Celebrating My Birthday…

…by making lists!

 

 

I turned 28 last week and I decided that the final two years of my twenties should be filled with accomplishing new things and achieving goals that I set out for myself.  So I drafted a 30 before 30 list, as many others have done before me.  I used some lists for inspiration, but mostly, I thought about things I’d always wanted to do, things I thought would help better myself, and things that I’ve always found challenging.  That’s where my list comes from.  I hope to push myself and challenge myself to get all 30 things done…two years seems like a lot of time, but life gets crazy, time goes fast, and you never really know.  But fingers crossed that I get to cross off all 30 things on this list and feel more accomplished than ever before.

Without further ado…

30 Before 30

  1. Run 10 5Ks (0/10)
  2. Skydive
  3. Read 20 new books (0/20)
  4. Order our wedding photo album and parent albums
  5. Buy a house/townhouse/property
  6. Knit one project that can be taken outside the house
  7. Update a piece of furniture purchased for cheap
  8. Complete 5 Pinterest Projects (0/5)
  9. Try 20 new recipes (0/20)
  10. Spending hiatus (not including life necessities) for 5 weeks straight (0/5)
  11. Travel to visit J
  12. Visit 2 new US cities or states (0/2)
  13. Complete beginner and intermediate training classes with Lilly (0/2)
  14. Grow hair long enough to donate, then donate
  15. Blog consistently for one month (0/12) [three times a week]
  16. See 5 theater, concert, or other live performances in Rochester (0/5)
  17. Plan a surprise getaway for Chris and I…without ruining the surprise
  18. Send one hand written letter/card/note a week for 3 months straight (0/12)
  19. Go to the gym consistently for 3 months (0/36)
  20. Have a Baby J/Aunt J weekend — with just the two of us
  21. Pay off all credit cards and carry no balance (0/4)
  22. Spend 10 days volunteering (0/10)
  23. Complete Jillian Michael’s 30 day shred (may as well continue the “30” theme)
  24. Get a complete hair makeover – color and cut
  25. Attend professional (or semi-pro) games in every major sport (0/5)
  26. Wear a bikini
  27. Take a class in…anything!
  28. (Personal professional goal)
  29. (Personal goal re: goal weight!)
  30. (Personal goal re: babies!)

 

Have you ever made a list of things to accomplish in a set period of time?  It’s sort of like a two-year long to-do list!

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Election Day Excitement/Brain Dump

  • When I woke up this morning, I felt excited, like it was a holiday.  And in a way, it is.  Today is the first time in my life I will vote for a presidential candidate at the polls.  In previous years, I’ve always voted by absentee ballot.  This is exciting stuff!  At 27, I’m finally a resident where I live and I get to walk in and make a decision about who I want to be president ON Election Day.  Chris and I are going to vote when he gets out of work, then head to his co-workers for an Election Day party.  I’m hoping there’s a lot of wine, pizza, and friendly election chatter.  I get really defensive when people get overly political or too far right/left, so hopefully things will be relatively neutral and I can just enjoy myself and the excitement that comes with picking a president every four years.
  • As Election Day rolls around, I can’t help but think where I was four years ago…eight years ago.  Life changes INSANELY over four years, and I literally cannot even fathom what the next four will bring.  Chris’s contract doesn’t bring us to the next presidential election, so all bets are off.  Will we be in New York State?  Will we have a bigger family?  Will we live closer to family…or further away?  It’s a crazy thing to think about, but it’s also exciting.  I look forward to what the next four years bring and the the excitement of the unknown.
  • Part of my job involves matrimonial law and I find it EXHAUSTING.  I have to learn to separate my own personal feelings and emotions from my work and this is a really new concept to me.  Previously, I felt that my compassion was an asset at my job, but now I think if I’m so compassionate, I’m going to drain myself emotionally and it won’t be good.  But watching people go through a divorce is not pretty.  There really are no winners and I pray that it’s never something I have to experience.
  • I miss my niece and I’m counting down the days until I see her.  Oh yeah, and the rest of my family…but really.  My niece.
  • Guys, if you can, help the tri-state area.  Blankets, batteries, food, money, time, whatever you can do.  It’s heartbreaking to see, and to know how many of my dear friends are suffering.  Most people I’m close to lost nothing more than the convenience of electricity…but you try and live a week without electricity!  I don’t think I can do it.  Other people lost everything, and it will be much harder for them to rebuild and recover.  Don’t let Sandy be last week’s news…the people who were affected will be suffering so much longer than that.

