Christmas time is here!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

So Thomas finished decorating the tree last night. We were afraid to do it any sooner, because the thought of cleaning up broken ornaments from wild dogs crashing into the tree did not sound appealing. Alllllllll of the presents are wrapped. The table is covered in a green table cloth and fancy looking red-striped candles in our mod candelabra. Our small collection of cards has been hung. Lights are outside. There are a few things I'm finishing up today, and then we're done. We don't have a mantel or lots of spare space, so many of the cute decorations I've seen will be used in a few years, in another house.

I just wanted to say Merry Christmas to all of you. I hope you have a wonderful holiday (and even if you don't celebrate it, hopefully you get the day off)! Spend a little time thinking about all of the incredible things you are thankful for. Your significant other, your kids, pets, if you're lucky to have a job, or if you're able to afford school. I'm always impressed by the resilient spirit of humanity, and glad that there are so many stories of it around Christmas. Be thankful for your abundant blessings, and do whatever you can to not compare them to the blessings of others. I pray that you are all safe and happy this holiday season.

Isaiah 62:6-12
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Upon your walls, O Jerusalem,
    I have posted sentinels;
all day and all night
    they shall never be silent.
You who remind the Lord,
    take no rest,
and give him no rest
    until he establishes Jerusalem
    and makes it renowned throughout the earth.
The Lord has sworn by his right hand
    and by his mighty arm:
I will not again give your grain
    to be food for your enemies,
and foreigners shall not drink the wine
    for which you have labored;
but those who garner it shall eat it
    and praise the Lord,
and those who gather it shall drink it
    in my holy courts.
10 Go through, go through the gates,
    prepare the way for the people;
build up, build up the highway,
    clear it of stones,
    lift up an ensign over the peoples.
11 The Lord has proclaimed
    to the end of the earth:
Say to daughter Zion,
    “See, your salvation comes;
his reward is with him,
    and his recompense before him.”
12 They shall be called, “The Holy People,
    The Redeemed of the Lord”;
and you shall be called, “Sought Out,
    A City Not Forsaken.”

Merry Christmas everyone. And YAY Jesus!

I'll see you again around the new year.

The right to lead a full life.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

For the past few days I haven't known what to say. It's kind of worked out, because I also haven't wanted to talk about it. You don't really want to think about kindergarteners getting shot, but that seems to be on my mind every night before bed. As tends to be the pattern with horrible things, there has been a lot of jumping to conclusions. There are three things people are talking about most: 1. The kids who were shot; 2. Gun control; and 3. Mental illness, particularly autism.

The sadness for the adults and children who were shot just cause my heart to ache. All the time. It's not right, it's not fair, it's not good. Nothing that I will say will do anyone any good. Because when you have lost someone that you love, when their body isn't there to draw you pictures or give you advice or give you a hug or smile- it sucks. And it sucks for a really long time. So I'm not going to pretend that I have answers. I just know that I'm praying for the families.

Gun control. Statistics show that people don't change their opinions (not drastically) after a mass shooting. Here's what I think- If you are anti-gun, you have a long fight ahead of you. The right to arms is in the Constitution. As the U.S. Constitution is the law that all other laws are upheld by, even this high school government class-educated woman can let you know that would be a mighty hard battle- to take on all the guns in the country. Perhaps you should look at this. Or this. I'm just throwing some information out there. It's up to you to draw your own conclusions. As for me? Personally, I think it wise that I learn to shoot one day. I also really never want to own a gun.

But I don't have kids. I don't have a gun. What I do have is a mental illness. When people go around, making blind accusations about people with a mental illness, I do get a little hot under the collar. Do you realize that if you (or someone you heard) are making sweeping accusations about mental illness, you are talking about me? When I hear "lock up the crazies," it means that someone thinks that I don't have rights as a human. Like I don't deserve to give my best effort at making a life of my own. There's something [stupid] going around Facebook that has a part that says "You ppl need to stop doing drugs while pregnant and having sick babies that grow up killing innocent people." While the killing innocent people part doesn't apply to me, I can safely guarantee that my mom did not do drugs while I was incubating in her belly. It's called genetics and situational factors. Generalizations make me feel like sh!#. Sorry for the cursing allusion, but hearing that honestly makes me want to curl up in a ball on my bed and give my best efforts at melting into the floor. Which, incidentally, is what I do when I'm sad or angry. I don't go out and kill people. For more on the Facebook post and the thoughts of an autistic mother (*correction because that didn't sound right when I just re-read it- mother of an autistic child), visit this post at Yeah. Good Times. It is well worth the read.

Ironically enough, "lock[ing] up the crazies" is what we are doing. I know, many people are like, whatevs man, healthcare shmelthcare! Funding is getting cut everywhere. The brilliant essay, "I am Adam Lanza's Mother," has this quote: " fact, the rate of inmate mental illness is five times greater (56%) than the non-incarcerated population." These people aren't getting help. Would you want jail to be your healthcare option? I don't. I doubt it is very good for the penal system either. When I was looking for options when I was first diagnosed, it was made very clear to me that unless I was suicidal or homicidal, my Bipolar disorder was not severe enough to be treated at immediate facilities. Because having a meltdown at 3 am, screaming into the night, isn't severe at all. I found (from calling many many many doctors) that the average length of time to get in to see a psychiatrist for a first visit is 6 weeks. 6 weeks to see a private doctor (with good insurance). That's an awfully long time to wait when you feel like you can't live with your illness. The system is flawed.

