Friday, June 28, 2013

New adventures!

I've started a new adventure in blogging and I'm so excited to tell you all about it! It's something I've been marinating on for quite a while and I believe will be a fun and beneficial blog!

It's blog very similar to my Dancing in Dallas experiment. If you liked how I went, took classes, and wrote about them, then you're going to love Traveling Tights! Same theory, different site. I'll be traveling around OKC and DFW taking adult classes and posting their info here. It's not about reviewing a class, it's about getting information out there for adult dancers who want to dance. 

I've got big plans for the site including guest bloggers, recipes for dancers, product posts, inspirational words, and more. I'm excited to begin this endeavor and I can't wait to start posting. 

What does that mean for Dancer Diaries here, though? Well, I'm not sure just yet. This site has been my personal place to share stories and tales of my little life adventures. Having had this blog since 2009, I'll have a hard time phasing it out. For now I'm going to take it one step at a time until I can make a final decision I feel absolutely and 100% sure about. 

Visit the new blog and check in often! I can't tell you how exciting it is to start this new project and I hope you'll take time to look around, stay a while, and visit frequently! 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


I've always felt like wonderful changes happen during that seasonal twilight time between spring and summer. People get new jobs, move to new homes, buy new cars, start new school adventures, new babies arrive, new wedding bells ring, and so forth. It's all very exciting and exhilarating to say the least.

Thanks to social media it's that much easier to share these exciting moments with friends and family--Also makes it that much easier to send your heartfelt congratulations! And that much easier to think about your own life changes. 

Over the past week I've seen people reach some exciting milestones and it's made me that much more thoughtful about my own future. Something about seeing another person's success makes you pause to think about your own and that train of thought can go one of two ways; either you take a negative turn wondering why your ship hasn't come in or you find the inspiration in someone's excitement to swim out there to your floating future. 

I've chosen to take the latter which, honestly, isn't always the easiest choice. Sometimes it's easier to be consumed by the gloom. The negativity that follows that can be draining and tiresome. At some point it's time to get out of that irritating gray bubble and say, "Hey Life! I'm ready for something different!" To make a change, you have to put forth the effort.

Somehow seeing everyone's hard work turn into dreams realized has inspired me to put a little more effort into making my own dreams a reality. The catch is that you have to know what is your dream. What is your ultimate goal? Once you define that, make a plan, sketch it out. Figure out what is it you have to do to make it happen and then do it.

But it gets hard. You get derailed. Life gets in the way and then you start to find any and all excuses that keep you from working towards what you want. Is that really Life that's getting in your way or your own self? Are you scared to take that leap of faith, jump off your starting point, and start flying?

So many times I wonder "how did a person get there?" and "how did they do that?". Questions like"why isn't/hasn't that happened for me" and the inevitable "what am I doing wrong" seem to plague me as I see others hit goals and achieve their personal "impossible" moment. If I'm honest with myself, truly and brutally honest about why I haven't met a goal or done something yet, it's more than likely that I haven't worked hard enough for it yet.

The other side of that coin is that dreams can change--that's the lovely thing about dreams, you can have so many different ones and you can change them any time you want because they're yours. If you've had a lifelong dream and over the course of time it changes and shifts, well, that's perfectly normal. Except that most of the driven and focused people in the world find this incredible difficult to start.

I can't describe the sheer terror of admitting out loud that your personal goal has changed. Especially if it's a long term goal you've worked your whole life to achieve, told everyone about, and circled your whole life around. It's a familiarity that can be difficult to let go of for a new dream not yet explored. Hopefully if you're going through that, you have someone who can support you and reassure you that dreams change and if this new dream is what makes you happy, then so be it!

It sounds eerily cryptic and I'm sure you're thinking perhaps I'm in the midst of discovering new goals or a new career path, but I'm not.  I'm just thinking through all the changes I've seen happen for friends, all the changes that are going to happen for them, and it's made me reflect upon my own goals and dreams. Do I really have set goals or am I floating through my days? Am I working as hard as I can towards the things I want or only day dreaming about the future success I hope to have? Do I really know what I want and if I do, how can I stay focused?

I get so off track sometimes and other moments I feel like I've worked so hard to hardly move at all. Instead of getting down and feeling beaten before I've even gotten up, I'm choosing to start again. I'm choosing to refocus, redefine, and restart on a good foot. I'm going to let the success of others inspire me to do better and fuel my fire to make my goals. I'm not going to wet-blanket ideas and I'm not going to complain and I'm not going to stop simple because my fleeting efforts haven't panned out. No more complaining and no more comparing.

I'm going to make something happen for myself and it starts today! But first, a big cup of coffee to get me rolling!

If you want to make your dreams come true, the first thing you have to do is wake up.  -J.M. Power

Friday, June 14, 2013

Oh boy! A Full Friday!

