Musings on the Upcoming New year

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The Christmas tornado has come and gone at our house. I think we all had fun. The food was good and the gifts were thoughtful, so it can’t have been too bad! I walked away feeling very spoiled and loved on.

Now it’s nearly New Years. I kind of have a love hate thing with this holiday. On the one hand the planner in me loves to make *new* plans and goals. On the other hand sometimes reflecting back on all that has happened (or not been accomplished) in the past year can be a really mixed bag. I think over all this year has been one of successes and growth, but there’s always some garbage mixed in isn’t there? I suppose that’s life though and I am not doing myself any favors by wishing it to be different.

So let’s talk about some goals and hopes for the new year! I thought I’d make a little list for myself (see? planner) but try not to make it too resolution-y because that’s just too much pressure!!

I’ll start with the no brainers:

I’d like to be stricter with our budget and stay on track as much as possible. This is hard for me because I think I have gotten into this mindset where if I don’t do something RIGHT NOW I may never get to. This is probably brought on partially from growing up without a lot of money and partially due to all the job junk we’ve experienced during this whole recession thing. I think I am always worried about the money going away. But you know? I’ve also learned that we will manage, no matter what. So maybe I’ll tack on “letting go and trusting God with my finances” to my budgeting plans. Because nothing is guaranteed, so why freak out about it? Easier said than done.

Figuring out a fitness plan that actually works for me. I’m just plain not active enough more so than I am worried about actual weight loss. So figuring out how to move around more consistently in a way that works for both of us. T has an active job but me not so much.

Keep my house tidy. It doesn’t have to be spotless (repeat to self, it does not have to be spotless) but picked up would be a great improvement and keep the weekends from being all day chore days. Where’s the fun in that?

Cook at home more. We do cook at home quite a bit, but I have a weakness for having food delivered when it’s been an especially long day/week. And I am bad about wanting to eat out on the weekends. It just seems like more fun at the time. But it is a budget suck and my body is always like whhhhy did you eat that once Monday rolls around. My body is kind of a whiner like that, it likes routine as much as my brain does… If that makes any sense…

Be a better wife. I don’t know if I would say I am a bad wife or anything but let’s be honest. I can be a bit self-involved. Part of this is because I tend to always think I am right and have the best plan. This is only sometimes actually true haha. So I would like to be a more caring, compassionate partner. Work on listening better and making a conscious effort to do more things that T wants to do. Not just what I want to do or think is best.

Work on my relationships. Meaning family and friends. It’s amazing how hard that can seem. Especially to my introverted self. But my relationships have been kind of whack this year. So there’s a lot of mulling and sorting out to do there. Figuring out who to reach out to and what to let go of. It’s hard! And it got very very off course this year in a lot of ways. I have a tendency to drop and walk away if a relationship is hurting too much, sometimes that’s the right choice and then there are others where I wonder if I should have fought a little harder. And could those ever be restored? Should they be? Does the other person want it to be? These are the questions that can drive you crazy. So I’ll try to sum it up by saying I want to be a better friend, daughter, all around family member (whatever that encompasses, sister, in-laws what have you).

In conjunction with the above: I want to have more people over. This is another tough one for me. Two parts make it tough – actually putting myself out there to invite someone. And trying not to act like a psycho about cleaning and cooking before said person arrives. I’m not great at either. I stress out about it a lot. A lot. But that doesn’t make our home any warmer or more hospitable. So I need to push myself harder to make connections with people and actually invite them into my home.

I would like to travel more. T and I have talked about some big plans for a long time. But we’ve never actually sat down and tried to put it into action. It’s always been more of “wouldn’t it be fun to do ___ some day??” so maybe this year with be the “some day” we actually make it happen. This kind of ties into budget but I will leave it in its own category :)

Finish (or heck… START) some house projects. I really like our house, but it has its things that need updating or repairs. I like to spend a lot of time talking about what those things are, so now it’s time to try to make it happen. We got off to a good start this weekend by finally fixing/updating the shower fixtures in both bathrooms. They had been dripping and crappy for a long time so this is progress!! Partially inspired by the fact the a couple of out-of-town friends will be coming for visits in the next couple of months but still… Progress.

I think I will think on my goals some more and maybe do a follow-up post… I’m running out of creative juices at the moment.

Happy New Year!!

Christmas Tamales

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We decided to try making tamales this year!

My husband’s family makes tamales every year around Christmas time. This is one of my husbands favorite traditions that his family has and I will admit that I have come to love it too. We aren’t able to be with them for Christmas this year and are missing out on their Christmas Eve celebration so! We decided we would attempt to make our own in an attempt to spice up our own Christmas Eve dinner. They usually do pork tamales with a red sauce but we put our own spin on it and did chicken with a green sauce. This is admittedly the super simplified, possibly cheater version but the results were tasty. We made enough to get a few rounds in the freezer and give some away. The plan is to have tamales and posole for Christmas Eve dinner just the two of us. I’m looking forward to the good food and Christmas movies snuggled up on the couch!

