Thursday, December 15, 2011


ugh, i think i am guilty of saying all of these things.

and i have those bangs.
sunday, 4:00
(sorry for the lame bathroom iPhone picture)
sunday, 4:15

Sunday, December 4, 2011

happiness and its bad rap

just this morning i finished the happiness project. i stumbled onto this book from brene brown's website, ordinary courage, and initially was quite resistant to the concept. i have never really been thrilled with arguments about how people should pursue happiness; it never seemed noble or honorable to work towards this {spoken like a true first-child with a martyr complex}. 

despite my resistance to the book and the concept, intrigue won. i am glad it did. i find myself referencing this book at least five times a day in conversations with friends or family and i notice myself trying to incorporate little slivers of the author's happiness resolutions. 

each month of the year the author set an intention for her life and established 3-5 measurable resolutions to work towards that intention. it sounds a bit hokey, but for me it wasn't. as i read the book i felt like i was reading my own journal towards personal betterment, the hurdles to the author's happiness are so similar to the hurdles in my personality and life. 

at the end of the book she provides the following questions to inspire your own happiness project:

  • what makes you feel good? what activities do you find fun, satisfying, or energizing?
  • what makes you feel bad? what are sources of anger, irritation, boredom, frustration, or anxiety in your life?
  • is there any way in which you don't feel right about your life? do you wish you could change your job, city, family situation, or other circumstances? are you living up to your expectations for yourself? does your life reflect your values?
  • do you have sources of an atmosphere of growth? in what elements of your life do you find progress, learning, challenge, improvement, and increased mastery?

ultimately my view on happiness {and its pursuit} have shifted through reading this book. what i once thought a selfish endeavor, i now see that cultivating happiness in my life is a result of my choices and that my happiness can greatly improve the lives of those around me. as someone who has always internally condemned the airlines' guidance to first put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others, i am learning to see that by being happy i can help bring happiness into the lives of people around me. {and that's how i stealthily resolve my dissonance around personal happiness!}


on an unrelated note, the author included this excerpt from one of her blog readers and it fits me like a glove {and helps me see why my profession suits me so well}:
the way i bring people together is by connecting them via whatever may be of interest to them. i know i am gifted at connecting the dots and i use that skill in the relationships i build with others. i also have a tendency to collect and store what may seem like mundane information about people in my head. inevitably, i will run into someone who needs something, and because of the information i've collected i will have just the right person to introduce them to to help them achieve whatever they need. ironically, i am not a social butterfly at all, but i always seem to be able to connect people at the right time. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

photos, finally.

here are some pictures of our living room, which is the most finished of all the rooms of our new house. although the warm yellow/gold might be a bit much for some people, i wake up every morning thrilled with the paint color we chose! (bee by sherwin williams, if anyone is interested.)

a while back, i recovered that teal chair
in the corner and i love how it turned out!

my favorite corner of our house right now.

i picked this print up in santa fe this fall and i am so glad i did!

the view from the kitchen sink.

the pass through in all its glory!
(still waiting on barstools and ignore that internet
cable running across the floor. we obviously have a
bit of work left to do--like paint the trim on the pass-through!)
now on to work on other rooms so we can share photos of them!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

initiation situation

we have been properly initiated into the realm of diy homeownership. when we initially considered buying this house i knew that i wanted to open up the wall between the kitchen and living room by creating a pass-through/bar. my dad confirmed it would be "easy enough" so we proceeded with the plan one sunday morning, thinking it might take a day or two. 
this is what the wall looked like on that fateful sunday morning.
one of the first problems we encountered was the plaster (concrete) walls. what we thought would be an enjoyable (dare i say therapeutic?) demoing project resulted in the demolition of two sawzall blades and a heavy dusting of our entire house. and two sinus-infections. the house was built in 1928, so we hope the walls predate asbestos.
the death of the sawzall blade and all we had was a 4" hole to show for it!
the walls in our house also feature lath beneath the plaster, so the demoing didn't go nearly as quickly as hoped because even when we broke up the plaster, we still had these wood slats to remove. as we hammered away, through the gaps in the slats, i noticed a pipe right in the middle of the would-be bar. ugh! i was completely disheartened and thought the project was impossible. luckily brandon knew we were too far in to turn back. he also realized it was just a sewer vent pipe, so no water needed to flow through the pipe and he could handle re-routing it.

our pass-through, looking somewhat like the outline of the lower 48.
me, trying not to be totally dismayed
by the pipe in the middle of our bar.
as i suspect is the case with most diy remodel projects,
this simple pass-through led from one project
to tons of other small projects. 
hammering away from the kitchen side.

