Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving vs Giving Thanks

my family. june. so thankful for them.

***this  post is from two years ago. As I sat down to write some thoughts for this week, these same words kept coming back to me, so I thought I'd share again ***

Yesterday morning I went to Costco (along with 14,000 other people) to pick up some groceries for our upcoming Thanksgiving feast.

As I was bumped into, cut off, and shoved across the aisles, I felt everything but thankful feelings. People wore frowns and muttered under their breath. Carts were overflowing 17 pumpkin pies, yet their owners were still forcing their way and knocking down small children and elderly shoppers for a tiny "sample" of the same pumpkin pie that spilled over their cart.

People all over the country are planning their after Thanksgiving (or during Thanksgiving for some) shopping sprees.
Spend spend spend. Consume consume consume.

Is this Thanksgiving? Maybe this is what Thanksgiving has become. 
But is it Giving Thanks? 
NO. It's not.

We need to take a step back and just think about what Thanksgiving means to us. If we truly want to show thanks, I think it takes more than a feast with a giant bird on the table and a quick 
"I am thankful for __________, now let's eat"!!

I could sit here and type out all my thankful thoughts (family! home! food! running! cookies! on and on and on!) but what does any of it mean?
These words I type are not tangible.

LIVE a life that is thankful. 
Love those around you and show your thanks for them every day. Be kind and considerate. 
Don't spend money on and consume things you don't need just because you can. 
Shop till you drop? How is that being thankful?

Don't just celebrate Thanksgiving........ celebrate giving thanks, and do it every day.
There is a difference.

Take this week to love your family and friends. Enjoy time together. Savor that giant bird on the table and all the wonderful things that go with it. Be thankful for what you have, and even for what you don't have--it's those things that make us better. 

And always, always, give thanks.

Monday, November 23, 2015

november senses

november breezes.....brrrrrrrrr

breezy // the little red house
.....just a few happenings from the past week...

seeing: snow. our first flurries in the valley, and the mountain tops are growing more white every day.

missing: not gonna lie, I am truly missing summer. November has me all like, "blehck." The high trails are done for the season, the low trails are too muddy to ride, the fall color is long gone, and the world is just a colorless brown hue.....all that + lots of wind. 
So summer, I miss you.
waiting: but I am anxiously awaiting for our first turns in fresh powder....hoping for a good snow year!
celebrating: last week I had my last clinical in long term care--woohoo!! Come January we start up in the hospital....equally exciting and terrifying.
feeling: so excited for Thanksgiving! I've always loved this day--it kicks off the holiday season, and I'm really a big fan of giant feasts, especially those with mashed potatoes. 
black fridaying: I 99% hate shopping, especially in stores, especially with crowds. Friday I'll be taking REI's #optoutside challenge and spending some time outdoors....which I guarantee is waaaayyyy healthier, and quite a bit cheaper than shopping, am I right?

eating: Buffalo Blue Cheese fries at Cubbys. 
Because......why not.
fries // the little red house
reading: Nothing exciting. At all. Pharmacology anyone? But I'm looking forward to Christmas break and hoping to read a book or two--any suggestions? Something easy and fast that I really don't have to use my brain is a break after all.
researching: I recently wrote a paper about the use of medical marijuana for children with epilepsy--it's a fascinating topic to me. If you like that kind of stuff (medical studies....or.....weed?) check out this TED talk --super interesting!

running: I'm trying to get out to clear my head when I can--Charly and I had our first sloppy/muddy/icy run of the season. Looking forward to more.
winter run // the little red house
watching: with the dropping temps and the shorter days we find ourselves snuggling up in blankets watching a movie as a family each weekend. The last few Saturday evenings we've been glued to the screen watching Indiana Jones.....we love him!
driving: as I type this we are currently on our way over the river and through the........million miles of barren Nevada grandma's house we go!
studying: everything. My first final is next week and then the rest are spread out over the following few weeks. bad news: these next few weeks will be nuts. good news: I'm so close to finishing my first semester!
cursing: My chickens. We added a few hens to our flock last winter and they have all been fighting ever sense. The last few months have been terrible....they are literally tearing each other to pieces (it looks like there has been a giant pillow fight out in the coop), and one of them is eating the eggs. EATING THEIR OWN BABIES! We are lucky to get out and get one before she tears into them all (still trying to figure out who it is). Anyone want chicken for dinner?

