Fast Cars and Family

We make it a point in our lives to hang out with friends. We always try to fit in that newest episode of The Big Bang Theory. And there is rarely a time in our lives when we opt out of the opportunity to take a vacation or road trip down to Kings Dominion.

We place such high priorities on so many silly things in our lives, and yet, family isn’t always very high on that list of things we simply must make time for.

I personally try to make a specific and conscious effort to say yes to life, and yet, I have no problem saying no to my family. Somehow, they have been excluded from my life’s aims. They are just the people whose home I share. The people whom I summarize all of my other adventures to. The people whom I just assume will be patiently awaiting my phone call or visit.

I take them for granted.

And I shouldn’t.

My family means so much to me. Having them around brightens up my day, maps my future, and enlivens my past. I am so grateful for (almost) every interaction that I have with them. And I need to start actively engaging them in my life instead of passively relating to them.

That’s why when my Dad asked me if I’d like to stop by a car show with him and my brother, I gave him a definite and resounding yes.

Yes, I would like to spend time with my father and brother and make memories that involve more than just arguments about the cleanliness of the house. Even if the only thing that I get out of this adventure is looking at some handsome cars with my family, count me in.

So when you look through these pictures, know that yes, they are simply pictures of cars; but the photographer is not simply a photographer, she is more of a daughter and more of a sister than she has been in a long while.

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An Ode to Swimming Pools

Please enjoy this silly little poem about how in love I am with swimming pools.

Swimming pools, oh swimming pools, what to even say?

The way I anticipate your cooling embrace all throughout the day.

It gives me chills to think of you and you light a certain spark.

Especially when I jump in and see your inflatable blow-up shark.

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My affinity for swimming pools runs deeper than an in-ground.

Especially when I noticed all the bugs you’ve sweetly drowned.

Though our time together is brief, I cherish your blue waters,

The only thing you could improve, is if you were filled with otters.

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For the joy you bring to me, swimming pool, I will always yearn,

Even when I must leave you, because your owners have returned.

A Delicious Addition to My Bucket List

recipe folderSomewhere in the shady recesses of my kitchen, sprinkled with cobwebs, browning with age but taut with neglect, all neat and pristine, without a drop of oil or a splash of vinegar, lays my recipe folder.

Just because I have failed, on many occasions, to follow through with the cooking, baking, sautéing, broiling, grilling, steaming, boiling, or mere mixing of ingredients to create such decedent delicacies, does not mean that I have given up on collecting recipes. In fact, it seems that the fewer meals I cook, the more recipes I store.

guac and chicken kabobsSo watch out Cheesy Cauliflower Rice, because I’m coming after you with all of the fury and fire of a woman who has free time on her hands. Sleep with one eye open Loaded Guacamole with Chicken Kababs, because I’m locked and loaded to make you up with a knife and then take you down with a fork. Tuna Melt, don’t for a second think I’ve forgotten about you. Oh, and Greek Shrimp Bruschetta and Pizza Pasta, you better sleep with one eye open.

Because I have a new addition to my Pail List.

Official Pail List addition:

Cook all of the recipes I’ve collected.

Goals for this addition:

  • I’m going to aim for preparing one dish each week (while it’s summer time, as a college dorm is not conducive to creating culinary works of art)
  • Most of the dishes are healthy, so I’d like to document my experience with a few of them on Happiness Through Health
  • I’d like to feel more confident and comfortable, and less awkward and frightened in the kitchen
  • Get one person from my circle of support to try each week’s mystery meal
  • Continue collecting inspiring recipes and embrace any food mess battle scars they may receive

cute apron

I’m excited to see how this Pail List addition will turn out, because it will be requiring constant attention to get completed on time. For now, I’m going to get psyched for my sudden enthusiasm with cooking by perusing some cute aprons online.

Ocean City Dreams

Every year my family takes a trip Ocean City, Maryland to visit my grandparents and have some fun in the sun.

I’m sure you all can guess exactly what comes with the promise of a family vacation:

  • Yelling and screaming over the TV channel
  • My grandparents’ refusal to turn on the air conditioningIMG_2194
  • Losing to my Mom in cards
  • Taking far too many pictures of my cat
  • Wishing my Poppy didn’t wake up the house at 5 in the morning by stirring his coffee
  • Trekking sand around the house all week despite making 1 trip to the ocean
  • Not having enough time to visit the boardwalk because your family is still playing with the cat
  • Sitting in traffic in the church parking lot after a slightly pathetic 4th of July fireworks display

This is the only real vacation I get for the summer. To some people, it may have seem like a wasted trip, more like a test of my patience than an enjoyable time. But, after vacationing with these people for all of my life, I’ve learned to look at things a different way.

So in addition to all of those riveting events, also came:

  • Sleeping in and bumming around watching American Pickers
  • A warmth that thawed me out from the constant stream of air conditioning I’ve grown accustomed to and will forever keep me heated
  • Trying to sabotage my Mom in cards and finding innovative ways to at least beat my DadDSCN0905
  • Taking far too many adorable pictures of my cat
  • Spending quality time with my silly and even more adorable grandparents
  • Relaxing on the beach and gaining a slight tan
  • Always finding room in my stomach to gorge myself with buttery scallo9ps
  • Watching fireworks with my one-of-a-kind family

One of my absolute favorite parts of this trip was getting to take pictures of our adventures. Even though we go every year, I’m always too busy living in the moment to take pictures. Don’t get me wrong, I feel like that’s a great mentality to have, but when you want to share meaningful moments on a blog, pictures are nice too.

