# the days of {a wyoming} summer

Bella and I had about five weeks in Wyoming to ourselves this summer. Here’s how we spent the time avoiding unpacking boxes:

We took lots of walks in our new neighborhood, which is shady, dog-friendly and beautiful. Wyoming: 3, Utah: 0.

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Since that first week was so rough, Joe surprised me the next weekend by driving back to help. She doesn’t look it here, but Bella was more thrilled than me…if that was possible.

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We tried out a few different places to eat, including a down-home joint that has Joe’s name written all over it. More gravy!

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The first week I was here, I realized there was a nest in our backyard that had the tiniest baby birds. I quickly became obsessed documenting their growth. Here’s one on the first day I found them…

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They grew so fast!

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This was probably my favorite stage. They looked ridiculously cute.

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Eyes open…

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The nest getting a little crowded…that’s one the babies sitting on the other two, not the mama.

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…and then by later that day:

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They were testing their wings and sitting in bushes before they all three flew away. I was a little sad, I’ll admit.

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It was fun to check on them every day, but man if those robin parents weren’t sick of me. By the end the male was dive-bombing my head every time I got close.

In other animal news, Bella has taken to a certain upstairs perch that allows her to creep on our neighbors. Totally my dog.

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Since I few solo for the Fourth, I made yogurt and blueberry popsicles to celebrate.

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Then I got a call to play one of the festival’s concerts back in Utah, so I jumped at the chance, loading up Bella early Sunday morning for the long drive back.

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I spent my days working and our nights hanging with Sean and Wallis–this was the only week they were going to be in Utah for the festival, so it couldn’t have worked out more perfectly.

We made runs to Cosco to try Chris’ obsession with their berry sundae…

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…and we hit up a massive surplus store Joe and I had always wanted to visit.

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We were quite impressed with their Zombie Apocalypse section.

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Really?

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Yes.

Joe and I had one last Utah date night for crepes…

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…and then we played the concert that weekend.

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(Not pictured: Pool time earlier that day.)

By the next afternoon Bella and I were back in Wyoming, getting ready for a trip to Colorado, which I’ll tell you about next. Whew — glad those weeks alone surrounded by boxes are O-V-E-R.

(But damn if I don’t miss those birds!)

# visitors and Thanksgiving 2015

It’s been a few long and difficult weeks around here, but we’ve had some very bright spots that I’ve been meaning to share!

A little over a month ago, my Dad came to visit. It was such a fun week with him here and we made the most of it with many wonderful meals…

…including the special Mortician Burger (double patty, double cheese, bacon, pastrami, onion rings and sauce) for the boys…

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and a very cold football game.

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Joe’s band did an awesome custom show for Halloween called “Zombie Apocalypse.”  I loved his zombie cymbal players in the school’s old uniforms.

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Later that weekend we hit up some shopping and eating in Salt Lake, including visiting the new Penzeys Spice store, which was pretty much heaven for me.

Then, that next weekend, my mom and Mike came to visit.

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It was their first time here without it being homecoming. Ha! We made use of all the extra time by making pumpkin cinnamon rolls.

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This was a huge deal since A) I haven’t, until then, had any luck with yeast dough at high altitude, and B) my mom is the queen of cinnamon rolls. I know she was the good luck charm I needed to make it work.

We also played our Bella’s favorite game, Cards Against Humanity.

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This pretty much sums up the entire game. Joe laughing hysterically and my mom staring blankly at a card. hahahahahaha! Too bad it’s blurry, but I don’t even care.

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Sorry, mom. Truth be told, she almost won the game.

And, then there was last week’s Thanksgiving. It was such a quiet day, which we really needed. I didn’t take many pictures because we were either in a heap on the couch in our PJs or we were in the kitchen with flour everywhere. But, here are the few I managed to snap throughout the day.

First up, pretzel bites. It’s one of our favorite things to make and eat. I paired them with a cheesy cider fondue that was really easy. The perfect snack for parade/football watching.

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This was the only picture of the spread I have (ha!). Shown: turkey, gravy, green bean casserole, rolls, mashed potatoes, spinach tart and Joe’s sliver of canned cranberry. I halved every single recipe. It was the most math I’ve done since roughly 2000.

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The best part was, every single thing was prepped in advance, so all I had to do on Thursday was cook everything off. Amazing.

Here’s the vegetarian’s plate. So. good. Especially the gravy, which was a new-to-me recipe that used nutritional yeast. Totally rocked my world. It’ll be my forever gravy from now on.

