Tuesday, February 03, 2015

January 2015

Hiiiiiiiii blog friends! \(^-^)/

How is everyone!? I know, it's been kind of "long-time-no-see." I hope you're doing great and have had a nice January. I can't tell you how many times I've intended to blog or started a post in the past month, only to lose my place when I ran out of time or something more urgent was needing my attention.

One of the posts that I've been trying to pen is about why I haven't been blogging as often since fall began. The truth is, I've been a little overwhelmed and stressed lately with how quickly my days changed when our puppy came to live with us. I can't just leave the house and come and go as I please, and I've had to adjust with needing to do anything, from simply cleaning to trying to blog, always with one eye on our chew-happy pooch. It's a lot of stop and start around here, and I have not gotten much of anything done like I used to. I love Josie very very much and she is a wonderful dog, but we're starting puppy classes tonight (Yay!) in hopes of learning how to better manage some of her recent issues....like barking outside, barking inside, hole digging, refusing to eat her meals when offered, not coming when called and walking on the leash like a crazy monkey. My fingers are crossed that obedience school can give us some good, positive, gentle training techniques. I say this uber-lovingly, but she is such a little rascal. As I speak, Jon is outside trying to get Josie to come back inside. She never stops barking, but she also doesn't come when called. It's a daily, all day and night dilemma.....

Also, the even bigger truth for me is that stress begets my anxiety issue, and I have been dealing with the largest, most intense bout of anxiety and panic feelings that I've had in a decade. It wasn't just the life-change with having a puppy, there were several other big things going on all at once in my family and with others that I deeply care about. It was a nail-biting kind of several months and my time and energy were eventually zapped. The good news is, everyone and everything is fine now. Also, I'm not one to ignore my anxiety, so I took action and sought out solutions to start feeling better.
If you struggle with anxiety or panic, or if you are interested in reading more about my experience with them, please let me know! I've gone back and forth as to whether I should discuss it on the blog or not. I didn't want to take the risks of talking about it unless there was an interest out there. Thanks! :)

Where was I...... so, yeah, January! Guys, I kind of feel like a broken record. I'm sorry, I always seem to do the same things.....puppy, kid, cooking, paper cut-outs for the front windows.... I promise you, one of these days I'm going to live out my dreams of bringing you new and DIFFERENT content! Ha! I really will. Hair, clothing,baking, crafting, self-imporvement, products, adventure!  In the meantime, thank you from my heart for bearing with me. This is just my life these days, so I give ya what I've got!

Each morning when I wake up, (which is usually riiiiight before our 6:00am alarm goes off) in the darkness, I lay there and start my day with a gratitude prayer. I go through my mind, and think of all the things that I am grateful to have in my life, and I thank the universe, God, the divine, love, the source, the energy, what ever one calls it. It's transformative. When you start noticing even the small things (like the Black Capped Chickadees and the blue sky) and feel gratitude, it makes life feel even more special!

One of the things that I am VERY thankful for this month, but also thankful to JON for, is my new car. Usually we try to purchase our cars, but last time around, when I needed a new car, we tried a lease for me. This is because I really only average about 400 miles a month. I don't go far and just need something small to get around town in. My lease was a three-year-lease. It worked out well for us and I had no real problems, no repair costs. So, when my lease came up this month, I had to find something new to drive. I loved my Mini-Cooper, which is what I have been driving. She was so much fun, especially because she had a manual transmission! I also seemed to find enough room for my grocery bags, and I rarely had to fill her up with gas!

It was time for a change though. The buy-out cost on the Mini seemed a bit high, otherwise, I might have considered it. So, we test drove some cars, read up a lot , really looked around. I don't know if I want to talk specifics about what I ended up with, but I can tell you, I'm excited to behind the wheel of a convertible this time around! How much fun! Even thought it's only the middle of winter in Michigan, I'm still excited!:)  It's a new model to the US. I've been waiting for it to cross the pond after it's introduction in Europe about a year ago.

