Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy new year, ya'll

A musician must make music, a painter must paint, a poet must write if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What one can be, one must be.

--Abraham Maslow

As the holiday season comes to an end with one final celebration of ringing in the new year, it is natural and customary to reflect on the previous year. I'll admit that some years I make new year's resolutions. John is a firm anti believer of the new year's resolution and he has a point. He explained to me the justification. "I make resolutions daily and I break them daily as well." I am now an anti January first resolutionite. Life is a roller coaster. It changes day to day, week to week, and month to month, season to season. Our lives need to be flexible and react to the current state of matters. Making a resolution that does not take that into account is a recipe for guilt and failure. Resolutions like many other things should happen all year long. Sure the new year in a nice clean date, is it realistic? Sure, resolutions for the new year are the first steps for many, which is important, I am saying why stop there, push yourself and create goals and healthy habits more often. Don't set yourself up for disappointment. Goal setting isn't a bad thing at all, though something about the process of setting new year resolutions almost guarantees they can not be accomplished. I think that's because so many people base their resolutions on their desire to become "better" (whatever that means). The cliched American new year resolution is always about exercise and weight loss. But ... didn't we make that same resolution last year? Self-judgmental resolutions are bound to fail because they rest on a foundation of self-loathing, or at least self-dislike. It just doesn't work. I'm not saying it's wrong to think in terms of changing health habits, I would never say that. Do we really have to start the new year by being so harsh with ourselves? I imagine a little girl, resolving to "eat more cake." Now that's a resolution I want. "Have more fun," "Don't work so much," "Goof off." Wouldn't it be great if we hard working people made resolutions like that?

A healthy wish for 2009 resembles Abraham Maslow's thoughts: May we all be exactly who we are - no more, no less - in the coming year. Who we are, what we love, what we do, is always enough.

Like any good Southerner (vicariously through John...) we will be having black eyed peas to bring in the new year

Black-eyed pea dip, with garlic and bacon


1 15oz can of black-eyed peas, drained or 1 1/2 cups cooked

4 pieces of bacon

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 cup cilantro chopped

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/8 teaspoon (or to taste) cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon lime juice (1/2 a lime)

1 jalapeno, diced (can be fresh or pickled)

1/4 cup shredded Monterrey Jack


1. In a skillet, cook the bacon. When done, crumble and place in a blender .

2. In same skillet, cook the garlic for one minute and then add to blender.

3. Pour 1 teaspoon of bacon grease from skillet into blender.

4. Add to blender black-eyed peas and all other ingredients except Monterrey Jack cheese. Pulse until ingredients are well mixed together.

5. Place blended dip into skillet, turn on low heat and slowly fold in shredded cheese. Cook until melted, about a minute.

6. Place in a bowl and serve immediately with tortilla chips.Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas 101

As I enjoy my post cheer saturation, I realize that most things are going to work themselves out eventually. Somethings are just out of my control, I am going to sit back and enjoy the road, as bumpy as it gets. I will try my hardest to be the change I wish to see.
Our Christmas was full of family. It was wonderful. We made the rounds, trying to visit all of our family here in town since we were so far away from the rest of them.
We had a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner with the Hurlberts and played Wii, games, and caught up on all the years that have somehow pulled us apart. My Dad was the highlight of the night. We got him bowling and golfing on the Wii, I haven't seen anything that funny in awhile.
Christmas morning was a treat. It was the first Christmas that we have had our own house. It was glorious. John got up before me and set out his wrapped presents under our lit tree (it is a house plant...), put my new slippers at the end of the bed and got the coffee going. PERFECT!
We then went to Brenda and Neal's to have breakfast with them, Bryan and my grandparents.Grandma brought her dogs... We taught them a new card game...
John made a tasty breakfast of biscuits and gravy.

All those years in Mexico and Grandpa having a steady diet of pineapple, he was in charge of cutting.
Look at all the men in the kitchen!

Mom and dad have a CRAZY cat named Billy. It climbs on everything!
From breakfast, John and I ducked out and came home for a few hours. We curled up letting breakfast digest, in order to have lunch at Steve and Charlene's. We spent the afternoon with my cousins, monster trucks, lasagna, dogs and some good laughter.

