Monday, November 29, 2010

Deck The Halls

Thanksgiving is officially over and it's time to move on to Christmas. Every year I'm always surprised how fast the holidays sneak up on me. I'm trying to get into the Christmas spirit right now so that I can savor every moment! These next few weeks are going to fly by; I only have two weeks of classes and a week of finals before I graduate and put the lid of my school days. I. Can't. Wait.

This year's Thanksgiving was a bit different this year. We ended up at a restaurant for our Turkey feast and spent the afternoon watching the Cowboys lose to the Saints in Grandmas' hospital room. This is definitely not a annual occurance, it just so happened we had a hiccup the week prior to Turkey Day.

Last Friday my Grandmother was extremely ill and ended up spending a little over a week in the hospital. My dog, Piper, actually got sick at the same time and she had to stay in the vet's office for quite a few days. She's finally getting back to her normal self, but she scared us for a while.

Grandma is doing better each and every day, but there's still a long road of recovery left for her. The doctors are still not sure exactly what caused her illness and we may never know--I sure am glad that she's come back to us. Today she'll be moving to a skilled nursing facility where she can learn to get her strength back. It's a one-day-at-a-time process.

Lookin' good, Grandma! Keep up the good work!

Pyro Man joined us for Thanksgiving this year and it was nice to spend several days with him. He joined our Grandma visits, braved the stores for a bit of Christmas shopping, and helped with our Turkey Two dinner. Our family usually does a second Thanksgiving the Friday after Thanksgiving, hence why it's been dubbed Turkey Two. Our dinner got moved to Saturday, but we still had the usual suspects around our table: The Parentals, Captn' Pat, Big Sister and her husband, our friend Giesla, and Pyro Man. Turned out to be a pretty good meal and best of all, I got to spend it with some of my favorite people.

By the way, did you miss the opening of the Macy's Day Parade? Elf: The Musical presented one of their numbers and I'm proud to say one of my professors is the assistant choreographer! I wish so much I could see the entire show, this is one of my favorite Christmas flicks!

Alright, everyone, hope you have a good start to this new week and had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Me, I'm going to crank up the Christmas music and start planning my holiday shopping!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Counting Blessings

It's that time of year where we start really counting our blessing. It's that time of year where we really start to say thanks. It's that time of year where everyone realizes they need to say "I love you" to the ones they care about, absorb all the hugs they can, forgive all heart aches, and celebrate these joyous holidays.

I can't think of a better time to count up my blessings and give thanks to gifts I've been given. Setting aside all concrete objects, all material possessions, and concentrating on the people in my life and the opportunities that have been passed to me, I see that am I one lucky girl.

This Thanksgiving may not be spent around a grand table full of glittering amber glass, full of home cooked meals, and decadent treats, but it will be surrounded by the ones I love and that is all I truly need.

To you and yours, I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Little Bit of Country

Had a lovely weekend with Pyro Man and his family. I drove down to Abilene and as soon as I got there, we hopped into his truck and headed for Brownwood. His family has property down there and I do believe he's been down there hunting just about every week since the season opened.

We got in a little too late Friday night to do any hunting, but you can bet we were up at 5:20 the next morning getting ready to head out to the deer stand. It'd been almost a year since my first hunting experience where I actually did get a spike. I wasn't as lucky this time, but I did see a good amount of deer including a couple of bucks. They are absolutely magnificent creatures and just the sight of them takes your breath away. I'm still amazed at how I can be staring at a set of trees, see nothing and then bam! There's a deer just staring back at you.

We spent some time of Saturday with the cattle his aunt and uncle raise. I can't help but think of two things when I look at cows. First of all, I think of my deep love for Chik-fil-a. Second, I think of a giant steak and I get a little hungry. That sounds just awful because these creature are actually pretty precious...from the front. Don't look at the back end. All sorts of mess is back there and it ruins the ambiance.

They have a whole lot of calves running around on they property they live on. There's another set of cattle on a different piece the family owns and we visited them later in the day (Please forgive me if I use any terminology incorrectly--what can I say? I don't know much about cattle.). I really liked watching the calves though. Some had really floppy ears that look so soft, like little silk pouches. There was a precious brown one that looked liked it walked off a carton of Bluebell ice cream. But one stole my heart. This plump little black one that just has the fuzziest coat ever. I loved him/her immediately. I didn't really get close enough to check out its nether parts--like I said, not always a pretty sight.