 

And with that, I think I’ve satisfied my monthly blogging quota…but you never know.  Maybe I’ll be back with a real thought out blog post.

 

Happy Election Day, all!  Go vote, no matter who for.  Your voice matters.

 

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October Life

Happy October!!

 

The past few weeks have been a total whirlwind for Chris and I — we’ve had visitors, dealing with destructive puppy behavior, I got a new job, changed my name, we DIY’ed a piece of furniture (hopefully not our last project!), and we celebrated our first year of marriage!  That’s a busy month!  And of course, we’ve taken the time to enjoy the really beautiful foliage, gone on many hikes, and continued to socialize with new friends.

I never promised to be a consistent blogger, so I won’t apologize for disappearing.  But I’m anxious to hear how your October has been so far!  And who has Halloween plans?  Someone come up with an adorably cute couples costume for Chris and I, stat!

 

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Bienvenidos a Miami!

This is certainly the oddest place I’ve ever blogged from…on an iPad provided by Delta in terminal D at LaGuardia. Who even knew a place like this existed in LaGuardia?

But the really important part is where I’m off to… Miami!  My brother, Michael, is a freshman at the University of Miami and I’m meeting my parents and my sister down there to visit him for Family Weekend. I’m so glad it’s not just called “Parents Weekend”. That way the siblings were invited too 🙂

Although I dearly love Chris and Derrick (my brother in law), my niece, other family and friends, I cannot tell you the last time that only my immediate family was all together. We’ll either be begging for it to never happen again or be giggling at all kinds of inside jokes by the end of the weekend. Fingers crossed for the latter!

Here’s to a weekend of sun, fun, and of course, The U. See you on the other side (hopefully with a tan!)

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On Moving and Loneliness

Moving away from Brooklyn was hard for me in many ways.  I left the place I had lived for the past five years, I left the city I had grown to love and think of as home, I left a job that I loved and was passionate about, and, the most significant, I left my closest friends who all lived (for the most part) within a 40 minute (or less) subway ride away.

When people ask me if I miss Brooklyn, I can’t help but emphatically impart on them just how much I miss it.  But if you dug a bit deeper, it’s not the place; it’s the people.  Brooklyn is wonderful; I loved my time there, the experiences I gained there, and the adventures I lived through.  But I don’t miss the city — I miss my friends.  I miss the people I spent my time with, who I shared those experiences with, and who I dragged on those adventures with me.

I look forward to the time when I have people like that in my new home.  I hope to have a friend I can call and see if they are interested in grabbing coffee in…10 minutes.  Another couple who will come over and eat the food that I cooked for four people, even though only two live in my house.  I want someone who will come to my house in their pjs and stay on the couch with me all day without shame.

Meeting new people is never easy, and when I think back on times in my life when I’ve had to meet new friends, it always takes me awhile.  I didn’t meet the majority of my closest friends from college until our second semester of college, I didn’t connect strongly with anyone from law school until the end of our first year, and there haven’t been many other times in my life where I’ve been forced to start from scratch.

Sometimes, it’s lonely.  I’ve tried a few times to go to different events or meet ups to find new friends, but it’s hard to not compare them to the friends you left behind, the ones you wish you still lived 40 minutes away from.  There is no built in community for me here; no fellow students, no co-workers, just me, my husband and my dog.  And I’ll tell you, there are moments where I wish there were just a few more of us.

The time will come when we will have a house full of guests, friends we’ve made along the way, laughing, drinking and eating with us, weeks when we are desperate for a night free of plans, and the friends we have who will become like family.  I do look forward to it, but for now, I’m enjoying the quieter moments, and embracing the loneliness the best I can.  When life does get wild and crazy, I can look back at the quiet times and smile – I got to enjoy the best of both worlds out of this move.

Have you made a big move as a “grown-up”?  What did you do to make friends?

