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Really really good chicken enchiladas

2014 October 5
by Laura

REALLY good chicken enchiladas. These will be added to the rotation, absolutely. Thanks, Cooking Light!

  • 3 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup fat free sour cream
  • 1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 8 (8-inch) flour tortillas (gluten free tortillas are fine, the big ivory teff wrap kind!)
  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • 1 (8-ounce) container fat free sour cream
  • 1 (8-ounce) bottle green taco sauce
  • Toppings: diced tomato, chopped avocado, chopped green onions, sliced ripe olives, chopped cilantro

Preparation

  1. Stir together first 5 ingredients. Spoon chicken mixture evenly over each tortilla, and roll up. Arrange in a lightly greased 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
  2. Bake at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown.
  3. Stir together sour cream and taco sauce. Spoon over hot enchiladas, and sprinkle with toppings.

 

Enjoy!

Life lately

2014 October 5
by Laura

On the rare weekends when I have a moment off from work (bottom of the totem pole, wah), we’ve been trying to live it up, fall style.

Renn Fest: awesome. Turkey leg eaten, meade imbibed, lip prints read. Only the usual.

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My lip print reading was pure BS, but I enjoyed it when she said things that somewhat applied: I’m a “foodie on a diet,” I have a sharp and bitter tongue, I keep a lot of secrets for my job, I’m a great listener, need to get some sleep…

After Renn Fest we headed over to a pumpkin patch for some pick-your-own-pumpkin fun. Gourds everywhere! So basic fall white girl!

We enjoyed the Homestead Gardens and I restrained myself so much that I left with only this tiny little pumpkin.

 

This past weekend, we celebrated one of our near and dear’s 30th birthday winery style. Crisp fall air, wine, warm sunshine — check, check, check!

 

Has your fall been picture perfect? We slept with the windows open last night and it was the best night’s sleep I’ve gotten in months!

 

Childlessness

2014 September 19
by Laura

I found this article compiled by The Cut blog absolutely fascinating — it is 25 famous women’s quotes on why they never had or wanted children.

Although I fit in the “I knew that I wanted to be a mommy since I knew what a mommy was” camp, I have talked to friends and coworkers who were unsure, and who took that uncertainty to mean “no.” That makes sense to me. Everyone is different! Not everyone wants a dog, or a cat, or a child.

How unfair that we somehow make these women feel like they are alien or strange for making their own (very well-thought out, rational) choices. Woman does not equal mother, and mother does not equal woman.

I like Zooey’s response:

Is having children on your priority list?
“I’m not going to answer that question. I’m not mad at you for asking that question, but I’ve said it before: I don’t think people ask men those questions.” —Zooey Deschanel, Marie Claire, September 2013

Herbed pork chops with bean salad

2014 September 17
by Laura

I went out on a limb with this one, because it’s not something I would typically consider making. The flavor profile isn’t one I play with much in my kitchen, even though my new-found love for olives should definitely inspire me to cook with them more often.

These pork chops, from the new Cooking Light, paired specifically with the accompanying bean side dish, were delicious. They were somehow bright and tangy, with a very fresh flavor. Easy flavors that combined well—not too heavy, not too rich. Just simple. It felt like clean eating.

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I was skeptical about the instructions: cook the pork chops with just salt and pepper, and then place them on a platter that you’ve sprinkled with the herb mixture. The pork chops rest on the plate while soaking up the herb flavors, and it’s magical!

The bean salad is so refreshing with spinach, green onions, Castelvetrano olives, lemon, garlic, and parsley. This will definitely be a frequent meal for us this winter when we miss the flavors of spring!

  • 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced sage
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • minced garlic to taste, divided
  • 4 (6-ounce) bone-in center-cut loin pork chops
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zet
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans unsalted cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 packed cup baby spinach leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 12 Castelvetrano olives, pitted and finely chopped (2 ounces)
  1. Combine 2 teaspoons oil, 2 tablespoons parsley, sage, vinegar, rosemary, and half of garlic on a large plate or serving platter; set aside.
  2. Sprinkle pork chops with 1/4 teaspoon pepper and salt. Place pork on cold pan coated with cooking spray; cook 4-5 minutes. Turn pork chops over; cook 3 minutes or until done. Transfer chops to serving platter; turn to coat in herb mixture. Let rest a few minutes. (Don’t overcook the pork chops!)
  3. Combine lemon rind, juice, remaining 2 teaspoons oil, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk. Add beans, remaining garlic, spinach, green onions, and olives; stir to combine. Serve with pork chops. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons parsley to garnish.

