Home is where the heart is


It’s been a stressful few days, folks. No matter what side of the fence you’re on, it’s a time of change. And that’s scary to a lot of people. 

But today, like most days, i spent a lot of time with Jeff. Bread was baked, errands were run, wine and beer were consumed. It’s no secret that i have dreams of living in Europe someday. And that someday can’t come soon enough for me. But today, home was where i made it. Love italy? Sure. But i just had wine, cheese, and bread here. I got to walk my dog. Go for a run. Watch Beetlejuice on demand. So it’s not always about someday. It’s about making what you love a part of each day. And that’s what makes where you are, home. 

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Nettie I’ll Not Forget-ye

Tonight’s dinner was inspired by one of my best friends, my maid of honor, my aunt but really big sister Lynette. It wasn’t so much inspired as suggested, but hey-I’m the artist here and I’ll take artistic license.

Way back when, Nettie kinda saved my life. When I was with the super duper jerk boyfriend of last blog, she would have me and only me over for dinner with her now husband. Every Tuesday, we watched some crazy ass shit on FX and had dinners of varying ethnic backgrounds. Sometimes tikka masala, sometimes pad thai, when we felt like our cholesterol could take the hit a seafood lasagne. But it was always delicious and it was always our time. Even after I’d bought my new house and hit a 4 year dry spell, Nettie was there. She and my uncle Kurt and I would talk about whatever was going on, however mundane or exciting. It was usually the night I looked forward to most during the week. When I was a single girl, my social life was sometimes more busy during the week than on weekends. And that was OK with me.

Now, we send emails during the week, and sometimes text on Friday nights to make sure we both made it through the week-OK, to check and see if the other one is drinking wine too. Those emails aren’t as frequent as they used to be, but that’s OK. Even if we’re not as communicative as we used to be, I know if anything ever happens to me, she’s my girl. To counsel me. To make fun of me. To accept multiple texts of me in various outfits to pick which one I wear. She’s a pretty funny and awesome lady, and I’m super glad she’s my aunt-sister. Now, on to her meal!

CREAMY CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP
Super creamy Chicken Noodle Soup beats any soup any day. The perfect comfort food in a bowl, lightened up with half of the calories AND no heavy cream!
Makes over 12 cups!
Author: Karina – Cafe Delites
Serves: 8
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large carrots, sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • ⅓ cup plain | all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 chicken bullion cube, crushed (or 2-3 teaspoons vegetable stock powder)
  • 1 good pinch of salt (adjust to you taste)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 5 cups 2% milk*
  • 10 ounces | 300 grams uncooked egg noodles or pasta of choice
  • ⅓ cup frozen peas
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sear the chicken thighs on both sides until golden (about 3 minutes each side). Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery. Sauté for another 5 minutes until the onion becomes transparent and the celery just begins to soften. Add flour, parsley, crushed bullion cube (or vegetable stock powder), and salt. Mix all of the ingredients through and allow to cook for a further 3 minutes.
  2. Pour in the broth; mix everything together thoroughly; increase heat and bring to a boil for about 4 minutes (the broth will begin to thicken). Reduce heat, partially cover the pot with a lid, and allow to simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  3. Transfer chicken to a plate and shred the meat; discard the bones.
  4. Add the chicken back into the soup along with the milk and noodles (or pasta). Bring to a boil and allow to cook for 6-8 minutes until the noodles are JUST beginning to soften. Add the peas and continue to cook until the peas are cooked and the soup has thickened.
  5. At this point, taste test the soup and add extra salt or pepper or stock powder if desired to suit your tastes.

Nom nom, guys! Next time, I’m probably going to talk about the last few books I read. I’ve been on a kick lately, and the last one I finished was really thought provoking for me, even though I realize it may not be for everyone.

Birthdays and Ballyhoo

Today is my little brother’s birthday. He’s 23, and he’s seen a lot of change in his life. I remember the day he was born-it was the day of the major earthquake in Los Angeles that collapsed the freeway. I spent the whole morning while he was being born watching that coverage and waiting for my stepdad to come out and tell me all about my new baby sister. My mom was SO convinced that he was a girl, that they hadn’t even thought of a boy’s name as a possibility. Even though they hadn’t had a confirming ultrasound. But anyway, my stepdad came out and told me it was a boy, and I asked if he was sure. He gave me a look that said he’d SEEN THINGS, and told me he was sure. That kid changed our lives in a million little ways, and only a few of them were bad. Kidding! Jesse, you’re a pretty rad guy. Sometimes knowing what you don’t want in your life is more important than knowing what you do want. And I’m very, very proud of you for living the life you choose. I see you like twice a year, but if you ever need anything, I’m here for you.

