28 August 2012

The Times They Are A Changin'

Yesterday at work, I had two totally unrelated but still connected conversations that made the wheels in my head start spinning about Miles from Ordinary.

The first was with a "friend". We've drifted over the last few months for various reason and yesterdays conversation was the first in a very long time.

The second conversation was with my boss regarding a new "project" that landed on my desk yesterday afternoon.

The questions were totally different yet almost the same: "What have you been doing?" and "What do you do with that?"

But my answer was the same: Writing on my blog.

This past weekend I started thinking about my "August in Review" post, making a list of things I wanted to make sure I highlighted: Northwest Michigan Fair, Beach Bums games, running, etc. But then as it tends to do, my mind started to wander and this time it was to this summer as a whole; from where I started to where I am now and how slightly absurd it seemed that "at my age" I would even be reflecting at how much my self-perception has changed over the last nine weeks or so. But that's just it--the last nine weeks have been a tiny drop in the ocean.

I am constantly saying to friends "Our stories are all different and our chapters are never sorted out in the same order". I've had to remind myself of this more than normal this summer. I have had to remind myself that everyone is on a different path, but the one I am on is the perfect path because it is mine.

It doesn't make things easier to swallow, but helps to ground me to where I am at. It helps to remind me that what makes me feel sort of itchy and out of place is a sign that change is coming-even if I don't feel like it's always for the better.

These past nine weeks have gotten me back to being me. I've started to sort some things out that I didn't necessarily want to deal with (the truth is a necessary evil that sometimes hurts). I've started to open up again, mainly through honest to goodness journaling--the nitty gritty "Dear Diary: Last night was rough. I spent too many hours curled up on the bathroom floor talking myself down. Old habits die hard and I've the scars to prove it." entries. I've started to re-evaluate relationships and friendships, letting go of the unhealthy ones and I've stopped hiding behind a wall of shyness because someone might not like what I have to say.

There is a real freedom in getting to a place where you can be yourself when the only person you are with is yourself.

Most of this is just me thinking out loud. When it comes down to it, none of the above really had anything to do with my blog. But change is definitely coming. Writing here has helped to facilitate some of my non-public writing and some of that is going to start to flow over. For this to be the most honest representation of me and my life, it's going to have to include some of the things that are important to me. It's going to have to include the good, the bad and the ugly.

25 August 2012

I believe that it's better to be looked over than it is to be overlooked.

-Mae West

This isn't the quote I wanted for today, but it works. The one I wanted I can't find thus I can't confirm that it was really Debbie Allen who said it, although I'm 99.9% sure she did say it on Oprah. Anyway, the quote went something along the lines of "If you don't want to look at yourself naked in front of the mirror, why would anyone else? You have to love yourself before anyone else can love you."

All summer, I have focused on this notion of "self love" and how the hell I was supposed to track it down. Some days it felt as elusive as Carmen San Diego, while other days it seemed as over exposed  and easy to find as the Kardashian clan (or now Prince Harry if you really want to be relevant with the times--which by the way, good for him, he's 28, let the man let his hair, or pants down, and have some fun. No harm, no foul!).

So of course I started trying to focus on the times when I have been the most comfortable in my own skin. The times when I've been able to say "I'm pretty damn awesome and I don't just mean my brain, but every square inch of me". I know those times exist. I've lived them and I missed them.

Then on Thursday Jes over at the The Militant Baker posted this: 25 Things Fat People Shouldn't Do. It's a brilliant response to some pretty ridiculous awful things she found on the world wide web about what fat people should and shouldn't do. The list ranges from eating in public to running and riding a bike to I think my personal favorite, live. Oh and shimmying. We aren't supposed to shimmy. *insert eye roll*

But the one thing that stuck out most to me on the list was "Make art of themselves" because obviously   fat people aren't pretty or beautiful or worth looking at and you can only make art with "beautiful" (i.e. not fat!) people. Pfft I say! There is no normal when it comes to beauty. People come in all different shapes, sizes and color and each and everyone of them is beautiful in their own way.