Thanksgiving 2015

I’ll dedicate a separate post to the dessert I chose (with REAL pictures!), but this was Joe’s Vanilla Bourbon Pumpkin Pie. I’m not a big pie person, but I was happy with how it turned out. Bella was too.

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That’s where we’ve been…now we continue to stalk bowl predictions and look toward Christmas and a new year.

# the vore-tex 2015

Last Sunday we said goodbye to our BFFs Sean and Wallis after seven weeks of fun, food, hilarity and soul-searching conversations. Pretty typical for us.

I remember when they first got here and I sat down with our festival calendar and plotted out every service one of us had.

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Color-coded, duh.

It looked packed. I immediately was worried that we wouldn’t have enough time together. And by “enough” I usually mean every single day when it comes to them. I can’t get enough.

But, somehow, between a slew of services and work, we made the most of every chance we had.

The last concert that we all four played together was a Richard Rogers tribute concert. During the rehearsals I had half-listened to the pieces the horns didn’t play, but during the concert I had no choice but to focus on all of the songs and was struck by the last one, “Thank You So Much.”

It was everything I could think of to say to Sean and Wallis about our time together, especially that it is almost always “something between ridiculous and sublime.”

I might have cried on stage.

I don’t have the words to tell them how much their friendship means to me. I feel like I could say anything or do anything and they would just shrug and ask what we wanted to do for dinner. I love them for their all-encompassing support and care. So, thank you, guys. “Thank you for such a little, but lovely time.”

Here are a few highlights from our summer together:

# Argentian BBQ-ing, complete with homemade empanadas and a torrential downpour

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# Horning around

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# Afternoons by the pool…and, this year, taking on the slide like champs

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# Movie Nights and Sleepovers

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Last year we tackled our favorite childhood movies from the 80s. This year was all 90s movies. Choices included: Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting, Pretty Woman and The Rock.

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Movie night sleepovers usually involves trying new drinks…

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…with a side of my favorite enchiladas…yum.

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This is what my kitchen usually looks like after we hang. ha!

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# Road-tripping it up in Salt Lake City

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Introducing them to Caputo’s…

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…and dragging the boys to Pottery Barn Kids to find a baby gift. Thrilled, aren’t they?

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# Cuddling with the cutest puppies of all time, Bella & Sophie

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# Jump-starting cars…unlike last year’s flat tire lesson

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# Eating

FroYo after concerts…

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…introducing them to the magic that is Paco’s…

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…hitting up Herm’s for breakfast…

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…and, always, Rancheritos for the boys, who both seem to be mid-chew.

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These boys are serious about their Rancheritos.

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# And on the last night…Bowling

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This is what happens when you walk away from the lane to find a better ball. #bluedevilz

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It was such a fun night.

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And then that was it. Don’t make me cry.

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Here’s to a wonderful seven weeks and to seeing them sooner than next June. <insert all of the heart emojis>

# the greatest gift

I’m lucky in that I have a good gift-giver as a husband. He knows that the path to my heart is paved with kitchen tools and cookbooks. For our recent anniversary he gave me doughnut pans (which will be making their debut this weekend) and I have been on Cloud 9 ever since.

He’s lucky in that I’m not a huge jewelry girl. That is, until last Fall, when I fell fast and hard for a necklace. Pinned it, talked about it, swooned over it–never thinking that it would become a reality.

But, Christmas called. And Santa delivered my most favorite gift since I received Bella for my birthday years ago.

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Can you tell what it is?

This, my friends, is a necklace made from a cast of Bella’s nose. And I am totally in love.

If you know me, if you’ve read just one post on this blog, you know how obsessed I am with my fur baby. The reality of her getting older is not completely lost on me, though I do a damn good job swimming in denial. Just the thought of having to be without her brings on an all-out ugly cry.

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See that nose? I nuzzle and kiss it no less than 100 times a day, I’m sure. And now I have it forever.

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The genius behind this piece of art is Jackie Kaufman. Once Joe placed his order, she sent us a packet of molds with crystal clear instructions. I was worried about both me messing it up and Bella absolutely hating her nose surrounded in putty, but it was as quick and painless as can be.

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Bella, the forever skeptic. “What IS this stuff?”

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Sorry, no photos of the process, since it took his hands to hold her and my hands to take the mold.

Our three molds! The one closest to the camera is the one she ended up using.

