Changes

Well, it’s been just about a year since I’ve had anything to say on this blog. After James’ mom passed away I just haven’t really been very into doing productive things, and have kind of just been spending my time complaining. Thankfully, these phases pass, and I am participating in brighter days now:)

So, since it’s been a while, I guess I should break things down into sections to get me back into blogging mode…

LIFE.

Life has been constantly up and down for the past year or so, basically ever since James started his clinical rotations. They are just inconsistent and stressy – not the best mix for 2 people who need routines! But, as we are nearing the end, I feel a twinge of melancholy as I reflect on the past 8 years of being in West Lafayette. I think I’m going to miss this place.

James’ mom passed away in July, and we just recently lost two special animals to us – our minister, Steven, lost his dog, Simcha; my family lost our 15 year old beautiful Birman cat, Ziggy. Death seems to be a bit too consistent for my liking, but unavoidable and necessary I suppose. However, we have welcomed 2 new rats into our home, Watson and Crick. They are wonderful, and we have already bonded to them quite a bit! We now have 2 cats, Rosie and Lewis, 2 rats, 1 chinchilla (Tacos), and our dog, Sidney.

I just realized I never wrote about Sidney. He is the greatest challenge I have come to face in my life thus far. I was really hoping to find a dog that would be my buddy through thick and thin, and Sidney is just soooo not that dog. We are still, after almost 9 months together, having a really difficult time bonding. Frankly, I just don’t really like him, and he seems to be pretty uninterested in me as well. Perhaps it’s because he’s still a puppy, and I am very much so a cat person, so we are still just on different ends of the spectrum with one another. I can only hope that we become closer when we move and I am no longer working (and we have a fenced in yard!).

Speaking of moving, we are about a month away from moving into Spruce Lodge. I will be spending the next 3 weekends going up there to try to finish painting the house (so many fun colors!), and then working on the kitchen cabinets. Hopefully. It would be so nice to have at least the basics done before James’ graduation party, but I don’t really feel like putting too much pressure on it all, especially since we have a huge fun vacation to Maine coming up! 🙂

So, as you can see, I guess the best way to sum up life the past 9 months or so is… incoherent? Everything, from schedules, to thoughts, to emotions, has just kind of been all over the place, much like this writing probably seems. I’m not too concerned about it, as I still love James and he still loves me, and we love spending time together, so as long as that doesn’t change I think we’ll be just fine.

CREATIVE STUFF

I have been taking an art class for the past month or so, and absolutely loving it. It is more of a, I sit down and paint stuff while my teacher constantly praises me, type of class, but it is so nice to just sit down and paint 2 hours a week. I am working on my first ever acrylic painting, so it’s a little messy, but it’s fun and happy! Depending on how it turns out, I might post a picture of it… we’ll see:)

I have also been feeling a big urge to work on other art projects, such as dabbling with watercolors or drawing, but I am finding myself holding back from it because there is just so much other stuff to do with all of the packing and the moving and whatnot. I hope that as a stay-at-home wife I can not only contribute to our family by taking care of us and everything around the house, but also contribute to myself by doing things I enjoy doing, and not getting complacent. Sometimes it is hard to have an interest in anything and everything, as goals can get a little scattered and daunting!

We are painting our master bedroom quite a bright mint color, and I am making a duvet cover with muslin to tone it down a little bit. We bought a beautiful comforter from C Studio, and it is one of the best purchases I’ve made. It’s an ultra warm, RDS certified down, and it took a lot of research on ethical ways to produce down comforters to get to this brand. All in all, totally worth the more expensive cost and time. I need to dye the muslin, so that will be something I try this weekend for the first time. Yikes! I’m going for a golden yellow, so hopefully that’s how it turns out:)

What else…. again, everything in my brain is just so jumbled up. I guess I’ll call this post quits for now, and just try to start fresh with the new things happen in my life as they come about, rather than trying to play catch up!

