Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Fear & Hope




So if you don't know me, well you missed my announcement that I have a little jellybean on the way!!!  It's so exciting, and will lead to lots of DIY posts as I put together the nursery, as well as mommyhood posts (sorry, it can't be avoided).  Blogging has clearly not been a priority, and the best I can promise at this point is sporadic posts, but there will be posts!

One of the reasons blogging has been such a low priority is that my first trimester was really hard.  When I say that a lot of people assume I mean that I had horrible morning sickness, a la Duchess Catharine, but no, it was much more terrifying than that.  My first trimester was full of fear.  I'm hoping that by sharing my experience I can help support and encourage other first time mothers experiencing similar complications, and to provide hope that things can still be ok despite how bad they might look at the moment.

My husband and I were so excited when we found out, albeit a little surprised due to a false negative test a few days earlier.  We were also cautious, that's just how we are, but overall we really assumed things would be great with no issues.  I am healthy, I exercise, eat well, I'm not yet at advanced maternal age, on the outside one would assume I would have a textbook, easy pregnancy.

Well, a few days in I experienced some light spotting.  It was disconcerting, but I already knew that some spotting is common, my bigger concern was whether it would be a sign of more things to come.  I called my doctor's office the next day and they said it sounded within a safe and normal range, but if it increased to call back.  Things went great for about a week, and then on a Sunday, Mother's Day to be exact, I experienced even more spotting that just didn't stop all day. The on-call doctor told me to call my doctor's office in the morning, which I did and my doctor told me to come in the afternoon for a quick check (the spotting had not stopped yet). 

At the office I received my first ultrasound, which showed things to be looking good, yay!  Although I was measuring behind their estimate so another ultrasound was scheduled for the following week.  The next week we went in, spotting had continued throughout, and more good news, the baby was growing on track compared to the previous scan with a heartbeat!  My doctor located an area that he believed the spotting to be coming from, and indicated that it was not impacting the baby, more good news!  At this point he informed me that he no longer does OB care and I would need to find an OB for the rest of the pregnancy.

After 2 1/2 weeks of continuous spotting, it finally stopped.  This was a huge relief for me, I figured everything would be great now.  I had my first OB appointment scheduled in 3 weeks, so all seemed to be back on track and going well again.  A week later I was at work, I got up and went to the bathroom and discovered a lot of blood and I noticed I has having minor cramps.  Visibly shaking I told my boss I needed to call my doctor and leave.  She was wonderful and found a private place for me to call my doctor and started trying to call a cab to come pick me up.  One the most frustrating parts of this particular experience was that I didn't know which doctor to call, my GYN doesn't do OB, and I hadn't seen my OB yet.  So I called my GYN's office first, well at 8 weeks they would no longer see me, end of story.  So I called my OB's office and spoke with the nurse triage line.  I explained that my GYN's office wouldn't see me, but that I hadn't actually seen my OB yet, so I was told to go to the ER.

I got into a cab and my husband met me at the ER where he already had my check-in process started.  Once at the ER I began to pass small clots as well.  I will be honest, at this point I truly believed it was all over and my hope was starting to fade.  It was a very long 6 hours total in the ER, but the early news was actually looking promising, the part that took so long was waiting for the ultrasound that would be able to detect if there was still a heartbeat.  Finally we reached that moment, and my husband and I both held our breath, at first we could see  the baby, but we didn't see the flicker of a heart beating, and then a few seconds later it was there!  I have never felt more relief and happiness in my entire life, I started bawling right then there and the tech had to ask me to calm down so I could stay still for the rest of the scan.  When I left the ER the diagnosis I received was a threatened abortion, and the bleeding was coming from around the placenta.  The doctors informed me that statistically the odds at miscarriage at that point with the bleeding were 50/50, although all of my results were very encouraging.  This was tough news to swallow, but my husband and I left feeling very hopeful and knowing we've got a tough little jellybean growing.

