Monday, December 30, 2013

What I'm Thankful For Christmas 2013 Edition

Hello, everyone! I hope you all had a great holiday season and are having a great end of December!

I've had a great winter break so far, and I can't wait for one more week of relaxing, happy, and getting things done before heading back to school to see my kiddos! 

I had a great Christmas with my family and had some fun relaxing and getting two big important things done this past week (more on that later!). So now this next week is about having some fun, my birthday (yay!), and getting some things done around the house.

Here are a few things that I am extremely thankful for this break that have made me incredibly happy :) 

My Family

Christmas Eve Bjorn and I went over to his parents house and spent the evening with his mom, dad, his sisters, and our brother-in-law. We always have fun appetizers, drinks, open presents, and have a lot of fun. It was a blast!

Bjorn's mom opening presents.

Bjorn's sister and our brother-in law with art from our friend Dug (DugMcUglyArt).

Watching some tv.

My new sweater! I love the llamas! It's so festive :)

My Christmas Eve outfit.

Shenanigan is too cute!!

Bjorn's parent's Christmas tree.

Bjorn's sister and Nanners.

Christmas Day we hung out with my mom at her house. We ate breakfast casserole, french toast casserole, opened presents, took naps, and then ate lunch (and had yummy wine chicken!). It was a lot of eating and relaxing!! 


 Rachael loves her Bella!!

Oops! Sorry, Rach! Didn't mean to choke you!

Me and my mom :)

Mom and Webster.

Rachie totally loves this!!!

This past weekend, I also spent time at my grandparent's house with my aunts, uncles, and cousins on my dad's side of the family. We had a fun night of food, playing Apples to Apples, and looking at some old pictures of my great grandma and also of my grandpa when he was in the Korean War. It was a lot of fun. I should have taken some pictures! But here are two things that I did learn while I was there: 1) Rachael looks a lot like Great Grandma Stella (especially her face shape and her eyes) and 2) I think we can see where I get my love of fashion from! Hello!?!?! Where is this hat? Man, Grandma! She looks beautiful!


I've made a few changes (big and small) in my life. Change doesn't usually scare me as you think it would someone with anxiety. I do like some things to stay the same: coming home to cooking dinner with my Bjorno, sitting on the couch with my puppies, having my students for three years, seeing my sissy every Friday for Zumba and our walk around somewhere (the mall, Freshmarket, Whole Foods, wherever!). But, I like change! It's fun and exciting!

Here are a few changes that I've recently made that have made me happy:

My Hair

I went red. Well reddish with some serious copper pieces, and I LOVE IT! The one thing I love to change in my life is my hair. My friend, Evan, who does my hair, and I always joke that we should start keeping pictures of all  my different hair styles because we've changed it so many times. We'd have a book! Well, I love my new hair. Don't you love how you feel after you get your hair done? It's amazing! Thanks, Evan!!

There I go!!

And voila!

My Car

This has been a long-time coming change! My car has been done; I mean, seriously done!! For awhile--like two years maybe! I've had it for 11 years, and it's hung in there, but it was on it's last leg. This year, it was it's time. For the past two, maybe three, years Bjorn and I have had it in the shop at least twice a year for serious issues. Gas fume smells inside while driving, problems with the gas tank, problems with the exhaust, blah blah blah. Well, it finally ended it's run with me last week when we could no longer move it out of the driveway. We've been putting off looking into buying a new car. But I looked at Bjorn last week and said, "I think it's time."

So my old car is no longer. My old, anxiety-causing car is no longer. I no longer worry about breathing in gas fumes while driving everywhere. I don't have to drive with the windows down because no one can figure out where the smell is coming from. I no longer have to worry about my car breaking down at random times like before.


Here is my new car, as Rachie calls it, the mustard mobile! It's fabulous! I am so thankful and happy that we decided to bite the bullet and get the new car. I feel safe and anxiety free!


I've had a lot of fun over break. Here are a few things that I've done that have made me smile :)


We went to the Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo. I brushed the goats! Usually I wouldn't do something like this because my OCD would tell me it's dirty. It was so much fun!