Until America realizes that mental illness is huge, and important at all levels, the lack of treatment will be sustained and people will keep making ignorant assumptions. While there are people who are unstable and violent, there are plenty of us who are keeping to ourselves and trying to live a life that works for us. But everyone with a mental disorder deserves help. Not just mindless medication, but legitimate help- medication if needed, the right kind of therapy, a place to go if the outside world isn't the best environment (not for all, but for some). Every human has the right to lead a full life. Isn't it time we made that happen? Wouldn't that lead to the best situation for everyone?

Thanks for letting me get on my soap box for a while.


A guy's Advent Calendar (or stocking stuffers!)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Planning on posting this a while back... and then life happened! Oh well, though it's a bit late to try this for your guy this year, these are good stocking stuffer ideas, or a 12 days of Christmas. Thomas has been enjoying this for the last two weeks, and I thought it'd be a nice thing to share.

I loved the idea of adding scripture with my gifts to remember "the reason for the season" (as the saying goes), and having a little meditation/devotion each morning. But all of the pins that had this idea and links to the scripture verses included the Book of Mormon (and no offense, Mormon peeps) but we're not Mormon. So taking their swell idea, I went to, hunted down the lectionary (our set readings for church each year) and took all the Advent-time readings. Bam! Done! I got some of the sticky flags and marked them in Thomas's bible to make it super quick to find when he's prepping for the day.

24 Days of Scripture
Isaiah 64:1-9
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Mark 13:24-37
Isaiah 40:1-11
Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
2 Peter 3:8-15
Mark 1:1-8
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Psalm 126
Luke 1:46b-55
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28
2 Samuel 7:1-11,16
Luke 1:26-38
Malachi 3:1-4
Jeremiah 33:14-16
Psalm 25:1-10
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
Luke 21:25-36
Luke 1:68-79
Philippians 1:3-11
Luke 3:1-6
Isaiah 12:2-6

I had some shipping tags lying around and I wrote the number of the day on the front and the bible verse of the day on the back.

What are they hanging on? you ask. Well, that's a funny story. After contemplating a very cute "tree" with envelopes making the tree shape on the wall (which would have involved me going to the store to buy stuff and time and effort and stuff I don't have or want to use), I thought that was too much. So I went to the woodish patch behind the house and brought what is probably a 8 foot long branch (it had already fallen from a tree) back into the house. I was dressed up for some reason and so I lugged this thing back into the house in heels. Nice. Classy. There were thoughts of hanging it, but you know, sometimes you see something on Pinterest and sheer lack of willpower turns your laziness into something totally unique. An Advent treecalendarfirehazard.

But what to gift? 24 days is kind of a lot, so how do I not end up spending more on the calendar than I will on his Christmas presents? (Not that my super awesome husband doesn't deserve it, but for riz kids, we all have enough expenses.) Answer: being totally super creative. I'm soooo good at that. So now, I will put this in this blog post and you can do it and everyone (everyone being your husband and anyone he tells about his Advent treecalendarfirehazard.

No money spent (immediately) free stuff (can be written on pretty paper and put in an envelope):
1."Elf," "Home Alone" or any other movie for a movie night. If you already own this, wrap it and you also have a date night that night!
2. Winter hike (or walk around your neighborhood).
3. Baking cookies! Gingerbread men are great, especially if you can find the premade gingerbread dough in your grocery store. But I did list this as free because you can easily make some "Christmas" cookies with stuff you already have.
4. Dinner date coupon- for eating in or going out.
5. Doing a Christmas craft- paper snowflakes for the window or an easy construction paper chain.
6. Driving to look at Christmas lights in your town.
7. A good, sappy, he'll-keep-it-in-his-sock-drawer-forever love letter. They can't be beat.
8. Hot chocolate and star-gazing.
9. Movie night- his choice. You have to promise you won't veto.
10. The classic coupon book.
11. Decorate the tree!
12. Making a Christmas trail mix or cookies for his work, so all the other guys (or coworkers) love him.

Cheap-ish presents:
1. Picking out a Christmas tree (great for December 1).
2. Jalapeno stuffed olives.
3. Hot sauce (great in little mini bottles)- you can find them almost everywhere. World Market has very cute things and is a great place for stocking stuffers.
4. Giant book of MadLibs.
5. Chopsticks. World Market again!
6. New underwear. It may not be fun, but always practical.
7. Candy is always easy and fun.
8. New Christmas pajamas.
9. Going ornament shopping for your tree.
10. Bag of coffee and some syrup for fun.
11. Nerf gun and Nerf gun WAR!
12. Small gift cards for coffee or the fast food you try not to encourage.