We rounded out the big day with people trickling in to our house. Our long lost friend Steve came over, my bro, and the Dorrs.
What a day! Thanks to everyone for making it wonderful.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

blessings of peace

Christmas is here
This year is different from the last and next year will be another ball of wax. John and I didn't travel for the holidays, opting to hunker down in our house and stir up my family. This we did. Over the years as my brother and I have aged, my grandparents aged and passed, we have lost a cohesive family gathering over the holidays. As I have said it is time for John and I to create our own traditions. Thanks to everyone who made this a wonderful holiday and for those who we could not be with, we shall soon.

My blessing for you....

May you find balance.
May you find balance in your life, the physical, mental, and spiritual.
I wish everyone greater balance, thus creating peace as an individual. The only way in which we can live in peace with one another is to find the peace within. Each person must come to terms with themselves, discovering their true identity and embracing it.
Abandon all preconceptions.
Go forth and conquer.
Hold onto stair railings just in case your ascent or descent gets a little bouncy, and grab onto the nearest lamppost if your feet refuse to stay on the ground.
In truth, though, you must depend only upon yourself. Impose your own self discipline and bask in the glow.

Happy birthday Grandma! I will try and eat more dessert than the main course just for you! Never would I imagine how wonderful of a woman you were. You will forever be in my heart.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Simpson side

Since we can't be there for the holidays....
We can enjoy through the pictures.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Jack frost

Bellingham has been hit by Jack Frost. I am beginning to enjoy it! I think it is just beautiful! It tends to be a bit chaotic in Bellingham with this weather, lack of snow plows, lack of people with experience with snow driving abilities, and so on. I do enjoy the fact that weather like this puts life on hold. Shops close, restaurants close, people hibernate, people go sledding in the roads. It is fun. The novelty of snow does not wear off year to year.

The view this morning, after another 6 inches fell over night!

We took Natasha out to Lake Padden yesterday for a hike. It was great!

John said yesterday that he wishes that the snow would stick around, that we had more of a winter in town.
This is the first time that I have actually agreed with him. It would sure beat the rain.
This might be our next move....

Our little princess!
What a sweetie!
She has found the warmest place in the house, cuddled up in the down blanket.
She is a princess too, in her own sort of crazy cat way...

John and I have made tamales over the holidays a couple of times. Jess has been really excited about making them with me. Saturday night we got together and made a batch of yummy pork tamales from scratch. Kudos to Jess for wanting to take on such a grand task. They really are worth every penny the little Mexican ladies sell them for. AND they taste way better made by these wonderful women.... because they are not scared to use lard (the key ingredient!).

Friday, December 19, 2008

A simple request....

With the holidays in full swing it is often easy to get absorbed in our little worlds. It is often the smallest gesture that can bring a smile to even a stranger.

At work, people, firms, companies and the sort are send us cards with notes in them explaining that they have sent a donation to the food band in lieu of a holiday basket for the office. What a wonderful idea. It saves us the office from complete over consumption and recognizes that people really are in need this time of year. I just hope that they are as generous to these charities as they are to us. Pete Kremen, the executive for Whatcom County, sent us a memo saying that he was sending $1000 to the Bellingham food bank instead to the treats he usually sends to the offices. Don't get me started on this little soap box.

As I scrolled through the paper this morning I found an article that warmed my heart and gave me goose bumps. I read about this boy here in Bellingham who is battling a brain tumor. We have had fundraisers here at work for him because he is friends with a co-workers child. His request is simple this holiday. He loves to get mail, what is more comforting than knowing that people care. So I know there are people out there who have extra cards from their regular mailing list, please take the time to send one to this family. It takes a village.....

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Taste of Texas

I am pretty sure that my Dad would move to Texas just to eat the brisket. I saw this recipe and wanted to share. Maybe this will be on our menu for Thursday...
Find grace in the everyday.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Creativity call!

All my wonderful crafty and creative friends out there.... I need some creative brainpower. With all these winter storms upon us (and I don't partake in snow sports) I have some extra time on my hands. This means that it is time for me to catch up on projects around the house.

