Jet Lag and Finding Happiness

Late on the posting front today since we just got home to Philly last night after spending a week in my old ‘hood in Seattle. I’ll be back next week with a proper post.. but for now… I just want people to know…

..this is what joy looks like in your 30s…


It’s the little things in life that can really make you happy.



Afraid Of My Own Backyard

WARNING: This post contains photos that may trigger those with trypophobia.

When I was a kid, I loved Reading Rainbow. Even now, whenever Graham and I work together to solve a problem, I burst into the chorus of “Teamwork.” For some reason though, when I watched the episode when LeVar Burton visits the New England Aquarium and reads “Louis the Fish,” I was horrified during the “Sea Living” song interlude because of THIS fish:

Sorry about the poor quality of the image. It’s a screen cap of an episode that is as old as my husband.

I couldn’t figure out just why this fish evoked a queasy response from me. I thought maybe it had something to do with the similarities the fish’s pattern had to a hideous dress my grandmother owned.

Fast forward to 2014, and a podcast from Stuff To Blow Your Mind solved the mystery for me.. I’m trypophobic.. for those of you unfamiliar with the term:trypophobiadefinitionWhen Graham and I bought our house this past winter, the last thing I suspected was that it would grow goosebump inducing… things. I don’t mean the centipedes, worms, slugs, or snails that have I’ve unearthed while weeding in the garden, stifling my startled screams so the neighbors don’t snicker about the former Center City girl who’s afraid of nature. No, I’m talking about things like the fern leaves with the patterned undersides that make me squeamish.

See?20160712_004519At least they’re not in obvious view unlike some other offending plants…

When I first discovered we had asiatic lilies growing the backyard, I took great care cultivating them and guarding them every time Graham went outside with the weed whacker. “Mind the lilies!” I’d yell, pointing them out. I’d never grown lilies before, and was determined that we’d see these bloom. One day, I suddenly noticed something about the lilies that had grown past my waist..20160710_235746WTF? No, I mean… WTF?! No, no, no, no. I panicked under my trypophobia for a moment, then sought a quick Google education which taught me that these were actually asiatic lily seeds.. and scattering them around would give me new lilies for next season. I braved the goosebumps the mere appearance of these things had given me and began plucking them off the stem and tossing them all over the yard while an amused Graham watched. I was going to see these babies through to bloom!20160710_235604ARGH! Just typing about these things is giving me gooseflesh again.

And earlier this week.. it finally happened.

From the kitchen window, while pouring my morning coffee, I could see the back of one of the lilies.. the petals had unfurled. I could make out the orange tips curled back. Excitedly, I headed out with the dog, ready to enjoy the payout of weeks of nurturing and overcoming my trypophobia.

To my horror… this is what met me…20160710_235406

THE BLACK SPOTS!! I had to look away. If the triggered trypophobia hadn’t left me feeling so disgusted, I would have found the humor in nature’s irony. That’s when the gravity of the situation hit HARD.


Graham has specific instructions for next year.

Take No Prisoners. Weed whack EVERYTHING. 

That’s how it goes. I create the problems, and Graham provides the solutions.



Fry Guys Burgers and Fries

Fry Guys Burgers and FriesGraham and I went for a walk in the neighborhood after going out for dinner at Goat Hollow. There’s so much greenery around, and Mount Airy folks DEFINITELY love their sunflowers. We came across a house with the front yard crammed with lilies, cacti, thistles, etc. It was basically a swatch of every flower in the neighborhood. It included a large spray of ornamental grass, which, I told Graham, resembled a Fry Guy.

Graham: A what?


Graham: A what?

Me: You don’t know what a Fry Guy is? Is it a generational thing you were too young for and missed out on?!

Graham: I don’t know..?

Me: Ok, Google.. show me pictures of Fry Guys.

Fry Guys Burgers and Fries

I’m uncertain how to interpret this. Either Google thinks I have a speech impediment or she is trying to not so delicately imply what she thinks of my dinner choice of a gigantic medium rare burger with gruyere and fries. What’s more American than grilled burgers and weight problems?