Maybe one day I will be a cool blogger and figure out how to create a mood board, but for now, cell phone pictures (sorry about that!) and Blogger. Good luck!

Why my brain is different than yours, and why that's okay

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Of the many emotions I have since I am bipolar, this is the resounding one: confusion. I have no idea why you process information the way you do and you have no idea why I process things the way I do. I can't understand drawing conclusions in another way. Because the way I do things is often different, it can lead to tension. So I'm going to try and explain how my brain is a little weird.

There are lots of theories as to causes of bipolar disorder and our mood swings. The brain is a funky thing. Scientists aren't completely sure how all of a healthy brain works, and when you move into mental disorders, it gets strange. Neurotransmitters (control moods and emotions) also have a lot to do with our thoughts and actions, though it isn't exactly understood what it is in particular that changes things so much. Some ideas are that Bipolar people have too many or too little neurotransmitters, leading us to be overstimulated or underwhelmed with emotion. Some say that these are too sensitive, and we receive emotions more intensely.

That's a lot of "it might be"s, especially for people who don't live with Bipolar Disorder (I've gotten used to the what-ifs and the maybes). So what really happens to your brain? What most now agree on is that bipolar disorder has physiological roots. If you look at MRI scans of a bipolar person's brain versus a healthy brain, colors, size and shapes come out differently. This article from PsychCentral helps with the specifics. "Compared with controls, patients with Bipolar Disorder had decreased activity and/or reduction in gray matter volume in the right inferior frontal gyrus, the right superior frontal gyrus, the anterior singulate, and the precuneus. These areas are a cortical-cognitive brain network associated with the regulation of emotions, the researchers noted," (Pedersen). So, certain parts of our brain are shrinking and we have decreased activity in areas that usually regulate emotions.

It's weird to think about your shrinking brain at 24.

So with my shrunk-up brain, why am I thinking about all of this? Why care? Because, whatever the neurotransmitters are doing or the serotonin levels are, they factor in to how I live on a daily basis. Most of the time you'd meet me and never know that I have this whole different side of my life. But I live with this every day. I think about it, sometimes for a while, sometimes just in passing, probably 20 times daily. It's a huge part of me.

I really never thought that I'd find anything good about this. When I was diagnosed (4 years ago, almost to the day), I was sure it was one of the worst things ever. But, as much of a pain as it can be, I have learned to accept it. I've even learned that it makes me unique. (In a good way, not just a crazy way.)

I'm not sure how my brain works most of the time. I just know the effects. One of those effects is my commitment to understanding. I've become more patient with people who have extraordinary mental health issues. From autism to anxiety, I've become passionately curious about why people react differently to things, but mostly how they do. Autism, Aspergers, and the Autism Spectrum have been coming into public light more and more. When I stumbled upon this article about autism and selective eating, somehow, all of the gears starting clicking in my head. This is partially because this woman is a great writer, but also, my Bipolar brain has somehow enabled me to think outside of the box- to understand how other people have brains that work differently.

I was recently talking with someone else who also has BPD. It was so easy to focus on how we are different from other people, and how hard that is for us. I certainly don't mean to diminish that struggle- and it is a hard battle- but we also receive amazing gifts from it. I don't know if I would have kept up my writing if I didn't have it; probably not in this way. We have to work harder for understanding and a sense of normalcy- but that makes it so much sweeter.

Accepting differences, whether it be of religion, illness, or appearances, is rarely easy. It's even harder when the differences happen to you, later in life! But in reflecting upon those differences, we learn that differences don't mean weaknesses. We learn that "abnormalities" aren't truly that abnormal. We learn that perhaps there might be a bit of happy perfection in an imperfection.

And most of all:
Our humanity is more important than whatever names we give our differences.

Check out...

**The Obvious Stuff**
This is not a medical journal. I am just a person who has Bipolar Disorder who is trying to make sense of it all. Do not take any of this as gospel truth. Always consult your doctor before making any radical adjustments to your lifestyle. Get the facts.

Catching up for December

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

After getting back into the blog and having such a productive November, I feel remiss that it is December 5 and I haven't written anything. So here's a catch up... a list, of some things.

1. We have our {crooked} Christmas tree! It is a magnificent 9 foot-tall Leland Cypress and it's fluffy and I am in love with it. Sometimes I hug it and smell it. Currently it is dog-proofed: there are no ornaments, just ribbon and lights. I kind of like the super simple nature. There was a great phaff with the three (3!!) trunks and it not fitting into the tree stand. But Thomas's engineering and a borrow of one of Dad's power tools, and our magnificent tree stands, if leaning slightly. It also needs a tree skirt- but I'm afraid of sewing in circles. But I have to make myself finish our stockings this week... so a tree skirt (perhaps a square?) is in order as well.

2. Otto really loves eating the... leaves? fernish looking bristles? Whatever. Otto eats the tree. And drinks the tree sap water. It is very perplexing as to why he needs to do this, and another reason I need to make a tree skirt ASAP. Also just caught Moby chewing on one of the branches. Seriously, pups?