I continued spotting after that incident for several days, but eventually it stopped.  A week and a half after my ER visit I had my first appointment with my OB.  It went great, we could actually see arms and legs and the little one even swam around for us, beyond amazing.  I was given the news that everything looked really good and I could start resuming normal activities, at this point I had been on exercise restriction for about 5 weeks.  We were both so excited and felt so much relief, unfortunately it was short lived.

Just 2 hours after getting home from my OB appointment, as we were deciding what special thing we wanted to do celebrate the great news, I again went to the bathroom only discover lots of blood and large clots.  The first though in my head was "This can't be happening," we had JUST seen a healthy wiggly baby a few hours earlier.  Of course it was just late enough that the doctor's office was closed, so we had to call for the on-call doctor.  Unfortunately, for some reason the on-call doctor never returned the call, luckily we have a wonderful friend who is an OB who happily talked to us on the phone and explained what we needed to watch for for the rest of the night to determine if the ER was necessary, and otherwise we could wait and call the office in the morning.  So we ended up waiting until the morning.

I called the office immediately when their phone lines opened and was told to come in right away and they would do a scan for me.  I'll be honest, I was less concerned that we were losing at this point because of the previous scan, I was more worried about what kept causing these incidents.  The scan again showed a healthy baby, and this time the tech did a thorough search and discovered 3 sub-chorionic hemorrhages.  These were explained to me as bleeding that occurs between the placenta and the uterus.  The doctor explained that there is nothing that can prevent these from occurring (and nothing I did that caused them), and there is no way to treat them, the only cure is time.  I was told to try and take things easy and that my first trimester screening would also be an opportunity to reevaluate the bleeding, but to call back if another incident occurred.

I had two more incidents before my first tri screening, but luckily the hemorrhages have now completely healed, and I have been incident free for the longest stretch since 5 weeks into the pregnancy (I'm 15 now).  I am now able to begin exercising once again and I finally feel like I can fully enjoy this pregnancy and be safely excited about everything yet to come.

My first trimester was full of fears, but my husband really helped me hold onto hope which got me through the worst days.  Going through so much so early on helped us both develop a deep attachment to this baby very quickly.  The experience also put a lot of things into a whole new perspective for me.  There are so many things that I normally can get stressed or upset about day to day, but none of those things can hold a candle to the importance of having a healthy baby, and facing the fear that you may be losing that baby just shows you how trivial all of those other "important" things are.

My goal for the rest of this pregnancy is to try and be present in each moment, and to cherish each experience as much as possible.  I feel like I owe that to myself, my husband, my baby, and especially to everyone out there who has had a similar experience and maybe didn't have the happy outcome I have.  I am lucky, and I know this and I appreciate it.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

"Might I have bit of Earth"

One of my favorite childhood books is The Secret Garden.  As I was recently rereading it (it's still as good at 29 as it was at 10) I kept thinking about how much I wish I could have a place to grow some plants of my own.  I unfortunately do not have any outdoor space, no balcony, no outdoor window sills, nada.  I have looked into community gardens in my area, and well, the waitlists are years long.  So for the past several years I just haven't had any plants, but I am determined to change this in the new apartment.  While my outdoor space situation won't be changing, I have come to the opinion that I just don't care, I can still grow some things indoors.  In past apartments I have managed to grow some potted herbs, and I really love being able to just pick some fresh basil or rosemary as I cook.  And while my track record with basil is less than stellar, I always end up accidentally letting it flower thus killing the plant, it is actually cheaper to buy a whole new basil plant than it is to buy just a few leaves at the store. So I am currently brainstorming some ways to grow a few plants by the window, without completely blocking the light or making a jungle in that area.  Here are some images that have my mind thinking.


Vegetable Garden Tips
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I love how there are several plants here, but it doesn't look wild.  I also adore the rustic style of the table.

Home: Eleven Creative Indoor Gardens
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What indoor garden would be complete without succulents?  I really like the use of unique planters here and the colors of the succulents chosen.
 