Anyway, this was one of the most fun and exciting things in January. It promptly started snowing the day after I got my car, so it's just been spending a lot of time in the garage. Rest assured though, come warmer weather, I will have the top down. I even purchased a new tube of SPF face stick and I'm already planning which hats I'm going to wear to get maximum top-down time, minus the sun damage. ( Hat 1. , Hat 2. ) Noah is psyched too.

Ahhhh, the life of a puppy.  Josie ran with her aunt and uncle dogs in my Mom's big backyard. It was only for about an hour and a half, but I found her asleep like this as soon as we came home. That can't be comfortable, can it?

She's really been struggling lately with barking and wanting to go in and out, in and out of the house all day. She barks at the side door for walks and barks at the stairs whenever I go up. Josie and I take at least one 30-60 minute walk everyday, sometimes two times, but still, she has tons of extra energy to use up. So, we thought if we figure out more outlets for her puppy energy, it might help. I started by enrolling her at a local "pet resort." I spent a couple months thinking it over and researching and comparing doggie daycares. The one we ultimately went with is close to home, had rave reviews, and, two separate neighbors mentioned how much they liked it. Jon, Noah, Josie and I went for a tour over the weekend. It was great! Josie was taken into the "small dog" area for a temperament test. She was excited, but a little shy when about ten other little dogs came running to greet her. I think she'll love it once we go a couple of times. The plan is to try sending Josie once a week during the day so she can run and play with other dogs and I can get some blocks of uninterrupted time to get things done at home. I'm really hopeful.

One funny note - So, there is a small, medium and large dog area at the doggie daycare. There aren't any kennels or cages which I think is nice. The dogs are free to roam all day. I saw the small dog area, it is two large, open rooms that are connected. One has two big couches and a huge flat screen TV with Animal Planet playing on it. Ha! There were small dogs lounging all over the sofas. It was really cute.  There is an open space just for playing and running, and it's connected to the small dog's fenced in outdoor play space. I saw a Little Tykes toddler climber in their play yard. LOL! A couple times a day, the small dogs group is lead out into the really big outdoor space that is shared, and they get to run all over. I think Josie is going to love it! :)

And then there was the time that all the plumbing in our house stopped working this month.........
Yeah, that was a real mess. Literally. Long-story-short, Noah started screaming when super loud air bubbles started coming up from the downstairs toilet and up from the bathtub drain. Then water began coming up both the bathtub and the toilet. Then the toilet over flowed. Then, every time we flushed the other toilet or tried to turn on the shower or sink or dishwasher or washing machine, things would over flow again! It was the weekend and the plumbing company wanted to charge us $160 to come out, plus an additional $100 as a weekend emergency fee. We read up on the plumbing "symptoms" and figured it was a simple clog between the bathtub drain and the pipe leading out of the house towards the sewer. We decided to try to fix it ourselves. (Which is funny.) Jon bought a new plunger with some kind of co2 cartridges in it. That sent water flying out of the tub drain. It was gross.....
Then he bought a 25 foot long pipe snake deal. Not much happened, but he had fun!

In the end, we had to have a plumber come out on Monday. It was roots. A big ball of roots in the pipe from the house to the city sewer. Glad that one is fixed. Then, this Saturday......our dishwasher stopped working. DOH! (Needs a new drain pump. Gah!) Oh the joys of homeownership. 

Because of Martin Luther King Jr. day, plus some days off for the teachers to do their report writing, Noah had ANOTHER break! He was off of school from Friday-Tuesday of the following week. (And he has a week off later this month AND yesterday was a snow day AND TODAY is a snow day!) So, a lot of Legos have been made recently, including this Lego City shop from Grandpa.

And this cool Lego Minecraft Mine set from his Nana and Papa.

I have been trying to eat more healthily. Well, more like a healthier vegetarian. I've been a vegetarian for a long time, but I've been getting too many of my calories from carbs and dairy I fear. I need more beans and lentils. Even though, I am not bean and lentil crazy. Meh.  I've started eating steel cut oats every morning again. I've also been on quinoa quest. I wanted to come up with a super flavorful quinoa dish, and this is what I settled on.....it was pretty good!

