Hey Lou Writes

The Grey Matters


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The ONLY Good Thing About Cold Weather

If you’re from New Mexico then you know what I’m about to say. What sparks the first moment of fall in our hearts? What allows us to think, “Hey, a little chill in the air wouldn’t be so bad?”

That’s right.
GREEN CHILE!!!

green chile, fall in new mexico, friends, writing

oh yeah baby

You buy a giant bag of freshly roasted green chile. You peel them when they’re still warm. You make yourself absolutely sick by eating too much cheese, grilled tortillas and corn, green chile, and by drinking too much (gf!) beer. Yes, this just happened. The stomach ache was worth it.

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peeling

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alex!

green chile, fall in new mexico, friends

corn grilling, check. lots to eat, check. sunset, check. friends, check. beer, check. life is good.

And this, my friends, is the only good thing about cold weather. I would take a good sweaty day, dreaded heat wave, sticky neck…. over being cold. Being too hot doesn’t hurt my bones. It doesn’t make me feel helpless. I never dread opening the door to step outside.

At least there’s green chile and friends.

Oh! And lots of other cool things to do at my house. Liiiiiiiiiiiiike

PICKLING!!!

The harvest is here, folks. We’ve had too much food to eat. That’s a great thing to say. When we had to come up with an idea of how to store the food in a tasty way, I realized I had an excellent problem.

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corn!

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watermlon!

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THIS

I can hear Johnny Cash in my head.

LOOK AT THEM BEANS!!!!!!!!!

And what should you do with excess beans, cucumbers, watermelon rinds, tomatoes, okra, etc?

You can them.

I wish I had pictures of the canning process, but 1) it was too late 2) we were too afraid of the giant pot from hell exploding in the middle of our kitchen and 3) most of the process took both our hands. Maybe once we’re so good at it we don’t need to read the directions (past midnight) every two seconds, I’ll take pictures of the process. For now, I’ll just show you what we wound up with.

green chile, pickling, new mexico

yum!

So with summer drawing to a close, with pain in my heart, I am slightly uplifted because of the canning/pickling we’ve done, the green chile we have to eat, the friends we have to eat it with, and the promise of a cool night with the chiminea lit up in front of us.

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last year, FREEZING, warming up by the chiminea <3

Another thing giving me hope is my other friends. I have them, now, too!

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ahhhh, gotta love it

Love, Lou!!!

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My Lot In Life

Blog Every Day In May Challenge

Day 16, Thursday: Something difficult about your “lot in life” and how you’re working to overcome it

Um, not to sound boastful, but I’m feeling a little bit too lucky when it comes to my “lot in life.”

This is not a blog set up for a whole lot of complaining. 

I have so much (too much?) to be thankful for. Every once in a while I wonder when everything will come crashing down because, jeez, can life really stay this good? And it’s not because Greg and I are making tons of money and buying fancy things. It’s because I’m really learning to love what I am already blessed with.

Here’s a list that may not sound like much to some, but it sounds like a great life to me:

I have….

A sturdy, comfortable house to keep me warm at night. 

A sweet husband who takes care of me in his own way. 

A laptop, and a piece of paper, so I can write.

A bookshelf filled with stories

job with nice coworkers and flexibility.

Little baby chicks

A beautiful and loving family

A body that is able to work outside and go on walks.

A mind to think about fictional stories all day long. 

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see what I mean? Too lucky

Must I go on? 

There was a time when I thought I wanted a lot more. The high school me, who is long gone, wanted to marry rich and drive a super expensive car (I won’t even tell you what type… it’s too embarrassing) and not have to work a day in my life. 

So many things have happened in the last six years to change the core of who I am and what I yearn for. Now, all I want is another warm morning where I can sit outside and the hopes of seeing a new type of bird in my backyard. (Yes, Greg and I are amateur bird watchers.)

Today I’m choosing to be grateful instead of wanting. I am choosing to be content rather than unsettled. I am choosing to go after my dreams rather than a run of the mill life. 

What’s your lot in life? 

Love, Lou 


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Three Lovely Ladies <3

UPDATE!!! CHICKEN COOP IS ALMOST READY!!! 