Indoor garden
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So this little indoor garden is using Ikea step-stools, so creative!  It's clean, simple, and has a bit of rustic vibe. Plus, these stools are real wood so they can be restained!



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I really want to be able to grow my own food, sadly without an outdoor area it is very difficult to do.  This fact doesn't stop me from dreaming about it, though. Who knows, maybe if I have success with some herbs and small flowering plants I might just attempt some vegetables in doors.

I promise to share what I decide to do once I'm moved and have my "bit of Earth" started.

Do you have an indoor container garden?  What do you grow, do you have any tips to share?




Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Transitions

Hi everyone! I know, I know, it's been almost an entire month since the last post. Life has been insanely hectic, and I will be honest it's not going to slow down much in the coming weeks. Some good news is that my photography business has had a tremendous start. The support and encouragement from everyone has been more than I could have dreamed of. I've also already surpassed my super low ball goal for the first year, so things can only go up from here. As a result my free time is currently full of sessions and editing, not much time for blogging. In addition, I don't have many new projects to share right now because my apartment is full of moving boxes! Yup, my husband and I are moving into a new apartment soon!

Now we're not cool enough to be buying something, and we're not moving across country or anything, in fact we're only moving 5 floors, but we will have a bigger space! So for now DIYing is on hold, HOWEVER this means I will soon have a whole new space to decorate! I fully intend to get back on the DIY train after the move which will hopefully get me back on the blogging train.

I don't want to make promises I can't keep, so all I will say is that the blog isn't dead, but posting will be sporadic for a little longer. I will also add that with all of the transitions happening in my life, professionally and living space wise, the tone of the blog might shift a little. I'm in a much more DIY, artsy, decorating frame of mind these days so don't be surprised to see more content along those lines when I do post. Thank you for those who continue to read and bare with me while I learn to juggle so many things. And here are a few iPhone photos to share some things I've been up to over the last month (and yes, some formatting is wonky here, but that's blogger sometimes).



Getting some inspiration and brainstorming ideas for some upcoming photo sessions with a cute new notebook from Paper Source


I might be 29 years old, but I still love to dye Easter eggs



 



After some brainstorming I finally figured out some packaging and branding for the photography business. 




My new favorite magazine, Click, check it out








Editing some lovely, sweet newborn photos



Continuing my knitting and crochet hobbies when time permits


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wednesday Perk - Hair Raising

I am generally a product loyalist.  This means that when I find something that works I stick with it until it no longer works for me, which is usually many years.  As  result I don't have experience with many different brands so I'm not great at comparing.  However I figured I should start giving reviews of the brands and products I do love.  I'm actually going to start with a new discovery.  I get samples through Birchbox (check it out if you haven't heard of it), and having very fine, limp hair I have been looking for a product to help add body and volume for years, with little success.  This past month my Birchbox included a sample of Ojon Volume Advance Thickening Spray, and oh my I am in LOVE!

Ojon Volume Advance Thickening Spray
This is the first product I have ever found that actually adds volume and body to my hair, without too much build-up or weighing it down.  Because my hair is so thin and fine it gets weighed down very easily.  Other volumizing or thickening products leave my hair either greasy and dirty looking, or sticky, and they never actually give my hair any lift.  With this, all I do is spray a few spritzes all over my hair just before blow drying, and then I dry and style as usual.  It gives my hair a little extra body and bounce that I just don't have naturally.  It's a natural amount of volume, we're not talking Adele hair here, but it is definitely a difference.  I've already ordered a full size bottle, I love it that much.  If you have fine, thin hair like I do, I recommend giving this spray a try, I doubt you'll regret it.

What's your favorite volumizer?  Do you have any other recommendations to try?


Monday, March 4, 2013

Monday Moodlifter - To A Tee!

I do love pretty clothes, and I enjoy dressing up for work during the week.  However, come the weekend I have to admit that my basic look consists of t-shirts and jeans.  I do add various accessories like cardigans, fun earrings, or sometimes a long necklace, but in general I stick with my comfortable cotton uniform.  This time of year, with spring oh so close, is when I like to stock up on new, basic tees in fun colors.  So here are the styles and colors i'm looking for this year.



