Reflection Dream

I have this dream.  It's a dream of having little feet and hands all around me while I cook or bake or sew or crochet or dig in the garden dirt or create something, anything.  

It's a dream which is a reflection of my own little feet and hands growing up.  It's manifested way down deep in my soul, right next to where I keep my stubborn.   

I would also like to be included in that dream a retreat of a house with a mountain view or a country field view.  Where out the door step is always adventure awaiting.  

I'm getting picky aren't I?  

But I believe in dreams.  

Because not that long ago I dreamed of the life I have now.  Living in my own house, one in which I decorated with any old thing I wanted to, with a successful career, a master's degree under my belt, an independence to do my own thing, and a life full.  Full of travel and experiences and learning new things and soaking it all in and spurs of the moments and healthy habits and family togetherness and friends who do things like drink red wine and eat fancy cupcakes and sit on zebra chairs one Friday a month to discuss a book yes, but also to hash out politics and life beliefs and what makes us all tick.

A pinch me kind of life really.

This Friday was the talk of Wild by Cheryl Strayed.  Followed by the talk about where has accountability gone in our society?  It seems to have up and left the building.  A few of us stayed late and pushed each other to do some deep thinking view stretching. 

So I'm absolutely here.  To this dream of a life I envisioned not all that long ago.  

And now I have the next dream on my horizon.  I don't know how much I dare go into this but I attend to the belief of what we think is what in turn, happens.  It's what has worked to push and get me here so I will keep on.  

Dream of my twenties.  Check.  

Dream of my thirties.  Just starting.


Two Never Regrets

There are two things I never regret.  

Waking up early.

Getting my run or muscle in before the day starts.  

Not saying it's always easy though.  This morning was a prime example where I chanted to myself, "I never regret waking up or working out.  I never regret waking up or working out." 

Up I went.    

And like I said, I never regret.

But it is, however, always regrettable to wake up after that few extra minutes of sleep I thought would be so fabulous and know I didn't get a run or muscle in.  The extra sleep never outweighs the feeling of working out.  It just doesn't.  

I also am a believer in rising early even when it's not a work day.  Those are my absolute favorite mornings to wake before the sun, knowing I don't have to bust off to the gym quick and head to work.  Golden are those minutes alone with my thoughts and coffee.  Whether it's reading, crocheting, emptying the dishwasher, starting a load of laundry, organizing the party supply cupboard, or paying bills...it's golden.  The promise of an entire day is waiting and I love to be in it and with it.

This Sunday morning was making pom-pom bookmarks and reading Daring Greatly.  My soul was fed by the time the morning sun came bursting through my windows.   

I couldn't help myself later in the day either, the pull to be creative kept on tugging at me.  As in, I took a few minutes in the afternoon to paint metallic tips on feathers.  Why?  I'm not sure yet.  But I figure you can't really go wrong with shimmer and shine.

Add that to my list of never regrets.  Sparkly anything.       

While we are at it, let's also add I never regret doing a donkey kick in the middle of my living room or in the middle of Target or in the dentist's waiting room...but those are stories for a different day. 

Brene Brown's book Daring Greatly is the sharing of her philosophy towards vulnerability.  So far, it's giving me some insight into working towards my own personal goal of putting myself out there.

That may sound like an oxymoron coming from the girl who really does do donkey kicks around the public.  Let me clarify, putting myself out there in real ways is more the goal in mind.

Because I'm fairly certain the times when we let go and let happen, when we take the leap to do the scary and put our brave face on to tackle the feeling of vulnerability, are also always times we never regret.    


Love These Nuggets

An evening with two Spidermen and a little lady at my house while the oldest is at gymnastics leads to a couple of things. Legos all over the floor and fierce games of memory and snacks of grapefruit juice with oranges but hey I do have milk for once kids! and a poopy diaper on my garage step and holding a little hand while we find the boys and of course a laugh until our cheeks hurt dance party.
Punky can get her groove on. Yes she can. Even with a stinker of a cold in her eye she can swing her arms and shake her hiney and do the surfer move like no other.
Her brothers adore her antics.