Oh boy! Oh boy! Pyro Man and I finally found a house a couple weeks ago and we couldn't be more excited!

The house is precious! It's got everything we wanted; a two car garage, lots of a light, enough space, the right rent price, and an abundance of character! When you have a house you really, really  like, it makes it so much harder to wait to move in. Our landlady was nice enough to let us get started on moving in sooner than we expected, but Pryo Man and I decided that it would give us to get the house prepped.

We're getting the chance to touch up paint on a few places and changing a red bathroom to a neutral color. But today we started with cleaning up the outside of the house. The front and backyard are the perfect size for our first home together. We have large trees that graciously gives up cool shade from the hot sun and the grass is lush and green...and a little overgrown...and bear in some spots.

We cut grass and trimmed bushes. We raked up piles upon piles of leaves, scooped mountains of acorns, and threw tons of sticks. We spread grass seeds, sprayed for bugs, and bagged up eleven bags of yard trash. It. Was. Hard. Work.

I came home grimy, dirty, gross, and sweaty, but it was totally worth it! We put in some definite time and sweat to clean up the front yard and make it ready for flowers! Next we'll have to clean up the back yard and I'm sure it will be another day of hard work for us, but I've no doubt it will be totally worth it!

This should give you a small idea of what we did today. 

Dad got us a leaf blower for the house. Pryo Man looks ready to rock and blow all those leaves away! It sucks, too!
 (Hee hee! Little yard work humor!) 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Look Back Could Be A Look Forward

While savoring my first cup of coffee this morning, my mind has been wandering through all sorts of things especially the things that have happened in the last year. It makes me wonder about all the things that will happen in the coming year--what I hope will happen and what I expect to happen. Just in the last year so much has changed.

This time last year I was packing up my little apartment and heading back to Texas. I still miss that gorgeous home and all it's character.

This time last year I was finished with my first year of teaching in higher ed under two different contracts with two different schools. I learned quite a bit even though I carried the title of Professor.

This time last year I was gearing up for the big wedding, shooting bridal portraits, taking marriage classes, finalizing decorations and details, and counting down to the big day.

It was a pretty wonderful summer and even after the last of the lightening bugs went out for fall, our year continued to roll along like a runaway train. I truly think January was when my life hit a reset button and started to slow some extent. It feels like I've been going, going, going even since I started school and a new change or experience has happen one right after the other. So many moments of "what's happening next for me?" If I could write a Reader's Digest version, it'd go something like this:

Go to school, change majors, catch up by taking summer school every. single. summer. Then start grad school a week after graduation. Keep going non stop until your thesis. Breath for a half a second. Get engaged to a wonderful man. Start life. 

Search and audition for jobs--bills are rolling in. Life twists and now you're five years ahead of your perfectly laid out life plan (Funny how Life seems to do that to you.). Finally you land a job with a real paycheck and possibilities. You're able to safely set a wedding date and then a miracle happens: you get the dream job offer you've always wanted. 

Move back to the OKC, start job, and learn a. lot. Continue the three year long distance relationship and planning the upcoming nuptials. Savor the last few months of independent living and dream of sharing space with your soon to be husband. Blink and you're standing at the altar. Take a flight to paradise, enjoy the Hawaiian lifestyle, come home and begin packing to move again. 

Start teaching year #2 with a whole lot of changes and new responsibilities under the job title. Welcome a niece and celebrate the coming of a second nephew. The biggest part of 2012, learning about married life--it's wonderful, special, irritating, hard, loving, don't-want-to-miss-a-moment, this-is-really-tough, absolutely infuriatingly fantastic. They say the first year is rough--it's a completely new experience to learn and grow in together.

Finally I'm at a point where I think there will  be some consistency to my life. It feels great to be able to know what's coming down the pike, but at the same time...I'm weirdly missing that roller coaster ride of   wondering, "what's next?" Sometimes I think I must be a masochist for even thinking about possibly wanting to be thrown into the unknown again.

While I find comfort and familiarity in having a stable life, I am concerned about my satisfaction in my future. I'm still in my twenties--there is so much time to accomplish more in my life! But what? I don't want to waste away years just plodding along at this same point in my life. Once you hit a new level, you keep playing until it's game over.

I've hit a level in life earlier than I planned, that's great. In being so busy getting settled, I haven't even thought of my what my next step is. That's OK to be settled and float along for a bit, but I'm feeling antsy now. I've no idea what my next goal for life is. As much as I hear people say, "Just let it happen," I can't. I'm a planner and this planner is in need of a plan. So what now? How to do I make a plan without a plan?

You start dreaming again.