Loft Sunwashed Tee

Some of my favorite tees come from Loft.  They are inexpensive, wear well, and come in so many colors.  I love this pinkish red color in the sunwashed v-neck style.  It's bright and cheery.

Loft Sunwashed Tee

See, I told you the Loft tees are my favorite.  And yes, this is simply the exact same tee as above in a different color.  I really like this green and it's a color my current collection is lacking.

GAP Rugby Stripe Roll-Sleeve Tee

 While I do like bright solid colors, I also love a good stripe.  This rugby stripe tee with the yellow and grey is perfect.

J.Crew Vintage Cotton Tee
There is something about a bright yellow shirt, be it a tee or a sweater.  I don't think I could ever wear a shirt this color and not be happy, it just brightens up a room in fun way.

Loft Linen Tee
Bright colors are obviously my favorite, however I do appreciate a softer look as well.  This pale pink in a linen material is feminine without being too little girlish.

What's your favorite basic outfit?  Are you a t-shirt and jeans girl like myself, or do you prefer to dress up or down a little more?





Monday, February 25, 2013

Monday Moodlifter - Clutch Me Close

*** The East Coast Creative contest is still going on, please go here and click on entry #200, you can click more than once if you really want to, and if you're feeling super generous take another second to click on entry #214 for my friend over at Gypsy Soul***

I promise things will begin to get back to normal posting around here, although there might be times when things pick up too much and posts will slow down again.  That's the unfortunate price for not being able to just be a full time photographer and blogger, a girl can dream though.  One thing that has not stopped during this little posting interlude, spring catalogs are flooding my mailbox.   It is depressing, I admit, to see the beautiful warm weather fashions and then step out the door to blistering cold wind.  However, I have noticed a fun, colorful trend this year that doesn't depend on the temperature, clutches!  I'm seeing them all over the catalogs, in fun bright styles.  Here are my five favorites of the moment, I hope they brighten your cold Monday!


Ann Taylor Envelope Clutch
I love the bright cobolt and aqua in this two tone clutch.  It's so cheery, if you're stuck wearing a boring black winter coat, at least you can carry this in your hand to stand out a little.

Ann Taylor Foldover Napa Leather Clutch
 I really enjoy foldover clutches, they seem to have more space than the envelope style.  This is a beautiful aqua color that could be a fun pop of color next to any other color you decide to wear.

LL Bean Signature Heritage Leather Clutch
 I know, you're thinking "LL Bean?", but yes.  If you haven't yet checked out their Signature Collection, you are missing out.  While not everything is my style, there are a number of lovely, quality pieces.  I have one of these Heritage clutches, although mine is a combination leather and denim (no longer available apparently).  I love this bright red leather, it has me thinking about 4th of July BBQs already.
GAP Leather Envelope Clutch
Despite being a bit of a girly girl, I actually don't love wearing a lot of pink.  I do enjoy a nice pink accessory though, and this neon clutch would be a perfect touch of pink.
Banana Republic Patent Clutch
 I saved the best for last, this is definitely my favorite of the bunch.  It looks like mint is going to be just as popular this year as it was in 2012, which I love.  It's a bright, fresh color, and this clutch combines it with patent leather, a to.die.for. combination in my book.

Are you just as ready for spring and warm weather as I am?  What are you most excited for when the season finally changes?








Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Following Dreams

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Yesterday was the last holiday until Memorial day comes in May, man that's a long stretch of no breaks.  Instead of quickly throwing a blog post together, I decided to use the day to relax a little, at least that was my original plan.  I started my morning by working on my photography website, I had set a deadline to have it ready to launch by this coming Friday.  I have been working on this website, and the blog component that goes with it for about 3 weeks now.  After an hour or two of work yesterday morning I looked it over and realized that it was done!  So, being the impatient person that I am I launched everything early yesterday afternoon.  Yes, Heather Raeburn Photography LLC is up and running!  It's a dream come true for me. 