Bidding summer adieu

2014 September 16
by Laura

I didn’t want it to happen, and certainly not so soon into September. BUT, here we are, saying goodbye to summer.

We had a lovely weekend at the shore house in New Jersey (thanks again, Mom and Dad!) and crossed several things off our summer bucket list — miniature golfing, bike riding, crabbing, climbing a lighthouse.

(We actually had a physical bucket list this summer, and we loved crossing things off the list together. Sometimes you wake up on lazy Sundays thinking, “What should we do today?” and this list helped guide our weekends quite frequently!)

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The beach had that classic “September” look to it — a darker, wind-blown ocean with wispy clouds, long shadows, and stiff breezes.

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We went up to Barnegat Light and climbed the 217 steps to the view at the top.

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We ate linguine with clams, oysters, and drank a lot of coffee and wine.

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We said goodbye until next time, little house!

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So long, sweet summer!!

Happy Anniversary, LNE!

2014 September 2
by Laura

Guys!

Life Needs Edits is 5 years old!

It’s kind of insane to think I’ve been writing in this little web journal for five years. Who would have thought when I started writing from a lonely office in DC at the ripe old age of 24 that this would blossom into something I’ve poured feeling after feeling into, thought after thought, boring musing after boring musing.

I have really found myself along the way, I’ve really figured things out. I stand by everything I ever said about life in your twenties: I found it frustrating, demoralizing, lonely, and scary. At 29.5 years old, it’s a little better.

I don’t post as much as I did in 2009, 2010, 2011…there’s a few reasons for that. One is that I no longer sit behind a computer all day. Another is that I no longer feel the strings of discontentment pulling me to write. These days, life is happy, simple, and kind of boring. I go to work, I play “stay at home girlfriend” on weekdays off. I don’t DIY craft and I’m not yet raising children whose photographs I could post and whose every blink wink and poop I write about (although I cannot promise those posts won’t someday come!). I do cook, I drink wine, and I work hard. That’s kind of it.

I have no idea how much longer I will blog. I suspect a long time, if for no other reason than to keep track of what I was doing at certain times for later. Honestly, it’s also sometimes hilarious to look back on yourself later (remember the epic diary of my middle school years?).

Happy birthday, little blog! I love you — I really do. I am glad and thankful every day that I have a place to write, and I am so, so glad I have a few people who like to read.

If you’re bored, click through some of the “Random Post” links on the right side-bar!

 

 [I just had the worst realization ever. I was looking back through some old posts and photographs and I kept thinking, "Wow, I looked so much better a few years ago. Was it something I was doing with my hair, my makeup? What is different? Was my face skinnier or something?" NOPE. It hit me: I was just five years younger. Fewer bags and fewer wrinkles. Youth. YOUTH is better. CRAP.]

A Day in the Life

2014 August 20
by Laura

I had three reasons for doing my own “day in the life” post: (1), I find these so fascinating when I read them on other people’s blogs (to be clear, they’re all mommies, and have like…real lives) and (2) I thought it might help me focus a bit on the present. Stay in the moment, you know, think about what I’m doing. Reason (3) is because I think when I finally do have a real life, kids, etc., I will look back on days like today and think to myself, “WHAT A LOSER. LOOK WHAT A WASTE OF A DAY SHE HAD! SHE WAS SO LUCKY.”

So here we go.

Fair warning: This post is long, and boring.

Context: The day is Tuesday, August 19, 2014. I am 29 years old. I live with Someone. I worked an overtime shift yesterday at the hospital; I work again Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. I have no children, I am not married, and I don’t have a dog.

7:15: Someone’s alarm goes off. “Waaahhhhh,” he moans. I say, “I thought we were getting up at 7:30?” He replies some grumbly mumbly business about hitting the 7:15 alarm instead of the 7:30 one. He tries to snooze, but I deny us the pleasure, ripping off the covers and getting up to make coffee while he showers.

7:24: Warm up leftover French toast for Someone, help him get his lunch together. Pour him coffee. Very Florence Henderson of me.