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I think the chickens will fit…. ;)

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Greg, gettin his drill on

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It was all of a sudden freezing last night! Fun, though…..

I can’t wait for the chickens. They’ll be free range, organic, and completely loved by me. I already have their names picked out (we’re just eating their eggs! not them!) and I’ll post about it when we get them this week…yay

Anyway.

Now, business.

Blog Everyday in May Challenge

Day 5, Sunday: Publicly profess your love and devotion for one of your blogger friends. What makes them great? Why do you love them? If you don’t have blogger friends, talk about a real-life friend or even a family member

Easy! This is an easy blog to do!!

I have three. If I lived in the same place as these fabulous gals, we’d all be in a book club. I’d ask them to join me for coffee (or Earl Grey Tea) at least once a month, and I think we’d all laugh about our funny “I’m married” (or “I’m dating”) stories as well as how much we love to share bits and pieces of our lives with others. (I picture the four of us being friends like the four women in Sex and the City. Is that weird?)

I think you’ll want to be their friends, too!!

First up!!!

Olive Me Post – A Blog By Cindy Johnson

Cindy is a good friend of mine! She is so sweet and encouraging, and even cooler, I actually know her. She was at my wedding, which makes for a special bond that girls will never forget. We’ve laughed together over ridiculous things like barking spiders. We’ve slept in bunk beds together. Memories, oh memories.

But even better than all of that… Cindy is about to be a published author.

Yup! That’s right.

She has accomplished something huge. Cindy is a big inspiration to me and many others. Her faith in God is worth striving for, her kindness is rare, and her ability to write is fantastic. I have literally laughed out loud, gasped in horror and shook my head at her true stories. She’s one of those people who have weird things happen to them all the time. She can’t even go to an airport without something odd taking place.

Cindy has insightful things to say about dating, red flags (hilarious, so hilarious), Halloween, and dreaming big.

Second!!!

JenEric Generation …We Are Far Too Easily Pleased

Jenny Williams (great last name, by the way) was the first blogger to ever reach out to me.

I was SO IMPRESSED with her blog and everything she does on it, I thought only, “Wow, how does that work? How does she do it?”

Jenny is so smart/funny/witty and she always has something important to share with the world. She recently interviewed me and I’ve never felt so honored in my life. We have some common loves:

-C.S. Lewis

-Bald men (okay, we’re not super creepy, we’re both married to bald guys! I just love that!)

Style (though, look at her! she is way more stylish than I’ll ever be.)

-Pretty sketches (I don’t sketch though… only she does ;) )

I owe a lot of any blogging success I might have to her. She’s been willing to answer all of my questions and keep in touch with me as I figure out the internet and blogging in general. So thanks for EVERYTHING, Jenny!

Last But Not Least!!!

The Lady Okie…Planting My Stakes In A Flyover State 

I feel like meeting Amanda, via the blogging world, was completely meant to be. Here’s why:

I said to Greg, “How does a writer find a reputable editor? I’ve googled it and asked around, and I just can’t quite figure it out. Gosh, I really need someone to edit my stuff.”

THEN Amanda, one of the most hilarious and well spoken (well written?) people I’ve ever encountered, and I “met” via blogging. I checked out her page and there it was: my answer. She is a professional freelance editor! Can you believe it? She has already opened my eyes to ways I can improve my writing and she is perfect, just perfect, when it comes to finding errors. I love that.

Some of my favorite blogs of Amanda’s include:

That one time she…..

RAN A MARATHON… no biggie ;)

WENT SKYDIVING… also, no biggie (um, I’ve always wanted to do this.)

WAS SUPER HONEST… and it made me immediately like her. I love honesty in people!!

I could go on and on.

Just go look at Cindy, Jenny and Amanda’s blogs and I promise, your life will improve. :)

Love, Lou


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One Art {aka The Art of Losing}

Today I want to share with you my favorite poem. Not just my today it’s my favorite or one of my favorites, but my true, kindred spirit, love of my life poem. I had to read it in my American Literature class a few years ago when I was still in college. It was life changing. Not only does this poem point out our trivial wants and needs, but it also points out what truly matters in life. What could possibly break us, if we let it, and why sometimes losing something is our own fault… or completely out of our control.

~~~

ONE ART

by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn’t hard to master; 
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

– Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like a disaster.