I somehow managed to fall out of love with it, but there was a time that when I was the most comfortable with myself was when I turned the camera on myself; when I set-up my lights, tripod and set the self timer (or remote if I could find it) and took photographs of myself. I didn't worry about what people thought or said or if they liked them or didn't like them or whatever. Some of the images I caught of myself (this is why I loved the self timer) were some of the most carefree and honest photographs I have of myself and some I might even put in the category of "art". Of course they didn't all turn out the way I wanted, but most of the time I was pleasantly surprised by the images I saw staring back at myself from my computer screen. They weren't images of the timid, unsure, worried, self-conscious girl I saw every morning in the mirror. These images showed a strong, confident woman who could take on the world. I wanted to be her.

But what those photographs really showed me was that I already was her.

I don't know when I misplaced that part of myself. It was somewhere between the leaving of Captain Random (long, complicated and slightly frustrating story) and realizing that I'm tired of watching other live the life I want (sorry to be vague but there will be an upcoming post about that). I've decided that one of the only ways to get back to that place, that place of pure, unadulterated confidence is to step back in front of the camera again. To pick up where I left off and to just keep going with the project.

Below are some of the photographs (my favorites!) I had previously taken. I had actually joked with friends that I should just name the series "From Bed" but that remains to be undecided.

I'll be updating the project over on 500px if you'd like to follow along: Me Through My Lens

22 August 2012

Recipe: Gnocchi with Mushrooms, Tomato & Spinach

When I decided to start following a vegetarian diet (more on that in an upcoming post), I started to look at ingredients in the grocery store a whole new way. It's weird, but it was almost like as soon as I decided to stop eating meat, my brain kicked itself into over drive and decided it wanted to be creative and learn new recipes and ways of eating some of my favorite meals.  

This is one of my favorite go-to meals when I'm totally stumped as to what to make for dinner. It's quick, easy and really delicious. 

The Goods:
*1 serving gnocchi, prepared via instructions on package
*2 roma tomatoes, chopped
*2 white mushrooms, sliced <--I really like mushrooms, so depending on the size of the shroom you are using, you may only want to use 1 mushroom
*1/2 small onion, chopped
*1 garlic clove, minced
*1 cup spinach
*1/4 Veggie Shreds-mozzarella flavor

In the same pot I cooked the gnocchi, I added the garlic , mushrooms and onion until the mushrooms became tender. 

Next I added the spinach until it was "wilted" (such a terrible cooking term). 
I then added the gnocchi for about 30 seconds to cover with sauce. To serve, I added the Veggie Shreds and seasoned with salt and pepper to taste.

I will admit that this makes a lot of "sauce" and could most likely be shared between 2 servings of gnocchi, but I'm one of those folks that loves to have extra sauce left over so that I can soak it up with my crusty French bread at the end of the meal. 

Happy cooking!

20 August 2012

Music Monday: Imagine Dragons

I will fully admit to being a music snob.

For me, an artist lives or dies by their live performances, whether they be on the big stage or a small intimate setting. If your music doesn't sound just as good or better than your album, you are dead to me.  Harsh, but for me, live music is where it's at. Not an album that has been produced so much that you don't even recognize the songs when they are preformed lived.

Over the last six months or so, I have become positively obsessed with the percussion section of a song. I've found myself more times than not following the drum lines and beat rather than my usual focus on the guitar. I immediately fell in love with Imagine Dragons song It's Time the first time I heard it. I adore the intro to this one and have listened to it on repeat over and over and over.

And bonus.....the lyrics are brilliant AND the mandolin (someday I'm going to learn to play my own mandolin) is heavily featured. All of that together makes this a perfect song for me.

19 August 2012

Skinny, what?!