I'm still scared and nervous about failing, but honestly I am also really proud of myself for trying.  I took the time to inventory my life and figure out what seemed to be missing, and rather than just sitting back and wishing, I've turned a big dream into a reality.  I am so excited to be on this journey now, I can't wait to see where it takes me.

If you are interested you can check out the website at www.heatherraeburnphotography.com.  Also, Skillets.Sneakers.Style has it's own Facebook page, go like it to keep up to date with posts.

Also, don't forget to go over to East Coast Creative and click on entry #200 (you can do this more than once), and if you're feeling really into showing some blog love also give a click to entry #214 for my friend over at Gypsy Soul.

So now, I encourage all of you to figure out what you really want in life and then go make it happen!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Southwest Turkey Burgers

***Don't forget to go to East Coast Creative and click on entry number 200!  You can click more than once.***



The first time I ever tried making turkey burgers was honestly less than great, the burgers came out dry and tasteless.  I wanted a burger, but I wanted it to be light and lean.  So, not knowing what I was doing I just bought some ground turkey, and made simple burger patties out of it and cooked them in a pan on the stove top, exactly the way I would have cooked a ground beef burger.  That right there was the mistake, because turkey is so lean and needs to be cooked all the way through all of the fat cooks out long before it's done drying out the final product.  It was a long time before I was willing to try again, but eventually I searched around the Internet and realized I needed to find a way to add moisture and flavor and eventually I developed this recipe.

I know some people really don't like looking at raw poultry, especially in ground form so there aren't as many pictures with this recipe.  Also, you will notice sweet potato fries on the plate in the pictures, I am still perfecting that recipe so I'm not sharing it today, but eventually I will I promise.

Ingredients:

1lb Ground Turkey Meat (I buy 99% lean)
1 Small Onion
2-3 Tbs Chunky Salsa (make sure it's a chunky kind and that it's fairly wet)
Chili Powder
2 Tbs Olive Oil

Step 1:
Dice the small onion.  Make a well in the center of the ground turkey, add the onion and salsa, mix together.  The mixture will be fairly mushy.  Form the mixture into patties, for 1lb of meat I make 4 patties.  Dust both sides of the patties with the chili powder.

Step 2:
Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Once heated add the patties.  Cook on one side until sides begin to firm, flip.  Continue cooking for several minutes on each side and flipping.  To cook all the way through takes about 20-30 minutes.


Once done serve up and enjoy!!


Do you have a favorite turkey burger recipe?  Have you perfected sweet potato fries?



Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

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Happy Valentine's Day from Skillets.Sneakers.Style!!

Since today is all about showing love I'm going to ask you all to do me a little favor and show some love for me over at East Coast Creative.  I've entered the Creating with the Stars contest using my desk chair make-over as my entry.  They pick 12 contestants and pair each one up with a star blogger (please Sherry please!) and they all compete over 4 weeks to see who is the most creative, fun right!  One of these 12 contestants is chosen by popularity, so if you like this blog and if you were as impressed with that chair makeover as I was myself, please click here and scroll down to entry number 201 and just click on the entry, that's all you have to do!

Unfortunately because of the little post hiatus I had to take, I was not able to do a post of V-day gift ideas in time for it to be useful (so sorry).  However I figured the least I can do is give a few little shout outs to the sellers I purchased my gifts for my husband from.  Valentine's day is not a big deal in our house, we are definitely one of those couples that prefers small gestures throughout the year over large once in a while acts.  We don't completely ignore this day though, we just like to keep our gifts small and sweet or funny.  Maybe it's because I'm in the process of starting my own small business, but this year I decided to avoid the big name retailers and instead looked for special and unique items from small businesses.  Also being someone who prefers to shop online, Etsy became the perfect option to accomplish this goal.  I knew the theme of item I was looking for (we're opening presents tonight so I can't spill the beans quite yet), so I simply typed it into the search and scrolled through all of the items that popped up until I found the ones that spoke to me.