So You Want to Get a Pet…

Chris and I considered a lot of different factors in a short period of time before adopting Lilly.  We were fortunate that we had friends and family who were willing to talk to us about their experiences with their own pets.  But if you are a first time pet owner, there are a few things you might want to consider.
Most importantly, do you have the time to devote to a pet?  A lot of the pets that were at the shelter where we adopted Lilly had been dropped off because their first family didn’t have the time to take care of their pet.  Guys, it’s a living being you are responsible for.  It takes time, effort, energy, and, again, TIME.  If you like to pick up and go on a weekend trip on a whim, maybe a dog isn’t the best idea.  If you work 80 hours a week on a regular basis, maybe a pet won’t work for you.  It’s obviously a decision you have to make for yourself, but truly think about whether you can give your pet the best life possible.

Finances are key too.  I don’t know as much about cats or birds or hamster, but I do know that a puppy can be expensive. (Again, see above about taking care of a living creature.)  Lilly requires food, toys, checkups with her veterinarian, heart worm medication, flea prevention, and lots of other things.  Not all that stuff comes cheap.  In fact, in the week that we’ve had her, we’ve been to the vet three times and she’s on a wide array of antibiotics.

Chris and I estimate that Lilly will cost us, on average, $150 a month.  That does not include any vet visits.  Additionally, she obviously had upfront costs including an adoption fee, obedience classes, and prepping our home for a puppy (crate, food, toys, etc.).  This is a cost we’re working into our monthly budget – taking a bit away from our “fun” money and knowing that our savings may be used in the event of a Lilly emergency, in the way it’s there for a car-emergency or any other type of emergency we might come across.

Have you recently adopted a pet?  What different factors did you take into consideration before doing so?

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Welcome to the family, Lilly!

Lilly finding new places to lay around the apartment

 

Little Miss Lilly napping on her quilt from the shelter

On Thursday, Chris and I made a last minute decision to visit an animal shelter in the area.  We’ve tossed around the idea of adopting a dog, but money and time constraints made us hesitant to commit to anything right away.  That was until we met Lilly.  Although the staff at the shelter told us she was shy and timid, she ran right up to Chris and promptly rolled over for a tummy rub.  No other dog stood a chance after that moment – it really was love at first sight.

Lilly is a 7 month old chocolate lab/retriever/shepherd mix…we think.  She came from a home with too many pets and was brought to the shelter with her brother, a black lab mix.  The shelter wanted them to be adopted separately so that they would become more social, friendly, playful pets without relying on each other.

We got to pick Lilly up and bring her home yesterday.  So far, so good!  Lilly appears to be housebroken (fingers crossed!) and doesn’t bark much (don’t worry – I’m knocking on wood as I type this).  She slept most of the day yesterday, a combination of exhaustion from all the change in her life and recovery from being spayed on Friday.

We’re fortunate that I am only working three days a week, within walking distance of our apartment.  This means Lilly will have plenty of attention, time outside of her crate, and lunchtime walks.  We have time today and tomorrow to really acclimate to a routine and schedule in her new home; acclimation that is needed for Chris and I just as much as for Lilly.

I’m sure there will be plenty of pictures of Lilly as time goes on – she’s already part of our little family and soon I’m sure I’ll forget what our life was like without her.

Do you have a pet?  How much thought did you put into getting your pet before taking it home?

Using Leftovers: Lasagna Noodles

I’m really bad with leftovers.  Of any kind.  I hate eating leftover meals; I never know what to do with the extra sour cream, odd number of vegetables, or buttermilk (actually, anyone have suggestions for that one?).  So when I made Chris lasagna with homemade noodles (oh, why yes, I AM tooting my own horn), I was not about to throw out the extra noodles.  Not after all that work!

I consulted my Mom and Chris’s mom, and they both suggested some form of “lazy” noodle dish.  Lasagna or pierogi dishes are what they both came up with.  When I Googled recipes, I realized I couldn’t make either of these casseroles with what was already in my house.  I felt like going out and buying ingredients was cheating, so I charged into my kitchen and decided to challenge myself to make something edible using ONLY ingredients I already had on hand.

