Goodbye 2011, Hello 2012

My 2012 goal page is up, and boy is it A DOOZY!

But remember, this year it’s all about:

No pressure to get EVERYTHING done, just a desire to move forward in all of these areas, and the list helps me out. I can’t wait to get started! (Ok, let’s be honest, I’VE ALREADY STARTED! At least with The Bookshelf Project, which is now also posted above.)

I tracked my 2011 Goals all year long and below is how it ended up shaking out if you’re curious. Even though a lot didn’t get crossed off, I’m mostly happy about it! The things I still want to do got transferred to the 2012 goal list, the things I don’t feel quite so passionate about I dumped. Easy peasy.

This year I will save the tiny, fun things for my seasonal Bucket Lists because those are so fun for me, but the big ideas will stay documented here.

Thanks to each and every one of you for following along and supporting me — this is such an energizing space in my life! I feel most happy when I’m creating, accomplishing, writing and sharing.

I am wishing you all a safe and happy new year!

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2011 Goal Re-cap

Health
Lose 50 more lbs — meh, I think I lost maybe 25???
Run another 5K (under 35 minutes) — 37 minutes, in the rain. Ok by me!
Run a 10K

Do 10 Non-Girl Push ups VICTORY IS MINE
Continue Paleo Cooking/Eating Yep!
Sleep 8 Hours Per Night – For the most part!

Travel
Visit all of the following places:
Austin
Arizona
New Mexico
Boston

Finances
Merge finances with Garrett
Add to Savings
Open Roth IRA
Rollover old Retirement Account
Make financial life more automated

Home Improvement — well I moved this entire category to 2012. 2012 will be the year of the well styled home!
Re-do Guest Bedroom Baby steps, updated photos here
Paint Kitchen Cabinets
Paint Living Room, Office
Re-do Master Bedroom


Random Other Stuff Thrown In For Good Measure
Find a good red lipstick This one! That was easier than I thought.
Buy a pair of boots And I kind of love them
Make a Cooking Bucket List (done!)
Read 50 books
Start Fertility Charting
Entertain at least once a month (January: New Year’s Brunch with Kelly + Gee, February: No one – but two in March counts, right? March: John + Janine, Jeremy + Katie April: No one May: Garrett’s 30th Bday June/July/Aug/Sept: I think we failed, October: Liz and AndreAnna count!,)
Write somewhere daily
See one of my favorite writers speak
Go to the ballet
Wine Taste Check!

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Cheers to 2012, friends!

Customer Service Is Dead

I’m fairly certain that customer service is dead and I’m sad about it, you all. I’m not saying that service is across the board terrible all of the time but I honestly think the idea of customer service has been dying a slow death and has nearly reached the end. When I have mediocre customer service it feels like such a treat lately and I’m kind of sad about it. When the young kids at the grocery store offer to help me with my groceries, it just melts my heart. I feel like everyone needs to work in retail or food service before becoming a functioning adult because MY GOD! I know this makes me one step removed from telling those god damn kids to get off my god damn lawn, but customer service is going away and I’m not quite ready to let it go. Let me rant about it for a moment, will ya?

Scenario #1 – Certain Online Retailers
I’ve emailed two companies this week regarding issues with online purchases. Both INSTANTLY emailed me back. I was impressed for a second thinking “Wow, live people actually available to answer my simple questions. Awesome!” Until I realized both were auto-responders saying “Hey we got your email, we will read it sometime soon and answer you.” 4 days later I haven’t heard from either company.

What I needed: A simple answer
What I got: SPAM. Which, for the record is not what I consider good customer service. And also a week’s worth of waiting with no response from either company.

Spam, in my opinion, doesn’t help my experience. I don’t need to be emailed to let me know you are going to email me. I mean, that seems sort of inefficient, no?

Scenario #2 – Bookstores
So Borders is out of business and Barnes & Noble is kind of hanging on by a thread and our local bookstores are dangerously close to becoming extinct and we’re all supposed to rally together because big, bad Amazon is putting them all out of business. And you know, I do think about this and want to make a difference. So sometimes I say to myself “I know I could order this online and have it show up to my door in 48 hours, but maybe I will support a business in my community and walk into a bookstore and grab a copy.” Well let me tell you how that has worked out the last 3 times I tried.

