Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 - Year in Review

I just finished reading my 2009 Year in Review and am so glad I started this tradition of annual reflection. 2009 was a really great year and I enjoy being able to revisit it, in my own words.

I love this time of year, which brings about an end but also a new beginning. Often it brings a sense of relief, renewed effort, and big plans. I have big plans for 2011 and lofty goals. But one cannot move forward without first putting to bed the past.

2010 was a challenging year. I can truthfully say I felt great anxiety nearly every day of the year. I woke up January 1 with the usual drive and sense of renewed effort this day typically brings. I hit the ground running full speed ahead making big plans and trying to live healthfully. Unfortunately, none of this was exactly for me, but for my wedding. 2010 will forever be in my mind "2010: The Year of the Wedding". It was the Big Foot of my life, forever in sight, constantly glaring down at me. I worried for ten months straight about everything a wedding makes any bride worry about. It is cliche, but it is very real.

And it overshadowed everything.

However, it was all worth it. Our wedding was perfect. And the ten months of stress and anxiety just melted away, as the sun is melting the snow outside as I type. Looking back, 2010 feels almost like a sacrificial year. I gave a year to something that was important to me; that I wanted done right and on my terms. But now, I'm excited to move forward onto the next big thing (and re-instate Oktoberfest!).

Before I do that though, I want to thank our friends, parents and my brothers and sister-in-law. It is all of you that got us through 2010, and made the wedding so perfect. The wedding may have overshadowed the entire year but all of you made parts of it great fun. The Shower, the dress fitting get-togethers, the casual dinners at our place, the great laughter. Thank you. We love you.

I hope that next year will be "2011: The Year of the Home". Yes, Mike and I are planning to buy a home this Spring. I don't know what to expect. All we can do is educate ourselves and prepare best we can. I'm excited and optimistic and very much looking forward to doing things for us, not for an event. There's a sense of freedom that comes with getting past the wedding. My husband and I are now free to move about. Pun intended.

As I wrap things up, I cannot believe I almost forgot to mention that 2010 was also the year of the dog. I don't know if that's true in a Chinese Zodiac sense, but it was for us. 2010 is the year Cooper came into our lives and we can't imagine life without him. I think I'll go take a nap with him now.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Clearing Dust off the Blog - a brief update

Since joining Facebook I find there is little need to update this blog since it's main purpose is to keep distant friends and family updated on comings and goings. However, I thought this would be a good time to blow off the proverbial dust and write some sort of update.

Mike and I had a great vacation with friends in Cape May early July and have gotten all of the drinking, eating and partying out of our system. We returned home and hit the ground running with wedding planning. I've also renewed my weight loss efforts. I've been working hard since February in this area but thought a renewal would be in order, particularly after a gluttonous vacation. I am pleased to report I am off to a great start. I get excited over these efforts because they usually mean I'll be cooking new things and experimenting a bit more and most likely trying a new physical activity. Someone told me they admired my determination this morning, but I had to reply that it's really just intense desperation masked as determination. My wedding dress doesn't fit so do I have much of a choice?

Wedding plans are going very well. I don't recommend a long engagement because it's a very large thing to have hanging over your head and it takes its toll after a while. But we're very much on schedule and the big day will be here before we know it. We just tackle one thing at a time and make one decision at a time while carefully planning ahead. I'm looking forward to the big day and celebrating all of our hard work and careful planning with our family and friends. Now that we're this far along I can finally picture it. I smile when I envision the day. Although I must admit I also smile at the thought of getting on that plane the day after and heading to Aruba because that means we had crossed the finish line and can relax haha. December will be "normal" I hope and then January we will begin the motions for buying our first home, which we hope to move into May/June, 2011.

Obviously, we have a lot to look forward to and lots of "smaller" things in the interim. It's a busy, busy time with lots to do and lots to consider. Life is good right now. And I'm suddenly very glad I decided to write this update because I didn't necessarily feel that way this morning. There's been a lot of anxiety lately relating to a situation with our current apartment coupled with a little bit of family stress. I am now looking at a larger picture and those things suddenly don't seem so bad.

Life is good right now. And I think that's why this blog is called Reflections. Because even if no one reads this, I feel better to have taken a moment to reflect.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