First, make some quinoa. I used a multi-color mix. I learned a tip that helped make a more fluffy, less soggy outcome: 1 cup quinoa to 1.5 cups water. NOT 2 cups water like most packages says. Oh, and leave the lid closed the whole time while cooking. A little salt after cooking and fluffing. Meanwhile, I had sautéed an onion and some garlic. Once the onion was well cooked and soft, I added in a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas. You heat the chickpeas through and then add to the pan the juice of about one small lemon. More salt and some pepper to taste. Quinoa goes in a bowl, top with the chickpea mixture! I added a side of 1/2 an avocado. I really liked it! Super flavorful.

This was some lentil dish with garlic, onions and baby spinach. I know this is a shortcut, but Trader Joe's sells, in addition to dried lentils, a "steamed lentil" option in their refrigerated section. Basically, lentils already cooked! I gave it a try and they were good! Saves some time when you don't have it. 

My old stand-by, perfect for winter, Nigella's fresh Pea and Pesto Soup.

One day, I was at the sink when I heard a strange noise, turned around, and the dog was on the kitchen table!!! Now THAT was a surprise! She jumped up on the bench and then the table. Josie was very proud.

I realize that this is TERRIBLE, to let your dog on the table, but when she grabbed her stuffed toy and promptly laid down, I almost left her there:  1.) because it was adorable and 2.) because that day, she was so active and wouldn't nap until then. They say: "let sleeping dogs lie." Right?

Josie and I have been enjoying "nature hikes." Winter can be just so gorgeous, can't it?

And, I am very happy to report that Josie is building bridges between dog and cat. She is no longer solely chasing them. Sometimes she can actually sit next to Hector and Willow without starting a game of tag.

Oh my gosh, I am SO SORRY about all of these dog pictures. See, Josie seriously makes up 80% of my waking hours.  So, she outgrew her first winter coat and it is freezing and snowy here, so we went to buy her a new coat and came home with this fleece number that looks straight out of the 1980's. (The primary colors really look 80's in person. This picture has a filter on it that takes some of that "Michelle Tanner wore this on Full House" feeling away.)
Josie loves her coat, it's pretty cute.

Moving on! As we went from January to February, I had to change my decorations of course.
January was a snowman theme.... nothing major.....

And February is a Valentine's Day theme. Again, nothing big this year.....

Paper snowflakes and snowmen in my window to.........

Paper hearts!

One of the ways we came up with to help Josie get some of her extra energy out, was to finally let her have full run of our backyard this weekend. Since she came to live with us at 10 weeks old, she's been very very much into chewing on everything and anything. I noticed that she would actually chew and EAT sticks and leaves and wood chips and even rocks if she could! So, it wasn't until just last month that we finally trusted her enough to go outside in our backyard to potty alone. But, this was only in a small, fenced in area of our backyard that consisted of just lawn. We used temporary garden fence and big, wooden lounge chairs to block her off from the rest of our yard, which consists of ground cover, a little pool, some patios and pebble trails.

On Sunday morning I went to removed the garden fence. Oh gosh, and I haven't even mentioned the SNOW this weekend! Ok, that will come later, but there was A LOT of snow this weekend. So I was out trying to pull up fence and move furniture, when I went to place a heavy, wooden lounge chair in front of the mini-pool and......... I FELL INTO THE POOL!

I fell into the pool while trying to make sure that Josie wouldn't fall into the pool. DOH! The chair and I crashed through a pool cover. We ruined it. I felt really badly because our friends and Jon worked really hard to make these pool covers. Luckily, there was six inches of water left in the pool (on purpose) and so there was six inches of now ice to break my fall. Which is still better than water when it's below freezing out.

Jon heard me scream (and then maybe laugh. Ok, yeah, I was laughing.) and came running out. But, he was in his exercise gear, with no shoes, so he grabbed the nearest boots, mine. He was a little perplexed. I apologized profusely, but Jon wasn't mad. He was just glad that I was ok. Glad and also like...."Whaaaaaaaat?????"

