Well, hi

Fall color

I hate to break the fourth wall and go all “sorry I haven’t been blogging,” but sorry I haven’t been blogging. Between getting sick last week, battling through general exhaustion and a few grueling projects at work, my head has been all over the place and, quite honestly, I’m just trying to muddle through.

That sounded a little more depressing than I intended. Everything is okay! I am good! But I’m tired and sort of boring right now, though I anticipate having some fun stories to share with you soon. And probably some pictures . . . once I get my camera batteries charged again. I’m slacking.

How are the leaves where you are? Because here, friends, they’re kind of sucking. Most of the trees behind the house have uniformly shed their leaves without much color change at all, leaving us with all of the yard work and none of the beauty. Which is pretty terrible, actually. I’m still waiting for “real” fall to begin . . . it’s been muggy, stormy and weird. I need my autumn breezes.

So, yes — going to try and get my act together. I miss you guys. I miss having mildly entertaining and/or whacky things to talk about. I’m optimistic — cautiously? — that I’ll get back into the groove soon.

Until then, I’ll be on the couch.


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Five things on Friday

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1. I’m totally cheating on my beloved coffee lately, and . . . you know what? I’m okay with it. Most mornings find me hovered over the Keurig making a chai tea latte — just brewed chai with milk — and it’s my new obsession. Have you tried chai? Are you a tea drinker? If not, consider this your invitation! And if you’re feeling really fancy, add cinnamon. It’s totally like the delicious drink at Panera Bread and Panera is also my happy place.

2. Speaking of Panera, I took myself to lunch yesterday! In an effort to stay on budget and watch how much we’re eating out (er, often), I’ve been trying to limit my weekday work lunches to leftovers and soup. Which is fine, you know . . . most of the time. But sometimes? One gets a hankering for kettle chips. And soup. And chipotle sauce. And when that happens, there’s only one thing to do — so I did it. No regrets.

3. After confessing to my book rut earlier this week, I’ve actually found my interest in reading has been making a turn-around! I’m halfway through Samantha Verant’s Seven Letters From Paris — a fun memoir for francophiles — and just started Stephanie Perkins’ Isla and the Happily Ever After. The latter is a library book, so I’m trying to stay motivated; because it’s such a hot item, I doubt I’ll be able to renew it. And if we get to crunch time before it’s due, I will stay up all night because no. Returning an enjoyable library book half-read is torture.

4. Is it really bad for me to admit I started Christmas shopping already? I actually have three gifts hidden away for the holidays. I’m something of a gift-giving nut — I love, love to pick out presents — and it’s giving me a “project.” Now that the house is (mostly) put together and the wedding is over, I’m finding myself rather idle. Planning for the holidays is definitely a way to

5. In my travels over at Etsy, I’ve fallen in love with this print and this one and also this quote, probably because we married in November and I’m a fall fanatic. I’m pretty sure I need one or all of them, but I’ll refrain and be a good girl.

For now.


Happy weekend, friends!


Five things on Friday

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1. Are these or are these not the most adorable stamps you’ve ever seen? We know I’m a mail nerd, so it should come as no surprise that I’m positively geeking out over them — but really. Sunflowers and vegetables and adorable baskets on a stamp. I just sort of look at and pet them, and then I put them on love letters. Or letters to my grandma, ’cause that’s how I roll.

2. I’m in the middle of no less than three books right now (one on Kindle; one print; one audio), but that didn’t stop me from starting Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry because Patti recommended it and y’all gushed about it — and what can I say? The power of persuasion. Though I started my other reads days or weeks ago, I’m almost finished with A.J. — and have thoroughly enjoyed it! Very charming.

