Red alert.

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I recently had my hair colored.  For years I’ve been adding blond highlights to blond highlights and last week I threw my hands in the air and declared that I was tired of layered blonde highlights with light brown growth at my roots.  My hair gal and I sat to analyze little hair samples in her L’anza book, and ultimately we settled on one that I thought was going to give me glorious brown locks with a hint of copper.

Even now, days later, I’m surprised when I look in the mirror and see mostly copper with a hint of brown.

I like it.  I do.  But I’m in a bit of shock about it too.

It has caused me to think a bit about how to embrace being a redhead.  For instance, does this mean I should develop a fiery temper?  Am I allowed to wear pink?  And most importantly – can I pass as Ginny Weasley and gain admittance to Hogwarts?

At least I certainly have the redhead complexion – my pale skin looks fantastic next to red locks!

Do you color your hair?  Have you ever been surprised – pleasantly or otherwise – by a hair color or cut? 

Friendship. And such.

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Recently I read MWF Seeking BFF.  Great book – I highly recommend.  And since it’s about – you know – friendship, it got me thinking about – you know – friendship.  I’ve always subscribed to the quality over quantity belief.  Acquaintances, yes!  Of those I have many.  I can small talk and such with the best of them.  {I am an introvert though, so it takes a lot out of me.  I need time to recover from a small-talk rich environment.}  Once small talk has depleted however – it can be hard to sustain.  Unless, of course, there’s a connection.  You know what I mean…the za-za-zoo of friendship connection.  The kindred spirit, where-have-you-been-all-my-life connection.

But making friends in your late-20’s can be awkward.  Almost like dating.  “Did they feel the za-za-zoo too?  Am I coming on to strong?  They know I’m married and strictly interested in friendship, right?”  I met this really nice girl in a barre class months ago and I totally wanted to say, “Let’s hang out!  Here – I made you this friendship bracelet!”  But I didn’t, because that kind of behavior gets labeled under Stay Away From The Crazy Girl and I Should Have Given Her a Fake Name.

I have some best-quality friends locally and afar, which is a blessing.  MWF Seeking BFF reminded me that it’s nice to expand on that pool though by meeting new people and seeing where the friendship road leads with said new people.  Maybe they’ll become best-quality friends too.

Joining Junior League helped me a lot.  On the first day we all went around and introduced ourselves and declared our intentions.  Aka – said why we joined the League.  Probably everyone said that they wanted to do good in the community and meet new people.  Friends just waiting to happen!  I made some best-quality friends and many lovely acquaintriends (acquaintance + friend, obvio).

Switching it up on the J-O-B was another stellar friend-making move.  Many of my colleagues are around my age/life stage/etc.  It’s like hitting the friend jackpot.

You want to hear read about an area of friendship that is a struggle for me?  Of course you do.  Friend-group mixing.  I know, I know, it’s terrible.  The more the merrier!  Let your friends meet new friends among your friends!  I don’t know if I’m selfish and never learned to share properly (MY friends!) or just find the idea of being the common denominator in a group exhausting, but I prefer to keep my friend groups separate.  Like those plastic cafeteria food trays or the flimsy Styrofoam plates with the dividers – don’t let the roast beef touch the mashed potatoes!

{One exception I’ve noticed:  I want ALL of my blogosphere friends to meet and hang out with me at the same time.  I don’t care if you don’t know each other – you all know me!  That’s enough!}

Anyway, the fact that friendship has been on my mind lately has caused me to realize a few things.

One – I should be better about mixing friend groups.  Make it a party all up on that cafeteria tray.

Two – There are people who I became friends with in a different life stage – and who I still consider to be friends, sure, but well, we’ve grown apart – whom I would likely not become friends with if we met for the first time in THIS life stage.  Have I changed?  Have they changed?  In a word, yes.  And yes.

Three - I’m becoming less interested in single-handedly maintaining friendships.  There simply has to be give and take from both parties.  If I am always the one calling or texting to set up a phone date, lunch, pedicure, séance (kidding – just making sure you’re paying attention), maybe it’s time to let that one go.

Do you make new friends easily?  What do you do to keep friendships – local and afar? 

The time I nearly drowned in library books.

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I love to read.  It’s an expensive habit.  My books of choice are usually the sort that I can breeze through quickly – a day or two if I have blocks of time to commit to the pages.  That means that I’m buying a lot of books.  And I usually don’t reread them, so it’s not like their price per read goes down.  {That’s how I justify buying clothes and shoes – I can easily get purchases down to pennies per wear on a bargain deal.}

So at the beginning of the summer I reintroduced myself to my library card and vowed to not buy any books this summer.  Easy solution!  I’ll save so much money!  I journeyed to the nearest library and began perusing the shelves.  And I ran into a problem.  All the choices, the lack of focus – I was completely overwhelmed.  Then I remembered.  “A-ha!,”  I thought, as the Goodreads lightbulb lit up.  These are books I want to read.  I’ll just find some of them.  With a goal, I walked the shelves again.

