Thankful for Traditions

This is our fourth Christmas in our house (which is hard to believe), and when I think about our Christmas Traditions it’s usually in the context of, “When we have a family, every Christmas we should…”

What I fail to realize when I look to the future instead of focusing on the present, is that organically over the past four years we’ve started some family traditions of our own. Like how at the end of every year we SWEAR we’re going to get rid of our worn out, dog attacked artificial tree and get a new one. But every year that tree ends up back in storage only to make another appearance next Christmas. And every year we put it up, decorate the hell out of it, and sit on our couch to proudly admire our handy work proclaiming that, “Ya know, that tree isn’t so bad after all.”

And when it comes to our outside lights, well that’s a whole other production. Every year it seems our tradition involves Joey picking the coldest night of the season to date, and heading out to the shed in an outfit that’s entirely inappropriate for the weather and/or yard work to rummage around for last year’s lights only to determine that several strands don’t work anymore. What follows is a late night trip to Ace Hardware, a dinner that will need to be reheated later, and me laughing as I sit on the couch watching girly tv shows while the dogs run from the downstairs windows to the upstairs ones desperately trying to figure out what Daddy’s doing outside. A couple of hours later, Joey comes in with a proud look on his face, I fake annoyance at having to bundle up for a trip outside when I’m perfectly content (and warm) inside, and then I get walked borderline execution style down our front path to the street where I count to three before turning around for a Clark Griswald style reveal.

Naturally, our outdoor lights end up looking awesomely ridiculous, we declare ourselves the unofficial blue ribbon winners of the non-existent neighborhood light competition, and then we call it a night.

I do love our little traditions.

That’s What’s Up…

imageI haven’t been picking up my camera enough lately. Instagram, yes. Real camera, not so much. That being said, I was so incredibly flattered to receive the most lovely baby announcement from Sara the other week featuring one of the photos I took of Charlotte at 6 days old. Her little lips just melt me. Note to self: Keep practicing! Take more photos of something, anything, just do it! Note to Sara: I miss you, mama, and need to cuddle Charlotte asap!

Hubby and I had a date night Friday after spending the week apart. Date nights are exponentially more fun when there’s something called a “Beer Paddle” on the menu. We tried a slew of new beers, but the only one I can remember is “Laughing Dog Ale” because it had the head of a yellow lab on the tap. Hey, I buy my wine for the labels and choose my beer based on the tap. Don’t hate.

Speaking of dates, I had an awesome lunch date with my bestie Alex the other day. The fall weather was delivering and we enjoyed sitting outside, talking about life, laughing way too loudly and taste testing the selection of mini-cheesecakes from the cafe. It was a much needed reprieve from an otherwise jam packed week. A reminder amongst the hustle of life that it’s important to step away from the never ending t0-do list and carve out time for the people and things that truly matter.

Did someone say never ending to-do list? I guess the whimsical lunch dates and fun nights out with my husband need to be balanced with something. Does anyone else feel like a freakin’ domestic goddess when they reach to bottom of the dirty laundry basket?! I totally do. It ranks right up there with putting a knife into a brand new jar of peanut butter on the “Life’s Little Pleasures” lists.

And that’s what’s up.

Art Imitating Life

I thought that if I opened this post with an adorable picture of my homegirl Emily, that you’d forgive me for my lack of blogging lately. Did it work?

It’s officially fall, which means it’s that point in the year where everything starts to move even faster than it was already moving until you find yourself ringing in the New Year wondering where the past 365 days went. You know what I mean, right? It’s as if the second the cool weather comes and the leaves start to change it’s Halloween->Thanksgiving->Christmas, bing bang boom — hello 2013.

Work life is so busy right now, which doesn’t help the speed of things, and I find that instead of having time to cultivate my little hobbies (blog, gym, photography) I’m finding the truth in the cliche of “not enough hours in the day.” When my art imitates life, and life is speeding by so fast I can barely grasp it, well then the art is somewhat lacking.

All this is not to say that life isn’t good. It is. In fact, it’s great. In the midst of the craziness I do take time to appreciate all the blessings, even stopping to count them every now and then. Even if it has to happen while I brush my teeth in the shower.

So some things I’m loving on at the moment…

Fall Centerpieces. I filled up my lovely Kate Spade New York crystal bowl (shout out to NYCathy!) with dried beans, stuck a candle in the middle, added some pine cones and viola! Table runner is from Homegoods last year and the mercury glass votives are from Michaels.

Starbucks Seasonal Drinks. I’m a huge fan of the Pumpkin Spice Latte and the Salted Caramel Mocha, but I’m also aware of what a calorie trap those drinks can be. So, did you know you can order a “short” at Starbucks??? It’s smaller than a Tall (which for those who don’t speak Starbucks is a small), but you won’t find it on the menu board. I love the short size because I still get a satisfying dose of my favorite coffee concoction without a side of guilt. Plus it makes me rap 50 cent in my head the rest of the morning, “Go shorty, itz ya birthday, we gonna party like itz ya birthday…”

Puppy Dogs. Clearly I’m always loving on my four legged children, but I especially appreciate them when the hubster’s working bizarre shifts or out of town jobs. My furry dudes keep me company, force me to play outside and always listen to how my day was 😉

Hope you’re having a great week! I’m working on not being so MIA.