brandon totally impressed me with his know-how and expertise.
and his ever-growing list of "required tools."
we bought a counter top at the resource store to initiate this project.
while it was marked $10, we got it for $5!
this was the only cheap element of this project.
the upside of discovering the pipe in the middle of our wall was that we had to cut this pipe above the sink drain and found that the vent pipe was clogged. which explained why our sink was glug-glugging instead of draining properly. my dad suggested that this may have spared us from having future plumbing expenses, so it was nice to have an upside to the pipe predicament.
so gross! 
our entire house was covered in this dust,
in fact, i'm still finding it!
starting to look a whole lot more like a pass-through.
we enlisted the help of heath, who was far more confident than brandon or i.
perhaps because he has done his fair-share of diy renovations.
or perhaps because it isn't his house so he cares far less than us.
i went to albuquerque for a girls' weekend with kemi and sara. when i left the pass-through looked like the photo above. i felt awful leaving brandon with the unfinished mess on his hands. however, he pressed on and finished the project while i was away. i came back to this:
i LOVE it! it opens up the house and makes both rooms feel much larger. we have a fair amount of work  to do on the kitchen side of the pass-through, but we plan to replace the cabinet the sink is in, so i think we are going to live with it for a while. 

the living room is coming together, so i will share photos from that soon. however, when i sat down to put this post together it turned into a total kerfuffle where i thought i lost our 8,000+ photos in our iPhoto library. i managed to resolve the problem, but i am a bit tired of dealing with the computer at the moment. 

Friday, November 18, 2011


i am coming to realize that i have great expectations. not the classic novel, but the condition. and it is a rough one to overcome--daydreaming about just how amazing or perfect something will be doesn't always lend me to actually appreciate the reality of that something. 

for instance, when i am at work i think about how awesome our dog is and totally miss him. however, when i get home and harvey obsessively follows me from room to room, or wipes his post-frisbee session slobber on our new couch, or overly enthusiastically greets friends at the door i get all scrunchy and grumpy. "why can't you be like the dog i think you ought to be?" he is bizarre and obsessive and not everyone's cup of tea, but gosh darn it i love that expressive face and those soft ears of his. why can't i dwell on that? instead i get embarrassed by the way he doesn't match up with my expectations (which are, of course, due to my lack of training, but i digress).

anyhow, i am thinking about the way that i build events up in my mind so much that they don't stand a chance of being great in comparison to my ideal, even if they are great in their own right. so i am working on that. i think that comes with this time of year and the reflection and gratitude it inspires. then on i found this quote:

Expectations are premature disappointments.

perhaps a bit pessimistic for some of you, but it inspired me to think about the way that my expectations lead me to be ungrateful. there is so much beauty in my life, friendships, marriage, family, even my dog, and yet i have to temper myself against the temptation of thinking of how something could be better. i want to enjoy what is, not focus on what is not.

i've been meaning to post photos of the house now that we are settled. and yet i keep waiting for the house to be clean enough, the lighting to be just right for photos, or some project to be finished first. i'll try to let go of those expectations and take at least a few photos soon. i really love our little house and i want to share it on our blog.

Friday, October 14, 2011

pop quiz

so this sums up my thoughts on the world:

and also is the reason that i think it should be an official "right of passage" that every person work in food service. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

two closures & a beginning

we closed on our house last thursday! we are really excited to enter the domain of home-ownership, although we keep hearing how much time and money a house consumes. while we don't want to be unrealistic, we are ignoring the naysayers for a bit and enjoying our little piece of the world. we haven't done much to the place, but keep forgetting to take "before" pictures of the few little projects we have completed. we will try to get a few more photos gathered and up soon, especially after we have the internet hooked up this week.

i finished the binding on my quilt, so that bad boy is finally finished and on our bed. i even used a ladder stitch {check out that oh-so-helpful link if you ever have to do binding} so my thread is virtually invisible. how did people make entire quilts by hand? ai, that tediousness is not for me! i am having a hard time loving the quilt because all i see are my mistakes, which is sadly a little too close to my view on my own life. perhaps learning to love this quilt--mistakes and all--will help me to get over this pessimism so i can learn to "let go" a bit more in life in general.