I am making it my mission to get a photo of Sadie with me where she is actually looking at the camera. She was having absolutely none of it tonight, not matter how many times I told her she is the best accessory I owned.

Can we talk about skinny jeans for a moment?

I've seen them all over the web, friends have them, they are featured in fashion magazines and all over ads for my favorite clothing stores. I think they are super cute, but it's a style that I shouldn't wear--I just don't have the shape for them. I'm all hips. Sure, I have long legs but am short waisted which generally negates the length of my legs. Although, if I wear things at my natural length I don't have to try really hard to go at Stever Urkel for Halloween.

Yesterday I went out and purposely bought myself a pair of skinny jeans and I LOVE THEM. They fit like a glove and do wonderful things for my curves. I can't wait to pair these jeans with boots and chunky sweater this fall.

Jeans: Old Navy
Shirt: Old Navy
Shoes: Steve Madden

I also went and got a hair cut this weekend. As much as I love my red hair, I'm on a quest to get it back to my natural hair color which is somewhere between a light brown and blonde.

A couple weeks ago Rachele requested the photos be done with different angles. So here you go.....my least favorite angle to be photographed in. As a photographer, I'm pretty good at making folks comfortable in front of them camera, but when it comes to photographing myself.....not so much.

O.k.....so posting that wasn't so bad.  ;)

18 August 2012

Hipsta Week

Sunday: A little Frontier League baseball //Monday: I am obsessed with my sunflower //Tuesday: Bird Bath //Wednesday: Bunny //Thursday: Suntan & Sharkia, my desk pals at work //Friday: Got my hair did this week //Saturday: Hosta

17 August 2012

The Simple Life

Every few months or so, I have this bizarre internal freak out where I want to get rid of everything I own and start over.

I have whole list of things I want to do. Places I want to go. But none of it is possible with my current lifestyle. I feel like I'm tied down by "my stuff" which translates to bills, responsibilities, debt, etc.

Call it age. Call it wisdom or just plain exhaustion from trying to keep up with the Jones' (who are these people anyway and why do so many of us try to keep up with them--to be honest, I'm not even sure I like them), it's time to change.

Over the last few weeks, I've really paid attention to where my money goes and trying to figure out what changes (small changes) I can make in not only my spending habits, but also in just how I live my life. Because I don't do well when I go out and make BIG changes (they never stick), I've been trying to identify what little changes I can make to take me from where I am to where I want to be. Thankfully, there are a whole slew of things I can do that won't make me feel like I am giving up everything I love all at once.

Here are a few things I've come up with to simplify things a bit and to help beef up the pocketbook.

  • Moratorium on buying books: This is going to be the hardest thing for me to do. I LOVE books. L.O.V.E. them but I currently own more of them than I know what to do with--paperback, hardcover and ebooks. It's a little ridiculous. My Kindle makes is freakishly easy to buy a new title with just a few clicks of a button and wandering through my favorite book store is one of my favorite things to do. Unfortunately, it is killing my pocketbook, so since I have a plethora of books to read (in various formats) in theory, this should be easy to stick with.
  • DIY/Homemade Household and Beauty Products: The cost of household cleaning products is CRAZY, especially if you are like me and make sure to buy the biodegradable/all natural cleaners. And personal care products--are you kidding me?! My favorite products are between $8 and $12 a tube/bottle. That's just not sustainable. Thanks to Google, Pinterest and the DIY series Stephanie over at Bassabilty did this week, I've made a list of products I can make myself. Thankfully, I already have most of the ingredients I need in my kitchen and what I do need to pick up will cost less than a bottle of toilet bowl cleaner. 
  • Clean Eating: O.k. so I haven't totally figured out how this is going to "save" me money, but the trade off with be worth it. Have you noticed that when you eat crappy food, you feel crappy and end up craving more crappy food? When I eat cleaner, better food I just feel better--this is why I started eating a vegan diet. And even though it's too late in the season to start a garden, I'm already plotting how I can have one next summer. I'm also planning on starting a little herb garden this weekend that I can keep all year round.
  • Learn to Cook From Scratch: This would also be known as learn to make your own jam, bread, canned goods, etc. This could technically be included in the whole "clean eating" bit, but I feel like this is going to be enough of a challenge on its own that it need its own spot. 