~~~

I get chills when I see the (Write it!) and I feel as though I should look around for a pencil and write down everything I have lost. This poet, Elizabeth Bishop, had a hard life. Her father died when she was a baby and her mother was “institutionalized.”( Given that time period, ~ 1916, it was a touchy thing… the “hysteria” of women. Gives me the chills to think of what her mother went through.) We’ll never know what exactly happened to Elizabeth’s mother, but we know enough already to see that her childhood wasn’t exactly normal. She lived with different grandparents and always remarked upon her life with a dark tone. “I’ve never concealed it,” she wrote, “although I don’t like to make too much of it. But of course it is an important fact, to me. I didn’t see her again.” How… sad.

The beginning of this poem makes me laugh at myself. We’ve all lost our car keys. We lose items, as well as time, when we go looking for them. Do car keys get lost intentionally? No, they’re not alive. But losing them has never been a disaster in and of itself. (Except for when I made it the 35+ minute car drive to work, and Greg called me, saying that the other set of keys must be in the console to the car I was driving… and I had to drive all the way back home, then back to work. At the moment, I was feeling pretty disastrous.)

I already feel as though I’ve lost certain aspects of my life. Memories that slip away of where I’ve been or who I’ve known. My life goes on, there is no disaster there. If I really try, I could probably recall such things. They’re only lost to my everyday life.

To Elizabeth, losing her mother’s watch might have been a disaster. Imagine your mother being taken away at the young age of five, and having only a few items of hers left. (Maybe she feels that her mother was one of the things “seemed filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster.” But that’s just me, speculating almost 100 years later…)

For those of you who have traveled to another continent, I wonder if you would especially connect with the idea: “…vaster, some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent. I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.” I haven’t traveled all that far, but this is how I feel when I think of the river I used to see at camp every summer in Colorado. I loved the camp, the people there, the green mountains, but I most often find myself remembering the flowing river. I would sit beside it during our morning “quiet time” simply because it was the loudest place. I felt hidden. So much happened there, as far as the inner workings of my brain and heart were concerned (all during the tender ages of 8-15.)

And finally, we get to the personal, human to human part of this poem. I love it and it makes my heart so heavy. Who did Elizabeth lose? Who had the joking voice and the gesture? She wrote it for me. And you. She wrote this poem for anyone who ever dared to read it. I truly believe that.

Because to be human means to lose things every day. They may be big or small. We can’t keep track of everyone or everything. Memories slip away, moments are lost before anything worth remembering has a chance to happen, and most importantly, people slip away from us. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. My sister once wrote a song that said, “Nobody’s happy at no one’s expense.” Do you understand how profound that statement is? It rocked my world. Each time something good happens, chances are, it was at the expense of someone else. This might sound like a terribly negative way to view the world, but I think it’s fundamentally true. Think about it. When you got that job promotion, yay for you, sad for whoever was the runner up. When you got married, your life changed for the better, but someone out there may have once believed him to be their true love. If you were to list all of the factors that make you happy, I’m sure that at least half will fit the bill. Nobody’s happy at no one’s expense. 

Which isn’t to say that you don’t deserve that happiness! We do! It’s simply one of those facts of life, like a revolving door, that good things happen, bad things happen, people are happy, people are sad, and the majority of people get on with their lives.

We all lose someone along the line. Whether that cause is a death, a lost love, or a big mistake… we all have a story. Most of these resonate with people on a personal level. I know I have been in jeopardy of losing the most important people in my life. Sometimes we are blind to just how important they are. Remember to cherish the ones who love you back. (I hear Hanson in my head… “So hold on to the ones who really care, cause in the end they’ll be the only ones there… MmmBop)

Just make sure that the one you are keeping is worth more than the one you are letting slip away. If it’s right, do all you can to find something, even if it desperately wants to get lost. It could be a disaster. Elizabeth- it could be a disaster, and I think you agree. {And you certainly got me to (Write it!)}

It’s been a long day and obviously, my mind is in overdrive. I think I’ll go do these three things:

Tell Greg how thankful I am that we are 6 years in (3 and a half years married) and growing stronger every day. I won’t let that get away. Ever.

