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Snow in March and Thoughts on Anticipation

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They say that Maryland is the one place you can see daffodils covered in snow. Well, that’s clearly an exaggeration, but winter likes to come late over here and we do tend to get these March snowfalls.

That being said, for all of the love I have for the winter season, I’m rather eager to see buds creeping out of these barren branches. It’s getting to look a bit dead all around us and I fear it’s rubbed off on our daily lives. Things are restless and exhausting all at the same time. Days are getting longer and yet they seem even shorter. We’re cozy in our wintertime cave of a home, but it’s time to wake up from hibernation.

And the daffodils aren’t out yet. So this snow in March thing really can’t count, can it?

Anticipation is the most difficult emotion for me to understand. I think I actually hate it. I’ve learned that living in the moment is one of the more difficult things for me to do. I’m always looking ahead. And right when I find time to be in the moment, my mind wanders off to something else I have to be thinking about in the future.

Come July I’ll be praying for snowfalls. Even two months ago I was praying for snowfall. And now all I can do is dream of spring. It’s difficult, being in the moment. But, as the husband and I took a snowy walk this afternoon, he exuded with happiness over the beauty of the white blanket covering just about everything, I remembered that I, too, love the snow. And so I stayed in the moment, if only for that one moment.

Living Room Inspiration

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Little did you know, I’ve been tirelessly redoing our living room in 2014. I desperately want to share these little changes with you, but you see, there’s a tiny problem. Our old stuff was so bad that even the Craigslist desperadoes don’t seem to want it. So while we have all of these lovely new additions (and some repurposed pieces, too), I still have an old couch, torn up leather chair, and miscellaneous lamps, ottomans, and such in the way of any big reveal.

Trust me. I’m up to my ears with patience. There’s more furniture in this house than we have room for. TAKE IT AWAY!!!! I keep dropping prices, renewing those little ads, everything I can do. Yesterday I gave away a perfectly good leather ottoman for $20. Alex shook his head so hard at me. But, forgive me, I want my house back!

Also, there’s the painting dilemma. I’m pretty happy with our living room paint color. It’s this putty beige that almost looks like a green olive in the right lighting. But the room is getting pretty beige in general thanks to my new purchases. Plus, it’s kind of unpleasant on the lighting situation (oh, the yellow tint….). So I’m very tempted to up and jump the living room onto the gray bandwagon (I mean, the kitchen, bathrooms, and bedroom already have), but then where does that leave me? A very unhappy husband, I believe. I don’t think he wants to paint the living room. Especially with an excessive amount of furniture stored in it that makes walking around nearly impossible, let alone painting. Even if I think that a super light pewter is just what this room needs to brighten it up.

That being said, I’ve been itching to share with you little tidbits of this room. I mean, I bought a chesterfield sofa!!!!!!! It’s the couch of my DREAMS. Ever since I was a little girl I wanted a sofa with high arms that I could take afternoon naps sunk into. Let me tell you, chesterfield sofas were made for afternoon naps.

Okay, okay, so here’s a little peak into the inspiration I used to redo this living room. And, I promise you, when the Craigslist crazies finally come to carry away this old stuff, I will dust and straighten my little heart out and show you the end result! It’s under there somewhere.

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And Sometimes Things Change

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The thing about life is you turn the corner for just one minute and everything you thought you were certain of drops right down into that section of your brain you save for “things you don’t understand” and then you are just stuck there, dumbfounded, wondering what exactly is going on anyway.

And so I’ve been thinking a lot about change here lately. How sometimes it happens gradually, at such a slow pace that you wouldn’t notice it happening except by taking a step back. But then, all at the same time, other things are changing at lightening speed, leaving you in the dust picking up the pieces and trying to decipher what everything now means. And it’s how these things all happen at the same time, the quick changes and the gradual changes swirling at different speeds.

The funniest part, though, is that change is always happening. It’s just that I think sometimes we don’t pay attention and then at other times we’re more sensitive to it all. And that’s how we grow. And how the world around us grows. How we grow apart from others, and together, too. It’s how we became the people we are today, and why we’ll be different people in a few days, months, years.

I’ve been going for walks in the snow a lot. Just last week we had dumping after dumping of snow and it was so beautiful that it made me sad to crunch my boots through. But now, just a week later, it’s nothing but dirty banks piled up in the corners, puddles in the sun, and ice rinks in the shade. Very little of it is pristine white any longer. It’s taken on this awful metaphor for the weeks between the holidays and springtime and it isn’t much to look at.

But it got me thinking about this change thing. I’m thinking a lot differently about quite a bit in my life and it didn’t really catch up to me until just now exactly how much I’ve changed in the tiniest amount of time. Without realizing it any sooner, it dawned on me that everything seems different to me now. My home, my job, my perspective, my faith, what makes me happy, what frustrates me, how I spend my free time, who I spend my time with, pretty much everything. Changed.

