Happy Wicker-Versary

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Today is our 9 year anniversary! NINE YEARS.

If we were a child, we’d be in 4th grade! (I think?)

If we were a wedding anniversary, we’d be wicker! (WUT?)

In dog years, we’d be geriatric.

DID SOMEONE SAY DOG?

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Oh, heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey.

We are a small family, us three, but we sure do love each other. Ten years ago I didn’t have any of that in my life and now here we are today. What a difference a decade can make. (A DECADE? YEESH! Time flies when you’re having fun.)

Tonight we’re definitely celebrating with some shrimp fajitas, most likely cracking open a bottle of champs, and probably gearing up for some dog snuggling and Netflix watching.

Monday, you will not hold us back! :)

I started this blog a month after our first anniversary, and have pretty regularly checked in about our relationship on this day each year since. If you want to see it in chronological order you can start here:
Two
Three
Four
Five
Six
Seven
No Eight, but remember that is sort of my Lost Year (I even wrote those exact words 4 days before our anniversary!)

It was fun for me to go on that trip down memory lane.

Some of those blog posts are awful (Oh, archives!) some are sappy and some are just downright REAL TALK. It’s not a stylized version of romance, it is my own in the moment reflections of what this relationship has meant to me. Reading them all reminded me of a quote I heard at a wedding we were at recently:

“Romance is nice, but true love is something else altogether.”

Yes, some of those posts are romantic. But more importantly every single one of them captures a portrait of true love during that exact moment in time. It is definitely something else, I’ll tell ya. And I couldn’t be more grateful for that.
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Such A Great Reminder

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Doing my best.

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36

Even liked to document my OOTDs as a kid, apparently. #tbt

A month ago today I turned 36. I thought about making a list of things to do before I turn 37, but instead I celebrated it by acknowledging two startling (to me) realizations about myself:

1. I am an undercover people pleaser.

2. I have allowed my self worth to become directly tied to the things I accomplish.

Ok, so who wants me to plan their next “celebration?” — Let’s start by having everyone line up single file. :)

(I this demonstrates pretty clearly why I have panicked feelings about wedding planning, yes?)

All kidding aside though, I did spend some time around my birthday (as I usually do) navel gazing about who I am, where I am going, what the hell I am doing with my life and those were two of the biggest (and most shocking, frankly) things that shook out.

On the people pleasing front, I mention undercover because I think if you know me in real life you know that (in the wise words of Eric Cartman) I do what I want. I am fairly stubborn in my pursuits, and I don’t have a problem with other people thinking I’m absolutely crazy – I will gladly carry on. In fact, I mentioned this people pleasing theory to Garrett over my birthday dinner and he actually choked on his food a bit laughing out loud.

But here is where I’m going with this: Yes, I do what I want. But that is only one element of the equation.

I have realized that in the past few years that I have defined “what I want” largely by a need for outside approval. If someone is dangling a carrot, I feel very compelled to demonstrate how good I can be at chasing it. It’s almost an animal instinct. And when you fold in a carrot dangler telling me I *shouldn’t* chase it, or that I likely won’t have success chasing it — watch my motivation is almost super human.

I am incredibly stubborn, focused and persistent. But where do those things actually get me? I am steadfast at proving people wrong? I am good at ignoring everything and being laser focused? I love to give the finger to people who doubt me? All of those things, while useful in moderation, added up day to day they are not the most loving and joyful way to life.

This smacked me in the face this year because I have spent so much time feeling so lost, while simultaneously getting more accolades than ever for my successes and accomplishments. But that also leads right into realization number two.

It has become an easy habit to define myself (and ultimately how I am feeling about myself) by the things that I accomplish. I’m sure this isn’t hard to believe about me if you have been reading this blog for any length of time. My whole life for so long has been structured around goals and the future and what’s next and what’s the plan. I have found that a very comfortable way to live, aside from the fact that I am always anxiously waiting for the future to get here so I can decide how to feel. This lifestyle is taxing, both emotionally and physically, because it feels like nothing is ever done. Nothing is ever complete unless someone says “Yes! Good job! You’re done!” and then I panic because what is next?

