2.28.2013

"A Dog, A Heartbeat At My Feet"

It’s no secret around these parts that I’m a crazy dog lover. Where most bloggers have a “love story” page under their header, I have a page dedicated to Huckleberry. Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband, but he won’t let me take nearly as many pictures of him. ;)  

And if you've been following for a while then you've probably sensed my passion for dogs through reading this post and this one. (Although I warn the last one is graphic.)

My love for animals is something that has just always been a part of me. Growing up, I tried to save every animal that I saw in need. I feed a baby blue jay by hand that had fallen out of it’s nest and begged my mom to let me take in any stray dog abandoned on our street. One of those abandoned pups, Haley, found her home with us until her last days.   

To this day Homeward Bound makes me cry and I worry about the horses that are falling down in war movies. I know to some it sounds silly, but I genuinely have a passion for animals. And it breaks my heart to see them mistreated and in need.

I obviously inherited this trait from my mother. While I was in high school, she began to foster dogs. Basically this means that when the local rescue had no more room for another abandoned, abused, neglected dog, she would take them in. She provided them with shelter, medical treatment, socialization, and love until they were adopted and ready for their new home. When that adoption day never came for certain dogs, she decided to keep them herself.
Maddie and crazy Jackson
 In college I volunteered at the local animal shelter. I quickly learned that what my mom did was draining –physically, emotionally, and even financially. There was such a need for volunteers and very little interest. The animals’ living conditions were terrible and the adoption rate was low. Honestly, the situation seemed hopeless. But week after week I went to the meeting and heard amazing stories from foster moms and dads about how the process had changed them, about how their lives were actually saved through the simple act of opening their homes and hearts to an unwanted mutt. 

I genuinely admired these people and were blown away by their commitment, empathy, and steadfast love for the cause they believed in: rescue every dog you can and hopefully one day there will no longer be a need.

Unfortunately, that need is still very much alive. 

Luckily, there are some amazing people who have dedicated their time and hearts to rescue some of these unwanted fur babies. One of them is Jen, the sweet and loving, girl-next-door behind the blog Konjo. Go ahead and read her explanation as to why she has a heart for dog rescue and the rewards she's discovered through fostering dogs.
"Dog rescue is my main passion. Growing up, my dog saved my life and showed me what love really is and before she passed away last year I promised her I would rescue dogs in her honor. It is what I have been doing ever since. I teamed up with a local rescue to help them out, and I recently started fostering for them since they are shelterless. Last week I said bye to my first foster as she went to her forever home. It was extremely difficult and I cried my eyes out, but receiving pictures from her new mom has made it so worth it! She sends me updates on the dog and pictures of them snuggling together. That's when I know I am fulfilling my purpose by allowing others to experience the love I have known from dogs and to bring their new best friend into their family. Learning the stories of the dogs we rescue each day as well as the awful statistics from shelters is heartbreaking. But seeing the dogs that we are able to save placed into loving homes and seeing the lives they lead from them on makes me happier than anything else in the world."
I think Jen is inspiring! And I am so glad there are people like her who are willing to give so much of themselves to animals in need! To hear more of Jen's story and to keep up with her fostering adventures, make sure to follow along, here!

And if fostering a dog is something you're interested in, check out your local animal shelter. They can help you get started on the right path!

Now go love on a dog!

“Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever.”
– Karen Davison

2.27.2013

Currently

Loving that my fireplace mantel is ready for Spring with hydrangeas and antlers. (Because those things mean Spring, right?)

Drinking green tea with lemon and amazed at how easily it has replaced my morning cup(s) of coffee.

Reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I'm only on chapter 2 and I already think it is amazing.

Needing a haircut. Badly. I honestly can't remember the last time I cut my hair. Maybe September?

Stressing over some new rash that has appeared on the back of my neck. I have a feeling it's from my yeast free diet and my bodies telling me I'm allergic to eggplant or some other vegetable I've recently introduced it to. Or maybe it's caused by stress. If that's the case I'm screwed and it will be there forever.

Excited for hot yoga tomorrow night. I went to my first hot yoga class in over a year this past Monday. It was amazing...

Laughing about am email I received this morning titled, "Do You Poop Enough?" Kind of made my morning.

Anticipating Spring. Did I already mention that? Unfortunately Washington has rainy Springs. Who would have thought ;)


Currently posts inspired by Megan.

