April was in Fargo, where we live now, and where the majority of my friends are. I was astounded at how many people even came to it! At one point, I remember looking around the room and just feeling overwhelmed in a good way. It hit me that I have made some amazing friends at different points in my life, and I am incredibly grateful that so many of them came out to celebrate with me. I felt so loved and so special that this many women cared enough to take time of out their days to be with ME! Wow!

I have to give a shout out to my maid of honor, Meredith, for organizing the whole thing–seriously it was one of the best experiences in the entire engagement. And to Jenessa for making the best cupcakes–she’s so darn crafty and even made little toothpicks with our faces on them!

I’ve become quite the sap in the past year, and everything makes me cry now. I tried to hide it at the time, but I’ll admit, when one of my floormates from college showed up, I almost lost it. I hadn’t seen her in literally years, despite our many attempts at getting together, and to see her again made me so happy. Plus, I found out that she was pregnant! And now she had her baby, and little Griffin is so adorable. (Congrats, Nikki!). It was like the cherry on top of already amazing day full of food, fun and friends. Some of those ladies I’ve known longer than my husband even, and some I’ve only known a short period of time, but seeing all of them together was an amazing experience. I am blessed to have great friends.

And of course, I’m super excited to see what new friends I make in the future, and I look forward to continuing to spend time with these existing lovely friends.

The whole group of my awesome friends

The whole group of my awesome friends

My mom and I with my long-lost college friend!

My mom and I with my long-lost college friend!

Jenessa's amazing cupcakes

Jenessa’s amazing cupcakes

My new sis decorating

My new sis decorating

Writing and New Passions

Well, here’s the first ramble from me, but it’s what was on my mind. I just have to say how incredibly much I am enjoying this blog thing. Confession: I used to dislike writing, despite my degree in journalism. I had always considered myself more of an editor than a writer. I was that person in high school who corrected my classmates’ incorrect grammar (“No, you mean you SAW that at the store, not seen.”). I kept a diary in jr. high and part of high school, but I was awful at it. I rarely wrote in it, and when I did, it was just about the boys that I had crushes on.

I always loved English, which I credit to my dad’s side of the family. My dad loves literature and reading, and my grandma on his side encouraged my spelling abilities by giving me quizzes, and she was so proud when I placed second in my third grade spelling bee (I’ll never forget the word that took me down!).

Later in high school, I considered going into broadcast and went between radio and TV. Neither worked, really. So I settled on a degree in English at college. Being forced to read about a book a week that you hate, then write paper after paper on, stifled that ambition. But I knew I wanted to be in journalism somehow. I applied for the student newspaper, but was denied due to lack of experience. ‘Umm, it’s college, no one here has experience!’ I was so distraught about it that I transferred to a nearby college that gladly let me on as an editor at their paper, and I was so excited about it. I LOVED it. I got to be a copyeditor, and eventually a columnist.

See, I figured out the problem pretty quickly after my transfer. I only hated writing when I was forced to write something on a subject I didn’t care about. But give me free reign to write about what interests me, and I can’t stop. So, in my previous jobs at the local newspaper and a trade magazine, I got through writing because it was my job, and some assignments I liked more than others, but I got through them.

And then just a few months ago, BOOM! Blogging came into my life. I started as a blog contributor for a local company that makes and sells custom dog products like collars and bowls, and it was fantastic. For the first time, I LOVED writing. I got to use my journalism skills, but apply it to writing on topics I cared about, and suddenly this passion for it came flowing out of me.

Hence my decision to start this blog. I had so many thoughts and emotions and lessons I took away from my recent experiences planning my wedding and being a newlywed, that I couldn’t contain them, and I had to get it out there! A diary wouldn’t do; I wanted to shout it from the rooftops. That wouldn’t be safe though, and I can be clumsy, so this blog is my answer.

After that long ramble, the point is that I feel so fulfilled and so happy just to be sharing what’s on my mind with the world. I want to make connections, and I want people to take away something from this, but also, I just really want to share, and sure, sometimes ramble. Between my doggy blogging and this personal blog, I am incredibly happy, and I wanted everyone to know that!

So … what makes you happy? What passions have grown on you?

Ten Things I’m Thankful For

This may be only my second post ever, but I’m gonna give this link up deal a shot. Dive right into to the blog world, I say!

So, one of my top few fave blogs I’ve been looking to for inspiration is Endlessly Beloved. Her link up is about listing 10 things you’re thankful for. What a wonderful idea! Sure, I’m grateful for stuff, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually thought about and defined them! Yeah, maybe one thing as we go around the table on Thanksgiving, but surely I have more than one thing I’m thankful for, right? Well, here goes.