Ok, the snow. We need to talk about the snow. School just called the second snow day in a row. This weekend we had a slow moving slow storm that dumped about a foot of snow on us! In fact, it was so much snow, that it was the third largest snow in Detroit HISTORY! The last time it snowed this much was 1974!

I went outside and shoveled SIX times in one day, just to keep up with things. It was GORGEOUS out though. I really love the winter and watching the snow. And since our driveway is small, it only takes about 30 minutes to shovel the drive, the sidewalk, the front porch and the back. It's not too bad.

We made sure to have fun in the snow too!

Here is Jon taking Noah and Josie for a sled ride. :)

We headed for the coffee shop, but turned around and decided to go the other way.

There is a sledding hill at the bottom of our street. Josie LOVED watching Noah go down the hill. She chased him up the stairs and ran after him down the hill!

This was a pretty short-lived outing for Josie. We came home after a 1/2 hour and brought her inside and dried off all of the snow. She took a nap and Noah, Jon and I went back outside. I shoveled, Noah played in the snow and did "snow painting" with water and food coloring, and Jon..........

...... blew snow off of his car with the leaf blower! Ha! It worked!

Yesterday morning we woke bright and early to find MORE snow. So we shoveled again. Seven times total for this storm. It was soooo so sooooo beautiful out there at dawn. Just gorgeous. The street was very still, and the only noise came from snowblowers and plows in the distance.

Lots of snow!

We made Noah this giant snow mound in our front yard. He climbed to the top and thought it was the coolest thing ever!

Here are a few things I've come across lately on the web that made me laugh or scratch my head. Enjoy. From Reddit.com.......

My friend Sarah posted this one:  

8 Reasons Children of the 1970s Should All Be Dead

Also from Reddit.com - Cat Tries to Intercept Football Pass! (It's a short Gif, so funny, check it out!)

And quite possibly the FUNNIEST and most true thing I have ever seen on the internet: (reddit)  YES!

Oh gosh, just a few more, ok?

THIS carpet I mean puppy!

This AMAZING slug costume. HA!


THIS girl riding her really big POODLE! WOW!!!!!

And finally......  "I think I'll just....yep! This is a good place." from reddit.

And so my friends, THAT was January in a nutshell!
I hope to be back soon with more content  and more interesting things. Hair posts for my silver sisters too.

Until Next Time!
Lauren :)

P.S. At the time of publishing, IT'S SNOWING AGAIN!!!! We're supposed to get another 3-6" tonight. Yay! Shovel, here I come!

P.P.S. We just came home from Josie's first puppy class and it was FANTASTIC! We learned so much already and Josie did great! I'm proud of her and so excited. Fun stuff. :)


Anonymous said...

Found your blog recently and love it. I look forward to reading more.

Lauren said...

Hi there!

Oh thank you so much. It means more than I can say that you look forward to reading. Thank you. I'm glad that you stumble across the blog! :)

Karon said...

Hi Lauren! I also found your blog recently, and can relate to much of what you write. Especially being a silver sister (recently turned 40, and decided I will not start coloring my hair -- I will instead save that money for a Viking River Cruise! ;)), and having a CRAZY PUPPY. We adopted a shepherd-hound mix puppy about a year ago, and he is extremely troublesome when he and I are home alone together. He is an ANGEL for my husband -- it's a family joke, except usually not funny at all. ;) Some of the things that buy me a few minutes here and there -- filling a Kong with carrots, sealing the end with peanut butter, and putting it in the freezer to give him later. I also save old underwear and socks destined for the trash and tie up treats in them to keep him busy. :) Hang in there! (and puppy classes should definitely help -- they did for us! Especially learning "come when called" -- we have special treats just for this purpose. :)).

Lauren said...

Hi Karon!!!!

