Italian pork roast

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OMG.

I do not use that lightly.

When trying to eat all Paleo/ Whole 30 like I rely on the fantastic Well Fed cookbook.  I made the Italian Pork Roast today and it was amazing.  It came together super fast, I made the spice rub (salt, pepper, fennel, oregano, thyme, and a bit of crushed red pepper) last night and this morning jabbed at the 5lb roast with a paring knife and stuck some garlic cloves in it.  Into my new crock pot (a larger, programmable version of my old baby one, one of many lovely Christmas gifts from D) and have been eyeing it until 7pm (directions call for a 14 hour cooktime, I gave it 13.  Girl has gotta eat, yo).image

I pulled it out of the crock pot and kept picking at it like it was a turkey at Thanksgiving (I like to hover around Grandpa when he carves the turkey).  I just kept putting hunks of shredded pork in my mouth.  No plates, no meal, just meat.  I eventually roasted a bunch of brussel sprouts, reduced some balsamic vinegar into a glaze and drizzled that over them so I had some vegetable component.  It was good friends.  Very, very good.

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Meat never photographs well, but you gotta believe me it was delicious.  And I have lots of leftovers… come on over.

In other news, the Arctic Air made it’s way to Columbus today:

wpid-20140106_161222.jpgI’m in there somewhere.  In the one minute I had my mitten off to take this picture and text it to D (telling him I was making a face at him underneath it all – more specifically the notorious “duck face” which he made me promise to leave in 2013) my fingers nearly got frostbite.  No joke.  It took 20 minutes for them to stop stinging.  -2 degrees doesn’t mess around.

Pinterest – nailed it!

I’m heading to my super adorable friend Becky’s annual S’mores party this evening.  Never wanting to show up empty handed, I thought I’d make some interesting cookies to bring as graham cracker substitutions for warm and gooey toasted marshmallows.

My first thought was to make a sweet potato cookie.  Hear me out… My favorite Thanksgiving dish is the mashed sweet potatoes with the broiled marshmallows on top.  Almost every other Thanksgiving side dish from my youth I’ve created a more upscale version of as I’ve gotten older, but I still kind of love the old school sweet potatoes.  So, I thought a sweet potato cookie with a warm and toasty marshmallow would be kind of amazing.  Except…the cookies are not delicious.  They kind of just taste like bland white flour.  I cooked the second sheet tray of them until they were a little crispier, so I’ll bring those along with me as kind of an experiment, but my sister reminded me my cookie reputation would be on the line so I should maybe do a take two.

Now, I pride myself on making a pretty amazing classic chocolate chip cookie.  I’ve made all kinds and they are always delicious.

For this event, I thought I could do it with a trip of chocolate chip varieties (milk, semi-sweet and dark chips) and I thought I’d look through all the recipes I’ve pinned on Pinterest and find a thinner cookie recipe.  Which I did

The Canal House cookie recipe

The Canal House cookie recipe

It seemed perfect!  The blog author described it as thin and chewy, crisp edges and a little salty – I thought that would be great for the marshmallow goodness.

Now, a few things could have happened here.

1. This is the first time I’ve tried really baking in my Columbus kitchen…with it’s electric oven.  It’s just different.

2. It could have been a butter issue.  I didn’t use super high quality butter (it was butter though, not margarine, not something generic…)

3. I felt it was light on flour in the recipe, but I’m used to thicker cookies.

Here’s what I just pulled out of the oven…

Cookie tragedy

Cookie tragedy

 

NAILED IT!

NAILED IT!

 

So…. I think I’m going to pick up a six pack of my new favorite beer, Kentucky Bourbon Ale, and let that be the thing I bring tonight.  There will surely be enough junk food there already.

 

More 5 minute meals

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The key to 5 minute meals?  Prep work.

I made a lot of brown rice last Sunday.  Scoop some of that into a bowl and throw into microwave.

Vegetables that just need a rough chop before being thrown into saute pan.

Crumble goat cheese on top of everything and enjoy!

