27 Things

Today, I turn 27. It’s strange and horrible and wonderful, isn’t it? To keep getting older and older and older along with the earth and everyone around you? Sometimes life is all too much and sometimes a host of quiet, beautiful moments and days fall into your lap “like pearls slipping off a string,” and you are grateful to be alive, no matter the cost.

As I told one of my co-worker’s husbands one night when I had one too many martinis: “Think of how old the universe is. Our human lives are just a tiny speck in the grand scheme of things, whether you’re twenty or one hundred!” (I was very popular that night).

In honor of my 27th birthday, I’d like to share 27 things I have learned in the short amount of time I have spent on this earth.

1. Listen to people. I mean REALLY listen to them. Stop thinking about what you’re going to say next and listen to what they are saying right now.

2. Live by the 80/20 rule. 80% good-for-you food and 20% I-probably-shouldn’t-be-eating-or-drinking-this keeps your body healthy and happy. The little bit of rebellion does a body good.

3. Don’t get too jealous of others. You are always the hero of your own story.

4. Don’t fake liking something for someone else’s sake. It’s simply too exhausting to be anyone more than yourself.

5. Don’t boil vegetables. They just don’t taste good that way.

6. Always keep an extra sweatshirt in your car, but not your best one. This way if it gets lent to a friend and never returned, you won’t feel so bad.

7. Get an external hard drive and back up your files. That way, when your computer dies, you will still have some of your sanity.

8. Don’t date someone who’s wrong for you just so you can say you did. Be with someone who is worth your time.

9. Listen to your parents. They’re pretty much always right.

10. Don’t fight over the restaurant bill. If someone offers to pay, thank them, and then remember to pay for the next drink or meal. If you’re friends long enough, things will all even out.

11. Make a fuss when your significant other gets home. The simplest things can do wonders for a relationship.

12. Give people small, unexpected presents. They often mean just as much (if not more) as presents on holidays. My favorite random gifts from Dave include Burt’s Bees chapstick, cheese curds, and red wine. In the past I’ve given Dave a Star Trek beach towel, a “Real Men Like Cats” coffee mug, and a glow-in-the-dark Ghostbusters t-shirt just because. This is true love, friends.

13. If you don’t want to go to your high school reunion, don’t. You will still keep in contact with the people you wanted to, so unless you want to show off the fact that you designed a new kind of rubber used in shoes, stay home with friends and watch Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion.

14. Some things don’t need to be documented with a photograph. Some do. Keep a camera with you just in case (unless you have a friend like me who is always itching to take pictures).

15. Spend money on experiences instead of things. The memories from a trip can last a lifetime; a new TV that’s two inches bigger than your old one probably won’t.

16. Don’t exclusively shop in the junior’s section when you are over 25. Some things just fit better from the women’s section, especially if you want shorts that actually cover your bum. (Men don’t seem to have this problem as they go straight from Boyz II Men in the clothes department).

17. Friends are as important as family, and family is as important as friends. Treat them as such.

18. Bad customer service sometimes happens because you are a bad customer. Be kind to those who serve you and mistakes will be fixed much more quickly.

19. Love is hard. A good relationship requires a lot of communication, more “I’m sorry’s” than you’d like to own up to, and a willingness to deal with change. It’s worth it.

20. There are few things in life that a martini can’t fix.

21. Wisdom from Red in Orange is the New Black. “Don’t ever let go, not until they make you.” This applies to so many things, including but not limited to: life, love, and the pursuit of happiness.

22. Do what you say you’re going to do. If you’re not going to do it, say “no” up front. It’s better for everyone involved.

23. Not everyone you meet is going to like you. It’s okay.

24. Plant something.  It shows you have hope for the future.

25. It’s okay to feel stupid. It’s a sign of growth. People who are truly stupid often think they’re brilliant.

26. Celebrate every birthday. Some people get too few, so every birthday is your very own gift to yourself.

27. Life is hard. Sometimes, you just have to jump in the pool.

And one to grow on:

28. Happiness is a choice. Everything else is a matter of perspective.

Chel

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Tidbits

This post is going to be all over the place, so just bear with me, friends.

This week, I held a newborn baby in my arms for the second time ever of my adult life (the first one being Aurelia). My friend Katie’s baby made his grand entrance into the world over a week ago, and I got to meet him when he was just seven days old.

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Welcome to the world, Leif!

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His sister Lily is pleased at punch at his arrival and offered to babysit the monster my friend knit for his arrival.

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Just look at those little baby feet! I loved that he and Em had their legs and feet in the same position, so I couldn’t resist taking the photo. The juxtaposition is just adorable.

The weather lately has been…hot. We seemed to have skipped over spring right into summer, but I’m not complaining. Bring it on! I woke up this morning to beautiful sunny skies and as I looked out at our lush, green yard, I couldn’t help but smile. Summer makes me so happy.