That’s the thing isn’t it? We go through periods of awakening from time to time that act as friendly little reminders that we are not stagnant creatures. We grow and we change and that’s good and well because we are humans. We have thoughts and feelings and concerns that make us different day after day.

I don’t know. It’s nothing earth-shattering to think of. But then again, isn’t it funny how sometimes we miss the changes, while other times we catch them and ride them completely through with every ounce of consciousness? I wonder why that is.

Becoming Me: Silence

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It’s been undeniably quiet around here, and I can’t promise that it will improve anytime soon. There’s a bottleneck inside me. Plenty going on, but maybe a bit too much to deliver anything of substance at all. Still, I figured I would try.

It’s good, this year. It’s been very good.

I’m happy in a way that happiness can only describe because joy and fortune and glee are too frivolous to rightfully pack in the extent of goodness in my heart. But I’m surprised, too. Shocked with panic and fear over what 2014 has in store, for no other reason than it’s started out much, much different than any of my 27 other years and it turns out I’ll have very little, if any control at all in how my life will pan out. I have faith, I do, and I am madly in love with everything that surrounds me right this moment. I love in a way I didn’t know was possible despite tight-knit families and the best of friends and the greatest of romances, but love takes on new meanings as we go and this one is the most novice of them all.

Big things seem to be happening, and all I can do is pray hard somewhere deep in my gut. I have prayers the magnitude of which even St. Peter’s Basilica could not hold. It takes up a lot of time, this praying thing. In between working and sleeping, there seems to be time enough only for prayers. I cannot pray enough these days. And praying always seemed to mean something different for me. I took to prayers much like Anne Shirley, really, and the Our Fathers and the Hail Marys kind of fell by the wayside, but I don’t even know how to pray anymore so it comes in these hushed waves of nothingness. My mind swarms violently and nothing comes out because everything melts together like hot lava, but I know it’s praying because only God could really decipher what’s happening up there, right?

So pen and paper, keyboard and screen, voice and caring ear… these things don’t mean much to me right now. I’m in it, deep in it and something tells me that’s where I’ll stay for a while. I have much to share and much to learn and much, much, much more catching up to do with so many very special people both online and offline. But for now, I’m going to have to let things flow slowly, carefully, and quietly.

Sometimes silence happens. Not because there are no words, but because the words are too sacred for voices to hear.

I See Your Cupcake and Raise You a Macaron

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How about those mid-winter sinus infections, eh? Pretty awful, in case you haven’t had a run-in with one in awhile. A little bit more than awful, but I’ll spare you the details and let you know that I’ve officially started climbing back up the healthy ladder.

In the meantime, any big plans for Valentines Day over your way? Back before my sinuses clogged last week, we had a lovely evening complete with one of those balanced meals of meat, potatoes, and veggies, and then we washed it all down with these lovely little almond nuggets.

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Lette contacted me a couple weeks ago, probably because they knew how much I favor a macaron to a cupcake and all, and they went out of their way to send us a little tasting from California. We ordered at least one of everything, because, really, how else are you supposed to do it? Well, here’s the official Alex and Tina breakdown  of Lette macaron flavors.

Tina’s favorite: lemon
Alex’s favorite: passion fruit
Tina’s least favorite: coconut (knew if before I took a bite, though)
Alex’s least favorite: sweet wedding almond
The macaron we’d most likely share again because we both liked it so much: either pistachio or raspberry

Pleasant surprise: Earl Grey Tea

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And there you have it. Delish. Honorable mentions, of course, include everything else, but we had definite strong favorites in this little dessert roulette. Plus, sharing macarons with a loved one is the most romantic of nights. They’re small enough that you can have more than one without feeling guilty, but big enough that you can get two bites (one for you, one for them) out of each treat.

It’s hard to get fresh macarons (good ones, at least) in Maryland, so the overnight delivery from the west coast was a wonderful treat to kill our cabin fever blues, if only for a night (or two or three, these babies lasted us awhile).

If you’re still looking for something to do for this sappy, lovey dovey holiday we celebrate here in a couple of days, lette me tell you… (hehe) should probably go order yourself some lemon and passion fruit macarons. 

When the Girl Who Loves Cold Weather Yells Uncle

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I wore socks to bed last night.

I hate wearing socks in bed. They are so constricting and make it physically impossible to relish in thread count by way of scrunching toes in silly little patterns. I prefer bare feet in the bed at all times. But last night, thick wool socks were worn.

You see, this whole polar vortex thing doesn’t bother me in theory. In practice, it still isn’t terrible. But when I’m left trekking all over DC (well, Capitol Hill, at least) in tights and flimsy ballet flats, my feelings of unhappiness accelerate at lightning speeds.