Here’s some photos of the process we used to make the tamales:

Rotisserie chicken is the start to this cheater version!

Rotisserie chicken is the start to this cheater version!

Cut the chicken apart as usual.

Cut the chicken apart as usual.

Shred the chicken

Shred the chicken

We soaked these corn husks in hot water in a clean sink for 2 hours before using.

We soaked these corn husks in hot water in a clean sink for 2 hours before using.

We mixed up our chicken with a store bought green sauce we really like.

We mixed up our chicken with a store bought green sauce we really like.

Here's the masa mix. Blended with water and a little vegetable shortening.

Here’s the masa mix. Blended with water and a little vegetable shortening.

Spreading the masa on a corn husk.

Spreading the masa on a corn husk.

Add the chicken.

Add the chicken.

Start rolling.

Start rolling.

Keep rolling.

Keep rolling.

Final tuck.

Final tuck.

Final product.

Final product.

It makes a lot! This is just part of the batch.

It makes a lot! This is just part of the batch.

We steamed ours for about 90 minutes per dozen. Worth the wait! We like to crisp ours up in a pan afterwards, mm!

We steamed ours for about 90 minutes per dozen. Worth the wait! We like to crisp ours up in a pan afterwards, mm!

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Wally’s contribution.

Merry Christmas!

Merry December?

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Look! Photo proof that we got the Christmas stuff up on December 1st! This has not always been the case so it’s probably best to document this…

Thanksgiving came and went it a whirlwind. All that prep and you end up stuffed after 20 minutes. Ridiculous. I mean it was delicious and I would make it all again, but still. It’s exhausting.

We did venture out for a little Black Friday shopping lazy person style. We hit up Costco (which did not even open until 9am haha) and scored the food processor we’d had our eye on. Then cruised on over to Home Depot to pick up some drills and such for T. Walked into Target and walked out with just some Dunkin Doughnuts apple pie coffee, as the non-coffee person at our house I can’t decide if that sounds terrible or delicious. We stopped into PetSmart to get a new cat tower for our fur children and a dog car seat. Don’t judge me, it’s adorable and functional ;) T talked me into going to the Sportsman’s Warehouse but they were pretty well picked over by the time we got there. All in all it was a pretty good haul with minimal crowd interaction, that’s all I could ask for.

The rest of the weekend has been pretty lazy. Getting a few chores done, visiting with grandma, and getting the Christmas stuff up. We’re so exciting around these parts!

I feel a little sad this holiday season. I mean, I am mostly able to focus on the food, decorating and picking out gifts for people. But there is a twinge of bittersweet mixed in. I have a pretty good idea as to why but I just have to wonder why it is suddenly hitting me so hard. Blah. Why can’t life and the people in it go together as hoped for? That’s one “grown up” area I am not a fan of.

Anyway. I will try not to focus on the negative and instead leave you with these photographic gems.

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~E

I Am Thankful For…

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This is probably going to be cheesy but what can I say? I have the holiday warm fuzzies and they need to be shared somewhere.

The past couple of years have been one gigantic roller coaster. Does anyone else have a life like that? It seems like every time we have balanced out and were making strides something completely unforeseen and (seemingly) catastrophic would come and knock us on our tails. It’s just been a crazy 5 years of togetherness for my husband and I. I can’t help but be a little jealous when I see newlyweds whose lives appear to be going smoothly. But now that some of the smoke has cleared and I am hopefully growing a little wiser as I grow older (emphasis on a little) I can see the benefit of things not going as planned.

For one thing it has pushed me to my knees. God’s usually the first thing that gets pushed to the wayside when things are going well. I am not proud of that but it is the honest truth. When things are going terribly it just feels natural to scream out for help, but when it’s all coming up roses it’s really easy to just move on and forget.

Secondly, it’s helped me to know and trust my husband. I mean, you always think you know someone you are in a relationship with long enough. But let me tell you there is nothing like a good old fashioned crisis to really make you both show your stripes. It hasn’t all been glow-y and peachy. I have had more than my fair share of ugly moments. Overall, I can see that in hindsight it’s really shaped our relationship for the better. I know that we can handle the hard stuff and still come out on the other side, holding hands and marveling at the crap tornado we just walked through.

It’s teaching me that things are just things. Stuff is nice but there is so much that is not necessary to life and happiness. It can’t buy a good relationship and it usually doesn’t give you the memories you love the most. When you are dealing with unemployment it really brings that into focus. You have to be quite a bit more purposeful with your money and life choices. It kind of brings into perspective how frivolous I can get when we are both gainfully employed.