That's exactly what I've started doing, too. Thanks to a friendly push from the universe, I've stopped wet blanketing ideas that have been quietly floating in my head, little sparks of chance. I've started to explore possibilities of making some plans towards a long term goal/s and it feels exhilarating. It's exciting, nerve wracking, and just what the doctor ordered. I only hope that I can keep this feeling fueling my fire.

So what exactly is my goal? Can't say yet, but it's in the works and I'm pretty excited about it. As soon as it's ready, I'll be shouting it out to the whole world so stay tuned!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Girls Weekend In

This weekend was a girls weekend in for me and the kitties. We happily frolicked, chased mice, and ate kibble to our--ahem--their heart's delight.
Honey brought me a mouse last night. Thank
goodness we don't have real mice or this
gesture would cease to be  cute. 
It wasn't all fun and games though.  Friday was chalk full of end-of-the-year activities. It was the last day of class, last day for leveling (placing new students in their proper technique classes), and the end of the year banquet, Tribute to the Stars. 

Yesterday I watched precious young dancers perform their end of the year pieces in the Community Dance Center's Showcase. They were adorable, the crowd loved them, and my dancer teacher heart was warmed. Last night I cuddled up with Miss Honey & Layla and tucked into bed at a decent hour. Lame or sheer brilliance? 

This morning I woke up, went for a run (It's my new summer routine), and whipped up a batch of strawberry and blueberry pancakes. Last Sunday I did the same thing and I thought I'd gone to pancake heaven. They were just what I wanted for a weekend meal, I just had to make them again. I truly don't know what's better than cake like pancakes with fresh fruit in them. Well, today I had a slight problem, no syrup. Easily fixed though! 

I love Pinterest. It's simply marvelous. If you're looking for something, anything, simply search and there will be some pin with what you need. So I searched for a few recipes, found the basics for making syrup and made a few personal adjustments. 
Homemade Syrup

1 cups of sugar
1 cup of water
1/2 tsp of vanilla
1/4 tsp of butter flavoring

Drop sugar in a sauce pan, add water, but do not stir. Bring to a boil. Take off the heat and stir in vanilla and butter flavoring. Serve over pancakes. After cooled, store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. 

Bam. You've been served. Served up delicious pancakes that is! Be aware it definitely does not taste like what you find in a traditional syrup. It's thinner, lighter colored, and sweeter (I think). I'm betting adding an orange flavoring to the sugar base would be equally excellent.  Hmm, must try later. 

The day continued with laundry, play time with the kitties (an absolute must on their agenda), a Wally World run, and a few other household chores. Lucky for me, I had some time to catch up with some of my favorite ladies tonight. I called my sister to fill in on the haps and heard her precious daughter squealing in the background as she played with pea pods. It's the simple things in life, really. Then I got to talk to my college roomie and dear best friend, Karley, who has been traveling the world with Disney Live. It's always a joy to hear about her many adventures, life changes, and dream about once again living in the same city. 

Multitasking like I sometimes/always do, I whipped up a mouth watering dinner dish while catching up with my girls. Although not a Mexican dish in celebration of Cinco de Mayo, it still hit the spot in my opinion. Once again, I found a dish on Pinterest that peaked my interest, Chicken Piccata. The one thing I couldn't find at the store were Italian bread crumbs so I was left to make my own. 
Bread Crumbs

4 pieces of bread
1 tsp of fresh rosemary
1 tsp of fresh oregano 
1 tsp of basil
1 tsp of thyme

Break bread pieces into hunks and add seasonings for an Italian flavor. Drop into blender and blend until well diced and mixed. 

If you would like to add a little toasted flavor to the bread crumbs, add 1/4-1/2 stick of butter to a pan. Melt completely on med/med high. Add bread crumbs and stir until lightly toasted. I did this tonight, but I probably wouldn't do it again so as not to over do the crust on my chicken. 
If you like capers, you'll like this dish. If you like flavorful dishes, you'll like this. If you like a angel hair pasta with a butter and parsley (and perhaps a dash of salt), then you'll like this dish. Of course, the meal was made complete without a glass of white wine. 

 After a full day, and a second glass of wine, it is time for me to crawl into bed and dream of the coming summer season. Happy Sunday to all and to all a good, sweet, night! 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Almost There

School year is coming to a close, next week are finals! I can't even believe that this year is already coming to an end. Technically it's the end of my second year teaching in higher ed, but truly my first full year at this particular university. It's been a full one for sure.

But as the end draws near and the students summer fever grows ever more intense, I find myself longing for some much needed down time. My mind wanders into pockets of summer day dreams filled with sweet tea, summertime reading lists, and a chance to catch up with myself. That sounds so funny and yet it's so true! Everything about this semester has kept me running and my backside is so far behind, I need to give a chance to catch up!