I hope you enjoy this!

I hope you enjoy this!

And even though the fireworks weren’t as good as they’ve been in the past, it’s still balls of light, color, and sound exploding into the night sky and occasionally making a smiley face. And that’ll always be worth seeing. When fireworks are involved, how could anyone not look on the bright side? (Pun intended…)

Make Your Bed, Make Your Day

I have vivid memories of being a young child and constantly being nagged to make my bed. I don’t know why it was any concern of my mother’s as to the cleanliness of my room, but she constantly fought with me over the state of my purple flowered sheets and green flowered quilt.

bed sheetsBut now that I’m older, something weird has happened. I simply cannot bare to start my day with an unmade bed.

I love knowing that no matter what happens in the day, I’m off to an organized and predictable start when I wake up and begin folding covers and tucking in edges just how I like. There’s a peace of mind offered by knowing that no matter what the day brings, I at least know I’ve gotten one thing right in making my bed.

Sometimes, mothers are smart ladies.

Shucking Corn and Loving Life

I never expected shucking corn to be one of life’s simple pleasures. But when you’re sitting on your back porch enjoying the light rays of sunshine, watching bunnies and chipmunks dart around in front of you, smiling at the memories of running outside to catch the falling hale so you could water the house plants with the tiny cubes of ice, remembering how you would catch fireflies for your mom and gently carry them back to the same steps you’re sitting on, and smelling the freshly cut grass from your neighbor’s lawn, it’s hard not to fall into happiness.

I never wanted to be out there dealing with errant silk strings and messy corn leaves, but I’m oh so grateful that I did, because I found more life on those steps than I had ever expected.

Running Progress, Running Pride

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been sweating my way through a 5K training program. I’ve dropped a considerable amount of weight, become so stretchy that Gumby would be jealous, unfortunately stretched out my tennis shoes until they are sad and tattered remnants of their once grand self, and memorized most all of my workout song playlist (including all of Mambo No. 5)

run 1

I’ve never been a runner, but as “complete an official race” is on my bucket list, I knew that I had to start training eventually. Since there’s no better time than the present and I was feeling sluggish from the chilly winter weather, I hopped on the track at the gym and immediately surpassed my expectations just by showing up. I knew that it’d be a struggle to get my Pop-Tart-munching-self running more than just my mouth, so I decided to pay my 5K race fee right away to encourage actual participation. Luckily, I care more about getting my money’s worth than being lazy.

At the beginning of the year, running a half mile left me looking gnarly and sorely out of breath. Very very very slowly, I’ve built up my run time to the point where I can now run (know that way I say “run” it really refers to a moderate jog) for a solid half hour while feeling like I don’t want to end my wretched life by the finish. What progress! And more than that, I actually somewhat somehow maybe perhaps enjoy running now. Before it would feel monotonous and more like a chore, but somehow I’ve gradually come to enjoy the simplicity in repeatedly pounding my feet on the pavement.

race 3

Though I began as a reluctant runner, I’ve discovered a joy and pride that running has brought to my life. I love being able to explain to my friends and family my running plans and the tremendous progress I’ve made. It simply feels good to exercise, and even better to talk about exercising.

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My first official 5K, the Baltimore Women’s Classic, is in June (though I’ve already completed an unofficial one conducted through UMD) and I know that I’m ready to take on this challenge. My only goal is to run throughout the whole event with no walking breaks in between. If I get below 30 minutes on the day of the run, that’ll be stupendous, but if not, I’ve already achieved something worthwhile, the knowledge that I’ve proven my self-worth through commitment, dedication, and sweat. I am so proud of what I’ve already accomplished, and I can’t wait to see how much further I can take myself before race day.

toe shoes

I don’t think I could take myself seriously in these…

But first, I need to get new running shoes.

A Daughter’s Love, A Mother’s Day

mother's day heartAs I hope everyone was aware, the most anticipated and stressful day, Mother’s Day, was this past Sunday. Even though I’m away at school and knee deep in studying for finals, I welcomed the break to tell my mother how much I appreciate and love her for all she’s done. I had a 4 Phase Mother’s Day Surprise Love Attack strategy, and I welcomed the chance to put it into action.

It began Saturday night when I decided to drive back home for Phase1. I didn’t get home until late Saturday night and as I opened the garage door, I saw my mom’s jaw drop in surprise at my presence. She had no idea I’d be making the trip back home, as the last time we talked she had sadly agreed that we may as well put Mother’s Day off until next week. Delay the one day of the year dedicated to such a wonderful woman? No. Phase 1, shock and awe, complete.