Going Out

Bjorn and I have been enjoying doing little things like watching movies and going out to eat a few times. Here we are enjoying some Asian!

Little Things

Just taking time to enjoy little everyday things have made me happy. Here's to remembering to always enjoy the little things in life!

The Sky

On the way to my mom's house for Christmas, there was a beautiful sunrise. I got a few blurry pictures from the car. 

Rufie got a much needed haircut. I love how much better he feels when he gets a haircut!

Thor has had a lot of history to overcome after we adopted him. This year is the first of the  3 1/2 that we've had him that we've finally been able to kind of pet him like a normal dog! It's so exiting! I'm so happy for him!

To read about Thor's story and how we adopted him, click here.

And there you have it!! There are some great things that I am so thankful for this break that have made me extremely happy! In the next week, I'll have a birthday post and a 2014 Blogger Challenge post up! Great things happening in the new year!!

Love and happiness <3 Holly

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Day in the Mind

Sometimes my OCD thoughts still surprise me. But I guess that is also part of OCD as well--trying to always understand why I have a thought as well. Picking my thoughts apart until I can find an answer, a clear-cut reason for the thought in the first place. But of course, as always, my mind is playing games with me: there is no clear-cut reason; there is no answer. That is the nature of the beast, so to say. 

My mind continuously floods itself with what-ifs, crazy scenarios, and then, I try to figure out why I had those thoughts in the first place. My mind could look for days, rerunning that scenario in my head, replaying it over and over, trying to make some sense out of it. But of course, there never is any sense to make out of anything.

My husband, Bjorn, always says I should write for Law and Order or a CSI-type show or something like that. He doesn't know how I come up with some of the things I do. And that's the problem: neither do I. It's just my OCD brain.

For example, a normal trip to the mall to finish up some Christmas shopping brought a few random and nutty tv drama worthy scenarios into my OCD brain. The trigger might have been being out with so many people; that sometimes gets my anxiety going. Or my mind may have been having just one of those days, you know? Sometimes it just happens. 

Scenario #1

On our trip to finish buying some gifts, we also were exchanging some old tennis shoe inserts at Lady Foot Locker (hello one year guarantee!!) that Rachie forgot in the car. She said she'd run down really quickly and grab them in the parking garage and meet me back upstairs.

My mind said, No way is my sissy going down to the parking garage by herself! She could get kidnapped or beat up or robbed or something! What if some crazy weirdo is hiding behind her car just waiting for her to come down there to jump her? 

So I went with my sissy. She had me stand by the door. And she did turn around to not smile for a picture to document my Law and Order SVU type movie line in my head. I had to tell my brain that my sissy is a big girl, and she can take care of herself. Even thought I felt uneasy about it, I should have let her run down by herself. I let me OCD give in that time.

Scenario #2

This lovely scenario came to my brain after we passed this lovely in the parking lot.

Okay, so here's what my OCD brain thought: Someone planted this balloon here on purpose. They knew how busy the mall would be because of Christmas shopping. Inside the balloon is some kind of explosive device and it's also filled with Anthrax or some other biological agent. Once it goes off, it will poison everyone in this garage.

For a split second, I asked myself if this could possibly be true. Then I thought, Holly, it's a damn balloon. A kid let it go, and now it's left here. Shut your OCD up.

And that was the end of that.

This kind of thought is the one that Bjorn thinks is worthy of tv time. Trust me, I'd rather not have these kinds of ideas. But honestly, now that I know that it's my OCD mind messing with me and I can stop my loop, I am much better. Sometimes thoughts like these come into my head, and then I just think, Really? Good try, and move on.

My OCD response would be to park somewhere else and get out of there, but we stayed. I even walked up to take a picture of the balloon for my blog :)

Scenario #3

Rachael and I recently stopped by the Scholastic Book Fair to see if they had a few picture books that I wanted to pick up. As we walked down the aisles, these signs were, of course, fuel for my OCD brain:

As soon as I saw this sign and Rachael saw this sign, we both kind of chuckled because we knew that this type of thing throws my OCD for a loop. For a split second, my OCD thought, Oh my God! We need to get out of here! I silenced that voice, and Rachael and I kept saying, "What the heck would they need to quarantine at a book fair?" It gave us a little chuckle.