3. Please follow me! If you scroll down to the end of the content on the right side bar, you will see that there is a small band of followers (thanks guys!). Please add your name to their ranks! Also consider subscribing by email (also in the right sidebar).

4. What are y'all asking for for Christmas? I can't ever seem to think of anything between my birthday in November and December. Then the other 10 months of the year, I am filled with ideas for things I can't live without. Big or small, what are you wishing for?

I hope your December is going splendidly!

Getting around... sometimes

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

 Vespa, Rome.

 Bicycle, Rome.

 Botanical Gardens, Florence.

 Botanical Gardens, Florence.

Truck, Florence.



Doge's Palace, Venice.

Aboard the vaporetto, Venice.

Thomas on the vaporetto, Venice.

Thankful time, all the time

Monday, November 26, 2012

So as I sit on my couch eating a bowl of leftover garlic parmesan mashed potatoes, I realized I didn't write a "this year I'm OMG so thankful for" like every other blogger in America. So here it is. I am OMG so thankful (that's annoying. that will stop now.) for...

1. This guy. Look at him! He's adorable! Thomas is my bestest friend, the love of my life, and the person I kiss every night before I go to sleep. He's the guy who cleaned up our Thanksgiving feast, surprised me with Christmas lights when I came home tonight, patiently listens to my distracted rambling, says "I love you" at least 15 times a day, and (usually) is willing to go along with my harebrained plans. Thomas, you make me want to be the best I can be, every day.

2. These two people and the family they've created. These are my parents. And they're super. And along with them, my sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, extended family, grandparents- they are all incredible people who have made me into a far better person.

3. My therapy dogs. Moby (Moebs) and Otto (Ott-Bot) are nuts, as evidenced by their crazy mountain behavior this weekend (long story). But there are few humans who are as consistently loving and patient as they are. Everyday, they say "HELLO! WE ARE SO SUPER GLAD YOU WOKE UP!! LET'S POOP AND THEN EAT! CAN WE PLAY? LET'S PLAY!! YAY!" Yes. Always at that decibel level too.

4. These two weeks. Travel makes me so happy. Giddy- skipping through the streets of Rome. I'm gushing "Look at this painting! Look at that neoclassical style! Doric! Ionic! Corinthian! Palladio! Where's Thomas?" Religion and art-history studying daughter of two people who went to architecture school, right here. Turns out that it works fairly well with a marriage to an engineer. I just have to also act very excited about how it was built. But Thomas and I know now why people go on honeymoons. And we decided to stay married.

5. Living in the Charleston area. At the beginning of the year, we weren't sure how much longer we were going to be here, but we got to stay! This place is as much a part of me as family, and it's nice to hold on to that a bit longer before moving to other ports. Also, I'm always a fan of water and large swings in public spaces.

6. This day. Because that day lead to this life. This life may be busy, crazy, unexpected, different... but it is mine. I relish every day that I get to live here. This is where God wants me, this is where I am blessed to be.

Because I'm really excited about Christmas...

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Christmas tags! Everyone is always looking for a way to save a little money around the holidays. There are thousands of Pinterest links to Christmas gifts you can make, things to do, but here's a little holiday inspiration from me. This is not fancy, it doesn't take a lot of time or money, and can be totally personalized with stuff you already have in your house.

What you'll need:
-paper scraps (I used anything I could find- paper grocery bags, scrap paper, construction paper, scrapbook paper, can use old Christmas cards, cereal boxes, etc)
-pens (gel pens, rollerball, whatever suits you)
-alphabet stamps (optional- can get for $1 at large craft supply chains)
-paper tape (see sources below)

I made over 200 tags (yes Mom, I have yours). The options are endless- depends on how you write, use tape, make little drawings. This really isn't a tutorial. Just inspiration that super creative, or super frugal, you can save a bit and have cool Christmas tags.

I love me some washi tape. Most of my tape isn't actually Japanese, but it does the trick. "Printed paper tape," how about that? You can put it on everything! Sources: Martha Stewart (at Michael's), Todd Oldham's Kid Made Modern (at Target), Target's office supply section (best deal- 4 big rolls of tape for $4), and a few other places. Target, Michael's has a small selection,, even Marshall's on occasion. has the best selection of tape from Japan.

Green scrapbook paper & stamps; red cardstock and teal paper tape from Target; leaf paper from a school art project & red paper tape from Target.

 Tear, overlap, or cut your tape to create cool patterns.

 If you're not crafty- the tape does all the work. If you are, go back and add little drawings or sayings. (And aren't we happy that I photographed a project during the day? I know. Thrilled.)

P.S. Sorry for the many changes in blog appearance. I was a bit fed up with the last look, so I've been tinkering with it until I'm happy. I think I finally am!

Fabric Covered Toms

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I have three pair of toms- one dingy olive, some purple thumbprint ones, and a pair of suede canvas booties that I got before Italy. The olive ones and the thumbprint ones are sad. Very sad. But also worn in perfectly. At the moment, I don't have $45 to drop on a new pair. Since the sadness in appearance is only aesthetic, not structural, I thought that this tutorial from Handmade Homemaker would be perfect for bringing new life to my Toms and dipping into my fabric stash. The only thing I had to buy was the glue (about $3.50 at Michael's).