And wouldn’t you know it…not a single book on my Goodreads lists was in that particular library on that day.  Discouraged, I grabbed a couple of random books and left.

Days later, I remembered the marvelous system of holds.  I logged onto the public library system and, Goodreads list at my side, placed holds on three or four of my to-reads.  Some of them had long waits (I was 72 of 72 holds, etc.), so I added a few more.  Why not, right?

Within a couple of days, three books were available.  I picked them up.  A few days later, three more books were available.  By the time I picked them up, a fourth had been added to the mix.  So I returned a couple of the original three that I’d chosen and picked up those four.  Now there are two more on hold and I’m reading books as furiously fast as I can.  It has become a personal challenge of sorts.  READ ALL THE BOOKS.  Do not pass Go, do not collect $200, do not renew any check-outs.  Must read them all in the allotted three weeks.  I’m on it.

Do you utilize the local library?  Do you read books more than once?  What are you reading now? 

 

Sweekend.

It was a sweekend of good food and company – does it get much better than that?

Friday:

We usually don’t feel like cooking on Friday night.  Last Friday was no exception, so Domino’s to the rescue!  They delivered our piping hot ham and pineapple pizza and an order of pineapple and jalapeno chicken right to the door.  It was tasty.  {On Friday nights I sometimes wish I lived in a larger city – one that has more than pizza to offer as delivery.  I loved having yang zhou chi fan (fried rice) delivered when I lived in China.}

Saturday:

We sat out on the back patio on Saturday morning, enjoying the sight and sound of our new water feature.  It was installed last week, and we’re really enjoying it!  With books and that relaxing atmosphere, the day started out quite lovely.

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Then we had to make ourselves presentable to the public and meet some friends for brunch.  We tried a new place and loved it.  The atmosphere, the food, the cappuccino (oh yum), and most importantly, the company of our sweet friends.

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I had decided that Saturday night was THE night for a surprise date for my wonderful husband.  It’s an item on the ol’ 30-by-30 list, and I was excited for it.  Especially when my girl Janelle shared an awesome idea about designing a choose-your-own-adventure kind of date.  I presented Kevin with the plan and he had the afternoon to think about what he wanted to do.

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Ultimately he chose sushi at Sumo, a trip to a local, independent bookstore, and a game night at home.  (Those happened to be exactly the items that I was hoping he’d choose!  Soul, meet mate.)  It was so much fun.  We had our favorite sushi rolls at our favorite sushi restaurant.  Then we made our way to the bookstore and perused for a bit.  I even bought him a book for date night (I know how to spoil my man).  Then we grabbed dessert at a local spot that is known for it’s amazing, decadent cakes and pies.  We took that home and enjoyed it with a couple of games of Yahtzee in the company of our good Kiki.  It was really such a lovely evening.  I am so grateful for Kevin.  He is caring and supportive and funny.  I have so much fun with him.

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I also wore a crop top, which felt quite scandalous.

Sunday:

On Sunday, I went to breakfast with my great aunt and two great uncles.  Kevin had to stay home to work, poor fella.  We had a great time.  Then I took my car to the car spa for a wash.  She cleaned up nice.  I read and did laundry for the rest of the morning and early afternoon.  We took a walk around the neighborhood mid-afternoon, and then watched the Broncos play.

We went to dinner at Kevin’s parents house and it was delicious and fun, as always.  They are moving in the next few weeks, and Kevin needed to go through some stuff that they have been storing for him.  It was a trip down memory lane for all of them.  Kevin was a budding artist as a child and I loved seeing his masterpiece drawings!

Sweekend indeed.

How was your weekend?  Do you enjoy looking at old art pieces from when you were young?  Is it hard for you to part with those items or do you separate easily? 

The roses and stopping to smell them.

My neighbor has the most gorgeous roses.  Of course, they don’t just grow on their own – wild, free, and untended.  These are those perfectly cultivated roses.  Early each morning, he tends to the plants, a spray bottle of rose magic in one hand and clippers in the other.  The bright colors pop against the dark green leaves.  You can tell that he adores his roses and that they love him right back.  Time and energy and care yield beautiful things, don’t they?  Sure, there are thorns, but goodness, doesn’t the beauty compensate for the risk of a prick?

Such is life.

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As for me, I don’t have a green thumb (as I’m sure you can tell by the photos in this post – our poor rose bush has only a handful of yellow blooms on it).  I have this one plant that sits on a window sill in the house.  It has lovely bright pink flowers and light green leaves.  Oh my, that plant is resilient.  Every 10 days or so, the leaves begin to droop dramatically.  When I notice, I carelessly dump a cup or two of water into the pot.  Within hours, the plant looks rejuvenated and healthy once again, its lanky trunks plump with water.

Once again, such is life.

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We run ourselves ragged and just when we’re drooping dramatically, we try to make a quick recovery with a bit of water or sleep or prayer.  And then we’re up and running – full speed ahead.

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Let’s take some time this weekend to rejuvenate, shall we?

What are your weekend plans?  How do you recharge?  Are you good at self-care or do you let yourself get run down a bit more often than you should?