Make more tea, because I have been sick all day long.

Try to get more organized so I don’t LOSE anymore TIME trying to find my car keys.

<3 Lou


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How Legends Are Made

Lemon Moon by Wildewood

short stories, writing, young adult, new writer

Alex, Meredith and Greg

GO and LISTEN to this song. Study it. Think on it. Imagine if this folk tale were to be true. (And realize, that it could be…)

The Lemon Moon has become a popular topic in our group of singer/songwriter friends. There are at least five Lemon Moon songs. They all tell different tales of the legend, the stories of who was left behind and the reason the Lemon Moon exists at all. I will be posting the short story (you guessed it, inspired by this legend that Meredith Wilder from Wildewood came up with), chapter by chapter, in the coming weeks!

So really, go listen to this song. Your life will only be better for it!

:)

 

 

Lemon Moon Lyrics

All the people come out and are wandering around

thinking, “Oh, where is my love?”

Everyone who remains is alone

The Lemon Moon has come back to take every better half

where they go, nobody knows

But the sky sees each on his own

[Lemon Moon, take me too, though I am not what you want

I did try to be kind but my dark heart it will not do]

His eyes were the deepest blue and he used to sing for you, how easily you let him in

Always thinking that he would escape

Now his garden’s turned to disrepair, no more flowers anywhere

but the birds continue their rounds

In the uninspired parade

[Lemon Moon, take me too, though I am not what you want

I did try to be kind but my dark heart it will not do]

Had I known, would I have looked lower, lower to find somebody not so fine

Fine like the breeze, easily the best being I ever laid my eyes upon


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Three Days of Muses

I had the best three days EVER!!!! Thursday, Friday and Saturday were amazing in every way. I wish I could experience them over and over, but I’ll settle for writing about it and holding the memories in my heart forever! <3

Basically, I had a chance to see live music. Not just any live music, either. But three musical groups/individuals who inspire my writing. I mean… literally, I have written characters and entire short stories based on their songs. These three above all others. It didn’t even really dawn on me all the way until the very last night. I was brought to tears. It seemed very meant to be and I felt lucky… so lucky!!

Here’s how it went down:

THURDSDAY: WILDEWOOD

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Kate Burn Photography…Wildewood

Here is where you can check out some of their music. My short story, Proud Mothers, has a strong relationship with their original song Goodbye Morgan. Lemon Moon is another song for which I’ve written a short story…but that one is a work in progress :) In one of my (currently :) ) unpublished manuscripts, a character named Mason Andrews has characteristics and plot surrounding him- all based on another original by Wildewood, a song called Keep My Distance. When I listen to their music at each and every show I make it to (which is most!) I never fail to get inspired to write something, whether directly related or not. They’re just that good!!!

FRIDAY: DEER TICK

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Deer Tick

This picture was taken on my really old school flip phone, but hey! It’s a picture of them! You should check them out here. The lead singer of Deer Tick is also in a band called Middle Brother (favorite songs? Wilderness & Blood and Guts!!), and many of their songs inspire my writing, too. It’s also the Deer Tick song, These Old Shoes, that just so happened to be the first (and maybe last?) song I really learned to play and sing on the guitar. It was fun! To me, that’s the greatest love song of our time.

Bonus: For one song, they called a guest singer onto the stage. Guess who it was? Vanessa Carlton!!! Yeah!! I know!! It was weird. I can only picture her sitting at a huge piano, can’t you? But there she was, at a small-ish bar in Albuquerque, singing along with Deer Tick. She sounded awesome!

I would walk 1,000 miiles....

I would walk 1,000 miles….

and… drum roll please….

SATURDAY: MARK ERELLI

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OMG! I was shaking!

