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Friday!

May 15th, 2015 · 14 Comments · Daily

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I made a crustless asparagus quiche, and although it needs some tweaking (I roasted the asparagus a little too long), it’s my new favorite thing. Even better? We had family in town for dinner last night, and they helped eat the quiche. (I’m not terribly keen on the idea of snacking on quiche for a week.) ((The secret ingredient? IT’S MAYONNAISE. And by putting mayonnaise in a quiche, I have officially stepped out of my box/wheel house/cliché tent. Proof? I’m making nut milk this weekend, and it has everything to do with cashews and nothing to do with what YOU’RE picturing right now.))

We walked to the library last week and Meredith checked the job board while we were there. (I believe it’s her dream for me to work at the library.) She was really excited to see that they were accepting applications for teen volunteers over the summer, so she filled out an application, wrote a really great cover letter, and crossed her fingers. Last night we received word that she got the job. Suddenly, Meredith is living the dream for three to six hours each week until August.

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The side of our house is being eaten by roses.

The health coach adventure is going very well. Briefly: I’m currently focusing on keeping carbs lower than proteins and fats. Avocados blended with tomatoes and a little olive oil, vinegar, sea salt, and pepper? I’ll eat lots of it. Cashew milk? I’m going to make some. Exercise? I’m doing it (10,000 steps per day and my butt challenge, which I haven’t talked about.) Weight loss? Four pounds in three weeks which is Just Fine.

This morning I was walking and this song shuffled and suddenly I was blinking back a few tears. In the mall. The good news? I didn’t drown my sorrows in a big stupid pretzel. (With that said, drowning sorrows in a big stupid pretzel is definitely a choice. It may not support my health goals right now, but nevertheless. It is a choice. And so is whiskey. And so is crustless quiche.)

Enjoy your weekend.

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The flowers and the nuts and the flowers.

May 11th, 2015 · 9 Comments · Daily

If I was one of those people who planned big gatherings for internet friends, I would invite each and every one of you to my house right now. All of your comments and support from my most recent “I’m ready to be healthy” post has floored me. I keep sitting down to respond to everyone and then I get all whooshed with happy thoughts. I’m the luckiest.

Oh! If you *did* come to my house right now, you would be greeted with a climbing rose that I didn’t even know existed six months ago! It bloomed this morning, and I keep going outside to check on it. (It’s always okay. I think it will be fine.)

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A few years back, my parents gave me a rose bush for my birthday, and although it never really thrived (throve? was thriven?), I worked with it every year until it pushed out a few blooms.

...is a rose is a rose is a rose, et cetera

When we moved away, I really considered digging it up and taking it with us, but that seemed like something a normal person wouldn’t do. (A rose bush is not a child or a pet, right?) Anyway, I’m really excited about the new red roses, and if you came to my Fluid Pudding Internet Buddies Gathering, I would let you clip one of them and wear it in your hair if that’s your sort of thing. And then we would dance, and by “we” I mean “you” because I haven’t had a drink in over 14 months.

This morning I melted some dark chocolate and threw in some crushed up macadamia nuts.

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I then poured it into a parchment-lined dish and sprinkled it with sea salt.

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After refrigerating it for about an hour or so, I stabbed it repeatedly with a butter knife.

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And now I have a snack.

One last thing. Jeff and the girls took me out to choose a plant for Mother’s Day yesterday.

I went with an Ivy Geranium.

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I’m proud to say that my newfound love of plants and flowers is starting to rub off on Meredith. She found a black petunia hidden amongst the pinks and purples, and she couldn’t leave without it.

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In between saying you’ve seen too much and saying you’ve seen it all before…

May 6th, 2015 · 36 Comments · Daily

Truth: Since my hysterectomy last year, I have gained 20 pounds and I’m not happy about how I feel.

If you know me at all (and by now, I think you do), you know that I struggle with the whole weight thing. In high school, someone called me Thick. In college, one of my roommates called me Wide. (Although I appreciate honesty, please know that these people have been eliminated from my circle.) I gained 80 pounds with my first pregnancy, and then I lost 93 pounds by combining Weight Watchers with lactation. I’m back up 40 pounds since then and most importantly: I used to own a Duncan Butterfly Yo-Yo, so I’m a bit of an expert.

You’re bored. I know you are. Here. Let’s speed things up a little: I’ve now reached the point where I don’t even want to leave the stinking house (it doesn’t really stink) because my clothes don’t fit and I’m constantly tired and my ankles feel creaky and unless I do something NOW, I’m going to go too far to get back home. (Figuratively. See sentence 4 of this paragraph. By the way, while I’m not leaving the stinking house, I would appreciate any advice you can offer on killing weeds that grow in flower beds. I’d prefer to go the natural way if possible, as long as the natural way doesn’t involve me bending over for six hours each day pulling dandelions and clover out of the ground, which is probably something that I SHOULD do, as evidenced by the very first sentence of this post.)