We moved on to their other herd to drop off a couple buckets of a protein mix for them to eat and give them a dousing in some worm medicine. I got to watch them round up the cattle into a pen, corral them through a shoot and release them to enjoy the rest of their grazing day. I had to ask if they named their cattle. Sure, they each had been labeled with tags, but I can't imagine having a creature and just calling it "34" or something. I had the pleasure of meeting Sassy, Brownie, Mo Joe, Ginger, and Crazy. I'm missing a few in there.
When you're driving down the road and spot a pasture full of Bessie's, you don't realize just how big they are until you're standing next to them. I didn't mind keeping my distance, but I felt like a kid a petting zoo, I had a real hankering to touch them. I did get to pet Sassy. She is a cow they raised from a calf, very sweet and easy going. I really wanted to touch Ginger though. She has beautiful dark chocolate coat that looked like someone drizzled  a deep cranberry color over her back. Ginger looked like she would be heaven to touch, just silky and soft.

As I was watching her graze only a few feet from me, she looked up with those big cow eyes. I thought, "This is it! She can feel me watching her and she's going to let me pet her!" She held my gaze, belched, licked the gooey protein from her nose, and trotted away.

Well, so much for that. I come from a line of cattle ranchers, but I ain't no cow whisperer. It's fine though. At least she didn't poop on me.

On the way out, we stopped to feed some catfish, very fun. Throw a bucket of little kibbles into a small pond and their fishy faces surface to gobble it all up. I didn't quite throw the food out far enough. More like I just dumped it on the , but I swear I really tried!

It's been a lot of fun joining Pyro Man on these outdoor weekends. I've got family that live on land, have raised chickens, and had horses. Dad is a rancher's son, Mom grew up camping and everyone in the family knows how to fly fish--except yours truly.  My life, however, has been a bit different with dance classes, choice concerts and musical theater. I've had many wonderful experiences, but I've really enjoyed being a part of these outdoor activities. It's very different from things I've done before and right now it's the perfect breath of fresh air I need.

On the way back we spotted wild turkeys--I'd never actually seen wild turkeys in real life. I told Pyro Man the story about how my aunt, Nannie, once hit a turkey with her car and how it messed up the front of her bumper. I also thought the turkey was frozen. I forgot she lives in the country and wild turkeys roam free. How much of a city slicker am I? Really though, I could see a giant frozen bird come bouncing out the back end of someones pick up and just smashing into her car. Can't you? No. Well, then I must be crazy.

Happy 100th post--I finally made it to one hundred entries after almost two years of blogging.

On a more serious note, if you readers will say a few prayers from Grandma and Piper. Grandma has been in the hospital all weekend and we're needing some positive thoughts sent her way. This is the grandmother we moved this summer, the Treat Lady, and the one I love so. Poor Piper has some sort of bacterial infection and has been with the vet since Friday morning--hoping some new medicines will push her back to good health. She is my puppy sister, my precious pup who just turned six this summer, too.

Have a happy Monday and a good start to this Thanksgiving week!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Quick Trip

Finally Thursday, the best day of the week! Tomorrow I'm heading to Abilene to see Pyro Man and then he's taking me on another hunting adventure. Hold your hats, ladies and gentlemen, I'm taking another crack at it and I'm pretty excited.

Leaving for home next Wednesday for my absolute favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. It's a little bit different this year, far less of our usual crew and one new addition, Pyro Man. Well, two if you count Honey. There will be no traditional Thanksgiving dinnerware and no traditional thanksgiving cream cheese mints. Part of me is sad those delicious morsels won't be on the table, but the other half of me is glad I don't have to make them or have a stomach ache from eating too many.

I've been hustling my buns trying to get more edits done and get that thesis sucker complete. The big hurdle the last couple weeks has been Movement Maps. Basically I have to draw out each formation that dancers are in for each piece. I have to show the transitions and lines of movement as well. It takes a while to get them done, but I'm pretty shocked at how much I remember. It's like the show is engraved in my head.