I’m so happy asparagus is back in season.  It’s best cooked so briefly that it’s still crisp, but naturally tender.

30? I can do it in 5.

Welcome to my 5 minute meal.

 

Start with a whole wheat tortilla I warmed up in the microwave.  Add "salsa chicken" that has been in the crockpot all day.

Start with a whole wheat tortilla I warmed up in the microwave. Add “salsa chicken” that has been in the crockpot all day.

Add a vegetable.  I had romaine, I had spinach, but I chose to slice up some raw brussel sprouts.  More crunch, more nutrients, more better!

Add a vegetable. I had romaine, I had spinach, but I chose to slice up some raw brussel sprouts. More crunch, more nutrients, more better!

Add dollop of greek yogurt.  I think I covered all four food groups, yes?

Add dollop of greek yogurt. I think I covered all four food groups, yes?

I read a blog where the author has made “salsa chicken” a few times in her crock pot.  It’s as easy as adding chicken and a jar of salsa to your crock pot.  Come home to yummy chicken that shreds apart and can be used in a variety of ways.  I finally got around to getting that in my crock yesterday morning.  I knew I’d have a tight turn last night and was already planning on needing dinner fast.  I always have tortillas around.  I grocery shopped Tuesday night and had no shortage of “lettuce” options (kale, spinach and romaine are in the fridge right now) but I chose my new favorite – shaved brussel sprouts.  Then I added just a bit of greek yogurt from the container I had on hand.

The reason for my tight turnaround was a coffee meeting that ran longer than I expected.  I was meeting a woman I met at a local Organization Development Network meeting and just a bit stressed out about it.  I’m always a little stressed meeting people who appear super put together.  This is a woman who is a couple years younger than me, is lovely, has a PhD, a ginormous diamond engagement ring and every hair was in place.  (Sometimes I’m intimidated by people with perfect hair because my curly hair is perpetually messy.)  But, she had reached out after we met and asked if I wanted to grab coffee sometime and chat some more and of course, I said yes.  It turned out to be a great time and we had some really productive conversation.  I feel like I woke up yesterday with questions and somehow she answered them.  Maybe that’s a little extreme, but I left the cafe with a clearer picture of my OD point of view, a few prospects for other contacts, and a great vacation idea!

I ran home from that meeting, which went longer than I anticipated, and had about 40 minutes before I needed to jump on a call for a school project.  That’s when I threw together my 5 minute meal and pretty much inhaled it.  I ran downstairs for a cup of coffee to sip on during the call (I was expecting it to be a long one) and got a crazy nice compliment from one of the coffee shop guys.  It turns out there was a rumor going through the coffee shop that I was moving and so I walked in and he shouted across the shop “Tell me it’s not true!”  I assured him that at this moment it was not true, and then he proceeded to tell me I’m awesome, that I deserve everything great, it’s time I settle down with a nice man, etc.  It was almost overwhelming how happy he was that I wasn’t leaving and the outpouring of nice things that relief led him to say.  It’s the kind of thing that just makes your day.

It’s important to recognize the good days.  Two of my favorite people had really bad days yesterday.  You don’t ever wake up knowing when the biggest days are going to be – for better or worse.  There were a lot of reminders of that yesterday.

 

My Friday night. Warning: You will not be jealous.

Stream of consciousness at it’s best comes when I’ve had a few champagne cocktails, as I’ve had in the last hour.

Now, in my defense, I spent the two and a half hours prior to that cleaning my office. Like, I even brought in a friend to help me tackle the cleaning of the office. Mostly, I just like company when I have to clean. Also, I’m super undisciplined unless I’m trying to live up to someone else’s expectations. Even if those expectations are just a friend who is expecting me to clean up my office.

Today is my dad’s birthday. I wrote about it before.  (That post is pretty much when Claire solidified herself in friend for life position – but don’t tell her that – I don’t need her getting all comfortable in that spot on me.)  He would be 63 today.  Which means we’re going on almost 11 years dead.  Which means we’re half way to the point where I’ll have been alive longer without Dad than with Dad.  Time heals all wounds and all, but dang it if I don’t miss him all the time.  He was just so fun.