So here’s what I’ve decided. My love of long johns is no longer one to keep in the dark. Nor is my love of bulky, horribly unattractive fisherman sweaters. And let’s not forget the ears. Those babies must be covered. As such, I thought now would be a good time for me to share with you what I believe to be the top three cold-weather essentials.

1. Rabbit fur-lined leather gloves: So back in college, I went to Italy with my dad with just one souvenir in mind. Leather. I ended up going with a pair of rabbit fur-lined leather gloves from the mafia men who run the markets in Florence. Best. Purchase. Ever. You must make sure they fit snug, like a second skin. And good leather will ensure that you can function inside them. But, hey, these are on sale!

2. Long Johns: So I’ll be the first to tell you that denim and cold weather just don’t mix well. If you are the sort of person who finds jeans just fine in colder temps, well that’s nice for you. I find them just fine, too, as long as I’m wearing my long johns. Favorite pair of long underwear? They are pink with snowflakes on them and the waist goes up to my chest. They sort of rock. But leggings and tights can work in a pinch, too. Silkweight is best. These are lovely.

3. Trapper Hat: Yes, your ears need fur, too. These things can be as ridiculous or as cute as you’d like. The key is thick fur. If it gets too warm up there, you can always take the thing off. If I was in the business of buying a new hat, I’d pick this one.

Back to the Scheduled Program, Or Whatever That Means

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Now that I am back from my unplanned, spur of the moment sabbatical last week, it would be really thoughtful of me to share any deeply profound realizations that ran through my mind in this little absence, wouldn’t it? Unfortunately, all I’ve got to show for my blogging break is a few (well, let’s bring few up to several) extra hours of shuteye, a house that wreaks of coffee grounds that just. won’t. go. away (new thing here, I can’t stand coffee smells right now), and a blank memory card. That’s right. I don’t even have pictures to document my bout of absenteeism.

Here’s one thing I did think about, that maybe you could find of interest, though. Not once, between my last post and right this very second, did I ever experience guilt, frustration, concern, or loss over this blog. Don’t get me wrong, I love it here. I love you all. I love my keyboard and my little anecdotes that you probably could care less about. But, really, what I realized when I stepped away, is that it’s okay.

I noticed a recent movement in blogland to not blog 5+ days a week, and I’m happy for that because I never really made it 5 days a week anyway. Sometimes I did, but not usually. And that’s what I mean by I didn’t feel guilty that I was away. I was busy. Busy working overtime. Busy being a wife. Busy being a sister and a daughter. Busy sleeping and taking care of my own health, which, really, doesn’t involve looking at a computer screen all night long, let’s be honest.

There’s a point to all of this. Moderation has got to really be the key to life. I used to want my second tattoo to read balance in Sanskrit, but I got over the urge to get any more ink and so now it’s just tattooed to my memory. It’s a good reminder, though. We all could use a reminder from time to time to find more balance in our lives.

Oh, and taking a break from our hobbies doesn’t have to mean we are over them. It can just mean other things were happening. That is all.

So, now that I’ve rambled my way through why I was away, we can get back to our regularly scheduled program. See you tomorrow.

The Truth About Washington, D.C.

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Where I live is a strange place. We’re just about equidistant between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. and practically on top of Annapolis, since we’re really just a bedroom community and all. I grew up about twenty minutes away, south of Annapolis instead of west, but that doesn’t mean much of anything unless you’re a local. In which case, if you are, you understand completely that South County is a different world altogether than Annapolis. But we’re veering off topic so let’s continue on.

I had a conversation the other day about Baltimore and D.C. that I’ve been marinating on ever since. The sort of discussion that you leave knowing that nobody else will ever remember it, but for a strange reason, it’s stuck on you. We were standing around one of those tall round top bar tables at a happy hour for my husband’s work. Somebody had just finalized her divorce, which I didn’t understand was apparently cause for celebration in the same fashion as promotions, graduations, engagements, and pregnancies. Well, maybe not pregnancies. But I am pretty sure she was going to have a mad hangover the next day and it was only 4:00 in the afternoon.

So there we were, chatting small talk because I hadn’t met half of the people there and Alex was showing me off, you know? And I guess we were talking geography because someone started in on whether they liked Baltimore or D.C. better and here’s where it led us.

Every single person at the table said they hate D.C. and love Baltimore, which made me feel like quite the little minority (and I was already the only girl in the group). Why, you may wonder do they hate D.C. and love Baltimore? I asked and they gave me a laundry list of reasons.

  1. You have to dress nice to go anywhere.
  2. The first thing people ask you when they meet you is what you do and where you work.
  3. All people care about is who you are and what you do.
  4. Girls all expect you to be someone or they don’t give you the time of day.
  5. Guys expect you to be someone or they don’t care about you either.

And that’s really how it went. Baltimore, of course, they said was the exact opposite and that it was the bee’s knees of cities because those five things up there weren’t troublesome. Boy, was I slightly offended (but not enough to upset me, promise). I do love Washington.