A few days back I reached out to a friend who is a certified holistic health coach. She sent a questionnaire to me and I filled it out and this morning we had a conversation via Skype. One week from today I’ll be kicking off a new routine and I’d like to take you with me. In other words, for the sake of accountability, I’d like to check in and let you know how it’s going for the next six months. Is that okay? (If it’s not okay, we need to figure some things out.)

This will not be a diet.

This will not be a hard core exercise adventure.

This will be me climbing a ladder and Kathy holding the bottom of it to make sure I don’t fall off. (That’s how she described it during our call, and I loved the image it conjured.)

This is me when I was in really good shape.

Dauphin Island, August 8, 1999

The adorable baby in that photo is my nephew, and he’ll be graduating from high school next year. (The photo was taken in 1999. He has doubled his height and can now speak in full witty sentences!) Anyway, my goal is to be comfortable in my own skin at his graduation, and that probably seems like a silly goal to you, but for me? It’s huge. (Disclaimer: Please know that I plan on wearing clothing to his graduation. As far as I know, being comfortable in JUST my skin wouldn’t be socially acceptable at a high school graduation ceremony. Some day I’ll tell you about the night of my own college graduation.)

((No, I won’t.))

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The this and the that…

May 4th, 2015 · 9 Comments · Daily

Tuesday was Harper’s birthday and Wednesday was Meredith’s birthday and I’m not sure what happened Thursday, but Friday found both girls surrounded by their friends from the new school at our birthday grill party. (12 kids running around the back yard and screaming and making s’mores and I’m so glad the girls are doing well at the new school.)

On Friday evening, I was invited to a party that I couldn’t attend because we were HAVING a party. Suddenly, I don’t even know myself. Clearly, I need more fancy skirts.

On Saturday, we had a birthday lunch with my parents and that led into a couple of the girls’ old school friends spending the night.

On Sunday morning Jeff took the friends home and we headed to the Cardinals game because Harper was singing God Bless America with her school choir before the game. She even made it onto the Jumbotron. (Do I need to hide her friends? They were on the JUMBOTRON, so 14,000 people might have this same photo and I don’t see THEM placing strategic stars!) Anyway, the Cardinals finally won during the 14th inning, and we watched that win from our family room, because we left the stadium at the bottom of the 9th.

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While we’re hanging out and talking about Sunday, check out the sunburn I’m sporting as a result of thinking I’m too good for sufficient sunscreen.

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Not smart.

What else? I finished a shawl.

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(It’s Rock Island by Jared Flood and I’m getting ready to make another. You should make one, too.)

I started an herb garden.

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And, yeah. It looks cute, but it didn’t take long for one of my smart gardening friends to gently tell me that it probably won’t live long because roots don’t like to see the light. Damnit, Pinterest! (The next herbs I buy will be planted in a garden bed because Cute is not Important.)

I started another Honey Cowl, and this will probably be my final car knitting project because school is out in just a few weeks!

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Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of my Cinco de Mayo Hysterectomy, and I have never loved a surgery as much as I loved that one. (Well, except for the two that resulted in babies coming out of me. Those were good ones, too. Appendectomy? Not good. Wisdom Teeth? The suckiest! Tubal ligation? Fun, but only in an Eating Funnel Cake Outside During a Wind Storm sort of way.)

Finally, I’ll be turning 45 (45!!! Please know that I wish numbers could be capitalized because FORTY FIVE!!!) in a week and a day, so I think it’s time to start thinking about health and happiness, as I am not very healthy and it makes me very unhappy. First step: I just bought a bag of avocados. Also, I’m thinking of working up my résumé because if I was living off of my freelance gigs, I probably would have died a few weeks ago. (Wilbur Wright died at age 45. I learned that yesterday.)

Stay tuned. (Or don’t. You’re in control.)

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Twelve is more than a Patti Smith album.

April 29th, 2015 · 20 Comments · Daily

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I was watching Oprah on April 28, 2003 when I started seeing twinkling bugs flying in front of my face. Because I was four days past my due date, my doctor took the bugs as a sign that it was time for Meredith to come out. About an hour later as we drove to the hospital, Jeff and I stopped by White Castle because I thought I needed a fish sandwich and fries. (Did I mention that I gained 80 pounds during this pregnancy?)

very pregnant

Anyway, when it was determined that pushing Meredith out the traditional way would most likely be impossible, my doctor decided that we would go with a C-section.

Nurse: Have you eaten anything today?

Me: Yep. A fish sandwich and fries less than an hour ago.

Nurse: Okay, well, it’s best to wait eight hours after eating before surgery, so that puts us right at 1:30 in the morning.

Me: Worth it.