The name may not ring a bell, but I promise you, if you listen to his music you will not be disappointed. Especially the album he recorded with Jeffrey Foucault (another person you should listen to every day!), Seven Curses. THAT album is the REASON I began to write short stories.

That’s a pretty big deal!!! At least to me it is! So you can imagine what it was like to hear Mark Erelli sing in person. The show was at a house … about fifteen people were there. A new project called “The Standing O” had him come into town and they first interviewed him, then he sang! It was just amazing. It’s the songs The First Mrs. Jones, Wyoming Wind, and Ellis Unit One that made me write my first two short stories ever, I Looked Over Jordan and Wilde Wood Saloon!! I had him sign my short stories!! How cool is that?

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“Keep on writing.” Oh Mark, I will!!

The paper stapled to the top is an e-mail I printed out from over a year ago. I wrote to him and he wrote back! I never thought I would get to meet him.

And there you have it. In three days I had beer sloshed onto my feet, sweaty people mosh pitting beside me, fancy chocolate served on a table in a living room, hard cider, sparkling lemonde, and lots of awesome music (I’ll let you figure out which things go with which shows….) ;) .

Thanks Wildewood, Deer Tick and Mark Erelli!!!!!!!

And as ALWAYS, thank YOU for stopping by Hey Lou!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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Honky Tonk Dancin’

Last night I went dancing in a real country bar. Greg (hubby), Meredith (twin) and I went to see our friend Alex play with an old time country band, Honky Tonk Deluxe, on the other side of the mountain. We even took a road trip to get there!!

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Mer and Greg (uh-oh, our driver looks asleep) 

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after eating all our traveling snacks

 

By road trip, I mean we drove an hour to the East side. Why is it that any drive lasting longer than thirty minutes seems to require snack food? I wanted to buy a huge back of dried mangos, some nuts, and of course, bring plenty of water. We didn’t actually need anything, though! We wound up stealing some Nut Thins from my in-laws on the way out of town. Yum.

This is what the bar looked like! The Mineshaft:

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the two lous

The best part of the entire evening was by far the DANCING!!! I love to dance. It used to be hard to get Greg to dance with me, but lately he’s been pretty up for it. That makes me so happy and excited. The interesting thing about this particular bar was that it was filled with older folk who knew how to dance. Twirling, two stepping, line dancing… the whole bit. Every man had a handlebar mustache and boots… every woman had on a studded belt and fancy hair. It was that kind of bar. Even I was hesitant to get on the dance floor, and once we did, I felt totally in the way of the pros.

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do we look scared?

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We scooted our way over to the corner of the dance floor. There’s Alex of Wildewood, playing away!!

best picture of the night...

best picture of the night…

Here’s Meredith and me, enjoying the music, food and entertainment (those handlebar mustaches, to be exact.)

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twins!

Overall, it was a great night. We laughed and had so much fun. Every once in a while it’s nice to get to the other side of the mountain. You never know what you’ll see!!

Oh, and did I mention how great my husband is? Not only does he dance with me… he doesn’t leave anyone out! <3

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my two favorite people!!


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It’s The Little Things In Life

It’s the little, everyday things, that make life good. Today was such a good day. Nothing exceptionally exciting or amazing happened, but absolutely nothing bad happened, and a few nice things happened. My morning consisted of making breakfast and coffee with Greg, finishing up our spring cleaning, and listening to great music. I then joined Greg for his lunch at work, took some stuff to Goodwill, and returned back home to do a little more cleaning. Next Alex and Meredith came over, we had dinner, and that was pretty much it.

Amazing day. I can’t help but smile. Here are a few images I captured:

My new boots made me happy. They were affordable and comfy… keeping me warm all day long!

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Yay, boots!!

Our beautiful backyard! I came home, hung some clothes up on the line (how cool!!) and enjoyed the weather. Birds were flying above me… I just love being home <3

My backyard... I'm so lucky!

My backyard… I’m so lucky!

This tree is in my backyard. It’s crazy… it’s so picturesque!!!!!!!!!!

