What are you trying to find???

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

This is an Intervention

Hello, my name is Valerie and I am a messy.
It's something I don't like to talk about publicly. Especially not on this blog. This blog is my creative space. My happy place. My place where I can forget about ugly, real parts of my life, and pretend like I didn't shove a huge pile of trash out of the way when I take a picture for the blog. But I need to talk about it now, and here's why:
It's ruining my life.

Well, THAT was dramatic. Let's get a little background and perspective before we continue on with this story.
I have been a creative, sentimental, messy person my entire life. As a child I drove my parents nuts with my messy room and unfinished projects and short attention span. My parents are and always have been very tidy, organized people. And I grew up in a mostly tidy organized home. So my chronic messiness and disorganization was always baffling and frustrating to them.
As I got older, it became baffling and frustrating to me. In college my dorm was a train wreck. When I moved to my own place I took mountains and mountains of stuff with me... and then again when I moved into a duplex with my bestie. The amount of stuff I had acquired and held onto is really kind of incredible. But even more incredible was I didn't know how to MANAGE all this stuff I had acquired.
And then I met my husband. A fellow messy. He would probably balk if I said he was 'sentimental' but he sure does have a TON of stuff that he wanted to hold on to-- even if it was serving us no purpose. So TWO sentimental messies married and moved in together, and the mess didn't double, it quadrupled. I still didn't know how to manage it. But we were both working full time and so that seemed a good excuse, and we could fake it pretty well.
Then we started adding kids in the mix... and with each new kid the amount of stuff multiplies exponentially. And we moved to a new (bigger) house and it was going to be awesome and more space and easier to clean and manage our stuff-- but that didn't happen. Our stuff quickly filled the space and took over. It just got out of hand.
Does this story sound familiar to anyone? Please tell me I am not the only person out there who stood in their living room one day in tears because the gravity of their mess was all of a sudden suffocating them!! Tell me I am not alone!
Here's the deal though. I am a reasonably intelligent, able bodied person. And it is not that I don't know HOW to clean. I know how to wash a dish, do a load of laundry, fold a bed sheet, pick up trash, scrub a toilet... I know HOW to do those things. But I didn't DO them. I didn't do them until the mess became so overwhelming that my brain would crash. And then I would attempt to do it all at once and fail miserably to even make a dent. I felt crushed by my failure, frustrated with myself for letting things get so far... I felt ineffective. I felt like a failure. I felt like, I hated being in my own house.
I couldn't have people over without a two day warning, I panicked if the doorbell rang. I apologized and cried every night when my husband came over. My tidy parents would come over and try to help clean my house, or they would make little jokes about what a slob I am-- I guess because it made them feel less uncomfortable??-- and I would cry when the left because people couldn't stand to be in my house. I didn't want to be this way. I wished every day I could change this about myself because I felt so inferior, so abnormal, so small. I felt RUINED.

Going through an intervention, trying to change yourself, get yourself healthy, you often here-- Admitting you have a problem is the first step.
Guess what. I have known my whole life I that I am a messy. I have never NOT known that. I've been admitting that forever. This admittance was getting me no where. It was not until recently, however, that I realized being a creative, sentimental, messy person is not the problem. The problem is not that I should be someone different. The problem is not that I don't know how to do the things I wish I would do.
The problem is I have never developed the right habits.
I don't need to change who I am, I need to change how I act.

It was literally just a few days ago I reached a big dramatic breaking point.
I had an intervention for myself. I cried for a little while. I told myself how my actions were affecting me; and how they were affecting my loved ones. I told myself it was time for change. I admitted my problem. I reached out for help. I bought a book and looked up some resources.
I wrote this blog post.
...because that's helpful, right?
Well, actually, it is helpful. This blog, you readers (all three of you), are going to be a part of this journey with me. You get to be the processing and accountability part of this journey with me. I know I am going to need space for both of those things if I am to be successful in this endeavor to control my mess...
So this is the story of my intervention, the story of my mess, the beginning of my journey, and the start of better habits and better life. Because I am done living in the bondage of my mess and fear that someone might find out about it.
In the months to come I'll be sharing about what I am doing, how things are going, maybe some failed attempts, definitly a lot of honesty. Ah, yes, brutally terrifying honesty about my life... about my mess. I'm calling this new phase in my life...
(because every blogger on a mission needs an official title for that mission, or blog series, or whathaveyou...)
Undoing the Messy.

Undoing the Messy, Step One: Big fat emotional self imposed intervention with accompanying blog post. CHECK!

We'll talk more about this soon... I promise.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Chicken Bacon Pinwheels for Dinner

Um, am I the only one who gets stuck in a rut at dinner? Please say no.
I have limited ingredient options to work with to begin with (Due to my picky-like-a-toddler husband) but I feel like we eat the same 3 meals over and over again. The other night I was staring at my ingredients for one of those same three meals. and went-- we gotta do something here to make this more interesting.
So I did.
And It was a hit with the family! Sam gobbled his up and said, "Thank you for making this delicious meal for me, Mama!" (High praise from the child who has eaten little more than a few graham crackers to keep himself alive this week.) Wesley blew through three. Yes, THREE chicken pinwheels. And even Z commented that the chicken had really good flavor and this was a great meal. And Suddenly, there was a multitude of Angels! Praising God, and saying, Glory to God, and Peace on your dinner table!!!

...sorry. That retelling got a little dramatic.