And now that I’ve marinated on it for a while, I think I’m comfortable admitting that their reasons for hating D.C. are kind of dead on. And, gasp, I think that’s why I love D.C. so what does that say about me?

Let’s expand.  Of course you should dress nice when you are in public. You never know who you will see or what you’ll end up doing. Plus, leading me to their second point, if you already have to wear nice clothes for your job, why spend money buying, hmmm, not nice clothes just to “go anywhere”? And, of course people ask and care about your job. It’s the nature of the city. It’s our federal government and that makes us semi-incestuous, but not really. Just enough to be interested in the connections we all have to one another. It happens a lot. Also, on this whole girls not giving you any attention thing, well, I mean, there’s quite a bit of competition in the city. I can’t blame them.

Okay, so there. I’ve put it out there. It probably makes me sound terrible and snobby and on and on, but I guess I’m okay with it. We all have our cities. At the end of the day, D.C. isn’t even my city. I think it is Chicago. But I’m starting to think it may, truly, be the Paris I hated so much as a kid. But D.C. it is not. I just prefer it to Baltimore.

And here, because we’re truly not getting anywhere, is where I’ll say goodbye. Because I’m not quite sure how to redeem myself from this one….

Daydreams

Things have been really busy over here and January’s only halfway over so it isn’t getting any slower for me in the near future. Here’s what I’ve realized: I am fine with being busy and all, but I tend to wander and daydream my deepest when I’m in the utter pits of busyland and get even just two minutes of a break. It’s like my mind is making up for being full of things and so it goes on major holiday any chance it can get.

That being said, I thought I’d share a few of the themes that are taking up my tidbits of free time recently. 

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1. Chesterfield sofas. I mean, come on. Plus, it’s time we bought a new couch, anyway.

2. My floral Pinterest board and all of the lovelies that will bloom in a few months. Bring me the peonies!

3. Marilyn’s movies. Also, just how striking her beauty is. Never really took note of it until now. I think it’s her mouth, but I can pinpoint it completely.

4. Iceland and the trip we keep trying to plan for ourselves. I’d like to meet a few puffins, personally.

And there it is. I guess when we overload our lives with work and commitments, something inside flips a switch and reminds us that we aren’t human unless we dream. And so we dream deeper and harder about things we never thought we’d actually put much thought into. Like sofas. Or puffins. But it must be what we all need, right?

How about it, then? What’s been on your mind lately?

The Great Book Vow of 2014

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In an ancient life, I devoured books. Hours at a time, I’d read, read, read until my eyes couldn’t take it anymore. Sometimes I would put a book down as I neared the ending, just to make it last a bit longer. I’d read two at once, staggered so I was only a few chapters in with one and near completion with the other. My eyes never grew tired and my time never ran short. It was simple, really. I’d make myself comfortable, open the book, and read.

There’s this Thanksgiving morning that sticks with me in that haunting way where I think about it at the most wild times (it’s for that reason it’ll probably go down in history as a top ten moment of my life without any real substance), and in this Thanksgiving morning I’m reading books on the hand-me-down love seat my parents let me keep in the corner of my bedroom. I read book after book and I could’t tell you which they were, but it wasn’t the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, that’s all. Probably the first year I did that. Not watch the parade, I mean.

I don’t read very often these days. I keep a book on my bedside table, earmarked somewhere in the middle-page depths of reading. Not quite halfway through, but far enough in that you’re absolutely committed. Then, I’ll jump on public transportation for a long ride somewhere else, or I’ll have an anomaly of an afternoon when I can relax, and I finish it. But mostly the books hang out on my bedside table.

I do listen to audiobooks. So that’s where this post is headed. I’ve got a great long list of books I plan on either reading or listening to this year, and I figured I’m more likely to complete the list if I actually posted it. So here it is.

The Great Book Vow of 2014 (the first fifteen titles)

1. The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani (currently listening to so this one will be completed)

2. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (never read these as a teenager and I feel left out)

3. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

4. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

5. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (started this one last year and never finished, but I ca do it)

6. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (didn’t you just love The Secret Life of Bees?!?!)

7. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (because I feel totally left out of the fan club)

8. Inferno by Dan Brown (people keep telling me to read this one)

9. To Sell is Human by Dan Pink (I’ll see him this March for work and I’m delayed on reading this one)

10. One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson (love him)

11. Salinger by David Shields (should be fascinating, right?)

12. The Giver by Lois Lowry (gotta read this one again before the movie comes out… all I remember is somebody sledding down a hill in the snow)

13. Wild by Cheryl Strayed (again, gotta read it before I see the movie)

14. Every Day Is for the Thief by Teju Cole (this one is getting a lot of praise)

15. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (been meaning to read this one for awhile)

Okay, your turn. What else should I add to this list? Do share.