On a number of occasions I have found myself — mid successful efforts — wondering why the hell I am even doing something. But deciding to change course, or put a particular goal on hold would cause me fear and anxiety. And don’t even get me started on how incredibly hard on myself for the things that I perceive as actual “failures.” If something works out different than I have planned, my knee jerk assumption has been than I wasn’t enough. I could have planned better. I could have done better. I could have been better.

I know rationally that life is fluid and that things change and goals evolve. My brain understands that nothing is actually ever a failure, it’s all just an opportunity to learn something new, try a new route, give up something that isn’t serving us any longer. But man is that a practice. And at some point in the past year this idea of reconciling efforts with accomplishments became an exhausting full time endeavor and I just wanted to find another way to live. How do I get to a place where I can just be, and be okay with that?

I’ve struggled to find a way to share this here because obviously it feels incredibly vulnerable. I know the a portion of the audience of this website is filled with people I know in real life who I probably wouldn’t run up to and strike up this conversation. Also, there is a tiny voice in my head that is saying this sounds whiny and self involved and there is nothing I’m more scared of being than weak an un-self-aware. But I think it’s relevant because I have talked a lot about goals in the past and there is part of me that wants to keep doing that because I know it resonates with a lot of people. But there is also a part of me that needs to let that go and learn to appreciate who I am when I am not living my life on an accomplishment bender.

Trying to prove that I am worthy over and over has only served to insidiously reinforce this insecurity that I think we all have that we need to be fixed. If we could only lose a few pounds, make a bit more money, get married, have a baby, insert random goal here, then… Then, what? Then I’d be okay? Then I’d be acceptable? Then I’d be worth acknowledging? I don’t know, and therein lies the challenge.

I want to work on feeling great in the moment and not thinking about what I can accomplish in the future that will make me great. And for me, I think that means I need to stop trying to exercise control on every area of my life. If I’m being honest, it panics me to think about life without structure – to live without mapping out my end destination as well as all the stops in between. But I have also come to realize that some of the greatest moments in my life have happened when I have veered off course and allowed myself to be lean into uncertainty rather than control. I have absolutely no idea how to navigate all of that, but I have a feeling as with most things in life, the lesson will be revealed once I start on the journey. So I see you out there 37, but I think I’m just going to stay right here and focus on enjoying 36.

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Loungin’

Sunshine // Rain    #nofilter

I think fall may finally be here in Sacramento. This weekend the high will only be 72. HOORAY! :)

While the leaves around town are turning, my favorite tree in the backyard is still holding on to its green leaves. The other night we noticed the tips turning red and I can’t wait until it is fiery and gorgeous and I take my annual cheesy picture of it where I pretend like we are having picturesque New England Autumn. (Mel, I AM JEALOUS!)

I know many people hate the time change but I FREAKING LOVE less daylight. It doesn’t bother me at all to get home from work and have it be fairly dark because I am basically always ready to put comfy clothes on and curl up with Buster and Garrett on the couch.

Speaking of comfy clothes — can we talk about loungewear? I have some epic loungewear that I love – best cozy flannel pants ever, fleecy half zip pullover, fuzzy slippers. But it’s all dark colors, covered in Buster hair and the other day I caught sight of myself in the mirror and looked exactly like this:
oscar
UHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH….too bad I had already answered the door in that outfit because the mailman was dropping of a package. Delayed mortification!

So loungewear: I need some new stuff.

But it can’t just be any stuff. I feel sort of particular about my cozy clothes. Obviously they need to be warm. And cozy. And SUPAH DUPAH comfy because duh, it’s for lounging. But I also want to be able to cook and clean and do stuff around my house while wearing them but also be able open the door to my mailman an not look like I’m coming out of a trash can, ya know?

It seems like it wouldn’t be that hard, and yet.

I find that a lot of fun lounge pants at places like Target are super cute and stuff, but they’re thin and sort of see through which is not the vibe my mailman is going for. Hell, I don’t know, maybe he is into that, but it’s not the vibe I AM GOING FOR! And the dog hair thing. My dog is white and fluffy and sheddy and fortunately FOR ME, he loves to cuddle. Unfortunately FOR MY DARK COLORED LOUNGEWEAR, he loves to cuddle. But I don’t really feel like prancing around the house in winter white, you know? Especially if I’m cooking some kind of dinner situation, it just never ends well.

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Snug as a bug in a rug!