First, you have to figure out how the hell the bookstore is organized and what category your book fits into. Brick and Mortar stores have no search button. While this does make me feel inconvenienced, I do realize I am being ridiculous. But the thing is — I am also an educated ridiculous person with fairly good powers of deduction and if I can’t figure out what category the book I want fits into — HOW THE HELL CAN I BUY IT?

Oh! Right! I can ask someone in the store! Great! This only works well if you are buying some non-embarrassing book. I realize this is more of a person problem, but I seem to only get the urge to BUY THE BOOK RIGHT! NOW! when I am shopping for things with names like “7 Ways to Seduce Your Soul into Speaking Its Love Language” or some shit, and I really don’t want to say that out loud to some Emo looking high school student wearing a Justin Bieber tee with his skinny jeans. Why must I feel judged while making a purchase? At least Borders used to have little computers where you could search in silent embarrassment all alone to find out that no — that book is not in the “Self Help section — it’s in the Love Languages section…duuuuuuuuh. What? You didn’t know that was a section? Yeah, it’s all the way in the back to the left of the bathroom.
It’s not the low overhead warehouses are putting big corporations out of business, it’s the fact big box bookstores don’t put OBVIOUS self help books in the self help section and my shame will prevent me from asking Mr. Emo.

But listen, I’m not a total psycho, I buy non-self help books too on occasion, so sometimes I do ask: “Hey Mr. Emo — do you have a copy of BLAH BLAH BLAH.” And then they check in their little computers, because HELLO A BOOKSTORE NEEDS A SEARCH FUNCTION, THANK YOU VERY MUCH! And do you know what has happened the last 2 times that I have asked? The person helping me says this:

“We actually don’t have that in stock at the moment, but we can order it and have it shipped! Straight to your house!”

But do you know what I hear when they say that:

“Thanks for driving 25 minutes across town and dealing with Mall Parking Situation, but we don’t have what you want. It wasn’t just that our sophisticated organization system alluded you, or that our categorization was slightly specific in a way that no thinking person could understand, it is that we actually don’t have what you want. And what we are willing to do you for you is exactly what Amazon would have done for you, at home, in your pajamas, with no Mall Parking Situation — but we are going to charge you 30% more. Doesn’t that sound amazing?”

Forgive me for not crying out in fucking elation.

Scenario # 3 — AT&T Wireless

I’m just going to put it out there that I equate dealing with cell phone drama like dealing with financing a new car. No matter what research you do, or how wonderful your experience is in the moment (which is hardly ever) you are always going to get punk’d in the end because you NEVER had all of the information. Even if you did months (or years) of research, you still will never have all of the information. The best you can expect is to come as armed as possible and roll the dice. And I hate that.

Yesterday I finally decided to bite the bullet and buy an iPhone I’ve been researching it forever, I know exactly what I want, I’ve come as close as possible to being able to accurately estimate the amount of data I will use, I understand all aspects of the new plan I will need to upgrade to and I just needed to make it happen. And do you know how I could have done that? Online and at home. In my pajamas. And while that is generally my preferred method, since I was going to change the cell phone plan I have been on for 10 years, buy a new phone, get insurance, get some accessories and all of that rigamarole I kind of wanted my hand held a little. I’ll admit it, OKAY? I WANTED SOME CUSTOMER SERVICE. SEEEEEEEERVICE!

So I go into our nearest AT&T Store. I’m greeted by some tiny young thing who is clearly doing expediting at a hugely busy location asks me what I need:

“I’m looking for a white 32gb iPhone 4s.”

“How about a 64gb one?” (Thanks for the upsell, but not what I asked for, by the way.)

“Nope.” I say, “I just need a 32gb one.”

So she goes to check and comes out shaking her head. “We only have 16g ones and 64gb ones. It’s probably better to go bigger. Should I set up a 64 for you?”

Ummmmmm. No. So I ask her if she can check with another store for me.

“Oh, the only person who knows how to do that just went to lunch.”

I look around the store and see no less than 11 employees working. Apparently all 11 of them have not been trained on how to make a phone call. Noted.

So we head to the next store. AT THE MALL. Where we are greeted by ALL 11 EMPLOYEES of that store. At once. Standing in front of the door like a school of sharks. Their simultaneous greeting echoes in the completely empty store.

“What can I help you with today?” asks the overly zealous sales person to run to us first”

“A white 32g iPhone 4s.”

“Oh you won’t find any size iPhone 4s in Sacramento. They don’t exist. But you can order one. And I can handle that for you. Why don’t you come over here to the computer.”