They got a much coveted "pretty sweet" review from my husband, so I'm proud. I'm contemplating a bit of embroidery (tiny bit), but we'll see. The tutorial was excellent. The few things I'd add: Cut your pieces out completely before gluing. Measure as closely as possible. Better to err larger than smaller, though.

Perhaps my friends will let me cover theirs... please?

Italian Doors and Doorways

Wednesday, November 14, 2012



Pantheon, Rome

St. Peter's, Vatican City

Baptistry Doors, Florence



Ghiberti's Doors, Florence



The Doge's Palace, Venice

Also, if anyone knows how to watermark photos, I would be very grateful for some help in that area.

Monday's Mix Tape

Monday, November 12, 2012

1. The Black Key's "Gold on the Ceiling." I know, controversy galore over the changing of their sound, but this song still makes me dance every time I hear it. Don't you want to rock out?

2. The Lumineer's "Ho Hey." One night at bible study/life group, we were all singing this song- but all at different points- whatever we had gotten stuck in our head! I'll be dancing to this one too.

3. "Some Nights" by Fun. Fun. is all over the radio, and this song is so addicting! I'm sure you've heard it by now. Thomas and I have a great deal of fun singing along to this in the car. Dogs run away in horror when we get to the falsetto. :)

4. "I'll Make a Man Out of You" from Mulan. One of the best songs ever from a great movie.

5. "The Other Side" by Bruno Mars. Can you tell I like to dance on my Mondays?

What's on your Monday playlist?

Inexplicable Madness

Sunday, November 11, 2012

There are some days that make it next to impossible not to scream out loud in frustration. This was one of those days. There was an ill-fated trip to Target to get socks for Thomas that led to me having a panic attack on the drive home (which, let me tell you, is not the time to be having panic attacks). There were a couple of sweet puppies who, in an attempt to cheer up their very sad mum, ended up licking salty tears away, only to jump up and conk very bony heads against my skull. Ouch.

There were a few high points- going to the dog park on a lovely day, scoring a book of $30 worth of coupons, finding a cookie jar on clearance (I've always wanted a cookie jar), and because of the panic attack and the cookie jar- having my husband suggest we have cookies for dinner. (We ended up with a 50/50 split of cookies and macaroni and cheese. Blog title win.)

The last couple months have been really tough for me. I've been battling some hard stuff and I'm not too sure how to broach the subject. I've been experiencing symptoms that I last dealt with years ago, and suffice it to say these are not pleasant things. The panic attack alone should tell you that. I've been fighting a losing battle with my memory as well, and I'm praying things take a turn for the better soon. I am asking for your prayers, your thoughts, and your well wishes. Please.

Thanks friends.

Roman Holiday Pasta

Friday, November 9, 2012

While our trip to Italy - yes, pictures soon - was not as fancy as Audrey Hepburn's, it was delicious. This is copied from a delicious pasta we had in Rome. We were headed to the Vatican for the afternoon and we stopped at this little cafe that only had one option for lunch- this pasta. That's it. One thing. And it was amazing. Thomas and I each downed a huge bowl. It couldn't be easier to make, so I'll tell you how!

-Extra virgin olive oil
-2 fresh pears (yes, I know there are three pictured)
-Pecorino Romano cheese (we only had parmesan here. When I do it again, I will make it with the Pecorino, but parmesan still works great.) Please do not use the canned stuff. I promise, the deli price will be worth it!
-5 slices of thick bacon, the best you can get
-Penne pasta

Quantities are for two people, but this is great for just one or for a whole crowd.

1. Cook pasta according to the directions on the box. For the two of us, I used less than half a box (1/2 pound). It was more than enough.

2. While it boils and cooks, cut your pears into small chunks- nickel sized.

3. Cut your bacon before you cook it- also into nickel sized chunks {the goal is to have pear, pasta, and bacon all on your fork, without looking like a mess while eating}. I found it easiest to do with kitchen shears.

4. In a large saute pan, cook your bacon. This won't take long. Just before it is done, add your pears, a tablespoon or so of olive oil, and a quarter cup of grated Pecorino. Stir and let it cook for maybe 2 minutes or less. Don't cook the pears too much. Turn off the heat.
Update: if your pears are fully ripe and already very soft, I would NOT throw them in the skillet! They might get too mushy. Just toss them with your pasta after everything else is done. I still like my pears a little firm, so I cook them, but it's up to you!

5. Drain your cooked pasta. Toss your pasta in the pan, adding some more cheese. You want a little melted cheese flavor. Stir all of the ingredients.

6. Separate into bowls and layer in your pasta with more cheese, to taste.

Eat with your eyes closed, and pretend you're in Rome.