So I took a picture of the well enjoyed meal and shared it's success on instagram. And then you guys were all, What is this delicious looking meat? Is that bacon? Can you make it for me? Can you tell me where you got the recipe?
I always cringe just a little when someone asks for a recipe that I made up on the fly. Because... What if I don't remember it perfectly? But due to high demand... I dusted off my brain and recorded the details for ya'll. Because I love you, so here you go:

Chicken Bacon Pinwheels with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

2 good size Boneless skinless chicken breast
1 lb thick sliced bacon
1/2 tblsp whole grain mustard
1/2 tblsp dijon mustard
1/2 Tblsp honey
1 tblsp white wine vinegar
1 tblsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat over to 400 degrees.
Whisk together mustards, honey, vinegar, and oil, taste and season/adjust ingredients to your liking. (My husband doesn't like his very sweet)
Pound out your chicken breast until approx 1/2 inch uniform thickness. Cut chicken into long strips the same width of the bacon, (approx 2 inches)
Lay down a strip of bacon place a strip of chicken on top (your bacon will be longer, and you want that), and smear a small portion of the vinaigrette, then starting on one end roll up the bacon and chicken snugly and secure the end of the bacon with a toothpick all the way through. repeat with remaining chicken.
Place rolls in glass baking dish, at least 1 inch apart. Brush (or spoon on...) tops of each roll with more vinaigrette. Bake for approx 30 mins, or until chicken is cooked through and rolls are firm. You may finish with broiler to get the bacon nice and crispy, if desired. (remove toothpicks before serving)
This made 8 pinwheels.
I served them here with butter and parsley whipped potatoes and roasted broccoli.

Much simpler than it looks, but kinda looks fancy, doesn't it??? Hope you and your family enjoy it as much as we did! Let me know how it goes :)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Life Changing Coffee

I've been meaning to tell you all something really awesome I learned about earlier this year.
Something that is... life changing! Maybe I throw that phrase around a little too much. Hang out with me for a while, you are sure to hear it. So I was delighted to discover a company who also liked to throw it around... but for good reason.
...for good Coffee.
Life Changing Coffee.
If... you are not a coffee lover, don't tune out just yet. Because there is a lot to love about this coffee even if you don't love it in your mug.

Mission Arabica is a company launched just a year ago by a couple of guys who were looking to change lives... specifically the lives of impoverished third-world villages. They do this by helping establish coffee plantations, then purchasing their crop for a fair price, then selling that coffee and... Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Funds are reinvested in more villages... and more lives are changed.
Awesome, right? I mean, that's a reeeaaally simple, broad over view of what they are doing, but read up on the Mission Arabica Website it's really interesting and informative!
If you ARE a coffee lover... there is even MORE good news. Life Changing news. You can purchase some of the specialty grade Mission Arabica coffee and be a part of the process. And... it is GOOOOD coffee friends. Z and I have been enjoying it for a couple months now, and we are going through it like water! (Z is particularly fond of their Christmas blend? But I believe it is being discontinued soon because... well, Christmas is over. This is heartbreaking news.) Anyway. Clicky-click on that link above and stock up before continuing on.
I'll wait.



...Okay. Got your coffee? Here's some more good news for coffee lovers.
Coffee Recipes.
I mean, you knew that you could brew yourself a nice cup of coffee... you might know how to make a latte or even a frappaccino, if you are quite fancy. But did you know coffee could transform your Turkey? Your chilli? MARSHMALLOWS?!?! For real, Guys.
The Mission Arabica Recipe blog just launched a few months ago, and I have actually contributed a few recipes! If you are interested in checking out the recipes I contributed... hop on over to their site. The recipes are there in their entirety with pictures and everything for you. Because we love you.


Look, I know that I just admitted a loose affiliation with the company, but I hope you don't think that I am raving about them for some kind of personal gain, or compensation. Because I am not. And I wouldn't say such things if I didn't believe them. I just... believe in this company. I am impressed with the work they are doing. I'm impressed with their product. I am excited to be a even a small part of what they've got going on. I'm excited that lives are being changed... and I am even excited to have a good source for really quality gourmet coffee.
Anyway. If you find any part of this intriguing or exciting... I encourage you to check out their website, their blog, their recipes, subscribe to their emails. There's good stuff happening.
Life changing stuff.
(Forgive me, I just love throwing that phrase around.)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A story (Or, the blogger's annual promise to be a better blogger)

 Let me tell you a story.
One that you are likely familiar with if you have spent any time in the blogging world.
A long time ago... I started a blog because I wanted to share some pictures and some ideas with friends and family. Then I started getting realy into it-- posting regularly. My blog got some traffic, some attention. And while I was never someone who made money off my blog (NONE, I promise) people began to assume I did? and also, I started to act like I did. I put a lot of my time and energy into this.

So now's the part of the story about losing my spark, or realigning my priorities, or blogging for the 'wrong reasons' (are there right reasons to blog for?), or also, I had kids and this became less important. Also, did you know I have two blogs? One mostly dedicated to my thoughts and rants and whatnot and one mostly dedicated to my craftiness and projects and whatnot... and while it seemed a good idea to keep those separate, two blogs? Who am I? What kind of time do I think I have?
Anyway... I dropped off the face of the earth for most of the last year. Did you notice? But I miss blogging. I miss writing. I miss having an outlet for my thoughts no matter how erratic they may be. I also miss getting to share stuff I make. Because creative people... sharing and exchange of ideas is what fuels us, am I right?

So this story ends with me trying to get back to it. Back to it with a little moderation. It doesn't have to be all or nothing. You don't have to make money from your blog to sucessfully share ideas and participate in real conversations. In fact... maybe that's a little truer way TO share ideas and participate in real conversation. (Angry money-making bloggers don't shun me)
At the very least... I have DARN cute kids, I tell you! And you won't want to miss their antics and pictures. (Yay, mom-blogger!)

And dang it I need an eloquent way to wrap up this post, but I can't really think of one today. (Real life, friends)... so... I won't.