I’m putting Pinterest to work for me.  That’s right.  I’m taking control, Pinterest.  No longer will you suck me in with your pages and pages of recipes and fashion and dream homes with dream rooms.  Tonight, I take control.

Let me back up a step.  I’m having a few people over for dinner next weekend (including Out of State Mystery Date, aka OOSMD) and I’m trying to find the right recipe for feeding this collection of individuals.  I’ve pinned about 250 recipes on Pinterest.  Surely, one of them is the right one.  So, while I was flipping through the collection, I came across this:

And I decided to make it. It’s 10pm. I’m a little drunk. Let’s slice some apples. I had all of these ingredients on hand and the idea of waking up to the smell of delicious apple cinnamon oatmeal sounded awesome. (PS – I wake up to the smell of delicious things all the time. I live above a coffee shop that bakes all it’s own stuff. This should not have been that big of a deal.) I took zero before pictures because who has time for that when you’re four glasses of champagne into your evening and trying to make overnight oatmeal in a crock pot?! I’ll be sure to let you know how it turns out.

In other news, I spent an hour and a half at the gym this morning! It’s been a long time since I’ve done that. I went to an aerobic/toning class and then I got on a treadmill. I didn’t run much – about 2 miles – and it was intervals – but I got back on the horse! Finally. It’s supposed to be gorgeous in STL this weekend so I’m sure I’ll get another run or two in. Plus, I have a 9am Zumba class on the calendar for tomorrow. I’m back, baby doll. (HIMYM reference, FYI.) I decided not to run the STL 1/2 marathon in April. My next actual run is the April 27 Color Run. I may shoot for another fall 1/2 – perhaps the STL Rock and Roll again. I’m already thinking about the 2014 runs. I’m getting Disney medals – I’m running a race at Disneyland and Disney World and then getting the Coast to Coast medal once I complete both. This is happening.

My mom broke my glasses. She didn’t mean to. It’s a long story. I’ve been wearing my back up ones or my contacts. Then I got an email about a super duper sale at my eyeglass place. Last week I went to pick out a new pair. I pick them up tomorrow morning. They’re kind of hipster. I’m pretty excited about them but a little nervous about what people (ahem, my sisters) will say about them. I’ll be sure to post a picture. No worries.

Okay. That’s about all the news fit to print for the evening. I’m settling into this champagne buzz pretty well. The cat and I are in our places on the bed and it’s nice enough this evening to have a window cracked. Just a little. Then again, I like it cold when I sleep.

I have a great day planned for tomorrow. Pick up the hipster glasses, go to the Zumba, probably get to the Indie Craft Fair, finish writing a 10 page paper/test and then go to a fundraiser party for a local restaurant that is thanking donors as it raises money to expand.  I’m not an impressive donor, but a friend of mine is and I’m his tagalong date.

Oh, Friday night.  Pinterest and closet cleaning and open mic night downstairs and champagne and blogging.  I’m really quite okay with this evening.

Sarah meets Smitten Kitchen

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Guys.  I met this lady.

Yes.  This is Deb Perelman, aka, The Smitten Kitchen.

Inspiration of food photography and creator of my favorite strawberry cake.  I cannot stress how much she is exactly the kind of food photographer and writer I strive for.  Simple. Real. Charming. Funny. And very, very talented.

IMG_7696I won’t gush so much.  I’ll mostly let pictures do the talking in this post.  Sauce Magazine hosted an event where she spoke, did a little demo of the dessert that was made (which was really funny, because apparently none of the pre-measured ingredients the staff put out for her were correct and she kept picking something up and commenting on the fact that it wasn’t right – “Just do it like the book tells you – do not pay attention to what I’m doing now.”  You probably had to be there.) and we got a three course lunch, with recipes from the book.  Naturally.

This was part of our first course.  I ate mine before I thought to take a picture.