I could list every hopeful summertime accomplishment I have for myself (And yes, I've already started a long list of goals and "to-do's" for the coming months.), but I think I'll keep it short:

Bake. More.

Yes, I know, I tend to bake quite a bit right now, but not nearly as much as I'd like. Plus I have a so many mouthwatering recipes on my Pinterest boards, I can't resist using down time to try a few out. Of course that goes against my plan to get super fit this summer, but it's all about balance really...

In any case, I started my summer baking off with a squeeze. See when I think of summer, I think of sunshine. When I think of sunshine, I think of beaches. When I think beaches, I think of Florida. When I think of Florida, I think of oranges and that means that summer is really all about oranges. See how that works?

I found this recipe for an Orange Zest cookie that I had to whip up. It was easy, simple, and the perfect answer to a sweet tooth.

        Eat with caution--they are pretty sweet! 

Tonight I tried another recipe (even though my tired self tried so hard to convince my brain to just order Hideaway Pizza, aka the best pizza on the face of the planet!). "Better Than Take Out" Chicken Fried Rice proved to be a delicious and certainly less greasy option.

I added red bell pepper and broccoli to mine. I like the extra veggies. Go figure. 

And although I really enjoy this blog and I appreciate the sweet people that take time to read it, I am beyond exhausted now and cannot possible keep my eye lids open another moment. That being said, click on the links for these delicious recipes! 

Happy May to you all! 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Donut Muffins

Another Sunday morning, another baking opportunity. Something about waking up on the last day of the weekend makes me want to savor my time off and for me, that means baking.

Last weekend I had a hankering for blueberry muffins and even after a very satisfying batch of heart healthy blueberry muffins, I still woke up this morning with hot, soft, blueberry goodness on my mind. So up I popped to whip up a batch with a twist. I added a dollop of homemade blueberry jam in the center for an bit of blueberry goodness. Verdict? Definitely a winner!

Well, the Husband isn't much of a blueberry muffin fan. This astounds me because I can't imagine any muffin better than a traditional blueberry muffin. Of all the the muffins in the world, blueberry is, in my opinion, far superior to the rest. So to not enjoy a warm, fresh, flavorful blueberry muffin is just plain madness. But what can I say? I love him, weird taste buds and all.

While my muffins were busy baking up in the oven, I decided to try a new recipe I spotted on Pinterest (Just adore that site!). Sugar Donut Muffins caught my eye. For one, I can't figure out if it's really a baked donut or a simple sweet muffin. Which is it? For another, they just. Look. Heavenly. Husband loves donuts. I love trying new recipes. It was a perfect win-win.

Once pulled out of the oven, I tried rolling them in pure white sugar, but my main squeeze and I both agreed it just needed something. We broke out the cinnamon sugar to roll the last batch in and ta-da! We solved the missing flavor!

Pretty good, definitely sweet for a breakfast treat. Next time I'll try mini muffins (bake for 11-12 minutes) for easy ability to pop into one's mouth. Enjoy!

Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffins
Adaptations to Baking Bites Recipe

(1 3/4) cup of sugar
(1) large egg
(1 1/2) cups flour
(2) tsp of baking powder
(1/4) tsp salt
(1/4) tsp ground nutmeg (Try cinnamon instead if you'd like with the cinnamon sugar) 
(1/4) cup oil
(3/4) cup of milk
(1 1/2) tsp of vanilla (I love vanilla so I added a half tsp)
*(1/2 - 1 1/2) tsp of butter flavoring (I usually add a bit of butter flavoring for some added goodness. Definitely not required though)

(2) Tbsp of melted butter (If you're brushing just the tops, 2 tbsp is great. If you're doing the whole muffin like I did, use 3-4 tbsp of butter)
(1/2) cup of cinnamon sugar

Oven temp, 350. Either grease your muffin pan or throw down some cute cupcake tins.

In a small bowl, beat sugar and egg together until fully mixed.

In a separate bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg/cinnamon). Add the sugar and egg mixture and blend.  Add in the final wet ingredients (oil, milk, vanilla and butter flavor (if desired). Beat well, get those lumps out!

Fill each muffin tin about 3/4 full. If you're using standard tins, you'll fill between 10 and 12. Mini tins will probably fill twice as many. Make sure if you aren't using liners, grease the pan well. Nothing is worse than half a muffin or cupcake stuck in the bottom of a pan.

Pop those babies in the oven for about 15-18 minutes. I found, since I filled mine very nicely, about 18-19 minutes worked for best results. Again, if you're doing min tins, about 10-11 minutes. Make sure you test the batter is fully cooked--a knife/toothpick should come out clean.

After you scoop the muffins from the tin (a spoon works well), brush or, in my case, lightly dip muffins in the melted butter. Roll in sugar and set on cooling rack. If you're doing just the tops, a plate is just fine to let them cool.