3. We haven’t done much cooking lately, but have somehow been feeding ourselves . . . I’m thinking mostly off of frozen skillet meals, leftovers and the occasional dinner out (with more leftovers). But we did make slow cooker beef stew on Tuesday, and it turned out quite delicious. I took zero photos, though, so you’ll have to take my word for it? Sorry about that. #bloggerfail

4. Now that the library is coming along and my books are nestled in their new nook, I’m preoccupied with finding the perfect comfy reading chair. I was standing in the doorway last night, trying to picture this piece of furniture or that while cradling my laptop, and I’m pretty sure this is the one since I keep thinking about it. I want the vibe in there to be fun, funky and colorful — like all the spines of our books — and think it will fit well? But I’m so gun-shy about actually ordering it. Another adult milestone I have yet to cross: buying furniture. (Everything we have was passed along by family or purchased by Spencer pre-marriage.)

5. It’s almost craft fair season, y’all! Is that a thing where you are? Here in Southern Maryland, firehouses, churches and halls will soon fill with crafters selling home decor, jewelry, candles, Christmas stuff . . . and I will love every second of it. Hitting the many craft fairs is a family pastime in the fall, and I actually have a place for my craft fair finds these days. I don’t want to be broke, either, but I’m ridiculously excited about it.

Happy weekend, friends!


Five things on Friday

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1. My potluck rut has ended! For months (years?), I’ve been toting cupcakes and pistachio fluff to work gatherings — but no more. At a going-away party for coworkers this week, I was tasked with bringing something “healthy” to, um, supplement our pizza — and fruit salad seemed an obvious choice. But because I can’t just throw fruit in a bowl, I fell down the Pinterest rabbit hole and discovered an easy addition: dry vanilla pudding mix. Genius.

Sliced strawberries, a pint of blueberries, canned pineapple with just a little of the reserved juices . . . and half a package of Jell-o vanilla pudding mix sprinkled atop, then stirred and chilled until delectable. I didn’t come home with a completely empty bowl, but close enough.

People just really love pizza, man.


2. We have a cardinal who “visits” with us every morning, and I was so charmed by him — in a very “Snow White” kind of way, you know? He sings us a little song as we get ready for work, then taps on the window glass at the base of our stairs. Like, he sits there, looks in at my solar-powered corgi toy and raps his beak — as if trying to communicate. This whole routine was magically captured by my mom below. In reality? We’re pretty sure he sees his own reflection and is trying to peck at a fellow bird, but I’d prefer the bird-to-human communication theory.

Cardinal Friend

He’s around so much that I just asked Spence if he could think of a friend or relative who’s recently passed — someone who might have been reincarnated as a feisty red bird and needs to get in touch with us. The cardinal has lived at our residence longer than we have, and I can’t step outside without seeing him near the driveway. He’s usually darting around like he’s on fire, noisy and petulant.

Well, said friend — whom we’ve creatively dubbed “Cardinal Friend” — has taken to perching on Spencer’s driver’s side mirror . . . and, um, using the bathroom. Repeatedly. Every day. I thought it was sort of funny and ultimately harmless until he started doing the same thing to me. Now he “uses the facilities” from my mirror and apparently continues to land in it, leaving little disgusting feet marks all over my car door. I’ve washed it twice already.

Oh, Cardinal Friend.

At least he’s pretty.

And I think he likes us?


3. I’ve made this cucumber salad twice in two weeks with no end in sight. I’m obsessed with it. Our fridge this week was so crammed with sliced cantaloupe, cut-up strawberries, steak and veggie soup and cucumber salad that we barely had room for beer and diet soda, two other important food groups we can’t really live without.

Need to make some changes around here.


4. I don’t want to jinx it (have I already jinxed it?), but we’re supposed to be out tomorrow taking the hot air balloon ride we’d originally scheduled for our November honeymoon and had to cancel due to weather. It’s out in Virginia, and I’m crossing all the fingers because it’s a trek and hard to find another time to get out there. It was a LivingSocial deal I purchased rather impulsively, and I do not want to lose the coin I blew on that! Sigh. Send out no-rain-East-Coast thoughts for me this weekend, will you?!


5. My preoccupation with finding a small ottoman for our new closet is taking over my waking hours. I want something script-y — like this — because that’s apparently my style? I have script-covered fabric all over the house. But then I think . . . am I going to get sick of this in a year or two? Shouldn’t I do something in a bold color? I don’t know. I don’t know much about decorating.

