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on tight jeans.

12 Sep

You know that feeling when you put on a pair of jeans you haven’t worn in a few months? How the starched-out cotton clings to your thighs & you have to wriggle around to get the zipper to zip, despite not having gained any weight? The way you awkwardly waddle from place to place as they reform to fit your legs?

Yeah, this feels a little bit like that. Awkward, stilted, starched, self-conscious. Like a high school reunion (not that I would know). But hi. I’m back.

I’m 2nd from the left in case you can’t remember what I look like.

I wish I could tell you that my two-month absence was because I was out living it up in the summer sunshine, but I’ve always been a pretty bad liar (no poker face to speak of, unfortunately). And while I have done my fair share of fun, exciting things this summer, the truth is that I haven’t posted because I’ve been in a bit of a “funk”.

I don’t usually get very personal on the blog not because I don’t trust you, but because I like my blog to be a “happy place”. But I figure at least a cursory explanation is in order.

This “funk” has really been a long time coming. For at least a year I’ve felt myself losing grip of my bits of exuberance and vivacity that used to define me as a person. I’m not sure if people can really tell from the outside, but mentally I get in very negative places fairly frequently. During the school year, I’m too busy to dig myself into mental trenches, but summer tends to invite brooding and the subsequent haze of negativity. I did a lot of questioning of my blog’s purpose and most of my evaluations came up negative. Not to mention that my overall motivation was at an all-time low.

And really, it’s easy to watch the time slip away. A day. A week. Two. Six. Two months. You fall into a rhythm of mediocrity and lackluster living that just isn’t worth it. But once you dig yourself fairly deep, it can be hard to get back out.

These help. :)

I really don’t want to bore you to tears with yet another sob story, nor do I particularly want to garner any pity, but the point is that I’m reviving myself, one small step at a time. It might start with just getting out of bed for a workout. Just stepping outside for a ten-minute walk. Just getting enough momentum to do one small thing. But eventually those become easier, and eventually you can move on to the bigger things.  Eventually that stilted, awkward feeling gives way as the cotton bends & stretches & everything becomes second nature again.

These too!

This conveniently is coming just before the start of the school year when I’ll probably be slammed with work, so I can’t promise how often I’ll post. I also am still kind of evaluating the direction of my blog, but that’s a story for another time.

The point of this lengthy, wordy, and probably overly-personal post is twofold. Firstly, to kind of say hello and offer a meager justification for my extended absence. Secondly, to remind anyone and everyone out there who’s having a bad day, week, month, year, that it can and will get better. I don’t really have a lot of answers about how, but I’m always open to discussing my experiences more via e-mail (and possibly on the blog if anybody really wants to know, though it admittedly makes me a little nervous).

So here’s to softening jeans & remembering how to smile & finding those bits and pieces you think you’ve lost along the way. They’re always there. You just have to find them.

How do you get out of funks?

Anything in particular you want to see on my blog? I have a million pictures from the summer that I’ll be releasing in doses, but I’m sort of rethinking my general formula… Sometimes I feel like I just write fluff. Maybe that’s just me being negative though!

Personal stuff on blogs: yay or nay? 

disney shenanigans: the beginning

11 Jul

You want Disney? You got Disney. ;)

On Friday or Saturday I finally got through all 1900 of my pictures and somehow selected only 400 to put up on Facebook (I’m atrociously indecisive, okay?). Don’t worry; I won’t bombard you with ALL of them.

I’ve decided to mostly do it by park (though some parks will take more than one day), and my Disney posts will be somewhat interspersed so I can pretend like I’m still a “food” blogger (but what’s in a name, really?).

We’re going to get the boring-er stuff out of the way, so some of the logistics and my first day of Disney magic!

The Trip

I woke up at 3:30 to get on a plane at 6:30. Only for Disney, people.

Probably the best part of the flight was seeing the gorgeous mountains out my window when flying over Washington. What a lovely state.

The worst part? No food for, like, 8 hours. Well, we bought overpriced snacks on the airplane (no free pretzels or anything, American Airlines is no fun!) and our connection Dallas was INCREDIBLY tight. So no food there either. Not the most fun I’ve ever had on a plane, but I was asleep for a lot of it so I couldn’t hear my stomach gnawing itself to pieces.

The Hotel

After a nice little thunderstorm as we were landing (definitely saw a lightning bolt from the plane…) and a pit stop at a trashy, cheap gift shop for a Disney princess lanyard (completely necessary), we finally arrived on Disney territory.