Have a Happy Fourth!


PS. Apparently, the official name for the “Fry Guys” is “Fry Kids.” I would have posted a photo, but most of them include a copyright tag.. so, in case you’re curious.. they’re like this:

Fry Guys Burgers and FriesOr you could just look here.

Putting Away Childish Things.. Right On The Windowsill

Dolls make Graham uncomfortable. He was traumatized as a kid when his babysitter watched Barbarella. I find it kinda funny that in the whole movie, it isn’t a half-naked Jane Fonda that makes the impression on him. Nope, it’s feral attack dolls.

The scary attack dolls from Barbarella

I can’t blame him.

So one night, while he was on the first floor.. I did some window dressing in the bedroom:20160623_004950I made sure to prop up the marionette Graham brought back from Mexico for me when I asked him for “the creepiest doll you can find” as a souvenir.mexicopuppetAnd now, Graham knows that you can’t leave me alone for too long because when boredom sets in, I’m just going to look for ways to antagonize him.

I now want to see if I can hunt down Polly Pocket figures and line them up on his nightstand so just as he’s about to turn off the lamp.. SURPRISE! New friends!

Oh yeah… in a hypocritical move, Graham deported the marionette last night and demanded that a wall be built around it.


Shared Experience = Positive Impact On Relationships

I try doing this… but it goes unappreciated by Graham.. in fact, he imposed an embargo in the bedroom on my non-fiction books.. mainly because I was reading a lot about politics, history, the military, and racial issues. I guess it got pretty annoying for him when I kept nudging him from his Bradbury book to rant about something I just read. So, when it’s time for lights out, my blood is too boiled to fall asleep.. and then I start feeling the need to share my insomnia.. and it ends up going something like this:

Guess I’m not going to be getting out of an afterlife in Jersey anytime soon.



An Almost Accurate Depiction Of A Nightstand For A Woman In Her Late 30s

It’s been awhile since my last post since, between then and now, Graham and I have moved into our new home, have done a lot of renovating and decorating, and also hosted my sister’s family for an all too brief visit. Whenever my sister and I get together and reminisce while trying to keep up with my toddler nephew, I’m reminded of growing older.. or rather OLDER.

I’ve come to terms with being on the verge of turning 38 this year. At least I think I’m turning 38. I’ve found that after I turned 34, I find myself having to do the math to figure out how old I’m going to be each year. My brain is so bad when it comes to my own age that for almost an entire year, I kept saying I was 36 when I was actually 35. It was a nice little surprise when I realized I was a year younger than I thought I was. I had time traveled to both the future and the past! I realized yesterday, that my nightstand is starting to betray my age.20160518_174200

Here you have…

  • Ibuprofren
  • Living Proof Pre-Treatment Shampoo from their “Timeless” line. Let me explain the “Timeless” collection. It’s actually for “old hair” which came recommended after taking their hair diagnostic test where I provided my age. Yes, I had to subtract my birth year from today to remember. I tested it again, leaving the same hair concerns but using a younger age, and got a different product recommendation for a shampoo and a conditioner. So, the breakdown is: “Timeless” = Code for “Old.”
  • Tums… LOTS of Tums
  • Clinique Smart Custom Repair Serum.If you’re wondering this does.. here’s the description from Clinique’s website.IMG_20160518_181909

I love how it’s “for all ages,” but when you look at the targets, it seems a bit biased towards “more mature” skin. Anyway, continuing on..

  • First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream for dry hands
  • Clinique Repairwear Anti-Gravity Eye Cream. In other words, wrinkle cream for those crow’s feet perched around the eyes.
  • Icy Hot – Extra Strength
  • Vaseline Lip Therapy
  • Glasses

As I mentioned in this post’s title, it’s “almost accurate.” I neglected to take a snapshot of the medication for the sciatica from my herniated disc. Since Graham’s been having to take care of me, I keep apologizing that I wasn’t anticipating this sort of assistance for at least another 20 years. “I’m sorry you chose to marry an old lady,” I joke about both our age difference and my health issues.