It is showing me that it’s ok to roll with the punches sometimes. I am a born planner. I am convinced I entered the world pre-wired to want to know where I am going, what time and with whom before I will agree to anything. It has its advantages (and it makes me pretty good at my job) but when your life starts unravelling it can make you feel like it’s the end of the friggin’ world. No amount of lists or appointments will factor in all that life has in store. Murphy’s Law is not just for us cynical Irish people. So panic attacks aside… I think I have gotten a smidge more flexible in the process and a little better at revamping my carefully laid plans at a moment’s notice. I still don’t like it though ;)

It’s taught me the value of relationships. The people who are going to be there to see you through the hard stuff. It’s not always who you think, as in it’s not always your blood family. I am fortunate that my mom and dad have always come along side us, but I am overwhelmingly surprised by the friends and loved ones who have come out of the woodwork when it really counted. I get a little misty eyed when I stop and think about all the moments we received help and love without having to ask for it. Those are the people who are keepers. I firmly believe we build our own families and that love is what is actually thicker than blood.

So in the holiday spirit of Thankfulness, those are the top things I am thankful for. If we have to muscle through the pain and angst that sometimes overcomes us in life, I am glad there are often life lessons to be gleaned from those experiences. I can’t say I hope we keep going through hard times, but I do hope we never stop growing. I hope these experiences foster compassion and understanding in our hearts and that we would be able to reach out to others the way people have reached out to us when we were down on our luck.

<3

Stuff and More

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I am not feeling particularly inspired or witty with my blog title today. To say the least. Maybe I can find some obscure song lyric next time ;)

The week before a vacation always feels crazy long, and the past week was no exception. I keep forgetting that I took this coming week off from work and getting waves of Sunday blues. It always feels like homework night, or something. Anyhoo!

Grandma finally made it in. There were silly flight cancellations/delays because it was RAINING in Vegas of all things. People who have never lived here can’t fully understand how stupid desert residents act the moment moisture hits the ground. The airport was not immune to this madness and thus they cancelled her flight the first night and delayed it by almost three hours the next. It was threatening my previously warm feelings towards rain, so it was fortunate it got worked out.

We’ve got another test pie in the oven. I am feeling much more optimistic about this one. For one thing there are not whole lemons being tossed into it and for another there’s something that sounds really heavenly about apple, cranberry and raspberries. Using this as our base recipe: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/cranberry-raspberry-pie-50400000131112/ . We (well.. Tyson..) made our own crust and used a little more fruit because our pan seemed slightly bigger than the dimensions described in the recipe. It smells wonderful so I am crossing my fingers that this is the one.

We’re thinking of roasting some baking pumpkins we have on hand and trying a gingerbread pumpkin pie. It just sounds right, doesn’t it?

I was on a major “get all the things done” kick this fall. So that means I’ve been trying to getting a little Christmas shopping done every weekend since October hit. I think we’ve made a pretty decent dent in our list but in the back of my mind I know I still have to shop for T. I don’t know about everyone else but I put a lot more pressure on myself when it comes to him. I mean, I always try to think about the other person when I shop but there’s just something about my husband that makes me want to go that extra mile. So I am struggling a little to find that one special thing. The goofy or fun stuff isn’t so hard but we usually try to get one gift that is either a surprise or something the other person wants but never justifies buying for themselves. Or both. So I am it serious brain storming mode.

I can’t believe Thanksgiving is almost upon us! I’ve been planning and making lists (as I mentioned… crazed kick) but now it’s here and I am feeling a teensy bit anxious that it will not come together quite the way I’ve been imagining. I guess it wouldn’t really be a holiday if there wasn’t at least a little room for something bizarre to happen.

Is anyone else addicted to Mod Cloth? I ordered a swim suit from them earlier this year and have been in love ever since. Some of their stuff is pricey and out of the question but that doesn’t stop me from drooling and making wish lists.

I am tempted to attempt a couple of stores for Black Friday. I can’t be bothered to go in the middle of the night or get up super early (and don’t get me started on the stores that have decided to open up on Thanksgiving…) but I might hit some stores close to us. It seems like Home Depot and Lowes have decent stuff without the massive rush. T hit Bass Pro last year with success but he knew exactly what he wanted and was in and out. Apparently it was pandemonium in the rest of the store. We’ll see! A lot of it depends on whether or not T has the day off, I can’t see me braving the crowds by myself.

Well, the pie is done so I will close for now.

Until Later.

E

From the Great Beyond

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The Angry Irish Woman lives! Er… Well we’re all alive and kicking over here anyway. Serves me right making grand promises of regular updates – I should know by now that it is a recipe for getting overwhelmed by life or just plain writers block.