the best news of the weekend {other than brandon finally coming home} is that my brother ross is engaged to his girlfriend, jordyn. we are over the moon excited for them and will look forward to the big day {which sounds like it is going to be in june 2013}! congratulations to two incredible people who are perfectly suited for one another!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

around these parts

i have been a bit of a single lady this past month+ as brandon has been gone on multiple trips for field work for his PhD. it stinks to be without him, so i hope we have a nice, quiet, stay-home kind of winter. 

he was in jackson for the first three weeks of september, back for a bit, off to the middle-of-nowhere-wyoming for a few days, back for a bit, down to denver, and then off to minneapolis. in minnesota he is getting to "play" at this big fluvial lab on a controlled river where they can add sediment to see the river reactions. it sounds like a giant wet sandbox to me, but he seems to be learning a lot. he comes home saturday. for a week. then he is off again. sigh.

while brandon has been traveling around we have had a fair amount of activity around these parts:

-our close friends in laramie had baby #2. 
Anjali Bliss
we are so excited for heath, emily, and bloom to have ani in the family now too! she is adorable and adaptable and snuggly. i ensured her hipster status by making her a onesie with a bird on it. that's right, you gotta put a bird on it. even on a wee babe.

-i was offered a fourth job, but turned it down. i am having a hard time managing my three jobs, so i let this one pass. i should note that i did not apply for this job, but the nursing home in town specifically created a job with me in mind and tried to hire me. so flattering, but not quite right for me now.

-we bought a house! well, we are buying a house on thursday. we started looking towards the end of the summer and saw about seven duds until we landed on this bungalow and my heart skipped a beat. let me tell you, our price range was not providing that many appealing {or safe} homes in this area so we were quite thrilled to find this gem!

brandon was out of town when i found the place so he had to put in an offer on the house site-unseen. when i called and told him i found the place and wanted to put in the offer he said, "ok, i trust you." it was a good marriage moment. and when he finally saw the house he was just as stoked about it as i was! 
it has a kitchen, living room, two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs, with beautiful hardwood floors. in the basement there is potential for two more bedrooms, a den/office, and a bathroom, plus the laundry area. we are really excited about the place and feel like we got a good deal. the house just got a new roof this weekend, so it looks a bit different than in the photo above. the covered porch, blue spruce in the front yard, back deck, and apple tree are my favorite parts about the outside. once we close i will post more interior pictures and i am sure the blog will be taken over by home improvement projects.

-i tried to go ikea denver a couple weeks back {which includes about a 3 hour drive}, but got there in time to be turned away by an announcement over the loudspeaker that they weren't admitting customers as the water main to the store had burst. so we waited about 3.5 hours for it to be fixed before giving up. brandon and i are gonna try again this saturday. hopefully we can score on some sweet swed swag!

-my dad and aunt diane came to visit for a long weekend. it was awesome to have them out here and to show my dad the new place. he and brandon actually put in a new back fence together, so they got to bond a bit. in addition, we saw my dad's cousin and 92 year old aunt, who inspires me to keep up my mischief. she is a whoot!

i look forward to a bit less chaos but am so happy about all that has been happening in the past few months.

Friday, August 26, 2011

the reframe

lately i have had a lot of conversations with people about my {mis}perception of myself. particularly surround this belief:
i am shy.

yet, no one believes it. all my laramie friends challenge me on this, insisiting that shyness is impossible for me. one friend burst out laughing when i first told her i think of myself in this way. she thought i was being sarcastic, which admittedly, i often am. never-the-less, my shyness is real, despite my ability to have a conversation with a perfect stranger about just about anything.

i found this lovely little cartoon via pintrest that made me laugh. perhaps my ability to talk with strangers makes it difficult for people to believe i am shy. but i am telling you, i am incredibly introverted. just misunderstood.

we have a whole bunch going on right now, brandon especially. he defended his master's thesis yesterday {& was amazing!} & leaves for his PhD field work monday. he isn't complaining about spending the next three weeks in his kayak in jackson though--for his PhD research project he picked an awesome location & means of data collection. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

hibernation preperation

wow, summer has flown by so quickly & i have yet to post. somehow i thought grad school was the culprit; turns out i am just lazy. or busy. let's go with busy.

i am continuing to work at the hospital, which i am head-over-heels in love with. seriously, this is my place in the world!

i am also working at the university, as a faculty member for the division of social work. the title feels a little fraudulent as i am certain i don't know enough to be a faculty member, but apparently they thought i was qualified. i haven't been on campus much this summer due to vacation, visitors, & lots of hours at ivinson. i hope to catch up and feel a bit more competent soon.