What kind of things to do you to keep yourself on budget?

Queen of California

15 August 2012

The More You Know

This "series" has been making its way across the blogosphere. Since I have so many new readers (hello and welcome!! I'm very glad to have you), I thought I'd play along. And it's another opportunity to make a list! Can I get a "whoop! whoop!" on that?

If you really knew me....
  • you'd know I like watermelon flavored candy but hate actual watermelon. It's a texture thing. That and I'm allergic to it, but still, I don't like it.
  • you'd know I'm really not as crabby/bitchy as I can come off. I'm just ridiculously shy and take a bit of time to warm up to people. Once I do though--watch out. I'm quite entertaining.
  • you'd know I hate talking on the phone and will let most calls go to voicemail.
  • you'd know I have a lot of useless information trapped in my head.
  • you'd know that as a teenager my dream was to live in a flat in London with my rock-n-roll boyfriend writing poetry all day and all night.
  • you'd know that I start a lot of DIY projects with good intentions but rarely finish them.
  • you'd know that I am in a constant battle against depression and anxiety. Some days it is so bad I have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning. Other days I just want to sit in a dark room and cry. 
  • you'd know that I even though I'm not sure it's in the cards for me to be a mom, I have had names picked out for my imaginary kids since I was a kid.
  • you'd know that my decision to start eating a vegetarian diet was easy and is one of the best decisions I have ever made.
  • you'd know my brother constantly refers to me as a Communist. I don't know why though.
  • you'd know that I LOVE thunderstorms. I love standing on the beach and watching them roll in off of Lake Michigan.

14 August 2012

Twenty Five Things

The last few weeks have been a bit of a downer. Sure, there have been some bright spots, but for the most part I've been wishing for a do-over. So really this link-up couldn't have come at a better time!
  1. Friends and family
  2. Sadie, my crabby dog
  3. Music
  4. Detroit Tigers baseball, even if they are losing
  5. The smell of fresh cut grass
  6. Clean sheets
  7. Chocolate covered pretzels
  8. David Ryan Harris's song Pretty Girl, instant mood lifter
  9. Running
  10. Snail mail from friends
  11. Concert trips with my CB's
  12. Good hugs
  13. Being a vegetarian
  14. Taking photographs
  15. Road trips
  16. Being creative
  17. Getting lost in a good book
  18. Movie night
  19. Lake Michigan
  20. Meditation
  21. Thunderstorms
  22. A brand new journal
  23. "That's what she said"
  24. Lazy Sunday mornings
  25. Dill pickles

Adventures of a Misfit Librarian

Wired: Handmade Wired Wrapped Jewelry

I've only been talking about it for how many months?! My jewelry is finally on Etsy!

Over the last eight months, what started as a hobby to keep boredom away during a bizarre Michigan winter, has turned into a love affair with being creative. I have absolutely fallen in love with making one of a kind pieces of jewelry and gifts for people.

Until now, my mom has been working as my marketing/business/sales manager, taking my pieces to local consignment/gift shops. But now it is also available through my new and improved Etsy shop!

Over the next few weeks, I hope to get additional items listed to include necklaces, rings and other pendant designs.  It's been a total labor of love but have enjoyed every minute of it.

Stop by and say 'hi!'.

13 August 2012

Music Monday: John Mayer

Whenever I can't find the words to speak for myself, I always turn to Mayer.

Today, I am turning to him again.

11 August 2012

My Week....

Photographically speaking of course. 