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That’s Parks and Rec for Proud, kid. 

Jesse’s birthday got me thinking about my own, inevitably. It’s just shy of 2 months away. And, I gotta be honest, this upcoming birthday, 10 years ago, was a ginormous turning point in my life. When I turned 29, it was a game changer. I started realizing that by NOT choosing things, I was still making a choice (yes, Jeff, that’s a Rush reference for you. Enjoy it, because it will not happen again). I was in a stagnant relationship with a man I now realize was pretty emotionally abusive. We’d been together nearly 6 years, 6 important freaking years in your life-your mid 20’s. And he told me that I was dumb to want to be married, that I’d make ugly babies, and that if I wanted to have groceries for the house it was my choice but I’d be paying for them. Yes, that’s a one-sided summation of all his terrible qualities, but the point is I started thinking about what I wanted in my life. That at 29, some options were just no longer going to be available to me. And a few months into that year of life, I realized that an ambivalent partner who once told me that I had all the confidence of a limp penis was not better than being on my own. So I turned to him and I told him I wanted more for myself. I changed my life, though for pretty much the rest of that year I was in a pretty tough place

.

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I’m SO…scared! But no, excite was OK.

 

I sit tonight in the house I bought myself in that 29th year and I am so much happier than I ever thought I could be at 29. I’m more confident, though I still have a long way to go. I enjoy my job, when at 29 I was just entering the company I’ve grown to love. I’m married to the most amazing, supportive, funny man I’ve ever known. And I’ve grown to embrace what I enjoy. That’s dogs, exercise, cross stitch, a good book and a warm blanket. And wine. Probably not in that order.

So I want to enter 39 as a much happier woman than the uncertain Laura who turned 29. And I want to do so by supporting my favorite causes. Stay tuned for further updates, and if you love dogs even a little bit as much as I do, let me know-we’ll make sure you’re on the invite list for this as-yet-theoretical charity birthday event!

Friends Without Benefits

I have never claimed to be cool. A month or two ago, my parents were texting me while they were out for the evening, trying to get me to join them, and I dug my heels in and cross stitched and baked while they were out dancing at a local ballroom. I’m just lame. And when I’m not acting like your grandma, I’m generally just behind the curve. I get into things like 5 years after they’re popular. We’re just now watching Game of Thrones. Good music? Pretty sure I’ve never heard of that cool indie band you’re talking about. Another example is Podcasts. I only got into them about a year ago, but now they’re a staple of my day. Yesterday, as I was completing some busywork to round out my Friday, I listened to this week’s “Why oh Why” and it got me thinking.

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The host is a woman close in age to me who recently broke up with a boyfriend and is navigating the dating scene. Her frequent guest/foil is a guy she met at a bar who was good looking and charming at first blush, but has proven to be a misogynistic douche whom most listeners want to strangle. Myself included. He’s freaking terrible. But when she’s playing audio recordings of their conversation, it’s clear she actually somehow cares about this guy. Freaking Randy.

Everyone has “this guy” in their life. Whether it’s that guy you knew in High School, a friend you’ve lost touch with, or in some cases a family member. There’s people we feel a sense of obligation to. People we inexplicably love without always liking. Sometimes it’s situational-we shared a weirdly bonding experience years back that your hear won’t let you forget. Sometimes it’s a sense of duty-I love this person because nobody else does. But most of the time, there’s an x factor of friendship that keeps you hanging on long after your conscious brain would have you cut the cord.

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Except I kinda can’t stand you. 

I tried to research this strange phenomenon. I did. But it led me to a pile of Buzzfeed articles about being friends with your ex. And this is more than that. Your ex is someone you’ve definitely shared enough history with to care about for the rest of your life. A Randy is not. And yet, some strange alchemy brought you together and keeps you there. I can think of a few people I knew in my late teens/early 20’s. We have NOTHING in common right now. And yet…if you pick on them I will defend them to the end. It’s loyalty. It’s life. It’s a strange sense of obligation you can’t really put into words.I hesitate to call them friends-I’ve got a whole different blog about people who you may not see or talk to very often, but who were friends once and whose opinions you value quite highly even though There’s some your lives and situations and interactions have changed. But a Randy is someone you just feel like you should love, even when you don’t like them. So, as I sit in my basement on a Saturday night about to crawl into bed at an early hour with my BFFs from Criminal Minds, I salute the strange bonds that create and maintain friendships. I’ve been terrible about maintaining actual, meaningful friendships over the last few years and I strive to be better about that. But at the same time, some girls I’ve known and loved for 20 years drove several hours in December just to support me at my first ever art show. That’s pretty freaking amazing. So cheers to you, girls. And cheers to my anonymous Randy, whomever you are. I’ll never tell.

