Monday, September 24, 2012

Trending with Julie

Do you tend to get hooked on things, almost to the exclusions of other things?

I certainly do. I've had a pysch eval, before my lapband surgery, and OCD was ruled out, so I know it's most likely a normal tendancy that most people have to varying degrees. Luckily, my degree is Economics.

And Accounting.

Anyhoo, this post is dedicated to the Trends in my life right now. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy these things.

1. Chocolate Chip Cookies. I've always enjoyed a good cookie, regardless of the flavor. This Spring, needing something sweet to eat, not wanting to go buy anything and not having a lot of ingredients, I made peanut butter cookies - the only recipe for which I had all the ingredients. I really enjoyed baking and eating them, so I decided to buy some chocolate chips and try baking them. Well, I baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies practically every week (or every other week, depending on how long a batch lasted) this Summer. On our cruise to Alaska, I fell in love with these little, crunchy chocolate chip cookies and ate a few dozen probably. Now that I'm working full time and going to school, I don't bake cookies as much as I did, but I still make them sometimes and I certainly eat them whenever I can.

2. Salad. I liked salad before my lap band surgery but didn't really eat it that often. After my surgery, though, lettuce was a big problem for me. It got stuck and created a horrible blockage that usually ended in an unpleasant scenario. So, I stopped eating lettuce. I'd pick it off hamburgers and sandwiches, would let Steve eat my house salads at restaurants, and we never bought lettuce. I'm not sure when I started taking a few bites of salad before turning it over to Steve, but it started happening more frequently. Recently, I've been on a real big salad kick. We've started buying heads of lettuce and lots of veggies/cheese/ham to put in the salad. I like mine with ranch, Steve likes noncreamy dressings. I'm eating a salad right now. It's delish. After my tummy tuck, I had my band almost completely emptied due to complications. I've had it filled again, but it's a lot looser than it was pre-tummy tuck, so as long as I eat slowly and carefully, I don't have any unpleasant endings.

3. Belts. Pre-tummy tuck, I never used a belt. They got in the way and were sometimes quite uncomfortable. Now, however, most of my pants, including those I have bought since losing my tummy, are too loose and fall down too low if I'm belt-less. So, I hardly ever go without a belt. I only have a couple, so I'm itching to go shopping to buy some new ones!

4. Yellow. I paint my toe nails, and sometimes my finger nails, yellow and love it! It's such a fun, friendly color. I also painted our sitting room yellow and it really makes me happy to sit in there with a good book or puzzle or just to take a nap. I'm hoping to paint more rooms in our house different shades of yellow. For years, I've been looking for a yellow necklace. It would give a burst of color to an outfit, but I haven't found one I like yet...there's not a lot out there, unfortunately. At work, we have door signs that we put outside our doors to say why we're aren't in our office (Lunch, Meeting, Errands, Sick, Vacation, etc.). Mine are yellow. I chose them. They are cute.

5. Puzzles. I haven't done one since I started working, but my fingers are itching to start a new one. I'd only be able to work on it on Sundays - my self-imposed day off from homework (unless I was unable to do homework on Saturday due to plans that couldn't be scheduled for another time). Puzzles are fun. They make my mind work but in a relaxing way. And, when you're finished, you have something pretty to look at that you "created".

6. Pinterest. I am a huge recipe collector. I have magazines and books full of recipes, some that I'll never make but that look yummy or interesting. I like Pinterest because I can peruse tons of recipes and not spend a dime. I've made many recipes that I found on Pinterest, and also discovered a food blog that I really like, Chef-in-Training. Her recipes aren't complex or time-consuming, and Steve and I have enjoyed almost every one. So far, my favorites of hers are the Greek Chicken Gyros and the Chicken Fajita soup. Oh! And the Chinese Chicken Salad! I could have eaten it every meal for a week, it was soooo good!!

7. Glasses. Eye glasses to be precise. For the last couple months, I've worn glasses instead of contacts because of a contacts prescription that I didn't like. It was the brand of contacts; they made my eyes hurt. The store wouldn't substitute the brand I normally buy because it wasn't on the doctor's prescription. I didn't have time to go back to the doctor, so I returned the contacts and am just wearing my glasses. Luckily, I like my glasses. My eyes feel better than they have in a long time - the doctor told me I've been wearing contacts too long every day and he could see a slight indention in my eye ball because of it! The things I dislike about wearing glasses is 1) smudges - I get them all the time, b) inclement weather - I either take them off and can't see or wear them and still can't see, c) they get in the way when snuggling with Steve, and 4) I can't wear sunglasses while wearing my glasses. Still, it's fun to have a new look.