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7:48: Goodbye kiss from Someone. Gather towels to throw into the wash.

8-10ish: Waste a ton of time. At some point in here I do the following:

  • send some e-mails checking up on a parking ticket I am currently contesting
  • pay some bills
  • make oatmeal with nectarines
  • have a second cup of coffee
  • catch up on my blog reader
  • call Mom and try to cheer her up (knee replacements are, turns out, the big fat dumps)
  • make plans with Courtney for a friend date
  • write a daily errands list

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10:06: Realize Kathy Lee and Hoda have come on my TV, which is my cue to head out to get my car inspected. Walk outside into the humidity and rainclouds, realizing sadly that this will not be a good day for the pool. Check Timehop on my phone, send Someone a note about how one year ago today we were together in Lavallette, NJ. (“I fell very in love with you on that trip,” he replies. Awww.)

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10:18: Arrive at car inspection place. Walk inside with Kindle and cash in tow.

10:21: Walk back to car. No inspection for me today: There’s at least a two-hour wait, since the normal “inspection” guy is out sick. Figure out in my head how to make time to go back tomorrow.

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10:24: While I was on my way back to the apartment, I hear a radio ad for Gold’s Gym. “Enrollment special! Join today for only $1!” Oddly, I’ve been waiting for an enrollment special for Gold’s — I quit the YMCA and have been waiting to join a new gym. I make a right turn and head toward the Gold’s.

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11:06: I am now a member of Gold’s Gym! Look over the group exercise schedule, get excited. Woo! Pick out a class to go to tomorrow.

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11:15: Arrive at the Bed, Bath & Beyond in Pentagon City. Time to use the million coupons I’ve hoarded for the apartment essentials I’ve been waiting to pick up!

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11:19: Quick detour. Sur La Table is near where I’ve parked and I just cannot walk by without going in.

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11:36: Walk out with only a rolling pin and a ravioli stamp, not too shabby.

11:41: Enter BB&B. Plan to get a few kitchen items I’ve been needing: a spice organizer, some grill tools, salad bowls, and a 4-cup pyrex liquid measure. I also need to get a new microwave cover since I melted our last one when I mistakenly turned on the wrong burner on the stove… (#thingsthatsmellgood).

11:59: Exit with those things (and beyond).

12:01: Walk into Harris Teeter: I need whipped cream and butter for peach cobbler and some GF rolls to go with the corn chowder I’m making tonight.

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I chuckle to myself when I’m getting back in the car because I remember when we dropped one of those Udi’s rolls on the floor in North Carolina. Riggins got to it first, went to take a bite, and then spit it back out. FM(GF)L.

12:36: Back home. Unpack my loot.

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12:42: Rearrange spices using new rack thinger.

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Muchhhhh better.

12:58: Answer phone call. I recognize that it’s a hospital number, so the second time, I answer. It’s the scheduler, letting me know what changes to my schedule she’s made. Great! Use my pen to scratch out and revise some of the dates. Get pissed, because this change might mean my Mom can’t come visit me while Dad is riding is bike in October. Grrrr. Decide to deal with this later.

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1:12: Walk into Someone’s Man Cave and frame the print I bought him last week. (We’ve been really into surpresents lately, since it’s my love language.) He’ll love it.

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1:18: My old roommate asks if I will meet her for coffee at 2, I respond enthusiastically. I love spontaneous coffee dates!

1:24: Fold towels, clean dishes, straighten up a bit. Throw in a load of sheets.

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1:37: Gchat with Ashley girl until it’s time to leave to meet M. Also find Sabrina the Teenage Witch on Hulu and watch an episode. No shame.

1:55: Leave to walk to Bean Good coffee shop nearby.

2:04: M comes in, we order delicious coffee treats. I see a sign in Bean Good that makes me laugh, except I would totally revise the clock. No wine until 9? False.

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2:12: Mal and I sit down with our drinks. I have something iced and very caffeinated, and I am soon talking verrrryy quickly with few pauses. Mal keeps up.

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3:20: I take Mal back to my apartment so she can see my new digs. I realize how messy it is and when she leaves, I clean up for a bit.

3:24: Start to get out the ingredients for dinner. Turn on a few episodes of Friends.

3:39: Start to make the corn chowder. Read over the recipe and realize it’s more labor- and time-intensive than I remember. Oh well.