“Wait, so you are telling me that no store ANYWHERE has any size iPhone 4s models. What about 16 or 64gb?”

“Nope,” he says, “And I know this for a fact.”

“Oh…hmmm. Okay. Well can you maybe call another store for me and see if they have the model I’m looking for.”

“Yeah, actually our systems don’t have that functionality. But we can go ahead and get your sale started now and it will arrive here at the store in 3 to 5 days.”

****Their systems don’t have that functionality.****

Hmmm…I’m sorry, does that mean their phones don’t actually make calls? Their fingers don’t have the ability to dial? I’m not sure I understand. What I do understand is that no one gives a rat’s ass about my needs as a customer and they would just like to make a sale.

And since we know how I feel about the MALL PARKING SITUATION, why the hell would I have THE STORE order me a phone when I could do that shit at home, and have it SENT TO MY FRONT DOOR? Where this is NO parking situation. So 2 hours and 2 stores later, that’s what I did. I went home and ordered it myself. Figured it out myself. Upgraded my account online myself.

BUT I WANTED SOME SERVICE DAMNIT. And that seems to be more and more elusive these days. Am I a giant old fogey in training, or is this just the way of the world now?

Honey Spiced Chicken Thighs

Spiced Honey Chicken Thighs

I am on a personal mission to make the world love chicken thighs. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs particularly, so I thought I should get my agenda right out there in the open. If you are even the slightest bit scared to cooked chicken thighs but you are willing to test out something quick and easy, THIS is your recipe. (I’m looking at you Mom and Aunt Louise!) There is little prep and the entire dish comes together in under 20 minutes from fridge to table. Also, your chicken thighs get those crispy little bits that you can get on the grill without having to brave the outdoors and who doesn’t love crispy little bits? I mean, come on.

If you are a lover of chicken thighs (Please, join the club, would you? For the love.) you will enjoy adding this to your arsenal of weeknight recipes, I promise! I adapted it from a Cooking Light recipe and it says something like “Our most popular chicken recipe ever.” EVER, you guys. So you know it has to be pretty good. Serve it along side some sauteed greens (mustard greens, pictured above) or a big salad — HOW GOOD DOES A BIG SALAD SOUND AT THIS TIME OF YEAR??? — and get on to all those other things you need to do after dinner!

Quick. Convenient. Tasty. Chicken.

(All of a sudden I feel like Dale Jr. in those Wrangler ads – Real. Comfortable. Jeans.)

It’s the Wrangler of Chicken Recipes! EAT THEM ALREADY!

Honey Spiced Chicken Thighs
Adapted from Cooking Light

Ingredients

3 teaspoons garlic powder
3 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/2-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending on how spicy you like things)
12 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
9 tablespoons honey
3 teaspoons cider vinegar

Method

1.  Get your broiler nice and hot!

2.  Combine first 6 ingredients (your dry rub) in a large bowl. Add chicken to bowl; toss to coat.

3. Place chicken on a cookie sheet lined with a rack.

4. Broil chicken 5 minutes on each side with your cookie sheet on the high rack in your oven.

5. Combine honey and vinegar in a small bowl, stirring well.

6. Remove chicken from oven; brush half of the honey mixture on chicken. Broil 1 minute.

7. Remove chicken from oven and turn over. Brush chicken with remaining honey mixture. Broil 1 additional minute or until chicken is done.

8. Enjoy!

2012 Reading Goals

This year I set out to read 50 books and at this very moment I’m about to complete my 66th book. No one is more shocked than me because this is the first year I have read the number of books I set out to read. There were some great books and some duds, and of course just middle of the road pics but as I’m wont to do, I have made some new book goals.

1. Read 75 books — yeah, this is a stretch goal for me but it could happen, right? We’ll see. Even though I am making a larger goal, I want to focus on quality over quantity next year.

2. Continue with Monthly Book Reviews — I had fun writing those monthly recaps this year, so next year I’ll continue and try to maybe make them better and more helpful. I just love talking books! Not sure what that will look like just yet but I’m brewing on it.

3. Talk Garrett into reviewing what he is reading — Garrett and I had fun collaborating on 30 Days of Denim last year and we spend A TON of time around our house talking about books, so I asked him if he would pop in occasionally and talk about what he is reading. Actually, it was a hilarious fake book report on The Great Gatsby that Garrett wrote while I was writing a paper in college that made me *really* fall for him. He has a good sense of humor and I think you would enjoy his thoughts on books too so we’ll see how that goes.