8. Milk in the A.M. Lately, I take a glass of milk with me to work every morning. I've always liked milk but rarely drank it pure, usually I prefer it with chocolate syrup mixed up with it. I'm not sure why I started drinking milk with my breakfast, but I started running behind while getting ready, so I started taking my glass to go. And, it isn't just any glass out of my cupboard. It has to be one of the three red glasses from my grandmother's kitchen or one of the three red, plastic, cheap glasses we bought for when small children come over for dinner. These are my milk glasses. I don't take even a little sip of the milk until I'm seated at my desk. Sometimes I will have eaten breakfast, other times (most frequent) I eat breakfast at my desk as well. Milk. It does a body good.

9. Gym Time. Speaking of something that does a body good, I've been going to the gym 2-3 times a week. Weber State allows employees 3 hours of release time to do wellness-type activities. These 3 hours are paid for and don't need to be made up by skipping lunch or staying late. I had chosen to do yoga 3 hours a week, but it didn't work out. My stomach hurt too much and the room was so hot I almost fainted the first day. So, now I go to the gym and walk/sometimes jog around the track and do a little weight training. It's a nice break in the day and is especially nice since 2 of the three gym days are days I have class in the evening and so can't go for our nightly walks with Sadie. I've noticed the weight creeping up on me (see number 1 on this list!) so this time at the gym could prove to be very useful in keeping it where I want it to be.

That's a good enough list for now, I think. Now you know what I've been liking nowadays. What's been trending with YOU?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ready for Change?

There's something about Autumn that makes me want to be a brunette. Maybe because I like how orange, red, gold, brown, and other typical "Fall color" clothes look on me when I have brown hair compared to when I'm blond. Maybe because brown is a Fall color and blond is bright and better suited for Spring. Whatever the reason, I definitely feel the pull to dye my hair a nice, rich, brown every Fall. This one included.

And yet, I always hesitate before I dye my hair brown.

It's not that I have never dyed my hair brown before. In fact, I started dying my hair brown more than 17 years ago. I like having darker hair. My blue eyes stand out more when my hair is dark. I feel a little exotic with dark hair.

And still I hesitate to do it.

After several years of being a brunette and morbidly obese, I lost 90 lbs and went blond as my "reward". I stayed blond for two years while I was getting skinnier, so now I kind of associate being blond with being skinnier and brunette with being fat (with just me, of course, not everyone). Then last year, I chopped my blond hair off really short then a few months later dyed it brown. I didn't like it. I didn't feel like me. Not a good time to try dark hair again.

Despite that feeling, I feel this strong urge to dye my hair brown. Maybe to prove that I can be a brunette and skinny and look good since my hair has grown out more and I like the cut? I even bought hair dye a few days ago.

Still, I hesitate.

Really, it's about change and how hard it is sometimes for me to adjust to changes. I never struggle with going blond after being brunette because I know how easy it is for me to dye my hair brown if I tire of my color. It's much harder to go blond after being brunette. I can't do it myself, it's a long-ish process, and it's expensive.

This week, Steve and I learned that our life is going to go through a fairly big change by the end of this year. Nothing horrible or even hugely dramatic, just a change. It will affect him more than me, but it will impact both of us. We thought we had the next couple years planned out and it's been a little unsettling to have those plans change and to not know what life has in store for us. Change is a little scary for that very reason. I like to know (or think I know) what's going to happen.

I honestly think that this upcoming change is going to be a blessing, though it may not feel like one right now. Change can be a good thing. It makes us re-evaluate our priorities, sweep away cobwebs, learn, adapt, hopefully improve. As much as I sometimes love being in a rut, change can lead me down paths that are exciting, beautiful, and interesting. I had a hard time adjusting to the change of working full-time again, but now I realize how much of a blessing it was for me to get this job. It makes the upcoming change a lot easier for me to handle. And, I'm meeting lots of great people and learning lots of new things. I'm a better person for having gone through that change.

So, tonight, I'm dying my hair.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Labor Day Weekend - I'm Exhausted!

I'm beginning to think I need to rethink my weekends. I find myself looking forward to going back to work so I can relax a little!

In all seriousness, Steve and I have a lot of fun on weekends. There's so much to do around here that it's hard to sit at home and let it all pass us by. Don't feel too sorry for us, though, we somehow manage to squeeze in a bit of relaxation here and there.

Our Labor Day weekend started Thursday night. We both rushed home from work, leaving a little early with permission, of course, jumped in our car and headed to the University of Utah first home football game. It started at the ridiculous time of 5:15, so we were late. We arrived where we normally park and found the street full of cars, so we parked further away from the stadium and hiked up. It was hot, the street was sharply inclined, and I got a blister. I didn't care - I was with Steve and we were going to watch live football! The game was against a smaller school, so it was a bit of a blowout, but we still had a lot of fun. We ate hot dogs and chips, drank lots of Sprite, and I had a snow cone. It rained a bit in the 2nd half, but we were tough and stayed. Steve's highlight of the night was getting to see the Stanley Cup in person. It was during half-time, when I went to get the snow cone, so I missed it. I guess a member of the LA Kings was present at the football game and he brought the Cup to show the crowd. It would have been neat to see, but I'm glad I missed seeing it instead of Steve.