2.26.2013

Yeast Free Update

I've mentioned here and there that Steven and I were planning on doing a 30 day Yeast Free diet soon. Well, it has been one week and we're still going strong! In a nutshell, Yeast Free means no yeast (duh), grainsdiary, sugar, or fermented drinks

But it is a little bit more complicated than that even. You have to stay clear of fruit and butter for the first two weeks.  

For a more in depth list of what you can and cannot eat, visit Steph's blog. You'll find links to helpful posts and yummy recipes. Plus, she's the one who inspired me to give Yeast Free a try, and I'm so thankful!

In just one week I've noticed the following benefits from being Yeast Free:

- Increased energy and alertness. I no longer feel super sluggish at work and have more energy when I get home in the evenings to work out, clean up the house, cook, or whatever is on my to-do list for the day! 

- A feeling of fullness in between meals. This one is kinda crazy because I've always been a "snacker," but I've noticed that when I eat healthy, balanced meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner I am full until the next meal. My desire to snack while at work or watching TV in the evenings has almost disappeared altogether. Don't get me wrong, sometimes the urge still strikes and when it does I eat a healthy snack. 

- Variety in my meals. Steven and I have had some of the best meals lately and they have all met our Yeast Free guidelines!  

- Weight loss. I lost 5 lbs in 7 days. That's almost a pound a day!! Needless to say, I'm a happy camper.

Why Yeast Free is working for me?
To be honest, this is the first "diet" I've ever tried in my life. Why? Because I'm lazy! Diets make you count calories, or carbs, or even weigh your meat...no thanks! With Yeast Free there is no counting and no food scales. All I had to do was clean out my pantry of the foods we couldn't eat and stock up with the foods we can. Easy peasy. 

That doesn't mean it's been a cake walk. (Mmmmm....cake. I want cake.) I still have my cravings. The hardest part for me has been the fact that I can't have my three morning cups of coffee with french vanilla creamer. YUM! (Doesn't that sound good?) 

I'm not a huge fan of black coffee, so I have decided to give up coffee all together. And it. is. TOUGH. But I'm surviving. (Steven would probably say the hardest thing for him has been giving up beer.)

My lifesavers?
- Green tea with lemon. Never been a fan because I'd never tried it before ;)
- Peanut Butter. A few pieces of celery with peanut butter on them or just a dang spoonful of peanut butter by itself always hits the spot if I'm feeling like I may die of a sweet tooth craving.
Must be no sugar added! The only ingredients in this brand are peanuts and oil.

- Trying new delicious foods at dinner. It's almost like we're going out to eat and ordering something we've never had before! 
Stuffed eggplant. DELISH!

All in all, Yeast Free for Me has been great! 

I hope to give a weekly update on my progress (I promise I won't make it as long as this post though!), so be sure to check back next week! And if you have any questions feel free to ask!

Happy Tuesday, friends! =)

2.25.2013

Vets, Mayo, & Pretty Baskets

It's Monday.

Is it just me or does it seem like the weekends are going by faster and faster? 

Steven and I had a lot to get done this weekend, but we still managed to squeeze in some fun time too. 

Saturday morning Huck has his 1 year old vet checkup. He's a healthy boy with perfect gums and teeth and the ideal body weight! YAY! Proud fur mama right here. But to say he was nervous is an understatement. He was hiding under tables, chairs, my legs....and his heart was beating a million miles a minute! :( Poor buddy.
So to make up for his traumatic experience, we went for a nice long 7 mile hike! It was intense! I'm pretty sore from the endeavor but it was definitely worth it. Plus, I got some hilarious photos of Huck.
Okay, apparently my dog runs funny.
Wait Mom! I want in the photo too!
Then we did some shopping in lieu of our yeast free diet. So far, I have not been able to find any mayonnaise (like this one here) in nearby stores that meets our diet's guidelines, so I decided to make my own. Hello, tuna and chicken salad!! Nom. Nom.
It may not look like mayo, but it tastes pretty darn similar.

And then I bought these pretty little wire baskets that the hubby is going to hang up in our pantry for onions, potatoes, lemons and limes! 
Speaking of my pantry...did I ever tell you that I painted my pantry door blue like this one on Pinterest? How about some photos when the projects complete?