3. Participate in BlogHer Book Club — I got the January selection in the mail last week and I’m looking forward to diving into it. I think this will be a fun thing to participate in this year and it will require more individual book reviews and I’d like to make time for that. This should do the trick.

3. Clean My Shelves — Half of the books I read this year need to come from my own bookshelf. This year I did a major book overhaul and finally consolidated three large bookshelves into one. I got real about the old classics I was keeping around (I could always get them from the library), ditched books I felt like I “should” read (who says???) and generally reduced and de-cluttered. It felt amazing. Now I have an entirely full bookshelf of books I’m DYING to read. So I need to do that. It can’t be all library all the time! I’m going to add a page to my header of all the books on that shelf and cross the ones that I read off the list.

*****

And that’s it!

Do you have any reading goals this year?

*photo credit

Look Better Naked: Week Four

Well this week was a bit of a nutritional train wreck, but why lead with that? Let’s lead with this:

With one week of the month left I have already worked out 17 times.

BOOYAH!

And that’s all I’ll say about fitness.

I do not, however, feel quite as excited to give you a nutrition update. Good thing this one involves pretty pictures otherwise it would be painful.

I ate well Monday through Thursday. Well okay Tuesday through Thursday because on Monday night we had dinner with friends that involved just about the best banana dessert I have ever had. And an oreo ice cream sandwich. And…well, you get it.

So Tuesday through Thursday: Gold Star!

Friday, I started baking for Christmas and you know a baker can’t serve something he hasn’t tasted, right? We are on the same page about that. So I made sure to taste everything on this platter:

Christmas Dinner

Including the creme puffs and eclairs that were purchased — just for the sake of quality control, you know? On the back left of the platter there are some paleo cookies that were great though. Kind of like a macaroon but less sweet. I used this recipe. A good treat that I will probably use in the future. Everything was AMAZING, though! I guess if you are going to deviate, you might as well do it up right — even if it was a slippery slope that ended with me eating Nutella straight from the jar. CONFESSED!

Then I prepared a cheese tray Christmas morning that was THE BOMB if I do say so myself.

Christmas Dinner

The only problem is that I usually like to have more green on there (fruit, grapes – SOMETHING) but I ran out of space and just covered it with BREAD AND CRACKERS AND EXCUSE ME WHILE I EAT ALL THE CRISPY THINGS WITH GLUTEN IN THEM…yum yum yum.

We tempered our All Day Menu/Christmas Dinner with some fruits and vegetables (but of course then had to add some Chex Mix!)

Christmas Dinner

I did make some paleo options in Bacon Wrapped Dates and Italian Antipasti Skewers:

Christmas Dinner
Christmas Dinner

Plus I even made paleo chili that was well intentioned, though we didn’t even touch because everyone was too full from all the eggnog pound cake and cranberry white cheddar. The road to hell was paved with good intentions, yes? But the best part of the meal by far was my mom’s Teriyaki Chicken Drummettes and let me tell you, THEY AIN’T SUGAR FREE:

Christmas Dinner

But they were delicious, as was my entire week off before Christmas. And it was pretty damn fun and worth the price of a couple days of bad eating. Make no mistake though, I’m sporting a pretty vicious gluten hangover this morning and ready to get back on track. Fun times with family, but my regular life is calling.

Hope you all had wonderful Christmases as well!
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Were you more successful at staying on track. Any awesome holiday recipes you can share?

This Is Why We Don’t Send Christmas Cards

The sentiments are true though!

Mustaches or not, enjoy your day and your family. And thanks for being a part of this little family too! Each and every time I get a comment or an email or a tweet I think to myself how lucky I am to have this motivating little community here.

I can’t wait to see what happens for all of us in 2012!

(Frankly the anticipation is killing me.)

******

Crazy Holiday Traditions and 2012 Fitness + Nutrition Goals

So I think we may have unknowingly started a tradition last Christmas Eve: The 12 Days of Christmas WOD.

OY!

It’s a workout done just like you sing the song, comprised of all sorts of fun elements. Today, it was these:
12 Days of Christmas WOD

It looks sort of innocuous until you start singing the song to yourself
On the first day of Christmas my CrossFit love gave to me — a 100 meter run. On the second day of Christmas my CrossFit love gave to me — 2 walking lunges (each leg!) AND A 100 meter run. And so on and so forth until you have run that 100 meters 12 times, done a bazillion walking lunges and powered your way through ALL THE TWELVE EFFING DAYS!

