& Cookies

November just whisked itself right past me.

At the very end of October, I had my gallbladder out & spent about two weeks recovering.

I had visits and calls from family and friends. My brave mother took me to surgery and brought me home. D cared for me the rest of the week and was a total rockstar. I will say, for any folks out there that might be facing this now or in the future: it’s not as bad as it is in your mind. My incisions hurt more than I thought but for less time than I thought they would. Take the medicine they give you, listen to the doctor, keep everything clean and you’ll be just fine.

IMG_3472.jpg

It’s been about a month now and I no longer need as much rest as I did two weeks ago. I basically feel normal now! Probably from all the help I got from this kitten! I still don’t fully understand what I can and can’t eat, but I’m definitely starting to get it, which made Thanksgiving a little complicated, but with every meal I learn a little more.

IMG_3537.jpg

Sister’s Boots / My Boots (similar)

My dad is a veteran, so my sister and I took him and my mom to lunch for Veteran’s Day, which turned out to be one of the coldest days we’d had so far. The restaurant was crowded with other veterans and people who came up to say “Thank you,” to my dad (love it!). My sister and I huddled around this little heater that was set up in the lobby.

IMG_3530.jpg

We’ve only gotten a couple of flurries so far this year. I’m excited for more; it would be nice to have the beautiful snow to go with the cold. D works for a snow plow company during the winter, so we get to ride around in this during the winter! I prefer my cute little car, but as soon as the ice gets on the road, I’m sure I’ll be batting my eyelashes, trying to convince him to drive me the hour to and from work.

IMG_3630.jpg

Salt & Pepper Shaker / Pie Plate

I thought I burned the pumpkin pie this year. It turns out that when you have a deep pie plate, you have to either make more filling, or keep your pie crust almost at the same height as the filling or else it looks burnt. The pie itself was just fine and only the top part of the crust was burnt. There was only one piece left at the end of the night, with five pies and seven people, so I suppose I can say that it turned out delicious.

How to Make Grocery Shopping Less Boring

I don’t like grocery shopping. I try to tell myself I do and it doesn’t work. But I’ve learned some things that make it more bearable.

Step One: Split it up!

I do two different kinds of grocery shopping: a monthly big shop and a weekly little shop. Once a month (sometimes every other month depending on the weather) I drop around or over $100 and I always buy certain staples that either go in the freezer or pantry. Here’s a little breakdown of what that monthly trip looks like:

Grocery List

So that’s a lot of food, but it accounts for usually eating with D, plus hosting people for dinner. I usually have left over of everything except chicken and vegetables. I’ve found that this makes it easier to budget and it’s much easier to grocery shop weekly for twenty minutes and only spend an hour and a half in the grocery store each month.

My weekly grocery list looks something more like this:

Get Some Groceries

Way more confusing. & mostly produce. This means that I can spend most of my time in one area, meaning I’m in and out much faster. The weekly grocery shop has turned into a game that I play, which makes it much more fun!

Step 2: Bring Minimal Supplies

IMG_3378.jpg

I bring a very limited amount of things with me when I go grocery shopping: reusable bags, grocery list, headphones, my clutch (similar here) & my phone. If you think about it, it’s really all you need and holding on to your purse just slows the whole process down.

Step 3: Treat Yo Self

IMG_3380.jpg

My grocery store has a Starbucks in it and when I do my big monthly shop, I definitely am all about a White Chocolate Mocha (or a White Chocolate Hot Chocolate if it’s night time). But I can’t justify a $4 coffee every week (that’s $20 a month!), so I bring my little coffee mug with me. Yes, I do feel slightly ridiculous. Sometimes I bring my travel mug instead, which makes me feel slightly less ridiculous. I’ve found that having a drink (even just some water) actually makes me feel relaxed, more than anything else.

Step 4: Rock Some Tunes

IMG_3379.png

My Driving playlist is my go-to for everything, basically, because it’s the right mix of feelings. I don’t always listen to music while grocery shopping if I go early in the morning. But if it’s the afternoon and I want to be in and out as fast as I can, I put headphones in and it helps me stay focused on what I’m doing, and also helps me to enjoy the fact that I get to pick through beautiful, fresh produce.

Step 5: Make it About Others

IMG_3381.jpg

I try to challenge myself on each grocery trip to find something for someone else. If it’s under $4, I get it for them (last weekend I got my Chicagoian dad a bag of this popcorn). If it’s more than that, I take a picture of it. My cousin’s girlfriend loves skulls and bright colors so I texted this to her with a little note that I was thinking about her.

My grocery store has more than just groceries; it’s more like a Michigan-only, super clean and friendly Wal*Mart. So I try to give myself a little leeway and spend some time in the Home section, not just strictly spend my time in the food area.

I also don’t always do this – sometimes I get all the way through the check-out lane and discover I got too focused and forgot, so I take a look at my coupons, and if I somehow ended up with coupons for baby formula or something, I pass them to another shopper who I see has a little one. And if all else fails, I give a stranger a compliment and a nice smile.

