"Please chase a peony, love"

I'm going to make a confession: I don't always do the greatest job of looking on the bright side. I realize this isn't the most ridiculous thing in the world since there are a lot of people who tend to be self-proclaimed "realists" [ c'mon, in all honesty that's just an excuse to be a negative Nancy ] and don't always consider the glass half full. However, a huge part of my motivation to revamp this blog was to change the name to Chasing Peonies, which was actually a metaphor for me to lean more towards optimism on a daily basis.

I used to be a bubble of flowers and butterflies, hopes and dreams. But somewhere along the way, for a myriad of reasons that need not be delved into, I transformed into a dark hole filled with nothing but shrewdness and negativity. While I've since come out of that [ thank goodness ] , a small part lingers and threatens to take over when I lose sight of what is so good and real in my life now. In fact, it probably comes out more than I realize, considering all too often Justin will encouragingly remind me to change my attitude with one simple phrase: "Please chase a peony, love."


fiery, incandescent & sweltry

Yes, I went to thesaurus.com and looked up synonyms for hot and chose my favorites to name this post. This is what happens when I don't have any schoolwork to be tackled as I sit at my desk at work [ because why yes, I do sit on my tush for eight hours each shift at a place of employment where my boss encourages me to "exercise my brain" and do homework...all the while getting paid... ]. Even as I bask in the climate-controlled heaven, the sun has now started to stream into the gigantor windows that make up 1/3 of my "cubicle" and I'm starting to doubt my decision to wear black.

I know I've mentioned a time or two about how very warm our house gets due to its lack of A/C, but I really had no idea what I was talking about then. In fact, I laugh at my past self, writing those posts. This week has been ridiculous, as anyone who isn't living under a rock and ventures outdoors would confirm. Last night, we reached a recordbreaking 89°F inside our home, no breeze from outside to be found. In fact, it got so bad that I was standing in the bathroom, innocently brushing my teeth, when [ advanced apologies for the sheer gross factor of the rest of this story ] I felt a drop sliding down on my leg. Yes, I was literally dripping sweat just from lifting an arm in attempt to do the simple act of brushing my teeth. Horrific. I still don't know how we managed to fall asleep. Aaaaand then this morning, I turned on the oven to do some baking and cooking, just because I was that crazy determined. How sad / ironic / funny...in the winter months, I moan and groan all the good long day about wearing three pairs of pants, two sweatshirts and four pairs of socks to bed to counter the looming threat of frostbite, just dreaming of warm and sunny days. Now, in the throes of summer, I want to just sell my soul for even a hint of cold air in the house...


"If you can see this, my invisibility cloak isn't working."

It's the end of an era, as people are saying.

Look how much they've changed!

[ Amy has a much better display of all things Harry Potter in her latest posts, my favorite being the age comparisons of key characters ]

Upon leaving work at about 9:05pm last night, I zipped right on over to the McDonald's to pick up two of their [ absolutely fantabulously delicious ] caramel mocha coffees for Justin and me with hopes that the caffeine would carry us well into the wee hours of the morning. After that, I rushed home to take out and feed the dog, change into comfy clothes [ which were not part of some sort of costume ], gather our candy and drinks for smuggling into the theater, triple-check that I had our will call ticket retrieval information and impatiently excitedly awaited Justin's arrival home. Around 9:48pm I heard his garage door open then in a flash at 9:57pm we were off. And here's a perk to living in a smaller city - we were in the movie theater's [ already jam-packed ] parking lot less than ten minutes later.


this and that and everything in between

Since deciding to go back to school as well as moving into our church's house, Justin and I have become more aware of our finances and how we can possibly live more simply. In this post, he actually wrote about our attempts at living a greener lifestyle, which also translates into a "budget-friendlier"  lifestyle. Along with this topic, over the past year I've been struggling to live more minimalistically and environmental-conscienciously [ try saying THOSE last five words fast 10X ]. Maybe it's being married and starting a new life with someone, maybe it's the fact that my money is not solely my own anymore, or maybe it's just me going through some changes - as I wrote in my "About Me" section, I'm learning to be content with less.

I'll be honest, sometimes it is really tough. With social networking grabbing me left and right via Facebook or all the blogs out there, it's difficult to not get turn into the green-eyed monster. So-and-so has the cutest clothes, why can't I just make over my wardrobe? So-and-so's house and its furnishings are so beautiful, why can't I have that, too? Oh, how I wish I could have X, Y and Z just like so-and-so. The list goes on, and before you know it, I'm feeling all down in the dumps when in reality, I'm surrounded by mounds of blessings, both physically and emotionally.

But then I shake my head, remind myself of those blessings and I realize how much I truly have to be thankful for. Along with that, I remind myself how much joy I get out of doing some of those things that are considered "simpler" or not very extravagant. They actually really are just better for me because they bring me a sense of peace, being okay with the littler or more basic of things.


Copycat: Awkward & Awesome

I've been a silent [ read: non-commenting ] follower of The Daybook for quite a while now. The author, Sydney, is super cute and super fashionable and gives me outfit inspirations for when I have to work, which is pretty much the only time I ever wear put-together outfits...well, that plus church. That's right - for all of you that see me every other Saturday and on my days off, no, I do not just wear old high school / college t-shirts and Nike running shorts paired with my oh-so-stylish flip-flops... I am capable of looking like a respectable person of society with clothes intended for occasions other than exercising and housework.