It’s kind of a bear. But a loveable bear, maybe? I don’t know but I remember walking into the gym last year and seeing people do it and wanting to turn around and run right out of there. This year we were both looking forward to it so much we showed up early! A new holiday tradition is born!

The turnout was great, holiday attire was donned
12 Days of Christmas WOD

and it was time for the WOD to begin
12 Days of Christmas WOD

Box jumps and Burpees and Barbell work, OH MY!

When it was over, we were all worked! Except may Gina, one of our pregnant bad ass coaches who is a constant reminder that there is no reason for you not to give your all. Dear Santa — If I am pregnant at this time next year, can I please have just HALF of her awesomeness? Thanks!

I was feeling sort of low on the awesomeness about half way through this workout and complaining in my mind and then all of a sudden this song came on:

We were listening to some hilarious Mannheim Steamroller-esque Pandora station as a goof and it had been all Christmas Carols up until that point, but I’ll tell you what, if there is any song that will make you happy to be healthy enough to be pushing your fitness boundaries, it is a song that reminds you of Requiem for a Dream and Ellen Burstyn with her grinding teeth and well — you know — all the rest of it.

Let’s just say that song pumped right up!

A big shout out to Christian — King of the Box — for organizing such a great WOD. I don’t have a single picture of him from today so this little gem will have to suffice!

2011 ARCFit Holiday Party

Can’t wait for next year!

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Speaking of next year, might as well throw out some of my 2012 Nutrition and Fitness Goals while were talking about this stuff.

Nutrition Goals

1. Cook more leafy greens — we are cruciferous connoisseurs in this household and never shy away from colorful vegetables. But greens have sort of been this mystery vegetable that I don’t experiment with. So — kale, spinach, bok choy, collards, mustards: You are on notice! I’ll be fooling around and making some delicious dishes with these ingredients in 2012. Have one? Send it my way.

2. Cook more game meat — Dude, I am game-phobic! But mostly just because I don’t experiment cooking it. This year though, we’re getting after it. And I can’t wait for the challenge. Local folks who love game — where do you buy it?

3. Get back to taking a regular fish oil supplement — I’m good at this in spurts. We’re committing to getting good at it on the regular. My creaky joints insist! Do you take one you love? Tell me about it.

4. Continue meal planning and Paleo cooking. Enough said.

5. Find Garrett some better (and more regular) Post-Workout Nutrition options. The recovery concoction he used to drink now probably has lead and lizard feet in it or something, so he hasn’t found something new. We’ve been winging it — for him ESPECIALLY it needs to be a focus since he has leaned out a lot and is looking to build some mass next year.

Fitness Goals

Obviously I reserve the right to add and subtract from this list as the year progresses. But here is what’s on my mind for next year’s fitness goals:

1. Unassisted pull up
2. Non girl pushups in WODs regularly
3. Track WODs more consistently — I think it’s time to get back to the paper WOD Book. This is inspiring me!
4. Run a mile in under 10 minutes regularly
5. 5k in 30 minutes or less
6. Hit goal weight
7. FINALLY do Toes to Bar

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Any advice or suggestions on any of those? I’m all ears!

***all photos taken by the delightful Caity from Moi Contre La Vie. Thanks Caity!

Getting My Documentation Mojo Back – Part Two: Mini-books, Project Life and 2012

So when we left off I had lost my mojo. After a wild night of putting our Hawaii photos into an album though, I finally felt like I was back and ready to tackle more creative documentation of all the fun stuff going on in our lives. I think Laura over at Hollywood Housewife is really on to something with the philosophy of Starting Where You Are when it comes to documenting your life. If you let yourself get too overwhelmed by all the documentation projects you HAVEN’T finished, it really takes away from the joy that comes from documenting what’s happening right now!

So I was ready to get back to documenting, but what to do?

Coincidentally, I was reading one of Amy’s Friday link posts (always full of gems, by the way – check them out) and she mentioned Elise’s blog. One of the first posts I read when I clicked on over was about her minibooks. They were fun, small and easy for on the go documenting, so I picked one up from her shop just to see if I would keep up with it.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure I would. Elise posts some awesome tutorials about how she approaches her book and honestly it is WELL ABOVE my skill level. I mentioned in my last post that I’m not super crafty, and find the detail work of embellishing sort of overwhelming so there was part of me that thought I might hate the end result. But I wanted to try something different. Something more “In the moment” and something that would exercise that part of my creative brain that sometimes gets a little stifled between working full time, CrossFit and getting dinner on the table. And you know what?

