Life & Family

A Head’s Up

I’m going to be posting off and on this week and next week. I was sick over the weekend (see Monday’s post) and I have a bunch of stuff to catch up on. I also want to watch a tv series with Shane instead of writing, and I’d like to get some reading done.

I’m writing this as if I have a vast readership who will notice – more likely I’ll forget why I don’t have consistent posts for the next couple of weeks and this will remind me. Also, it’s good to be accountable for things you’ve promised, even when no one else will notice.

See you later,


Life & Family

Stress, Anxiety, and 2020

I think it’s incredibly interesting that the human body can react to stress and anxiety in so many different ways. The most obvious is a straight up panic attack, when your entire body suddenly reacts to a situation as if it’s life or death. Right now, in 2020, everyone is becoming more familiar with all the other expressions of stress and anxiety.

The human body can come up with all kinds of ways to express that it’s being stressed to much, from worrying a lot, to not wanting to do anything, to not letting your mind quiet, to not being able to sleep, and so on and so forth. Even acne.

I think that a lot of people have never really thought about the fact that a night of bad sleep or an acne breakout has a direct relationship to a stressful event. Now, however, a lot more people have the time to experience their stress in a whole new way, so they’re making those connections now. I also wouldn’t be surprised if people’s stress/anxiety reactions have been ratcheted up and are a lot more obvious. There’s no proof of any of this, by the way, just my observations and thoughts.

This isn’t what I was going to write about today, but a couple of days ago, my stomach went haywire. Non-stop heartburn and chest pains, it feels like food gets stuck in my esophagus and is super painful, I have stomach pains, it feels like it’s constantly burning, and I have no appetite until I’m suddenly starving but when food is in front of me and I’m not hungry anymore. It’s a perfect, and horrific, marriage of my GERD and the intense anxiety/stress of living in a Covid hot spot in the year that keeps throwing unanticipated curve balls. So earlier, I was eating some applesauce and decided that I wanted to talk about this.

I’ve heard people say that their headache is from stress, or that they have been having trouble sleeping, but it’s so rare to hear someone talk about stomach problems beyond a “I have stressful event today so I have a sour stomach.” People also never seem to talk about acne, or being depressed because of stress/anxiety (they’ll talk about being in a bad mood, but not just lethargic). I obviously haven’t been hanging out with many people, and when I talk to my friends we actively try to not talk about the pandemic so it’s possible that everyone is always talking about all the weird stress effects on them and I’m just missing that riveting conversation.

I don’t have any advice or ways to make your body not be weird, but I can say that if you’re acting weird, or your body is being weird right now, give it (and yourself) a break. When the world stops falling apart, things will get better.

Thanks for reading my ramble!


Goals and Plans · Life & Family

Creating a 5 Year Plan

Last week I thought I’d make a 5 year plan. I don’t really go in for “if you write/envision it, it will automatically happen”, but I do think that there’s something powerful in writing down the long-term vision of your life. After I did a ton of Googling and reading and thinking, I decided to write this post instead of creating one so I haven’t actually made my 5 year plan yet. I promise to post mine soon, though, and link it from here.

The Goal Setting

Make concrete, measurable goals for 5 years from now and then work backwards from there to make ‘stepping stone’ goals from when you start your plan to when it’s finished. A linear path to the finish line – like a race. Start your goals with a version of this sentence: “I want to (do/have/be/get)…”

Goal Setting

  1. Create a list of categories you would like to have goals in.
    • Ex: Love, Hobbies, Career, $$$, Travel, etc. You can have as few or as many as you’d like.
  2. Make a list of your goals & group them by your categories.
  3. Take your goals by categories and start breaking those goals down into smaller goals.
  4. Continue breaking those goals down into manageable chunks of actionable items.
    • Goal: I want to buy a house
      • Save $25,000 by the end of 5 years.
      • Save $5,000 each year
      • Only eat out once a month
      • Stop buying coffee
  5. Repeat for each goal.
  6. Make a game plan for how to do those actionable things.

Example Goals

  • I want to move to Big City and own my own apartment/house.
  • I want to get a new job.
  • I want to have enough money in the bank to jump on a plane to wherever I want to go.
  • I want to be the boss of my department.
  • I want to run the NYC Marathon.

The problem I have with this (for me, you do you) is that my life never looks the same from year to year or even month to month. What I want as a goal now may not be a goal I care about anymore in 5 years, or even in 6 months. I realize you can modify your goals as you go, but I would still prefer to start with a slightly different premise.