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Fast-forward a few months and it was here! The best part was Jackie returned the mold she used, which I’ll also keep forever.

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She also engraved the back with Bella’s name. Which made me tear up even more when I opened the box.

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Thank you Jackie and Joe, for this amazing gift, for preserving Bells’ symbol of curiosity and love that I will forever keep close to my heart.

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Obsessed with your own fur baby? Head over to Jackie’s Etsy shop to start your necklace today. Her gifts will quite literally rock your world.

# this and that

Joe and I are enjoying a rare night off tonight. I don’t remember it being like this when I was in school, but it seems every concert, every performance, every recital, every event is crammed into the last two weeks of school here. It’s been absolutely non-stop for us!

And, you won’t believe it…or maybe you will, but we’re supposed to get snow tomorrow and Wednesday. I can’t even go there right now, especially after having such a gorgeous weekend.

So, before we haul out the boots again, here’s what we’ve been up to:

1. Of all the performances we caught last week, Joe’s concert was the biggest and the best. It’s so awesome to watch him in action. I did catch this not-so-great photo from my seat, ushers be damned.

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One of the pieces they performed didn’t even use a conductor. It’s a piece called “Cave” and used special lighting and choreography that Joe coordinated. You can watch a video of the performance that’s posted on the Marching Band’s Facebook page.

2. Night at the Museum — Our friend Chris opened an exhibit at the USU art museum with several of his colleagues from the UK. They are part of a grant that’s exploring Theosophy. The exhibit was very well done (no photos allowed) and was followed by a string quartet recital, which was really great. Here are a few photos I caught of the beginning of the exhibit before the docent yelled at me.

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3. Blood Moon — Did you guys stay up to catch last week’s Blood Moon? I didn’t. Even on Utah time, I couldn’t stay up that late on a school work night. But, Joe did and got these great shots with my “purse camera.” It was a nice surprise to find them the next day.
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4. In some sad news, one of my all-time favorite authors died last week. Gabriel Garcia Marquez was known for his magical realism, but it was his beautiful descriptions that made me fall in love with him first. I don’t re-read many books, but his 100 Years of Solitude has been in my hands at least five times and will forever be in my top five books. I’ve read many of  GGM’s other works, but nothing holds a candle to 100, in my not-so-humble opinion. Here’s his NYTimes obit…The Conjurer of Literary Magic. I love it. I know this sounds strange, but I feel honored in a way to have lived at the same time as him. True Greatness. Please go read his works.

5. In more sad news, Friday was the 19th anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing. I guess as an Okie you never get that date out of your head. What a horrific day for my lovely home state. I think next time we’re in Oklahoma I’ll take Joe to see the memorial. It’s been probably 12-13 years since I’ve been there myself.

6. And to leave you on a happy note, we took Bella back to the dog park this weekend. Here are the highlights. This collie was the biggest “mother hen” of a dog. Always trying to keep the peace and everyone in line. Bella was intrigued by her bossiness.
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Look who was there! Her old friend from the week before.
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Here she is ignoring new friend requests:
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The biggest and the smallest:
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Here’s to another busy week, this time with snow…April snow showers bring what?

# apples to apples

When you’re 32 you think you have everything figured out. Well, letsbehonest, I’ve probably felt like that since I was 13, but I was never foolin’ anyone but myself. This realization was painfully obvious when I started my new job. And not for reasons one would think, like learning new computer systems, absorbing tons of program info…nope! It was when I started packing my lunch.

I’m a total creature of habit (proven here and here) especially when it comes to my lunch, but I knew that around 3:30 every day I’d feel a blood-sugar lull. And since Diet Coke has been out of my system since November (CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!), I decided to go with an apple.

But here’s the deal, I didn’t know which kind of apple I really liked. For years, I’ve stared down the produce aisle, reading descriptions, but usually just end up picking what’s on sale or what sounds good. I’ve had good apples–never bothering to remember what I was trying from one week to the next–but, most of the time I suffered from major apple disappointment. To me, there’s nothing worse than a soft, mushy apple. #theworst

It was imperative to me, as a 30+-year-old, to know what apple I like best. I treated it like a life mission.

Have you seen Runaway Bride, the very distant second-best movie starring Richard and Julia?

In it, Richard proves that Julia doesn’t know who she is because she doesn’t know which kind of eggs she likes.

And when she’s ready to show her commitment to (Spoiler Alert!) him, she tells him flat out: I like Eggs Benedict. It sounds silly, but it’s really a very sweet moment.

