Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Commuting - A Perspective

When Steve and I were house-hunting, we didn't take my commute to and from work into account for a few reasons. One of these reasons is that I don't mind commuting. It allows me some time to myself, some time to people watch, some time to unwind before I get home. This morning I realized that there are lots of things that cross my mind and think about and I observe or do while I'm gallivanting back and forth to the place I spend a third of my weekly existence. I thought it could be fun to share a few of them with you. Maybe you can relate.

(After scratching the inside of my nose) "Wow... that guy in the plumbing truck totally just saw me doing that. And he's on the phone telling his friend. Great. Good thing I'm married or I'd feel awkward right now because a decent looking guy saw me pick my nose."

Once when I had my old Buick I was driving to work with the windows down (the A/C didn't work that well). Stuck in dead-stop traffic, I made the most of it. I turned up my Alanis Morrisette CD and started singing along to the music. I looked over to my right, and an older couple whose windows were also down had caught me in the act. They smiled, waved, and I was glad to see that someone appreciated my ability to have fun in traffic. 

"This is a lot of traffic. I'm guessing there's a massacre of a car wreck up ahead." (A few minutes later...) "Nope... nope. Just a tiny bumper bump. Move along people."

I see more BMW's broken down on the side of the road than any other "luxury" car on a regular basis. Why do people buy these things again?

Of all the things that have changed on this interstate over the years, it's good to see they still haven't taken down the "Jesus Saves" signs.  There's something reassuring about that daily reminder. 

Someone added that bottom sign sometime in 2009 or 2010. It disappeared after a few months, but the "Jesus Saves" sign is still posted on either side of the highway in the same area on an electric pole - and has been for ages.

I wonder if anyone else just wants to get home so they can have a hug after the day they had. I wonder if anyone here that doesn't have someone wishes they had someone to hug. I wonder if they saw that sign back there.

Those clouds are pretty dark... looks like a thunderstorm. Wait... why the crap is it SNOWING???

Why is it when I've got plenty of time to get to work there's no traffic at all... but when I'm either running late or JUST have enough time: I don't move. 

It's a nice feeling to arrive safely to your destination.  

Thursday, March 24, 2011


For those who don't know, Starbucks has these free songs that you can download. You just get the little cards from the store, go to iTunes, enter in the code and download them.

Truthfully - a lot of them have sucked. But there have been a couple that I've absolutely fallen in love with. One of them I wanted to share with you because I love the positive attitude behind it. Instead of the bad - look at the good. Check it out - and maybe today instead of being sad... be happy.

Instead of feeling bad
Be glad you got somewhere to go
Instead of feeling sad
Be happy you're not all alone
Instead of feeling low
Get high on everything you love
Instead of wastin' time
Feel good 'bout what you are dreaming of

Instead of trying to win something you never understood
Just play the game you know eventually you will you both look good

It's silly to pretend to have something you don't own
Just let her be a woman and you'll be her man

Instead of feelin' broke
Buck up and get yourself in the black
Instead of losing hope
Touch up the things that feel out of whack
Instead of being old
Be young because you know you are
Instead of feeling cold
Let sunshine into your heart

Instead of acting crazy chasing things that make you mad
Keep your heart ahead, it'll lead you back to what you have
With every step you are closer to the place you need to be
It's up to you to let her love you sweetly

Instead of acting crazy chasing things that make you mad
Just keep your heart ahead, it'll lead you back to what you have
With every step you are closer to the place you need to be
But it's up to you to let her love you sweetly

Instead of feeling bad
Be glad you got someone to love
Instead of feeling sad
Be happy there's a god above
Instead of feeling 'lone
Remember you are never on your own
Instead of feeling sad
Be happy that she's there at home
She's waitin' for by the phone
So be glad she all your own

Friday, March 18, 2011

Top 5 - Looking Ahead

The folks on the radio this morning said that there's going to be a freak day of just about 70 degrees today before it heads back into our seasonal normal temperature of the 40s over the weekend. These brief glimpses of spring that we tend to get in March in New England make me excited for blooming flowers, budding branches, disappearance of snow, birds chirping... Spring is one of my favorite seasons. So with that, I can't help but think about the

Top 5 Things I'm Looking Forward to 
With Spring's Arrival

Running Outside: Last year I shared with you my new-found enjoyment of running. While I don't mind running on the treadmill and have been seeing improvement in that area, I need to get outside where the pavement doesn't help propel me forward and the fresh air fills up my lungs. I'm excited for consistently nice weather so that I can get out there and let the rubber of my soles meet the road instead of the rotating belt of a treadmill.

View Larger Map

Lake Quannapowitt - Where I ran my first 5K!