Oh my gosh, those are FANTASTIC puppy tips. THANK YOU so much! I am going to try your Kong trick right away! I recently started putting treats in an old sock and Josie LOVES it. You have brilliant ideas! :)
I'm cracking up about your little pup being an angel for your husband and a rascal for you. You need a puppy cam so he can see what it's really like! LOL.
Thanks for the encouragement about class. I am also most excited about "come when called." They can't teach us soon enough!

Congratulations on your big hair decision! It's really nice to have the freedom from having to dye your hair. And, I also really like your idea about instead, saving up for a cruise. WOO HOO!!! :)

Thank you for your wonderful comment. A big, warm "WELCOME" to you Karon!

Karon said...

You are so welcome! Buddy (our naughty puppy) and I had a high-maintenance type of day, so I used the Kong trick myself. ;) I also wanted to say that we have one little boy, age 9, and I am working on my anxiety as well, so I think we are kindred spirits! I think it's great that you are so open -- I find the older I get, the more I share about my life (joys as well as struggles) because I think it connects people and lets them know they're not alone. :)

Lauren said...

Oh Karon, it sounds like we are twinsies! :)
Kindred spirits for sure. Thank you, I agree that sharing definitely makes connections. If I would have had to go at it alone with growing out my gray hair, I don't think I could have done it. Readers like you and all the support, it got me through it! I'm really grateful. <3

Thanks again Karon. I'm glad you're here!

Lori said...

Oh my goodness, falling into the pool! I bet it was SO cold...glad you laughed about it though! I would have died from laughter :-) I don't know if I have anxiety, my Mom always says on the outside I handle stress really well, but she can tell when I'm not really doing good because I just sort of shut down my emotions and I do hold a LOT inside. No idea if it's even relate-able, but I had a super stressful September and broke out in shingles. I still have a couple of spots on my face that I don't know if they'll ever go away and if something comes up (emotional or stressful), I'll get the same sensations on my face and scalp that I had with the shingles. It's pretty weird...and I worry about everything which isn't good either.
Must chill. LOL!

Anyway, I love your blog! You're one of the more real ones left and I love that you were my inspiration to go ahead with the silvery blonde highlights God gave me, (lol, that's what I'm calling them, silvery blonde!) Great to hear from you!

Lori said...

Oh, and I forgot about the snow - just gorgeous! You're so lucky! We haven't had anything but a dusting all winter...and this Saturday it's supposed to be in the 70's...the 70's!!! in February.
I know I might be in the minority, but's it's dreadful. Just dreadful...lol, I'd rather have some cold and snow in the winter, just for the sake of the seasons acting like the seasons. It's calming :-)

Lauren said...

Hi Lori!!!! \(^-^)/

Thank you so much for writing! Your comments made me smile this morning. :)

Oh my gosh, I am so so sorry about your shingles. :(
I've heard that it is one of the most painful things. My fingers are crossed that the areas on your face and scalp fade and go away quickly. I have heard that stress can completely makes shingles come about or flare. It sounds like you deal with stress well though, but I worry about everything too. Maybe that's part of it. If I find helpful things that work, I promise to share! :)

Ha! I LOVE your "silvery blond" highlights. Yes! Yes! White hair can totally look like platinum blond! :) I want to call mine silvery blond too, but I have a lot of dark brown hair, so I don't think I could pull that one off, but I wish!

I'm sorry about your warm temps! LOL. I understand though Lori, I'm with you! I feel like, if it's going to be winter, AT LEAST gives us a few days of pretty, white snow and cool sweater and hat weather, right!?

Thank you for your kind kind words Lori. You made my day bright!

Lauren (>'-')> HUGS!

Loulou said...

I love your catch-up posts. They're like reading a long hilarious letter from a friend. I laughed out loud over the story about falling in the pool. You're such a good writer.

And the quinoa and chickpeas dish sounds terrific. I'll be giving that one a try. xo

Julie said...