This is a really horrible montage with Chinese subtitles, but it covers the most important parts:

Well, here’s our grand reveal: I like Gala apples. And Joe likes Fuji.

It took us a few weeks, but consider our testing complete. We’ve both found the perfect combination of tartness, sweetness and crunch for our tastes. It’s liberating. I don’t feel like my not-knowing for so long was due to any man-hopping like in the movie, but just a general unawareness of me. A total result of going through the motions and not really caring.

But, here’s the kicker. Ever since I came out with my Gala-apple-love-affair, I’ve been one happy lady every afternoon. I never have to worry if I’m going to like it and, I know this sounds crazy, but I feel really satisfied knowing what I like…in essence, who I am.

It’s a bit liberating and I want that assurance and confidence to flow into other parts of my life.

“Red Delicious apples are red, yet not a bit delicious. I’ll never buy one again.”

“I hate books set during the Civil War. I won’t read another one.”

“I like mayonnaise, not Miracle Whip like Joe. It’s okay to have both in the fridge at all times.”

Let’s take a stand on who we are and what we enjoy! And stop wasting time and apologizing in any form over something we don’t like. (I’m giving myself a pep talk here.)

Next stop on my testing train is…eggs. Just like in the movie. Except I grew up thinking I didn’t like eggs and have only had them scrambled…ever. And usually piled high with veggies, cheese and salsa. (I really hate anything that tastes eggy–french toast, bread pudding, souffles..so this could be a short test.) Am I missing out on life’s greatest treasures? Doubtful you can sell me on the hard-boiled variety–I blame my sulfa allergy, but what ways do you prefer you eggs? I don’t think I can even name them all!

Sunny Side Up
Over Easy
Over Medium (?)
Poached
Fried
Deviled
Benedict (I already love Hollandaise sauce.)
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What am I missing? Will I like runny yolks? It’s an anxiety I didn’t know I had, but what better time to figure this out than before Easter. I think my first stop will be Pioneer Woman’s Egg-in-a-Hole. There’s something about the safe embrace of a piece of bread that makes me think my first foray away from scrambled will be okay. I’ll be taste-testing in the privacy of my own home, but will keep you posted. You’re all on pins and needles, I’m sure.

# in the middle

Sometimes I don’t feel like blogging. I don’t feel like talking about a lot of nothing with people I know (and a lot I don’t…hi!). I don’t want to waste anyone’s time, including my own.

This week has been pretty unremarkable. Sure, it’s had its highs (I’ve already won the March Madness bracket at work and at home. #gogata) and lows (surprise! more snow storms), but nothing I feel deserves its own post.

But…

Who wants a life where every week is life-changing? …I don’t.

But…

I made a promise to myself to keep this blog going, come hell or high water snow.

But…

Sometimes you just have to keep creating. Dreams aren’t made from quitting.

Our bacon-lovin’ friends, Chris and Chilali, shared this video recently and it was absolutely what I needed to hear. It is exactly how I feel some days. As a musician, you’d think I’d be well-versed in the art of practicing, the ability to plow through anything, but reminders never hurt.

So here I am…with you…trying to make the world a little bit more creative, even on weeks when we find ourselves between the peaks, fighting the good fight. Thanks for sticking through it with me.

Keep practicing. Keep creating. The middle is a lovely place to be. …I should know.

# mormon marci

Do you guys read Buzz Feed? It’s one of those highly-entertaining traps on the interwebs, whose random, but always spot-on observations leave you browsing for days. Seriously, check it out if you’ve never been on there.

A few weeks ago, they published a list of 25 Things Mormon Girls Love. Well, how appropriate. It was all fun and games going through the list until I realized that I also love about half the things included. In all honesty, most girls between the ages of 18-35 probably love these things. But, it made me feel like maybe we’re not so different after all and it at least gave me some talking points whenever I find myself needing to bond with a sistah.

Here are the ways in which I’m apparently like Mormon girls. Please note when checking out the original list that there are several things that I absolutely can’t stand, like numbers 6 and 11, and Joe wants it to be known that he had nothing in common with their list of things Mormon Bros love, except maybe his mom and hanging out. Who doesn’t love those?

Pinterest:  Hellllllllo. Pinterest is my ultimate escape. Now that Google Reader bit the dust, I use it to catalog my blog recipes and collect design inspiration. What girl doesn’t think that Pinterest is the best thing ever??