Pears seem a little weird for pasta, but the unexpected freshness and flavor makes this easy pasta great for a lunch. The Pecorino (the cheese the dish was served with in Rome) is worth finding. We were able to find it at our local grocery store. It is similar to parmesan, but makes a slightly non-traditional flavor. The freshly grated taste makes all the difference.

Channel some carbonara and add some pepper. There are a million ways to spin off this dish. Make it into something heavier and entree-like with some grilled shrimp or chicken. Even beef, if you're brave. At the least, have fun mixing up your pasta routine!

Why you should vote anyway

Monday, November 5, 2012

First, I'll concede to certain facts about our political system, then you can listen to my petition.

1. The American political system is not great- but it is safe. The two party system leaves a bit to be desired, in my opinion. We go with words like "liberal" and "conservative"- but the Democrats aren't that liberal and the Republicans aren't that conservative. The two parties are closer in ideals than they'd like to present. But the fact of the matter is that it's very hard for ultra conservatives or liberals to get very far. Great screw-ups are harder to come by, and whether you're red or blue, you can agree that we're not perfect, but our political climate is safe.

2. Your vote won't count. Gosh, this is the one I hear allllll the bloody time. I live in a red state so my vote won't count anyway. I live in a blue state so it has to be that way. Well, yes and no. I live in South Carolina, so I'm far from knowing what the excitement and thrill of living in a swing state is like, nor do I know what it's like to live around liberal people. SC has voted Republican in every election since 1964 (except 1976 when it went rogue for Jimmy Carter).

Here's why you should vote anyway.

1. Because the presidential election isn't the only thing that you vote on!!

I know!! Craziness!!

Believe it or not, we have elections every year. Also, there are other people responsible for making decisions in our country- the House and the Senate. (Okay, I know, too much sarcasm. Sorry.) Your state and county governments are also pushing issues as well. In addition to several positions, I'm also voting on School Board spending and an issue in the State constitution. I think you should believe in the power of your vote. If people did, we could be a country of swing states- and that would make election night even more fun.

2. Because people died for this right. It's a right. A privilege that many people in the world do not have. Even in our own country, women and minorities had to fight for years to have a say in elections. In many areas of our government, they have had a harder time getting into office. It's something our military members have fought to protect as well. I was hoping this section would be filled with something moving and articulate, but all I can think to say is that people have given their lives to give this to you. To protect their country, to protect your freedoms. I hope that moves you.

{And it may sound silly to some of you, but I think it would be great to see a woman become the president. In fact, I think it's silly that it hasn't happened already. America is so far behind on this one...}

3. America is not a democracy. We are a Republic. Our power as the people is firm. It is our duty to try to elect sound leaders to make decisions for our country. It is our duty to vote directly on the things we are able to vote on directly as well. Our country allows so many opportunities to vote. It's overwhelming and often too much for people to handle. But it's so important! If you're over 18, you're not in prison or convicted of a felony, plus a few other things, you can vote.

4. An extremely firm opinion of mine- if you are legally able to vote, and you do not, you have no say about anything you could have had the power to change. Sorry, but if you could have voted, but you choose not to, you shouldn't have the right to complain. At least not to me. I don't care if your candidates won or lost- if you voted, you participated in the democratic process.

5. You get a sticker. Stickers are cool.

Just remember...

To vote wisely. I am not advocating willy-nilly arbitrary voting. Do your homework. Google your state and county and "ballot 2012" and you can usually pull up a website that shows the ballot, candidates, and issues you'll be voting on tomorrow.

There are rules. Every county and state has guidelines to make sure everyone can vote. You normally have a precinct and specific voting location. However, the State mandates the rules. In South Carolina, you have to be registered 30 days before the election. You have to bring your voter's registration card with you, and your ID. But in North Dakota (according to Wikipedia), you don't have to be registered (the only state). Please don't harass the poll workers. I was one for several years. Don't be mean to them. Follow the rules.

So go out. Grab a book and stand in line.

Rock the vote.

Rock your vote.

Resting State

Saturday, October 27, 2012

I'm very bad at resting. I'm good at procrastinating, which is temporary rest with intermittent bursts of guilt, followed by a long period of regret. And guilt. But not very good at resting.

So much of this blog has followed my while I was at school or trying to get into school. I thought that I would be happy if I achieved. It's a very American thought, a "proper" state of mind for a young lady in her early twenties. I will never say that the time I spent doing those things was wasted. I don't regret my actions. Sometimes I just regret the mindset that I was in. That mindset was often keeping up with other people and trying to fulfill needs in an earthly sense, rather than a cerebral, emotional, and most importantly, spiritual sense.

The pursuit of excellence is gratifying and healthy. The pursuit of perfection is frustrating, neurotic, and a terrible waste of time. -Edwin Bliss

I certainly didn't forget about God. I just didn't figure out how to put him first in my life. I just assumed that there were certain things that had to be done in this world, college being one of them. I feel that I have to put in that I wanted to go to college, still want to, still a tiny part of me wishes I was able to do that in the fashion that most of the people in my circles were able to do. I simply didn't see how I could live a good life, of the design I had intended, without doing that. {Not saying that you can't live a good life without college- goodness no- but not the life I had envisioned for myself. This is a personal blog, take everything you read as opinion on my life, and no one else's. Many of the people I love most in this world didn't attend college, and I can only dream that my life is as fulfilling and good as theirs.}

We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. -Joseph Campbell

Of the design I had intended. -I said that.