KBPaperCreations

The first seller I came across that piqued my interest was KBPaperCreations.  She makes custom note pads, recipe cards, and paper mobiles.  While a lot of items in her shop lean towards the feminine side, she has a few that I knew would definitely appeal to my husband.  Since I don't want to spoil what I bought I'll share a couple of her other items I really enjoy, and with birthdays coming up these could turn into some more great gift ideas.

I'm at that point in life where friends are having babies left and right and this sweet little mobile, which comes in different colors would the perfect baby shower gift.


Paper Bird Mobile
I love cooking and finding new recipes but I have a horrible habit of writing them down on random scraps of paper that I stuff into a folder, cute recipes cards like these would go a long way to help improve my current system.

Hand Stamped Recipe Cards
JWCDesigns
The next seller I found that caught my eye was Minimalist Art by JWCDesigns.  According to his Etsy site he is based out of Portland, OR, which was a sign that I was meant to find his shop because despite living in DC the dream of the 90's is more than alive in our home.  Jason's art is amazing, he has combined classic fandom icons with stylish design.  In fact, I fell so in love with the set of prints I found that I was worried my husband might not like them, so I actually emailed the link to him to check.  Since he already knows what these are I'll go ahead and share with you too.

Star Trek Minimalist Prints
I know these aren't everyone's cup of tea, but my husband loves Star Trek and I love the simple design and colors used in the background.  Also they seem to be of pretty high quality for a really reasonable price.  Now the only question will be where to put them.

DingbatPress

Lastly, I found the perfect letterpress card at DingbatPress.  I love letterpress and I love the quirky designs DingbatPress pairs with the style.  There are cards, prints and other cute items available with letterpress printed designs, including the cute print below (which is not what I purchased this time).

When You Know Letterpress Print

How do you celebrate Valentine's Day?  Do you make it a big deal or do you keep it low key?




Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wednesday Perk - Flat Out

Yes!  The blog is back!!  I am not completely done preparing to open up my business, but I'm close enough that I can come back and restart the blogging!  So here's a Wednesday Perk post to start us back.  This past weekend I was at a lovely wedding.  I am lucky enough to have a few different dresses to rotate for weddings throughout the year, complete with shoes and accessories, making picking an outfit a snap.  So I picked out my chiffon wine colored dress, which I usually pair with cute deep purple, patent leather, peep toe heels.  Now, I'll be honest these are not necessarily the most comfortable heels, but I have worn them to many weddings before and managed to power through the night.  I don't know if my feet have changed too much (I have done 3 marathons after all) or what the problem was but I wore these shoes for the ceremony and was so grateful to have a little gap before the reception started because after only an hour or so it was clear my feet would not survive the night.  I was happy to rush back up to my hotel room and congratulated myself for being smart enough to toss my cute gold flats in my bag before leaving, my jewelry was gold so the flats were a perfect switch up.  While maybe not quite as cute as with the heels, no one noticed my change to flats and I was able to dance up a storm with no problem.  So in honor of my realization that heels are just becoming more and more of a pipe dream for my feet, here are some cute flats that will have you looking just as polished, but without the discomfort.


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Nine West Lilboger Flat

Normally I wouldn't gravitate towards a shoe like this, but there is something about these that I am in love with.  The colors seem to be just right.  I love the geometric design on the heel, and how from the front these shoes are so unassuming, but from the back you get a whole different perspective.  These are definitely being added to my spring shopping list.





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Nine West Kilianna Flat

This is the sweetest show I have seen in a long time, but it's done perfectly to keep it mature and not too girly.  I love the patent leather, and the modern looking bow, and the sling back is a fun and different detail.  If you have an Easter gathering coming up these would be perfect.


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Ralph Lauren Abigail II
I am madly in love with the leather detailing on these shoes.  I love the Cognac coloring, and the little golden buckle.  I would definitely pair these with my jeans for casual Fridays, and on weekends to help elevate my casual style.