I feel as though once the thesis is turned in to the printer I will finally be able to close this chapter. I'm definitely ready for the next step. I think. Anyway, 29 days until graduation and after that is a whirlwind of excitement!! Christmas, big trip, new years, and then moving! Whoo-hoo! Happy Thursday one and all! Enjoy your weekend and hopefully I'll have some hunting story to share when I get back!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Suzy Homemaker

I like to bake. I like to cook. I like to clean. Wait, no I don't--I like to make PILES of stuff and tidy up, but I'm not an obsessive cleaner. I'm definitely not attached to my cleaning supplies. Guess what I'm trying to say is that I enjoy doing some very Suzy Homemaker things around my house. To me, they're fun activities, sans the cleaning part, and also something TOTALLY unrelated to what I study/what will be my career. Well, today I'm adding to that list with embroidery.

A long time again when Big Sister and I were just kids, Mom taught us how to do different crafty things like how to crochet, knit, sew, cross-stitch, and embroider. Friendship bracelets--anyone remember those? Anyway, I really enjoyed it and still have some of the little projects we did. Then we grew up, grew to have different interests, and life continued to be very busy until recently.

I'm a busy person. I like to have a good amount of stuff on my plate because I never get bored. Personal Motto: I'd rather be busy than bored. At this moment I don't have enough to do--plenty of pressure to get a job and finish up school...I'll you know when something turns up. However, there is definitely not enough activity for me to be a happy camper, hence my feeling prickly this week.
 Most afternoons I finish work and by 7:00/8:00, I'm out of things to do. Oh there's reading. I've read about three books in the last two weeks and just started my fourth. But I've been looking for something to do, to sink my teeth into. So I picked up the embroidery again.

Around my birthday I asked for tea towels and embroidery patterns. Why? Well, I remember my Mom and Grandma used to have dish towels that were embroidered with geese and the days of the week. For some reason, I felt I needed some in my kitchen. That and I also wanted a project to do at night other that homework.

Hallelujah! I have an activity to keep me going! It's fun! It's a mess right now, but who cares, right?! I'm working on something that's entertaining and makes me happy and doesn't keep tipping the scale the wrong way! Now if only I can do this while walking...hmm...

In any case, I think I've flung myself full force into this project--I'm sure it'll be my obsession at least for the next few weeks. It's like cereal, I get hooked on something and it sticks for a LONG time. I think I ate Special K for about 4 years before I officially moved on to Honey Nut Cheerios. I'm weird that way.

Currently I've got these little towels to finish.

I don't think I'll get them all done before Christmas, but there's a Twelve Days of Chirstmas set and even these precious Santas!
I know, it's a bit overkill right now, but hey. I've got my happy for a little while and that's all that matters right now. I'm still working on a new exercise activity that will help wake my body--don't get me wrong, I love to dance. I just need something else to keep me from feeling bored. Ack. Hate that word. Suggestions please!


Happy Friday everyone :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Something Sweet...

I'm a dancer with a serious sweet tooth. This poses a major problem in my meal planning--I've found I can't live off sugar alone. Or peanut butter, which is equally depressing.

I've discovered with my little kitchen that I really enjoy cooking--flubs and all. Flubs including homemade crispy macaroni and cheese, only it wasn't supposed to be crispy. Ahem. Then there's that one time I got confused about what type of rice was supposed to be used for a particular stove top dish. An hour later and the chicken was dried beyond recognition, veggies were incredibly over cooked, and the rice was still not done. If you have not learned the difference between the various basic types of rice (pre-cooked, uncooked, and microwavable), I highly recommend figuring that out or else be doomed to gnaw on dry chicken.

In this quest to perfect my culinary skills, of which I am far from perfect, I continue to peruse various cooking websites in search of something new and different. Some days I think, "wouldn't it be lovely if I could create a cookbook for dancers," but I then I remember that the dessert section of my recipe binder is dangerously larger than the other categories. Whoops.

Somehow my bigger meals always turn out slightly unbalanced, something healthy with something incredibly sinful. Had the girls over on Saturday and we had a wonderful Red Beans and Rice Soup, courtesy of my old Weight Watchers recipes, but then something went amiss. I added in homemade cornbread where I proceeded to teach my friends how to eat it warm with butter and honey--I prefer Steen syrup but I couldn't find any in Oklahoma City. Go figure, but oh my stars, the way butter and honey blend together should be outlawed. Then, I lost my head and added in this amazing fall dessert treat, Pumpkin Whoopie Pies.