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The coolest tree ever

Yes, it’s the wild west here in Albuquerque. We have tumbleweeds! I saw this one on my way home an snagged a pic. I’m glad it didn’t blow in the wind and stick to the front of my car!

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huge tumbleweed!

Meredith and Alex made me laugh as we sat around and ate dinner!! Love it!! BFFL (best friends for life!) (I just made that up…. I think)

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alex and mer

My husband, Greg, sittin’ by my side and looking great! Could life get any better?

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Lou

I submit that it cannot!!

Can you see why it was an awesome day? I had a lovely scenery to gaze upon, fun friends and family at my table, and a tumbleweed blowing in the wind! It truly is the small things in life.

I hope you enjoyed your day, too!!

<3

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The other Lou


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Thankful for Holidays… they’re just beginning

Halloween is over (thank goodness).

We’ve had 1 Friendsgiving. Two more to go.

(Friendsgiving: a Thanksgiving dinner with friends, usually celebrated a week or two before real Thanksgiving… which is usually celebrated with blood relatives. This allows for a different experience, some creative food ideas, and more excuses to eat a ton and have fun… wait, did we need an excuse? Also- I like thinking that How I Met Your Mother is a great show to get ideas from, and they start this tradition because of Lily.)

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Some of our best friends sitting around our table… does life get any better?

Christmas is almost here.

The only music we play in our home is the Charlie Brown Christmas CD. Honestly- it’s the number one played thing on our iPods. Give it a try!(oh, and Taylor Swift’s Red, because I haven’t overplayed it quite enough to be sick of it yet… and I’m addicted to three of the songs)

Is it too soon to listen to Christmas music? I want everyone to chant with me… a big resounding NO. NEVER. I know. I, too, HATE when the Christmas decorations are all over the stores so far in advance, but the music is a different story. I’ve been known to put on Nat King Cole’s I’m The Happiest Christmas Tree in the summer. It’s just so damn fun, that song. (I’m the happiest Christmas tree, ho ho ho, he he he, someone came and they found me and took me home with them. SO cute.)

The reason why we get so into the holidays is because of the festivities that come along with it. I know we are not alone in this. And since it’s just so dang appropriate, I’m going to make a short list of things I’m thankful for. Not just because Thanksgiving is the closest holiday… but because life is that good.

1. Smoked Turkey 

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Smoked Turk

Each year Greg spends a huge amount of time to make this smoked turkey. It’s always worth the wait. Come over some time. You have to try it!!

2. Friends

I’m not trying to brag- but I’m really proud of all my friends. They are all amazing… nice, kind, funny, adventurous and talented. Also, this is on the list because, well, a few years ago I felt very differently. I was turning OLD, I think, and I was sad because I was pretty much lacking in the friend department. Then all of a sudden- life got FUN. We started calling up friends and doing dinner (Courtney and Drew, I think this started with you two!). I realized that life wasn’t over at 8 PM… that sometimes you can join your friends on their back porch to drink wine starting at 10 PM. What a concept! I realized that I’m younger than ever… I feel younger than ever. It’s mostly because of the friends I’ve made.

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Outside by the warm (and cracked…) chiminea <3

3. Hosting

I never thought I’d be much of a host. In fact, I still don’t do the best job (I often forget that anyone needs to be offered a drink, or introduced to others, or that people might not know where the spoons are…) but I try my hardest. We finally have a house, which has made hosting much easier. It’s nice to look back on the week and realize that our house is filled with new memories… friends sitting around eating, playing music, laughing and enjoying life. I think I’m addicted. I just might invite you over soon.

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Eating on our living room floor after pumpkin carving.

4. Wine

I’ve never been much of a wine drinker and then all of a sudden… I can’t get enough wine. Is there a better time to drink than the holidays? No, probably not. I think I started my alcohol drinking at a great time (ahem… whiskey…) because I just started to freeze whenever I step outside…

5. Music

Mostly thanks to Alex “fingersmith” McMahon of Wildewood, our home is now filled with some of the best music this world has to offer. Jeffrey Foucault, John Prine, The Everybody Fields, Joe Pug, Whiskeytown, Justin Townes Earle {my favorite} and more. And because of many local musicians here in Albuquerque, my holidays have been filled with shows, jams at different homes, and even my own first week playing the guitar (which I never thought would happen! But I am working on those three famous chords… G, D and C…)

6. Family

I’ve always been close to my family, but this year has been the best one yet. I run and go get wine with my older sister Emily. (She’s like a motivational fitness coach… she doesn’t let me slack off on a run!!)

