Archives for category: Family

I’m so happy to report on our one year houseiversary we have redoubled our efforts at making our house look more and more like a home.  We recently received a beautiful table and chair set from our friends and we bought a rug for the dining room.  I have table linens and I’m shopping for napkin rings (my grandmother will be thrilled, absolutely thrilled).  I feel downright domestic.

I can’t wait to host a brunch or a dinner party!

In other home news, my sister is buying a house in my neighborhood!  More people in my family owning real estate in Dayton – I’m very excited about this and I can’t wait until she is all moved in and settled.  I remember signing the ream of paper to buy our little piece of Dayton and although it was sort of daunting at the time, we’re making this big house into a home little by little.  I can’t wait to have another autumn here!  And as my husband says, “One year down, 29 more to go!”

I guess not everyone knows that my mom knows how to bake awesome homemade dog treats because when my boss asked me where she could buy some, I looked at her like that was a silly question, causing her to look at me like I’m a crazy person.  Once we got all that straightened out, I said my mom and I would be happy to whip up some dog treats for my boss’ friend who has 5 big dogs.  It’s my boss’ friend’s birthday and rather than gifts for herself, she asked for gifts for her dogs since two of them are sick and need some special treatment.  So we made these treats with lots of love because dogs are family.

We made pumpkin peanut butter brownie bites and also French toast for dogs (but I don’t have a picture of that for some reason).  When it was all said and done, and my boss came to pick up the treats, they filled two gallon-sized storage bags so I hope these doggies are very hungry.

If you’re interested in pumpkin brownies for your doggies, let me know.  Maybe my mom could be persuaded to open her Etsy shop again.

Disclaimer:  I love independent shops and make it a point to spend most of my entertainment budget supporting them.  I really do.  See every 4th blog post and scroll down until you see a picture from Ghostlight Coffee if you don’t believe me.  Ok, with that being said…

Every year I wait (semi) patiently for the return of pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks.  I know, believe me I know, that this is not a local company but I really can’t help it.  There is something entirely perfect about the pumpkin spice latte that no other latte can touch and I have no idea why.  It has some power over me I can’t explain and the first one of the season makes me so happy.  I’m not alone – the barista making my drink the other day saw me standing creepy close to the espresso machine, just watching him make the latte like I had to memorize the details to win a prize later, and he says “Every person who has ordered one of these today has had the same exact expression on their faces.”  He didn’t have to explain, the expression is a mixture of the joy of finally being seconds away from that which you hold dear and the sadness that it isn’t in your hands yet.

After obtaining my treasure, I took it and a non-pumpkin latte (philistine) to my sister to spend some time catching up and getting our details straight for the evening ahead.  Velvet is also a fan of pumpkin spice, evidently.

Below, my sister (Sad Robots) would like the floor to explain, in detail, her birthmonth festivities for 2012:

Birthmonth Recap:

1. Family Party

Every year, my grandmother throws a party for my mom and I (she has an August birthmonth too) that, no matter what, always consists of two things: mashed potatoes and ice cream cake. But, you know, not together (FYI I’d totally eat that, just sayin’). This year, the party was combined with my uncle’s too for some kinda crazy triple birthday party. It was good times.

2. Birthday Dinner

I’m a big fan of creating senseless traditions, so every year since I turned 21, I go to El Rancho Grande for my birthday. Although I say it’s because of the sombrero, which is definitely a big part of it, secretly it’s because my 21st birthday was the last one I got to celebrate with my dad, so by going back there every year, in some illogical way it feels like he still gets to be there with me, half laughing at me for my drunken antics and biting his tongue about lecturing me on poor drinking habits. I should clarify that “poor drinking habits” to him meant “don’t get a DUI.” This year, we got to sit at the big party table, and I got to drink a big margarita, and eat a big meal, and, as always, snort a dangerous amount of whip cream. The best part? Our server said if I have two more birthdays there, I get to keep the sombrero. Acquiring this sombrero is my new goal in life because, you know, it’s important to have high aspirations.

3. Work Party

Speaking of triple birthday parties, my coworkers don’t often celebrate birthdays or go out for drinks together, but I have two other coworkers with birthdays all in the same week as mine (birthweek?). Every year we go to the Wine Gallery to grab a drink after work to celebrate our three birthdays. The coolest part about this is that my boss gives us gag gifts from her antique collection. I’m not really sure how it works, but I believe she and her husband buy estates, so they have a “workshop” filled with random things. Last year my boss found me an apron. I think this was funny because I can’t cook? I’m not sure. This year, she found me a set of Melmac dishes. Anyway, it’s a fun hour of awkwardly trying to make small talk about non-work related things while trying not to do or say anything to increase the perception of the massive age discrepancy between me and my coworkers (the next youngest person in my department is 45).

