10 Day Blogging Challenge – Days 8 & 9

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I have not been blogging on consecutive days, but I love this challenge put out by Sharons Book Nook.  I intend to finish 🙂  So here we go!

Day 8: Three things I want to say to three different people right now

  1. To My Husband:  How lucky am I to have married such a wonderful man like you?  How fortunate am I to have a man for whom I have known for more than half of my life, who knows the ins and outs, the ugly and the beautiful, the sad and the happy of me and still stays to accept and love me?  You are the only person walking this earth who knows every single molecule of me.  To be cliché, I married my best friend, literally.  You are a strong and caring man who sets a wonderful example for our son.  Even if he grows up to be a quarter of the man who you are, he will be amazing.  (But we both know that he is more of you than that!)  I am so thankful that, through all of these passing years, you have remained true to who you are, no matter what strife that the world has thrown at you.  You make me want to be a better person every single day.  I adore you, babe.
  2. To My In-Laws:  I love and care for you all more than you realize.  When I married Dan, I was excited to be gaining a family of people who seemed so close to one another.  Unfortunately, my baggage affected me, and that manifested in how I treated some of you. There is nothing else I can say in this situation except I love you guys.  Sincerely.
  3. To My Son:  Buddy, you taught me that the world does not work exactly how you hope it does, and that every winding road life takes us on is worth the ride.  You are an intelligent, caring, eclectic young man who this world is fortunate to have in its lifetime.  Your ability to adapt to life in the face of your struggles leaves me awestruck.  You are much more than your struggles, and they do not define you.  You are so smart, bud!  You make me shiver at the math you understand (I think we both know that it would make me cry!)  You are an amazing young man who I learn from every single day.  I am so lucky that God thought I was the best mom for you.  I love you very much!!

 

Day 9: Two Recent Pictures

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These are my beautiful doggies, Mika and Shae.  They are so loving and fun!  They really do make our house a home 🙂

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And this is me – a recent picture of me.  This was taken a couple of weeks ago – a work selfie.  Now, usually I don’t like pics of me, but this one I actually like!  So, hell friends!!

10 Day Blogging Challenge, Day 4

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This is one of the most difficult of Sharon’s Book Nook 10 Day Blogging Challenge.  I love all of my posts, so to choose seven is difficult.  But, I did it!  I give to you:

Day 4: 7 Favorite Blog Posts from My Blog

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A Very Pinterest Housewarming Party

I had such a blast planning and entertaining for the first time in my new home, I had to choose this as one of my favorites!  There are great links to quick and easy recipes that can be used for up and coming holiday parties!

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New Poem! Silence

As of this post, I had not written a new poem in a couple of years.  To write one and then share it is a big deal.  This is definitely one of my favorite posts!

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Casting Off My Shackles

Depression is a bitch.

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Pinned It, Did It Wednesday – Coffee Station

This, by far, is my favorite Pinned It, Did It!  I love my coffee station!

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Battle At The Family Reunion

I took the Blogging University, Blogging 101 class, and in this post I had to post original work using dialogue.  I am uncomfortable with it, but I think I did a pretty good job here!

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My Love Affair With Writing

This post reminds me why I love to write, and why I need to continue!

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My Hometown

Any time I can write about my home town is a good post.  This is my love letter to Buffalo.

10 Day Blogging Challenge – Day 1 (For Me)

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I have been very behind in posting lately, and that is simply because I am not taking the time to do it.  But, I am hoping by taking part in the challenge that Sharon’s Book Nook put out a few days ago kicks me in the butt and gets me going!  I am starting this challenge a couple of days behind, but better late than never, I say!  So, I give to you:

DAY 1: 10 THINGS ABOUT ME

  1. I love to read and write. – Lately, it seems as though I enjoy the idea of these things more than partaking in them, but they are a part of me regardless.  They always have been.  I still have steno notebooks full of poems, beginnings of short stories, and ideas just waiting for cultivation.  My GoodReads account has more books listed that I want to read than I have years left in my life, and I love it.  It is just making these things that are such a big desire for me, a part of my every day routine.  I am getting there!
  2. I am more comfortable in my own skin as I approach 40 yrs old than I have ever been. – You hear women talk about finding that sweet spot in life; that age when you accept yourself, flaws and all, regardless of trends or popular opinion.  I notice that I am comfortable with myself, even though I am over weight and not aesthetically pleasing to most.  I don’t care.  I love me, quirks, rolls and all, and no one can tell me to believe otherwise.  There is a sense of calmness in my inner voice now, even though the thought of hitting 40 still is terrifying.
  3. I am at peace with relationships with people who did not live up to my expectations. – Isn’t that the one thing that can ruin a relationship?  You expect people to act a certain way (because you do), and choose to do certain things (because, who does anything else?!).  Holding people to your own expectation of what is “right” is a sure-fire way to kill any friendship or relationship.  I learned that I should enjoy the differences in people, and let people make their own mistakes and live how they choose, without me placing judgement on them for not doing things how I would.  Believe me, this is an ongoing lesson I am learning, but the major relationships in my life are more peaceful to me now.  I may have let some of these relationships go for my own sanity, but I am at peace and still respect and love those people for who they are.
  4. I love to cook. – In fact, when I began this blog, I would post recipes and those would get the largest viewings for that particular week.  I still may post recipes, but not as regularly.  I love cooking for large groups and my small family.  I am always on the hunt for new things to try!
  5. I am a passionate person. – When I feel something, I feel it BIG and, sometimes, my reactions are just as large.  So, if I am angry, happy, silly – I can be larger than life.  I am off-putting to some because they do not know how to take me, and that is all right.  There are those that cannot handle me, and there are those that would not have me any other way.  That is just fine with me.  It took me a while to learn that I do not have to adjust who I am to suit other people.  I figure, I am respectful of people around me,  so there.  I do have a tendency to speak without filter, and I have hurt some people I love in the process, but that is how I learned to dial it back a little bit to be respectful.  Once cannot be a 10 all the time!
  6. I am a recovering reality tv-aholic – Housewives of New Jersey, Atlanta and New York – I loved them all!  The crazy, the drama, the lavishness.  I would watch marathons and wait with much anticipation for the winner of the latest verbal altercation.  I decided to give up on reality tv for a New Year’s resolution.  This has got to be the one and only resolution I am following through with!  Now that I am distancing myself from these programs, I notice just how ridiculous they are.  These are people, regular people, setting up drama in their lives for the sake of a pay check.  Life is way too short for that, and my time is too precious to spend it watching women act like bullies toward one another, instead of helping one another up.  Those shows are fiction in spite of their “reality” title.  Just look at the issues some are having with the law.  That is about as real as it gets.
  7. I am completely, 100% in love with my husband. – He is my rock and my best friend.  He is the only person on this earth who knows every inch of me, inside and out, and loves me no matter what.  We have been friends for 25 years (more than half our lives!), together for 17 years, and married for 15 years.  Highs, lows, laughter, tears – we have seen them all, learned from them and moved on.  Without a doubt, he is one of the most important people in my life.  He is my #1.
  8. My #2 is my son. – My soon-to-be 14yr old ball of hormones and attitude.  I have learned so much about life from him.  When I was blessed with him in November of 2000, I thought I had our lives planned to the letter.  My boy showed me not to plan, and take things one step at a time.  Even though he did not partake in the life I planned for us, he took me down a road of discovery, understanding and taught me patience.  My son has helped make me a better person.  And you think that YOU are doing the teaching as a parent; not the case.  He is my heart.
  9. I love doing things for others. – I love to make others smile.  Sometimes I take it too far (see #5), but when I love, I love big.  Never underestimate that one small gesture that can change a persons day!
  10. I am not perfect. – I may speak about my ideals and argue points about certain topics, but please do not take me as someone who thinks she is on a pedestal looking down on everyone.  All of my beliefs boil down to one simple truth: treat people how you want to be treated.  The golden rule.  I get angry for others.  I get angry for the lack of common sense in this world.  But in no way does that mean I feel as though I am better than anyone else.  I am a person, flawed, just like you.

A Very Pinterest Housewarming Party

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Last week, we were finally ready to open our home for our first celebration!   I have never been to a housewarming before, nor have I been a part of throwing one, so I headed off to Pinterest to see what others had posted for ideas.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted my pet together to look like, but I knew three things that I wanted: (1) I wanted it to be an Open House atmosphere so that people didn’t feel like they had to stay a long time and they could come and go as they wanted to; (2) I wanted the food to be bite sized and convenient in case people wanted to wander and eat.  Plates and silverware are cumbersome, so small plates were the way to go; (3) I wanted to incorporate a taste of our home town, Buffalo, NY, into our food.  A taste of the north in the south, if you will.  So, off to Pinterest I went!

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I love anything caprese, so these caprese bites were a must-have on my table.  I didn’t need a recipe for this one, but I did see a close up of the picture of it here.  I used decorative tooth picks with frills, and skewered a basil leaf, cube of fresh mozzarella cheese and cherry tomato on it, attaching the leaf at the top and the bottom, hugging the cheese and tomato.  I drizzled olive oil and balsamic vinegar on them at the last-minute before serving.  I knew that a crudite platter was something that is a must, so I made sure I had one.  I found an adorable way to house dips on Pinterest as well.  again, this is something I just did by looking at the picture, no recipe needed.