I thought about scrapping this blog and starting fresh with a new name and a new outlook. But that made me feel kind of sad somehow. So for now I will stick with this and see what comes of it.

Well it’s been 7 months so maybe I will just give a synopsis of life as we know it here in the T&E household.

When I last updated I had quit my job and had no firm plans in place. I had put a few feelers out there but figured meh, job hunting can be such a beast maybe it will be MONTHS before I get another job. Well no. It was maybe a month or two of sweet, unemployed bliss.

Since then T and I have both procured new jobs. T went back to sheet metal after a long (economy related) break from it and I started working for a company that assembles and maintains cell towers.

The fun (or not so much) part about construction is that it is still wildly unstable in our town, despite gaining a lot of ground in the past year. So T’s company saw all it’s work dry up much faster than anticipated. Well shoot. Fortunately he went back to work for a new company after about a month of knocking on every door/window we could find. Life and construction are doing their best to teach me how to be flexible. That is for darn sure.

We temporarily lost our minds and got a puppy…

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Ignore the weird face she’s making here. Getting spayed makes you feel funky. Her name is Sookie. She’s about three months old in this picture and she’s about six months old now. She’s a mutt we got from a local adoption place here in town. The vet seems to think she favors the small Terrier breeds but which one (or how many) is kind of a mystery. She doesn’t seem like she will get to be more then about 15 pounds or so. Itty bitty. The cats aren’t thrilled but it helps that they can overtake her when she pushes her luck too far. She likes to think she’s a lap dog, whether you invite her or not. Overall, she’s a really sweet, mellow dog with a stubborn streak. So she fits in just fine around these parts.

In August we took a weeks vacation back to my home town area in Northern California. We’d never taken such a long trip together but it was AMAZING. We drove our own vehicle up there and rented a little apartment. We got a chance to chill and sight see but also visit with lots and lots of great friends and family. I love the life we’ve built here in Vegas but some part of me can’t help but day dream about a day where we move back up there. It’s crazy expensive with no obvious job leads (yet) but that really doesn’t factor into my day dreams.

October was the month where all the illness I had thus far avoided for the entire year decided to tackle me and ruin my week(s). Fortunately, T had little to no symptoms of either bout of sickness so at least one of us was functioning. I couldn’t help being jealous of his obviously superior immune system and wonder where I went wrong. I’m sure stress had a lot to do with it and maybe a little my so very thoughtful co-workers who keep coming into work sick. Ugh. Hopefully we are done with all that for a good long while.

Thanksgiving is nearly upon us so I have been doing my best to prep for that for the past few weeks. Making lists, buying/making what we can ahead of time etc. This year we decided to go with a fresh turkey. I have never done this before so I’ll have to update with the results but after doing a little research it seemed like the best option. We decided to hit up this local butcher place called The Butcher Block ( http://www.thebutcherblocklv.com/home.php?xid=ff480e130ccd59b7f1577f597fe8a1c5 ) they were super helpful and informative. We ended up buying a bag of their jalapeno bacon to try. Let me just say… It was fantastic and I am now contemplating the many ways I could work it into various recipes as an unexpected flavor boost. We’ve been trying to get more local with the stuff we buy and eat – which isn’t always easy but we’re getting better at it!

Thanksgiving also means getting the house ready for company and the impending cooking explosion. This isn’t always easy when you’re working full time (and admittedly super lazy) and have a puppy who is taking her sweet time learning to take her bathroom business outside (did I mention terriers are stubborn?). We’re getting there though and hopefully it will just be a matter of maintaining now. My grandma will be in town for a week so I know I will be glad I got this stuff done and over with ahead of time.

I’m looking forward to hanging out with family and trying my hand at a few cooking adventures. We started testing out some new pie recipes the past couple of weekends. Thank God we did because I had picked out a recipe for a new kind of lemon pie that calls for using most of the lemon. Sounds harmlessly delicious on the surface but oh dear lord we were not prepared for the flavor and texture that awaited us upon first bite. Maybe we just aren’t true lemon lovers but the choking and spitting that resulted made me VERY glad I had not put it on the table at Thanksgiving unawares.

Alright, well I think that is probably plenty of wordage for one post. Fingers crossed that I will not fade into oblivion once more and will return with more pictures and maybe not so many words next time.

Dinner preparations call!

Until Later.

E

3/25/13

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So here’s what I’ve decided to start reading up on now that I have some free time on my hands.

I bought this book yesterday. Obviously not all of this is practical when you live in the suburbs of Vegas but hey. There is still a lot that applies and it’s all pretty interesting. I’m not sold enough to create my own composting toilet but I like talking about it for the shock value, ha!