Aptly, The Onion posted this article that same day:,29185/

4. Lady Date with the BFF

I have the best best friend in the entire world. She plans vacations for us every year. She invites me over every week to watch True Blood. She bakes delicious desserts in her kitchen while I blather at her. She makes sure I never do anything stupid in my rampant eccentricity. This year, she told me she would take me on a lady date for my birthday anywhere I wanted to go. Girl About Town wrote about our fun excursion to Roost, but my BFF also got me flowers, and after dinner, we watched The Godfather II at the Victoria Theatre for part of their Cool Films Series.

Afterward, we dissected the movie together over a glass of wine at the Wine Gallery, but then had to leave because the music they were playing was just awful. It was like Jimmy Buffett trying to cover Kenny G and it made me want to stab out my ear drums with pencils. The cool thing about the Wine Gallery, though, is that they have themed wine flights for those of us who only like a general taste of wine and are also very indecisive. Despite the music and my remarkable inability to follow the plot of movies (by ‘dissected the movie’ I really mean she had to explain to me a lot of the things I missed), it was a fantastic evening.

5. The Grand Finale, or what I called, “Beth’s 23rd Birthday or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Sombrero”

Birthmonth is winding down, so my big shebang this year was throwing a birthday party for myself at the Trolley Stop in the Oregon District. Because apparently this is a weird thing to do, I’m going to go ahead pull out the FAQ before I summarize the evening’s shenanigans.

Q: Why are you throwing your own birthday party?

A: Who else is going to do it?

Q: What’s so special about turning 23?

A: First of all, please refer to it by what it is: The Big 2-3. It’s the last year of my early twenties. Next year, The Big 2-4, is going to be a big year because it’ll be the first year of my mid twenties. The year after that, The Big 2-5, is going to be a big year because I’ll be old enough to rent a car. My point here is that every year is important and I’m going to celebrate it like it’s my last, humility be damned.

Q: Why do you throw so many parties anyway?

A: Because we all have our special talents. Mine is introducing you to all of your future friends and being one of the funnest people you’ll ever meet. I repeat: humility be damned.

Q: Why the Trolley Stop?

A: I have a friend who knows the people who own it/work there, they have a nice room (more like a haunted house) to rent for a very reasonable price, you can have your own bar and bartender, and have you ever had their turkey sandwich? It’s delicious.

Back to the shenanigans:

So you know how I said I have the best best friend ever? She decided to cater the event with delicious, mostly vegetarian food. No really, she has some kind of crazy talent for building menus and cooking wonderful things. I’m going to hire her to cater my future parties. Anyway, I had a really great time because I got to hang out with some of the most amazing people ever and introduce them all to each other, I got to drink a lot of my favorite whiskey, and I got to tell a lot of my favorite stories. It wasn’t a crazy party (as my parties are wont to often be), but it was a good party and I can only hope that everyone had as good of a time as I did.

My next shamelessly narcissistic venture is going to be my housewarming party when I close on and move into my new house. Be forewarned, it’s going to be the housewarming party to end all housewarming parties. A house just can’t be called a home until it’s wrecked with a good dose of drunken chaos.

As the anthropologist in the family, I feel it’s my job to explain to my family that our family’s approach to birthdays might be a little unorthodox.  We tend to have a birthmonth rather than a birthday, which is pretty extravagant considering even Paris Hilton had a modest birthweek in celebration of her 21st.  In our family, first you have your family party, next is your birthday dinner at the restaurant of your choice, then a party or two for your friends to attend.

We tried discussing this topic further at my sister’s second birthday celebration of August, this time on her actual birthday of August 14.  For the third year in a row, we dined at El Rancho Grande in Vandalia (they said on year 5 they will give her the damn sombrero).  While eating and drinking in celebration of her birth, Beth described the party room of the location where her third and presumably final birthday celebration of 2012 will be held.  Somehow I don’t think my cultural input was taking hold…

But who cares?  Life is short – since you’re not guaranteed a certain number of birthdays when you only have one a year, you might as well have as many as you like.  Happy Birthmonth, Beth!

Sunday morning was bittersweet as it was our last day at Hope Springs Institute, but we were excited about the activities Lotus Flower Studio had planned for us.  The day started off in the Spirit House for pranayama and meditation around the fire.  I mostly reflected on how simple all of this seems here at Hope Springs and whether or not I will be able to incorporate these techniques in my daily life.

Breakfast was amazing.  In fact, all the breakfasts, lunches, and dinners at Hope Springs were amazing.  I was thrilled that they were able to handle my crazy diet without it causing any problems.  In fact, the gluten free options tended to go as quickly if not quicker than the regular options.  It was amazing to have someone take care of you like that.  I’m still not used to having to make my own meals and it’s been a few days.  I was thrilled that Hope Springs has their own cook book ($20.00) so once I feel like cooking again I can recreate the meals I enjoyed there.

After breakfast we went on a hike, this time through the meadows and we got to see more butterflies and the clear blue sky.  I could get used to going on long walks after every meal.

I started not feeling great so I thought I would rest a while and took the time everyone was in the final yoga session to get completely packed and even felt ok enough after a while to venture to Spirit House since I think this is the place I will miss the most.  My sister came along later and we had fun recapping the whole experience.