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Becca, Me, Emily, and Jayme (the photographer!!) Girls night out <3

I spend tons of time with my twin, Meredith.

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Just one of the fun things Meredith and I have done this year!! The concert was awesome.

I chat with Jessica, who lives in Minnesota, and we share thoughts and ideas all the time.

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throwback… Jessica and me way back when!! I think I’m 14 in this pic!!

My parents are just so cool, too. They make the holidays for me- every tradition I try to keep is something they did (like leaves on the Thanksgiving table… toasting to the moment… ahhh)

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I know- I have the coolest parents in the world. I love them!

7. Books 

Along with cold weather, I also read a whole lot more when it’s chilly out. I love making tea and sitting down with a book. I am currently reading The Great Gatsby (for book club!), The Marriage Plot, The Hour I First Believed and Cannary Row (I could read Steinbeck all day long). I have never been such a spaz about reading, but lately I am shifting from my “one book at a time” way of life and diving into many. I like this.

8. Strawberry Green Chili Jam from the Grower’s Market

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YUM YUM YUM and so sad, I’m almost out.

This had to go on this list because I’ve been eating it all week. I got it from a super cute lady who does her own jams and spreads and man… is it good!!!! I am the kind of person who loves green chile in anything. Greg is skeptical sometimes, like with this strawberry jam- but that’s okay. More for me.

9. Making Mistakes {aka Not Everything Is As Easy As Black and White}

I didn’t think I’d be adding this to a “thankful for” list, but I am. Life has been made extra interesting lately by the mistakes I’ve made. A good mistake can make you feel alive, did you know that? Even if it’s guilt surging through you… that’s a real live emotion that gets blood pumping. The mistakes can be small or big. Some mistakes I’ve made lately include:

-playing guitar for my friends and being so nervous that I fumble through the song that I practiced all day long

-drinking too much wine and having a headache the next day

-letting certain things stress me out and taking it out on Greg (poor guy!)

-other things that I won’t mention on a blog (ha)

-not writing enough (at the end of the week I think… I could have so much more written by now if only I’d put in a few more hours…)

10. Colorful Eggs from the Farmer’s Market 

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So pretty!! and yummy!!!

It’s the small things in life. I saw these sitting on a table at the market and I went, “They’re so pretty! I have to have these!!” It’s amazing. I am currently obsessed with eggs, and these hit the spot. The shell is tougher than any conventional egg you can find. The taste is better… they even cook differently.

11. Being an Aunt to THESE TWO!!! 

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Carson and Landon <3

Emily’s two little boys, Carson and Landon, are amazing. They’ve showed me so much about life, from how to laugh at the little things in life, how to care about what is truly important, and realizing that family is number one. I was there for both births and have known them their entire lives… which (being the youngest sister)  is the first time I’ve been able to say that about anyone. From the day their were born they’ve had their own little personalities (did I say little? try BIG personalities) and they are so different, yet are the best brothers ever. They care for one another, give each other kisses, give me AUNTIE KISSES and hug and say I love you. What more could I hope for? I love these boys forever.

12. The Tone It Up Girls

I feel healthier than I ever have before, and it’s due almost entirely to the inspiring Karina and Katrina of Tone It Up. They’re hot, funny, cute, and very motivating. I love their (free!!) workout videos on YouTube. I love Booty Calls, too. ha ha

13. The Fantastic Mr. Fox

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Doesn’t get much more inspiring than this…

Yes, this movie gets its own number. It’s so good. The entire movie just screams Thanksgiving to me… the warm colors and the theme of family and friends. The theme of mistakes, and then turning them around. The way we can conquer our fears and accept the wolves in our lives… just watch it. It might change your life. The movie inspires something in me. It makes me feel good about being different.