The kitties are not sure what to do with this weather. We found out this week that the house we’re renting doesn’t have air conditioning, so we’ve been opening all our windows at night to let in the cool air and closing them and the shades during the day to keep out the sunlight. Still, the inside of the house has hovered between a balmy 75 degrees and a ‘wearing as few clothes as possible’ 83 degrees.

Some days, Athena is perfectly content cuddling up against me, despite the heat.

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Other days, she and Artemis can be found sprawling on the countertop or lying on a pile of shoes….you know, like you do.

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I certainly can’t expected to put my shoes away if they make the kitties comfortable, right?

I’ve been trying not to heat the house up too much with cooking, so dinners have been relatively simple this week. Microwaved homemade soup from the freezer, sandwiches and vegetable chips, and this shrimp taco salad to name a few.

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Spring mix topped with refried beans, roasted peppers, onions, and shrimp, fresh tomatoes and olives, guacamole, shredded cheddar, plain Greek yogurt and chili lime crunchies from Iowa Girl Eat’s blog.

I love all sorts of variations of salads in the summer. Can’t wait to make my watermelon feta salad again, and Ina Garten has a recipe for one with arugula that I want to test out.

I’ve been zipping through books as fast as ever lately. I read for half an hour on my lunch break and for one or two hours before bed. Now that it’s nice out, I’ve been laying outside on a beach blanket on the grass. It reminds me so much of being a kid: my siblings and I sprawled out on the grass or the trampoline, all reading different books.

I reread The Fault in Our Stars in two days to prepare for the upcoming movie, and I just started rereading The Dive from Clausen’s Pier. I’m doing pretty well at not buying new books lately. One of these days, I must get myself to the library to get a card!

 

Grillin’ Weather

Things I want to bottle: the scent of old books, exercise endorphins, and summer. I am still getting used to the magic of this weather. It has been so cold and white for so long that grass and dandelions seem a feast for the eyes.

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I must admit that I’m enjoying this transition into summer even more now that Dave and I are renting a house. It’s so nice to have a yard to look out into instead of pavement.

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I didn’t have to beg Dave much to grill out last Sunday. He’s not as outdoorsy as I am, but even he has been spending as much time outside as I have lately.

I’ve been trying to do more food prep on Sundays now that I am working longer days, so while I was making salads-in-a-jar for work and pre-cooking rice for weeknight curry, I also whipped up a potato salad.

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Mayo-free potato salad is easy enough when you always have Greek yogurt on hand like I do.

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I used cubed, cooked red potatoes (skin-on), diced celery and red onion, plain Greek yogurt, herb mustard, some sauteed spinach, salt, pepper, and hot sauce.

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I topped the potato salad with sliced hard-boiled eggs and paprika.

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While Dave and I waited for the charcoal chimney to light up, we sat on our benches and enjoyed a cocktail.

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The kitties were definitely enjoying the sunshine, too.

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I’ve been keeping local meat in our chest freezer for occasions such as this.

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Bison burgers, beer, and baked beans.

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Oh, and buffalo sauce. And bleu cheese. I guess it was a very B-barbeque.

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We served our burgers on the homemade wheat rolls Dave helped me make. Pickles on the side, because a burger without pickles just isn’t quite the same.

I love summer. Have I mentioned that?

Ninety

My grandmother has been walking this earth for ninety years. Ninety sounds so much older than eighty, doesn’t it? But it’s a good kind of old. It’s a wise kind of old. People who are ninety years old know so much more than me, it’s almost embarrassing.

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My grandma has lived through so much. She lent me a book when I was a teenager, set during World War II. It was a little sentimental for my taste (especially at the time), but I told her I liked it okay.

She sighed and said, “I guess it’s hard for you to understand.” She didn’t say it to be condescending; she said it because it was true.

Grandma has lived through things that I haven’t and, hopefully, will never have to. She’s lived through a terrible war that kept her heart in her throat with close family members fighting. She’s dealt with the death of her husband and two of her children. She’s dealt with the loss of her memory that has been fading quietly away for the last few years.

But you know what? She’s ninety. She’s not bed-ridden, wheelchair-bound, or living in a nursing home. And she still smiles.

And for ninety, that’s pretty damn good.

Happy Birthday, Graham Cracker! I love you.

Fun(ny) Friday

Last night, in bed, Dave and I watched a million gifs of animals doing funny things. But this one……..this one just slayed Dave. I think it made him even happier than the brand new glow-in-the dark Ghostbusters shirt I bought him.

He laughed, and I laughed with him. Then I just started laughing at him laughing at the dog. It was hilarious. We started making the noise we thought the dog was. Laughter is good medicine, folks.

 

Source: themetapicture.com

Okay, admit it. You just tried making the noise the dog is making, too, didn’t you?

Happy Birthday, Dad!