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On to the “entrée” and the tastes of home.  I made these tasty Beef on Weck Crescent Rolls and Buffalo Chicken Pinwheels.  If you are not familiar with what “weck” is, you are not alone.  The majority of the country doesn’t!  It is simply the caraway seeds and coarse salt on top of the crescent roll that makes it “weck”.  Traditionally in Buffalo, when you order a Beef on Weck, you would get a tender roast been sandwich on a roll with caraway and salt on top with beef au jus.  Here, the roast beef is rolled with mozzarella cheese and then topped with the weck topping and backed.  I found the idea for the rolls without the weck here.  The filling for the Buffalo Chicken Pinwheels is traditionally warmed up as a dip and served with celery, carrots and nacho chips, but this post showed how to spread the filling into a tortilla, wrap and cut it into pieces.  That fit right in to my “bites” theme, so I hopped on it!  These two were the biggest hit of the party!

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For dessert I found a post for Chocolate Dipped Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries, and I knew that had to be one of my choices!  I was preparing these the night before, and I was worried about the chocolate dip on the outside of the strawberries sweating off once they got to room temperature again, so I decided to fold mini chocolate chips into the cheesecake filling before I filled them.  I also made french vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting ala Duncan Hines for the cake lovers =)  Strawberries are light and sweet at this time of year, and they did not disappoint with that filling!

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Last, but not least, I wanted to my new friends off with a taste from our family kitchen.  We love making and canning salsa when tomatoes are in abundance, so we did just that!  We shared our recipe with them as well.   Our family could eat Mexican food forever, so salsa was the best choice to share!  We saw this idea to get addresses for thank you cards and future correspondence with our new friends, and did that as well.  I haven’t changed over my telephone book since 2005, and there were many changes to it since I started it.  With that, I used this idea as an excuse to re-do my phone book!  Does anyone else still use the traditional phone book anymore?  I know I live and die by it for cards, etc.

So that was that!  My very Pinterest housewarming party!  I was gifted a lot of wine, and shared laughs and made new friends in our new home.  I cannot wait to host my next shindig!

 

 

Pinned It, Did It Wednesday!

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It has been a while since I had a post like this to share!  I am very excited to share this project that has been in my brain even before we moved into our new home.

I never thought about having a coffee station in my home until I saw it on Pinterest.  I, like most people, have my coffee maker on my counter, taking up space.  But when I saw the different ways one could make a coffee station, I grew and more excited about the idea of having one!

I had a hurdle in my way before I could begin: I needed to decide what colors!  At the beginning of the project, this was the color of my walls and what I was working with:

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We purchased the hutch for $50 from a private seller.  It was a very dated piece that could be easily transformed!  My issue with color began in the green block of my kitchen walls.  The sellers painted it this way, and it is not back, but I have a strong aversion to shades of green  The only shades of green that I appreciate are Kelly green and hunter green, and both would not fit in this kitchen.  I do love a yellow kitchen, so I needed to figure out what to paint over the green.

Thinking about aesthetics, I knew I wanted a chevron pattern somewhere in my home, and where better than in this piece?  So, after much consideration, we decided to do shades of gray with our yellow walls.  I decided to do darker with the color block on the wall, and lighter in the coffee station.

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It was a beautiful day to paint outside on Saturday, so that is exactly what we did!  We all had a part in painting this piece.  My son painted the doors, I painted the shelves and backing and assisted my husband with painting the body of the cabinet.

Pinterest gave me a link to someone who did her own chevron pattern in a piece like this one.

Here is the link for you to check it out.

My husband measured out the chevron evenly for me to paint on the backing of the cabinet.

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We used 2in. painters tape to section off our lines.  I used the darker gray wall color I chose for the stripes, as the cabinet was a shade lighter and it would pop some.  Before all of this though, I did paint my backing white.

Here is what the walls look like now:

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Doesn’t that do well together?!  I was grew more and more excited as I pulled off the painters tape!  Now, for the best part of the whole day:

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MY COFFEE STATION!!!

Oh my, did I smile when this project was completed!  I picked up the accents for the shelves from my local hobby store.  You can’t really see it, but the silver item on the top shelf is a mini silver teapot that functions as a kitchen timer!  I purchased that gem for $1!  Not only do I know have a conversation piece in my kitchen, but it is functional to hold all of my k-cups in the cabinet and offers me more counter space!