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Michael Kors Jordana Ballet Flat
Once again, normally I would not expect to like a shoe like these, but there is something about this pair that has me drooling.  The red is a fun and bright pop of color.  To be completely honest though, I would probably remove the little tassel bow.  This is another pair that I would wear with jeans and casual skirts to add a little fun.
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Lucky Brand Peppy

I consider a metallic pair of flats to be an essential wardrobe item, I mean my gold ones saved me at the wedding, but I also just frequently wear them.  The right metallic color will go with anything that you are wearing, and can quickly elevate an outfit from super casual to classy casual.


Have any of you found that your feet don't last as long in heels anymore?  Did you just jump to wearing flats, or are you still trying to stick it out with the heels?



Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Taking A Leap

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First off, major apologies for last week.  We have a goal to have at least 3-4 posts a week, but ideally 5, and last week folks things just weren't happening.  First I (H) was still recovering from the flu, which was horrendous, and M has been extremely busy with work and a new four legged addition to her little family.  Additionally I have to confess that my focus has been directed at a different project I have in the works.  Since this project is going to be taking a lot of my time and energy away from the blog for the next few weeks I figure I owe it you all to share what it is.

To start I want to clarify that I love my day job, and I feel a lot of passion for the work that I do there.  It is beyond amazing to see something you worked so hard to create have a major and meaningful impact on people.  However, it's not all rainbows and sunshine, the industry I work in can eat a person alive.  It can be very demoralizing to spend potentially years devoted to a particular project and in the end watch someone else change all of the work you've done in a way you don't agree with, and yet have no power to change.  After more than 5 years in my industry people are shocked to see that I have somehow still managed to maintain so much optimism and passion, and they want to know how.  My secret is simple though, I leave work at work.  I've spent the past several years devoting my free time to various hobbies, figuring out what else I'm passionate about.  I have many hobbies, I crochet, knit, quilt, cook, DIY, and I adore photography.  I know the photography on the blog so far has been a bit lacking (a new lens should be helping that soon), but to be honest food and project photography are not my strong suit, I love people photography.  Over the past few years I have been doing more and more photography for friends, and this is where my new personal project comes in. 

I have day dreamed about starting my own photography business for awhile, but I've been very scared.  I've been scared that I'm not good enough, of putting myself out there publicly and potentially failing, and just plain scared that other people might see me start my business and laugh at me (crazy I know).  Luckily I have some amazing friends who have been beyond supportive and encouraging, and so yes I am announcing here and now that I am opening my own photography business!  I have registered an LLC for myself, procured my EIN, and will be obtaining my business license at the end of this week!  I am beyond excited about this little adventure, albeit still scared of failing.  I am not quitting my day job though, this will be something on the side just completely for myself, and I like it that way.  This arrangement a) allows me to maintain financial stability, and b) takes some of the pressure off.  If I only book 3 shoots this whole year, it's ok, I won't have to consider that failing, in fact I would call that a huge success.

So why, at 29, with a really good, stable job am I deciding to open my own side business?  Well, basically I don't want to look back on my life in 20 years and think "what if?"  Also, after a lot of introspection and soul searching I eventually realized that my fear of living an incomplete life outweighed my fear of failure, and ultimately that's what this adventure is about, living a complete life and being true to who I am.  I am finally proud to acknowledge that I consider myself a creative person, and if I don't indulge this part of myself I feel an emptiness.  I am tired of daydreaming and I feel ready to take action.  I know there will be bumps along the way, but I also feel confident now that any challenges will be well worth it.  I've also embraced the idea that if I do fail I will still have succeeded because I tried.

So I am now heavily focused on creating my business website and figuring out my branding, and this will take me a little bit of time to get in order.  I will still be posting to the blog, but potentially with a little less frequency for the next few weeks.  And once I launch I promise to include all of you readers in the announcement.  In the meantime, check out the wonderful logo my friend over at gypsysoul created for me!

