5.31.2013

After All, It Was Only Just A Dream...

Oh goodness, how I love my furbabies. They have nothing to do with this post. They're just cute.

I know that yesterday I briefly mentioned my weird waitressing dreams that I used to get all the time. They were horrible. Simply everything that could go wrong while serving would go wrong --spilling coffee and food on the customers, forgetting to put in a tables order, food coming out cold, customer's being rude and angry, etc. I would wake up feeling so frazzled and anxious, and then I'd get upset with myself for letting a silly dream get to me so much! Because, after all, it was only just a dream.

But it's not just my waitressing dreams that I allow to get to me. Pretty much every morning I remember my dreams from the night before, and oddly enough, I remember them vividly. And sometimes one of those dreams will simply gnaw at me for days and days. 

Last night I had that sort of dream. An old friend of mine who I used to care about very much drew me a picture and gave it to me. It was simply a drawing of an oversized ying yang. He was so upset when he handed it to me. I wondered why he was sad and why he was giving this symbol of balance to me. Was he sad because of something I had done? Or because of his own circumstances? My heart broke as we both began to cry.

I then tried to get to my best friend's home. The home she grew up in and where we used to spend hours playing together as kids, but I kept getting lost. I simply couldn't find my way even though I've been to her home a million times before. I was so heartbroken. I felt like my world was falling apart. I needed to get to my best friend's home. I needed to talk to her about the ying yang and the sad boy and the tears we cried together. 

Then I woke up. 

For some reason, I cannot shake this dream. I know that it probably all means nothing (and sounds extremely silly to anyone reading this), but it left me with an empty feeling in my stomach and an aching in my chest. 

I think some part of me wants to believe dreams carry some sort of significance. I grew up hearing stories about how my uncle dreamed he saw his grandfather in heaven shortly after he died. Grandpa was doing what he loved most in life --fishing. The most memorable part of his dream was that my grandfather, who was missing a finger or two (yes, I'm serious), had all his fingers.... 

I believe that dream brought  comfort to my uncle, and that story has simply always stuck with me. Maybe that's why I seem to search for meaning within the seemingly random collection of thoughts, images, dialogues, and emotions that pass through my mind at night. Maybe I want to find comfort, peace, or understanding within these dreams. Maybe I'm simply searching for something to make out of nothing. 

Anyways, I'm not sure where I was even going with this post! I just needed to write this all down to feel better, I suppose. Thank you for bearing with me if you made it all the way to the end!! My lovely readers, you guys have that cozy spot in my heart right under my fur babies ;) 

So what do you think? Do dreams carry significance or are they simply just dreams? 

5.30.2013

SPD: Yeast Free Cauliflower Stir Fry

I'm having a weird deja vu this morning. I feel like I've already posted this recipe, so I went back through all my recipe posts to double check and I didn't find it...but I know I've at least edited these photos below before! And I couldn't find those either. This means there are only two possibilities, a) I'm losing my mind or b) I'm dreaming about the blogging process --editing photos, writing the post, etc. And if (b) is the correct answer, then (a) is also true.

So there you have it, I'm losing my mind. (Speaking of dreams, I used to have these terrible waitressing dreams back when I was a server...where everything would go wrong and I felt extremely frazzled and always cried. They were actually nightmares. But I digress...)

Before I made the transition to my yeast free lifestyle, I researched a ton of recipes that met the guidelines so that Steven and I would still be able to have a lot of variety in our meals. One thing I keep seeing was the use of cauliflower as a rice substitute. At first I was leery (a veggie in place of a grain?), but I must say that this is probably my favorite yeast free/Paleo recipe I've made to date!

Here is the original pin from Stir it Up!, using cauliflower as a substitute for rice in a yummy stir fry!
I didn't follow her recipe verbatim because I didn't have a lot of the ingredients on hand. I also added my own twist to this dish with chicken and red chili pepper flakes for some spice! So feel free to be creative as you want! It's a pretty basic recipe and impossible to screw up!