Loosening It Up

Instead of, or in addition to, creating goals to meet at the end of five years, you can also add more general statements about the future and the person you want to be to your plan. They can be anything, really. Maybe “I want to be someone who is active in my community” to “I want to be active in a martial art” or “I want to be a person who is trusted by my coworkers.” Whatever floats your boat.

Not-Goal Setting (Exactly Like Goal Setting)

  1. Create a list of categories you would like to make changes in.
    • You can definitely use the one you made earlier, and modify it if you want to.
  2. Think about those categories in a different way from above – think about how you want to be instead of what you want to achieve.
    • I want to be a person who regularly has people over and throws parties.
  3. Start to think about what steps might be helpful for this, and then think about things you can do today to help make that a reality.
    • Statement: I want to be a person who regularly has people over and throws parties.
      • Extend an invitation to at least one person every X weeks.
      • Plan parties for various holidays – Christmas, etc.
      • Create a regular game night or supper club.
      • Become involved in local activities.
  4. Repeat that process for each statement.

Example Statements

  • I want to help others reach their goals and support them in their ambitions.
  • I want to be the kind of person that others know they can rely on.
  • I want to enjoy my personal life while also excelling in my career.
  • I want to be comfortable, content, and confident in the life I lead.
  • I want to live a fulfilled life.

Combining It All Together

If you do both of these exercises, you will end up with a fairly comprehensive idea of how you want your life to look in the next five years. There’s a concrete path, as well, since both parts of your plan have baby steps to take to get there. So at the end of the process, you put your goals, statements, and baby steps together in one list/document/plan. Trim if needed – you don’t want to overbook yourself for the next 5 years. Next, decide where to start and move forward from there.

The planning is really that easy – the execution is much harder since 5 years is a long time to work towards things, but it’s a worthwhile endeavor.

I can’t believe I just wrote almost 800 words on 5 year plans. 🙂 Enjoy your planning!


Life & Family

An Old School MySpace Survey

I got a MySpace profile my Junior (I think) year of high school and kept it through the Freshman year of college. I might have checked in on it later, but I don’t think I used it a ton after 2005/2006. Anyway, one of my favorite bits of MySpace was the weird obsession with surveys we all had. They were always really random but fun to complete. So, for your Monday reading, after much Googling, here is a MySpace throwback. Oh, and I cut this way down, MySpace surveys could be over 100 questions long. I stuck with 47 (my lucky number), even though no one has time to read all that.

  1. Last beverage: Dr Pepper
  2. Last phone call: Actual phone call – Shane; Zoom call – the insurance lady
  3. Last song you listened to: Vices by Mothica (on repeat)
  4. Zodiac sign: Pisces 
  5. Height: 5’1” or so
  6. What are your three favorite colors: teal/turquoise, coral, & light green
  7. Piercings: Just my ears, I’ve thought about getting my ears pierced again or my nose.
  8. Tattoos: None yet, but I’m planning on getting Laurie & Tau’s paw prints as tattoos.
  9. First school: AFCENT International School (my dad worked for the Army
  10. Believe in luck? Yes, or fate.
  11. Believe in love at first sight: Not really. 
  12. Believe in Heaven: Yes
  13. Have you ever been on the computer for 5 hours straight? Every workday.
  14. Did you ever watch TV for 5 hours straight? Multiple times. 
  15. Did you ever fail a driver’s test? Failed the road test twice.
  16. What could you eat any day of the week and never get tired of? Potatoes. I love potatoes.
  17. Last thing you spent money on? Chick-Fil-A
  18. Do you like the snow? I don’t have enough experience with snow to not be excited when it does snow.
  19. Do you like the outside? Love it.
  20. What makes you happy? So many things. Way too many to list here. 
  21. Have you ever seen someone you knew and purposely avoided them? Definitely.
  22. Ever been outside your home country? I was born outside of my home country.
  23. Ever been on a road trip longer than 5 hours? Twice – Mom and I went to New Orleans (12 hours) and Shane and I went to Nashville (I think it was 6 hours?)
  24. Are you afraid of the dark? Yes, when I’m outside. 
  25. Do you believe in true love? Absolutely, but I also believe that a person can have more than one true love. 
  26. Do you wear make-up? I don’t, usually. I love watching makeup tutorials on YouTube, though.
  27. How many windows are open on your computer? Too many.
  28. Who last texted you? My cousins.
  29. Who did you last text? My cousins.
  30. What are you craving right now? The Cool Whip that’s in my fridge right now. 
  31. Would you live with someone without marrying them? We lived together for like 7ish years before we got married. 
  32. What’s irritating you right now? The headache I have right now.
  33. Do you want any pets: Besides the cat we already have, I really want a puppy.
  34. Do you want to change your name: Kind of – Sarah is a boring name. When I was younger I wanted to be called Catriona. 
  35. Lost glasses/contacts: Constantly, I have awful vision so I frequently can’t see where I put them.
  36. Been arrested: Nope
  37. Milk chocolate or white chocolate? I hate white chocolate, milk chocolate is fine, but I love dark chocolate most of all.
  38. Twirl or cut your spaghetti? Twirl.
  39. Do you type fast? Yep.
  40. Do you sing in the shower? Now that there’s an Alexa in the bathroom, I play music and sing embarrassingly loudly.
  41. Have you dated someone twice: Shane! There was a year between the first time we dated and the second time.
  42. Moved out of town: I’ve moved around a bit – 3 towns in Germany/The Netherlands & 4 in South Carolina. 
  43. Where is your favorite place on earth? Currently, my house. But overall, Bar Harbor, ME.
  44. What’s your favorite thing about yourself? That everyone tells me everything. Even strangers tell me their life stories. I like that I give off the type of energy that shows I can be trusted.
  45. Something you hate to do? The dishes.
  46. What would be the best gift ever? Books, notebooks, cool pens, journals, so many things.
  47. Do you wish on shooting stars? I do. 


