The semester starts today and I can’t even believe it’s really time. Summer was too short, it went to quickly, I’m not fully ready, but it is what it is, the time is here and I’m as ready as I’ll be for the week.
It’s my birthday today!
I don’t you about you, but I’m feeling…thirty two!
OK, so I stole a little T-Swift and changed it up a bit. I think that song had just hit it’s peak when Big Sister turned 32 and I called her up to sing my updated version. Now it’s my turn to hum it all day long. I might hum it all year long, we’ll see.
But yes, I’m 32 years old and I couldn’t be happier about it. I have enjoyed my thirties so much so far and I think they’re only going to keep getting better! I’ve got a full day of me things to do starting with cycle, a full body massage, dinner with my man and plans for a celebratory glass of wine. I can’t think of anything better.
Oh wait, yes I can!
A Saturday trip to Pawhuska to visit Pioneer Woman’s Mercantile store, a lunch date at her restaurant, a tour of the Lodge where all the magic happens, and final stop to eat at her newest business, Charlie’s Sweet Shop. It’s my Oklahoma version of Disney World and lucky duck me, it’s happening tomorrow. I. Can’t. Wait.
Happy birthday to me! It’s going to be a good day, y’all!
Boy, what a year! I think everyone walked away from 2017 ready to jump into a fresh start and for the most part, this was a pretty awesome year, if I do say so myself.
I feel very fortunate that I had opportunities come my way and I’m so glad that I took them, not always knowing how the balance would work out. We got another year closer to Pyro Man’s graduation and with every step, we’re even more sure of the direction that’s taking us.
I thought it would be fun to go back through pictures from this year and I quickly realized that when I’m feeling swamped, the only pictures I take are of my animals and my dinner plate. Sooo, that’s a goal for 2019, more pictures of life and less meaningless shots.
In all seriousness thought, putting together this little grid made me stop and reflect on the last year, remembering more than just the last three months. This year started off a little slow, low on energy and low on inspiration. About May, just as I got out of school, I dove into living a heck of a lot more. I saw shows, spent tons of time outside, and went on adventures with Janson. Don’t get me wrong, I still taught like crazy but I felt refreshed and enjoyed every minute of it. Dancing really pulled me out of a slump. Go figure, right?
I traveled a bit, spent time with family, set an amazing show on an incredible group of kids—truly, probably the highlight of the year. In fact, I set a bunch of great pieces this year I felt really proud of. I worked. A lot. But this year I learned how to balance some things, let stuff roll off my back (still working on that one) and started shifting my mindset to help be a little less crazy and stressed. I’d say that worked about 85% of the time and whoa baby, did that do a lot for my fall semester!
My blog had a restart and thanks to a supportive picture taking husband, we had a lot more opportunity to collaborate together on something that I found creatively fun. Spending more time with him was a huge win this year and I’m happy we made those moments happen more often and those will keep happening this year! Best of all, I saw dear, dear friends that filled my love bucket and made so feel so grateful for that time. When everyone is scattered across the US, it’s so difficult to make visits happen. I’m glad I had chance to hug the necks of women I dearly miss.
When I stop to look back at 2018, I really think about the fun I had. Yeah, I know, a lot of those pictures I look just a wee bit tired, but I’m serious. I made a solid effort to enjoy my summer even with tons of classes and prep work to be done. I spent time living outside of work and I loved it. I made time and travel plans to see people and again, I loved that. Being worn out and exhausted is frustrating, but a change in mind set, a conscious choice in making the most out of what’s happening gave me a year of incredible fun.
Lately I’ve been feeling tired and looking ahead to the jam packed spring semester, I’m worried I’ll be in a constant state of irritation for lack of rest and free time. Looking back through 2018, I think I can change that attitude now. I just have to choose to make the best of a busy time. That’s life! It’s full and thank goodness there’s work to be done and pieces to be set and a need for me in this world!
If I want to have fun, I need to set time for it! If I want to travel, I need to just do it. If I want my life to be full, I need to live it.
As we wrap up this year, close out the old to welcome in the new and usher it in with new resolutions and knowledge from this year. There’s nothing special about January 1st, but there is something special about another opportunity to take another 365 days and fill them up with good memories, new ideas, and full hearts.
Alright, y’all, enough of carrying on! Bottom line, I hope you’ve had a wonderful 2018 and I want to wish you the happiest of new year’s!
Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!
In the spirit of the season, my favorite holiday, five grateful thoughts for today:
I’m thankful for the sweet people in my life. From husband to sister, mother and mother-in-laws, precious friends, nieces, nephews, brothers, fathers and all, I’ve got good folks in my life and I’m so very grateful to have them!
I’m thankful for my job. I have the best students in the world, a team of faculty and staff to lean on when needed and encourage whenever possible and days filled with dance. Sure, some days I might feel like my hair’s on fire, we all have stressful times, but most days, most days it’s just about pouring into students the passion for dance, teaching, and choreography.