Sunday: I know I already shared this, but MIKE MCGEE retweeted my tweet. Overkill? //Monday: The guitar I wish I could play.//Tuesday: Working out a blog post. //Wednesday: My parents brought me back a bag of my favorite Swedish candy. Swedish fish ain't got nothin' on Dumle! //Thursday: Shock Drop at the Fair //Friday: Sadie making sure I know she's feeling neglected //Saturday: Cloudy summer sky

10 August 2012

Running with the Devil

run·ner (noun)
A person, animal or thing that runs, especially as a racer. 

If you've read any of my previous posts in this series, you may have noticed that I have had a hard time calling myself a "runner". It's a concept that I struggle with....a lot.

Through friends, family, media and at times my favorite running magazine, I have been led to believe that calling myself a "runner" would always be considered to be a joke. People wouldn't take me seriously when I told them "I run almost every day". Why? Because as I've been told time and time again that I just "don't look like runner". 

All suited up and ready for a morning run.
Runners are long and lean. They are fast--logging 6, 7, 8 minute miles, lamenting their 9-11 minute miles on an off day. Runners are able to step out of their front doors and run for miles without walking, without their legs feeling like jell-o or like their lungs are on fire. Runners look good in spandex and compression shorts. They run Saturday morning races. They log their weekly miles and talk about their splits. They are competitive, even if it's only with themselves. Runners make running look easy.

I however, am not a runner. Or am I?

Over the last few months, I have had to re-evaluate everything I thought being a "runner" meant. I have had to re-evaluate the definition and standard of which I thought it meant to be a "runner". I have also had to re-evaluate how I look at myself. 

I am not long and lean. Spandex and compression shorts accentuate all my lumps and bumps. I turn bright red and tend to look like a giant tangerine  (bright orange running shirt so vehicles and hunters can see me) lumbering down the road. On a good day, I average just under a 13 minute mile. The thought of running a race scares the crap out of me and more times than not, I have to walk for a few minutes to catch my breath.

But I'm still a runner. 

I'm a runner because I love to run. I love being able to shut out the rest of the world--it's just me and my  music. I love the feeling of accomplishment because I tackled a daunting hill or manged to run my entire route without walking.

I love that running reminds me that I am able to silence the critics because I'm so much more than who they assume I am. That I am independent. Free. Strong. 

I love that running reminds me that there is no "perfect" or "normal". I love that running is for everyone. No matter their size, shape or pace. 

Goin' to the Fair

Who didn't love going to the fair as a kid? Loads of junk food. Stomach churning amusement park rides. Demolition derby. 4H animals. Carnies. Good times to be had by anyone and everyone who went.

I haven't gone to the fair since I was a kid but this year, some friends and I headed out to the regional fair to take in the sights, sounds and smells of a summer tradition.

A trip to the fair just isn't complete without greasy, wildly unhealthy food. I stuck with an elephant ear covered in powdered sugar. Thankfully, none of us were brave enough to try Fat Balls.
We also weren't brave enough to ride any of the rides. We did have fun though watching everyone else take a spin around on the Ferris Wheel and the Shock Drop.

My favorite section of the fair has always been seeing the animals.

First stop, the petting zoo! The camel was quite vocal and had a few things to stay to everyone standing around staring at him or it could have been a her. I didn't check.

As per usual, the goats were pretty chill. Enjoying their evening snacks while everyone ooh and ahhed over them.

We then moved onto the 4H barns to check out the rest of the livestock and show animals.

This poor little guy seemed like he was totally over everyone coming into the barn to check him out.

Spooning pigs!

He either had a rough night last night or was forced to wear the bucket of shame.

The bunnies were simply too cute!

I wanted to take this goat home with me.

My favorite photograph of the night belongs to a llama we dubbed as Chewbacca. He sat perfectly still and let me take a lot of photographs of him.

All in all, it was a fun night out. Lots of cute animals. Lots of good people watching. Lots of laughs with friends which is really the key to a perfect summer evening.

Thanks for reading!

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