in other news... we are working hard to buy a house. we know we are going to be here at least 4 more years so paying rent for that long seems like a waste of time & money. based on mortgage calculators we thought we could get into something soon for a reasonable monthly payment. turns out those calculators don't factor in insurance, taxes, etc. so we are further out in the process than we hoped. we are going to do a dave-ramsey-overhaul of our budget in order to squirrel away a bit more money for our down payment. hopefully there will be lots of free things going on around us in the next few months.

one of the ways we decided to save money was to disconnect our home internet service. it jumped to $60 a month so it felt ridiculous. hopefully we can put that extra money into our home savings account each month. in addition, we both have bad habits of spending way too much time on the internet in the evenings & on the weekends. we are optimistic that eliminating this distraction will result in more productivity, interaction, & time outside. it is quite embarrassing to admit how much time we spend on the internet. plus i have an iPhone now so we can check emails regularly. we may blog even less {is that possible?} in the next few months but by the time we are back on the internet at home we should be into our own house so we will have lots to blog about.

any advice from those who have venture ahead of us on this long strange trip of home buying is welcomed!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

spring break, part II

our trip was the maiden voyage for the van-turned-mini-rv. we had a few things "undone" but i wanted to test it out before we sunk much more time {& $} into the thing so we only did the work we needed. 

i was plesantly surprised! it was really comfortable for sleeping & i didn't have the oh-my-goodness-get-this-stinky-dog-out-of-my-face-cramped-feeling i often have when we camp out of the outback. we have since finished up a few loose ends so we need to get the photos up of that transformation. overall, we are stoked about this thing!

we feel like the van needs a name, but we just can't come up with one we agree on. we are taking suggestions...

let my bed head speak for the comfort of this van! :) 

 justin was kind enough to ride behind me because
i was really freaked out about the reports of a cougar in the
area & since i am so slow i was the most likely cougar-bait candidate.

 of course the guys found some sweet jumps.
brandon above, justin below.

 we followed the guide book and trail markings, but somehow we
still managed to come out on air force land. total oops!
this was the first warning we saw so i am not sure we came
upon it backwards. we neither saw nor heard anything of interest.

 pretty southwest sunset.

 the rv in action!

harvey is also fond of the van because he can stand
between the two front seats & rest his head on the dash.
he was in a cast for the whole trip so this was
about as exciting as his day got.

brandon wanted a picture of them & their cars looking "hardcore."
i just don't know how hardcore a van can possibly look.
we had an awesome time with justin & it was hard to part ways. from albuquerque he headed back to texas & we went north to the four corners/mesa verde area. mesa verde is an amazing national park! it was a trek off the beaten path, but totally worth it!

the cliff dwellings were mind-blowing.

we couldn't believe how well they remained intact. 

it was fascinating.
after mesa verde we booked it up to moab where we met my friend megan & brandon rode slick rock. i'll get those photos up soon. for now, off to work at one of my new jobs...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

rewind: spring break, part I

we had such an amazing spring break trip this year, but that was nearly two months ago & i have yet to document it. life has been busy, but it is slowing down for me as it picks up the pace for brandon. of course. 

on our trip we drove down to palo duro, texas, which is outside amarillo. now, i am not fond of much of texas; austin & port aransas are the the only parts i have fond feelings for, but west texas is especially awful to me. flat & ugly. but that makes the beauty of palo duro all the more incredible. the ground falls away without warning into this beautiful canyon. justin recommended we meet there & we loved it. it was full of awesome mountain bike trails--even my favorite trail EVER. 

from there we headed to new mexico. we stayed the night at a state park, but didn't do much exploring. we did feast on justin's amazing jalapeno dip & enjoyed (cold) showers. after that we drove on to albuquerque. a friend from the hospital recommended a couple things to do in the area since they recently moved from there to laramie. one of those things was ride the tram to the top of sandia peak. it was incredible! we had wonderful views of the valley and the mountain-top was beautiful. plus we had a great lunch at the summit. by far one of the best "touristy" things i have done in my life. i took a ton of photos on the gondola ride, in part to ignore my minor discomfort with heights.
rock totem
view of albuquerque & beyond
so beautiful
brandon was about two steps ahead of the tram operator in
explaining the geologic features.
i can't believe i got brandon & justin to act out the
titanic scene for me! glad i captured it!
stone house at the tippy-top of the peak, built by the CC
headed down.
passing the other tram on its way up.
barely a breeze. (yeah right.)
view of the lights of albuquerque from our
camp spot outside of town.
more pictures to come....