So I’m sending out a smoke signal. What do you wear around the house when you want to be cozy but still look sort of cute? We can’t all be looking Oscar the Grouch-ish can we? And if we are, let me know so I can feeling this sexy housewife guilt mmmmkay?

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#SundayPrep — What We’re Eating This Week

I posted a picture of my #SundayPrep on Instagram and a couple of you suggested I blog it. Not sure what to write about except what we’re eating, so here we go!

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Breakfasts in our house usually come in a box. Not the sexiest food styling, but it is what it is. :)
I have time to eat mine at home on most days but Garrett is out of the house by 6:45 so he needs to be able to take his with him.
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I prep them once on Sunday and then don’t give it another thought until I’m eating it. It’s nice. This week in Garrett’s boxes I put hashbrowns, chicken sausage, and two hard boiled eggs. That may sound fancy but it’s just about the simplest thing ever.

The chicken sausage is from Trader Joe’s, I cook it up all at once and then with the fat leftover in the pan I dump in potatoes, onions, peppers and spices. I make one pan of hashbrowns for him and split it into 5 containers. It doesn’t seem like much but it actually works out to the perfect little serving. Top it off with sausage and then slice up a couple of hard boiled eggs (which I also purchase those from Trader Joe’s because paying for the convenience of not having to peel hard boiled eggs has MADE MY LIFE!) and it’s a yummy little package.

Lunches are boxed up too (tupperware how I love thee) and this week I cooked up a batch of soup for myself (it’s a new recipe to me but it sounded easy and tasty) but there ended up being so much of it that I’m planning to serve it as a dinner as well one night after we go to the gym. Clearly I’m one of those people who can eat the same thing over and over and not get sick of it. I figure I’ll top it with cheese one day, avocado one day, olives another — that’ll spice it up enough for me.
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Dinners are going to be meat + veg. (Shocker! LOL)

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For the meat part, I did some marinating this week:
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Two of them came from Whole Foods – these are also new to me but they looked and sounded good:

*Saturday Night Steak Grill Sauce
– the name just called to me, what can I say? It’s basically a garlic and peppercorn marinade but the plan is to eat it on Friday because I DO WHAT I WANT.

*Sweet Hickory Chicken BBQ Sauce with Agave + Orange seemed like it could be good. Gluten free marinades that aren’t full of TONS of sugar are hard to find. This one, while certainly not sugar free seemed like a fun option.

And with the two strip loins I had leftover I decided to mix up this delicious little marinade that is always a crowd pleaser.

I tossed them in the sous vide for a couple of hours so they are perfectly cooked and just ready to sear off and eat on the night’s they are scheduled. I do stuff like this (or crockpot receipts) on night’s when we go to the gym because we won’t get home until after 6 and by the time we shower and all that I am usually not interested in cooking a fussy or time consuming meal, you know?

I know prepping once a week and meal planning sounds a little automated and regimented, but for the two of us — both working outside of the house full time — it’s mostly welcomed to always know there is at least something tasty and nutritious that is basically ready to eat in the fridge.

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Go-To recipes, convenience food, and par cooked meat/protein is what keeps our house going on the week nights. What do you do to eat healthily during the week? I’m always looking for new tips!

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CrossFit! Trashy Celebrity Talk!

50 shades

Tonight at the gym the workout was “The Filthy Fifty” and I swear to you, I don’t care how many times you do that workout IT NEVER GETS ANY EASIER. Couldn’t agree with this assessment more. I’ve probably done this workout 10 times since I started CrossFitting (I almost just wrote “in my CrossFit career — what? What would that even mean?) and it is just Hard. As. F*ck. each time. The only thing that got my through was that I had told myself if I dragged my ass to the gym and did this, we could pick up takeout for dinner and I could go home and finish reading my new trashy magazine!

Yesterday's blog post was about my favorite coffee replacements (link in profile) but I think we can all agree that just about anything tastes good when you get drink it while reading @peoplemag

Celebrity Bribery, FTW!

I finished the cover story about Katie Holmes and I’ve decided that whatever reporter interviewed her must be kind of pissed at her because the article made her sound a little bit dippy and uninteresting and WHAT IS UP WITH THAT COVER PHOTO? She looks like she’s been hanging out with Wiz Khalifa.