Meredith Claire was pulled out at 2:03. She was 21 inches long and weighed 10 pounds and 3 ounces, and that White Castle fish sandwich was the only thing that prevented my kids from having the same exact birthday (with two years between).

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Meredith is super smart and super funny and I often forget that she’s in the sixth grade because her mind seems so much deeper. When we moved earlier this year and started at a new school, it took Meredith a few months to find friends because she felt like it was important to make the RIGHT friends. I was pretty worried about her because it seemed like Harper was coming home with a new friend’s name nearly every day. Eight months later? Meredith has surrounded herself with amazingly smart girls who share her love of books, animals, and music. Last night before she went to bed, she told me that even though some kids poke fun at the smart kids, she really enjoys knowing that she’s intelligent.

This is one of her current favorite songs.

Meredith loves burritos, chocolate chip cookies, and reading dystopian fiction.
She is 12 years old and is already researching universities.
She is convinced that she requires at least one doughnut each week.

The happiest of birthdays to you, Meredith.

I’ll be sitting over here in the corner eating MY weekly doughnut and trying to figure out how to make time slow down.

Reading on a Street Corner

Sisterly Love and All That Jazz

First Popsicles of the Season

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Ten is more than a Pearl Jam album.

April 28th, 2015 · 14 Comments · Daily

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Harper loves thin crust cheese pizza and Cool Ranch Doritos.

Her favorite book is When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.

She could spend hours building elaborate chicken houses on Minecraft.

Last week this song shuffled in the car and she put down her book (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) and listened to every word.

Harper was pulled from me exactly ten years ago (the photo is here!) and I celebrated her first decade in the most traditional way: With a caramel latte and a clematis.

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This clematis will (hopefully) reach up and around our pergola to remind me of how Harper used to be—glued to my side.

Happy Birthday, Harper Rose. I can’t wait to see what the next decade brings. You are the knees of the bees.

(Also, Happy Birthday, Harper Lee. I hope people are treating you kindly.)

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According to horticulture educators, phlox subulata is deer resistant.

April 21st, 2015 · 10 Comments · Daily

Current State of Mind: I’m not busy at all, yet entirely too busy, and it’s making me twitchy. I need a freelance gig. Or a job. Or something that makes me feel a bit of Worth. I don’t want to talk about it.

Where I’ve Been: I recently took a (long overdue and much too quick) trip to attend my nephew’s tennis tournament during which he won every match he played and I was so excited to be there and the whole thing made me think about David Foster Wallace in a very happy/sad way. Also, while visiting, I ate a croissant, a bunch of doughnuts, and a salad (because: Balance).

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(The doughnut closest to you was the only one I ate from this particular box. It was a yeast doughnut with vanilla icing, cinnamon sugar, and caramel drizzle. What a brilliantly stupid doughnut. One of the best I’ve had, and I’ve had many.) Also while visiting, I took a nearly three mile walk with my sister (because: Balance). I talked to a woman who was spinning fiber at a farmers market. I purchased some creeping phlox and a citronella plant.

Gardening at Night: The deer ate my Asiatic lilies and ripped my new creeping phlox right out of the ground. I love the deer. I love the deer. I love the deer. (I really do love the deer, and will continue to love them as long as they continue to operate in silence. Sometimes a deer (or a person, or me) opens their mouth and suddenly you’re left wincing just a little.)

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Turning Pages: I finished The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and it was exactly what I needed to be reading. I’m now reading So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, and although I’m less than 100 pages in, I’m In.

I’m feeling the need to make molasses cookies. I miss having something to say. If I make molasses cookies, I’ll tell you about them. I hope you’re well.

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Oh, nothing. Just pruning trees and reading gardening books. Like I do.

April 14th, 2015 · 13 Comments · Daily

When I lived in Nashville, I was an associate editor at a publisher of botanical guides, and the only information I retained is a scattered list of scientific names and a few opinions on trees and plants that seemed pretty. Acer rubrum! Dicentra spectabilis! Echinacea purpurea! All pretty! (I also know that most authors of botanical guides are completely delightful, unless they are most definitely NOT delightful. The same can be said for authors of dental books! These are my opinions only!)

We moved into our house in August of last year, and now it appears that spring has sprung. (I swear I don’t talk like that in real life. I actually don’t talk much at all in real life.) Because more than one neighbor has referred to our house as The House With All The Trees, I figured it might be a good time to wrap my head around what we have and what we need to maintain our horticultural street cred. (I never say street cred. I’m on my third cup of powdered chemical coffee this morning and I have about 35 things that I need to do today. Instead of doing them, I thought I would sit down and type. Because that’s what I LIKE to do. Here I am. Hi there. Hi. Hi.)