1) My marriage. I may not be one of those women who has always dreamed of being a mother, but I HAVE always dreamed of being a wife, and it feels so darn good to finally be one. In jr. high, I remember thinking about what my future husband would be like, and I think the one I got is pretty darn awesome.

My new sister-in-law!

My new sister-in-law!

2) My (growing) family. I come from a very small family. I only have two cousins, one aunt, and no siblings. I wondered what it would be like to have a sister, and now that I have TWO sisters-in-law, it’s pretty awesome. All of a sudden now, I’m also an aunt! And I have two more honorary parents! And I like ’em all! Phew:)

3) My friends. Sure, I have a large extended circle of kind of friends and acquaintances throughout the years, but I’ve never had many really CLOSE friends. So the ones I did and do have mean the world to me.

4) Food. I just love food so much. Especially junk food, like doughnuts and popcorn and chips and ice cream, but some healthy things too like salad and lentils and hummus. I’m kind of an odd duck when it comes to food, but that’s OK.

5) Life. Sometimes I can be pessimistic (especially when in the masses of the general public like at the grocery store or on the road), but those moments in life that make you feel so darn special or a part of something larger, are awesome. Hearing stories of men who rescued kittens from awful situations and the like just warms my heart. On a kind of similar note, experiencing life is just awesome in itself. I think there are a TON of things I do not yet know, and maybe never will, but I’m trying to take in more experiences and open my mind more than I once would have.

My pets--Captain and Little Girl, and Brick.

My pets–Captain and Little Girl, and Brick.

6) Animals. I’ll admit, sometimes I like animals more than people. It likely stems from the fact that I’m an only child and came from a small family that was spread out over the country, so I just had far more interactions with animals than I did with people, and a lot of my childhood memories involve animals. I seriously considered my cats my sisters growing up, and I’d put them in dresses and play house with them. I’ve just always had an affinity for animals, and one of the best feelings is coming home to my cats and snuggling them at the end of the day. Animals are absolutely incredible.

7) Cat videos. Can you tell I’m a crazy cat lady yet? Yes, cat videos make many of my days. If I feel sad or unmotivated, a good cat video will quickly turn my frown upside down. On a similar note, of my favorite discoveries in the last year or so was Disco the Parakeet videos. It annoys my husband, but I just feel so darn good and happy watching those things. It’s the little things sometimes. Go ahead, google Disco the Parakeet if you haven’t seen him yet. Also Surprise Kitten.

8) My car. I really don’t mean this in a braggy way, and it sounds kind of silly to be listing a materialistic item as something for which I’m thankful, but I really truly am. For years I drove a jalopy I called Connie the Contour, and she was AWFUL. She would go from 0-60 in about half an hour, and often completely shut down for no apparent reason. She was in the shop for something every couple of months, and the mechanics sure got to knew her and I well. The timing for buying my new car (a white 2010 Subaru Legacy I named Leslie) was impeccable. I was driving Connie to go pick up and officially purchase Leslie when she started dying just a couple blocks from the dealer lot. Like, she wouldn’t accelerate, breaking was unreliable, the wheel locked up, and she was making very awkward and alarming noises. I somehow managed to get her into the lot, and she died right then and there. Thankfully I drove away in Leslie, and Leslie is incredible. She accelerates and brakes when I ask her to, she doesn’t make bizarre noises, and she’s just so pretty. I love my Leslie, and having a reliable car is incredible after years of suffering through Connie.

9) Religion. For reasons I’ll expand upon in future posts, I have some issues with some religious ideas, but I am incredibly thankful that I have some sort of solid base of a religious upbringing. I liked growing up in church, and we had a great community at mine. Whatever your religion is, I think it’s important for everyone to think about things that are beyond what they see, know and understand right now. Even just being spiritual is important, I think.

10) My dermatologist. This last one was the hardest to list, but it was the first thing that popped into my head. We all have insecurities about ourselves, and getting over them is a great feeling. I struggled with acne from age 12 on. Not just a couple pimples here and there like many of my classmates, but full-on breakouts at times. It was so embarrassing, and I just could never seem to get it under control. Finally, sometime in my later college years, I decided to tackle it head on and I went to a dermatologist. I tried countless things, but finally, we found the right recipe, and I’ve mostly gotten rid of it. Sure, I will get a pimple or two here and there now (which is most likely the result of my laziness and not wanting to wash my face before bed sometimes), but I have never had a breakout as bad I used to. The last one I can remember was senior year of college, so I’ve been mostly acne-free for about six years now, and it is awesome. I still have some scarring that may never go away, but I’ve accepted those. I don’t have to be perfect –no one is–but I feel much better about myself having a face that I’m not embarrassed of.

11) My new blog! Duh!

What are some of the things YOU are thankful for?