Ingredients:
2 chicken breasts, cooked
1 head of cauliflower, separated in florets
1 small onion, minced
1 large carrot, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp gluten free soy sauce
1 tsp celtic salt
black pepper to taste
red chili pepper flakes (optional, only add if you want some heat to this dish)

Directions:
- Cut the chicken and set aside.
- Cut up the onion, carrot, and green pepper and set aside.
- Take the cauliflower florets and blend them in the blender until they resemble rice.
- In a large saucepan on medium high heat, add the coconut oil, onion, carrot, and pepper. Let cook for      about 5 minutes or until they start to get soft. Next, add the cauliflower and chicken. (You want the cauliflower to get soft too, but not too soft to the point where it's just mush.)
- Add the salt, pepper, and chili flakes. Mix it all together.
- Garnish with avocado, cilantro, and lime if you'd like and enjoy!
This stir fry was delicious! And with the heat from the chili flakes it actually resembled Thai food, which got me thinking that next time, I'm going to add some cashews and pineapple to this dish just like  my go to order at a local Thai joint we love! YUM!

5.29.2013

DIY: Easy Flowerpot Transformation

Lately, I've learned that there are very few things in life that some spray paint and fresh flowers can't fix. 

Oh, and ice cream. Ice cream is also a cure all...

Last summer we received a house warming plant from some good friends, but unfortunately, being the terrible plant lady that I am, I didn't give it it's proper TLC and it quickly died. Then it sat there through the fall, winter, and this Spring... 

Needless to say, it was time for a much needed spruce up. 
All you need is some spray paint in a fun, bold color, beautiful flowers, and some potting soil. And then get to work giving that drab flowerpot a glammed up facelift! 
How cute is my little flowerpot now?? 

Too bad not everyone feels the way I do about it. I'm pretty sure the bright, cheeriness of it ticks Herschel off. 
Evil kitty, kitty...

5.28.2013

Weekend Review: 4 {glorious} Days Off

Steven and I took Friday off to jumpstart the holiday weekend! Having 4 days off was amazing and we were able to get so much accomplished around the house! I know, sounds like a lame way to spend a long weekend, but like I said before, working on your home is simply a rewarding feeling and I'm so glad we were able to spend our time investing in that. 

Unfortunately for Steven, a day project turned into a weekend long project! He tackled a much needed garage repair by peeling off the siding that was rotting near the ground, replacing any damage that was behind it, and then adding treated trim. Next up, we have to decide on paint colors for this monstrosity of a garage. 
While he labored away on the garage, I continued weeding the garden and tackled a small, beautification project of my own that included these pretties. 
And of course I hung out with this guy, who is pretty much the best gardening companion a girl could have. 
And no weekend would be successful without some good food! We may have went out to eat twice this weekend and went for a Dairy Queen run... {their darn commercials get me every time!!}
And although it was awesome, I don't want to fall away from my yeast free/Paleo lifestyle so I made sure to end the weekend with some healthy food prep for the upcoming work week. (Including these homemade baked oatmeal muffins!)
All in all, it was a pretty perfect weekend. It seems like a lot of work and little to no play, but we were able to get a lot of rest, movie watching, and cuddle time in too!

Really, these holiday things....we should have more of them.

Sami's Shenanigans

5.23.2013

Wasting Away: An Excerpt from My Forever Unfinished Book (pt. 2)


Wasting away.

That’s what the doctor said. My father was slowly wasting away.

As I sat beside his hospital bed my hand unconsciously reached for his and I gave it a gentle squeeze.

“Hi, Dad,” I said as tears filled my eyes and a smile stretched across my face. He didn’t answer and I didn’t expect him to.

“You know what I was just thinking about? I was remembering when you taught me how to drive. Do you remember that? You took me to that empty parking lot behind the school and setup two trashcans so I could practice parallel parking.”

The words spilled out quickly as the tears streamed down my face. I was terrible at parallel parking and my father knew it. I thought I saw a faint smile spread across his face as I continued. Or maybe I just imagined that.

“I must have ran over those trashcans a dozen times, but you keep making me try again and again. I remember being so mad at you for laughing at my failed attempts.” The memory made me laugh aloud as I held his hand more tightly. “You told me I was taking the whole thing too seriously.”

And he was right. Less than a week later, after I had finally gotten the nerve to take my driver’s test, I parallel parked that damn car on my very first try. I was so excited to tell my father, but I could tell from the look on his face when I charged into the waiting room at the DMV that he already knew I had passed. He never doubted me.

I remembered jumping up and down excitedly waving my new license in front of him. He smiled and reached to tuck an unruly strand of hair behind my ear. “What did I tell you? You need to start believing in yourself, little lady. You are capable of so many great things. You just have to remember to believe in yourself.”