I’m thankful for my fur creatures! Yes, truly! Without my shadow, Penny Pup, I’d be a little lost. She gives me so much love and I can’t imagine a day without her by my heels. Those kitties, while they may be persnickety at times, they are without a doubt the best fuzzy motors anyone could ask for, especially my Honey.
I’m thankful for all the great experiences I’ve had this year. Choreographing new works, meeting new performers in new venues, teaching, teaching and more teaching—it all fuels my life. It’s easy to forget in the trenches of work that all the time and efforts comes back ten fold to me, but I remember when those magic moments happen and I’m always grateful for those moments of pure bliss.
I’m thankful for you, dear reader! Whether you’re a friend, family, someone just reading, each time you click on to my site, you help to build my little passion project up and I appreciate those clicks and those comments. Small though it may be, this blog has been a small dream I keep coming back to, way too stubborn to quit even when it feels indescribably frustrating at times. You’re engagement helps and I thank you for that!
Alright y’all, go dive into that turkey, enjoy the game, watch the parade, but most importantly, take a moment to say “thank you!” for the life you have, the blessings around you, and the people you’ve got your in life!
My sister calls me up a couple weeks ago and says, "I've got it! I know a series you can start on your blog!" I'm thinking, okay, this could be interesting! Hit me!
She then tells me she's named her new Le Creuset Blue Blazes and she thinks it would be hilarious to post about all the dishes I make in my own blue Le Creuset calling it "What In Blue Blazes!" We laugh about it for a bit, but then she stops laughing and says, "No, I'm serious. It would be awesome." A few days later she starts a shared photo album with the same title and uploads all her blue dishes so far. I mean, this lady really IS serious.
So Big Sister, this is for you! The very first installment of...
What's In Blue Blazes!
It's Mardi Gras tomorrow! Heeeyyy! Time to get our Cajun on and ladies and (maybe a few) gentlemen, I am proud to say I have real Cajun roots I'm tapping into for the day! My mom's side of the family is from South Louisiana and we can go generations back all the way to Acadia. I don't think we can get any more authentic than that, folks.
So, in the spirit of this fat Tuesday celebration, I've got a simple shrimp etouffee to share! Mom passed this one to me, but the recipe was submitted to our '93 family reunion cookbook by her cousin, Lisa. Just to give you a little background, Lisa was a neat lady. She was a teacher--y'all, I come from a family of teachers so when I say it's in my blood, it really is. She taught English and art and of course, was an artist herself. She raised chickens and loved bird watching, but most of all she loved her family.
Sadly Lisa passed away almost two years ago and while I did not get to know Lisa very well, I do remember her driving her parents, my great Aunt Lou and Uncle Jeff to my wedding. I remember seeing her cut up the floor and laugh and have a wonderful time with the family. Those memories mean so much.
What's wonderful about food and recipes is that they can call to mind the people we knew, people we love, people we miss. So while I might not have many memories with Lisa, I have this recipe and it always calls her to mind. To me, it will always be Cousin Lisa's Shrimp Etouffee. Without further ado, here it is:
Cousin Lisa's Shrimp Etouffee
- 1 1/2 sticks of butter
- 2 onions, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 can of Rotel
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Parsley (1 cup)
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 can of cream of mushroom soupt
- Peeled, deveined shrimp
Sauté butter, onions, bell pepper, celery, Rotel and garlic. Let it all cook slowly for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Add lemon juice and parsley then stir and add the can of mushroom soup--mix all well! Add shrimp and cook until pink, just about 15 minutes. Or you can use cooked shrimp, just add and heat through at the end.
Makes 6-8 servings.
I serve it up over rice and mais, yeah, you've got yourself a good meal! It's really easy, incredibly delicious and sure to be a hit with a crowd!
Any Cajun food lovers out there?What are you favorite Mardi Gras meals?
She's a lawyer by trade, but I still say she could have made it as a Mupeteer. She likes a good steak and good red wine, but I happen to know an Arnold Palmer and a Chik-fil-a sandwich will also do the trick. She's the one I know can offer unbiased opinion and see all sides of a story. She's also the one who will fiercely defend her baby sister at a moments notice.
That's right folks, it's my Big Sister's birthday! So let's wish her a good one!
Happy Birthday to my Big Sister who, like all good big sisters, is always there.
I love you, Sarah!
Happy birthday to raddest Dad around!
He's bad to the bone, y'all. Just look at that hair. Don't think you get any cooler than that!
Happy birthday, Dad! I hope you have a good one!
Each November that comes around, I see the Christmas decor go up, the Christmas carols start playing and feel the pressure of people's excitement as they start the countdown. I get it. It's hard to wait and put off the most wonderful time of the year, but November, it's one of my favorite months.