I think the 5 Stages of Grief can also apply to your youth. I’m in acceptance, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t TRY to do what I can to age gracefully. If I end up looking half as naturally good as Diane Keaton in my 60s or Dame Judi Dench at 80 (I should live so long.. AND likewise still be a cougar with my husband on my arm), I think I’ll be able to add a 6th stage – pride.


Winter Seaweed Soup

2016-01-05 12.26.04 1

There’s definitely no shortage of chilis, beef stews, meatloaf, root veggies, and all the other typical winter comfort foods at our house when the temperature drops, but more than anything else, there tends to be an increase in Korean dishes simmering on the stove. Usually, it’s all about the kimchi or miso-based stews, but lately, I’d found myself wanting Korean seaweed soup (miyeok guk).

I’d always left the making of this soup from scratch to the expert (aka Mom), or, if I had a sudden craving, normally, the instant packets of wakame soup from Kikkoman would usually do in a pinch. Last week though, those packets weren’t going to cut it, and with my mom 3 states away, I figured I’d try tackle the challenge of furthering my Korean domestication.seaweedpackageNowadays, you can find freeze dried seaweed at your neighborhood Whole Foods, which is surreal for me. I remember my family having to drive an hour away from home in our grey Winnebago a few times a month to pick up ingredients at the nearest Korean market in Kansas. It’s great to have easy access, but there’s limitations on varieties and brands. Now, Graham and I look for any excuse to make the quick trip to H-Mart located in the Korean strip mall in Elkins Park. It’s just easier for me to know exactly what I’m buying when I can read Korean labels on the products. There’s less chance that I’ll inadvertently pick up the “wrong” kind of seaweed by mistake (for this soup, koreans use “sea mustard”). presoakseaweedStraight out of the package, not the prettiest ingredient.. the texture’s similar to kale chips… but, let it soak in water for about 20 minutes and…seaweedsoupit unfurls into some really beautiful, pillowy greens. I love the sheen!

As far as the recipe goes, I started off using one from Korean Bapsang, but as the soup was finishing up on the stove, a quick taste test determined that, although good, it didn’t quite taste like the kind my mother makes. I did a little comparison googling and deferred to Maangchi’s recipe, since I’d often used her site for deciphering the flavors in korean dishes in the past and gotten some luck. I added a bit of fish sauce… it was perfect =)seaweedsouptopviewI definitely felt like i earned my “Korean cred” when I texted a photo to both my parents  and they both messaged back that it made them hungry.. ok.. so it helped that I’d sent them the photo around lunchtime and neither of them had eaten yet.


It was a simple once I had the right ingredients, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to give up those Kikkoman instant wakame soup packages in the pantry anytime soon =) Hooray for laziness!


Hello 2016

Some important milestones from 2015:

On Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, VA
  • We took our first real road trip together
  • We got engaged
  • My younger sister and her family moved to the East Coast, meaning for the first time in almost 20 years, we’d only be a few hours apart
  • We had a surprise wedding complete with a food truck <3
Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy
  • My sister convinced me that we should both start Etsy shops (it’s in the works.. I swear! I know I’ve been saying that since November.. but really!)
  • We went on our honeymoon in Italy (Venice, Florence, Rome) which meant..
  • I got to travel to Europe for the very first time
  • I created a volunteer hours tracking database for WHYY, the NPR and PBS affiliate for Philadelphia which meant I spent all those days in the same building as Terry Gross.
  • We had an offer accepted on a house in Mount Airy, which means we’ll be leaving the Graduate Hospital neighborhood.. or, the G-Ho as some of us like to call it.

2015 was definitely our year.. but with the settlement date on the house coming up in just under a week, I think I can safely say that 2016 might be just as promising.