Friday, December 6, 2013

A Christmas Tree!

I love the holidays, though not in September. There is a time for everything and for me personally, December is the time for Christmas. I wait until December to let myself go with the holiday festivities, like finding a Christmas tree.


When I was growing up it was usually me who pushed for the Christmas tree come December 1. My parents were huge believers in waiting well into December (like the week of Christmas) before getting our tree. I think their reasoning was that they didn't want to get the tree so soon that it was dead by Christmas morning. Bah humbug I say! So December 1st would come and I would start prodding my parents for that tree. It normally took me about a solid week before my dad gave in and insisted that I go with him to pick out the tree. So we'd hop into our truck, sometimes with my brothers, sometimes not. I would make my dad traipse all over the tree farm until I found the best tree. Then he would chop it down and haul it home.


Since Andy and I have been married we haven't had a Christmas tree. Either we were traveling, or living in a group house where no one cared, so it never happened. This year we are in our own house with no excuse not to get a tree. So once again, on December 1st I told Andy that it was time to get a tree. Just like my dad, he insisted we wait. Lucky for me though, Andy is easier to convince than my dad, so late in the afternoon on December 1st we hopped into our truck and went to the tree farm. We had the best time walking all over the farm looking for the right tree. Finally, we decided on bluest Colorado Spruce that we could find. And let me tell you, it is BLUE! So for the first time in 4 years of marriage we have our own Christmas tree that was chopped down and hauled home. I have never been more proud of a blue tree!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Festive Brussel Sprouts

Here is a quick recipe right before Thanksgiving in case you are searching for one more side dish to add to your table. This is a combination of a variety of brussel sprout dishes that I have searched through.


Festive Brussel Sprouts:
-2 packages of brussel sprouts
-1 pomegranate
-1 package feta cheese
-olive oil
-lemon juice
-salt

Turn the oven on to 400 degrees. Chop the brussel sprouts into halves or quarters and toss them in olive oil and salt. Scatter the brussel sprouts over a cookie sheet and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes.

While the brussel sprouts are roasting prepare your pomegranate seeds. The easiest way to de-seed the pomegranate is to score it in half and pull it apart into two pieces. Flip the half of pomegrnate downside into a bowl and smack the back of it with a wooden spoon. (This is slightly messy.) Smacking the pomegranate halves this way will knock out all of the seeds much quicker than picking them out with your fingers.

When the brussel sprouts are done roasting put them in a dish with the pomegranate seeds and feta cheese. Season with salt and a squirt of lemon juice.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Friendsgiving!


Friendsgiving definition: Thanksgiving with good friends. 

Ahh, I love it! This year we are finally in Virginia over the holidays. Last year we had moved away in October to Maryland (where Andy had a project) and on our way to California (where we were moving for Andy's job). This year is the first year that we have lived in Virginia over the holidays since both Andy and I were kids. How wonderful, I am tickled with joy!


To celebrate being in Virginia and all of our good friendships, we decided to host a Friendsgiving. I was back and forth on hosting it because I wasn't sure if I would have to work over the weekend or not. At the last minute when I found out that I in fact did not have to work, I sent out the invite and feverishly started planning.


The meal and gathering turned out to be a wonderful success! Andy and I cooked the turkey, made a side veggie, and provided spiked mulled cider, and before dinner munchies. Everyone else brought a side dish and wine or beer. It was definitely enough food and by the end of dinner we were all happily stuffed. As the food coma wore off, one of our friends played dj and we had a hopping dance party. (Where I actually worried that our floor might cave in...luckily, it didn't.) What a jolly Thanksgiving party it was!


I am so completely thankful for my good friends here in Virginia. Most of them go back to middle school, some college, and some from after college. No matter our background and how long we've known each other though, we are all great friends. These people mean the world to me and I am beyond happy to be able to celebrate the holidays with them.

Try making this dish: roasted brussel sprouts with pomegranate seeds and feta cheese.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Changes...


So...last week I was boasting about my job at an art store/gallery and how it was motivating me to do art again (first time in 4-years!), well I quit that job. Yep, I did. While it was inspirational in helping me pick art back up, it never felt like a real fit for me. Does that make sense? That it just didn't feel right? Maybe it was my lack of actual art supplies knowledge, maybe it was the fact that it was owned by a young couple close to my age, maybe I just wasn't into retail (this was my first time in retail). Who knows what it was, but I never felt right there.

I hate quitting a job. I really hate it, it makes me anxious, I feel like I am letting people down. At the end of the day though, I had to sit down with myself and figure out what was right for me. I dislike being unemployed, but I also dislike staying at a job that doesn't feel like the right fit. I tell you, our generation, what is it generation-Y, has some real issues. So much for doing what our parents did and sticking with the same job, or rather "career" for 20+ years. Why couldn't I have been raised with that mentality?? Most days I wish that I was. I hate the employment freedom that I have. Yes, it is a privilege, yes I am lucky, but some days I wish it were more black and white.

Well enough of my rant. Luckily enough for me, I have stumbled upon another job! (A rare sentence for me, especially since it has taken me 6+ months in the past to find a job.) I have been hoping to acquire a cna certification and while asking around about trainings I was offered a job! One place that I was getting information from had me fill out an application on the spot, then they did an impromptu interview with me. I figured hey, if I was hired I would get the training that I want and I'd be paid for it. Now that is a win/win situation! Eventually they called me and offered me the job. How cool! That is the simplest process I have EVER been through to get a job. I feel so lucky to have stumbled upon this job! Not only do I get the training that I want, but the job is in the helping-people realm which I already know that I love.