Scenes from a Weekend: Friendship

This weekend was another Pittsburgh adventure, but this time it was extra special because Hilary is back from Africa! Girlfriend has been gone for 2 years, so we decided a girls reunion was in order and it was high time baby Connor met his world-traveling Auntie!

I swear this little man gets cuter every time I see him! We had a blast loving on him the entire weekend, and catching up with each other on life’s happenings. It had been four years, FOUR YEARS, since the four of us were all together and it was amazing how it seemed like no time had really passed at all.

I feel incredibly lucky to have such amazing women in my life, the kind of friends that cheer you on, pick you up, encourage you, listen with their whole heart and truly wish for nothing but happiness in your life.

It doesn’t hurt either that they know me so well they bring me Eataly goodies from a recent NYC trip, and make funny signs for the guest room door because they know cats make me sneeze.

We got to celebrate an early first birthday with Connor and life in general with each other. It was just what the doctor ordered.

“Yay Connor” because Happy Birthday was too long 😉 Alex, you’re a genius!

The new answer to, “What time is it?”

The photo-bomber in the background makes me love this picture even more!

Hope you had a great weekend!

More of the Usual

Somewhere along the line I forgot to introduce you to this little heart breaker. Meet Henry! His mommy is a friend of mine who I met on the second day of my very first job out of college, and she’s pretty much the sweetest person ever (plus she can make a killer meatloaf and sweet potato fries while nursing a baby, so basically she’s a superwoman). She’s also Japanese which explains where this little guy gets his exotic good looks 🙂 Henry and Connor might have to have a baby-off in the category of most squishable cheeks ever.

So now that we’ve got the baby talk out of the way, it’s time for my other most blogged about subject — weddings! As in we went to a wedding this past Saturday of one of Joey’s best friends, and I’ve decided that we’re officially old. We may or may not have broken our no drinking Whole30 rule. Ok, who am I kidding? We definitely broke it. Exhibit A:

This is in fact the only picture I have of the two of us from the wedding, and in a true reversal of roles Joey looks completely normal while I look…well…completely drunk. Awesome.

Back to the fact that we’re getting old. I swear it took me two days to fully recover from a weekend that included a rehearsal dinner on Friday, wedding on Saturday and birthday party for my Mom on Sunday. We’re so out of practice with these marathon type social engagements! Despite the achy bones and breaking out my walker, this weekend was pretty freakin’ awesome given I got to spend time with awesome family and friends. Can’t complain about that.

You know what else I can’t complain about? The dentist! After putting off going to the dentist for more years than I care to admit, I finally got my teeth cleaned a few weeks back and my one sad little cavity filled this evening. All those dental fears were for nothing! The hygienist that cleaned my teeth was so nice and straight-out-of-Jersey funny. She said she’d pronounce my last name like the Italians intended — Tro-EEE-Zeeeee. Love that. Then today when I went to get my cavity filled the dentist said it would hurt less than a flu shot, and he was totally right! I didn’t feel a darn thing, not even the needle to give me novocaine. Had it not been for the post-cavity-filled crooked smile, I would have sworn there was no needle involved.

You know that’s a good look.

So what’s going on with the usual in your life? Any cute babies or party hardy weekends? Do you see the dentist every 6 months? I’m totally starting.

Whole 30: Week 3 In the Bag

Week 3 of our Whole 30 is in the bag (if you’re new, check out week 1 and week 2 recaps), and I’m still going strong. My main feeling after realizing we only have one week left to go is…umm, this is easy! I’m starting to think about what things look like post-whole30, and I can honestly say I think I’ll be making some long term changes to the way we buy our food, what we buy and how we cook. And I’m super excited about all of these things (and yes, that’s in a dorky way just like it sounds).

Full Disclosure: I told you about my breaking the no-alcohol rule for a bachelorette party. Well, Joey broke it too during a recent work trip out of state (cough cough and maybe a few other times too cough cough), and there may or may not have been late night taco bell on said work trip (GASP!!), but I have to give the man credit for sticking to the program even when I know he has been ready to give up and eat a pound of pasta. He’s a guy. He has a (enviously) fast metabolism. And he works out. I think his body seriously craves, and needs, that carb energy to keep him going. He depends on those quick, filling meals and sometimes a can of tuna and a sweet potato just don’t cut it.

I also have a bit of a leg up since I have access to an awesome salad bar/full cafeteria 5 days a week at work, where Joey doesn’t. And instead of ‘cheating’ on the Whole30, he’ll eat a meager lunch of whatever he can throw together quickly. But Joey + small meal + crazy work schedule = Mr. CrankyPants (Love you babe! smooch smooch!).

Moving along.