Life & Family · Reading

Reading Through A List of Authors My Mom Left Behind

The day my mom passed, I was standing in my parents’ kitchen aimlessly looking around. Under a magnet on their secondary freezer, I saw a couple sheets of notepad paper entitled “Grocery Author List”. I snuck it into my pocket as if my dad wouldn’t have let me have it if I had asked. I didn’t have a plan for it, I really just wanted her handwriting.

When I got home, I tucked it into the back of the little notebook I record all the books I’ve read (well, the past 2 years worth). I didn’t really forget about it, but also didn’t think about it much. At some point (I’ll have to check my twitter), I declared I would read through the list and I did indeed read a book or 2, but didn’t go further than that. I’ve thought about it off and on the past few months and decided to go for it.

Recently, I went through the author list and added the first books of series (or a stand alone if there wasn’t a series) for each author. I made a Goodreads list specifically for this little side project of mine, which topped out at 50 books. I did leave/add a couple of books that I’ve already read, since technically the authors are on the list. The authors write one of 3 genres: cozy mysteries (most with puns for titles), non-cozy mysteries, and fantasy. Luckily, I enjoy all of those genres, to varying degrees. I also have a soft spot for puns, so I’m not mad that a number of them are named things like “Thyme for Death” and “Lye in Wait” (both are actual titles on the list).

I’m a little concerned that I won’t be able to find a lot of the books, since a lot are from the 90s/early 00s and most don’t seem like they were best sellers. I haven’t checked the library yet, so hopefully several will appear there. I can think of a few that I know they have, though, so that’s promising.

Is this a weird thing to do? I’m going to do it anyway, but I do wonder about that a bit.

Read: 2/50


Life & Family

In Which I Talk About My Mom

Next Wednesday marks a year since my mom died. Super positive way to start a post, eh? But it’s what I’m thinking about right now. What complicates matters is that my cat died the day after my birthday (back in March) and thinking about my mom makes me also think about him and it’s a vicious cycle. The other cat is acting sketch (aloof, grumpy, etc) so he’s not helpful. Shane is my rock, as per usual. Today 4 years since his dad died, so we’re not a super fun/happy household. Anyway, in honor of my mom, here’s a couple of stories about her.

When I was learning the state capitals, I made my mom help. I laid on my parents’ bed and she sat on the side to quiz me. I will never forget her gleefully calling out “Idaho, Boise!” because it was slightly off-color sounding. She loved a good kind of dirty joke. She had the best laugh.

You know what else she loved? Phallic vegetables. I got many texts of a phallic veggie or several.

When Shane moved in while we were still in college, people told my mom to cut me off financially. Because Jesus, I guess. I didn’t rely on my parents for much, anyway. Insurance, I think. We lived in a house my parents owned so Mom told them 2 things: she’s over 18, she’s an adult and that she’d rather have Shane paying her rent than living there unofficially for free.

Which doesn’t mean she approved of Shane/our relationship right away. I was too young to be so involved with a guy, I should live my life a little first. He wasn’t a warm person (in her eyes), and so forth. She came around, though, and eventually loved Shane.

We went to New Orleans together once, where she saw her first Pride Parade. She loved it. We also walked down Bourbon St, she saw dancers with just mechanical tape over their nips and exclaimed that she wanted to take a picture for my dad – who was in Afghanistan at that point. Every night we went out to dinner and I’d get coffee and she’d get dessert (or the other way around) and it was so nice.