Here's the last, but most important part, pour yourself a glass of milk, serve up your muffin on a plate, sit down, and savor every bite. Happy Sunday to you!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Yo, Home(cooked) Skillet!

Growing up my mom had a little heart trouble. I say "a little," but really she ended up having open heart surgery after nine years of "just a little heart trouble." She would get winded very easily, napped quite a bit, and just overall felt exhausted. It wasn't odd to come home from school or dance lessons at night and see Mom on her spot on the couch curled up in her favorite quilt nearly half asleep. We didn't know it at the time, but Mom had a whole in her heart the size of two quarters.

Mom got all patched up in September of '97! She was moving up and around town like nobody's business. The Christmas after her surgery, she went shopping for nine hours which, in our household, was eternity! I think all of her great rehabilitation classes really helped with that. They even did segments over healthy eating, but honestly, we'd been practicing pretty great eating habits for a while.

Because of Mom's heart issues, she had discovered heart healthy eating early on through The American Heart Association Cookbook. Her paperback copy has been thumbed through many a time and notes are left on quite a few of the pages. Tons of family meals came from this book and they're still my favorite to make today.

Last week I posted a picture of a favorite meal from my childhood, Chinese Beef Skillet. I got several people asking about the recipe so here it is:

Chinese Beef Skillet
The American Heart Association Cookbook

(1) 7oz package of frozen chinese pea pods (I forgot them and just used peas and add in with the other veggies )
(3) T oil
(1) pound flank stead or lean chuck sliced paper thin (I use pre-cut stir fry cut beef if I can find it)
(1/4) cup chopped onion (I think yellow onion has the best flavor) 
(1) clove of garlic (1/2 tsp of pre-minced garlic) 
(4) cups of cauliflower (Which detest--I call it albino broccoli. Sub carrots, red peppers, and broccoli instead)
(1) cup of beef broth
(2) T cornstarch
(1/4) cup soy sauce
(1/4) cup cold water
(1/4) cup sherry
(1/2) tsp sesame oil
(1) T freshly ground ginger

Pour boiling water over frozen pea pod to carefully separate and then drain immediately.

Heat skillet on medium/medium high and add 2 T of the oil. Add the beef, turn constantly for 1-2 minutes or until just browned. Remove meat at once.

Cook onion and garlic for a hot second in the leftover oil. Add the veggies and the broth and cook, stirring gently for about 3 minutes or until tenderly crisp.

Combine the last ingredients (cornstarch, soy sauce, cold water, sherry, sesame oil, and ground ginger) and stir into the broth in the skillet. Add the beef and pea pods stirring constantly until the sauce thickens.

Dish it up over some steamed rice and enjoy!

Makes about 6 servings for about 285 calories a serving. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

On the Mend

Last Sunday I had the loveliest day. Made delicious pancakes, ran some errands with the husband, and enjoyed sweet spring weather we were having. In short, it was marvelous. Then Monday hit with the looks of a blizzard coming through Oklahoma. 
Delicious homemade pancakes for Sunday breakfast. 

I started off feeling pretty chipper, but a little sore, achy really. By noon, I knew something was wrong. School was fortunately closed early and I headed home for a quick thermometer check and hopeful nap, but my plans were foiled. One broken thermometer and a restless nap on the couch had me thinking I was a little more than just "under the weather."

At the urging of my dear, sweet husband, I took off in the slushy rain for the doctors. The nurse asked if I had a fever to which I replied, "I think a little one." Yeah, "a little one" nothing! 103 and feeling miserable, it was officially confirmed that I had the flu. Gross.

Delicious blackberry cobbler
Well, after three and half days with a fever, one round of tamiflu, and a week off from work, I'm nearly back to health (Damn sinuses kicked in and I'm trying to keep it from turning into a sinus infection...if it hasn't already.).

I started to really feel somewhat like myself Friday. I even cleaned house and got through some catch-up work at home. Saturday I ventured out among the living, bought groceries, nearly took out a customer service woman at Target--it was splendid. I even baked up a delicious blackberry cobbler.
The best blackberry cobbler!

Today was all about sleeping in and baking blueberry muffins from scratch. I think a week away from work helped rejuvenate some of my creative juices. I knocked out a combo today that, for the first time in a while, I'm more than satisfied with. I'm actually a little proud. Sometimes when you're creative juices run dry, nothing seems to be up to the standard you hold yourself to. I guess this just goes to show a little rest can go a long way.

Mom's heart-healthy blueberry muffins
I did miss out on a lovely weekend I had planned. My friend got married yesterday (Congrats Jenn and Will!) and while missing out on that, I missed out on visiting with my in-laws and sweet nephew, Michael. Le sigh. But over the weekend I had a number of sweet videos sent to me of the little man.
Chicken tortilla soup for dinner. 
Even though this wasn't necessarily a joyous occasion, I was sad to miss a celebration of life for a family friend who passed last Wednesday. It's always sad to lose a friend and I'm sorry I couldn't be home to say a proper goodbye. Walter was a good man and will certainly be missed.