How am I feeling? My update is much the same as last time. More sustainable energy throughout the day, can forgo my morning coffee without getting a headache, and my body just feels…better. I don’t feel, however, like I have any superhuman, health food induced powers. It’s not like this amazing, SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS, transformation of body and soul. I  just simply feel good about myself and my food choices.

Food Discovery of the Week: Cauliflower rice is AWESOME! I don’t have a food processor, so we put ours through the blender a little at a time to break it down into rice sized pieces (see photo above, not my photo but it’s a dish using cauliflower rice). Joey sauteed it with olive oil, garlic and other spices. Added some of this awesome andouille sausage we got from a local natural market, and a green pepper and zuchinni from our favorite produce stand, and holy cow was this dish awesome. I went back for seconds…and thirds. We were so stuffed we couldn’t even think about yonanas for dessert 😉 Need to make this one again asap.

For Your Instant Queue: Some food for thought documentaries if you’re interested in making some changes to your diet, or understanding more about our food industry and food’s role in our overall health. I highly recommend you watch Food Inc. and Food Matters. I know you have to be careful of what you take as gospel, but starting to question, research, and understand is never a bad thing.

Oh, and if anyone is planning on trying a Whole30 (I know Campbell is!), or switching to a paleo based diet, I’d love to hear updates on how it’s going!

Happy Happy Friday, All!

Simple Things Sunday: Hello, Baby

I got to spend my Sunday afternoon snuggling up with this little cutie pie. Baby Emily had me at hello. And seeing Kacie as a mommy for the first time just made my heart happy. She was made for this role.

As my circle of friends continues to expand to include these new little lives, it somehow has a way of putting everything else into perspective. It’s a reminder of how important and precious life is, and how we should remember every day to be good to one another, live optimistically, laugh more and love more fiercely. Lets get all Ghandi up and here and just remember to Be the Change, people. Be. The. Change.

Welcome to the world, baby Emily. We’re all so happy you’re here.

BUmP-date

You know when you’re at a restaurant waiting and waiting for your food to come, and so you tell someone to go to the bathroom because everyone knows that when someone goes to the bathroom that means your food will come? Well, it was sort of like that in terms of me mentioning in my last post that we were still waiting on the arrival of Kacie’s little girl, and then that afternoon I get a text message saying girlfriend had gone into labor. Only the arrival of a baby is like a million times better than restaurant food! Unless maybe you’re at Eataly, in which case that statement could be debated 😉

I’m thrilled to report that Kacie and her husband welcomed sweet little Emily Rae into the world this past Tuesday. I’ve seen lots of pictures from a very proud new grandpa, and mom and baby are doing well.

And in other breaking news, I’m excited I can finally share this:

That’s right, Alex ate a really big lunch! 😉

Actually, Alex and the hubby have officially announced they’re expecting their first bambino (bambina?) January 2013. I couldn’t be more thrilled, this girl was made to be a mommy.

Anyone else have fun baby announcements to make? This is clearly the theme of 2012, so by all means let me know!

 

I See A Lot of Lawwww Breakers

When your out of town guests show up at your door with a dozen of the most amazing doughnuts, a box filled with Pittsburgh themed goodies and a mission to giggle like 12-year-olds during Magic Mike, you just KNOW it’s going to be a good weekend.

The kind of weekend where a random guy gives you free bottles of unopened beer when you’re pulling out of the parking garage simply because he’s an “Army guy in a Navy town” (my mom is definitely freaking out right about now), and you come home late at night to find your husband making homemade meatballs for everyone and cucumbers at each place setting dressed up like the characters in Magic Mike.

*Let the record show the cucumbers were not Joey’s doing, but rather my silly mother’s.*

We’re not even taking into account yet the bottle of champagne during a sunset sailboat cruise on the Chesapeake Bay.

Yes, the laundry is completely piled up after a weekend of indulging with friends. And our guest room bathroom still doesn’t have a proper mirror since in a haste to finish it before company arrived I didn’t measure closely enough. But looking at pictures of happy friends and beautiful surroundings reminds me that those things will get done eventually, and I spent this weekend doing exactly what I was meant to be doing.

We all need to stop and watch the sunset every now and again.

Preferably from a sailboat. With champagne. And three of your most awesome friends.

(PS: Check out Pam101’s blog for more stories from this weekend.)

Bump Ahead

So I didn’t want to say anything just in case things went terribly wrong, but Kacie came by tonight and we did a little Baby Bump photo session. Alex joined in on the fun and I can honestly say there’s nothing better than a Friday night with your two best girlfriends. And while I’ve spent many a Friday night with these two ladies by my side, life is changing in big ways and I’m enjoying the newness of it all.

As for the photos, this was something completely new to me and I’m happy to report I captured some decent images :::insert sigh of relief here::::. I’ll be sure to share some of my favorites soon (UPDATE: Check them out here), but right now I’ve got an alarm that’s set to go off at 5am and I haven’t even started packing my suitcase yet. I’ll try and Instagram the trip to Georgia, so feel free to follow at @dianatroese. See you soon!