We had a complicated relationship, which is pretty normal for mothers & daughters, but I can say without hesitation that she was my best friend. It’s painful every single day, but it’s so much worse right now. Luckily, I know she’d want me happy so I don’t feel guilt for enjoying life.

I know this isn’t a post many will read, if anyone. It’s kind of depressing, honestly. But I had to get it out. Thanks, Internet, for letting me ramble.

Oh, the image up there is one of the last texts she sent me – I had told her someone told me I was too quiet.


Cooking · Life & Family

Remembering My Mom Through Food

I think about my mom a lot, sometimes I imagine the conversations we would have about whatever’s going on in my life. I’m lucky in that while memories hurt, I enjoy thinking about her. I still like to poke fun at her, to be honest.

A lot of memories associated with my mom center on food. Dinners growing up, holidays, special occasions – and the random gourmet level recipes she made with my brother. But even more than that there are specific dishes that are tied so tightly to her in my memory that even considering making them makes me feel closer to her.

She made a specific potato salad – one with Russian dressing – that wasn’t in the recipe box I got after her death. I found a close-enough version online and while it needs some tweaks, it immediately made me fall into a well of (happy) memories. “Brown Rice” aka stick of butter rice that would be fought over by everyone. It was the best side to another Mom memory – soy sauce marinaded flank steak with horseradish.

I’m realizing that the rest of these are pretty standard family holiday foods – mashed potatoes with “too much” garlic, green bean casserole, crescent rolls from a can, specific types of cookies, fudge, etc. The sight of a little dish with tiny gherkins and both green and black olives. There have to be both types of olives, it’s the law. Even the process of canning or making fresh pasta makes me think of my mom. I want to learn to can things because my mom did and I want to share that with her.

She also passed down an interest in grocery stores in other places. I think it comes from growing up/living in a small town – we had to drive 2 hours away to get a lot of the ingredients my mom and brother needed. Standing in a fancy grocery store buying things that my childhood home’s stores would have never carried is imprinted in my mind. And getting the mini coffee at Fresh Market feeling very grown up.

We went to New Orleans once, just the two of us, and we hit up the grocery stores as soon as we could. Regional differences in food and the way grocery store are made are a real thing. Shane has indulged my need to check out grocery stores in the cities we visit for years now.

There were so many long, loud dinners and those memories really carry me through some of my worst times.

Sorry if this is rambling and doesn’t make much sense. I just wanted to get this “down on paper”.


House · Life & Family

New House Love

We bought a house! I’m not sure if I ever thought we’d buy one, to be honest. We have a ton of student loan debt which makes a purchase like this more intimidating, but renting a decent place wasn’t actually that much cheaper. On top of that, Shane was always fairly anti-being-a-house-owner for a really long time, but it all came together and now we own a house.

We’ve been in it for about 2 months and we’re still settling in – though I’d say we’re more settled than not. We have space for everything we need/want, we just have to figure out the best way to organize it.

Our kitchen is *so* much bigger than any kitchen we’ve ever had, and it’s honestly one of the reasons we bought this house. There still isn’t enough cabinet room for all the gadgets and gizmos we own, so a few things have migrated to an upstairs storage closet. I definitely want to find a space for all of it downstairs.

It’s been really fun to watch Shane turn into a homeowner. That’s a man who loves his new lawn – he has sprinklers, hoses, fertilizer (and a fertilizer spreader), a new lawnmower & trimmer, and so forth. He’s always doing something in the yard. I really enjoy going out there too, but definitely not as much as he does.

I’ve been trying to figure out how you’re supposed to take care of a house. Shane’s not a huge planner. I know if I don’t write down all the things we’re supposed to do when we’re supposed to do them, neither of us will remember and then our air filters won’t get changed for a year. But how do you know what to do, when, and how often? I’m still working on figuring all that out.

Every so often, we’ll look at each other and just go “we *own* this house”. It’s truly mind-blowing that we own a whole entire house. We’re actual adults now. I guess we were before, but there’s something different about owning a house. It’s kind of old fashioned, but I guess owning a house signals ‘adulthood’ to me.


Life & Family

2020 so far…

I’m not sure there has been a year crazier than 2020 in a very very long time. This year really has had it all – death in my family (expected and unexpected), a pandemic & a quarantine, murder hornets, a new house, new hobbies, Australia was on fire, WWIII almost happened, there’s a general uprising going on, and on and on.