In unrelated celebritrash news, after a short binge to catch-up on last season, I’ve gotten sucked in to watching Tori Spelling’s newest train wreck reality series True Tori. ENOUGH WITH THE TORI PUNS, SPELLING. WE GET IT! Anyway, I don’t want to be watching it but frankly I can’t look away. It is so awful and every time I am watching it and Garrett is in the other room he will periodically come out and just shake his head and say “Why are they doing this show?” The awkwardness level is off the charts. And yet.

Related to all of the above: Swistle’s post about Celebrity Women and Whether They’d Steal Other Women’s Guys made me chuckle today. I think I’m on board with all of her delineation except for Kate Hudson. What say you?

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Why I Sought Out A Nutritionist + My Caffeine Free Life (Part Two)

Before I get into THE AFTERMATH (and yes, it deserves all caps) or talk about some of the good coffee replacements I’ve found, I just wanted to make a quick disclaimer about yesterday’s post: I don’t thinking giving up caffeine is necessary for everyone. Coffee lovers out there, fret not :) I wasn’t trying to be alarmist and I don’t think drinking it makes you inherently unhealthier, but like most things — it all depends on what’s going on with YOUR body. Mine was not at all happy with it, so I stopped, and this is only my experience. Your mileage may vary.

So quitting coffee: I want to tell you it was no big deal, that I just swapped in some good herbal teas and all was well, but honestly the only way I can explain it is to say it was A DARK TIME. I have literally never felt so exhausted and depressed and I completely doubted why I was doing this. I remember having a conversation with my nutritionist fairly early on, totally pissed off and accusatory, and telling her that I didn’t think things were going to work — I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to make this change or if subjecting myself to such a shitty quality of life was worth it. I was DRAMATIC, y’all, and really not myself. And I felt a little freaked out. Like, life would forever be awful and exhausting and WAAAAAAH LIFE IS NOT WORTH LIVING WITHOUT COFFEE.

She reminded me that the body is always sending us signals and my test results (which I oversimplified in yesterday’s post) were clearly showing that my adrenals were taxed which was causing all sorts of other downstream problems. What I felt in those first couple of days was just how bad my caffeine habit was masking the signals my body was sending. Shortly after I started my adrenal protocol it felt like I was coming out of the dark. Little by little I am feeling better and I am feeling more clued into my body’s signals but I don’t think I would have kicked the habit if I didn’t have the encouragement and guidance of a “coach.” Those first few days were rough and I’m not sure I would have persisted without her promises that things would get better. Sounds crazy, but it’s true.

In the meantime though, I needed a stand in. While I enjoyed the stimulant effects, I wasn’t only drinking coffee for the caffeine. Anyone who drinks it knows that it’s a comforting ritual and you can’t just substitute any old hot drink in a cup. I’ve done a lot of experimenting with herbal teas (Not all are not created equal!) and most of them don’t have the same robustness as coffee so you have to make sure you find ones that have a flavor that you like or give you an experience that replicates the comfort and decadence of that morning cup. Here are a couple I have really come to enjoy:

1) Yogi Tea Decaf Green Tea Kombucha

Decaf Green Tea Kombucha
This is a mild green tea that is not at all grassy and it as a really delicious! There is a lemongrass and plum-like flavor that is just so freaking tasty I can drink it all day. DELISH!

2)Teecino Dandelion Caramel Nut Coffee Alternative “Tee Bag”

teecino
This is a fun substitute if you like a latte or a flavored coffee drink. While it’s great on it’s own, I’ve also found it to be a good base for a fun frou frou drink. Here’s a great recipe I’ve made, but you could easily just add a little cream and a few drops of stevia and it tastes SUPAH FANCY!

3)Trader Joe’s Harvest Blend Herbal Tea

TJs
Seriously run, DO NOT WALK, and pick up as many boxes of this as you can fit in your cart! Cinnamon, ginger, hibiscus, chamomile, chicory, orange peel and apple. It is autumn in a cup and it is AH-MAY-ZING!

4)Teavana Caramel Chai Rooibos

caramel chai
This is more of a dessert tea in my opinion, but it is so sweet, spicy and indulgent it had to make the list!

5)David’s Tea Earl Grey Rooibos with Bergamot Oil

earl grey rooibos
Strong, citrusy and with a little kick. This really tastes like TEA and not watered down herbs. LOVE!