And therein lay the problem. My tendency to design and construct plans for my life often leaves my plans in shattered bits around dusty footprints that lead in a different direction. I wrote in my last post of the 30 Day Blog Post Challenge (No. 27- What You've Learned in the Past Year) that one of the things God had taught me was "you will find your rest in me." As in, I would find my rest in Him. I am ridiculously stubborn, as my husband and family will willingly attest to. It would only seem appropriate that it would take me 4 years to learn something.

"If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there." -Lewis Carroll

I'd say it's taken about 7 or 8 months to sink in- a little less than the length of my marriage. It comes in waves, and I'll probably have to learn it again later when I get too caught up in something. I think it hit me that I was doing the right thing when I went to church one Sunday and someone asked if I was in school. I got this weird smile that I get (that's more of a grimace) because I know what's coming and said "no..." "Working?" "No, just full time wife (hoping that it would be enough to satisfy)." And instead of an awkward response (what I'm accustomed to getting), I got "That's awesome! You're having fun!" And I laughed and smiled (for real that time) and said "Yes!"

Because I was. I am. I am having fun. I am raising two crazy, giant, awesome black dogs. I am learning what being a military and Navy wife entails (it entails a lot). I am learning how to be a wife. I run this house. This crazy, slightly disheveled at the moment but migrating towards clean, house that smells a little less like smelly dog than it did... I do laundry, I clean house, I cook (working on getting better at that), I write, I sew occasionally, I keep doctor's appointments straight, and procrastinate on dusting. I zealously wipe kitchen counters, I read long books, walk large dogs, and write letters. I pray, sing loudly around the house, nap, visit friends, and pack my husband's lunch.

When you stop doing things for fun, you might as well be dead. -Ernest Hemingway

In discovering my joy in life- being a wife- I have discovered how to find my rest in God. I have found that worshiping Him can be done through the joy I have in my daily tasks. Mostly unceremonious, but I love it.

I love it because this is what I am meant to do right now and it is lovely and I am thankful.

What if something can't be done today? What if there is simply not enough left in me? What if I just don't want to? Unless it is something for Thomas, something for someone else I feel bad about putting off, then I let it go. It's just not worth it. I usually end up picking it up again in a day or two and odds are, I'm the only person who ever knew it was done a day or two later. I let my worries scamper off and I rest in God- in the comfort of knowing that I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

My friend told me the other day that I'm remarkably well-adjusted. I laughed. Relatively speaking, I am. When did that happen?

Somewhere in between thinking that resting was only achieved with procrastination on something else that was supposedly important and finding true rest in God and happiness, I suppose.

Oh, there's one last thing I do for fun and to find rest-
I laugh.

Nothing Important

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I remember thinking of several good post ideas, but as I sit in the quiet of my house, I can't seem to recall any of them. These are mostly the thoughts floating in my head.

I packed too much for Italy.

I definitely didn't research enough for Italy. How much more can I cram in in the next 63 hours?

I have a hair appointment Friday at 11. Do I want to cut all of my hair off?
Probably so. Hair grows.

I need to re-pot my aloe plant so it doesn't die.

I didn't pack enough for Italy. I am going to be over there for two weeks.

This is pretty much the extent of my thought process. All faculties seem completely committed to Italy, even though I'm not there yet. My brain doesn't seem to care. Leaving you, my poor readers, in the dust. I'm so sorry. It will get harder before it gets better, as life often does (not that my blog = life, but, you know) because...

Thomas and I are leaving SATURDAY for 16 days in Italy. (And the chorus of angels commences.) That is correct. Goodbye America, hello again Italy! Thomas has never been out of the country and I am thrilled to go back to one of my favorite places. Our plan for the whole trip? Eat. And eat. And eatandeatandeatandeat. And walk. And stare at mind-bloggling works of art. 238 days after our wedding, we get to have couple time!! No Navy!! Nothing nothing nothing but each other. Someone joked that since we've been married for a while and are used to time apart we might have to start doing activities alone after a few days. Haha, maybe! But doubtful.

Yes, I plan on taking tons of pictures and posting many of them here. Though I will try not to be that person who takes pictures of their food. Never did understand that desire. However, I did master shrimp scampi from scratch the other night and I took a picture to prove it to my mom.

See? Seriously delicious.

I will shoot for at least one more post before I leave, preferably a bit more cerebral and a little less stream of consciousness. I just wanted you to know that I'm not dead.

Even though I was sick for all of September, not dead. Just distracted.

The September Slack-Off

Monday, September 24, 2012

I've come back to this post at least three times and the only thing that has not changed is the name of the post. So I'm just going to plow through and write something.

Unfortunately, it's not such a fun thing. Sorry.