Steve Grilling: Yes, I know that a lot of hearty New Englanders will grill all winter. But... Steve and I are not fans of hanging around outside in the cold, so when the weather gets that chill in the air we move inside and the cooking takes place over the gas of our stove rather than the grill. Spring's arrival means that Steve starts to get the grilling "itch", and now that we have a house he's already looking for times when it won't be freezing and he can start grilling. Since it saves money on the gas bill, gives me a break from after-work cooking, and makes Steve happy - I love when grill-time hits. (Plus - it's freaking delicious!!!)
Steve's inaugural grilling at our house - 2010. Complete with beer.

Our Garden: Last year we moved into our house in July which means that we missed half of a season (roughly) of what the flowers in our garden do in terms of blooming or what they are. I'm excited to start this year off as the snow melts and the first leaves & buds start to appear on the bushes and stems of the garden. I'm looking forward to more time with our irises before they're out of season, the purple blanket flowers in the backyard, and being able to spend more time with roses and lilies in full bloom.

Can't wait for areas like this one to start coming into bud & bloom!

4-40 Drives Home From Work: I believe that in the past I've shared with you my guilty pleasure of singing in the car, and the spring is my absolute favorite time to do that. Yesterday with temperatures in the 60's I dropped the front 2 windows, blasted some tunes, sang along with them, and yes - even car danced a bit. Sorry, but when Shaggy & Josey Wales start singing "Sweet Jamaica" I'm forced to extreme measures. For those of you who saw me on route 3 dancing while waiting to get through the traffic to the Drum Hill Rotary yesterday - you're just jealous you don't have as much fun in the car as I do.

Don't even say you wouldn't be dancing too. I won't believe you.

Closer to Summer: Summers now that we've moved have changed, and I'm actually looking forward to it now more than ever. I can't wait for summer evenings on the deck enjoying dinner & drinks with Steve, friends and family who come over, and the birds that fly around our neighborhood. Weekends out in the garden with the sun beating down on us, getting my hands dirty and just enjoying keeping up with everything out there. Sunday mornings on the front porch enjoying my coffee. Home improvement projects that I'll get to work on side-by-side with Steve, enjoying each other's company as well as knocking some things off the "punch list". Participating in my very first CSA from a farm right here in our town - Bear Hill Farm. There is so much that I am looking forward to this summer - so many little things that are just going to be a ton of fun - that I am excited about it.

Are you excited for spring?What are you excited about?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

It All Comes Down To This

Growing up in our family we had only one rule: Love, honor, and respect your mother. That was it. My stepdad was pretty darned clear about that with us kids. And when it boiled down to it - it's amazing how many things that a child/teenager does wrong can fall into this category. Skip class? You weren't respecting the hard work your mother does to provide you the opportunity to go to school. Fight with siblings? You were breaking Mom's heart. Talk back? Well, that's not loving & respecting Mom, is it? It hurts her when you talk to her like that.

Above all else, we had to love Mom. At the end of the day that was easy because Mom's awesome. She's loving, she's fun, she's genuine, and she's full of grace for her kids.  And believe me when I tell you we've each screwed up pretty well and don't deserve the grace she gives us sometimes.

Me & my mom - getting pedicures together - Fall 2010

Today I was reading Matthew 22:37-40, and you see Jesus essentially giving us the same instruction about our relationship with God as my stepdad gave us for our relationship with our mom (which... I guess I should thank my parents for some sort of life lesson here...):

Jesus replied, “'You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

Greatest command of all the commands? Love God with your everything. Without abandon. With your heart, soul, mind, & strength - Love God. Second? Love each other, presumably in as close to the same fashion as possible. We're created in God's image - each of us - so I think that in order to show God our love, we MUST love each other. It's a very tangible way to arrive at fulfilling the first greatest command.

And when you think about it - when Jesus says that the "entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments" - it makes a ton of sense. If we're loving God first and loving each other second, we will choose actions, words, and deeds that will esteem these two things. The rest will fall in place. We are called to LOVE - if we strive towards LOVE in all that we do - if we put God and loving God first - imagine what the world would be like.

Imagine what our relationship with God could be like.

I know that when I let go and loved, honored, and respected my mom - she became one of my best friends. If we do the same with God - love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, & strength - and love others without abandon... imagine what could happen.


Friday, March 4, 2011

Giveaway Alert at Town & Country Prep!

One of my oldest friends Kristin recently renewed her blogging aspirations and started up a "Town and Country Prep" blog. I enjoy reading her posts; in them she talks about preppy fashion, some of her trips (she recently talked about a trip to Foxwoods), reading, and other things that she loves to do and see. One of my favorite posts she's written so far was a recap of a trip to the outlet stores where she showcased her Ralph Lauren items that she snagged - including one of their cable knit sweaters. I agreed with her assessment of the cable quality; one of my favorite cardigans is my Ralph Lauren black cable knit hoodie that I snagged at TJ Maxx.

At any rate - the reason I am sharing this with you (besides shamelessly trying to get an old friend some new readers), is that she has posted that she's hit double-digit followers AND in celebration of that is having her very first giveaway! She'll be giving away a notepad from Three Designing Women from a steal she got over at One King's Lane - and of course I'm entering this fabulous contest, because I have an problem with stationary. I love it. That's my problem.