Also this weekend Steven and I were able to visit our friend's beautiful, newborn baby boy in the hospital. I would share photos of his cuteness but I feel as though I should have a consent form signed before I post photos of other peoples children on my blog ;)

Hope your weekend was full of fun and adventure as well! To see more photos of my weekend shenanigans follow along on Instagram or Twitter! (yep, I am self promoting.)

2.22.2013

Friday Letters

A few details from my wedding. via Bridget Rochelle Photography.
Dear Weddings - You're fun! Some some reason weddings have been on my mind a lot lately and I find myself swooning over wedding blogs. Weird considering I just had a wedding 7 months ago... I just think they are so pretty! And you know what? The more I think about it the more I realize that I'm completely happy with the wedding I had. I loved the ivory, lace, and burlap details and that the touches of blues around us coordinating with the lake below. It was beautiful. Sometimes I think I just want to relive it ;) Dear Yeast-Free Diet - Things are going surprisingly smooth with you. I was expected to feel terrible while the yeast in my body was dying off, but I have no symptoms. If anything, I just feel a little more energized (that is not a complaint, by the way). Dear Husband - In 5 months we get to celebrate one year of marital bliss! Let's go somewhere warm to celebrate, shall we? Dear Herschel - Take notes on sleeping etiquette from your older brother, Huck. He sleeps in till 6:30. Waking up anytime before than is unacceptable. Dear Weekend -  I know I say this every Friday, but truly, you are my favorite.
Happy Friday!

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2.21.2013

iMoments

Life's little moments captured on my iPhone.
Chipotle. I devoured this and then suffered for 4 hours with heartburn.
Totally worth it.
Hubby playing darts. He's pretty much obsessed with this game.
I only go for the view ;)
A special delivery (the day after Valentine's Day)!
The hubby got a hair cut and looks so fresh and so clean, clean!
He loves me despite that look on his face.
Late night splurge the day before we started our yeast free diet.
Again, totally worth it.
My sweet grandma sent me some new skincare products to try!
Have you ever heard of Affinia??

Hope your having a good week, friends! Tomorrow's Friday...
Did you just do your happy dance?

2.20.2013

Simply Truths in Grandiose Creations

Steven, Huck, and I take a lot of walks together. There is something about leisurely strolling through nature that is invigorating. The colors, the sounds, the smells --they all become more vivid. The more time I spend outdoors, the more refreshed and alive I tend to feel. 

It's funny because during these walks I always find myself saying words like beautiful and amazing, and exclaiming how green and saturated all the colors are. That's funny because I'm describing Washington. This random place that I moved to to be with the one I love, yet I never forget to let everyone know how much I hate it here at any given opportunity. The sky is always grey! It rains EVERY DAY! I just want some sunshine!! 

I do think that the dreary days tend to sit on my soul more heavily than most. I blame this on my right brained tendencies. But the reality is that I'm complaining about the beauty of God's creation. And it's really just that, beauty. 

Those rainy days are what make the colors so vivid and those clouds are what make me better appreciate the sun. Sure I'd love to be in sunshine 24/7, but then you know what I'd probably be saying? It's so hot and sticky! I wish it would rain.

Us humans...we're a funny conundrum. 
"Poets are always taking the weather so personally."  J.D. Salinger

"Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather."  - John Ruskin

2.19.2013

Let's Talk Chickens


Have I ever told you that my backyard has a chicken coop? A massive chicken coop at that. After moving in last summer, our main goals were to cut down a few trees in the backyard and get our entire property fenced in. Luckily we were able to do that. So this summer, we hope to shift our focus to the chicken coop, giving it some necessary TLC so we can get our chicks soon! 

People, I'm freaking excited!

So excited that I've created a new Pinterest board called Backyard Chickens. Yep, I really did that. 

So far I've found tips and tricks about broody hens, what to fed/not fed your chickens, healthy snacks, and some pointers to help us fix up our coop. But I want MORE.

I want more chicken literature, darnit! Don't judge...

Okay, I'll get to the point. Does anyone raise their own chickens? Do you have any good advice for my husband and I before we really dive into this? I want to gather all the information that I can so we have happy, healthy chickens and TONS of eggs. 

And here's a fun fact for you all, my husband and I have two cows. Their names are Hamburger 1 and Hamburger 2. (Is that mean?)

I'm a little farmer in the making. 

2.18.2013

Lazy Afternoons

I just want to say thank you to all the president's in years past. Because of you guys I have a three day weekend. And since today can be viewed as my second Sunday, I'm planning on passing it how all second Sundays should be passed --Lazily.