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4:04: Soup is finally on its first 30 minute simmer. It boiled over a bit, which was fun to clean up.

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4:15: I start to do the peaches. Cobbler, here we come. (I thought I might make pie after purchasing the rolling pin and all that jazz, but then remembered what a B it is to make pie crust and that I didn’t feel like getting angry this afternoon. Cobbler it is!)

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4:25: Stop for a delicious snack: one of dad’s garden tomatoes with sea salt.

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4:35: Finish up the soup, simmer the peaches and get the cobbler mix going.

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4:50: Quite the little mess I’ve made….dishes time.

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5:05: Someone walks in from work. He’s had a stressful day, and for some reason, we bicker about something stupid. He leaves for a run and the last thing I say as he leaves is something awful like, “FINE, I don’t want to talk to you right now ANYWAY!!!”

5:06: Immediately regret the comments, and decide we’ll start over when he gets home.

5:11: Shower!

5:18: Chuckle to myself, put on a funny shirt my Mom got me that is supposed to warn him…

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5:19: Realize I’m a moron and took a picture into a mirror — the shirt says “Feeling Stabby.”

5:25: WINE TIME. BEST PART OF THE DAY!!!

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Spritzer city. I got really into these on vacation: I can drink twice as much (what?) and stay hydrated at the same time!!

5:45: Someone’s back. We both apologize before the other one even can. “Sorry for my tone,” he says, “Sorry for mine,” I say. He gets a beer and we cheers to Tuesday.

5:55: Someone finds his new Raven poster in his man cave. “I LOVE IT! OH MY GOD! It’s so awesome!” he says. Win!

6:10 Someone showers, and I set up Scrabble. We’ve gotten addicted. On the draw to see who goes first, I pull an “L” and he pulls “R.” WEIRD. He photographs it, I laugh.

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6:44: Still playing. I’m trying to teach Someone all the 2-letter words.

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7:10: Break for dinner. I warm up the chowder and throw two Udi’s rolls in the oven. Refill beverages. Let Someone take 9 minutes to play a word even though I threatened to break out the iPhone timer earlier. (He takes a long time to make a decision…)

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7:29: “This might be my favorite soup you’ve ever made me,” he says.

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7:45: Clean up.

8:20: We’re still playing Scrabble and talking. I switch Friends over to iTunes radio.

9:25: At some point I beat him at Scrabble, we put the board away, and snuggle for a bit (ew! Sorry.) We go make lunches for tomorrow and I set up the coffee pot. Time for bed!

9:40: Someone has put the clean sheets on the bed for me, which is delightful, since I forgot they were in the dryer.

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9:50: Teeth brushed, face washed. Time to play on my phone for a bit and then read. Someone sees me taking a selfie and says “I wanna be in one too!” Then remembers he’s supposed to be playing the Mr. Wilson game and hides everything except his eye.

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9:52: Why can’t I afford any of this beautiful stuff?

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9:52: Get pissed and turn off the phone. Pick up Kindle — reading the most wonderful story, The Invention of Wings. 

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10:something: Fall asleep.

The end. Yes, my life is that boring. But it was an awesome day, and I’m glad I took the time to document how I fill the hours these days. It will be fun to contrast someday!

True life: I live in the future

2014 August 18
by Laura

Has this ever happened to you: You run away with ideas about the future, you get carried away with planning, and you realize most of your thoughts circulate around what will be, what should happen, and life in the future?

Lately, I’ve had to instill a new mantra: “Today today today, now now now.”

The future looks AWESOME. I mean, we’re talkin’ “so bright I need shades” kind of future. A future with love and change and promises and, eventually, vows. Big purchases, beginnings of a new family, etc. And here I am again, getting carried away.

What exactly do I mean? Pinterest. DAMN YOU, PINTEREST. Way to ruin a perfectly productive hour of my life by making me look at pictures of crafts I can’t do in a house I don’t own, or ways to send out DIY invitations to a wedding I can’t plan because oh yeah, there’s about 20 steps I have to go through before we get to that point.

Logically, I can talk myself out of this. “The only time that we ever have is now!” “No day but today!” etc, etc, blah blah. Yeah, I get it — I totally know this is the only moment I will ever have in life, this one, right now. The time is now. There is no future, no past, and lots of other quotes from Rent. Yet I still find myself wrapped up in plans for a future that doesn’t exist.