This was part of our first course. I ate mine before I thought to take a picture.

She said that when she was approached to write a cookbook she was actually pretty against the idea.  So she made all kinds of demands that surely no publisher would indulge.  She wanted to put as many photos in as she felt necessary for each recipe.  She wanted to tell the stories about the recipes similarly to how she did on her blog.  And she insisted on a book with lay flat binding.  The publisher let her have all those things.  And the story she tells about this first dish, a kale/cherry/radish/goat cheese/pecan salad starts with this line “I have spent a good part of the last few years believing that the world would be a better place if we could all stop pretending that kale tastes good.”  See?  She’s funny!

This was the main course.  Once again, no thought of cameras until it was gone.  It was just soooo good looking.

This was the main course. Once again, no thought of cameras until it was gone. It was just soooo good looking.

I know.  I’m the worst.  How could I forget to take a picture of food before eating it?  Oh well.  It was this:

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And it was awesome.

I did remember to take a picture of dessert before inhaling it.  It was a grapefruit olive oil pound cake and it was great.  I’m not a person who eats grapefruit ever, but I love citrus and this was simple and delicious.  My new friend and tablemate (I went to this shindig alone because I don’t have friends who get my food nerd thing here and sure enough, there are other people like me out there.  I was very quickly approached by another lone fan and we were fast friends by the end) and I very seriously discussed licking the plate.

It may not look like much.  But it was so, so good.

It may not look like much. But it was so, so good.

After lunch Deb came around to each table to sign our books.  I loved that!  At other book signings I’ve been to a long line forms and you get about 5 seconds with this person you came to see.  Not with Deb.  She chatted, had a seat at tables, took pictures, etc.  I could tell this made the event organizers antsy because it took longer, but I like that Deb was still doing things her way – just like the cookbook.  If I were just some normal person who had gotten some fame for just being myself – you bet your booty I’d want to spend some real time with the people who thought I was cool and thank them and know them as well.  I am just a huge fan of this woman!

I was also glad for this style, because I wanted to take a minute and tell her that she had inspired me.  I brought one of the 42 pictures of hers that hangs on my wall for her to sign.  I wanted to tell her I had 42 of her pictures hanging on my wall.  I wanted to tell her she was cool.  And I got to do that.  She said she was really touched to learn about the photo collage I have (I had a picture of it and showed her the whole thing also).  Sigh.  Food nerd hero worship.  I’m just really happy I got to meet her.

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I now add her book to my little collection of signed cookbooks…

Rick Bayless, Ree Drummond (Pioneer Woman) and Deb Perelman (Smitten Kitchen)

Rick Bayless, Ree Drummond (Pioneer Woman) and Deb Perelman (Smitten Kitchen)

And now it’s time to get cooking!  There are so many delicious recipes in this book.  AND, they’re just slightly elevated versions of totally normal food.  Nothing is overly pretentious or crazy.  It’s just really good, tested recipes.  I think I may have a houseguest for a weekend in March and my sister and Claire are joining us for dinner one night…I see a Smitten Kitchen menu in our future.

 

I wonder if Deb wants to come over for dinner too.  Thanks for stopping in STL, Deb!  You made this food nerd very happy!

I wonder if Deb wants to come over for dinner too. Thanks for stopping in STL, Deb! You made this food nerd very happy!

 

When I’m sick…

I sleep a lot.  I think I’m taking more naps a day than the cats.

I’ve been under the weather since Monday, but Wednesday it hit the hardest.  So, of course, I decided that was the night to bake.  Don’t ask.  I got home, whipped up the dough for some Caramelita Cookies.  Once again, Iowa Girl Eats Friday Favorites led me to a chocolate chip cookie with caramel recipe.  You may remember that I tried to make some caramel chocolate chip cookies before Christmas.   They were only okay.  I gave up on the idea of a caramel chocolate chip cookie.  But then, I saw this new recipe.  Iowa Girl Eats pointed me to this recipe that included Rolos instead of the square caramels.  I thought it seemed worth another shot.