the lone egg...

baking: I mostly stick to my same ol' cookie recipes and Whitney Ingram's famous brownies , but this week we branched out. My mom used to make these around Christmas time when I was little, so I decided it was time to add these into the cookie rotation. 
I added some cinnamon.....just because.
Mexican Chocolate Crinkles

Mexican Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

(I take no credit for this recipe. It's Mrs. Martha's.....all I did was add the cinnamon, swap out the vanilla, and roll in granulated sugar AND powdered sugar

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon cinnamon
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoon Mexican Vanilla (since I am not often in Mexico, I like THIS one)
1/3 cup milk
1 cup(ish) confectioners' sugar, plus more for rolling
1 cup(ish) granulated sugar (I added a bit of cinnamon to this as well)

Melt chocolate in a heat-proof bowl, or the top of a double boiler, over a pan of simmering water. Set aside to cool. 
Into a small bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. 
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and light-brown sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until well combined. Add melted chocolate. 

Add dry ingredients alternately with milk. Mix on low speed until just combined. 
Divide dough into quarters, wrap with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator until firm, about 2 hours. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. On a surface dusted with confectioners' sugar, use your hands to roll each portion of dough into a log 16 inches in length and about 1 inch in diameter. Wrap logs in plastic wrap, and transfer to a baking sheet. Chill for 30 minutes.  (let's be honest, I didn't roll them into logs, I divided them up into four large lumpy roundish shapes, wrapped them up and put them in the freezer for about a half out, then took them out and rolled them into balls to roll in sugar)
Using your hands, roll the small pieces into balls.  Roll them FIRST in granulated sugar, then in confectioners’ sugar, a few at a time. If any of the cocoa-colored dough is visible, roll dough in confectioners’ sugar again to coat completely. Place cookies on prepared baking sheets 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies have flattened and sugar splits, 12 to 15 minutes. 

Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Mexican Chocolate Crinkles
How was your week?

Gear guide: 

-Athleta's Be Free tights--super comfy + warm, but breathable to you don't freeze in your sweat
-a good pair of wool socks

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Do you notice when the sun sets?
I love original, I know.

There is just....something...about taking a few minutes to pause at the day's end to watch the sun slip away silently until morning.

As soon as I could drive, every now and then I'd hop in my old Jeep pick-up, AM radio blaring, and head up the road to get a clear shot of the sinking sun behind the mountains. We lived on the plains....ish. Our house sat right where the Rocky Mountains rolled out into flatness, kind of in the in-between--waves of fields dotted with cows, rocky buttes, and a river winding through it all.

I'd park my Jeep on the side of the road (praying it would start back was a beast), and watch the sun dip behind the mountains. I never went with a purpose, I just liked getting up high, a view in all directions, and watching that big Montana sky wind down from it's day.

That teenage girl with the crazy hair was on to something....and I wish I could go back in time and thank her for the insight (and maybe give her a few tips about life....and hair).
Days are busy. Life is crazy....and seems to get more and more chaotic the older we get.
Time moves too quickly.
Do we pause enough to take it all in?

Sunday afternoon we jumped in the car to head out for a drive. The wind was whipping and the sky was threatening snow--but we wanted to hit one of our favorite roads that will soon be closed for winter. We had no intention of doing anything more than look out the windows--the kids were in pajamas with snow boots slipped over bare feet.

But as we drove out of the trees into a high clearing, the sky began to glow. The day had been mirrored my mood--and I had not expected that the sun would break through the clouds last minute and give us a show. We parked the car and headed UP. Straight up onto the highest point we could get to with little time to spare--through new snow and frozen grass, the wind biting at our noses.