He always called me that. Little lady.

“I’m going to try harder, Dad,” I said in a strained voice while tightening my grip on his hand once again. “I’m going to try harder to not take life so seriously, and believe in myself they way you do and to stop doubting everything…”

My voice cracked and trailed off as I took quick, sharp intakes of breath, willing myself to pull it together. The room smelled like a mixture of medicine and Lysol and the soft wheezing from the ventilator was beginning to sound like loud screeching to my ears. The urge to flee this confining, white walled box was almost unbearable.

Finally, the tears stopped and I began to breathe more easily. I lower my lips and kissed his fragile, wrinkled hand.

I felt as though I too were wasting away with him.
................................................................................................................................................................
This excerpt has been waiting for me to hit the publish key for a while. Again, my fiction is hard for me to share. I think it's because 1) it always feels incomplete, and 2) I love my characters so much. It's strange to feel protective of fictional characters...

Anyways, if you're interested, you can read the first excerpt I shared of this novel here.

I'm taking a few days off of blogging for the Memorial Day weekend. I hope all you lovelies have a great weekend and stay safe! I'll see you next Tuesday :)

5.22.2013

iMoments

Life's little moments captured on my iPhone.
cute little goat saying hello
a pup searching for treats and one very confused kitty
birthday celebrations with beer towers, pizza, and friends.
finally fitting into all my itty bitty skirts again.
late nights at work made better with cute notepads and lucky pennies.
a little bit of heaven in a glass jar.

Work has been pretty busy this entire month. 
I blame it for me not keeping up with the challenge.
But when I look back on these little snapshots in life...
it's easy to see that life is indeed good.
Very, very good.
and I'm very grateful.

p.s. I really want a goat.

To see more of my "little moments," be sure to follow me on Instagram!

5.21.2013

From House to Home

Ever since Steven and I moved into our home (now over a year ago!), we've slowly been trying to make it more "us" on a very limited budget. Here and there we've added small touches and, at the lightening fast pace of a snail, it's getting there. Slowly but surely it's getting there!

This past fall and winter we were able to spruce the place up a bit with this repurposed garage sale find my mother-in-law picked up, the amazing Pinterest inspired desk Steven built me, and our comfy living room couch and love seat that were a Craigslist find! But overall, we've only been able to make small changes here and there. Yet even with just these small changes, I find it very rewarding to put time, effort, and love into our home.

When I moved in last May, things were busy! I was planning a wedding and honeymoon on the opposite side of the country, and then when that was over Steven moved in with me just in time for busy season at our place of work. We hardly noticed our yard! I honestly don't even know if I saw the 4 mature rhododendron bushes in our front yard or the lilac tree around back! Things were just too busy and yard work was definitely not on my mind.

But already this Spring we've been spending a lot of time in the yard --weeding, and composting, and waterings, and weeding, and weeding, etc., etc. -- it's never ending! And (I admit it!) I enjoy being out there!! Yes, I'm still afraid of worms and scream and sprint a 100ft away when I encounter one (which is often...so really, I'm probably not getting much done), but I really enjoy working in our yard!
I did not adjust the saturation on these photos. All of them all unedited so the colors are true to life.

There is still so much work to be done. This year, Steven and I are starting small with only tomatos and green peppers in our garden. We hope to get a lot of fresh raspberries and hopefully some grapes as well! But I'm really thankful for this little place and the sanctuary that our yard has turned into for us. Yes, there are a lot of projects that may take years before they're done, but we love it and with each and every passing day, it feels more and more like us.

5.20.2013

My Struggle

Today I'm linking up with Jenni again for day 20 of the Blog Every Day In May challenge. But before we jump into that, you may have noticed some changes around this little space. Aubrey from The Kinch Life gave my blog a much needed facelift and was so amazing to work with! I'm still trying to work out a few kinks and I need to update my "about" and "the boys" pages, so you may continue to see some changes over the next few weeks. So just bear with me as I try my best to perfect this online space that has grown to mean so much to me!!  

Day 20 challenge: "Get real. Share something you're struggling with right now."
Sometimes, I like to give people the subtle stink eye. ;)
We all have our struggles. I know the picture perfect lives I see around me are anything but picture perfect. It's just that we are all such experts at putting on our camera ready faces --giving the world a quick snapshot into our lives, but only the "neat" photo ready areas. But underneath our masks we all have untidy areas, too. Maybe we're working on cleaning them up or maybe we're not, but they are there reminding us that we certainly do not have it all together. We struggle. Each of us in our own unique ways --we struggle.

