Monday, December 31, 2012



2012 was full. It started out in Shanghai, China, where Jeff and I rang in the western New Year, and then the Chinese New Year in February. We celebrated one glorious, tough, trial ridden, tender, and sometimes argumentative year together in our first apartment in Suzhou, China. We explored new places, new people and LOTS and LOTS of new food. While most people boast losing weight in China, we managed to maintain and gain while grazing and dining on the tasty treasures our new home had to offer. We made new friends, were parents to a sweeet French Bulldog, Jack, for a while, and enjoyed our religious freedoms through our small branch of church in a city that treated us very well. We haggled, lost our tempers, humbled ourselves, and grew close to a people that found us intriguing. We lost count of how many times it was bluntly pointed out that we were fat, learned to let it go, and found an even deeper friendship in each other in the absence of others. We had visits from old friends, and went on countless adventures, both large and small. We got lost, got found, and got sick. We held wild animals, learned to bake in unconventional settings, and mastered transit systems. We went to the Temple in Hong Kong, and had faith moving experiences. We livened up Hong Kong Disney, and rekindled the kids within us. Jeff conquered Chinese airplanes, and the splits. We lost my mother, who finally succumbed to a valiant fight against cancer. We left Suzhou unexpectedly fast, leaving much behind, including objects, friends, and work. We made it home in time for the funeral, for closure, and the reaffirming of family ties. We've quickly picked up from where we left off in Lexington, found a comfortable place to live and are now preparing for the next leg of the journey that lays ahead of us in 2013. 

In 2012, we lived sincerely, wholly, and with hearts open.

2013, bring it on.

Friday, December 21, 2012


In general, I honestly do love my life. I have a fantastic husband that fits me perfectly. We have a comfortable, clean and safe home. I have a job doing something I'm passionate and excited about. I have a good relationship with my immediate family and spend oodles of time with my Dad now that we're back in Kentucky, and I really enjoy and cherish that time. I have a car to get me from place to place without the tedium of mapping out bus routes, walking and metros. I once again have my dear friends within driving distance and can visit them whenever I like schedules line up. We have a good, relatively comfortable life, and I'm extremely grateful for it, and generally I am able to maintain an optimistic perspective about life.

It's just been a week or two of really frustrating, annoying, and sometimes discouraging days full of Murphy's Law moments. Car trouble, sickness, more car trouble, rain ( which I normally don't mind... until it starts to flood my car), budgeting, disagreements with peers in the sandbox ( you know what I mean), and a packed and stressful work and social calendar.

And so, I bake - a lot. Because it relieves stress, and gives me control over something, and yields fantastic end products. Last night? I layered my super reliable chocolate chip cookie recipe over a layer of brownies and baked them together. I can pretty much guarantee you while these desert bars will not bring world peace, they sure as heck made me feel a little happier. Though, I can't say the same for my waste line.

What do you do to make yourself feel better when you're having inexplicably bad days?


Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Get a look at that kitchen aide.. Forgive my drooling...

{Kalamata Olives}

I like olives. Really, I love anything that's pickled, but especially olives. After a particularly awful day of teaching, I packed up my stuff and decided to head to my parents house to hang out for a bit ( code for: they had cable and I didn't). I vented to my mother about coworkers, students, and how discouraged I felt. My brother got home from his job working as a cook at a local restaurant, Malones. He had spent the slow time of his shift that night stuffing a pint of teeny tiny kalamata olives by hand with blue cheese just for me. He had done it on a whim, having no idea the day I was having. They were just olives, but was just one of those little things that made a difference.

I miss my brother. There, I've said it. Not something I would have ever thought I'd say, let alone write. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate the kid, he's always just... been there. So He's never been one that I've had to miss. That, and we have had our healthy moments of sibling rivalry so that when we did have times apart, like while I was at college for semesters at a time, they were welcome breathers.

But, It's been a LONG two years. A LOT has happened. We separated two very different people than we are now. He's had his first very large taste of freedom from home ties, and has been forced to develop a sense of self and an identity that stands alone from who he's perceived within our family dynamics. And that's pretty huge, and has made him someone I'm very excited to get to know better when he returns in February. But also, since he left, I got married. I've had to grow up ( just a little more) since then and learn to be just a fraction of a bit less self centered, and egotistical. The world in fact does NOT revolve around me all days of the week ( ignore Jeff in the background shaking his head vehemently), and while I've got a long way to go, I'm a nicer, softer version of me in a lot of respects than what he'll remember.

And so, I've been reminiscing a lot. I've actually spent a lot of time in my head lately. Partially because it's such a mess and needs sorting. I've thought back on all our silly fights. All my pushy, bossy, terrible, no good, troll under the bridge older sister moments. All of his at the time annoying and intolerable behaviors. And through it all, I just shake my head and sigh, because I know that the majority of the time, it was mostly my fault. The kid has his faults, but in general, he's a pretty sweet and caring person. Quite the people pleaser, he was always out to make others feel special, even if they (me) didn't appreciate it, and I'm so very ready for him to be home again.


{December in a Nutshell}

OY. It's been awhile. Which is frustrating, personally. I enjoy blogging as a form of catharsis and as an element of journaling and documentation. There have so many things I've wanted to write down, but haven't quite gotten around to putting to paper, or didn't seem worth standalone entries. So, here we are - a hodge podge update entry!

Jeff and I have been BUSY. Between job hopping to find hours and pay that works for our needs ( mostly on Jeff's part, bless his heart), unpacking what seems like an overwhelming sea of boxes with no idea where to put things ( indecision on my part, again, bless Jeff's heart), and the plethora of other complications that just seem to pile on due to daily life as an adult, I just can't seem to catch up with myself.

Jeff and I were asked to organize the giving tree for our ward at church this year. I don't know who they thought they were dealing with, but organization is not a strong suit at the moment. Thankfully, between coordinating and delegation with some fantastically generous time givers, we've managed to be successful in this endeavor so far. Consequently, this also means our kitchen is STILL covered in glitter a week after we finished making ornaments for the tree. The end result is absolutely worth the sparkly meatloaf (Patent pending).
Jeff has been working at a gun shop managing their online sales, and engrossing himself in the business while finding as much work on the side as he can fit in. He's a trooper, and a dedicated individual. He's also fighting off getting sick and handling that with... some...grace. I guess. Nobody is perfect.

I've been plucking away at a case management firm helping out with billing and expenses while I slowly build up a case load. Slowly as in... I started my first one... this week. Hopefully things will pick up in the new year and I'll be drowning in advocacy in no time. I'm sincerely loving it so far, and excited and eager to get rolling. I really think that it's going to be something I'm going to be great at, and have an awesome set of resourceful people to help me pick it up quickly.

In my spare time I still manage to find time to relax and enjoy time with family and friends. I've turned a new leaf with baking, thanks to China, and have a new appreciation for good recipes, and the extra time that goes into them instead of relying on a box. I may not be good at math, art, sewing and crafts, but I'm feeling more and more accomplished and able to express myself through baking for others.

So much has changed in a year, and it's crazy to think that this time a year ago I was in my first few days of Shanghai. It's been an amazing, stressful, revealing, bonding, heart aching, healing, and trans-formative year. I can only imagine what this next one has in store.

Here's to a new adventure on every horizon, and a positive perspective.