Friday, Steve didn't have to work. He brought me to school where the campus Block Party was going on and purple pancakes were being served. I introduced him to some of the people with whom I work, we ate, then he went home. I worked my department's booth all day and was so glad it was overcast! It was perfect weather for hanging outdoors. Unfortunately, the power went off at our house, so Steve didn't have a/c, tv, computer, washer/dryer, or anything the whole day he had off! Again, at least it was overcast, so he said it didn't get too hot inside the house and he was able to open all the doors and windows to cool off. He picked me up from work and we went out to dinner at Texas Roadhouse. I was craving salad and they have a good house salad with stuff other than just lettuce and shredded carrots. We went home and watched football. Well...he did. I finished my book while snuggling with him. It felt great to be at home together relaxing.

Saturday, we woke up early (for a weekend) and headed to Salt Lake. We ate breakfast at Ruth's. Steve's biscuits and gravy looked yummy and his hashbrowns were delish (I tried some) but I was disappointed with my quiche - I make better. However, I loved the fruit that came with my quiche and the side order of bacon was perfection! After breakfast, we headed to the zoo where we met up with my sister-in-law Rachel and nephew Robbie. Steve's friend Tim and his family came a little later and we spent a total of 7 hours roaming the zoo. The new Mountain Shore exhibit is pretty neat. We were fortunate in the weather once again. The cooler temperatures made the animals more active than I've ever seen them. The polar bear was diving and swimming around, cougars roamed their pen, and other animals were out and about as well. We sat in a great spot for the bird show; birds swooped over us several times. It was really neat. My nephew really hit it off with one of Tim's girls - it was cute to see them interact. When we left the zoo, Steve and I stopped at Tulie's a french pastry shop that makes divine chocolate tarts, then ate at The Bayou, a cajun bar. I had hoped for their onion rings (the best I've ever had) but they weren't being served. My gumbo was good, but it didn't really satisfy me, and the salad was just a couple types of lettuce. I love The Bayou, but it didn't hit the spot that time. Oh well. We got home and collapsed. No, first we walked the dog, then we collapsed. I can't remember doing anything, so we probably watched tv.

Sunday was Steve's 41st birthday! I sure am grateful that he was born, that he had parents who raised him well, and that he is naturally a wonderful man. Mostly, I'm grateful that we met, fell in love, and are now living happily ever after. I spent the day doing too much. I ran to the store for things to make him a yummy breakfast - french toast with fruit - then spent the morning making it, serving it, and cleaning up afterward. After a brief interlude of snuggling with him while he watched sports, I returned to the kitchen to make his cheesecake...with disasterous results. Turns out, my pan has warped a little and is no long a tight fit. So, when I jiggled the pan to get out the air pockets, everything came gushing out the bottom. I wasn't happy about it and then got a little peeved at Steve for not caring more about it. Silly me! I really need to learn to laugh at things like this and take them a little less seriously. Steve's just the guy to teach me to do it. I was going to make a chocolate cake, but Steve tried to talk me out of it by suggesting we go out for lunch. Knowing we were going out for dinner and that we had eaten out a lot lately, I declined and spent the next hour making lunch. Then cleaned up afterward. Wrapped Steve's presents, decorated the house with birthday signs, and cleaned the house a bit because we were having company later. At this point, I realized that I had spent maybe 30 minutes with my husband...on his birthday! I was so busy trying to make his day special that I had completely missed the mark. He was napping in front of the tv, so I went into our room for a good pout. I wasn't there long before he came in and made me feel better, like he always does! I'm so blessed to have him in my life! I learned a valuable lesson on Sunday. We cuddled and talked for awhile before heading off to dinner at Sonora Grill where I had delicious sweet pork quesadillas. We stopped off at a store on our way home to get cake and ice cream. That evening, Tim and his family and Rachel and Robbie came over for a quick birthday party. It was a fun evening and a great way to end the day. Oh, and Steve loved all the presents I got him, though he's not so sure about the pedicure gift card. *smile*

Monday, Steve had to work from 8:30am until 9:00pm. Big time bummer. Worse still, he was just there to make sure nothing went wrong and didn't really have work to do. He took his new Kindle Fire with newly downloaded apps and books, so he had something to keep him occupied while at work. I took full advantage of having a day off with no distractions. I did laundry, walked the dog three times, went grocery shopping, watched two episodes of Drop Dead Diva that had been recorded, cleaned the house, baked cookies, did the dishes, and did homework for several hours. When Steve got home at 9:20, I was ready to go to bed and sleep! Instead, I stayed up with him and chatted about our day.

Not every weekend is this busy, but then again, not every weekend is so long. I wish I would have relaxed more with Steve on his birthday, but I can't change that I didn't, just learn from it and move on. I loved walking around the zoo with him, holding his hand and cuddling every chance we got. It was fun spending time with family and friends as well. I'm glad I had time yesterday to get some much-needed chores and homework done. All in all, it was a good weekend!