While it sucks to be hired, just to quit a few months later, I feel like things happen for a reason. I had to have the art store job in order to get this home health care job. It is funny and strange how things work out, but they DO work out. So here I am getting ready for changes yet again. I feel like my 20s have been one big box of changes, but hey it's life eh?


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Buttered Rum!


Last night I was freezing cold in our house and when that happens I usually have a glass of wine to warm me up. Works every time! (Winter is going to make a drunk of me...) Unfortunately, last night there was no wine and I was not about to leave the house. So after looking in my cabinets I decided that I could make something with rum because I definitely was not going to drink it straight. After some online surfing of hot rum drinks, I came up with my own single mug recipe for Buttered Rum. It was delicious and more than warmed me up!

Single Mug Buttered Rum:

Boil some water on the stove top. While water is boiling combine the following ingredients in a mug:
-1 Tablespoon butter
-1-2 Tablespoons brown sugar
-sprinkle of cinnamon
-sprinkle of nutmeg
-sprinkle of cloves
-pinch of salt
-2 shots of rum

When the water has boiled pour it into the mug and stir until butter has melted and all ingredients have combined. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Inspiration, Marriage, and Art

(Artwork done before I was married...circa 2008)
In a month I will have been married for 4 years...where does the time go?! But alas, this is not a post about time, but rather inspiration. Before I was married, or even seriously dating (Andy and I only dated for 3-months before we married, yes another story for another day.) I was quite the artistic person. Not saying I was good or anything, but I was full of inspiration and I usually surfed that inspiration wave into artistic bliss.

Some artistic background here. My grandmother (mom's side) was an artist for the majority of her life. In Rhode Island, where she mostly lived, she was quite the well known artist. She painted everything from still life, to historic buildings and parks, to scenery...everything really. In fact, my family still has over 50 of her paintings...maybe more. Every time we visited her growing up, she would have an easel with canvas and paint for each of my brothers and me. We would all sit and paint together in her home gallery. I loved it! Usually I painted ice-cream cones, but sometimes I ventured into other areas like flowers or trees.

(Artwork I did as a kid, probably about 6th grade.)
My grandmother was the artistic base of my family, but both of my parents had their fair share of creativity as well. My mom was a great sketcher. She was always sketching little people with funny thought bubbles. My dad was more creative in a 3D way, with building things out of wood. Growing up around constant creativity allowed me to fully express myself in colorful ways. I was never as good of a drawer or painter as my little brother, and I definitely couldn't cartoon like my older brother, but that was never an issue. We were all encouraged by my parents and we each felt like our art was great.

Shortly after I got married I decided to spend some of the time that I was unemployed and looking for a job, getting back into art. I wanted to combine painting with photography. While working on my first piece I asked Andy what he thought and he straight up laughed, then he proceeded to make fun of my art. I was aghast, shocked, hurt! No one had ever laughed or made fun of my art. No matter how crazy or silly my artwork had been in the past, my family was fully supportive and positive towards it. Andy's reaction shocked and stunned me. I stopped the artwork immediately and didn't even look at any of my art materials until just a month ago. That is 4-years with no painting or drawing in my life. I don't know how I did it and quite frankly, I have been afraid to go back to it since Andy made fun of it. It is funny how something as simple as liquid pigment on paper can be so personal.

So you may be wondering, why go back to it now after 4-years? Well...I recently got a job at an art shop and gallery. When I sit at work and stare at artwork from local artists and all the art supplies that we sell, the inspiration comes pouring back in. I get that excitement for art that I haven't had in 4 years. Finally, I have unpacked all of my art supplies that I have been lugging from place to place each time we move. The supplies came out, the inspiration was overflowing, and I started. This time I was prepared for the laughing when it came. Yes, Andy still makes fun of my art. We have fought and talked and yes, I even threatened divorce if he makes fun of my artwork anymore. Slowly, he is changing his comments. He doesn't understand artwork because he didn't grow up around it the way that I did. He also doesn't understand how personal it can be.

All in all, I am happy and excited to be back at painting. I have decided to take myself outside of my comfort box and try new abstract things. It is exciting and I am really enjoying a more spontaneous go of painting this time rather than the planned out precise geometric pieces I would do before. I am having fun re-engaging in an old passion and discovering new things about myself. I think my grandmother would be proud...and as for my husband, well, he will come around one of these days.

(A current piece that I just finished!)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Sunset Picnic

A few Sundays ago Andy and I decided to be spontaneous and pack for a sunset picnic. Outside of our Virginia town is a place called Reddish Knob. It is a beautiful drive past farms and into the forest. The road gets rougher as it winds slowly up the mountain. Then at the very end of the road is a parking lot on the tippy top of the mountain. It is the best place to see the mountains and the sunset probably in all of Virginia. Unfortunately the sunset wasn't so incredible the day we were there, but just being on top of the mountain for a truck bed picnic was perfect. We brought our camping stove and made soup. As the sun set it began to get cooler so the soup was perfect. We finished off the sunset with hot tea and brownies all in the back of our truck. Gosh, Virginia is fantastic!