Here’s what I pulled out of the refrigerator:

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  • Lasagna noodles (mostly stuck together, entirely irregularly shaped)
  • Leftover canned diced tomatoes
  • Half used, already opened spaghetti sauce
  • Tomato from a friend’s garden
  • Giant zucchini from my cousin’s garden
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Cream cheese
  • Onion
  • Garlic

I had almost all the ingredients for a lazy lasagna, but cheese was certainly lacking.  I thought adding oil and focusing on the noodles as the main part of the dish would help take this away from a lasagna-without-enough-cheese dish to something different.
I started by sauteeing the onions and garlic.  Classic move.  I then cut the noodles into pieces, generally trying to keep each piece about the size of a one-inch square.  But I certainly wasn’t methodical.  I chopped up the tomato and added that to the noodles.  ImageImage

I debated shredding the zucchini; I had it on the brain since I had intended to use the zucchini for a bread anyway.  But then I thought by keeping the zucchini pieces bigger, it would give a little more ‘meat’ to the dish.  I chopped the zucchini up, and at the last minute, threw the pieces in with the sauteed onion and garlic.  The pan was clearly too small, but I really just wanted to coat the zucchini with the flavors from the onion and garlic.

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I dumped the contents of the pan in with the noodles and the tomatoes and tried to even everything out.  At this point, the cream cheese and I held a staring contest.  I’m not sure who the “winner” really was, but in the end, the cream cheese didn’t make it into the dish.  The flavor would have been too sweet with everything else going on (although I have seen lasagna and baked ziti recipes that include cream cheese, there were no other cheese flavors to counteract the cream cheese).Image

From here, I dumped some sauce and went to sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top.  But my hand wasn’t so steady, and I dumped almost the entire container of cheese onto the top of the dish.  I took this as a sign, and just finished the cheese.

I crossed my fingers and put the casserole dish in the oven; baked at 350 for 35 minutes.Image

In the end, the verdict is: Meh.
Not so good, not so bad.  With a little extra salt and a little extra sprinkle of grated cheese at the time of serving, it’s not half bad.  More like a lasagna than I would have thought.  The best part about this was the true cost of this dinner for Chris and I: $0.  Everything we already had in the house, and in all honesty, would probably have spoiled before we got around to using it.  So I’m happy with how that turned out.  And I think I’ll challenge myself to do this again sometime.

Do you have a knack for using leftovers at home?  What is your secret?

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My New Home

Moving to a new place is really intimidating for me.  I think a lot of people enjoy the opportunity for change, exciting adventures and a new life, but I have never been someone who dealt with change well.  As much as I loved Brooklyn, my first year in Brooklyn was tough.  As much as I loved college, my first semester was really tough.  As much as I loved my hometown, moving there was really tough.  Sensing a theme?

The exciting part about moving upstate is that I’m moving up here with Chris.  That means no matter what, I will have a friend, a support system, and comfort.  That makes moving a little more relaxed.  Also, although I don’t have a job, Chris does!  This makes unemployment and finances a little more bearable.  Not by much, but better than last time.

Part of my attempt to really embrace and enjoy my new home is to explore the nooks and crannies when I can.  Here are my five favorite parts about Rochester so far:

1. Genesse River Trailway – I’ve used this trail (which is about 1/4 mile from my house) to run and bike and enjoy the outdoors that I didn’t have as much access to in Brooklyn.

2. Our Apartment – it’s huge.  HUGE.  We have two full bedrooms, a kitchen we can actually cook in, and a seating area where we can hold dinner parties.

3. Access to Parks – there are some really great state parks, city parks, hiking, biking, and water near us.  I mean, we’re twenty minutes away from a Great Lake.  That’s pretty cool.

4. Cost – Stuff here is much cheaper!  Going out for eating and drinking, shopping, grocery shopping, general living – it’s cheaper!

5. Opportunity for a new style of life – city living was wonderful.  It was fun, it was exciting, there was always something going on.  But I admit it, I was getting tired of it.  Chris and I are ready to possibly move into a different stage of our life, not necessarily kids or anything…but maybe a puppy?

 

What do you love about where you live?  Have you found new opportunities or places to explore where you’ve lived for many years?

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Happy Birthday, Husband!

Today for the first time, I get to wish my husband a very happy birthday! Wishes to a wonderful man who I love, admire, and respect more and more each day.

 

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