I LOVED IT!

It was just perfect in the end because it fully captured all of the fall fun that I had in a cute little hand-held album. And it was totally therapeutic and fun to put together piece by piece.

Here are some snapshots of a couple pages:

Autumn MinibookAutumn MinibookAutumn MinibookAutumn MinibookAutumn MinibookP1040426P1040427Autumn MinibookAutumn MinibookAutumn Mini Book

It’s my first one — obviously I could critique it from head to toe and worry about my lack of craftiness, but the thing about it is no matter how UN-crafty it appears, it captures the highlights of the season PERFECTLY! I showed it to Garrett and even he loved it. For me it wasn’t about making my life look glossy and fabulous, it was about keeping track of the little things in the moment and documenting the places and things that told our story.

Obviously I had so much fun doing this one that I can’t wait to do some more documenting projects in the coming year. 2012 will be our last baby-free year (by choice! fingers crossed!) so I want to make sure we really capture this special time in our life when our family is just two. Plus we will be planning a wedding, getting married, getting a dog — I MEAN THE LIST GOES ON AND ON! 2012 will be a big year. Here is how I plan to document it.

Documentation Goals For 2012
Documentation Goals

1. Project Life — So as I mentioned, I’m really a non-scrapbooker — but Project Life seems to be a great way to keep track of life events and happenings, all with relative ease. I’m not trying to stress out over keeping a scrapbook, so all of the readymade-ness of Project Life appeals to me, yet it allows you to customize as you see fit. Run with your creativity, or just keep it simple. I like it! I ordered it on a whim and I wasn’t sure I would be into it, but when it showed up the other day I thought to myself– THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I WAS LOOKING FOR! Win.

2. More Minibooks! — I think this year I will approach minibooks as a fun way to document vacations or specific events rather than seasons. I think the Project Life umbrella will help me organize the big things so the minibooks will be more of a creative outlet for me along with being a way to document some of our trips. Plus I always come back from vacations with silly mementos, scraps of paper, coasters, matchbooks, tchotchkes — and minibooks are a perfect way to keep all of that stuff.

3. Week In The Life Album — Oh you guys, I am so doing this!!! How fun to look back on what a week in your life was like before you had kids — full of words, pictures and emotions. You can find great inspiration all over the place for this project ( How about here, here, here and here.) General consensus seems to be that Blurb is the way to go, so I’m going to try that. I’ll let you know how it works!

4. Personal (Individual) Albums for Me and Garrett — This is last on the list because it will be the first to go if I feel overwhelmed, but I’d like to complete albums about just us. Growing up I remember thinking it was so crazy that my parents had lives before me (I know, I KNOW!) so I think it would be fun to have a little something to show them down the road. These were your parents! Here’s what they were all about in their 30s! Just for fun. We’ll see how that goes.

******

And that’s it! Are you all starting any documentation projects next year? Do you have experience with any of the projects above? I’m always interested in inspiration!

Getting My Documentation Mojo Back – Part One: The History

So I know I always mention what a documenting + goal nerd I am, but I don’t think I’ve really clearly communicated how deep this nerdom goes. I guess I’ve really avoiding confessing the depths of it because I’m a blogger, and I feel like it goes without saying that I LOVE DOCUMENTING THINGS. I mean one of my hobbies is maintaining a website about my life. Obviously I enjoy keeping track of the minutiae, right?

What you may not know though is that this has been going on long before the internet even existed. I was reminded just how long it had been going on when I was going through some boxes in my mom’s garage a while back. I mean there were boxes and boxes just like this filled with diaries, notebooks, photo albums and collages. Scraps cut out of magazines, pictures that inspired me, mementos of my day to day life.

Obsessive Documenter Much?

Some of it was completely unnecessary to keep — I mean, when will I actually need to know what my schedule looked like my junior year in high school?

Obsessive Documenter Much?

But some of it was fun to see.

Like my Celebrity Crush when I was 7:

Obsessive Documenter Much?
(What? Who were YOU into?)

Or my intentions for years past:

Obsessive Documenter Much?

Journal entries documenting big life events:

The LA Years

(Spoiler Alert: I didn’t get into Film School.)

Big Purchases:
New Car Journal Entry!

(Learned my lesson with this car to never lease again!)