I went over and checked out the goods over at Three Designing Women, and I have to say the designs are VERY pretty. I love a lot of them, but got excited to see that they do have some blue & chocolate patterns. Check out these patterns I found!

Notecard Pattern - the center is so you can add your personalized stamp.

Isn't this notepad gorgeous?

THEY SELL BOOKMARKS! I love bookmarks.
Anyways - if you love stationary and want a chance to get some fo' free from a company whose product looks super pretty: this is the contest you want to enter. Head on over to Kristin's blog and put your name in the hat!

Link Recap:
Kristin's Contest (enter until 3/9): CLICK HERE
Three Designing Women (because their stuff looks purty, even if you don't win): CLICK HERE
One King's Lane (deals on homegoods, gourmet food, stationary, and more!): CLICK HERE

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Book Review: Love & War

After reading their book "Captivating" and really getting a lot out of it, I was excited to dive into the "Love and War Devotional" by John & Stasi Eldridge with my husband. I knew that they would be able to impart a lot of wisdom and encouragement through their writing, and I was not disappointed.

The devotional begins with an introduction explaining the purpose of the book and detailing out the plan. The "plan" is a reading plan of 5 days of devotionals that close out with an "exercise" for you as a couple to participate in and lasts for 8 weeks. The devotionals were short, engaging, and spoke honestly about where room for God is in our marriages. Each devotional began and closed with a brief, applicable passage from scripture and also included a prayer asking God to speak into your marriage in a way that is in line with the devotional of the day.

The closing exercise is usually discussion-based, but can sometimes take the form of an action that you can perform for your spouse. These are meant to help you work on deepening your relationship and expressing your love for each other in tangible ways. The exercises were well explained and easy to do, which is good - especially since we were reading through our devotional at the end of the day and would need to remember it the next day or be able to engage in deep conversation at bedtime.

Overall we enjoyed going through this devotional together and now that we've finished I feel like a part of our nightly routine is missing. For us it was the first devotional we went through as a couple and I think that because John & Stasi write so honestly (a few times they reference their own struggles in marriage) it makes these devotionals easy to read and relate to. We often found that the devotional of the day was immediately applicable to what was going on in our marriage at that time. I enjoyed this enough that I would read through it again after a period of time (say, same time next year or something) so that it becomes fresh again; it will always be applicable.

I definitely recommend this to any couple who is looking for a basic devotional to read through together. It was easy to read, immediately applicable, and just about any couple that has a desire for continuous improvement and growth in their marriage would be able to relate to this devotional.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Waterbrook Multnomah Blogging for Books book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”*

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Fruits of Idle Hands - Part 2

As I mentioned in my last post - on Sunday in a fit of borderline boredom I went nuts creating and cooking. The results were the previously posted apple-cranberry spice cake and the recipe in the post you're currently reading - carrot soup. Both of these were smash hits with the husband, which made me a bit excited since I was flying by the seat of my pants making things I'd never made anything similar to before. In fact, the carrot soup was such a hit that this morning Steve looked at me and said "When are we making carrot soup again? Any answer other than '10 minutes from now' is unacceptable."

Clearly he was joking (we decided on this weekend to prepare for 2 nights of dinners next week). Anyways - I'll get on with it:

Danielle's Carrot Soup 
(Makes 4 servings)

Yummy soup - but Chef Anne Burrell would yell at me for messy bowls.

- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oils
- 4 cups chopped raw carrots
- 1 cup chopped red onions
- 1.5 cups vegetable stock
- 1.5 cups water
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
- 2 tsp dried basil
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1/2 tsp curry powder

- In a medium sized pot, heat the EVOO over medium-high heat.
- Add the carrots & onions and saute for about 5-7 minutes until onions begin to become opaque/translucent.
- Add the vegetable stock & water and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and allow to simmer for another 5 minutes or until carrots are fork-tender.
- Add remaining ingredients, stirring until they are fully combined. Allow to simmer for another 1-2 minutes or so to allow flavors to intermingle.
- Remove from heat and let cool for about 5 minutes.
- Pour all ingredients in blender and blend until completely pureed. If it seems a bit thick, add 1/4 cup water and blend again. Note - this should be a thicker soup, we found our perfect consistency to be kind of the same as a thicker tomato bisque would be.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate for future use.

As with any soup, there are things that you can add in to this. We've tested out both some Trader Joe's apple chicken sausage on one night and peas on another night. The peas - I thought - were a perfect addition to the soup, whereas the sausage seemed kind of out of place. We also served this with naan on the side and it was a perfect compliment to the dish. It's a great way to warm your core and I think can easily fall into the "comfort food" category.

Man... I love to cook.

Incase you're interested - the nutrition information for this recipe can be found here: Nutrition Information.

Side note - the sub-moral of the story is that all the watching of cooking shows in my life is seemingly paying off. I'm apparently learning through osmosis what flavor profiles go well together as well as some basics of how to do things.