I gasped (partially from the wind), but mostly from the view. Clouds in every size, shape, and texture spanned out for miles--we were on top of the world. We watched as the whole earth lit up--pink! then orange! purple! Lastly a bright silver in the sky--the mountains on fire as the sun shouted out one last good bye. 

My photos don't do it justice. They are a bit....blah.
But he FEELING that was there was something that you just can't capture in a photograph.
My favorite three people under a glowing sky....the best.
I paused and watched the sun melt away--time seemed to slow.
I felt.....everything. 
Life is good.
I've got this.
My soul was filled--in just a few minutes time.
Just from pausing for a moment and taking it all in.
All from watching the sun say goodnight.

So I'll ask you again.....
Do you notice when the sun sets?
Should you?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

thanks, legs

don't look down...but do.

Yesterday I woke up at 3:45..... waaaaaay earlier than any human should ever have to wake up, if you want my honest opinion. I headed down the canyon--no one else out but the deer crossing the road on every single corner--on my way to my second clinical shift. Our shifts this semester are in a long term care facility (aka, nursing home) and things have been, AHEM, eye more ways than we should probably discuss here.

As I was helping the sweetest little old lady out of her bed and on to breakfast, we talked about Halloween, her grand kids, and the other ladies in the hall (just so you know, women continue to be gossipy well in to their 80s). We would talk and she would be making complete sense, and then she'd kind of slip away and switch over to nonsense mumbo-jumbo conversation for a while, before returning back to herself with complete wit and charm. At one point she looked down at her legs, and said "look at my legs! They are so old!" It was like she was seeing them for the first time in years--and she was shocked. Then she looked right at me--IN to me almost, grabbed my arm, and said "HOW did I get this old?"

Her comment sat on my shoulders all day. It made me think.  Made me nervous. Sometimes I feel this way. I don't FEEL 32--I feel much younger. But I sometimes have moments where I really open my eyes and I'm like, "whhhaaaaaat?! I have two kids! 8 and 10?! HOW?! WHEN?! ME??!!" 
It's a panicky feeling, how quickly time goes by.

So I did what I do when I need to think--I went for a quick run after school to sort through everything. As I ran and felt my muscles burn, I wondered what my 80 year old legs will look like? They'll still be chicken legs, I'm sure of it. My right leg will still have a gnarly varicose vein--a souvenir from my Lucy. But I hope when I look down and see them, it won't be in shock. I hope they'll be old and tired from all the adventures they took me on, all the mountains they climbed, all the scratches and scrapes and bruises they got from falling down, and always getting back up.

A couple weeks ago we headed south to soak up some desert sun one last time before winter sets in. We camped, we explored, we counted stars, and we ate fantastic burgers.....the perfect weekend. One morning we got up before the sun, and headed up high above the desert floor. We watched the blankets of clouds roll back and the sun rise up between them.
Our plan was to head back down.....but not the way we came. No. STRAIGHT down, into the earth where the sun had yet to reach. Over the edge of the solid red rock beneath our feet, and DOWN, feet dangling over the desert floor below.

I totally kept my cool.

I thought I was going to puke. Now, I'm not saying "I thought I was going to puke" in a figurative way, to add an extra descriptive sentence to my story. I LITERALLY thought I was going to throw up, and found myself trying to find the best way to go about it. 
(Yeah, there is no best way to go about that).

My legs shook. They bounced. They almost jumped me right back down the trail.
And then, first step off.
Second step off.  
(there was quite the pause between this first two steps, mind you. 
But I never puked, so I'm ok with that.)
And then, they left the wall altogether. They scooby-doo'd a bit as I gathered myself together and looked around to take in my surroundings--140ft off the ground. 
"WOOHOO!!!" What a feeling, let me tell you. 
My legs landed me safely on the ground, and we hiked on to our next drop. 
And our next, and our next.
Dropping through holes,
squeezing through cracks.
My hoots and hollers echoing off the walls.
I hope that in sixty years my little legs are still carrying me around, no problem. A little slower, a little more effort required, sure--but I hope that I can remember when they were strong and quick and took me places not many people get to see. I hope I remember they always kept me side by side with the best of the best people. I hope I never have to look down in shock and not remember how they got so old.
I want to remember every step along the way.