The struggle within me is one I use to think was a "head" issue steaming from my over-analytical, obsessive tendencies, but lately, I've started to come to terms with the fact that it's actually a heart issue. 

I struggle on a daily basis with a negative attitude and outlook on life. I've mentioned it here and here before, that I'm a glass half empty kind of girl, so I'm not going to go into much detail. It has simply been my struggle for as long as I can remember, and I'm working on it (I truly am!!). 

I'll go through lulls where I think I'm beating it, that I'm actually getting the upper hand on this and beginning to see the silver lining in even the not-so-happy situations in life, but then I fall back into my old ways and infect everyone around me with my negativity and anxious behavior. I fall into that place and no one nor anything can bring me back out but myself. It's a slow, dark crawl but I eventually come out and get back to the better version of me. 

So I continue to struggle and continue to do my best to improve. Some days are better than others, but I've learned a lot about myself in the process and what things (and people) I need to avoid in this life.  Mostly, I'm thankful for Steven, and that he continues to love me despite my crazy ways. Like myself, that boy loves hard and for that, I'm lucky.

So tell me, what is your struggle?  

5.17.2013

Friday Letters

Dear Rhododendrons - Out of the 4 of you only one actually bloomed. But boy, you are pretty! I just have to figure out why the other 3 are so wilted and pathetic looking. You must have been planted in a magical spot with just the right shade to sun ratio. Dear Deer I Hit Earlier this Week - .... :( I'm really, really sorry. That was probably the most traumatic thing that has ever happened to me and I still feel absolutely terrible about it. I don't think I've ever cried so hard in my life.  I'm just thankful Steven was there to handle things so I didn't have to be there when they put you down... Dear Cabo - You are 6 weeks away! Still kinda feel like forever to me, but I have a feeling these next few weeks will fly by and I neeeeeeed this vacation. Dear Yard Work - Are you two words or one? I don't know. But either way, you seem unending. The grass grows too quickly, that dumb brush pile still needs to be burned, and the weeding....will it ever end? Probably not. Thankful to have a beautiful yard to work in though regardless.

This weekend I'm planning on taking it easy. Maybe go to one or two hot yoga classes, cuddle with Steven and my fur babies, and catch up on reading some of your lovely blogs! I've been feeling a little out of the loop lately and I don't like it! 

Speaking of weekend reading, I'd like to introduce you to Kara, the lovely lifestyle blogger behind Kieran Honeybee.
This sweet Air Force wife and fur mama blogs about a little bit of everything! From yummy recipes, like these crab rangoons (YUM!), to her favorite beauty essentials, her blog is packed full of entertainment and charm with a little something for everyone! My absolute favorite post is her DIY burlap banner. A) because this is something I've wanted to do myself for a while now, and B) I found out through this post that she's a Harry Potter fan, (which means were kindred spirits at heart). So head on over to her blog this weekend and browse the archives and make a new friend! You won't be disappointed that you did :) 

Happy weekend, friends!
Photobucket

5.15.2013

My Everyday

It's day 15 of the Blog Every Day in May challenge! Secretly, this was my goal from the get go --to make it to day 15, the half way point. And now that I've made it, I'm not sure if I'll continue on with the challenge, because let's face it, sometimes you need a break from this whole blog thing and that's where Saturdays and Sundays come in. 

The day 15 prompt reads, "A day in the life. Include photos throughout your typical day." My typical day is not very exciting. It starts around 5:30. I get up and move zombie-like into the shower and proceed to get ready for work. I have to get up rather early because I have a 45 minute commute and because, well I move really slowly before 10 am. Mornings are not my thing.

From 8-5 I am at work editing proposals, writing past performances for our company, and reading blogs

My evenings vary. I either rush to a hot yoga class after work and then eat a late dinner with Steven that evening as we catch up on our favorite TV shows and just hang out. We may take Huck for a walk, run a few errands, play a board game, or even tackle a house project, but most nights are pretty low key. Lately though, I've been coming home and working a lot outside in the yard --weeding the arbor and taking care of our new tomato plants! 
Yoga ready...oh, that thing behind me on the wall?? Just a built in gun rack IN THE MASTER BEDROOM. No big deal. (Thank you previous, redneck owners for that..........not.)
The tomato plants we picked up earlier this week. I like to pretend I have a green thumb. I just hope these guys survive!
Our arbor. So far we have grapes and raspberries. I'd love to have strawberries as well soon!
And my gardening companions. Herschel likes to taunt Huck by climbing the apple tree and jumping from branch to branch out of his reach. Huck likes to eat bees. 
I know my "typical" day doesn't sound very exciting, but that's how I like it. I wouldn't trade mine and Steven's life together --our little family, our little home, or are little garden --for all the world! I feel pretty blessed to live this life :)

So what about you? What's your typical day look like?