I love Thanksgiving. I'm a turkey day lady, for sure. It's the best holiday to me--a day celebrate food, family, friends, and all the blessings we have in this life. For the past few years I've kept track of my thankful thoughts on Facebook, sharing with friends my grateful feelings for the day. Lately though, I'm spending less and less time on social media.
Don't get me wrong, I have my moments of flicking open the app and scrolling for a brain break, but I find myself sliding out it quickly, faster than in past months. Maybe my brain is somewhere else, maybe I'm finding more to do and focus on outside social media. Heck, even my Instagram account is seriously boring these last few months. I just haven't had the drive to document and post what's going on these days.
In any case, I thought this year was a good time to make my thankful thoughts more personal. So I took out my personal journal, unearthed one of my favorite pens and began writing down what I'm grateful for each day. One thing. That's it. And it didn't have to be earth shatteringly amazing. It's just something that made me stop and say, "Good grief, thank you for this."
Every day there should be a moment to say "thanks" or to feel grateful for something. It's an opportunity, a friendship, a missed ticket or wreck. The job you always wanted, the contract that finally came through, a relationship beginning or new dreams coming true. It's a pick up on the other end of the line, a good meal or a good laugh and maybe something about fitting into jeans or getting that last hug in before they left. It's big. It's small. It's whatever, but it's whatever means something to you.
Maybe you're on Facebook tonight or Instagram and scrolling through at the end of your day. What better of a time than now to put the phone down and say "so glad I have _______ in my life" That's it. Five seconds, no more.
I tried to find a grateful thought every day this last month because to tell you the truth, I really do forget how lucky I am in this life. It's easy to drift off into your own island and wish for something else not realizing someone's out there wishing for what you have. As we're closing out November, coming up on the big turkey day feast, try taking a minute to say find what you're thankful for this season.
"Sometimes in my little mess, I forget how big I'm blessed."
What are you grateful for these days?
Has it already been five years? Just like that, time is passing faster than I can imagine and I know we missed out on some memories these last two years, but we're making up for it now. Crazy as it sounds, I'm actually grateful for our long distance challenge. We learned a lot about what marriage is and what it takes to make it not just work, but to make it great. We took the challenge head on and saw it through to this, finally being home together again. So yeah, in some ways I am glad we had to climb that mountain together.
But really, we're not doing this long distance junk again. That chapter is closed. For reals. I mean it. Done.
Handsome, you're a peach, a darling, a Dr.-Pepper-Lovin'-man that drives me crazy but I love you. There's no one else in the world who can love me like you do. Many times you say or do the right thing and it makes me realize how much you know my heart. I count my lucky stars to have you in my life. Then you also do something wacky that makes me want to throat-chop you. Really, that's just balance though, right?
My sweet, I hope we always laugh and keep communicating. I hope we continue to grow together and lean on each other through all our future challenges. I hope we celebrate big for all the successes and excitements that come our way. I hope I keep you on your toes and I hope you do the same for me. I hope you continue to take me on adventures and I hope I continue to be your home. Mostly, I hope we continue to love, honor, and cherish one another. Always.
Happy fifth anniversary, Pyro Man!
I love you like crazy.
Three cheers for celebrating our anniversary ON our actual anniversary TOGETHER in the SAME. PLACE! Miracles do happen!
Y'all, it's FRIDAY!!
Whoop whoop! The students had finals all week and I've been grading like a mad woman, locked myself in my office and made a little nest for myself on the floor. I even have some ocean sounds playing in the background to keep me focused and sane. I wish I were kidding, but that stuff actually does work. Try it some time, let me know how it goes.
It's the end of another term and even though there's still a half-page of to-do's to be done, I can step back enough to say this was a good year. Sure, there are always lessons to be learned, no year is ever the same and just when I think I have it figured out, there's something new around the corner. It will never stop, that's just life. Still, I got to teach some awesome kids, watched a lot of growth in them, stretched myself in fresh classes, and even choreographed more than I expected, including a dinosaur dance. For reals.
Sometimes it's really easy to get caught up in thinking about next year. I've already got my summer list going of things to prep for August. I know. It's MAY and I'm already into fall. It's part of the job and it's hard to turn off the part of my brain that wants to improve everything, smooth out the kinks, try harder and fix what I knew I can do better. I really don't sit down and think about the good things that happened during the school year or even after.
I think it's good to look back, otherwise you're rushing through everything and you've forgotten to soak up the important stuff. So, I think as a little treat to myself, as a way to stop and smell the roses before the craziness begins again, I'm taking a few minutes to jot down the good things from this school year. I already know what needs to be edited and fixed. No brainer on that. But I want to remember all the wonderful moments that made this year a good one. And it was a very good year.
If you're ending your semester as a teacher or student, what's something wonderful that stands out as a beautiful memory?