Looooooved it!

Princess Daintypaws Hates Snow

It’s a magnificent day. There’s snow on the ground, pain in the air, and…oh, wait. Today’s a giant, sucky, pain in the @ss. But that’s OK. It’s been a lesson in adaptability. Too much snow for your dainty dog to go for his morning stroll without that icky feeling between his paws? Cut it short and do a YouTube workout video before work instead. Start a project at work that snowballs into a giant turdstorm? Sure. Roll with that. And then…go to the gym over lunch. For stress relief. And endorphins so you don’t kill people.

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Workouts are like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get. So I hopped on the treadmill today with a tentative plan and vague hope. My lunches are shorter these days because my husband and I commute together in the winter, and he doesn’t have to be here as early as I do. So I *hoped* I’d be able to fit in 4 miles, but some time math as I changed told me it wouldn’t be likely. My runs started out like this when I got back in the saddle:

.4 mile run

.1 mile sprint

.1 mile walk

REPEAT as needed…or until the readout says you’ve covered 3 miles. It had variety, it had sprints, it had precious walk breaks. But I’ve been trying to stretch the run part and eliminate the sprint on occasion, and today was awesome! I ran .9, walked .1, and crushed that 4 miles in 36 mins flat. That means even with walk breaks I’m hitting a 9 minute mile. And I’ve only been back on the treadmill a few months! That was JUST the breath of fresh air I needed, because the “feels like -4” air outside just isn’t going to do it.

Now to finish the rest of this day, soak in a hot tub to stave off any muscle soreness from said wonderful run, and hit up Jeff’s BFF for dinner. Shrimp Scampi? Um, yeah, I’ll hit that. OH, yeah, I’m reading a pretty decent book right now: The Lost Girls of Rome. Kind of a more character based DaVinci Code kind of thing. Check it out if you need some basic literary popcorn!

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I have no idea what’s happening here but there’s 2 of my favorite things so it can’t be all bad.

Fit Fresh & Fraudulent

So, a few weeks ago I was at a party with some friends I hadn’t seen in a while. Years, actually. Thank goodness for FB to keep us in touch. Anyway, one asked if I was still blogging, and mentioned she really enjoyed reading it. I told her, honestly, that I felt a bit fraudulent blogging under “Fit Fresh and Funny”. I mean, these days I mostly worry about FITting into my jeans instead of fitting in 30 miles a week. I question the viability of produce in our fridge for FRESHness instead of posting pics of my wonderfully healthful lunches. Funny? Well, that hasn’t changed-bad jokes then, bad jokes now.

I’m just a different person than I was when I was a “healthy living” blogger. I’ve started a moderately successful cross stitch business. I’ve been to Spain. I’ve rehabbed a bitch of a foot injury and I’m on the road to running again, knowing it’s not a good idea to go as hard as I did before and not wanting to take the risk for a change. I read a boatload of books. I listen to unpopular music and was beyond stoked to see Stevie Nicks & the Pretenders this Fall. I am branching out my cooking skills and regaining my baking game. I follow more corgis on Instagram than humans. Well, OK, that shouldn’t surprise anyone. But seriously-I don’t even know what the blog community is like anymore. I noticed that following all the blogs I read was a bit of a trigger to unhealthy ways for me that I haven’t read one in over a year. Is there a place for a technically fit but nowhere near visible abs girl in this world? Would people even care what I have to say anymore?

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SO, do you feel curious, punk? DO YOU? I’ll probably talk a lot about how Foster and I are best friends. About how Jeff and I are in a heavy Ramen Noodle phase, but not the packaged kind. About how I ran today for 3 whole miles, so of course I’ll have another glass of wine. I mean, I could take over the world but that’d be a lot of work. So can I just have a tiny, 5 minute a week corner of your mind? Let me know if it’s worth giving this blog a facelift and another go!