We stayed at Disney’s Old Key West Resort. The line the buses always played when we were getting there like to say something about how it “brings the gingerbread architecture and whimsical charm of the Conch Republic right here to Central Florida.” (Can you tell we rode the buses a lot?)

It was rather cute though, I’m not going to lie. And there are lots of benefits to staying in a Disney hotel, even if it is more expensive (we have a timeshare thing that we exchanged for part of the price, or something to that effect). Namely that you can get in for early and late hours at different parks, you have an easy bus ride to all the parks, oh and there are random Mickey Mouses everywhere.

And the best part? They’re villas. Which means there are kitchens.

We didn’t do a whole lot of cooking, mostly just sandwiches and boiled eggs. But it was nice to be able to buy yogurt and such.

First Night Out

Even though I was positively exhausted, we wanted to make the most of our vacation and decided to head out to Magic Kingdom for a few hours that night (we had “Extra Magic Hours” since we were staying at a Disney hotel, so the park was open later for us… until 3 AM.)

Oh, did I mention it was pouring rain? Hello ponchos.

Florida rain is DRASTICALLY different than Seattle rain. I actually much prefer the warmer, denser rain in Florida to the cold nagging drizzle in Seattle. Much better to dance in. :)

After a rather annoying 30-minute wait for the bus, we FINALLY arrived at the Magic Kingdom!

I’ll go into excruciating detail about the absolute wonderland that is the Magic Kingdom at some point (I have 474 pictures of that park alone), but that’s a whole post of its own. Mostly I just adore my the castle. Oh, to be a Disney Princess…

Yes, this was my favorite park. :)

Do you like flying? I go back and forth. I HATE how dry it is in planes but it’s so fun to see a birds-eye view of everything… Assuming it’s clear, that is. :) And I hate being hungry, soooo the lack of even pretzels on a 4-hour flight was not my cup of tea.

Thunderstorms: yay or nay? I like them well enough, except that stuff shuts down. Like I said, though, the really intense summer showers are amazing; they have them in Brazil too and dancing in that kind of rain is SO much fun, and you don’t feel like you’ll freeze afterwards!

daddy of mine.

19 Jun

My daddy and I have quite a history. He’s put up with a lot of sh!t from me.

No, literally. As the story goes, when I was around 6 months old he was taking care of me and ran out of diapers, and was holding me in is big old hands and… well, I had to go! (Why I am posting this story on the world wide web is totally beyond me).

At least I was adorable…

Since then, he has continued to put up with quite a lot. From my… rather rough… teenage years to my affinity for bad music, he just sits through it all… Perhaps not without complaint (poor Bruno Mars is the brunt of 90% of the jokes in our household, particularly for “Grenade”, and let’s not even start on Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift), but still.

The fam in Italy… yes, my dad is large and intimidating.

Though we still butt heads from time to time (as is wont to happen when you combine two stubborn people), I know whenever I need him he’ll be there. He’s my biggest cheerleader and supporter of my newfound interest in running; we exchanged numerous disgustingly-long e-mails over the course of last quarter in an effort to design a training plan for my half-marathon. On one night in particular he arrived at home tired from a day of biking and partying and still stayed up an extra half-hour to write me an epically long response about every minute detail I was obsessing over (what can I say, babbling is genetic).

He and my “little” brother did the STP last year, and *I* was the cheerleader… 

I know if I need someone to wake up early with me on vacation and go on a run, he’ll be there. I know on days when I feel fat and ugly he’ll be there to tell me I’m crazy and, of course, beautiful (whether or not I believe it). I know when I need to get from point A to point B he’ll lead me the right way… which my mom and I are both a little questionable at.

And, of course, whenever I have a spider in my bathroom or a 49.5 pound suitcase to carry, he’s my man.

The happy couple in Sorrento last year. :)

For all that he drives me crazy making fun of me for, well, everything, I know I’ve inherited some of my incredible wit (read: penchant for bad jokes) from him. If not simply a dry, sarcastic sense of humor and a thicker skin. And for all the times I’ve had to hide my chocolate chips in my sock drawer to keep him from eating them, I know there have been many times that he’s helped me polish off a batch of cookies or muffins (tough job, but someone’s got to do it). For all that he scares the living daylights out of almost all of my potential suitors (even the ones that measure up to his 6’4″ height), I know he’s also good for keeping away the creepers. And for every annoyance he may have caused me, I know I’ve done at least a million times more.

So thank you, dad, for putting up with crap of various forms for the past 20 years.

Excuse the fact that I look like a zombie… this was a very early-morning train.

And happy fathers day. :)

What has your dad put up with?

big brother.