The Glorious 4 Day Weekend

Note: This post is a few months old and never got published, and I figured since I wrote it I might as well still publish it:)

Well, it is finally Tuesday, and the last day of May, which means my wonderful weekend is now over 😦 😦 😦

There are many things that I am thankful for that occurred over the last four days:

Beautiful weather. Just. Beautiful

Rest and relaxation.

Spending (some) time with James – He still had to work from 2 pm – 2 am, but it was nice to have mornings and early afternoons together, and he did get Friday off!

Celebrating our 1st wedding anniversary.

Overall, the life and circumstances that I have been blessed with.

I could go on for days about how much James means to me, but in all honesty, you probably have someone who is just as compatible with you as he is with me! Therefore, you probably understand, and I won’t overindulge in the obvious…

In short, I’m just so grateful I was given a companion, and for our co-dependence on one another.

It is quite strange, I think. We don’t really have many friends, and the friends we do have are only ever around so often. Our families don’t live in WL, so we don’t see them very often either. We both don’t really like talking on the phone much, and we don’t keep up on social media as much as we could. It’s like we live in our own isolated bubble, but it’s such a nice happy bubble! I don’t really know how we developed into such an introverted unit, but it is a little nice to not have as much to focus on – not to mention, we get to spend 4 day weekends together just being us!

Occasionally, I have an inner conflict with this, as it kind of comes across selfish to me at times. I try to remember that your cup has to be filled before you can share with other people, and these times together definitely overflow our cups with joy. Plus, with his work schedule, we just have to do what we can:)

That was a tangent. Anyways, I’m wanting to write about my (our) 4 day weekend! We’ll just chalk up the last two paragraphs as a reflection on our relationship or something, since the topic was a big part of this past weekend. 1 year of marriage! 5 years of dating! Seems to be working out okay.

Now, onto the fun stuff:)

Friday morning we woke up early to go on a hike through Prophetstown State Park (yes, this is where we “bird”). It was a time that allowed us to be separate but together. The sun poked through the trees, the birds flew up among the canopy, and many little critters rustled about on the floor – all of this allowed for great introspective work, and it was fun to be in each other’s energy while we walked about. We also saw many pretty birds, such as cardinals, golden finches, yellowthroats, orchard and baltimore orioles, red headed woodpeckers, a kingfisher, and an adorable goose family. We then headed to our favorite little cafe`, Baker’s Peak, and enjoyed a little sandwich lunch. James helped me pick out a beautiful calla lily from Meijer, and we decided to call it our anniversary plant. We’ll see if I can get it to bloom again next year… In the afternoon, we took a long nap, and then enjoyed catching up with our friend Tom!

Saturday, we went to Murdoch Park and walked around after getting a few errands done. Somehow we got lost walking through the woods, but it was a nice detour nonetheless. James had to head to work then, and I spent the remainder of the afternoon basically just watching Netflix, which was a much appreciated break from working on some projects.

Sunday, we went to Slayter Hill to frisbee golf in the morning, and then went out for lunch at Town and Gown Bistro. It was a pretty delicious lunch, and the patio was so pretty with all of the plants and flowers!

Monday, we went to the place we met, Tarkington Hall, and took some anniversary pictures. It was so fun to goof around and enjoy many reminiscing conversations about our undergrad years. We did all of the 1st anniversary things such as eating our old wedding cake, exchanging paper gifts, and pulling out our vows and rereading them. Annnddd we also had some mimosas out of the glasses we toasted with at our wedding:) I walked with him back to work, and sadly said goodbye to him, as well as the fun anniversary festivities. But, I did get A TON done the rest of the day – laundry, dishes, dusting, new bedding, and I even got some homemade bread made.

Thank you God, thank you God, thank you God for all of the wonderful things you have given me, James being at the top of my list.

 

 

 

Chocolate-Covered Marshmallow Cookies

Every year, during the months of June and July, I get slammed with “Dad gifts.” James’ dad’s birthday is June 14th, Father’s Day hangs out around there, and then my dad’s Birthday is July 18th. Since these are the most difficult people for me to think of presents for, I struggle a lot creatively around this time:) However, I thought of a great gift for my dad! He adores the Nabisco Pinwheel cookies, so I decided to work on making a homemade version of these.