It's been quite a week, to say the least. I am ready to get back to work, feel like I'm functioning (almost) to my normal level. Sometimes just having a task to do makes me feel a little more useful. Not that I didn't enjoy those five hour naps a day, I totally did, I just don't have anything to show for it.

Hopefully this week goes by smoothly and I survive all the classes just fine. Two more weeks and I'll be home for a little spring break, hallelujah!

Honey stayed by my side all week long, followed me everywhere like a little shadow.
She says "take vitamin C! Stay healthy!"

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday, How I Love Thee

My current work schedule in Monday thru Thursday with the occasional Saturday morning shift. You know what that means? Freedom Fridays! It's possibly the best work schedule a girl could ask for. And Saturday morning work? I actually like it--I spend the majority of my three to four hour block working in my office, being productive, and checking off to-do's. It's fabulous!

But today I have quite a few things to take care of today. Our spring audition for the dance school is an all day affair tomorrow so that wipes out any productivity for me. This week alone has been a little hectic. Doesn't seem like it's going to slow down any time soon either (Am I surprised? Always and I really shouldn't be. This is how my life has always been.). We're only a couple weeks away from Spring Break so I guess you could say an end (more like a pause) is in sight.

What's on the agenda today? A lunch meeting, going to find out all the haps on the promotion and tenure process. My two year mark at the university is quickly approaching and I'll be up for a promotion--whoo-hoo! To be evaluated for it, I have to put together a gigantic binder full of everything I've done during my two years of working here. A little intimidating? Sure, but completely possible to do. I've had a lot of offers for help from fellow faculty members and going to these informational meetings helps me get a bit more prepared.

After that, it's a grocery run, couple of errands, laundry, and whatever lesson plans I can possibly squeeze in. Gotta get a work out in, too. My "marriage muffin" is in need of some serious trimming. When a typical work day goes from 8:00 am - 7:30 pm, it's a little hard to find the time or energy to get a little exercise for yourself. Although, last weekend I ventured into something new. A friend of mine is getting married and for her bachelorette hoorah, we took a group pole dancing lesson (More on the hilarity of my inadequacies at twirling down a pole later.). Incredibly sore for days after, I took it as a sign that I'm definitely being easy on myself. Time to take it up a notch.

WHOO! I think I've had a bit too much coffee this morning! So much to do! So much to do! Guess I'll start with putting on real clothes and my war paint for the day. Happy Friday, ya'll!

Honey says "Happy Friday! Now  put down the coffee and pet me!" Yes ma'am, Honeykins!  Right away! 

Saturday, February 16, 2013


It's that time of year again, Lent! One of my favorite times of year that really gets me doing a little soul searching in a self-set challenging way. Could lead to a even a small yet positive change in yourself. I also love the message behind this beautiful symbolic time (I'm not gettin' preachy, don't worry.).

Some look at Lent as a time to give up something food related in hopes of losing those extra few pounds. Some try to pick a habit to break, like cursing, for the next forty days. Me? Well, I've  tried to make a real effort during the Lenten season to choose something I can fully commit to. Not only commit to, but really feel the "tough love" of giving something up and really feel the season's message.

I gave up peanut butter my freshman year of college. This was a particular challenge because peanut butter had oddly become my security blanket (which explain the additional pounds that magically appeared on my booty.). It would call to me in lonely times and I was pulled to it, spoon in hand, ready to twist the red top off and scoop a soft peanutty mound into my salivating mouth. The Jiff jar had some sort of hypnotic power over me. I'd been fighting the urge for some time and I just needed to something to make me really commit to giving up the hard stuff (Just for clarification--I do mean peanut butter. It's not code for anything else. I'm just strange enough to have an addiction to PB.).

By the time I decided my daily PB intake was going to have to stop, I'd already been improving my health lifestyle for several months. Joined Weight Watchers, had a trainer, and was pretty dadgum committed to feeling healthy again. PB was just a way for me to cope with feeling sad or upset--That first freshman year was really tough on me. A spoonful always made me feel better, but it never lasted for long. I had to find some other way of feeling happy without using food as a feeling suppressor. Enter Lent.

Something about having made a promise to the Man Upstairs makes you really stand strong. The result? PB free and happily less dependant upon, but I still have to reign myself in now and again. I learned a few ways to channel whatever emotions I would have smothered in the creamy goodness. Still, I have my moments when I hear the jar of PB call to me from the kitchen.