Has anyone else ever felt this way? Have you planned how to decorate a guest bedroom in a house you can’t afford? Have you ever outlined a garden in your head that you’ll grow, a playroom you’ll design for your kids, or the menu at your future wedding?

:::crickets:::

I confess: I live in the future. It’s not even because the present is unbearable or unpleasant. The present is awesome, too. I just get lost in obsessive planning for things that cannot, and should not, yet be planned.

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Just me?

I’ll go listen to “No Day But Today.”

 

Home for a delicate few

2014 August 15
by Laura

I’m at the shore, for only the second time of the season. Timehop has been torturing me all summer long by showing me just when and how often I’m usually able to spend time at my favorite place.

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It was 55 degrees when we woke up this morning; too cold even for coffee on the dock. Where has summer gone? Isn’t it too early for this? Shouldn’t I be cursing the humidity as it ruins my hair and sweat rolls down my face if I even consider stepping outside?

It feels so Septembery.

I’m home because my mom just got a total knee replacement. She’s such a trooper — this is possibly the worst pain of her life and she was such a good sport. She trods along with her walker and lets me nurse her (read: throw pills at her) and we even canned tomatoes together yesterday. Seriously, she’s superwoman. So brave.

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I (somehow) made it through a million shifts in a row at work. Now I know I can do it, but I don’t want to. It’s so harrowing to be around the stress of the ER for so many hours without a break. One needs a break.

So here I am, keeping my mom company, playing with the goldens, getting some quality blog time in. I even got to see my best friend who got engaged last weekend and celebrate with her, too!

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Congrats, Colleen! I cannot wait to help you plan your wedding :)

Signing off from the chilly fall-like shore,
La

Breaking the Silence

2014 August 7
by Laura

I’m about to clock in 77 hours in the span of 7 days, and because I only had a 5-hour class this morning and not a full shift, I am luxuriating in this calm before the storm by doing normal, de-stressing things: laundry, cleaning, getting gas, going to CVS, and grocery shopping.

I also went to the pool, finished this dumb book, and am now setting on my couch to blog a little.

Someone is at the shore with his family this weekend, he left yesterday morning. Before he did, however, I got this beautiful surpresent:

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…so I would have something to brighten my very, very, very early mornings without him. (Cue the “awww!’)

We’ve been living together for about five weeks now, and it’s honestly just so great.

It’s hard to really believe that everything presented on a blog is as happy and insta-filtered as it seems. (“Of course she says living with Someone is great!”) Usually, life’s not. I don’t post about bad days at work (although maybe I should), days when I’m so tired I can barely make cereal for dinner, and days when Someone and I fight about something so stupid it’s funny. If I did that all the time, it would seem like I am complaining about my life and my job and my lot. And I’m not!

However, there’s sometimes a bit of honesty that could be lost between me and you—between me the typer and you the reader—because really, what could I write about my relationship on the Internet in such a public, permanent space that I wouldn’t already say to Someone himself? Because what I put here, he might see. I don’t know how often he checks in on LNE, but it’s certainly always a possibility, and so some of my things I would really write about are not posted here.

How unfair though, that this personal space, this little slice of Internet, should become dishonest. I started this blog taking ugly photographs of recipes and whining to the universe about not loving my job or knowing who I was, and regaling you with insane stories about my life and my mishaps and my bad dates and my loneliness. We talked about my depression and what it was like to live at home for a while. I went from DC to New York to PA back to DC again, and finally graduated from nursing school. Along the way I have always talked about my “quest to find my future husband,” so how silly that now that I quite possibly have, I have stopped talking about love? Someday, I will spend $50,000 to get this all printed into a blog book I’ll keep for my great-great grandchildren to laugh at if the Earth is still around by then, because this blog has been my diary, my archive of my adventures and of my thoughts and deepest feelings.

So? I am breaking the silence! It’s time for me to talk about things I’m really thinking about. You can judge me, because this is the Internet, and that’s what it’s for. You can laugh at me, you can turn your nose up at my life, and you can feel superior to my thoughts and the way I’m doing things over here. Go for it. Or maybe part of you will relate. We’ll see.

I promise to be more real, so that when I say “Things with Someone are GREAT” you can really believe me. Because you know what? They REALLY are.

More to come.