5.14.2013

Happy! Happy! Joy! Joy!

It's Day 14 of the challenge! And I've decided to mix today's prompt up a bit. So, instead of "ten things that make me happy," I'm only going to talk about two.

1) Birthdays. Birthdays make me happy. Like really, really happy. And I believe they should be celebrated for anyone and everyone no matter how old you are or what species! (Obviously, Huck gets birthday parties. That's a no brainer.) And gosh darnit, if you don't like your birthday celebrated too BAD! I'm going to celebrate it anyway. And Lord forbid, you forget my birthday...because I'm one of those obnoxious people who will hold a grudge towards you until you repent of your sin or make it up to me 364 days later. Just saying...

2) Steven. Steven also makes me happy. So happy in fact that I decided to bind myself to him in holy, happy matrimony before God.

But there is one little problem between those two things that make me oh so happy! Steven doesn't like to celebrate his birthday. *Gasp* I KNOW! Total bummer.

But I choose to ignore that little fact, because I think he is worth celebrating. I think he deserves having that day where people buy him gifts, and make him cakes, and pick up his tab. I want to celebrate the fact that he's in my life and has drastically changed it since I met him. I want to celebrate how much he means to me and how much I love him. 

Birthdays are worth celebrating. So if I love you, whether you like it or not, we are celebrating your birthday! 

Also, I make dope cakes.
The point is: Birthdays + Steven = Happiness! 

Happy Birthday, Steven! And thank you for letting me fuss over you today. You deserve it more than you know. I love you.

5.13.2013

My Apologies!

Well, it's Monday, but it doesn't really feel like it. It feels more like a never-ending Friday and I'm chomping at the bit waiting for the weekend to finally begin. I've worked 30+ overtime hours since last Thursday. My eyes are red and dry from staring at the computer screen till ungodly hours in the morning and my brain is fried. But really, I can't complain because my two bosses have been working so much harder than I have even, and are really just blowing me away with their drive, resilience,  and ingenuity. It's inspiring working with such talented, people! And I'm not saying that for browning points! They don't read my blog....they really are just that impressive. 

But back to being impressive, let's talk about the fact that despite working on this proposal all weekend, I haven't missed one stinkin' day of this challenge. *patting myself on the back* And I definitely wasn't about to miss writing on today's prompt (issue a public apology), because truthfully, there is something I genuinely need to apologize to all my readers for.

I, Danielle, brilliant mastermind behind Taking Notes...Coast to Coast, hereby publicly apologize to all of my loyal readers for the asinine amount of photos I publish of my dog on this blog.
 Well, crap. I did it again. sorrynotsorry.

5.12.2013

I Miss...

The #BlogEveryDayInMay challenge for today is "something you miss." This prompt couldn't have fallen on a better day, because one of the things I miss most in this world is my mother. 

My mother and I haven't always had the smoothest relationship, but now that I'm older, I've realized the reason for us butting heads all those years are a) because well, they were my teenage years so I was a brat, and b) my mother and I are so similar. We are both very stubborn,opinionated, and independent. We've never been ones to care to do whatever everyone else is doing. We march to the beat of our own drum in many ways, whether you like it or not. And we love deeply --it may be a spouse, an animal, a home --we form attachments and we love what we love a lot. And one thing I love a lot is her. And gosh darnit, it's hard living so far away from her. Sometimes I feel like I just need her more than ever.  I'm just glad my stubborn brain has finally recognized what a blessing she is to me in this life. 
So thank you, Mom. Thank you for instilling strength, independence, and a fierce love within me. Forgive me for my bratty years. I'm sure the favor will be returned when I have a daughter of my own one day ;)

And seriously, you and Dad should just quit your jobs and move to Washington. Just make sure you bring some of that sunshine with you.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom! I love you.