I whipped up the dough and since the Rolos needed to freeze and the dough needed to chill so all the caramel didn’t ooze out of them, I thought I’d rest and catch up on some shows on hulu.  And then I woke up three hours later.  I would say the dough was sufficiently chilled.

The base dough is essentially an oatmeal cookie dough.

The base dough is essentially an oatmeal cookie dough.

Rolos must be frozen.  Dough must be chilled.

Rolos must be frozen. Dough must be chilled.

Wrap chilled dough around frozen Rolo.

Wrap chilled dough around frozen Rolo.

Cookie ball!  Make sure the Rolo is not peeking through at all.

Cookie ball! Make sure the Rolo is not peeking through at all. Yes, I’m wearing gloves.  I knew I was going to give the cookies away – didn’t want anyone else to get sick.

 

Mmmmm.  Caramel center goodness.

Mmmmm. Caramel center goodness.

 

Definitely a better result than the last one I tried.  They are better warm.  Once they cool completely the Rolo is still a little too chewy for the center of the cookie.

Definitely a better result than the last one I tried. They are better warm. Once they cool completely the Rolo is still a little too chewy for the center of the cookie.

 

So that’s how I spent one evening with my cold.  I brought most of the cookies to the coffee shop guys while they were closing up downstairs.  This is how I keep the free coffee coming…  :)

I am in the middle of a four day weekend, and I’m completely bummed that I’ve spent most of Thursday and today in bed as well.  I have a huge list of things to get through and I’ve crossed exactly two off the list – get my car checked out and get my hair trimmed.

The good news?  I’m finally feeling better!  After taking a post hair trim nap I forced myself to get out of my house and get some fresh air.  I had a Groupon to a restaurant up the street that expires in a couple weeks so I thought I’d go get dinner.  I walked up to Mojo and sat at the bar for dinner and a beer.  I don’t even know the last real meal I had.  All the cold medicine has killed my appetite.  I know I had lunch with Claire on Wednesday… and I had half a container of yogurt today and a banana yesterday…that whole Old Wives tale about feeding a cold might have some truth.  I feel sooo much better.  Maybe it was the combination of fresh air, a short walk, actual food and a Guiness.  I have found the cure for the common cold.

Two official days left in my weekend to take out all of my recycling, do more homework, taking Quinn to the vet, clean up my office, clean out a closet and reset my dining room table.  Wish me luck.

And here’s your daily dose of me and Oliver.  Man, I really need to start evening the score in terms of photos of him to photos of Quinn.  I can’t help it – he’s always in my lap and SO CUTE!  The only upside to this cold is all the furry cuddling I’m getting around this joint.

Baby Oliver blogs with me!

Baby Oliver blogs with me!

The Bad, the Good and the Ridiculous

 

 

The Bad:  Starting the day with news that the speaker presenting four hours of my class this afternoon wasn’t feeling well and not coming in.

The Good: Being awesome and just taking over the four hour section impressing my boss even though it was really no big deal.

The Ridiculous: Getting more news at work that our company was….not sold.  Kind of.  An anticipated sale came – of almost every banner except ours and some small regional chains.  This could be an indicator that the company is focusing on being a wholesale distributor again and focusing less on operating their own retail ops.  Which could be fine.  But still, not at all the expected news.

The Bad: My Christmas tree is still up.  I feel some shame over this.

The Good: Forgetting that you put a pork roast in the crock pot this morning until about 5 minutes before you got home so I was pleasantly surprised dinner was ready!

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The Even Better: Deciding NOT to go to that movie after work because that pork roast would have been in there a really long time then.

The Bad: Trying to take pictures of meat with a camera phone because my real camera battery is dead.

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The Good:  This Pioneer Woman recipe for pork roast.  Mine has yet to come out like her pictures, but she turns her occasionally while it’s cooking and uses a LOT more chipotle pepper and adobo sauce than I do.  Still, it comes out delicious and today, I made it even more so!