When it comes to furnishing the house, I’ve finally accepted I need to go room by room and case by case . . . basically, look at an empty patch of wall and think, What do I think should go in this specific spot? For a while I was doing dumb stuff like looking through pages upon pages of artwork on Wayfair (affiliate link) and feeling totally overwhelmed. That happens to me on a good day, so I finally backed up and took a new approach.

I’m much happier now.

So far, I found a console table for the hallway and a small landscape canvas for the master bathroom. I’m taking a break now because money, but I’ll be looking for artwork for the living room next.

Sweet progress.


In which I ramble about anxiety

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I’m not going to lie to y’all: I’m all over the place right now.

Which end is up?
Which end is down?

I was doing really well in advance of the move, but Spencer has been away this week and . . . I’m having a tough time.

Why is it so hard for me to say that — that I’m struggling? We’re used to putting on a brave face. Many people in my life are dealing with truly tough things: illness, grief, job loss. When I stack my “problems” next to theirs, they look wholly inadequate. Silly. #firstworldproblems, you know?

And I don’t want to complain. Or look bratty. Or selfish. So I say little, smile, keep going . . . but inside, all that “nothing” has been hard. I’ve been keeping it in.

Spencer has been gone. He’s been out on business before, but I was still living at home then — so I spent that week eating my parents’ home-cooking and generally doing my normal thing. But this? Now? A week before our move? I’ve been alone in the apartment, obsessing and worrying and wondering. Trying to pack but getting too overwhelmed to do much of anything. All the ambitions I had for the week have evaporated, and I feel guilty and sick knowing I could have done so much but chose to avoid it all instead.

But it’s Thursday, I keep telling myself. I still have time. I can pack tonight, check on the new house, get some things together. The week hasn’t been “wasted.”

I think I just needed a break.

And a chance for some forthrightness. Is that a word? I’m making it a word. Because on this specific Thursday, I felt the urge to say I’ve spent most of this week feeling anxious and weird and freaked out about so many changes on the horizon . . . and that’s partly embarrassing and partly just what it is.

More than just my husband, Spence is my best friend. When he’s not here to talk me out of my nonsense, that nonsense becomes all-consuming. Before him, I’d never had a significant other so in my corner . . . someone so thoroughly in the trenches with me at all times. Until this time alone in our boxed-up apartment, I’d never considered how emotionally reliant I am on him. I just really miss him. I love him. It’s been one silly week, but this has been hard.

The truth is . . . I tend to panic. Though I don’t often talk about it, I struggle with anxiety. The easiest way I can describe it? When I’m stressed, I operate in fight-or-flight mode. Despite the fact that I am not in a life-threatening situation, my body screams at me that I absolutely am. My pulse races; I begin to sweat. I have a hard time breathing. When I’m in an uncomfortable situation (like being home alone), my instinct is to flee. My mind convinces me that I’m in mortal danger even if I’m safely ensconced in a locked house.

It’s rather inconvenient.

I don’t walk around scared all the time, but I’ve noticed my anxiety issues reach a fever pitch when I’m stressed about something — usually totally unrelated — in my life. Right now? That would be the upcoming move. The one happening next week. And because I’m stressed about that, my body has begun its attack on all rational sense. I’ve been sick to my stomach since Monday.

I’ve been thinking about why I don’t often write about my anxiety given I talk about . . . well, just about everything else. And I don’t really have an answer. I’m afraid of someone misunderstanding or judging me harshly, of course, and also of having my fears dismissed. I don’t like looking “weak” — even though I don’t see this as a weakness, per say. Just a facet. I struggle like we all struggle: shades of being human.

In disclosing our worries, we realize everybody’s got something. And when I talk about how I fear not finding a table in a crowded restaurant, some folks could snicker . . . but most accept this and try to help, you know? Rarely has anyone been unkind. Never am I teased. We adapt and accept and, when you’re with those who love you, they want to help.