My old self would not have done that. I would have obsessed about this one forever. I would have probably put my books down from that isle thinking this whole area was contaminated and needed to go. I would have obsessed that I was breathing in something that was burning my lungs. I may have checked my skin for areas of irritation from touching the books in this isle. But, I didn't.

I can't always stop the thoughts that come into my mind with my OCD, but it's how I react to those thoughts and what I do with them that matters. Now that I understand my OCD and have tools that help me, I deal with these thought much better than I used to. It is funny how your mind can play crazy tricks on you. Nowadays, I just laugh it off, and move on. I've accepted that this is me, and I can overcome these irrational thoughts. I've come a long way. It's not always easy, but I'm doing it.

Love and happiness <3 Holly

2014 Blogger Challenge

Just a quick note to let you all know that I'm taking part in something fun and new for 2014! It's called the 2014 Blogger challenge hosted by Gaby on AnotherGirlyBlog

The challenge: twice each month, write a blog post about topics sent out for the challenge. They may be about things you would or wouldn't typically write about on your blog. Then read some great people's blogs that you may have never found before! I'm excited to start and meet some new people!

Twice each month, all of us in the challenge will post about these topics. The first one's coming out the 5th of January, so keep an eye out! There are upwards of 400 of us bloggers participating, so if you're interested in reading any other posts from the challenge, you can click on the #2014bloggerchallenge link on the right side of my blog and read some more!

Love and happiness <3 Holly

Friday, December 20, 2013

Five (maybe ten) Minute Friday!! It's Friday!!

For today's Five Minute Friday, I'm trying something new! I recently bought a new book to give myself some great inspiration for my writing. It's called The Daily Spark: Poetry Warm-up Activities. The Barnes and Noble Bookseller in Kenwood is closing on December 31st, and if you have not been there recently, I suggest you go! They have so much on clearance, including educational books, and they're all 50% off! I picked this lovely book up, and I am so excited to use it today to spark my creativity.

So today I chose a prompt from Day #14, and it's all about zeugmas! What's that you say? Zeugma, what? I asked myself the same question, so today I will try my best to do this prompt justice. We'll see what happens!!

Here's the prompt:

                       "In the third line of his poem 'What the Gypsies Told My 
                        Grandmother While She Was Still A Young Girl,' Charles 
                        Simic uses a zeugma:

                        You'll chop onions and pieces of your heart into the same 
                        hot skillet.

                       A zeugma is a device in which one word applies to two nouns 
                       in different ways. In Simic's poem, 'chop' describes an everyday 
                       activity and acts as a painful metaphor. Another example of zeugma 
                       is 'He stole my money and my soul'" (p 14).

Come up with a zeugma of your own and use it in a poem. 


He had seen it coming.
She was done.
She didn't want this anymore.
She didn't want him anymore.
"I just can't live like this." 
Her explanation was less than stellar. 
It just pissed him off.
Three years, talk of marriage, sharing their home, and now--

She had cried no tears.
She was very matter of fact; 
just like her accountant voice he heard on the phone
when she answered her clients' calls.
Professional, calm, overly-attentive, fake.
She wanted no argument, no begging, nothing difficult.
But the hard truth was, she didn't want him.
She swallowed her wine and his hope along with it.

She would never stay.
It wasn't worth trying.
Nothing could be said.
He walked to the door and opened it wide.
She starred in amazement, as if he would have the nerve to do something so brazen.
She stomped out the door and on his pride.

Behind her, the door slammed. 
He couldn't stand the thought of her.
He drank the rest of the wine alone, swallowing each sip and his sorrow.
He was numb.
No thoughts in his head.
He sat drinking. 
He slept on the couch in his clothes with that bottle of wine.

In the morning, the sun roused him and his anger.
He began planning his next words to her--what he didn't get to say.
Everything he never got to say to her--three years of never-been-said.
Then the phone rang.
Out of habit, he picked it up and raised it to his ear.

"I don't know what got into me last night. I need to see you. I made a mistake. I'm sorry."