And of course pages and pages of ridiculous lists:


(Yep I loved making lists even back then!)

It’s all sort of silly but you never know when you will need to know exactly what you were doing on the night of March 9, 2000. I mean, if there was a crime, fear not because I HAVE MY ALIBI COVERED! I was hanging out with lame 90s bands! (But dude, Stephan Jenkins was hot!)
Concert Tix

The thing about all of this stuff, is that it brings me joy! I enjoy keeping track of where I’ve been, where I want to go, and memories with those I love (including Paul McCartney, obvs!)

When Garrett and I first started dating I made him a photo album of our adventures every year — and now we have an entire shelf full of silly memories to look back on.
photos!

What may surprise you though is that I have NEVER had an interest in traditional scrapbooking. 12×12 page layouts, Cricuts and embellishments have always been something I avoided. It’s just a subculture that has never really appealed to me. It’s not that I don’t think it takes a lot of creativity and talent (it does!) but I’ve just realized that it doesn’t satisfy me the way blogging and photo albums do.

But then in 2010 I lost my documentation mojo a little bit. Actually, we had come back from Hawaii the summer prior, I had 9000 pictures and felt pressure to document what an absolutely PERFECT vacation it had been. And so I shut down a little. Ok, a lot. It even showed up on my Summer Bucket List THIS YEAR as something that needed to get done because I still just couldn’t get past The Pressure.

But one night, I poured myself a cocktail and said, “This is for no one else but you! Just get those pictures in an album.” And I did. And when it was done, I wanted to scream out:

I’M BAAAAAAAAAAACK!

It’s kind of started a documentation landslide, you all! And it’s been so fun, I’m going to tell you all about it (Hint: It involves this) and then of course, what my documentation plans are for 2012! (Double Hint: My plans involve documenting our last Baby Free Year. WOOT!)

2012 is going to be a fun and photo filled year!

Hey do you smell that? It’s my oil burner burning Nerd Potpourri.

And I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

Alphabet: A History (C) – Cous Cous and Crudite

This is a series of autobiographical vignettes inspired by Dear Wendy’s series of the same name. The idea is loosely based on Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life.

All of my stories can be found here.
***

I remember the first meal Garrett ever cooked for me because it was the first meal any man had ever cooked for me: Grilled Chicken Breasts, Cous Cous and Steamed Vegetables. We were just friends at the time, dancing around what to call this connection of ours, and while it sounds simple, it was a meal that changed my life.

The chicken breasts were seasoned with a dry rub he had mixed himself and then grilled on a miniature Coleman in his backyard. It was summer and the windows were open and the house filled with the kind of pleasant smokiness that you can only really get with charcoal. The Coleman was small, black and spherical and when it came time to flip the chicken from side to side Garrett had to crouch down more than was probably comfortable. The grill had been a gift from his father, given to him when he first moved out on his own — one of many totems of manhood passed down from father to son. While it was the first of many meals we would grill in that yard that summer, it was one of the last we would make using that particular apparatus. I would eventually purchase a larger Propane Grill for Garrett’s first birthday we would celebrate as a couple.

While the chicken was cooking he came back inside and forked cous cous on the stove top like it was his own personal zen garden. Over glasses of wine I admitted that at 25 I had never eaten anything like that, let alone prepared it, so I watched with the excitement of a child learning to do something new for the first time. Though I was a well-established cook at the time I remember feeling so impressed and full of anticipation because of this simple dish. What else would he teach me that I had no idea I didn’t even know yet?

Surprisingly one of the biggest lessons he taught me involved a standard bag of pre-chopped crudite. He took the bag out of the mostly empty refrigerator and poured into a flowered Pyrex casserole dish that his mother used to use in their kitchen growing up. He steamed them in the microwave in a shallow bath of water and topped them with a hefty pat of butter that melted amidst the steam, just like my heart. While we had eaten lots of vegetables growing up in my house, I don’t ever remember feeling quite as excited about them as I did in that moment.

Months later I would meet his parents for the first time over dinner in this same kitchen. I’d watch his mother grab the same bag of vegetables from the refrigerator — though this time instead of being empty it was overflowing with the kind of bounty that only parents can bring when they visit their children in college — and then prepare them identically to the way Garrett had that first night. As she brought them to the table smiling, in this kitchen that had already opened my heart in ways I’d never anticipated, I realized — simple as they were, those vegetables were an act of love. And as she passed me the serving spoon, I smiled right back.

*image source

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