My Bucket List

There’s nothing like a bucket list to help you take stock of what you’ve done (like watch whales in the wild) and what you want to do (like tend to a garden). I’m not surprised to see that the majority of my list resonates with my favorite quote: “Everyone is trying to accomplish something big, not realizing that life is made up of little things.” I encourage everyone to create a bucket list, and reflect on it from time to time and actively pursue crossing some items off. After all, life is short.
Here are sixty things I’d like to do before I die:
1. Make a salad from ingredients picked solely from my own garden
2. Pay for someone else’s groceries and tell them to pay it forward when possible
3. Visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando
4. Take my mom to Disney World
5. Visit Australia
6. Reach my goal weight of 150 pounds
7. Make a perfect soufflé
8. Read/nap in a field of flowers
9. Visit Portland, Oregon (and Voodoo Doughnuts)
10. Learn to knit
11. Take a road trip with Mike in his ’51 Buick
12. Eat wings with Mike in Buffalo, NY
13. Visit Hawaii and rent a surfboard, watch the sun set, watch the surfers at Waimea Bay
14. Help someone achieve an item on their bucket list
15. See the Northern Lights in person
16. Plant a tree and watch it grow as my children do
17. Race in a 5-k four times a year until I die
18. Write a memoir about my mom and have it published
19. Go on a picnic
20. Encourage people to write a bucket list
21. Visit Japan (Buddhist monasteries, see cherry blossoms, Tokyo)
22. Organize a softball game with friends
23. Get my Bachelors degree
24. Spend an entire weekend watching every Harry Potter movie back to back
25. Have a marvelous garden of fruits, flowers and vegetables
26. Climb a tree and read in it
27. Own a hammock. Use it all the time.
28. Learn how to whistle
29. Run on a beach during low tide
30. Read my child/children all the Harry Potter books
31. Stay at the Bed and Breakfast Angels by the Sea, with my mom
32. Teach children about gardening in my own garden, have weekend classes during the spring for neighborhood children and bake with ingredients from the garden. Most importantly, I must wear overalls.
33. Have a compost pile
34. Help to throw my mom a 5-year cancer survivor bash, and ten year, and fifteen year and so on
35. Play with baby monkeys, gorillas, chimps, whatever – preferably in the wild or at a sanctuary
36. Hang out with my brother Doug on a different continent
37. Go on a short vacation all by myself
38. See and feel the Pacific Ocean
39. Learn yoga so that I can practice independently
40. Spend a day in Central Park with Mike reading, talking, picnicing and playing catch
41. Go on a vacation with just my best friend
42. Sit in a tube and float down the DE River
43. Visit China. Eat real Chinese food and visit the Great Wall
44. Adopt a sick or unwanted dog
45. Stop smoking forever
46. Give up my seat more often on the train
47. Close a bar with Mike (like old times)
48. Eat lamb, duck, foie gras
49. Spend time traveling through New England in autumn
50. Visit Salem, MA in October
51. Go on a cruise around Alaska
52. Make love out doors and behind a waterfall
53. Visit Forks, WA and other areas around Olympic Peninsula
54. Run a race with my brother and sister-in-law
55. Collect seashells with a child
56. Wear skinny jeans
57. Get an outrageous 1950’s dress, have my hair and make-up done and have a photo shoot with Mike’s car
58. Own a home
59. See Pearl Jam live
60. Forgive a childhood friend

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Current Events - an update

So many things are happening that I thought it would be a good time for a general update. I also made my first pot roast and was so proud that I really wanted to share it. You may be thinking, "Pot roast? So what?" Well, pot roast is really out of my element and I found the braising sauce fun and involved. After the roast was finished cooking I thickened the sauce and used my immersion blender to incorporate all the elements and was very proud of the result. Accompaniments were mashed skin-on potatoes, roasted asparagus and pickled red cabbage. The plate was so beautiful that I regret not having taken a photo. But I will leave that up to my favorite cooking blog authors.

I have really gotten into cooking again since the new year. I enjoy cooking immensely but found myself not doing it as often towards the end of 2009. It was a hectic time and I took shortcuts and ate out a lot and gained more weight than I care to confess. With the arrival of 2010 came a whole new approach to cooking. I wanted to try new things and eat more healthily. I am satiated by strong flavor, not quantity, so I continue to seek out new and flavorful ideas. Eating has become more sacred. When I am proud of what I've prepared, I have a tendency to eat more slowly and as a result, much less quantity. I've also found a new tool to assist me in my weight loss which has already shown results. This tool is working parallel with my desire to become a more advanced and experimental home cook. Great food and weight loss: a marriage made in heaven.

I am thrilled to report that wedding plans are on schedule. I know I could not plan this wedding unless I was fond of organization and to-do lists. Meticulous organization is mandatory, I think. Wedding planning is also running parallel with weight loss. There are so many "deadlines" that it is easy to identify mini weight loss goals along the time line. I am trying on a sample dress March 20, taking engagement photos April 25, etc. This is an interesting time in my life. Some times I am able to pause and enjoy the moment but other times I just feel like every single thing I do is simply leading up to one day: the wedding. I don't like that. I don't want to lose nearly all of 2010 to planning. I try to enjoy each day and not look at the big picture, but the small one instead. I want to enjoy this year. Luckily, Mike and I have the most amazing friends and so far wedding planning has been fun and also a breeze (knock on wood) largely in part to our friends.

So back to cooking! (This post is being written over several days hence the jumping.) Tonight on the menu we have a roasted red pepper sauce over pasta and scallops. Today is Wednesday now and I am fine with knowing I will go to the gym, shower, cook something new and different, eat with Mike, then prepare for tomorrow and watch the Olympics. I don't hold myself to very high expectations during the week. (I have since gone to the gym only to realize I had forgotten my gym bag at home, cooked, and eaten. The roasted red pepper pesto was very strong in flavor and delicious. The scallops were cooked nicely, not too long. Dinner was good. Pasta just gets so cold so fast. It is a common complaint of mine.)

So lastly in my little update, I have decided to join a few of my co-workers in this year's Broad Street Run. They asked me, I considered it, and decided, "why not?". Amy, my colleague, has never raced either and we agree there is nothing wrong with starting big. (The Broad Street Run is a 10 mile race with 30,000 participants). I'll have friends with me and this is just another added incentive to help me meet my weight loss goals. The event is 10 weeks out so now is the time to start training. Gulp. My goal is to jog the entire 10 miles. That's it. It will be my biggest accomplishment in my entire life (so far). Success will most likely bring me to tears. It just seems like the right time. Maybe 2010 won't just be the year I got married after all.