And I adore all three of these precious nuggets more than perfect temperature coffee and sunrises and sunsets and clean floors and time in the garden dirt and mascara and reading. They are my most favorite. Along with their 'nastic doing big sister. Because they are my people, those ridiculous nieces and nephews of mine. I'm secretly the most proud of them for just that, their ridiculousness. It's an important trait I happen to strongly believe in.


Pizza Pizza Pizza

Homemade pizza crust.  Once you go there, you'll never go back. 

This whole wheat version was given to me by the technology director of our district.  Karen and I were students of his in grad school one semester and ever since we gave him nonstop hugs and ridiculousness, he has kept tabs.  Like the time I ran into him in the gym and he said, "I figured out a really great way to make whole wheat pizza crust."  And I said back, "Well share it with me!" 

So he did.  Sent me the recipe and now I'm a pizza crust making fool. 

1 1/2 cups warm water
2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
  • Warm the water to "baby bottle" temperature (this is Momma Debi terminology) and add the olive oil.
  • Add the yeast to the warm olive oil water and let sit for a few minutes until the yeast starts to do its thing (this is my terminology.
  • In your mixer's bowl, combine all dry ingredients and add the yeast concoction to the top, mix with bread hook on low until well combined, and then switch to just a titch faster for about 5 minutes.  I can always tell dough is ready when it starts to slap the sides of my bowl.  You'll know what I mean when you make it.  Slap, slap, slap it goes. 
  • Take the dough out to a floured counter and knead for 5 more minutes.  
  • Put it back into the bowl.
  • Cover bowl with damp cloth and let dough rise in a warm place for 10 minutes.  In front of fireplace is rocking.
  • Split dough in half and form into discs (freeze one now if you want).
  • Coat pizza pan with cooking spray, spread one dough disc.
  • Use fork to put some holes in the top.
  • Bake crust at 450° for 7 minutes or until just barely crusty to the touch, take it out of oven.   
  • Pop the oven temp up to 500° (just to ensure the oven is hot hot when the pizza goes in). 
  • Top the crust with sauce, toppings, and cheese.
  • Put the oven temp back down to 450° and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until nicely browned.  Remember it's a whole wheat crust so it will look more brown than usual.  You don't want a soggy middle pizza!  
**Yes I use the tablespoon of sugar in this recipe.  I haven't tried honey as a substitute yet or tried it without but I'm thinking it would probably be just fine either way. 

Making pizza dough is especially the greatest while still not showered and changed from the gym, with hood up too.  That's really classy but there's not much you can do about it while your hands are in the dough and someone flips the hood on top of your head.

Also I have noticed I tend to do my cooking with cupboard doors open.  Is anyone with me on that?   

I think of my grandma every single time I knead dough.  Every single time. 

Sunday sunlight streaming makes spending time in the kitchen a beautiful thing. 

The recipe makes enough for two large pizzas so after it has risen, I lop it in half and know there is a crust ready and waiting in the freezer for a quick week night meal.  And yes, I made this pizza back on January 6, 2013 in case you wanted to know. 

After you squish the dough around on a pan, take a fork and make some holes; I learned that trick from Momma Debi when I was growing up.  It helps with air bubbles.  It's also important you bake the crust for about seven minutes before you put the sauce and toppings on, prevents the soggy crust syndrome.  I learned that from my first ever real job of being a Hot Stuff Pizza girl at the local gas station when I was fourteen. 

Pizza sauce from the garden is the best ever.  Plan to have a garden next year please. 

This day, I had leftover ham in my fridge so it was shredded and put on the pizza.  It was different and delicious in its very own way.   

Sometimes figuring out what to do next is difficult for me. 

Voila!  Pizza!  I bet you can guess which part is mine.  No pepperonis and white cheese only, thank you very much.  