It is an extremely messy recipe, and takes quite a bit of time, and dirties a lot of dishes, but trust me, it’s all worth it in the end!

Chocolate-Covered Marshmallow Cookies
Makes between 32-40 small cookies
Bake at 350 F for 8 -10 minutes

Cookies

1/2 cup butter
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cupd flour
1/2 tsp. salt

Cream butter and sugar. Add in vanilla and egg. Slowly add in cocoa and flour mixture. Mix until incorporated. Form into ball, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight. Roll out onto floured surface about 1/8″ thick. Bake until firm, and allow to cool to room temperature.

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You may need to add more flour to keep it from sticking too much, like it is here.
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After baking

Marshmallow 

1/3 cup water + 1/4 cup water
1 pkg. unflavored gelatin
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sugar

In mixing bowl, pour gelatin over 1/3 cup cold water and vanilla. Let sit while gelatin soaks. In a saucepan, dissolve 1 cup sugar into 1/4 cup water, and bring to 238 F (soft ball stage) while stirring with spoon continuously. Once 238 F is reached, pour over gelatin in mixer, and beat slowly while mixture cools down for 30 seconds or so. Then, beat on medium-high to high for 8-10 minutes, or until marshmallow is stiff and not as shiny. Place mixture into piping bag, and pipe immediately (no need to be quick, but don’t let it sit for too long or it will thicken too much and won’t pipe well).

Optional: I was in a hurry to get these finished, so I made a 1:1 mixture of cornstarch and powdered sugar, and sifted them over my cookies after I was done piping on the marshmallow. This helped them to be handled quickly without having to wait as long for the marshmallow to set up. It is very easy to accidentally cake on this mixture while sifting, so be sure to do it lightly.

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A quick picture of the “soft ball” stage
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Immediately after pouring into mixer.
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About 2 minutes into beating.
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Stiff peaks, holds shape well, good to go!
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Allow these to sit for a while to allow them to stiffen up.

Chocolate

1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 Tbsp. light oil

Melt chocolate chips in microwave (30 seconds on high, stir, repeat as needed). Mix in oil to make melted chocolate thinner, which will help when dipping the cookies.

Dip cookies in chocolate, and allow them to sit in the refrigerator until ready to eat-this keeps the chocolate from melting when you keep your house at 80 degrees in the summertime:)

Note: I dipped the bottoms of my cookies first, and let them harden upside down (since my marshmallow was firm enough). Then, I dipped the rest of the cookie, and this allowed for the whole thing to be covered in chocolate!

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Another blurry iPhone photo, but you get the idea:)

 

 

Scones and More Muffins

The other day, I made another batch of Lemon-Almond Poppyseed Muffins and some Blueberry-Lemon Scones. So, in short, here is the recipe for the scones!

Blueberry-Lemon Scones
Makes 8 large scones
Preheat oven to 350 F

1 cup flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1/4 cup almond flour (substitute 1:1 regular flour if you don’t have this)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. cold butter
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. lemon extract or zest
2 cups fresh or thawed blueberries
optional sugar for topping

Sift dry ingredients into bowl with mixed wet ingredients. Combine with hands, or fold with a spoon. Place dough onto a floured surface, and shape into a circle (more flour may need added to keep from being too sticky). Cut across circle 4 times, giving 8 triangular sections. Place on parchment paper and bake at 350 F for 20 -25 minutes, or until bottoms start to brown.

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Springing into Some Hobbies

Recently I have had quite a few things going on in the craft world, and my creative side is feeling a nice stretch of her legs!

First and foremost, I have been taking on the world of knitting, and working on a scarf for James. It was supposed to be a Purdue scarf originally, but is kind of taking the form of a Gryffindor themed scarf now. In my opinion, that’s just as acceptable. It is basically just knitting in a circle for days on days on days, but it is relaxing and something I can do while I’m watching Netflix (just got done with Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt season 2….now what do I watch!?!)