Or at least that's what I told Huck this morning and he seems to think that it is a great idea.
On the agenda for today is catching up on some reading and mine and the mister's favorite TV shows. Who knows, maybe I'll even throw a bubble bath in there.

Oh yeah, and lots of puppy dog cuddling will be involved. Lots.

2.15.2013

Friday Letters

Dear Huckleberry - You are darn cute. It's pretty ridiculous. But it does concern me that at 1 1/2 years old, you still don't really understand the game fetch. It's okay. We'll continue working on it. Dear Valentine's Day - You were pretty great. And the 3rd one I've spent with my love! I can't wait to celebrate the next 50+ with that man! Dear Tax Return - You came at a perfect time! Turns out there are power washers on sale right now at Costco! (I know, I know, Steven and I splurge on the most exciting things). Dear Husband - Are you ready to go yeast free with me starting this Sunday?? No more bread and sugary sweetness. **shedding a tear**  No, but seriously, I'm excited to get in shape and start eating healthier. And I'm super pumped that you're doing this with me!! We are going to get sexy. Bow-chicka-bow-wow. Dear Weekend - You're my favorite. So glad you're here :)

Photobucket

2.14.2013

What I Wore || Hearts

 | heart shirt: TJ Maxx | shoes: Nordstrom | jeans: Banana Republic |
What's more fun on Valentine's Day than an awkward outfit post? This little photo session showed me that Washington has made an albino out of me and I have awkward arms. And more importantly, that my husband must love me very much to snap 1,000 photos just to have me delete most of them exclaiming that I look atrocious. 

(Sometimes I think this blogging business is a little more taxing on our men than we'd like to admit.) 

But I digress...

It's Valentine's Day! A few weeks ago Steven asked what my ideal Valentine's Day would be like. I told him yummy food, good conversation, and cuddling. His response was no diamonds? no flowers? I just laughed and told him we can't afford diamonds and flowers die! But the truth is, even if we had all the money in the world and flowers never wilted, I would have given him the same answer in regards to my ideal Valentine's Day spent with him. 

So we made reservations a this quaint, little Italian restaurant at 7, and I have a feeling the most relaxing, intimate evening is in store for us. 
..................................................................................................................................................................
Turns out, I'm not the only one who prefers a low key Valentine's Day. Have you met Tiff? She's the blogger behind My Smile Saga. Like me, she's a crazy girl who moved for love, but she ended up in my home state of West Virginia! Not going to lie, I'm a little jealous! 

Here ideal Valentine's Day?...
"You know when you are wearing sweats, sitting on the ancient (hopefully slipcovered) couch in your college house, eating Chinese food out of the container, drinking abox bottle of wine and laughing hysterically at a “straight to video” movie with your best friend? It’s one of those memories that sticks with you forever. Luckily, that is my ideal Valentine’s Day and I’ve spent 9 Valentine’s Days doing just that with my best friend tuned fiancĂ©. In 2005, we were broke college kids sitting on that couch, eating “$3.50 Chinese” and drinking Franzia out of the box. Our paychecks, furniture and taste in wine have improved since then, but there is something comforting about looking over at the guy eating sesame chicken remembering where you started out and imagining what the future holds!"

 Stop by Tiff's blog to get to know her a bit better! And while you're at it, check out her adorable engagement photos! 

2.13.2013

My Tazmanian Devil Wake Up Call

Last weekend a cleaning frenzy struck me. Basically when this happens, I become all consumed with the thought of a clean home and turn into the Tazmanian Devil. Scrubbing over there, sweeping over here, disinfecting this and that and everything in between. It's insanity. And once it strikes, the compulsion doesn't subside until every surface in my home smells like roses. 

Seriously people, I have a problem. Like a real I-should-probably-see-a-therapist problem. 

When this mood strikes, I become really frustrated with everyone around me. I usually shoo the animals outside, because one is chasing my broom while the other is getting his poopy paws on my counter, and I order Steven to be productive --go clean up the garage, burn that brush pile, take out the trash. Basically, I'm a raging lunatic. 

Last weekend, in the midst of one of these moods, I called for Steven to help me put a serving platter high in a cabinet I could not reach. He didn't respond. I called again. And again. No response. Finally, I storm into our bedroom and I see this...
My exhausted husband trying to catch some much needed zzzz's on a Saturday afternoon. And you know what? I was pissed. How can he sleep when there is so much to be done? I work all week, too! I'm tired, too! 