Junior year I gave up coffee and tried to teach myself to like tea. That had to be the WORST idea I've ever had. I'd been in school for a solid year and a half (fall, spring, summer, fall, winter-mester, and half-way through spring) when I thought it sounded smart to kick my caffeine habit. In retrospect, it was probably not smart to quit cold turkey like I did. Quite a few headaches the first couple of days seriously tempted me to start chewing on coffee grinds. Can you imagine?

But I made it and with a better liking for tea in the end. I know there were quite a few early mornings and late nights where I spoke to the Big Guy and asked for some help making it through the day. Ain't no way I was going to survive on green tea after being up until 2:00 am and going to a 8:00 am class.

Sometimes Lent isn't always about giving up but trying to be better. So two years ago, I tried to count a blessing a day without repeating and I kept a journal the whole time. All I can say is: Whoa. Baby. It was actually quite a challenge! First of all, remembering to do it every day was tough, but that was the point. I didn't always say "thank you" for the good things in my life as often as I should have.

Second, all I challenged myself to do was find one different blessing a day and after the first, I don't know, week, week and a half, I got a little stuck. I know. How do you start to run out of counting blessings in your life? Well, I did simply because I'd always counted the same ones over and over so it sounded like an easy enough challenge (What an oxymoron right? Easy challenge. Emphasis the "moron" part for me.). The longer I stared at my journal, the more apparent it became that I didn't really see all that  I had in my life.

I couldn't have picked a better time to try this out. I was out of school for the first time ever, had a masters, a ton of auditions lined up, a serious lack of income, student loans coming 'round the bend, and was completely terrified of all that was happening. In short, I was lost. And scared. And a little sad. Being lost, sad, and scared is not the best color on me, but I know this activity was a blessing in an of itself. It made me pull myself up by my bootstraps a little, open my eyes, and say, "Holy Hannah! I am going to be OK!" I like a quote I found, "Sometimes in my little mess, I forget how big I'm blessed!" Helps you put your "big" problems into perspective.

This year. Man. This year I've chosen to restrict my screen time including my facebook time.

I know, right?

Well, let's put it this way. I spend way to much time on there and I don't use it in the most positive light. I usually "stalk" the people who's lives seem to be absolutely wonderful and far better than my own (We all do it, that's the whole point of facebook is to see who is doing what when and where. Don't judge.). Green actually is a good color on me, but not the jealousy kind.

I guess you could say that in a way I'm a little bit of a masochistic facebook stalker--hurts so good that I keep going back for more. I love to see what fantastic lives people are leading and it seems great and then it tailspins into this mental issue where I get sad and down on myself. "Why am I not doing that?" and "I'm missing out" or "Why does everything seem so fabulous for them?" Well, duh, Julie. Like anyone is going to post the seriously sad things or unhappy things in their life. I suwannee. Sometimes I just have to shake myself.

It's a sad truth to admit. For probably the last year I've been telling myself to just sign off, delete the account, get rid of it if you can't handle it. But then I remember my beloved peanut butter and our love/hate relationship. You shouldn't through the baby out with the bath water. I need a little self control. My family is on still on there and especially since I'm having a hard time visiting as often as I'd like, this is a the best way to see how they're doing.


SO. I'm limiting myself to two check-in's a day (I don't count being on instagram and posting photos from there. I have to set myself boundaries!). I had no clue how often I get on facebook out of habit! Just click in and roll through all the news feed. The last few days have been really difficult not to just click the icon on my phone. I see my finger reaching for it and my brain starts screaming "NOOOOO!!!"
 If I didn't do that so much, maybe, just maybe, I'd be out living my life and enjoying things around me a bit more instead of questioning what I'm missing out on. What a concept! I'm truly hoping these forty days of limited activity of the F.B. will help me find a little more happiness, stop living vicariously through a screen, and create my own adventures. So far it feels pretty good. And extremely hard at times.

If you're participating in Lent, good luck to you. I know what an individual challenge it can be and how a little word of encouragement goes far. Whatever you get out of it, a few lost pounds, less of a sailor's mouth, or just a little self peace, I hope you find it. I think there's no better time to try and change than in the spring. It just fits with how everything else in the world begins to change, too, so you don't feel quite so alone.

On that note, go out and enjoy this beautiful day! Try hoppin' off facebook yourself and see what you can really do with that time. Happy Saturday ya'll!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day to one and all!

I absolutely adore this special day! I can't think of a better way to spend the day than celebrating love in a pink and purple sparkly way! Not to mention there's always chocolate involved or in Pyro Man's case, pink cake!

I gave him my (Strawberry Cake) heart this year! 

Hope you're having a wonderful day! Don't forget to spread a little love yourself today!