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Second, I have been taking it upon myself to learn how to draw more realistically. I’ve doodled for the majority of my life, and they’re ehh, but I think it would be such a neat skill to be sitting outside and be able to just draw whatever I see. The bar is set pretty high, and I may never achieve this level of art, BUT it sure is fun to work on and calming as all get out as well.

Besides all of the baking I’ve been having to do to keep up with James’ food intake, I have also worked on a few Mother’s Day gifts. This is my mom’s first Mother’s Day without her mom, so I wanted to try to give her something a little more special than flowers and chocolate. I made a Shutterfly book of some old and more recent pictures of my Grandma, but what I’m mainly excited about is the picture I made for her out of some of the pressed flowers from my Grandma’s funeral. They didn’t turn out as well as I was hoping after they were pressed, but there are still some pretty colors and tones that make it more pleasant to look at.

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This is before the Mod Podge finished drying.

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James’ mom has been interested in making an herb garden in her backyard. I’ve been thinking about what I can give her or make her that can be incorporated into something she likes, and garden stakes came to my mind! So after a little research, I found a tutorial for these garden stakes made out of polymer clay (which holds up to varying weather conditions according to what I have read), and made some labels for her herbs! I think they’re cute, but maybe that’s just being blinded by my own pride. James and I also found an adorable vase for her from Michael’s that I think will go very well in the back room of their home.

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Lastly, I finished Jessie’s baby shower invitations. I thought they turned out kinda neat:)

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My next project is going to be working on my anniversary gift to James. Since it is apparently the “paper anniversary,” I’m trying to make his gifts completely out of paper (and coincidentally, it saves a TON of money that way). Hopefully they turn out well, but you never really know how a project is going to go until it’s done!!

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The start to one of my gifts for James… origami folding is so tedious!

Do you know the muffin (wo)man?

I have been on a huge baking spree the past couple of weeks. I have found that if James has food made for him, he will take it with him to class and eat breakfast. It only took 5 years, but darn it, I’ve got it figured out now!

So, I gave him a list of muffins/scones/various other things and told him to pick the top ones. I ended up making millet muffins (like corn bread but with millet instead of corn), blueberry-lemon scones, double chocolate chip muffins, and lemon-almond poppyseed muffins. It was so fun to spend my Sunday afternoon in the kitchen watching Scrubs while I nearly trip on Rosie over and over again, who is patiently waiting for me to drop some butter or other scraps on the floor for her to eat (I’m very messy and clumsy).

I find baking incredibly relaxing. I have found that after a while, if you make mistakes you kind of know how to fix them (unless you measure out 1 cup of salt instead of 1 cup of sugar and add that in), so the whole process is pretty stress-free!

This week, I decided to branch out of this comfort zone a little by trying some new things. So, I made raspberry white chocolate scones and breakfast muffins. The scones ended up turning out okay despite the fact the raspberries basically just crumbled and turned to juice while i was trying to incorporate them into the dough, and they are definitely more of a dessert than a breakfast scone. The breakfast muffins, however, turned out even better than I could have expected! They are almost like breakfast cupcakes, except not as sweet and actually pretty healthy! They have carrots, cranberries, pecans, and applesauce in them, and were sweetened with mostly honey.

Naturally, I forgot to take any pictures of them, but will the next time I make them! For now, here are a few pictures of my most recent batch of lemon-almond poppyseed muffins and the instructions to make them (these are super easy by the way).

Lemon – Almond Poppyseed Muffins
Makes 1 dozen muffins
Preheat oven to 375 F

1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup yogurt, sour cream, cream cheese, etc.
1/2 cup light oil
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. lemon extract

1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. poppyseeds

Mix wet ingredients together in one bowl, and dry ingredients together in another. Combine the two bowls, and mix until batter is consistent and not very lumpy. Pour into muffin tins. Bake at 375 F for 10-14 minutes.

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This is what a double batch looks like before combining wet and dry ingredients.
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I would have gotten my tulips in the picture, but Rosie chewed them all off 😦
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These will last, oh, maybe a week:)

So…. that went by fast!

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written anything on here. Many things have happened in the beginning 1/3 of 2016, and not all of them have been “good” in my perspective. However, with every “bad” thing that happens in life, a “good” lesson can be taken from the experience.