His blood boiled.
His mind raced.
His eyes filled with tears.
He threw the phone across the room.
His breath lightened and so did his heart.
No words needed.

I needed 10 minutes for this one!! Thus, the title change to Ten Minute Friday!!! Thanks for reading!! Happy weekend!!

Love and happiness <3 Holly

Monday, December 9, 2013

Motivational Monday

I've been feeling a little off lately. I don't know what it is. I'm sure it's partly stress; I've got a lot going on--in life, in my head, with my headaches. Stress breads anxiety. I've been so tired and not myself. I don't know if it's this time of year; sometimes holidays get me down. 

Seriously, this is what I feel like a lot of the time. I've had quite a few anxious days lately. A few more than I have recently. And when I have anxious days, they drain me. It takes a lot of energy to keep my mind together and relaxed sometimes. Some days are harder than others, but a lot of energy goes into keeping my brain focused and not going on an OCD-looping rampage.

I had a really long "good" streak with my anxiety, but I just keep telling myself that I'll have ups and downs. I haven't had as much confidence in myself either lately. I think that's part of the increase in my anxiety flare-ups. It's just what happens when my anxiety strikes. 

I hate to be a downer in this this post, but it's just reality. I'm not myself, and I'm having trouble getting back to the good feelings that I was having. I'm trying really hard. I just know it's going to take a lot of work and that takes a lot of energy and stress (cue crazy anxiety cycle). But I'm still hanging in there and working on things. Because of all this, I wanted to do something every week that helped me stay positive with myself and remember to take one day at a time. 

Thus, Motivational Monday. 

I wanted to find something fun or meaningful that has made me happy recently. I'm going to go back to this post throughout the week and look at my motivation to help me when I'm feeling down. So here are some things that have put a smile on my face lately. I hope they bring a smile to yours too :) 


Music really means a lot to me. It fills me with so much emotion. It's a connection I have with my husband who is a music teacher and a musician. Since I'm so much better with written words than I am speaking to people, I feel a connection to musicians and their lyrics. I really relate to them and feel like they speak to my feelings. When I listen to music, it's like a huge emotional release. It's amazing. 

Here are two songs that I have really been helping me to feel happier and relate to what I'm feeling inside. They help me get through  my rough patches.

Sara Bareilles is one of my favorite artists. She is a poet and an amazing musician. This song makes my heart feel strong and happy and helps me to remember to take a deep breath and just keep running towards my happy ("Chasing the Sun," from CD The Blessed Unrest).

I love Levi Robin. Bjorn and I heard him opening for Glen Hansard last fall. He is a fabulous musician. I love his song "No Worries" and the lyric "I don't want to worry no more." This has really resonated with me lately. I love this song. It really helps me just close my eyes and take a deep breath ("No Worries," from Levi Robin's EP).

Here's to music motivating me to stay happy and relaxed.

Love and happiness <3 Holly

Friday, December 6, 2013

It's On! Update: Go Me!!

Hello, everyone! How are you? I decided, since we had a snow day today (yay!!) that I would sit down tonight and give you an update on my Happy List. I've gotten quite a few done! I'm still working on some of the "bigger" projects and have big plans for the next few weeks and Christmas break! I am proud of myself for crossing so many of these off my list! Some of the bigger ones I haven't actually crossed off yet, I have started working on. I'm just not ready to cross them off yet! I still have some more that I would like to get done before I show you all what I've been up to! But for now, here's how things have been going...

Sorry for the length of this one! If you're not familiar with my Happy List, you can check out my original post here. And no Five Minute Friday today. This post was a long one. You can read last week's Five Minute Friday here.

(The numbers on my list with no comments are happy items that I'm still working on!)