I was so hungry by the time it was out of the oven I forget to take a picture of the finished product.  So instead look at my plate of cut up pizza.  And here's one more bossy Amy moment for the road...cutting in squares is totally the way to go. 

Now, go forth and pizza crust.  Shoot.  That was bossy again.      


The 13 Goals for '13

Number One
Work on my flexibility.  Not flexibility in the sense of go with the flow-ness, flexibility in the sense of I can't freaking lift my leg past my midline when lying down.  Also in the sense of you're supposed to be able to touch your toes?  I consider myself to be fairly in shape and my core is strong but I am quite possibly the least flexible person around.  So I'm going to start stretching.  I'm one of those very very naughty people who do not stretch before or after running and working out.  Bad bad habit.  2013!  The year of touching my toes!  

Moving right along...

Number Two
Next goal.  To create books with my pictures.  I whipped up Christmas presents very frantically in the beginning of December using pictures from throughout the year and what I noticed was this...

I have over 10,000 edited "keeper" pictures by the end of one calendar year.  That's ridiculous.  It's also maybe slightly ridiculous that I go through every single picture.  I never edit much because I believe in making it right from the camera, but I still go through every single picture and whittle it down to...10,000.  

So waiting until December to do something with those?  Not smart.  This year, my goal is to do it monthly.  Blurb is a fantastic book making site and I will be working on books throughout the year; not just in December.  Because in December I really want to be wearing twinkly lights around my neck while singing Christmas carols and sprinkling glitter on presents.  That's why.  Also because I've decided I want my pictures to be around forever so I best get them in some hard copy format with the way this world is always a changing.  Want them to be around forever I tell you.  One day I want someone to look at me wearing orange corduroy pants and think, "She was not stylish.  Not one bit."

Number Three
To answer my phone more.  It's a silly phobia this answering the phone thing.

Number Four
To say "not right now" or "no" more often.  I think that's why I have a paralyzing fear of answering the phone; it's almost like if I answer it, then I will be faced with saying yes or no to something and what happens is I say yes and then I cry because I shouldn't have.

Number Five
Be less dramatic.  Just go ahead and reread over that last goal and I don't need to explain this one.

Number Six
Increase the amount of money in my savings.  Time to put on my big girl pants and become a saver for the future because I'm nearing thirty.  And we all know that after thirty you are forty and then you are fifty and then you are dang near retired.   

Number Seven
Crochet a chevron pattern afghan.  I've mastered cowls and slouchy hats and kitchen dish cloths and now it's time to move on to a chevron pattern afghan.  It's what's in me next; I just know it.

Number Eight
Paint the bedroom set which is currently taking up residence in my garage.  I've done a lot of things in my day when it comes to crafting and creating, but painting wood furniture isn't one of them.  Let me rephrase that, painting the kind of wood furniture which was sold in the mid-90's isn't one of them.  Because if it was real deal wood, I would not be painting it, I would be refinishing.  At any rate, it's a project which needs tackling.      

Number Nine
To wear sunglasses when the sun is bright against the white snow while I wear my newly crocheted hat because forehead wrinkles are not the most attractive of looks.  Alright I'm being a tad sarcastic, but I do need to start taking better care of my skin.  As in doing some kind of skin care regime because currently it's called wash my face in the shower is all I do.  So with my thirty approaching, it's time to sunscreen faithfully and figure out some kind of moisturizer or something something.   

Number Ten
More Saturday morning coffee dates with friends because they really are the best.  Both the dates and the friends.

Number Eleven
Start seriously thinking about writing a book.  Notice I said thinking about writing one, not actually writing one yet.  That might be more of a 2014 goal, it has a better ring to it.  Excuse much?

Number Twelve
Be vulnerable.  I tend to keep a close eye on this center of mine, staying in control at all times.  I know the tiny seeds which grow into the most fulfilling moments in life start in vulnerability.  But who's with me in that it is much easier to talk about throwing caution to the wind and putting yourself out there than actually doing it?   

Number Thirteen
To love more.  And then love some more.  And then maybe even a bit more.  