The Ridiculous: Making a 6 lb pork roast for a single gal.  Seriously.  A 6 lb pork roast yields 3 lbs of delicious shredded pork.  I weighed it.

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The Bad: Nearly ruining my appetite with hummus and pretzels while I was shredding delicious pork roast.

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The Good: Making sauce!  I pulled some of the liquid out of the the crockpot after I pulled all the meat out of the crock pot to shred.  There were onions and chipotle peppers and adobo sauce and goodness that I ladled into a small sauce pot and started boiling so it would reduce and thicken.  (And – in true happiness project style I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher while the sauce cooked.  Don’t waste small amounts of time!  Also, a watched sauce never reduces.)  I threw in a tablespoon or so of brown sugar and 1/4 cup of pomegranate juice to sweeten it up.

The Ridiculous: Not needing a plate at all really because I just kept dipping shredded pork into the sauce and eating it over the stove.

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The Good: Combining delicious shredded pork, perfectly smoky and sweet sauce and a sweet potato!

 

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The Ridiculous.

Photo on 1-10-13 at 8.22 PM #3

 

 

 

 

 

The End.

Happiness in the New Year

The title is twofold.  First, I spent the first weekend of the New Year very, very happy.  Stupid happy.  Second, I read this book called the Happiness Project and it is my inspiration for this year.

First, a quick recap of my weekend.

My friend, Cyndi, turned 40!  Her super sweet husband threw her one heck of a birthday weekend.  The timing was perfect and I was able to take a couple days off of work and spend a long four day weekend in Cleveland, OH.  I flew up a day early to spend some time with the Out of State Mystery Date (OOSMD?) I spoke of here.  He lives in the area and it was nice to spend time with him before the birthday extravaganza started.  He graciously agreed to be my date for the birthday events as well.  I have to say – I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for a long time – this was the best part of my holidays.

I offered to make him dinner Thursday night and for a split second was nervous.  If you read this blog for a second, it doesn’t take long to realize food and cooking are important to me – one of the most personal things about me.  I’m a quirky grocery shopper on top of that and my sister had texted me before I left telling me to try and be less of myself when it comes to my weird ways.  I think that added to my bit of anxiety.  Anyway, all that quickly dissipated and I was able to enjoy the time and do what I do best – make chicken saltimbocca.  Cooking for people is so my way of showing affection.  It was really solidified for me why it’s so important for people to like what I cook – because that’s me putting myself out there.  I’m so weird, I’m pretty sure this is what she was talking about when my sister encouraged me to tone down myself.  Cooking isn’t just food to me – it’s my love language.  It’s why I put so much time and energy and thought into the cooking lessons with my girlfriends, dinner parties for new acquaintances and special date night meals.  Like my food, you must like me.  I don’t think I ever realized this as clearly until this situation.

I digress.  Let me get back to my “quick recap”.  My sister is right – I’m so weird.

Okay – so after spending the night just outside Cleveland we headed downtown Friday afternoon to get ready for birthday fun to begin.  We were meeting for the official birthday dinner at Greenhouse Tavern – a restaurant I was thrilled to be returning to.  There were around 26 people at dinner from different aspects of Cyndi’s life: casino folks, family, Cleveland friends and such.  I knew I enjoyed some of her Cleveland friends from having met them previously so I snagged seats at that table for OOSMD and me.  Dinner was wonderful – such good food, perfectly paired wines and Jeni’s ice cream for dessert!  Our table was fun and I had a lovely time with all the friends who were there to celebrate my friend!

I took exactly 3 pictures the entire weekend.  This is one of them.

I took exactly 3 pictures the entire weekend. This is one of them.

Saturday was a mostly free day so I found a brunch restaurant that focused on using local ingredients and sustainable practices and made a reservation at the Flying Fig, and then we headed to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  I have always been excited about visiting it and it did not disappoint.  I didn’t know how much I would be moved by seeing handwritten lyrics or Beach Boy artifacts.  Lots of nostalgia as certain artists triggered memories for me.  After the museum OOSMD took me on a tour of a different section of Cleveland and we ended in Little Italy where I got cappuccino and a cannoli.  Yum.