34723_546119535501_6780331_nDear Dad,

I’m glad you were born because….

There’s more oxygen on the planet due to the thousands of trees you have planted. You are the best mediator among family and friends. Your red-faced, can-hardly-breathe laugh always makes me smile. You always come to my rescue when I have car problems. You gave me an appreciation for John Wayne, Johnny Cash, and good beer. You tell people, “My kids drink good beer,” like you’re proud of it. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here.

Happy Birthday, Dad! I love you!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Dear Mom,

Thank you for….

Teaching me what kind of bouillon to buy (salt should never be the first ingredient!). Taking my side. Being the cool mom that taught all the girl scouts how to dance to The Brady Bunch song “Sunshine Day.” Not getting mad when I switched your wine with red-colored water. Being nice to everyone you meet. Giving me your scone recipe. Not giving up on me. Sharing my obsession with Gilmore Girls. Filling the house with music (yes, even John Denver). Taking care of so many people. Loving me.

I love you. Happy Mother’s Day!

The Art of Mixology

Hey, guys! Thanks for sticking around. My computer has been giving me a lot of problems lately, and Dave finally convinced me to let him wipe the hard drive for the second (third?) time. Now it’s clean as a whistle….meaning I have to once again replace all my programs, music, pictures, etc. Eh, at least it works.

I haven’t been taking any food pictures since I knew I couldn’t share them with you, but I would like to share my experience last weekend with you. A few of my friends planned to come visit us on Saturday, and I practically begged my brother and sister to come the Friday before. As you’ve probably figured out, my siblings are some of my best friends, and if more than a few weeks pass without me seeing them, I go a little crazy.

They came!

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Since Dave built us such a lovely fire pit, we dedicated Saturday morning to find some firewood. We scored big at a house our friends remembered seeing near their old apartment complex.

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Sadly, we could only fit 1/3 of it in the back of Serenity. Now, I’m hoping the guy remembers us so we can pick up the rest at some point.

When the rest of the gang arrived late Saturday afternoon, we headed straight to a place I’d been eyeing up lately: Great Northern Distilling. I read about it in one of Stevens Point’s local newspapers, and though most people only think of wine-tasting, I remember how much fun my mom, aunt, and I had touring a distillery in Door County a few years back.

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I misunderstood that they were giving tours already (they aren’t), but I was only a little disappointed. Just viewing the inside was tour enough for the time being.

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Distillery

My kind of artwork.

Great Northern Distilling’s mission is “Make great liquor,” and they’re off to a great start. Though they will eventually have vodka, gin, brandy, and whiskey, they were showcasing their local potato vodka the night we arrived.

First, we were given a sample.

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Dave and I don’t drink vodka regularly (except in Bloody Marys on Sunday), but this vodka may change my mind. It was incredibly smooth with a pleasant and lightly sweet finish. I have never envisioned sipping vodka, but if I did, this would be it.

The menu was quirky, inspired, and, well, just plain delicious-looking.

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It took me awhile to decide on a beverage, but the pickle-lover in me simply had to test the “Fill McDill.”

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It was a summer garden in a glass. Lucky for me, attacking the mixology bar with ten other friends meant I got to taste-test everything on the menu. I couldn’t decide what my favorite was, but the cocktail with the most show was definitely the “Shirley Temple of Doom.”

The owner individually bruleed the cherries for every “Shirley Temple of Doom” right in front of us.

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And he was a good old sport about it, too.

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Saving the best for last:

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We had a splendid time checking out Great Northern Distilling, and I’m very excited to keep taste-testing as they roll out more liquor…especially my beloved gin. GND, if you’re listening, I like my gin in a martini glass: shaken, not stirred.

If you’re ever in Stevens Point, I highly recommend checking out Great Northern Distilling. You won’t regret it.

After we made our way back from the distillery, the rest of the night was spent hanging around our fire pit.

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Magical.

I asked my friend Emily to take a picture of my siblings and I, but we got photo-bombed by our friend Dan.

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Oh, well, he’s pretty much a member of the family, anyway.

 

Summer Lovin’

Things I am most excited for this summer:

  • Mangoes
  • Driving with the window down and the music up
  • Bonfires
  • A cold beer in the hot sun
  • Saturday Farmer’s Market
  • Sunday cookouts
  • Long walks (or runs)
  • The sound of mourning doves
  • Planting a vegetable garden
  • Making dinner with produce from the vegetable garden
  • Waiting for Dave to complain about the heat so that I can remind him how many days it was below freezing this winter

Oh! I also want to point out that I started listening to the Showtunes station on Pandora, which is pretty much like my ideal man in music form: it plays songs from musicals, Disney movies, and from the show Glee. So I’m basically belting out solos on the way to and from work every day and while I wash the dishes. But Grease gets overplayed so much that I actually had to skip the song Summer Nights which is a little sad, don’t you think?