After lunch, we had a raffle and I won a yoga strap and Beth gave me her eye pillow that she won because she says she can fall asleep anywhere at any time under any circumstances.

It was tough leaving such an amazing place and I’m really hoping to go back someday when I need another recharge.  (Umm, like this weekend maybe…)

For some reason, my mom and sister didn’t want to get up early for the morning yoga and pranayama practice so I went by myself and enjoyed the cool morning air and sun salutations.

After breakfast, we went on a hike to explore Hope Spring Institute‘s 100 acres of undisturbed nature trails.  I loved walking in the early morning before I would normally be done drinking coffee and thinking about what to do that day.

Later that morning, we assembled in the yoga studio to learn about how Pilates came to be and practiced some of the moves before seeing a Pilates Reformer in action for the first time.  It was very neat looking but I was a little afraid of it.  After lunch, we had some time to do whatever we wanted but we all had some scheduled appointments.  One was for a reflexology session with Donna Miller of Natural Balance Reflexology, LLC.  The other was for a session on the Reformer, which ended up being a very fun workout.

After free time, we got back into the yoga studio for a yoga session aimed at teaching us ways to grow our practice at home.  It was really helpful because we talked about ways to keep working toward your goal poses little by little.  I secretly have always wanted to be able to do full pigeon and I didn’t ever think of it as being particularly achievable until after this session.

Flowing right from the yoga, we got set on our mats for Yoga Nidra, which is the deepest relaxation I’ve ever had.  I didn’t want to leave the studio, even for dinner.

After dinner, we walked the labyrinth, which was the most enlightening experience considering I didn’t think I was going to get anything out of it whatsoever.  We all really came to the same conclusions even though we were all walking it separately.

My favorite part of Saturday came at the very end when we had a campfire in the woods (don’t worry, there was a clearing).  We had a drum circle, made s’mores, and looked at the stars.  I saw constellations I hadn’t seen since taking Astronomy in high school (and then the stars were in the planetarium, not in real life).  The best part was that there was a meteor shower that night and we saw so many shooting stars.  I think I’ve found my new happy place to imagine when life gets rough.

My mom, sister, and I just got back from an amazing wellness retreat weekend hosted by Lotus Flower Studio.  It was so relaxing and wonderful and packed with great things that I decided to make it a 3 part series on my blog to make sure I don’t miss anything. (Sorry the pictures are blurry!  I don’t know sometimes how to get my iPhone to behave.)

We started out on Friday around 2:00 pm and headed south to Peebles, Ohio where Hope Springs Institute is located.  We got there a little before 5:30 and were so happy with our rooms.  We had the opportunity to share a suite in the farmhouse because we were the only group of three.  That meant we each got our own room and a separate bathroom we didn’t have to share with anyone but the three of us.  We even had a little living room to hang out in and do a little extra yoga.  What made the farmhouse so great to my mom, sister, and me was that it looked and smelled just like my great grandmother’s house in Missouri.  It felt like we were transported back in time to the summer vacations spent in the country.

Right after orientation and dinner, we walked to Spirit House to meditate and talk about the weekend ahead.  The country air is so fresh and there is nothing to interrupt the calm and quiet except for the hum of bees and chirping of crickets and crackling of the fire.

Friday was the evening we started learning about Yin Yoga, which incorporates a lot of the postures from Hatha yoga and stretches the time to hold the posture by several minutes.  So instead of holding a posture for a quick minute or two, you might be keeping it going for 5-20 minutes depending.  It was pretty neat to learn about a new style of yoga and I plan on using that at home since the routine wouldn’t have to have a lot of different postures involved.

We watched a movie called Titans of Yoga, which is about yoga teachers and why they started doing yoga in the first place.  We ate popcorn and drank tea and when the movie was over we went back to our rooms to relax and rest up for a very full Saturday.

I have not been shy about my love for calendars and this post is no exception.  When I flipped my desk calendar at work to August a few days ago, I was greeted with this picture, which made me happy.  Not just because my sister is in it and it may have been one of her first ever Instagrams but because the colors in the photo and the colors on the page design remind me so much of how fun summer is supposed to be.

I think I get so lost sometimes in work and responsibility that I forget the simple joys of warmer weather and increased hours of sunshine in these long days.  Summer is so free and lovely.

So I decided to paint my nails with this calendar page as inspiration.  I used Wet n Wild Megalast in Tropicalia for 8 of my nails and Club Havana for the 2 ring fingernails.

I am the Coffee Fairy.  Give me a day off from work and I bring coffee to my loved ones, especially my husband.  It’s something I also used to do for my dad when he was sick, not to mention many other under-caffeinated people throughout the years.  I’m not always as thoughtful as I would like to be but this is one thing that I love doing for people to show them that I appreciate them.

Since I’ve had a few vacation days, I brought coffee from Winans to my husband at work.  We just sit in my car and talk for a few minutes and it’s nice to see him at a time of day we normally would be apart.  This particular day was beautiful and sunny and for the first time in a long time not obscenely hot and humid.  Now it’s back to the real world until my next vacation.