We had just enough time to change and get back to birthday fun.  On Saturday night’s agenda was appetizers and drinks and then tickets to the Cleveland Cavaliers game.  I may have taken the “drinks” portion of the evening pretty seriously.  There was a bottle of champagne, to which I’ll never say no to, and then there was a half full bottle of wine on the table as most of the group was ready to leave. I gallantly volunteered to join them at the game in a few minutes and contribute to finishing that bottle.  Such a gracious gesture on my part, no?

The basketball game was fine.  I didn’t think I liked basketball, perhaps having never been to an NBA game made me think that.  I was surprised at how fast everything moved.  Being a baseball fan – where there is no clock – and a football fan – where the action stops alllll the time – I was pleasantly surprised with the quick pace of the game and action.  Also surprised at how small the court seemed.  Soccer fields are humongous.  Basketball court – kind of small.  I was enjoying finally getting some time to talk to Cyndi and Lee during this night.  We were a small group and an even smaller group went back to the lobby bar to have a drink.

I must say, OOSMD was a champ through all of it.  That’s a lot of time to spend with people you don’t know at all.  It’s a lot of time to spend with me.  Sometimes I exhaust people.  He was great and I’m pretty smitten.  I’m reminded why long distance anything is a rotten idea.  There’s a real problem with being this happy with someone you can’t see more.  But there’s also a real problem denying how I feel about him just because he’s far away.

So – that’s how Cyndi’s birthday was done.

Now – phase two of the Happiness Post.  I’ll just introduce the book here – I have gotten crazy sleepy while writing this and have an early day tomorrow morning as I head back to reality.

The week before Christmas I saw a link to “7 ways to keep your resolutions” and I followed it and it led me to Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project website.  Intriguing.  I clicked around on it and then I saw this blog post and knew I needed to download the book.  That post simply had a discussion topic:

happiness project blogThis book and website were appearing just as I needed them.  It was a sign.  I 1-clicked it through Amazon and started reading the book on Christmas Eve.  I was drawn in immediately and started thinking about how to apply her year long project into my own New Year resolutions.  Each month she focused on a different aspect of happiness and included lots of research along the way.  Her biggest takeaway was to make a resolution chart – a way to visually remind and hold accountable your actions each day.

I don’t have the whole year farmed out, but I know what January is going to be about for me.  Getting organized.  Under that umbrella goal I need to come up with specific actions that support that.  That’s also a big part of creating resolutions – you need small, concrete, actionable items.  For me, getting organized – and hopefully feeling energized by the organization – is going to include these things:

  • Make my bed every morning
  • Stop wasting small amounts of time.  (Meaning – using the little time I waste more efficiently.  Empty the dishwasher while I’m waiting for my coffee to brew instead of just standing by the coffee maker.  Using commercial breaks to fold a load of laundry or take out my trash. Etc.)
  • Make my office usable
  • Clean out the closets

Little things.  I think big results.  So far I’ve made my bed every day.  This is a big deal for me.  I feel accomplished.  I get a gold star.

She had a list of “commandments” that she used as well.  I’ll discuss her list and ones I like for myself in more detail, but for now Commandment #1.  She phrases it as “Be Gretchen”.  Be true to yourself throughout the process.  Things that are fun for other people may not be fun for you.  At work, our store design team has this slogan – “Let the building be the building”.  It meant to keep as much structure as we could to avoid costly remodels.  West Wing has this bit where they “Let Bartlett be Bartlett” when he’s running for office.  Before I can be me I’ll have to work out some questions – what makes me feel good?  What makes me feel bad?  What areas do I want to grow in?  And through it all – Be Sarah.

Weird and all.

 

Tick Tick Tick

I was inspired last night.  I needed some inspiration and the inspiration appeared.  In the form of a new book that I downloaded a couple months ago but had not gotten around to opening.  Until last night when I got home from Christmas and looked around my apartment and thought – “What’s next?”