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Honestly, this is just the tip of the iceberg. My herbal tea collection has grown and I don’t feel like my days lack a fun or comforting cup. I hope some day I can go back to enjoying coffee here and there in a more responsible way when my body is more in balance but right now it’s not in the cards so I’m doing what I can to make the best of my beverages. And it turns out, they’re still pretty tasty!

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Why I Sought Out A Nutritionist + My Caffeine Free Life (Part One)

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Ten weeks ago I stopped drinking coffee.

Just like that.

One day I had a cup and the next day I didn’t. The day after that I just kept telling myself don’t break the chain and now here it is three months later.

The only way I can think to describe the whole process is that it was as unceremonious as it was dramatic. Some of you will read that I’ve quit coffee and think “Oh cool” and some of you will probably feel The Panic creep up into your throat just considering what it would take to give up that morning cup. I was firmly in the latter camp, proclaiming that you would have to pry my coffee cup from my cold, dead hand — never being willing to deal with the consequences — and yet here we are.

The consequences are probably a good place to start since the most asked question I have gotten when mentioning that I’m no longer drinking coffee is a wide eyed “Why the hell would you want to do that?” Well, I got to a point where the consequences were outweighing the benefits — which in my experience is really the only reason anyone ever changes a behavior.

I mentioned that about 4 months ago I began seeing a Functional Diagnostic Nutritionist Practitioner. That is a lot of fancy words, right? What it means in real life is that I hired someone who could help me in a coaching capacity to help me tailor my diet and exercise to my body’s own needs. When I say coaching I don’t mean in a “Rah Rah! GO TEAM!” kind of way, but basically I wanted to work with someone on a regular basis who was a knowledgeable nutrition professional who could look at my individual situation at this particular time in my life and help design a nutrition and lifestyle protocol that would help me give my body the tools it needs to get me back on track to health.

Whoa that sounded pretty hippy dippy. But that basically sums it up. No way to de-hipp-ify that. Guess it is what it is. :)

The truth is my body has gone through a lot in the past few years. I’ve changed the way I eat, I’ve dropped a lot of weight, I took on a super stressful job change, I had lots of stressful life events go on, I’ve re-gained some weight and in the meantime life has gone on. Not a lot of homeostasis here on the health front, ya know? I have learned a lot about who I am and how how I deal with stress and how that affects my body. Some of the consequences of my poor stress management had me backsliding down this health hill that I worked so hard to get to the top of. Hiring this nutritionist was a tool that I really hoped could help me get back up on my feet again and start climbing.

To get a baseline she ran a battery of tests that I will probably talk about in another post but there were two major results that led me to kick my caffeine habit pretty quickly. The first: I was dealing with Stage 3 Adrenal Fatigue. (More good info about all of that here, here and here if you are interested in taking a deeper dive.) I have so much to say about adrenal fatigue, but I can probably sum it up by saying: If you are a person who is ever tired, anxious, depressed or having hormone issues it is worth looking into.

So I was basically firing on all cylinders with no gas in the tank. Wait — am I trying to use a car analogy here. That is a terrible idea. I know nothing about cars. The bottom line is, I was artificially elevating my cortisol levels with coffee and this wasn’t helping solve the problem. In fact, it was probably contributing to it at that point. My nutritionist recommended that I cut out the caffeine so we could really get a baseline for how my body was functioning without all this artificially elevated cortisol, but I wasn’t on board at first. (Can ya blame me? LOL I mean frankly I was a little scared.) I sat on the idea for a week or so and then I got some more tests back.

The second motivator, and really what pushed me over the edge to just really deal with the consequences of life with no caffeine, was getting the results of a food sensitivities test. It was lots of good information and thankfully it wasn’t only bad news – I found out that me and dairy really get along quite well! GREEN LIGHT! WOOT! (Well except for cottage cheese, but really there’s no love loss there) But on the list of foods that were causing me some serious inflammatory response (RED LIGHT!) was among other things caffeine (in any form) and coffee (regular and/or decaf.) I was paying all of this money to have a professional take a serious, personalized interest in my specific symptoms, so how could I keep turning my nose up at the idea of removing one of the most obvious speed bumps in my pursuit to health.