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Black Bean Diaries - Souper Soup

Both M & H are always looking for quick & easy meals that pack a nutritional punch. We've posted a couple of bean-centric dishes before here and here, but it's cold and rainy this week, so we figured a soup would be the perfect comfort food for a rainy night.  Ohh, and this is probably one of the healthiest  recipes you'll ever make -- you remember that childhood rhyme, beans beans, they're good for your heart.....we'll stop there....moving on...

M assembled this recipe after searching high and low for a black bean soup that had the different flavor layers she was looking for.  The difference in this one over those she'd previously made, is adding tomatoes, avocado & a pinch of nutmeg.  She has to give credit to
Shape Magazine, Runners World, Ina Garten, and many, many others (ahem, Pinterest).  Here's what you do...





Ingredients:

2 cans of black beans, drained
1 yellow onion, peeled & diced into small pieces
5 garlic cloves, crushed, then minced
4 carrots, peeled & chopped into small pieces
1 cup tomatoes, chopped into small pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil

Optional Toppings

avocado, (make sure it's ripe, there's nothing worse than an un-ripe avocado)
red onion
corn bread/any bread really
tortilla chips

Spices:

Paprika - 1 tablespoon
Cumin - 3 tablespoons
Cayanne Pepper - 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon (some like it hot, some don't)
Cinnamon - 1/4 teaspoon
Nutmeg - 1/4 teaspoon
Salt & Pepper - to taste

What you'll need:

Dutch oven or large-ish pot
Cutting board & knives
Peeler
Food processor or blender

Directions:

To cut down on instructions, I listed what you need to do to the fresh ingredients above so that I don't have to list them here.
  
1. Once you've finished slicing and dicing above, slowly heat the olive oil in your dutch oven/large-ish pot until it's hot, add the onions, cook for 2 minutes.

2. Add carrots & garlic to the mixture, cook for another 2 or 3 minutes.

3. Add your spices & tomatoes, and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes until the veggies are soft.


4. Add the black beans to the mixture, then add water to the pot until it reaches about a 1/2 inch above the vegetables.



5. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes covered.  Make sure to check the pot every once in awhile to stir or add more water if necessary.

6. Remove the cover and cook for another 30 minutes.


7. Pour your soup into a blender and pulse until you get a consistency to your liking.


8. Serve in bowls with whatever topping you like, my favorite is with a few slices of avocado and corn bread on the side.  Enjoy!


*Sidenote - I took pictures with my iPhone and unfortunately NONE of the finished product pictures came out good enough to post (lame) so I'll make it again next week and take better pictures, I promise!


Do you have any go-to black bean recipes?


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Green Monstah Juice - Easy & Refreshing

Both H & M like to cook savory, nutritious meals but sometimes we crave something simple and refreshing.  M has been experimenting with green smoothies lately because they're easy to make and loaded with nutrients.  Plus, green smoothies, depending on what you add, can taste *almost* like dessert!

The below recipe is M's favorite combination of fruits and veggies.  After working late, or going to the gym, this juice is the perfect light meal to have when you get home at 8 or 9pm and don't want to eat a huge dinner before going to bed.  Don't let adding veggies scare you, we promise you'll dig this green monster!

Ingredients:
-Cucumber (about 1/2 an english cucumber)
-Spinach (2 cups)
-Celery (2 stalks)
-1 Grapefruit (peeled)
-Frozen Blueberries (1 cup)
-2 Apples (peeled & cored)
-Ice (about 2 cups)
-Water (about 12oz)

Directions:
1. Drop ingredients into blender and puree until smooth. 
2. Pour juice into glasses and serve immediately.  This recipe makes about 4-6 servings, so feel free to refrigerate leftover juice if you aren't going to drink it all.  Just make sure to pulse the juice in the blender for a few seconds before serving after refrigeration. 

This is also a great juice to have in the morning before heading to work, or as a pre-run juice too.  You can substitute kale for spinach or strawberries for blueberries if you want.  Bananas can also be added to thicken the juice so it's more filling.  

Do you have any good smoothie or green juice recipes?