this month I'm working hard to really open my eyes and notice all the good around me every day--all the "normal" things that I'm thankful for. Join me on IG (@_sheenarae) by tagging your photos #thankfulforthenormal

what are you thankful for today?

all photos taken in Capitol Reef National Park with our iPhones

Gear Up:

Patagonia R3 Fleece  (Mine is from a previous year and has a hood but this is THE best jacket!!) 
(Mens) Prana Stretch Zion Pant (Robby's all time favorite pants--for everything)

Sunday, November 1, 2015

thankful for the normal

welcome november.
 These last few days have been almost completely normal.....and they have been nothing short of completely fantastically amazingly amazing.
No hustle, no bustle, no plans at all. The kids had Friday off for end of term, and my Friday schedule was unusually clear, so we took full advantage. 
And by full advantage I mean we
-slept in. way in.
-stayed in our pajamas until 5:00.
day. well. spent.

We were lazy all day--I slopped together some Halloween costumes and the kiddos carved pumpkins (while wearing pajamas, obviously), and then we headed into the city for more Pho because I just couldn't stop thinking about the hot steamy goodness from last weekend. We got home and I roasted pumpkin seeds and Robby and I stayed up way too late watching stupid tv, and it felt so normal I could hardly stand how much I loved it.
The next morning Robby and I quickly ran up up up up the mountain, and I'm so thankful for my sore legs that carried me to the top--they have gotten used to sitting all day--I doubted their abilities.....thankfully, they proved me wrong. 

oh hey, little towns. 
We came home and got some chores done around the house, and then tricked and treated until these crazy kiddos ran their little legs off.

my bandits.
bandits // the little red house
We topped off the night feasting on Nachos, which in my opinion is the best way to end a day.

Sunday was church, followed by a long drive on unexplored roads, taking in the quiet eeriness that only early November can offer.
We wrapped in blankets while Robby read bedtime stories, and I did my best to soak it all in as we geared up for another week. 
I'm so thankful for these normal little moments with my family--slow weekends spent soaking up nothing but time together.

...and thankful for slow evenings with soup on the stove while the wind blows outside....
Roasted Cauliflower and White Bean Soup // the little red house
Roasted Cauliflower and White Bean Soup
1 head cauliflower, cut into small pieces
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 TBS fresh rosemary, finely chopped
4 cups prepared cannellini beans 
4-6 cups chicken stock (depending how "soupy" you want it)
2 bay leaves
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cayenne pepper
few dashes of white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
bacon for topping (when you take your cauliflower out of the oven, lower the temp to 400°, spread out the bacon on a lined cookie sheet, and bake for 15-20 minutes until crispy.)

Preheat oven to 425°. Toss cauliflower pieces in olive oil, a little salt, and cracked pepper and spread on baking sheet. Roast until fork tender and golden brown. While cauliflower is roasting, heat olive oil in your soup pot. Sauté onion until tender. Add in garlic and rosemary and cook a few minutes more, stirring constantly. Add chicken stock, beans, bay leaves, vinegar, nutmeg and cayenne. When your cauliflower is roasted, add it to the pot.  Simmer for 30-40 minutes so all the flavors have time to party. Ladle soup into your blender and give it a few pulses (I don't like it to turn into a puree). Return it to the pot. Add salt and pepper to taste, (I like LOTS of cracked pepper in this soup) and add more broth if needed.
Top with bacon and broil some crusty bread for dunking.

Remember when I used to blog like crazy and all November I'd post almost DAILY about what I was thankful for? (find all those posts HERE). While I won't be posting daily on the blog--I'll try my best to really open up my eyes and look around to see all the little normal things that I'm thankful for--and hopefully post a few times a week on IG for the month of November. I invite you to join me--share your photos #thankfulforthenormal on IG so we can all see!

What are you thankful for today?

My favorite "thankful" post: My Two