I’m going to keep you (all 5 of you reading this) in suspense for just another minute.  I have some work to do on formulating a plan before I can post about my 2013 intentions/resolution/goals.  I’m looking forward to making some charts and lists and maybe even a graphic this weekend to frame 2013.

Before I jump into all that fun, I want to acknowledge the year that was 2012.  I had a pretty good 2008 and a complete crap 2009, a great 2010 and a mediocre 2011 and a really wonderful 2012.  I’m a little nervous about that pattern.  I also think that armed with a 2013 plan, I can overcome the slump cycle.

I had a three part plan for 2012.  Run. Work. Grad School.  I focused on those three things and must say that all three are still viable parts of my life here at the end of 2012.  More than completing the mini goals within those three categories it’s that I saw something through to the end.  I just needed to find the right stuff.

In 2012…

(Editor’s Note: SOOOOOO many pictures ahead)

I became someone who runs.  I did plan on that.  I set out to train for the Disney Princess half marathon in spring of next year.  Two things happened along the way to that goal.  1. I got to the half marathon goal even faster, running the Rock and Roll half in St. Louis in October. 2. I have to postpone the February Disney Princess run until 2014 because it’s a grad school weekend.  Here’s what’s cool…even though I found out in March I wouldn’t be able to run Princess Half next year, I kept running.  I changed the goal.  I found Team in Training.  It became so much more personal and important at that point.

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My series of race starts in front of the Arch!  LOVE!

My series of race starts in front of the Arch! LOVE!

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I took a lot of pictures of my feet during this time.  It's weird.

I took a lot of pictures of my feet during this time. It’s weird.

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I met all kinds of new babies this year!

I met all kinds of new babies this year!

Started a new job in the grocery industry.

Started a new job in the grocery industry.

Crossed something off my list of things to do before I'm dead!

Crossed something off my list of things to do before I’m dead!

IMG_1222There was grad school  One of the big three of my 2012 plan.  It has brought new knowledge, friends, self awareness, challenges and excitement and I’m so grateful I picked this program at this time.  It is revealed to me all the time that I made the right decision.

 

 

Started grad school and love it more than I thought I could.

Started grad school and love it more than I thought I could.

IMG_1043Grad school has brought odd side effects as well…

Starting noticing this logo everywhere I go.

Started noticing this logo everywhere I go.
And I can tell you all about David Cooperrider - a name I certainly did not know a year ago.

And I can tell you all about David Cooperrider – a name I certainly did not know a year ago.

And finding huge value in investing in multi-colored post its

And finding huge value in investing in multi-colored post its

Was asked to take photos - still fueling fire that I could someday be a free lance photographer.

Was asked to take photos – still fueling fire that I could someday be a free lance photographer.

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Ended a relationship with this guy's owner.  Even the right things to do are hard and sad, sometimes.  I taught this dog to 'shake'. He was good at it.

Ended a relationship with this guy’s owner. Even the right things to do are hard and sad, sometimes. I taught this dog to ‘shake’. He was good at it.

Saw Newsies on Broadway!

Saw Newsies on Broadway!

I lost about 25 pounds this year also.  Not quite as much as I would have liked – but it was a good start.  Running helped and school helped and rebuilding some self esteem after the break up helped.

Before (last Christmas)

Before (last Christmas)

After - (this Christmas!)

After – (this Christmas!)

 

And then there are the constants -

My Family

My Family

My friends (mostly this gal - it takes a special kind to deal with me on a daily basis)

My friends (mostly this gal – it takes a special kind to deal with me on a daily basis)

 

My friends AND Harry Potter - the perfect combination!

My friends AND Harry Potter – the perfect combination!

These crazy felines.

These crazy felines.

And, of course, good food and drinks through it all.

And, of course, good food and drinks through it all.

I just cannot wait to see what adventures and surprises and amazingness 2013 brings.  You can be sure I’ll be documenting it all…there’s always a camera close by.  The other constant in my life.