I haven't felt like myself for the last few days. I don't know what is wrong with me. There was a slight adjustment with my meds, but nothing major. I thought I was going to feel better. I finally felt 100% well on Saturday. After nearly three weeks of being sick, I was thrilled not to wake up with a headache and not be on serious nausea and headache medications. (Did I tell you I went to the ER another time since my last post? Yeah... that sick.) So I thought that would boost my mood, but instead I feel weird and gross and not like myself at all.

It's been several months since a serious Bipolar problem, but just when I think things are working out... then something like this happens. I end up crying on my bed for 30 minutes, huddled under a blanket. I hate when that happens. I feel like such a loser.

I can't be a loser! I have friends. I graduated from high school in the top ten percent with a 4.3 gpa. I have a husband. I have the greatest family who ever lived. And then the other part of my brain goes... well what have you done in the last 7 months? You don't have a job, do I even need to mention college?, you don't have projects, you rarely seem excited to do anything, and the house could be much cleaner.

Ugh. Cleaning.

Trying to get that other part of my brain to shut up is rather difficult. Always gets the last word in, no matter what.

I'm so caught up in how crappy I'm feeling that I can't seem to snap out of it. I can't shake this feeling that I'm doing something wrong. I just have no idea what it is that is wrong. The results are just coming out skewed. It's even hard to push these stupid thoughts aside and tell myself that I'm just feeling a little off after being sick for so long and I just need to get back into the groove of things, find my rhythm once more.

After I push through, I get 16 days in Italy with my husband for our honeymoon. 16 glorious fall days in Rome, Florence, and Venice. We'll stay in apartments, visit everything that is beautiful, wander around aimlessly, eat food without having a clue what it is, ride trains, and celebrate our wedding and our marriage thus far. And eat gelato every. single. day. Can't forget that last part.

It will be awesome. And I am determined, some how, some way, to be awesome for Thomas and that trip. Italy is too expensive to be in a foul mood whist I am there!

Okay. I'll try again tomorrow.

Otto's Story

Sunday, September 9, 2012

This is Otto:

He's pretty friggin' cute.

(It's hard taking pictures of black dogs with a flash... especially when they are three months old and have no attention span. Still trying to get my bearings with the new camera.)

Otto came into our lives a few weeks ago.

Thomas went to pick up Moby at PetSmart after a grooming. We mostly take him here because he hates getting his nails trimmed. After one ill-fated trimming I did, it's worth $24.99 to have someone else do it (and wash, brush, clean his anal glands, clean his ears, file his paws, and dry him). So Thomas picked up Moby and as they were walking by the in-house vet, the nurses said, hey! We have this little puppy that looks exactly like your dog.

I'm in the shower when Thomas burst in, flinging open the curtain, and announces that he wants a dog. Kind of. He explains that Otto was left at the vet, abandoned there with terrible stomach worms. That was weeks ago. The owners never came to pick him up and haven't returned any calls. He was left with the name Blackie (seriously? how creative.) and everyone at the office has pretty much fallen in love with this little one. The stomach worms are gone. If someone doesn't claim him, they have to take him to the Dorchester SPCA (where we got Moby). Sad.

The whole time Thomas is telling me, his eyes are going "Can we keep him? Can we keep him please?"

"So you want a puppy?"

"Will you at least go see him tomorrow? He looks just like what Moby would have looked like as a puppy."


So off we went. This little, black pup that was all ears, fur, tail, and GIANT webbed paws careened around the corner. And my heart melted. I was gone. He was so cute. He leapt into my arms and I just smiled and loved him.

I looked at Thomas and he looked at me, all gooney eyed. He said that Moby and "Blackie" just hit it off immediately. Both doing that weird talking thing Moby does this yelping, whistling, and... talking.

After reluctantly returning him, Thomas and I set off towards home. And we talked about "Blackie."

First off, the name had to go. We always joked that if we ever found a second black German Shorthaired Pointer, we'd name him Otto. A nice German name. :) We talked about finances, what we'd need to buy, cost of keeping a dog, the fact that we knew nothing about him. But then we talked about his situation. We didn't want him going to the shelter. We got Moby there. As awesome as places like the SPCA are, they don't need another dog. And we could love him, train him, and take care of him forever. We realize that any hesitation we had could be taken care of. We could do this.

So we called the vet and said if they didn't find the owners, we would take him.

After 3 weeks of phone calls and waiting for a response from the previous owners, Tuesday we finally got the call that it had been the appropriate amount of time (they didn't want to get into a lawsuit of giving away someone else's dog) and all attempt to contact the owners had failed. And so Otto came into our lives.

We are so lucky. Otto loves being here and fits in well. He plays a lot with big bro Moby (who adores goofing off with him too).

This is mostly what our day looks like. Otto realizes that the only way to attain the high ground on Moby is to stand on the edge of the couch and leap onto Moby's back. See below. Thankfully that kind of workout tuckers them out well and they sleep soundly. They can be crazy, but crate training is wonderful and a huge help to everyone. They sleep and I don't have to referee dog fighting.

And yes, we're stopping at two.