**Side note--you should seriously try these cookies. Super moist and out of this world delicious. The cookies have a perfect pumpkin flavor and the cream cheese icing in the center adds the sweet taste you're craving. Oh my gosh, pardon the drool, but I could really go for one of those right now. **

As much as I enjoy being in the kitchen, it's the baking that really calls my name. I wish I could spend a little more time experimenting with the recipes I'm finding at The Tasty Kitchen. I find something new everyday and my recipe box keeps growing. I haven't added any recipes to the site as I have yet to experiment with creating something on my own. Too many flubs keep me following directions very carefully these days (Did I mention the accidental overdose of Cayenne pepper? "1 Tbl" is not the same as "1 tsp". Sometimes I read too quickly. Oops).

In any case, whenever I find a recipe that has spoken to my inner baker, I will pass it along so that you too can partake in embracing your sweet treat addiction. Don't worry, I will try include things other than desserts, like breads! Just kidding, I'll throw in main course meals, too. As for me, I'm going to try resist testing out this Pumpkin Cheesecake me Rhonda.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Is it Christmas Already?

Every year after Halloween it seems that Christmas just starts popping up all over. Wal-Mart is already making space for their Christmas items. They've got some holiday themed products out like Winter Oreos, Peppermint Oreos, and Snowflake Ritz crackers. Dillards has their Christmas trees up and most every store is gearing up for the winter holidays.

To this I say, "What the hey?!" Every year it seems my favorite holiday is skipped over. There are never any turkey decorated stores and the only Thanksgiving themed items one can find is in the form of Libby's Pumpkin Puree cans that line the aisles of grocery stores. Really?

Honestly it should not be that surprising and recently I've been contemplating listening to Christmas tunes so that I may ensure I'm really sick of them by December the 25th. However, I've held my ground. I will not turn on the Christmas carols yet. I will not break out the Christmas movies or read a Christmas tale until the day after Thanksgiving. Although, I plan on decorating my apartment before I leave for Turkey Day break, but that's only so I'll be greeted with holiday cheer when I get back.

Aside from the decoration, there is something I've been mulling over and that is Christmas gifts. Y'all, we only have 47 shopping days left until Christmas! AH! That's a horrifying thought (Cough cough 39 until graduation cough cough)!! There's so much to be done!!


Eh. 47 days. That's PLENTY of time. I don't really have my knees in a knot about it, I'm just running out of topics to share these days. Dang, I've got to have an adventure here pretty soon. My life is way too quiet if all I have to write about is Wal-Mart's Christmas aisle. Good grief. Next I'll be writing about the dust bunnies under my couch. Until the next "thrilling" entry...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Nose in a Book

I love to read. I really do. Every summer I promise myself to read at least ten books and sadly I was unable to do so this year. Now I'm trying to make-up for lost time!

Sunday I popped into Barnes & Noble in search of Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. My friend, Megan, recommended it and said I'd really enjoy the series. I'm not going to lie, I was a little skeptical when I finally found it in teen fiction, but then again, one should never judge a book by it's cover! Ba-ha!

*cricket, cricket*

Well, I thought it was funny. Anyway, I passed through the rows and rows of literature, just wanting to get my hands on all sorts of bindings and absorb as many new stories as a I can. It seems as though my creative juices are in a bit of dry spell. I need to refuel and new books certainly help with that.

Also ran across the new Nicholas Sparks book, Safe Haven. Don't judge. I've already rattled on about a teen fiction novel, might as well take it a step further. Although, I do enjoy a Sparks novel now and again. He's writing is very predictable. Man and woman meet. Man and woman fall in love. Generally one is more hesitant about the relationship than the other because of some dark secret they are harboring. It always unfolds in the end with some traumatic experience and then they end up happily ever after. At least most of the time. Oh, and there's always a dead loved one involved or someone on their deathbed.

See? I've just summarized every one of his books. However, it's the characters that he creates that I absolutely love falling into. He has the ability to pen the exact phrase a person would want to hear from her mate--I use "person" and "mate" because no matter if the characters are male or female, they always say the right thing. Sparks creates these fictional characters that speak to anyone's fantasy and it just sells. And I always buy into it at least, even when I know what the story is before I've cracked the binding.

Well, anyway, I'm done with it now, happily satisfied with the ending result of this love story. Often times, I get very into a story and I can't stop living in it even after the book is closed. It's the most bizarre situation. I can't move on to another story until it's out of my mind completely. Must be the mark of a good writer if their tale leaves you wondering "what's next?"