It was fun getting the update--especially since YOU have the puppy and NOT me! :-) her cuteness might make up for the trouble huh?
We used to live in R.O. so I have to say any time you post photos it's like a little trip down memory lane--one of the reasons I enjoy the blog, along with the writing of course.
And I agree with the craziness of the "no school today" January we have had with Winter break only a week away. Those wind chill days we had off in the beginning right after Christmas, MLK day, records day and PD days...then the SNOW days--my whole family started getting way too used to 3 day weekends! (I'm a teacher who loves that early morning phone call as much as any 7 year old!!)
Thanks for the pictures and keep them coming.

Lauren said...

Thanks my friend Loulou! (>'-')> *Muah!*
I hope you like the quinoa dish, it was pretty good! Oh man, and I am steering clear from that mini-pool! LOL. :)

Lauren said...

Hi Julie!!! What a nice comment! Thank you! I'm so glad that the pics can take you down memory lane. :) Actually, I REALLY need to go spend some time in Royal Oak! I used to go all of the time. Always. It's funny because these days, because of the puppy and the cold weather, I don't seem to stray far from home as much. I need to get out! :)

I know, I feel like we have a lot of non-school days recently. I'm glad you don't mind them. I'm ok with them too. They're pretty relaxing.

Thank you so so much for your encouragement I appreciate it!!! Sending a hug. (>'-')>

Fifi said...

Hi Lauren. Enjoyed your January update. Laughed at your choice of car, that's really thinking ahead. Is it really hot in the summer? It must be lovely to have summers hit enough for a pool and yet snowy in winter. Best of both worlds. oh and good to see Willow socialising again. (^••^)~
it's a good job puppies are cute as they can be such monkies. Once the giddiness kicks in all sense goes out the window! They do calm down eventually, but the training is such a great way to help them understand what behaviour you do want and of course don't! Practice what you learn little and often and you will soon have a lovely obedient pet, they really do love to please us.

Oh and nice thought about your gratitude prayer, must try that myself instead of thinking about what I haven't got but would like. Your posts are lovely because you seem content and happy with the simple things in life. Thanks for a cheery blog, a tasty recipe and pass on my appreciation for Noah's amazing Lego structures.

Unknown said...

Hi Lauren :)
I was glad to see your latest blog. I really like that you start each day giving thanks. What a great way to start the day. For the past 6 months I've been debating on letting my hair go gray and letting it grow. A couple weeks ago was my 39th birthday and I succumbed to the color bottle. I'm a little disappointed now that I've done it especially since it really didn't come out looking very pretty. I was glad to see your blog and photo today with your gray hair. Once again you've inspired me to accept myself for what I am and let it grow, grow grow! In a way, I think it was a good thing I colored my hair, now I know how much I'm really ready to begin my going gray journey.
:) Leslie

Lauren said...

Awww Fifi, your comment is truly so caring. Thank you! Thank you for reading and thank you for taking time to write me! I appreciate your words so much. <3

You know, it's a funny thing about Michigan.....we have very cold winters with snow, but then, in the summer, we can have very hot temperatures and humidity! I do think a convertible will be fun, but I must be careful with the sun. I have brown patches that come out with the sun each summer. They're not fun!

Thank you so so much for the puppy pep talk! We actually just came back from our second training class. I love Josie with all of my heart, you're right though, sometimes, she IS like a little monkey! :)

Thank you for your nice words about my gratitude prayer. I often stress over small things and I tend to worry a lot, but recently, I found if I work on finding the beauty in small things, I feel much calmer and more brave! I'm not always happy, but I'm trying! :)

I'll pass your nice words onto Noah! That is sweet of you. Thank you again Fifi, your comment made me smile!!!!

Lauren said...

Hi Leslie!!! :)

First, happy belated birthday! \('-')/
Leslie, it is completely ok and completely normal that you colored your hair again. Did you know that it took me three times of growing my hair, then coloring again, before it was just the right time to stick with my gray! :) That's the thing, this is a BIG change, and it only happens when it's the right time for each of us. So no worries!

And, I think you are completely right! I think that without the latest color, you wouldn't have known your true feelings.

I'm glad that we have each other to inspiring and cheer each other on. I'm glad you're here! Hang in there Leslie and let us know how you're doing if you feel like it! :)