21 May

Yesterday was my little brother’s 14th birthday. Thing is, he’s not really my “little” brother anymore.

Before he was born, I was adamant about my desire for a little sister. So much so, in fact, that I may have thrown a tantrum at the ultrasound where they noticed his… other parts. Of course, in retrospect, I’m glad I don’t have a sister to share the spotlight with… I rather like being the “pretty” one. ;)

Fast forward to the day before he was born. I whispered into my mom’s belly, “Come out and play with me!” And what do you know, the like always-obedient brother he is (ha!) he did, two weeks ahead of schedule.

I guess I’ve known since then that my days as a “big” sister were numbered. Well, I mean, I think I had some delusional belief that I might stay taller than him until I was about 11, when I realized that that was not likely nor desirable. My dad’s 6’3″, my mom’s 5’4″… Genetically, it wasn’t gonna happen.

I’ve been joking for years about how I knew I’d come back from college some time and he’d be bigger than me. But it still snuck up on us, his insane growth spurt. This is us in Italy this summer… I’m clearly just a teeensy bit taller.

And then three short months later…

My dad, of course, eggs him on, saying that since he’s bigger he should be the big brother. I told him he wasn’t worthy of big brother status until he could lift me. Well…

Apparently I’m heavy… Or he just didn’t want this picture taken 


But regardless of who’s physically bigger, we all know who’s boss. I summoned him. I call the shots. ;)

And regardless of how big he gets, he’s still my baby brother. We may not talk very often, but only we know how to put up with our parents, how to appease my mother, and mess with our dogs. Only I have sat through countless hours of Barney and Teletubbies with him, and only he has put up with my brief spats with my mother.

And while I’m not home, again, to celebrate with him and bake him things, I’ll be thinking of him and wishing him a happy birthday and good luck on his regatta this weekend.

Happy (belated) birthday, Big Brother. Only you could make that face with me. :)

Tell me about your siblings! :) How many, what kind, how old, cute? Single? (kidding… mostly ;) )

puppy love [peanut butter “dog biscuits”]

14 May

After getting so many compliments on my lovely little dogs, I thought I may as well introduce them, & share their favorite treat (scroll to bottom if you want to skip the babbling and head to a super-easy treat recipe!).

First: Sandy the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Sandy, my regal Cavalier

Sandy was my first furbaby. I spent most of 4th and 5th grade year actively campaigning for a dog… I originally was obsessed with wanted a West Highland White Terrier, but my obsession interest ended up moving towards the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. I still remember the excitement of stepping into the breeder’s house to pick him up; he was 6 months old and already named.

Eight years later, he’s still going strong. Occasionally a somewhat lazy and grumpy old man, but regal and gorgeous all the same. And while he’s possibly a little “fluffier” than he ought to be, that just means more to cuddle with. ;)

Lily the Mini Poodle

Lily is my lovely little mini-poodle. I hate telling people I have a mini, because they automatically assume she’s some snappy, yippy little thing. Couldn’t be further from the truth! She’s possibly the sweetest dog ever, and even my friends who are cat people love her… She’s basically a real, live, warm, fuzzy teddy bear.

When we got her, she was 8 weeks old and could fit cupped in my hands. It was fairly amusing to see Sandy torment her by jumping on the couch with toys where she couldn’t reach them. Now she’s ridiculously good at jumping… to the point that she’s scaled baby fences before. I’m pretty sure she’s part teddy-bear, part rabbit, part sheep, and then part dog. Probably in that order.

And she sleeps in goofy places. Like in the nightstand in hotel rooms. Silly rabbit…

When I’m at home, I always make them a ginormous batch of dog treats. While I can’t exactly say if these are their favorite, they definitely eat them without any complaints. I mean, they’re part of my family, so they’re kind of obsessed with peanut butter (seriously, they sit there pleadingly every morning when my mom makes her peanut butter sandwich).

Incidentally, these are made with very few, very human ingredients. And while they aren’t exceptionally flavorful (which might be remedied with the addition of salt), they’re really crisp, crunchy, and delicious. And every time I make them, I have to fight to make sure some make it past my mom and into the dog treat jar.

Peanut Butter Dog Treats
from here

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup natural peanut butter
1 cup milk (I haven’t tried this with non-dairy milk, can dogs have almond milk?!)

Preheat oven to 385 degrees and lightly grease a cookie sheet.

Mix together milk and peanut butter until well combined. In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Add dry to wet and mix well; it will start getting gummy the longer you use it, but they’ll turn out fine. Roll out onto parchment paper about 1/4 inch thick, and cut with cookie cutters (or into strips, if you’re lazy)

Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. To get perfectly even crispness, you can even try to flip them over once while baking, but it’s not really necessary. Dogs aren’t picky, after all…

(And neither is my mother).