My Happy List

1. Visit the Contemporary Art Center to actually see the museum!

2. Take Bjorn hat shopping at Batsaks downtown for a new hat! 

3. Practice taking pictures with my new camera
(Washington Park, Eden Park, city views) I practiced at the zoo!

Bjorn and I went to the zoo for our anniversary. I took my camera with me. We took our time walking around, and I took some pictures. I didn't worry about what people thought of my standing around taking a million pictures in the same place. I was practicing! Who cares? 
(I'm sure no one thought that, by the way, just a little OCD to overcome.) Here are a few pics from the day:

4. Go to Wine Tasting with Rachie and Bjorn

5. Take Rufus, my dog, on more walks--carry Thor (my chihuahua--not a big walker)

6. Finish decorating and organizing my upstairs loft

Even though this one is not checked off, I have gotten started! It's a work in progress. My reading area is almost finished. I moved my Goodwill desk up for my make-up vanity, bought two new bookshelves for all my books, and started donating old books and magazines. I'm excited to work on this some more over break!

7. Try a new restaurant in Over the Rhine It wasn't OTR, but I'm counting it!

Last week, my friend Amy and I went out to dinner to catch up. We hadn't been out in a long time, and it was so great to see her! We planned to go to Nectar, but they were closed when we got there. Instead, we ended up finding an amazing crepe and gelato restaurant! It was heavenly! It's called Buona Terra. We both had crepes for dinner. I had the Thanksgiving crepe with turkey, thanksgiving seasoning, corn hash, and veggies inside. It was delish. Amy had a chicken pesto crepe (chicken, parmesean, pesto, and tomato). And then, of course, we both had to try their gelato! It was just staring us in the face the whole time we ate! I tried the earl grey tea gelato. Oh, it was divine. my had chai tea and caramel. They were also delicious! I had a bite :) It was a such fun night with a great friend. Too bad we didn't take a picture! Next time, for sure!!

Thanksgiving Turkey Crepe


Here's a link to Buona Terra's Facebook page. You can view their menu here.
Here's a link to Buona Terra's Instagram page with amazing pictures of their eats!

8. Do something fun for our 3rd wedding anniversary! We went to the zoo, vintage shopping, and watched movies!

My amazing anniversary present painted by Dug McUgly! I LOVE it!
 You can check out his art shop on Etsy here

To read about my anniversary adventures, you can click here

9. Take time to enjoy the little things See below

Visiting with Loved Ones

I got to hang out with some of my favorite people over Thanksgiving break. Here Rachie and I had a fun dinner night with our cousins at Chuy's in Kenwood. Me, Emily, Heather, Sarah, and Rachael. Emily, me and Rachael hope to come visit you, Abby, Carter, Brian, and new baby soon!!!! Love and miss you!

I also got to visit my amazing friend Beth who I miss dearly this year. I don't get to see her as often as I would like to. We have so much in common, it's not funny! I'm so glad that I met her at work a few years ago! I went over to her house, we ate sushi, cupcakes, talked, and played with Baby Dean! It was so fabulous to see her, little Dean, and Ryan over Thanksgiving!! Love you guys!

Beth and Dean. Look at that cutie! Love you my friend!

Just Hanging Out

I've been loving hanging around with Bjorn and the puppies and watching movies, reading, and just relaxing. It's been fun! So far we've watched movies like we used to. We've watched one at least every weekend and we even watched one or two on a school night a few times (oh my!). Here are a few movies we've seen:

  1. Monster's University: super cute and funny!
  2. Admission: I LOVED this movie. Tina Fey and Paul Rudd are brilliant together!
  3. Kick Ass 2: I liked it better than the first!
  4. Jack Reacher: I was surprised by how much I liked this one! It sucked me in!
  5. Here Comes the Boom: Again, surprised that I would like a movie where Kevin James plays a teacher turned MMA fighter. Really funny, though!
  6. The Hangover Part III: Not my fav
  7. We're the Millers: Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis are so funny! Pleasantly surprised by this one!

10. Read more Whoopy!!

I've read quite a few books since school started. This school year, I've been reading a lot of young adult and teen fiction, but that's okay! I've just been really into those kinds of books lately. One of my favorites that I recently read was Serafina's Promise. It is an excellent young adult fiction book written in verse. It takes place in Haiti, giving readers a look at what life is like living with the uncertainty of earthquakes and extreme flooding overtaking your home, the place you love. It's about Serafina and her family, how she longs to go to school, and how her family is struggling to make ends meet in the midst of tragedy. It is such an amazing book with an amazing cultural perspective. If you need something fast, interesting, and heartfelt to read, pick this one up! One of my new favorites!