I debated whether I wanted to go over the world happenings here, but oh my God I really don’t. Maybe if I do a 2020 recap in December I’ll cover all of that – maybe in a timeline format. I’m going to assume that everyone knows what a trash fire the first 5 months of 2020 were.

Against the backdrop of the entire world falling apart, Shane and I bought a new house. We actually moved on March 30th and the announcement that SC was going to start shutting down was made on March 31st. I’ve been incredibly privileged during the pandemic in that I was able to transition to working from home and Shane is working normally, but it’s still been a really weird time. Before moving I just kept saying “if we have to quarantine, I want to quarantine in my own house, not an apartment”. We actually moved the date forward from April 6th so that we had a better chance of beating the quarantine. We were already social distancing, so there weren’t any handshakes, and everything got wiped down and disinfected after the movers left. Over the past 2 months, we’ve been making the house into our home. Which sounds cheesy, but it’s true. We’ve unpacked pretty much everything, hung art, bought a guest bed, and Tau has barfed on the carpet. It’s a new build, so we’re waiting to paint until our 11th month warranty fixes are made next year.

We planted a little, tiny, garden in some pots and I’m in love with them. We planted 2 cherry tomatoes, a squash, a zucchini, a regular tomato, and a habanero plant. I also got a ton of herb plants (6?) from my mother in law. An herb garden is something I’ve always wanted, so it was really special to make cuttings and plant them with her. Tomato plants are something my mom always had while I was growing up and are one of the things that mean ‘homeownership’ to me.

In January, my aunt passed away. I got to know that part of my family a little bit better, and I really can’t wait to get together with them and spend some time just hanging out with them. Hopefully sometime this summer the pandemic will chill out and we can meet up. Then in March my love Laurie died. It’s hit me so hard – I know he was “just a cat” but he was something special and I will always miss him. I think about him & my mom multiple times a day.

Since moving into the house, and being in quarantine, we’ve started cooking so often! Way more often than we ever have before, for sure. It’s honestly brought happiness to me for a lot different reasons, but mostly I love eating something I (or Shane) made. I think I’m more into it than Shane, which is a reversal. He used to be all about trying new recipes and now I’m the one pushing for cooking things. I think it’s because my interest is skyrocketing because it’s so much easier to cook now so I want to do it all the time and he sees it as a special activity to not do all the time. Huge fan.

I have so much to talk about that there’s no way for me to fit it all into this post. I really hope 2020 calms down over the next few months, but every time I think we’ve turned a corner something else bananas happens so I’ll just take whatever comes.


Life & Family

My Return to Blogging

It’s been a year since I wrote a blog post.

Shortly after my last post, my mom died. It was sudden and devastating. I lost my best friend in addition to my mom. I can’t describe to you the depths I’ve been in for the past year. I like to think I cover it well, but I haven’t been myself for most of the past 12 months. My soul hurt. That’s the only way I can explain it. And honestly, it still does, even though I’m becoming more and more myself.

Another sudden and devastating death happened on March 11th – the day after my birthday. Laurie, the light of my life, died gasping for breath by my side. It was horrific.

So, along with a worldwide pandemic, the death of my aunt, and Tau struggling to find stability, it’s been a rough year. Also, Shane’s snake keeps trying to eat itself. And I keep finding it when it’s trying to eat itself. We think we have it under control now, so here’s hoping. (See below)

Which isn’t to say nothing good has happened – we bought a new house, I have a new niece, Tau has adjusted to the move better than we expected, we planted a garden (kinda), I was able to move easily to working from home during quarantine, and so on and so forth. The bad just looms large in my memory.

Recently, I started thinking about how nice it would be to sit down on nights that Shane’s in bed early and just do some blogging. I have some pen-pals to write, and a journal, but there’s something different about this format. Even if people don’t read it, it still feels different.

I’m not going to remove any of my old posts, but I’m not going to read them again either. They can just live on.

Here’s to blogging once again. 🙂


PS – Before I get any comments on the health of Sarge the Snake – he’s over 15 (life expectancy is 10-20), his new environment is consistently much warmer than he’s used to so he gets hungrier a lot faster than he used to (which in turn was a lot faster than we were used to), he got super stressed when we moved, & honestly California King Snakes are really really dumb so sometimes they happen to think their own tails belong to other snakes (they’re snake eaters). He’s old, hot, hungry, and dumb so he munches on his tail sometimes. We dumped some ice on him and threw him a thawed mouse and all was good. Obviously, it’s not a good thing and I would rather it never happen again, but he’s done himself no permanent damage and we figured out how to keep it from happening (much more frequent feedings) so there’s that. Also, I check on him *constantly* throughout the day to head any weirdness off at the pass.