Diet Coke: Guilty. Guilty, guilty, guilty. I go back and forth in my drinking of diet coke, but right now it’s on like Donkey Kong and I love it. I will be trying to phase it out completely by the Fall, but they don’t have to know that. Hell Heck, even I’m trying to not know that right now.

FroYo: Again, who doesn’t like frozen yogurt? Except my cup never looks so pretty as their example. I eat my FroYo like a child – completely covered in multi-colored sprinkles and gummy bears. This is no place to act like an adult.

Target: I did love Target, but Logan doesn’t have one. (….waiting for that to sink in…) The nearest one is an hour away! I don’t love it *that* much! #denial

Cute Handwriting: Ahhahahahah! Handwriting! Those that know me well, know what handwriting means to me. I guess I don’t have to love it in silence anymore. #winning

Photography Side Business: Yeeeeah, I’m working on it.

Cupcakes: These are up there. I mean, Julisa and I did create NWS’ Cupcake Fridays that are STILL going on to this day. You’re welcome.

Blogs: These have always been a big love of mine. Before Google Reader died while we were trekking across the country, I probably read over 100 that ranged in topics from food, photography, food photography and books to my friends and their families’ personal blogs.

Swimsuits by Jessica Rey: Totally random, but I just was recently introduced to her modest line of swimwear and I fell in love. If they weren’t already sold out, I’d probably be the owner of this, this or this.

So, while I feel like I may be a fish out of water up here at least I know there are general points where we’re all the same. Girls just wanna have fun. Now, who wants some FroYo?

Side note: DTRs? “Define the Relationship.” I just saved most of you a Google search.

# resolute

This is going to sound incredibly cliche, but my a-ha moment came on New Year’s Eve. I’ve always been one for inner reflection and there’s no better time to do that as one year comes to a close. And as I started to think about 2012, I realized for the first time in my life I wasn’t content with what it had yielded. I had spent half the year dreaming of “what ifs” and the other half of the year in a job whose commute left me drained/exhausted/cranky. I had also spent the year rejoicing, mourning, and problem solving with my closest friends on their big life events and had neglected myself in the process. No one’s fault but mine and I vowed that night to change it all.

2013 was going to be the Year of Marci…or the Year of Marci and Joe.

And now, halfway through, I’m thrilled to report on the changes that have made all the difference:

Recipes, Restaurants and Recreation, oh my!

I’m a cookbook and recipe horder. (Thanks, Mom!) One look at my Pinterest boards and you’ll quickly see my dilemna: Too much food, too little time. Quick resolution #1: Try new recipes, break in those books on the shelves and give Pinterest a run for its money. This was the easiest change, and maybe the most fun in many ways. We’ve also cut back on going out to eat. Before, we weren’t really monitoring or planning evenings out and now we’re much more intentional with our time, money and calories. And, speaking of calories…it was time to get back to the gym. In Miami I was in the best shape of my life, but one Frank Gehry building, two surgeries and a move to Virginia later, I could no longer even see the Bandwagon from the dust. I’m not a big diet person…they don’t work for me, I don’t like them and I have never wanted anyone telling me what to eat or not eat. Hitting the gym is really the best way to keep things in check and I actually like getting sweaty with strangers. (Wait, that sounds wrong.) I love that I’m back on a schedule, have Joe’s incredible support and am now down 20 pounds since January 1. Slow and steady, baby.

Me Time v. We Time

Part of having a horrible commute (and I’m talking over an hour and a half, one way) is that your time away from work is suddenly very precious. Before I started working, I was able to talk to my friends and family every week for hours–something I’ve always loved–but when that daily trek started in, I had to cut back. I don’t talk to everyone via phone that much during the week and….I love it. I save weekends for the long catch-up sessions I want and need, but have saved those “school nights” to recharge my batteries and give back to myself. It made me feel selfish at first, but I knew it needed to happen and I spend so much more time with Joe and Bella…*bonus*.

Express yo’self

All five of you reading this were probably the loyal readers of my former blog, “Marcilicious,” which chronicled life in Mexico, China and a special Project 365 during our engagement and wedding. Then life happened and I let it fall away, but I’ve always missed it. I missed the writing. I missed the photography. Bring me back the things I loved! ….so here we are….on the eve of a new adventure, five months in to an already great year and a new blog to capture all of the crazies along the way. I’m glad you’re here, but mostly I’m glad that I’M here and happy.