Phase 2 of the Mother’s Day Surprise Love Attack involved me, my brother, and my father taking my mom out for a delicious breakfast of blueberry egg and cheese bagel sandwiches at a restaurant we’ve been frequenting since I was a child. This Phase was just as much for me as for my mother. She loved the consideration and the opportunity to relive our former Sunday morning tradition, and I loved my buttery bagel.

IMG_2082Phase 3 involved helping my mom cook dinner. While most people tend to go out for this special day, my mom opted to eat in for a delicious dinner of scallops and asparagus. Despite her insistence that she be the one to prepare the meal (which I was oh so grateful for), I helped prepare some fruits and vegetables for the occasion. It was so much nicer to relax at home than to spend such an intimate day in a crowded restaurant brimming with strangers and overpriced specials.

This is the last picture we took where all of us are in the frame. It was more than 8 years ago...

This is the last picture we took where all of us are in the frame. It was more than 8 years ago…

Next, came Super Phase 4 of the Mother’s Day Surprise Love Attack, and the presentation of my mom’s true gift. I provided her with a homemade card and the promise of taking family pictures sometime over the next couple of weeks. I wanted to give her a gift that truly expressed how much I care about her and our family, and by cementing our love in a series of cheesy looking photographs, I know that we will always have a reminder of how much we care for one another.

Overall, the day may not have been outrageously special, but I’m just glad that I could spend some time with my mother and tell her how much I appreciate everything she has done for me, because she has truly sacrificed everything to provide the best opportunities for my future. Her patience, dedication, and love are gifts that I will always recognize, and her effort to provide for me is a gift that I never intend to waste. It’s a bit sad that I only take the pains to acknowledge and celebrate these feelings one day of the year. All of the people I love should know exactly how deeply I care for them, and they deserve to hear my heartfelt expressions of love throughout the year.

mother's day meme

Art Attack – Completing My Bucket List One Bland Activity at a Time

DSCN0572This past weekend, the University of Maryland put on Art Attack, which is basically a concert with a surprise musical guest performing right in the middle of our football field. Seeing as tickets were $8 and a decent portion of the student body was planning on attending, I knew this would be a great way to spend a Friday night and cross “attend a concert” off my bucket list.

Though I’m 20 years old, I’ve never actually been to a concert before. I suppose I’ve had opportunities, but there hasn’t been a band or artist I love enough to devote my time and money to. It doesn’t help that I like older bands (Led Zeppelin, The Who = $$), and country music (Rascal Flatts, Josh Turner = lack of interest from friends) who no one would want to join me in seeing. Though I wasn’t paticularly enthused about the band, Art Attack, featuring MGMT, seemed to present the perfect opportunity to provide me with my first concert experience.

(Here is the song that most people know by them. Feel free to search for the music video, but I find it terrifying.)

A few friends and I arrived at the concert just in time to gain access to the pit, an area directly in front of the stage where people could stand. Though I wasn’t too enthusiastic about standing for four hours, I knew that it would only help make my quintessential concert experience. After two decent warm-up bands and a whole lot of waiting around, MGMT finally arrived on stage.

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Firstly, I should do some explaining.

  1. I only know one of their songs, and vaguely at that.
  2. I had been standing for three hours in uncomfortable but adorable shoes.
  3. The temperature plummeted after the first warm-up act.
  4. People were smoking right in front of me, and I detest being subjected to the unhealthy habits of others

Basically, what I’m getting at is I had a thoroughly poor-to-mediocre time. I’m glad that I went and had an experience that I’d always wanted to, but the experience itself wasn’t so grand. And they didn’t even play the one song of theirs that I vaguely know….

This hasn’t deterred me in the least though, and I would definitely go to another concert in the future. Provided I like the band, wear sneakers, bring two jackets, mittens, and a scarf, and don a gas mask to overcome the smokers.

Charm City

baltimore skylineI’ve lived just outside of Baltimore, MD my whole life. As a child, I never frequented the city unless it was to visit the prairie dogs at the Zoo or pay testament to Barney on Ice. Once I grew up a tad and  figured out how to properly work the light rail, I could really begin to appreciate the beauty of the city and everything Baltimore had to offer (my Super Bowl-winning Ravens). I fell in love.

I don’t consider myself a city girl by any means, but there’s just something about Baltimore that pulls on my heart strings and makes me feel like I’m comfortably at home but also capable of discovering untold adventures. Everything that Baltimore offers is dear to me and I am so grateful that I’ve grown up next to such a prominent and delightful town.

I think Tracey does a pretty good job of describing Charm City:

In Baltimore, I’ve:

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The Harbor was gorgeous at night

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The prize was meeting Torrey Smith. GIVE ME MORE CARDS!

Played Bingo in Ravens stadium.

Celebrated my anniversary on the Inner Harbor.

Gotten an internship with a premier medical center.

Tolerated my brother at baseball games.

Beauty and the Beast!

Beauty and the Beast!

Bonded with my Dad on the 20 yard line.

Relived my childhood with my Mom.

And created memories that are bound to last a lifetime.

We all have that one special place around where we grew up that just calls to us, and for me, that’s Baltimore. I hope that one day I can find some way to give back to the city I love. For right now, I’m content to just reflect on all the wonderful experiences it’s lent me and continue planning for more memorable times.

baltimore harbor