Sweet Sweet Myron and his Lost Car

Last night, as I pushed my cart with my two colorful cloth bags of groceries in the cold winter night air, my head down a bit to block the wind, I was feeling the anticipation of being home.  Sliding my feet into my slippers, being in my warm house, putting the groceries away, unwinding from the day.  I picked my head up briefly as I crossed the traffic area and noticed an elderly man shuffling towards the cart return space, which happened to be adjacent to my car.  Under his left arm was a pack of toilet paper and in his right hand was two bags, milk and bread.  He shuffled painfully slow and unsteady.  I took notice of him heading toward the cart return with groceries in his hands, an action opposite of usual.  

We arrived to our destinations at the same time, me to my car and him to the cart return where he promptly set his groceries down in a stranded cart.  I lifted my gate, put my bags in as he turned around to me in a desperate voice, "I can't find my car."  

He was so cold his cheeks were red and his nose was running and he had the look of defeat and panic in his eyes.  

"I can't find my car.  How stupid."  

"Oh!  Well, that sort of thing happens to me all the time.  One time I even told the people at the car wash my car didn't have a neutral.  Can you imagine?  You are talking to the right girl about doing silly things." 

A slight smile. 

"What kind of car do you have?"  

"A silver Impala with license plate ending in 72."  

I scanned the rows in the lot I could see.  No Impala in sight.  

"Are you sure you parked by this door?  Sometimes I forget which door I go in."  

"I know it is in these two rows.  I know it is."  

I was becoming colder and colder by the second as I stood there and shifted from one foot the next, my mind spinning about solutions to this problem because very obviously, his car was not in the rows I could see.  

"How about you just get in my car with me and we'll drive around until we find it.  I can't handle this cold very well and we can put the seat warmers on and visit while we look."  

"No, no.  I'll find it."

But he didn't move.  Just stood there with that look in his eyes, his nose running, and his groceries in the cart.  So I prompted again with a point, "My car is right here.  You really can just ride around with me until we find it."

"You aren't going to try and steal me are you?"  He said with a twinkle and smile.

"I promise I won't.  And you have to promise you won't try and steal me too!"  

And with that our bond was sealed.  

I put his groceries in the back of my car while he shuffled around and slid in my passenger seat.  I jumped in, cranked the heat and seat warmers, and started the voyage to look for the silver Impala, making small talk while I scanned.  We went over about how he has lived here his whole life and how his kids moved away now (to a town about twelve miles from here which I couldn't help but chuckle to myself about) and how he fell in Denver, CO a few weeks ago and that he didn't like that one little bit.  I told him I was from here too and how he reminded me of my grandpa, "Myron, you remind me of my Grandpa Norman.  He's not here with me anymore though so I think maybe it was meant to be for you to ride around in my car for a bit tonight."

His response, "Well I'm damn near ninety."  

Oh yes he was meant to be with me for a brief stint.   

Then he went into the spelling of his last name because he is an -on at the end, not an -en and once I had driven the entire lot twice without finding his car, I really started to wonder what I was going to do with Myron.  And I actually had a vision of bringing him home with me, to have him sit at my table while I put my groceries away and maybe feed him some dinner.  But I realized he probably really would think I was trying to steal him then, so my wheels kept spinning.  Literally.  Around we went.  

There were two silver Impalas in the lot but neither was his because, "My license plates ends in 72 I told you.  Don't you remember?"  Those are not 72."  

Finally, it dawned on me after going back and forth, feeling more and more like I had my Grandpa Norman sitting next to me, "Myron!  Do you have a key clicker?!"  

"Well yeah I have one of those."  Followed by the look of why the hell wouldn't I you young girl you.  Myron made me smile.  The entire time.   

"Then we can click it and see if any lights come on!"  I was starting to get the feeling that 72 might not be the last digits of his plates but didn't want him to know I was doubting him.  

He handed over the clicker to me and I drove to the first silver Impala.  No lights.  

I drove to the second silver impala.  Lights!  