The semester has been going pretty well for James, and we’ve actually got a pretty good system going for us now – just in time for it all to change for clinics:) I’m very excited for him to start his 4th year! He is kind of burnt out from all of the studying and coursework he has been doing, so I’m looking forward to seeing that passion towards his field light up again. We have been taking some nice bike rides together, and spending a lot of our spare time talking about the future, which is mostly fun to do, but can be a little stressful at times. All in all, we have no idea where we are going, what we are going to do, or how we are going to do it, but we’re ready for 2017!

We didn’t end up taking our trip to Vermont, as my Grandma Shurboff passed away a few days beforehand. She was 91 years old, and peacefully left the world in her sleep. Obviously, I didn’t know Grandma well (or at all for that matter) in her younger years, but it is a comfort to know how close she was with God in her later years. Throughout the house my mom has been finding scraps of paper (or napkins, or wrappers-she had some slight hoarding tendencies:) that she had written thoughts or Bible verses on, and I idolize the way she turned to God for her problems, rather than trying to solve them all on her own.

Also, we decided to try to bring a dog into our world again, and after weeks of hype and excitement, it didn’t end up working out. For lack of a better way to put it, it was a real bummer.

So, recent events have been pretty challenging for us. James is naturally gifted when it comes to handling the downs in life, whereas I am not. In these times, he is my rock. In fact, I feel as though I handle the downs in life the worst ways possible. I become the anti-person of who I want to be. Bitterness, apathy, and frustration are my go-to emotions, and I have little to no grace or poise when around other people. I kind of turn into a grade-A grump…

I have been holding a lot of thoughts and feelings inside, and since I don’t have this really published anywhere, I think it’s a good place for me to get them out.

When I’m feeling these emotions, I can’t handle being around anybody (except James sometimes). Animals are always welcome, but people-not so much. This is because it is difficult for me to listen to other people’s sympathy or advice on how to handle my feelings (there is a HUGE lack of understanding of how to be empathetic vs. sympathetic). It is difficult for me to muster up any genuine happiness for other people, and it is difficult for me to even focus on what another person is saying to me, and this unfortunately even includes James at times.

So. You now know who I can become when I have a rough patch. Not good. Not pleasant. Kinda whiny. Okay, pretty whiny. But, the cold hard truth is that I can’t just avoid people all willy-nilly when I’m depressed. Therefore, this depression hightails towards anxiety. Once I’m anxious about being around people, all I can think about is how I don’t want to be. I start thinking “I wish so and so wouldn’t bother me” or “All I want to do is be at home alone” and basically wanting everything to be a way it can’t.

Let me just get to the point of what I’m trying to say here. As you can see, negative thinking and energy is basically the downfall of who I strive to be. If you’ve seen the movie Inside Out, you’ll understand the reference that the blue gal (Sadness) and the red guy (Anger) are who take over, when who I really want to be manning my brain is the green girl (Happiness). Everyone has their own tactics on how to keep Happiness in control, but they vary greatly from one person to another. We all handle it differently, and that just needs to be accepted. Truthfully, I still don’t have Happiness at the front of my mind, but she’s working her way back up there.

That was a bit of rambling, but what I’m trying to say is, don’t put the effort into consoling a person unless you truly care to. Otherwise, if you can’t be sincere, empathetic, or just someone to listen, you are probably making the situation worse for them. Also, telling a person how you handle “the same” situation is just as hard to hear. The video below is a fantastic example of the differences between empathy and sympathy, and puts it into terms anybody should be able to comprehend:

I guess I decided to go in the direction this post is going because I am amazed and saddened by the way people interact with people who are struggling. This has also brought a lot of attention towards myself and my own actions. Am I easing pain or am I making it worse? Am I being empathetic or sympathetic? Am I just bothering a person who wants to be alone? I can’t stand the thought of me adding more grief to someone, but the truth is, I’ve probably done it before… and so have you. Anyways, I hope this widened your mind (or not, because again, I think I’m the only one reading this), and maybe it will help you to understand how to help someone who needs some support:)