Step 6: Time Yourself

I know, I know. That sounds so weird. Here’s what happened: I usually do my grocery shopping in between loads of laundry. When I do the laundry, I set a timer because it’s in my apartment complexes basement and I will forget it. Like, for days. So one day, I thought to myself, “I have an hour. What can I do with an hour?” And my grocery list only had like, 10 things on it and my grocery store is 5 minutes from my house. So I tried it — what was the worst that could happen? I got groceries and laundry done at the same time! It. Was. Amazing! So, it became a thing. I do keep my timer on, but I also run the stopwatch on my phone to see if I can get below a certain time.

I tend to like any kind of game, and this is the most compelling grocery shopping game I could come up with.

Step 7: Don’t Leave Your Keys in the Car

IMG_3382.jpg

Do you know what that’s a picture of? My car keys, and my wet dress. Because in a freezing, torrential downpour the other day, I couldn’t find my keys as I was leaving the grocery store. I was partway through the parking lot and going through my coat and nothing. I don’t often lock my car, so thankfully, I was able to put the grocery bags in the back and shake my coat out and quickly toss it on the bags and didn’t end up too drenched (my hair would tell another story). I finally told myself to just sit in the front seat and start to retrace my steps, and when I sat down, I found my keys!

This a recurring problem in my life. Remembering what you did with your keys definitely makes for a more pleasant trip to the grocery store!

Step 8: Remember that it’s Okay.

IMG_3480.jpg

This was the most soothing image I could find.

Sometimes you spend more than you mean to (would it be good if I talked more about the money of things?). Sometimes it takes a literal 45 minutes to get through the check out lane. Sometimes you totally blank on the fact that you’re having six people over in the middle of the week. Sometimes you get home and learn that you now have seven boxes of pasta when you thought you had none.

Whatever.

That happens to everyone who goes grocery shopping and you know what else happens? Sometimes you spend less than you thought you would. Sometimes you get to talk to the awesome person in line behind you and make a new friend. Sometimes you end up making a super delicious brand new thing for your friends because you have no time to go back to the store. And sometimes, you learn that a friend is having a hard time and you just so happen to have all that pasta you can give to them right at that moment.

They’re just groceries. It’s only a very small chunk of your life and you’ll figure it out eventually. At least, that’s what I tell myself every time I go.

 

How Did I Get Here?

I don’t believe that we can understand right now without understanding what came before it. A thousand trees have lead me to this place, and a thousand bouts of deep laughter.

Family

Those tiniest of feet are mine

I grew up in a coastal town in South Florida with five of the best people I’ve ever met: my mother, my father and my three older sisters. Each of us is very much our own, and very much part of each other.

college

I spent my college years studying Literature and Religion at a large state college in North Florida. I went for college and stayed for the trees and the amazing job I had working with college students & non-profits.

many houses

With a high population of college students, the city I lived in was incredibly transitory – meaning I moved 11 times in the eight years I lived there. My ability to swiftly load a minivan with boxes and move a couch on top of my car are two of the things of which I am most proud.

grateful

A lot of things happened when I turned 24 and I moved back home to be with and help my parents. I took a number of jobs – ghost writing, working with a publisher, marketing a real estate company & tutoring college students – all at once. It was a blissful nine months of risk-taking, beaching and helping the family prepare to move north, to Michigan!

Campus

As much as I grew up in South Florida, I grew up in Michigan. My mother is from here; three of the four of us were born here; and I spent every summer from the time we moved (when I was 2) until I was 21 here. I’ve been living here since 2015. At first I stayed in my parents house with one of my sisters and her husband and my parents. I worked in a hotel for a few months before beginning work at a university that’s tucked into the trees.

And then Javier and I moved again, to a little apartment six minutes from my mom and dad!

Mudbog

In June of 2016, I jumped as far out of my comfort zone as I could come  up with and went to a mud bog (where big trucks go into the mud and try not to get stuck). While I was there, I met a tall, quiet man who I still can’t get enough of.

I don’t super-love trucks, can’t eat twelve tacos in one sitting, and often can’t get out of the details of my own brain. None of those things are true for him, and because of that, I think we balance each other out pretty well.

 

After a million moves, a million jobs, a million cities and ideas, I’m finally holding still. I work full time and am a part-time masters student. Between those two things and the rest of life, I’ve learned to thrive on structure. I love lists, meal prep, cleaning plans – anything that can be put in order or give my life order.

But that’s not always realistic. Sometimes you have to move again. Sometimes you can’t afford curtains and have to figure something else out. Sometimes you turn your back for one minute and the cat is on your kitchen counter eating the corn, or has laid down where you’re supposed to be working.

That’s life. It’s messy. It doesn’t always have clean lines and perfectly made beds and end tables that match. I struggle with that. And while I don’t think I’ll ever hit the point where I’m 100% comfortable wearing pajamas to a cook-out, I am learning how to get right with it. And the learning is messy. So I thought I’d try to write it all down – successes and failures – to help me to remember to trust the process and that life is about living, not arranging.