Anyway, Sydney also does this comical thing of posting "Awkward and Awesome" situations that happen to her on a weekly basis and then shares them each Thursday. Every time I read them, I think to myself, "Does anything that weird / interesting / sweet-awesome-fantastic happen to me that consistently?" Usually the answer is no. However, this past week I noted a few things out of the ordinary, so I just had to share...


1) Taking our trash out. Now, I know you're all thinking that this is just an everyday, no-brainer chore where you just walk the can down the street and leave it to be picked up on a weekly basis blah blah blah. But let me inform you of this: living in the church's house and having to walk [ or drive if we're exceptionally wasteful that day ] across the entirety of the parking lot in order to fling the bag(s) into the giant dumpster conveniently located next to the nursing home [ the church's next door neighbor ] staff's preferred smoking location generates a few confused / judgmental / entertained / just-plain-weird looks.

2) Having to literally yell to the hard of hearing elderly (wo)man if (s)he needs a wheelchair in the already echo-inducing-at-the-sound-of-a-whisper lobby from my desk. This also generates several confused / judgmental / entertained / just-plain-weird looks.

3) The temperature of our house during these summer days, which hovers around 80-85 degrees by mid-afternoon. Stepping out of the shower and sweating just from toweling off is not pleasant.

4) Playing phone tag with the sales rep from Crowne Motors regarding my gas cap replacement. Not nearly as amusing as it is with a friend. "Hi, this is Nicole, guess I missed you! -awkward pause- Just calling you back about that gas cap, he he... -awkward pause- Soooo call me back when you get the chance. Bye!"

5) Getting home after a full day at work only to discover the second button on your blouse has been undone for who knows how long. Thankfully you wore a tank underneath but yikers!


1) Five weekends off in a row!!! Working every other weekend sure is a drag, but with switching shifts around and using PTO wisely, I can enjoy part of June and nearly every weekend during the month of July NOT sitting a desk, hating the world and wishing I were anywhere but there.

2) How I spent my day yesterday = successful 6 mile run to jumpstart the day + trip to the pet store with my little family + laundry drying on the line outside + lying in the sun with my little pupper + a Speedway Coke slurpee + short but sweet meet-up with my mom-in-law + cooking up a storm with Friends in the background [ as always ] + falling asleep with the fans strategically placed by my sweet husband to allow for the maximum amount of airflow through the room as possible

3) Biking to work today with minimal amount of sweat upon arrival - much better than when drops were literally running down my leg...

4) Having my hours reinstated at work - as much as I don't particularly enjoy what I do, I enjoy the money that generates as a result of it to pay our bills.

5) The fact that only nine more days stand between me, Sarah and the lovely, completely live voice of Josh Groban! The past two times we've attended his concerts they've involved singing onstage with him as part his backup choir and having him hold Sarah's hand as he serenaded her. We can only imagine what this next concert has in store for us...

6) The weather predictions for this weekend - Saturday: sunny, 0% chance precipitation, 87 degrees = beach; Sunday: 30% chance of storms = good excuse to stay inside snuggling, baking and watching movies



Okay, let's get real here. I've been feeling anxious this past week, stressing out about how I need to do a blog post and make it interesting so people will read it - take and edit and include some pictures, link to some forums for our Nikon or for fellow non-traditional students out there, post a link on Facebook with some witty summary to entice more readers, etc. I was looking at all these other blogs I follow that have a common theme so then I started obsessing about figuring out a theme for this thing...Crafting? Well, if copycatting everybody else's ideas could count then okay, but I'm pretty sure that wouldn't fly. Fashion? I'm almost positive nobody is interested in my daily t-shirt / running shorts / Teva sandals combination. Cooking / baking? I can hardly multitask with food preparation in the kitchen, much less attempt to photograph the process. It was getting to the point where I finally took a step back and said to myself, "Is this really what it's all about?"

No, no it's not.

I got caught up in the blogisphere [ it's a word, trust me ] and started focusing way too much on imitating other people's blogs rather than just making this what I intended it to be - for me and whoever in my life cared enough to read the crazy / jumbled / spontaneous / boring / exciting / ho hum thoughts of my day-to-day life. It's not about gaining readership or making money off ads or showcasing my [ albeit mediocre ] photography abilities. I may not lead the most interesting of lives, but I'd like to be able to look back on this one day and fondly remember where I was and what I was doing at this point in my life.

So, I'm reclaiming Chasing Peonies. It won't stress me out to write. It won't make me panic when I realize I haven't updated in over a week. It won't make me feel bad when I check my stats and don't see a high number. It won't it won't it won't.

Alright, it may [ and probably at times will ]. However, I will strive to just let this be what it is and progress in the way I feel most inspired. Sure, I'll still link it to Facebook. Yes, I might eventually post on a forum or two if I write about something super duper cool that I think may interest fellow nursing students or some other specific group of people. BUT I'm in no hurry right now nor do I have a certain timeline to do so. As my college apartment-mates would have said to me, "Calm the frick frack down!"

Whew, that's better now.