<3

There are so many things to be thankful for, it’s almost overwhelming. Mostly, it’s the smiles and laughter of people I love.

What makes the holidays for you? What’s your favorite thing about them? What are you thankful for? I’d love to know!! <3


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At A Loss for Words- On Giving Advice

On Giving Advice…and Consoling the Afflicted.

Lou- trying to give advice.

Lou- trying to give advice.

When we are well, we all have good advice for those who are ill.” -Lucius Annaeus Seneca

I never want to be associated with this quote. Here’s why.

Advice.

I am horrible at this. I’ll spout out generic advice like:

rip that band aid off!“

follow your gut!” &

oh my gosh get out of that situation now!”

but that’s about it.

I am even worse at consoling someone who is crying or has just told me something awful. My good friend Tiffany (known her since we were 13!!) laughs with me and she admits it- I’ve pretty much been really awkward whenever it came to a sad moment of hers.

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Tiff and me at least 4 years ago… luckily she has remained my friend!! :)

The one thing people are most liberal with, is their advice.” -Francois de La Rochefoucauld

I just don’t know what to do. Some girls are so great with words. They start the confident and ever-so-sure ramblings of, “Oh, girl, you can do soooo much better! Just wait- he’ll get what’s coming to him. You are amazing. You will move on from this and not even remember it! HE’S STUPID!” or “I’m so sorry for your loss. Just know that God needed another angel. You’ll see them again someday. They’re watching over you….”

Yikes. I just can’t do that.

So if you’re coming to me with an issue, this will most likely be my reaction…

Wow- I’m sorry. I really don’t know what to say.”

Then I will pat your back. I might give you a side hug. If we’re at coffee and we have to stand up to hug, I might make that a very awkward moment, too. Basically, I feel so, so sorry for anyone who comes to me with their issues. I feel so much empathy, I will most likely cry later- after the moment has passed. I recently saw a friend who told me something so heartbreaking that I cried on my way home. I was bawling in the car like a fool and making the road a more dangerous place.

The reason why I think this is okay:

I don’t think people really want that advice.

Yes, I guess it’s nice to hear all of those things about whatever guy just broke up with you. But honestly? Maybe he is a good guy. Maybe he got good grades and isn’t really stupid at all. And I can’t promise that you will move on or not remember this moment of hurting. That’s a silly thing to promise someone, isn’t it? (please tell me I’m not the only one thinking of Dori in Finding Nemo… “Hmm…that’s a funny thing to promise….Well, you can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo.”) I don’t control your emotions.

But yes… someone can always do better than someone who hurt them. Of course. I really hope that girls (and guys) realize this, but for some reason I rarely feel as if it’s my place to tell them.

And I will always be sorry for someone’s loss. Always. Again, I’ll most likely cry and be in this weird, somber-like mood that drives Greg crazy for a few days. God didn’t need another angel, angels are already there and we don’t get wings when we go to heaven. There goes that. I have no idea if dead people are watching over us, but I, too, would like to believe that that’s the case. I don’t want to lie to anyone who is going through something so serious and life changing. What are my words, anyway?

I like advice from Little Women.

When Jo asks Friedrich, “What’s going to happen?”

He says, “The inevitable.”

Simple, concise advice.

And later, Amy says to her sister, “You don’t need scores of suitors. You only need one, if he’s the right one.”

Simple wins again.

Here’s a great example of why sometimes [unsolicited] advice is just silly. Every high school and college graduate has been told to “take the road less traveled by,” which has been misunderstood altogether. If anyone were to look at the rest of the Robert Frost poem, they’d see that:

…Though as for that the passing there, had worn them really about the same.”

Hidden meaning? It doesn’t really matter which way you go. Both paths could lead to good or bad things. It’s cynical, which isn’t usually my style, but I think it’s honest.

At the end of the day, I’ll leave you with this quote:

It is a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all one’s life and find at the end that one has no more to offer by way of advice than ‘try to be a little kinder.’” -Aldus Huxley 

Or perhaps understood silence is better.

I sure hope so, or I’ve been a pretty awful friend.