UGH. THE TRUTH HURTS.

The day I got all of that info that I decided I was just going to have to give it a go and quit coffee. This post has gotten crazy long and I wasn’t really anticipating that so I think maybe tomorrow I’ll tell you about the aftermath of getting rid of my daily cup of Joe and some of the awesome replacements I’ve found that keep me from feeling completely deprived. Sound good? Ok, great. Let’s do this again tomorrow. :)

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Saving The Date

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Garrett + I have been pretty useless on the wedding planning front since we got engaged. If you listed out all of our combined strengths, party planning probably wouldn’t even make it in to the top 100. While we are both super excited to get married, we haven’t been super pumped to get the ball rolling with like, actual wedding planning. Even Pinterest can’t save us.

We’ve looked at a few places, and liked all of them actually, but no place has really lit that fire inside us to make us want to spend our hard earned time and cash to have a party there. It’s not that we couldn’t imagine getting married at any of these places, it’s just that we’ve walked out of most of them feeling overwhelmed by the amount of tasks we’d have to add to the To-Do list by committing to any of them.

We’ve considered eloping, and walked through a number of different scenarios that all sounded neat but just not quite right. We’re excited. We want to celebrate. We want to start this new phase of our life with the family and friends that have supported us along the way so running off and getting hitched has seemed enticing but also not quite a fit. We’ve tossed around the destination wedding idea but ultimately ruled that idea out as well.

We’ve been hand wringing about how other people make it look so easy to just throw together a wedding, and thought to ourselves “How can we be relatively competent intelligent people who are in love and have NO IDEA OR DESIRE to pick venues or colors or attire or first dance songs?” but the answers haven’t come.

Finally in October we looked at the calendar and realized we were going to a wedding every single weekend that month (well, except one and on that weekend I was going to a baby shower! ha!) For our sanity we took the entire month off thinking about any sort of nuptial progress. But as November started we realized that we’ve been engaged almost 6 months and we’ve made absolutely zero progress.

Until today.

On Friday we made a super last minute appointment to check out a venue about 30 minutes away from our house. We headed out this morning feeling a little anxious and with zero expectations and when we left we couldn’t stop talking about ideas and thoughts and details and things to follow up on. There was a different energy there and we both left feeling like maybe we had found the spot. After a few hours of doing errands and other things we ran through all challenges of the place and all the reasons we thought it could work, and in the end we emailed the coordinator to actually reserve a specific date.

We still have two weeks to download and think about it before we have to sign any contracts or hand over any cash, but you guys: I THINK WE HAVE A WEDDING DATE. More to come when everything is finalized, but it feels like pretty exciting limbo to be in and honestly there was a huge feeling of relief to think about having a big decision in the process nailed down. It’s been a nice way to start November, and heck at this time next year we could totally be hitched!

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Blogging Nostalgia

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So, do we remember when NaBloPoMo was like, a thing? Now it has been bought and sold and is run by BlogHer and blah blah blah — none of that is really important.

What I do remember fondly though was that back in the day, November was when bloggers made an effort to post Every. Single. Day. I tried a few times and failed, usually on a technicality — forgetting to post something on Thanksgiving or tiring out by the end of the month — but it was fun.

Anyway, I’m feeling a little old school. Also, maybe just a little old — I turned 36 a couple of weeks ago and while I’m not having a crisis over it or anything, I’ll admit to it feeling a little surreal. Aging — such a weird thing. Anyway, where were we? Ah yes, posting everyday in November.

So I’m going to give that a whirl this month. Not in any official NaBloPoMo capacity or whatever, just going to try and pop on here once a day with something to say. The other day I made a list (YAY, lists!) of all the things I’ve been meaning to tell the internet (I’m behind, SO WOEFULLY BEHIND it doesn’t even matter anymore) and there were like, way more than 30 things — so I think I can actually do this thing.

Of course, I may totally forget tomorrow and just fail right out the gate (I’m out of the habit you know plus we are going to look at a wedding venue and I’m sure I’ll be all discombobulated what with the time change and all) but it’s cool. I’ll just pop in and write the next day. Or the day after that.

Point is: I’m making an effort to show up here and babble some in November. On purpose. Not promising it will be cohesive, just promising I’ll be here…mmmkay? You’ve been warned. :)

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