 

Sweekend.

I need a weekend to recover from my weekend.

It began, as weekends usually do, on Friday night. Kevin and I enjoyed a lovely dinner at home, and then I trekked across town to attend a dance performance. A work friend is in a dance company, and it was the night of their annual show. A group of us met up to support her and watch some very talented performers. They did a fantastic job and it was a very enjoyable evening.

I woke up early the following morning to drive a couple hours to a lake – the site of Tiffany’s bachelorette party. Getting into the bachelorette spirit, I carried a 24 pack into the house when I arrived.

A 24 pack of water, that is.

To quote the guest of honor, “This is how you know that the bachelorette is 30, not 21.”

We loaded up in the truck and Tiffany’s uncle pulled the pontoon boat down to the lake. It was a gorgeous summer day – blue sky, light breeze, absolutely perfect.

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Some of Tiff’s family friends own a houseboat on the lake so we anchored there and those who wanted to get in the water jumped right in. But first, in typical bachelorette party style, I dropped my swim suit top.

Actually, the plastic hook on the back of the suit busted and I just barely managed to catch it before flashing anyone. ‘Lisa! Lisa’ I squeaked out my sister’s name and backed up to her. With peals of laughter from us all, Lisa and Tiff managed to tie my bandeau top in the back and the whole incident was only mildly awkward.

More party attendees arrived through the day and people tubed, skied, dove, chatted, ate, drank, and sunbathed.

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I don’t care for being in the water if I know my feet can’t touch the ground, so I stayed on the boat. I earned a light sunburn on my legs and back, but had such a good time. We wrapped things up as the storm clouds moved in, and by the time we got to the dock, the wind was blowing horizontal rain and there was a colorful lightening and thunder storm a-happenin’. Our own little desert hurricane.

Tiff has the coolest aunts and uncles and they had prepared a feast for us. Brisket, ribs, queso, pasta salad, chips, avocado… There was also a margarita machine – big fun. We ate and talked and laughed.

By this time the storm had blown through, so we went over to the houseboat family friends’ gorgeous lake house. We admired the sunset and had a little lingerie party for the bride-to-be on the back deck.

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We stayed up late chatting and solving the world’s problems (maybe Russia and Ukraine just need a good bachelorette party?).

The following morning, Tiffany, Traci, and I woke up around 5:30 and went for a run. It felt great to move after all the lounging and eating I’d done the day before.

Tiff and her betrothed took some engagement photos. We cleaned up the house and went to the aunt and uncle’s house for the most delicious breakfast casserole. That concluded the party and we all went our separate ways.

I made it home in time for BBQ and Rio Lobo with Kevin. We’ve been on a John Wayne kick recently and that’s one of my favs.

A weekend filled with sweet people, delicious food, and a lot of laughs. A sweekend indeed.

How was your weekend? Are you a lake person?

 

A winner, winner chicken dinner kind of chicken dinner.

Last week The Londoner posted her Mum’s Lemon & Garlic Chicken recipe.  And let me tell ya…it is a winner of a dish.  Kevin and I threw it together on Sunday and we’ll be making it again pronto, because it’s that good.  And easy!  So easy.

Here’s The Londoner’s original post.

And here are some photos and commentary of the re-creation at our casa….

Place chicken thighs (skin side up) in a baking dish.  Surround them on each side with lemon wedges and garlic cloves (no need to peel the garlic cloves).  Sprinkle a generous amount of salt and pepper on the chicken.  And add some dried oregano for good measure.  Then pour a glop of olive oil across it all.

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Bake at 350 F for around an hour.  We turned on the broiler for two minutes at the end to give the skins a nice crisp.

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We served it up with a little couscous on the side.  The boxed variety.  Nothing fancy.

We also made the salad that she posts about, and it was delish.  I love me some avocado’s in a salad.  And homemade, from-scratch dressing.  I’ll make my own over the store-bought, bottled kind any day.  A little vinegar, a little olive oil, dash of salt, couple dashes of pepper, a splash of honey or lemon juice or a good mustard if you’re feelin’ fancy.

Kevin made the dressing.  We didn’t have white wine vinegar so we subbed balsamic vinegar and it was still very tasty.

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The key to a good salad is in the mixing.  You want a nice ratio of dressing to produce.  Well and evenly coated.  Then every bite is a delight.

It was a feast and we chowed down in the company of our Captain Phillips Netflix disc.

From the beginning of our relationship, Kevin and I have really enjoyed cooking together.  We don’t prepare 7 course meals or anything too fancy.  We have some favorite, easy dishes that are in regular rotation.  But there is something very special about unwinding at the end of the day, in the kitchen, together, with the scents and sounds of dinner filling the air.  Sometimes we’re too tired or burnt out from our day to talk of anything too substantial.  But we’re together.  And that makes it a winner of a dinner in itself.

Do you have a favorite, easy, weeknight recipe to share?  Do you enjoy cooking with your significant other or a friend, or do you prefer to fly solo in the kitchen?