It is not a "honey do list" either. Well, not entirely. There is something not quite appealing about our bedroom. It has gone through several color changes, and I am still not satisfied. There is nothing warm and cozy about the room. The walls are cement, which makes them cold. We installed mirrored closet doors, which gives it potential. The walls are painted a bright dark yellow. I have made one improvement in the past week, I moved the bed out from the wall, creating a walkway on both sides of the bed and putting together a night stand on my side of the bed. I need to make curtains for the two windows and get a matching bed set. All these things no problem.

What I need help with is a headboard. I would really like to design a functional headboard. It needs to be sturdy so we can lean up against it while we watch movies.

Any thoughts....ideas...?

Snow.... a good excuse to buy boots


It is a wonderful winter wonderland here in Whatcom County. As I look out my office window, I think that we have accumulated about four inches. I am surprised that we haven't shut our doors and gone home. I guess that is just wishful thinking. It has been cold for days now, and it is supposed to hold on through next week. It would be great to have a white Christmas!

I think that the fact that Christmas is next week has finally set in with this weather. Yesterday I spent the day Christmas shopping. I then went home and wrapped up all the goodies I found and did a little decorating. I am getting increasingly excited for this time of year. Hopefully this weekend will be filled with a house of friends, laughter, food, and drink. John and are also planning a little Christmas celebration at our house. We plan on wrangling up some folks for a bike ride Christmas morning and then spend the day with some friends and family at our house.
So these are not the best snow boots.... but this is what I have my eyes on......

Friday, December 12, 2008

Planning and public

I am going to be brief, I know that many people would rather gouge their eyes out than talk about planning and policy issues in Whatcom County. Wait, I take that back, people don't want to talk about zoning or comprehensive planning until they have an issue. I understand. This is the crux of my job. How do we educate people before hand so they why we are doing what we are.
Good news, I lived through my first Planning Commission. One of the first steps in my effort to be a "planner."
Here are a few articles from the Bellingham Herald dramatizing, creating fear and and pandemonium in rural Whatcom County:

Poll: Residents think Whatcom County is growing too much

Whatcom County landowners could lose development potential

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Holiday Card

I spun my wheels these last couple of weeks. I have been looking forward to sending out holiday cards for some time. I always wanted to send them out once we resided in a permanent address. This is the first year that John and I have our own permanent address. So I sent out cards to almost everyone I knew. I bought cards from Audra (I am so proud of that little angle!), put together a picture on picnik, gathered as many addresses as I could and away I went. Believe it or not 90% are even in the mail!
It really is the small things in life that I enjoy!
Next own cards!

Playing in words

This was created by the genious at
It is just too much fun!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Back to the blog

Wow, I have been sad to see the blog slip to the back burner. I guess that life has driven my passions elsewhere for a bit. As I flipped through several other great blogs I rekindled my love for blogging. Good thing only a few weeks have passed with only a slight notion of holding off on blogging. What was I thinking, I love my blog!
As I scrolled though numerous blogs, I tried to put my finger on what it was that attracted me to the idea of blogging. I have never been much of a writer, never journal (that was just a venue for my mom to snoop into my personal life), never wrote stories, just notes to girlfriends in the school years, I am not even a big reader. Then it hit me. I am a crafter/pack rat/dreamer/collector/adventurer. I love to read what people are up to, what they are cooking in their kitchens/what they are sewing/what they are stringing together, what they are listening to/watching/reading, what trails people have found/races/runs/climbs, what people feel/love/miss, what people value/cherish/love, what inspires/resonates/motivates, and according to John: what people want to spray about (this is not true!). I love blogs. I love to scroll through friends blogs, finding little treasures lost in cyberspace.
As I sit and wonder what makes a blog so interesting and worth any one's time I find one theme: a theme... I want to make my blog worthy of peoples' time. One day I could maybe even quit my day job and blog about my adventures with my sweetie. So any ideas on what I should focus on? Until then... it is just a whole lot of Michelle Stiles. Hey what is better than that? Hmmmm....