If you like the colors, I purchased them from Home Depot.  The cabinet color is a Behr color called Anonymous and the wall color, also Behr, is called Slate.

So, what do you think?  Do you have any pieces like this in your kitchen?

Hometown Visit

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It has been a bit since I posted, or participated in any Writing 101 assignments because my family and I have traveled to our hometown to celebrate my parents-in-law’s 50th wedding anniversary!

We have been in town since Wednesday, and it has been one visit after another.  If there is one thing I dislike about traveling home to visit, it is that we seem to only have small amounts of time to visit and catch up with family and friends before it is on to the next one.  It makes it tough for me; I start to feel reacquainted, and then I am back to leaving again.  This moving away from home stuff is difficult.  Though it has been only a year and a half, it feels like we have been gone forever.

Tonight, I get to see all of my friends at a party my best friend is throwing, and that always makes for a good time.  More memories, more small amounts of time and opportunities to bottle up some love and laughter to take back to VA with me.

I am grateful for my family and friends and miss them every single day.  My advice for this Saturday is to go out and make memories with family and/or friends!

 

Fathers

I am sure that there are a lot of “ode to my father” posts going on today, but this one is different.

See, I never had a constant father figure in my life from birth until now.  I have had shitty experiences with father figures.  Let me explain:

 

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Oh yes.  A dad IS a daughter’s first love, at least that is the case with me.  I loved my biological father, with all my heart and soul.  I still do.  Growing up, he was tenderness, strength and laughter to me.  This was in my first four years of life, prior to my parents divorcing.  Even after the divorce, I still had a place in my heart for him.  A place in my heart even when he didn’t come to visit, when he showed up at birthday parties and only stayed for ten minutes because of the tension in the room when he arrived, when he only called (drunk) to talk to my mom because he seemed to miss her more than me.  Even after he said I couldn’t visit anymore because of his new wife and her attitude problem.  I loved him, cried for him, let the ghost of him ruin a piece of me, but I loved him.  Even when he looked me in my eyes, drunk and near death in a hospital bed after I saved him, and said “You should have let me die”, I still loved him.  Just in a different way.  From a distance.  Long distance.  Letter after letter, call after call, I would tell him off, hoping that it would shake him awake and say, “What am I doing to my daughter?!”  But it never did.  So I lived with that.

About five years ago I got a phone call on my birthday from my father, whom I have not heard from for years prior to that.  He was sober, apologetic and wanting to bury the hatchet and connect.  Thank God I did because I finally have a relationship with my father.  Granted, it is over the phone and texting; he seems apprehensive about seeing me, and that is all right.  I know that is his own issue, not mine.  All I know is that I hear from him than I do my own mother.  Funny how times have changed.

My stepfather entered my life at five years old.  He was a man my mother dated, who ended up moving in with us, and suddenly there was a male presence to answer to.  My mother made it clear that we here HER kids, but that never seemed to stop her from going to him when she thought we needed discipline.  I was struggling with the connection with my own father and never awarded my step father that title; I always called him by his first name.  After years went by, I began to love him like a father.  He was a quiet force in my life, always sitting in the background but knew everything that was happening.  We had fun, and I did learn a lot from him.  We fought a lot too within the past five years.  When I moved away from my hometown a year and a half ago, I never thought that six weeks later I would be flying home to bury him.  I was sad for the time we missed and the lack of connection we should have had when I was younger.  But, no matter how much I denied it, my biological father had my heart, and it was difficult to take away.  Though my step father walked me down the aisle and greeted my son when he was born, there seemed to be something missing.  But I always knew he loved me, even though he was quiet about it.  And I loved him.

I see other fathers in my life, from my father-in-law, to my brothers-in-law, to my friends husbands, to my own husband, and I watch how they are with their children.  They all have a different way of handling, disciplining and loving their children.  I wish in my lifetime I could say I had a constant of any of that.

But I get to see my husband father my son.  I watch him and how he explains things to him, how they are connected and how hard they love one another, and I am so proud of him.  My son is the luckiest child on earth for having my husband as his father, and I am the luckiest woman in the world having him as my husband.  God has blessed me with that, and I am truly grateful for it.

So yeah, I may not have had the solid “father figure” in my life, but I certainly learned lessons from all the men in my life.  I miss my step father and it is sad that I don’t have to buy cards or call him anymore.  And every time my phone dings with the notice of a text from my father, I smile.  I am loved, and always was.

Happy Fathers Day to all the fathers out there, step, grand, biological, adoptive, foster, single mom or otherwise.  Love hard.  Your kids will thank you for it.

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