To read a review of Serafina's Promise, click here.

11. Keep writing (poems, my book, blogging) On a roll!

12. Keep enjoying my students They're so cute!

13. Figure out a new plan for my migraines And maybe another?

This one may deserve its own blog post. It's a lot to explain. I'm still doing well, but there have been a few hiccups along the way.

14. Do a craft

15. Start my art journal In the process

16. Try a new recipe every week + use my crockpot at least once!! I used my crockpot 4 times! Yep, 4!!! And I tried a new recipe each week. Here are the crockpot recipes I tried:

I made two recipes from my Finding My Everyday Happy Pinterest Board on Pinterest: chipotle apple turkey chili and beer chicken. Both were delicious!

Beer Chicken

I also made Greek chicken with chicken thighs, olive oil, lemon juice, oregano and basil, salt and pepper, a little chicken stock, garlic power, sliced onion, and some white wine. We made this twice. Cooked on low for 8 hours. Yum-yum.

17. Bake more  I have tried a few, fun new desserts!!

I made three new desserts--two, of which, required baking, and I have one lined up to make this weekend (eggnog cupcakes)! 

Dessert #1: Buttermilk Pie

Growing up, my grandma always made egg custard pie. It was one of me and my sister's favorites! It was definitely Rachael's!! She could eat the whole pie when she was a tiny little twelve year old! We had to run to claim our piece before Rachie got to it! My grandma started making two pies, just so Rachael could have her own to eat for the week, so everyone could get a piece!

I saw this recipe for buttermilk pie and had to try it. Sometimes custard pie can be a little sweet for me, so I thought the buttermilk in this recipe would cut a little bit of the sweetness. It did! I also put in a little less sugar than was called for in the recipe. It was so yummy, I made it twice! You can find the recipe on my Pinterest Board "Finding My Everyday Happy."

Dessert #2: Cherry Cheesecake Shooters from the Pioneer Woman

These were super easy. The cheesecake was creamy and sweet. The graham crackers added a nice crunch, and the cherries added a bit of tartness. The small serving size is a perfect amount. We put ours in wine glasses. I also used canned cherry pie filling to save a step and not have to cook the frozen cherries. So easy!

Littles said, "Can I have some, Mom?"

Bjorn was so excited that I made dessert!

The second night we made Cherry Cheesecake Shooters!

Dessert #3: Homemade Bread Pudding

I decided to make my own bread pudding. My dad always made bread pudding when I was younger, and I got Bjorn into liking it when we got our house! I didn't have the recipe readily available, so this one was off the top of my head with what I had in the pantry! Not like my dad's, but it was DELICIOUS!

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. We made individual bread puddings, since there are only two of us. We had some         
    Pepperidge Farm Gingerbread flavored bread in the cabinet. It's a holiday special I found       at Target. I used the last nine slices and tore them up into small pieces. Then I set them         aside. (These slices of bread are relatively smaller than an average bread slice.)

3. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk 1 1/4 cup low-fat eggnog, 2 eggs, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 tsp           vanilla, 1/8 tsp salt,  1 tsp cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp nutmeg.  (I forgot to take a picture of           this step!)

4. Place the bread pieces in the liquid and duck them underneath the liquid, making sure that
    all parts of the bread are covered with the eggnog mixture. Let this sit for ten minutes.

   There should be more bread here, but I, again, forgot to take a picture until I started              step #5!

4. While the pieces of bread are soaking, grease six, small ramekins with butter. I think mine     are 6 oz. ramekins. 

5. Spoon the bread mixture into the ramekins up to the inside rim. The bread will look very

6. Bake for 30-35 minutes. I baked mine in a gas oven for 30 minutes and then checked             them. I ended up using the whole 35 minutes. This is how they turn out:

They are delicious! Not too sweet and the gingerbread and eggnog taste wonderful together! 

18. Hang up all the artwork I haven't "gotten around to yet"

So there is how I have been doing on my happy list! I'm really proud of myself! Look for me finishing this list up and adding some new things soon! I hope you had great snow day (for my teacher friends) and a lovely start to the weekend for everyone else!

Love and happiness <3 Holly