Flowers from my sweet, Handsome man! 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Hump Day Wednesday

Every Wednesday feels just about the same. I've passed the Monday stress of starting the week and roll into the "Tuesday Triumph" where I feel I can do just about anything (Only because I've survived Monday.).

Wednesday just feels like I really have reached the top of that giant hill I started Sunday night. Things are good, and it's only down hill from here. Thursday, my favorite day of the week, usually ends my work week and I look to my three day weekend of chores, catching up, and prep for the next week. Not that I'm in a rush. Still, I am ready to roll along down into Thursday now. But I've got many things to keep me busy and occupied for the day; planning, grading, reviewing, and such. In short, work.

Can I really call it "work" when I spend most of my time creating dance classes and working with some of the most talented individuals day in and day out? Probably not. Can't even complain about having to go into the "office" because it's really not an office. It's a creative hub, a daily musical set, and an all out dance party 24/7.  Even my personal office can't help but soak up the the music that seeps out from the dance studios below. My little work space picks up the various classes and rehearsals, the echoes of tap shoes, and the bellowing "dancer speak" from my fellow faculty members. Definitely better than most typical office sounds.

Work? Not really what you think of as typical work. Sure, I've got paperwork to do and lecture classes to prep, but when I'm passing down information, teaching students about being a teacher or how to dance. It's absolute joy and I really do love it.

So, with a fresh cup of coffee in hand and the sounds of a tap class resonating in my office, I think I can handle this hump day just fine.

Happy Wednesday to you!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Good morning, World!

Ah, Thursday! My favorite day of the week! It's the day before Friday, the weekend is around the corner, and it's my last work day of the week. That doesn't mean I won't be working tomorrow, just no classes to teach for the day.

I'm actually amazed with myself. I'm dressed, ready to go, classes reviewed, and still sitting at home with time for a 2nd cup of coffee and a quick blog. Don't even have to leave my house for another 25 minutes. Life is good.

School started just three short weeks ago--can't even believe it's the last day of January. Where has the time gone? Just yesterday I was savoring the time at home with family and now here I am nearly a month into the semester. Time just keeps speeding by me these days. C'est la vie.

Anywho, time to get crackin' and start gearing up to head out. Still have plenty to do in the office and if I've got a little extra time, might as well put it to good use. Happy Thursday, ya'll!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Welcome, 2013! I'm excited to see what this year holds in store for me!

2012 was quite a year for me. It started with a brand new job I'd only ever dreamt about. February my sister announced she and her husband were expecting a baby in August! I remember crying, I was so excited for this new addition. By May I'd completed my first full year teaching in higher education (before the age of 25--is that not crazy?). June brought a wonderful bridal shower thrown by my sweet bridesmaids and family. But July really took the cake.

It started when my best friends came to town, a Pizza Panty Party as my bachelorette shin-dig, and a fantastic wedding rehearsal and dinner. Then came the real show stopper, the wedding. July 7th at 6:00 pm, I walked down the aisle towards the man of my dreams and said, "I do" to my now husband. It was a magical night, enchanted and remarkable, one I'll never forget!

After our weekend of celebration, Pyro Man and I took off on our paradise honeymoon vacation, Hawaii! Following that I helped throw a full out girly baby shower for my sister and future niece, Madeleine Elizabeth! August? Well, Pyro Man and I packed up our lives, moved to Oklahoma, and I quickly jetted off to Florida to watch my best friend, Karley, marry her main man.

School started and I earned some new responsibilities. Big Sister gave birth to our beautiful Madeleine! She's a precious bundle of joy we all love so much. Pyro Man and I found out his brother and wife are expecting another little one in May! Looks like we'll be aunt and uncle a third time around! Pyro Man and I had our first Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas together as a married couple. All in all, I like this married life. It's nice having a partner by your side and the possibility of a hug any time of the day, especially on the days your really need one.

Looking back at this entry, it doesn't seem like enough to fill up a year, but all these simple words sum up to the biggest events of my life. I started a grown up life on my own, making my own money, on my own insurance--pretty big steps for first timer. I started a new life with a man, making household decisions together, life decisions together, even picking out Christmas trees together--everything is together. I became an aunt to my sister's daughter--what an incredible experience it is to watch your Big Sister become a mother.

2012, you were good to me and I'm hoping 2013 is just as memorable. I like to do New Year's resolutions, but some years they don't always work out, especially if they're complicated. The best year I was able to stick to was 2006. I made the resolution to be happy. And I was.

This year is "No Excuse New Year!" No more excuses for me. No more making excuses into reasons. If I don't have a legit reason, I can't get out of it. That means keeping up with my goals even if it gets hard and I fall down. There's no excuse for not going for something, for not being brave, for not trying harder. I can always be better, work smarter, figure it out, and this year I intend to do just that.

So welcome 2013! I'm ready for you and I'm ready for all that you'll bring!
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