Gratuitous video of Lily playing in the snow… please excuse the awkward audio and atrocious filming.

Tell me about your fur-friends. :)

feeling loved.

12 May

Thank you guys for your lovely comments both on Chelsey’s guest post and on my post on her blog (about comparison & feeling good about yourself… oh and muffins ;) )… both made me feel very loved ;)

As did receiving two awards from two of my favorite bloggers…

An award from wonderful, lovely Alex at Veggin Out in the Kitchen

And the “Stylish Blog” award from beautiful Alaina at Sweetness of Life

The rules of the “Stylish Blogger Award” are:

  1. Say seven things about yourself.
  2. Pass on to other bloggers.
  3. Contact them and let them know you have done so.
I’ve actually done this twice (here and here) so I decided to go with something slightly different this time… And tell you 7 things I’m looking forward to about summer (4 more weeeeeks!)
1) Disneyworld. Technically this picture is from Disneyland, but that’s because I haven’t been to Disneyworld since I was 5… I am inordinately excited.
2. Seeing my family AND extended family at Disneyworld… This is my adorable cousin & I in Vienna last summer :)
3. My dogs. Enough said.
Definitely won’t be snowy though…
4. My friiiiiends
And, y’know, my redheads:
We went to tea… here’s me. 
5. My oven! And just being able to cook & bake more ;)
Why I have a picture of my oven, I’m not entirely sure…
6. Outdoor exercise. I cannot believe I’m sharing this picture, but perhaps a little bit of this:
I’m in back, in case you weren’t sure ;)
And perhaps most importantly:
There you have it. I won’t actually be home for a whole lot of the summer so much of this is just stuff I’ll enjoy for a couple of weeks… but I’m still excited. ;)
In lieu of tagging specific bloggers because I always get overwhelmed with how many people I adore, I seriously want everyone who hasn’t done this/feels compelled to do this to fill this guy out. Whether it’s about your summer or random facts about you!
What are you most looking forward to this summer?

mother’s-day muffins [cappuccino muffins]

8 May

It seems that most mother’s day gifts I’ve given are things that only a mother could love.

Only a mother could love the paint-spattered excuses for “artwork” I proudly handed to her in the first grade.

Only a mother could love being ordered to return to bed for “breakfast in bed” consisting of lightly-burned toast, yogurt, & cereal.

Only a mother could love mug after painted mug of uncreative, polka-dotted ceramics.

Only a mother could love the “gift” of my high school’s dangerously delicious Cappuccino muffins, conveniently charged to her credit card account.

But anyone could love my at-home replication of those muffins. I searched far and wide, and it took a variety of different recipes, but when I finally stumbled upon this gem in Vegan Brunch by Isa Moskovitz, I knew I’d found my winner.

Perhaps not the greatest sacrifice on my part, but it did take some work… And a few less-than-perfect muffins. ;)

Vegan Cappuccino-Chip Muffins
adapted slightly from Vegan Brunch; also found here

1c almond milk (or your fave non-dairy milk)
1 heaping tablespoon instant coffee crystals
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (or more canola oil for a better “crust”)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease a muffin tin.
In a small cup, mix coffee granules with half of nondairy milk; add in the rest of the milk and the vinegar, and set aside to thicken.
In a small bowl, stir together dry ingredients. Make a well in the center and add in oil, applesauce, vanilla, and thickened milk. Stir together until just combined, taking care not to overmix, then gently fold in chocolate chips.
Fill muffin tins about 3/4 full and bake for 22-26 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in tins for a few minutes before removing and letting cool on a plate.

While I’m not actually at home to make my mom a special breakfast, I’m hoping that sharing her favorite recipe and sending some cyber-carbs will help fill the void until I’m home in a month (!).  I wish I could do more, as this seems like even more of a cop-out than usual.

Only my mother could put up with my incessant chatter, constant whining, the perpetually dirty kitchen & ever-dwindling supply of flour and sugar. Only my mother would make me breakfast in bed almost every day, & make my bed when I “forget” to. Only my mother thinks I’m the coolest thing since sliced bread so I should write a book/open a cookie shop (ah, delusions). Only my mother magically receives telepathic messages when I’m not feeling okay, and knows how to put a smile back on my face.

And most of all, only my mother loves me, hugs me, & listens to me when I need it most.

Love you, mom!

What are you doing for mother’s day? What about you could only your mother love/understand?