"There it is!  That's it Myron!"  

"That's not my car.  Remember I told you I had 72 at the end, that's a 42."

"But Myron, your keys work on that car."  

"Oh yeah.  Oh yeah.  My daughter's is 72 and mine is 42."  His finger waving at me the whole while.  

"Well all I know is, I'm sure happy we found your car."  

I carried his groceries to his back seat and got him shuffled to the driver's door and he turned to me, put his arm around me and said, "Thank you for helping me and I sure wish some day I can help you the same way.  I think you were my little angel tonight."  

I hugged him back and put my hand on his shoulder and said, "I'm so glad I was here.  Some day, someone will help me.  That's how this life works.  Or at least how it should."

"You got that right."  

He slid into his car and I hopped back into mine to make my way to my house, twenty minutes later than I would have been, to my putting my groceries away, to my unwinding from the day.  But I wouldn't have wanted to spend those twenty minutes any other way than with Myron in my car.  

If I could write Myron a thank you note, I would.  For reminding we are all in this together.  For reminding me people are the most important of all.   


Gritty Tradition

So it's Tuesday and I do believe the funniest thing I've said this week happened yesterday.  

"Pam!  Ohhhh I love this peanut butter so very much.  It's basically like someone just chewed peanuts up for you first." 

For some reason this made her think I was being sarcastic in my love for the nutter but sarcasm it was not.  

I have found the one.  

The best natural peanut butter.  

It's Smuckers.  Simple.  Yes. 

And I must be honest here and say I didn't really find it.  What happened was I was at Danae's house one morning over Christmas break drinking my sixth cup of coffee and teaching her to crochet a chain when all of a sudden it was lunch time.  Her children were hungry and I hear when children are hungry, they must be tended to.  Danae whipped them up some grilled cheese with good cheese because she's a good momma and then I stood next to her butcher block island eating a green apple one slice at time.  Spreading gritty peanut butter smoothly just so with a butter knife.  I told you about this before but it bears repeating; I can make a tradition out of anything.  And that day, standing next to my forever kind of friend's butcher block island, I sensed a new one coming on.  Yes, felt it brewing under my skin.  Butter knife, gritty peanut butter, one slice at a time green apple is what it's called.  

I took a picture of the jar so I wouldn't forget and then I purchased a jar and brought it home to have a twenty minute stir session with it before placing it in the fridge.  

Twenty minutes might be an exaggeration but it takes some muscle to get that nutter stirred up right.  

But now.  

Now it's ready whenever I want it to be.  

And I bring it to work on a Monday so I can say things like, "Pam! Ohhhh I love this peanut butter so very much. It's basically like someone just chewed peanuts up for you first."  


Gratitude and Wonder

Sunday morning and I'm feeling it.  Gratitude.  For this time with my coffee and thoughts.  For the fullness of my days which gives me the absolute appreciation of this slow moment.  For Saturdays with family and friends to watch the NDSU game.  For a mom who likes to spend the game the same way I do, with tea and yarn.  For this beautiful life.     
The message at the bottom of my tea cup yesterday afternoon foreshadowed the rest of my evening.  The whole world is filled with awe at your wonders...   
It's going to have to simply become my new normal to add fifteen minutes to my travel time to get anywhere these days because I'm pulled to pull over to the side of the road to catch some beauty, to feel some of that wonder. 
Twice last night as I drove to a birthday party celebrating the newest addition to the five year old club.    

I gave it an honest to goodness try to only have it be once.  Tried to say to myself, "Yes the snow sifting across the field against the setting sun is something, but just keep driving.  You already pulled over once."  I kept driving.  Only to stop two minutes later and throw my car in reverse to get back to the snow sifting spot.  Am I glad I did. 

Taking the time to notice the world and feel the gratitude is important to me.  Fifteen minutes late kind of important.
I just looked up the rest of the verse from the bottom of the tea cup and in its entirety it fits my heart even more. 

Psalm 65:8  The whole world is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy. 
Happy Sunday morning.