Back up to a few weeks ago. A good friend of mine came over to visit, and she brought me a beautiful orchid. It is gorgeous and like the glass punch bowl that we received as a wedding gift, it scared the crap out of me because I didn’t want to screw it up. I conveyed this information to my friend, and she told me that a person is either a plant person or NOT a plant person, and that you can choose to nurture a plant or you can toss it when it’s past the blooming stage. She then told me how simple it is to keep an orchid alive. (Water it once a week. Honestly. That’s it.)

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This changed everything. I know I can’t be a master gardener right out of the gate. I also know that flowers and plants shouldn’t be stressful. They’re just like lemon bars. Nothing but trial and error and hosing down the aphids. (They’re nothing like lemon bars, really.)

Anyway. On Saturday, we purchased two Verbena plants, three Asiatic Lilies, a Columbine, and a Lilac. (The Columbine and Lilac weren’t willing to pose for the photo.)

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We then weeded and mulched the two big patches of dirt in the front yard (we call them our yard kidneys) and threw those flowers into the ground. (More flowers will be planted as time goes by. My goal is to have blooms from spring to fall.)

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I pruned our Blue Chip Juniper.
I bought Gaillardia, Butterfly Weed, and Purple Coneflower seeds.
I learned that a Sand Cherry is NOT a Red Bud.

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We’re just getting started.

In the next few weeks, I’m going to introduce myself to our Buckeye, Dogwood, Tulip, Oak, Yoshino Cherry, White Pine, Bayberry, Yew, Burning Bush, Spirea, Liriope, Fringetree, Japanese Red Maple, and Serviceberry. (I will thank the Serviceberry for its service, which is a ballsy move. Sometimes people (and trees) don’t realize I’m just trying to be funny. We’ll see what happens.)

Oh. Wait. The only reason I know we have those trees is because Jeff found the (weird but super helpful) landscaping map from when the house was built in 1996.

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I welcome any and all gardening advice!
I would have never said those words three weeks ago!

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We haven’t talked in quite some time.

April 8th, 2015 · 16 Comments · Daily

Someone in my subdivision might be a bit of a jerk, but I have no idea who it is which makes me wonder if perhaps I’M a bit of a jerk (I am. Aren’t we all?), and the past week has found me doing a difficult dance. (Please know that I’m purposefully forcing you to surf on oceans of obscurantism because: 1. I won’t drag you into this, and 2. Everyone has ideas and opinions and so do we and We’re All (Mostly) Fine in (Mostly) Every Conceivable Way and I spent all of last week reading and hearing opinions and ideas, and for now I just want to hear the water dripping from my weird little fountain in the kitchen.)

To balance out the neighborhood crumminess:

1. I visited a new friend (the mother of one of Meredith’s friends) for lunch and I learned that we lean the same way politically and socially and literarily. (Socially and literarily? Not a big deal. I think people are mostly nice and funny and want to read good books. Politically? Let’s just say this. The things that resonate with me don’t resonate with many folks in this neck of the woods. Finding someone with similar opinions is like reaching into your pocket and pulling out a fresh from the oven oatmeal cookie. Without raisins.)

2. Jeff was out of town for a few days which never doesn’t suck, but a restaurant gave me a muffin while he was gone. AND, that muffin came on the heels of eating some amazing quiche and figuring out a knitting pattern for a friend so she can finish a blanket her mother was knitting for a charity.

3. I learned how to make a bracelet out of parachute cord and then I drank a delicious brown sugar vanilla soy latte.

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I’m within 150 pages of finishing The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and I don’t want it to end. Ever.

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The reason for living was to get ready to stay dead a long time, William Faulkner.

March 30th, 2015 · 11 Comments · Daily

I haven’t been going on many adventures lately. (Quick summary of my most recent adventures: 1. Eating a gutload of cupcakes at a new bakery with one of my favorite people and the company was better than the dessert which doesn’t happen very often, 2. Joining up with seven people from our church for dinner and is it weird that I STILL haven’t met a person that I don’t like at that church?, and 3. Taking Harper to my favorite salon to celebrate our You’re Turning Ten So Let’s Dye Your Tips tradition.)

The woman who cuts my hair (and I love her because she’s an artist and although I cheated on her once I NEVER WILL AGAIN) kicked off the party by bleaching out Harp’s ends.

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About two hours later, the color was revealed.

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(Is it weird that I’m covering her face with goofy pretend stickers? Harper is almost ten now and is recognizable and I donated all of my mommy blogger hats and shoestrings to the kidney people when we moved. I guess I’ll just do what I want to do, which is what we should ALL be doing. Within reason.)

Harper’s hair is amazing. And, no. Her school doesn’t necessarily allow dyed hair. BUT, that rule has never been written/published and our oral source (let’s call her Addie Bundren) didn’t/couldn’t make direct eye contact As She Lied (About) Dyeing. We have less than eight weeks to go, a perfect attendance record, and a darn good report card. I’m willing to do a little ruffling for the sake of family tradition.

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