Even if that means pushing you outside your comfort zone.

But that’s another post.

I felt compelled to scratch some thoughts out this morning because life isn’t always polished, as we know. I’ve felt like writing this week . . . but not in the way I normally would. My attention has been all over the place — too scattered to talk about books, though I’ve finished some good ones. I just wanted to talk out loud and think, and I knew you’d be here. You’d understand.

I feel a little better already.


Five things on Friday

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1. I had a crab melt on Wednesday. It was glorious. I even ate all the fries, which . . . well, I never thought I’d “miss” French fries, that classic American side, but Weight Watchers definitely changed my thinking. I’m all about steamed vegetables these days. Like so many foods, enjoying them only occasionally means I actually pay attention to what I’m eating — and I loved that whole meal at Rams Head Tavern. Everything about it.

2. My sister and I are going to a fashion show tonight with a good friend, and I am so pumped about it! It’s a fundraiser for a local organization, and they asked us to bring gently-worn “wardrobe essentials” to donate to women in transition. I was all too happy to oblige. Partly because we’re prepping to move and partly because most of my work clothes don’t fit well anymore, I gathered up skirts and dresses and tops and work pants and felt so good to be cleaning out my closet — and helping someone who could use a hand. Knowing the clothes will be staying in my county feels even better.

3. I’ve joined the awesome crew at Food Riot, y’all! You can check out my early posts here and here. I’m officially on the schedule beginning next week and will have weekly posts about eating, food and all kinds of fun. I even have an official bio. Very excited about this new opportunity and hope to see you ’round those parts, too.

4. In a few short weeks, Spence and I will be traveling to Niagara-on-the-Lake with my excellent in-laws for a few days of relaxing and having fun, then hopping down to see family in New York. After such a brutal few months, packing a suitcase is helping me break through the doldrums. I have my new passport and can’t wait to use it!

5. Speaking of not being able to wait to use things, I have a $25 Lowe’s gift card that will soon be burning a hole in my pocket. The idea of me being excited to go into a home improvement store is a new sensation, but I’ve been trolling home blogs lately for some inspiration. I know nothing about decorating. My favorites so far? Definitely Young House Love, Teal and Lime and Rappsody In Rooms. If you have any suggestions for home inspiration sites you love, please share!



Five thoughts on a Friday

Though we cannot change the wind


1. I just found this Photoshop foiling tutorial and it has rocked. my. world. I’m a total typography/graphic design geek and wanted to start expanding my skills this year, and finding an easy-to-understand way to make my own cool art is fab. I made the graphic above with one of my favorite quotes in, oh, five minutes. Obsessed with all the gorgeous possibilities. New, cheap home decor — coming to a Johnson home near you!

2. So, it’s early March. Shall I pause to be accountable for some of my simplifying goals in 2014? I’ve been incredibly good about using up what I have (tea, lip products) instead of mindlessly shelling out cash for more at Target, and guess what? I’m still not out of all that stuff. Not even close. What I’m not doing so well on? Dealing with the clothes piles I accumulate rather than just hanging everything up promptly. Our bedroom is still Pile City, detour through Laundry Alley. It’s a work in progress.

3. The National Park Service announced April 8-12 as the expected peak date for Washington’s cherry blossoms this year, and we’re planning accordingly. The walking photo tours I host with my dad kick off in just a few weeks, and I am pumped. Treating myself to new sneakers so my feet are ready for our jaunts around D.C.!

4. I’m on a graham cracker kick. All the graham crackers, all the time. The low-fat ones are okay, but I’ve been saving my Weight Watchers Points for the real stuff. It’s all about deciding what’s worth it to you, right?

5. How in love am I with these ideas for home libraries? It’s all a part of that Belle/Beast book fantasy from childhood. This one is my favorite. My dreams are spun of window seats, cotton candy and novels for days.


Happy weekend, friends!


Linking up late with Five on Friday today because it’s been a long week
— and my brain is soft and sleepy. I was fairly convinced today was actually Saturday and . . . yeah.