And then I saw the bigger picture and my heart softened.
Steven wasn't being lazy. He is so good about helping me around the home when I ask. Pitching in when I need a hand. Taking out the trash. Placing that serving platter on the highest cabinet shelf.

Steven was retreating (as were our pets!). 

The mood had struck. I had gone crazy. They retreated to a safe place to pass the time until the frenzy subsided. Our bedroom. Were we all pass the night in unconscious bliss, knowing the other is right there beside us. 

In this moment it just hit me. I waste so many of my waking hours being busy with things that simply don't matter. Spending time scrubbing floors that will be covered in animal hair tomorrow instead of spending time with living, breathing beings that bring me so much joy. 

How stupid is that?

It's okay if I don't live in a Pinterest perfect home. It's okay to leave those dirty dishes in the sink and go on a date with my husband. It's okay to live life. Isn't that what it's there for?

No, I am not trying to promote a slovenly lifestyle. I just know that I need more balance. The clock is always ticking reminding me that another moment has passed and I want to spend that moment with the one I love, not shouting out their name. 

I want to be a place of retreat, not the one they are retreating from.

2.12.2013

Raspberry Butter

Are you familiar with Ree Drummond? Better know as The Pioneer Woman? If not, you most definitely should start perusing her blog. She is an excellent writer, stunning photographer, and chef extraordinaire! Seriously, I don't know how she does it all...I'm convinced she's superwoman.

Oh yeah, and she is obsessed with her dog, Charlie, so I feel as though we're kindred spirits in some way.

...FINE! I admit it, I'm the Pioneer Woman's biggest stalker. During one of these stalking sessions, I was watching her make some french toast on TV (Oh yeah, she has her own TV show) and some raspberry butter to go with that french toast.

My jaw hit the floor...I had to make this pronto!

I'm sure the recipe is on her blog somewhere, but I jotted it all down for you while watching TV. My ingredients list looks like this:

2 sticks softened butter (she used unsalted, I used salted)
1/2 cup raspberries (or any other berry you'd like)

That's it!
Whisk the butter in your mixer until it's light and fluffy.
Switch from the whisk attachment to the paddle attachment on your mixer.
Add the raspberries. Mix for about 5 seconds (any longer and the raspberries will just fall a part)
Once the butter and raspberries are well combined, place a sheet of aluminum foil on the counter with a piece of plastic wrap on top of it.

Spoon the mixture onto the plastic wrap and begin to roll it - shaping it like a cylinder while you're rolling (think tootsie rolls).
I took this photo without the aluminum foil on it. See how it's on cohesive block of raspberry butter? Once it's wrapped it the plastic wrap and aluminum foil, freeze it, and the refrigerate till it's ready to be used.
Folks, this is delicious!!! Like soooo, sooooooooooo good! I loved it (obviously). And the hubby did too! It's perfect for french toast, pancakes, or even to spread on your morning bagel.

Trust me, if you give this recipe a go you won't be disappointed.

2.11.2013

Weekend Review

Sorry for the Debbie Downer post on Friday. It was a rough, exhausting week last week, but if this weekend is any indication of how my upcoming week is going to be, then I'm a happy camper because this weekend was amazing!

Friday night began with a little baking session to make some homemade goodies for Hucklebutt.
He didn't like waiting for me to photograph his treats, but he sure enjoyed digging in when I put the camera away! (Lately, he's been boycotting picture taking by refusing to look at the camera.) You can find the recipe here!

Saturday began with french toast and homemade raspberry butter and ended with more good food, friends, and bowling.
The mister and me. We looked hot in our bowling shoes.

Sunday was a lazy day filled with sleeping in, cuddling, and letter writing to some good friends from home.
I found these hilarious Valentine's Day greeting cards at A Breath of Fresh Station(air)y on Etsy. I cannot wait for my friends to receive them! I know these will be a big hit!

Our weekend ended with a little Ben & Jerry's while snuggling on the couch watching the winter premier of the Walking Dead. I have to ask, are there any other Walking Dead fans out there?? What did you think of last night's episode?

Hope you had a great weekend! And happy, happy Valentine's Day WEEEEK! Yes, I think I'll celebrate all week long.