Do you have a book that leaves you wanting more? Tell me! I could use some suggestions! Although, that might not be a good idea. It only took a day for me to finish one book. Any more and I might not want to do school work for the remaining 45 days I have! (I'm really worried about getting distracted by a good read. I just needed an excuse to tell you I only haev 45 days left. Well looky there, I just told you again! Hee hee...)

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy News & Moving Plans

It's the first day of November!! Hooray! Do you know what that means? Thanksgiving is around the corner and I'm that much closer to walking the stage. Forty-six days away to be exact. How thrilling!

Last week I received some very exciting news. Upon completion of my thesis production, Imagine This!, I underwent two days worth of defense analysis with my committee. I am now pleased to announce that the production was deemed successful, which means the production passed.



This was such a relief to hear because, well, it determines whether I stay and re-do my entire thesis project or graduate and continue on with my adult life. Now that the verdict is out, I feel like a new woman. No, really. I've got more pep in my step, a lighter load to bear, and I can honestly say, I feel a little more like myself. From here on out, I'm working on editing the thesis so it can be published and finishing up my last academic class. Sweet relief.

It's always around this time that people start asking, "so, what's next?" I can't help but get a little nauseous when this questions pops up because for once, I really don't know. Continuing on with graduate school was fabulous because it 1) gave me an extra year and a half to figure that answer out, 2) gave me purpose and direction towards my goals and 3) allowed me to have live the life of a student for a little bit longer.

Ain't an option any more. That is, unless I get my doctorate, but homegirl here is dog tired and that idea will wait until way down the line. As I sit and edit my thesis, I continue to ponder where I'm going to go and what am I going to do now. I'm trying to get on board with the notion that the unknown is exciting. Here's my biggest dilemma so far. When do I move out of my apartment?

I'm sad to say that my lease runs up in December and I will have to leave my perfect slice of heaven. I can't even believe. Every time I think about packing up my home and moving away from the best apartment in the world, I get a little weepy. I had friends over for dinner this weekend and I gave an abbreviated story of why I love my house.

Back during my sophomore year, when I was a fearless little thing, I had a very simple dream of some day living in a beautiful little house with a perfect kitchen. The cabinets would be white and glass covered so I could display the colorful dishes I would someday own. I could see myself having coffee and working on a crossword puzzle at the kitchen table as my faithful furry companion sat by my feet. I could keep going, but suffice it to say, I had a dream of my perfect home for just little ol' me.

This represented so much more for me than just a place to sleep. It was a whole representation of the start to my own life, making my own nest, and finding my own way. When I decided to move out of the dorms the summer I started the grad program, it was a way of beginning again and separating myself from the old. Let's just say that summer I needed something good to happen. I really needed a fresh start and finding a new place to live was the perfect answer. That's when I found my apartment (and Pyro Man, but he's another story).

After days of searching online, I came across the website of this historic apartment complex. I drove past the complex and felt my heart start to pound. I walked through the door of my now home and instantly fell in love. It was everything I had ever dreamed of and more.

I've settled in, found places to put all my things, got my colorful dishes, created my own weird way of organizing stuff, and made my nest. Of course I'll miss my beautiful French doors, the three closets I use for my clothes, and the creaky hardwood floors. I'll miss my tiny kitchen with it's gas powered stove, the glass paned cabinets, and the built in bookshelves. I'll miss everything. Mostly I'll miss this independence.

Sure, I've made the occasional mention of being slightly lonely when I'm by myself there, but it's the ability to live on my own that makes me feel like hey, I am strong and independent. There's something in being able stand on your own two feet and it's been a lifelong goal to be able to do that. I'm not ready to give that up and move back in with my parents. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of pro's to that situation. I just don't know the next time I'll get the chance to experience this unique time in my life.

What's really funny is I remember Mom and Big Sister saying to enjoy this time I've had to live on my own, enjoy the time I've had in being on my own. At this point, I'm wishing I had savored that time a bit more. So here's the real question:

Do I move out in December after graduation or do I move out in January?

I can move back to Dallas and start hitting the pavement for job as soon as I'm done OR I can come back up to OKC in January and do that same thing. What do I do? The band aid approach and just say goodbye now to my single self life in my perfect little apartment? Or do I drag it out for two weeks in January, allowing myself time to pack, grieve, and find work?

Tough decision. Honestly I need some help so please, which would you choose, dear readers? I need advice.
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