Sunday, July 31, 2011

Things to be Thankful For:

Yesterday was a good day. I woke up craving Denny's biscuits and gravy (don't judge me) so we went for breakfast. And then I was craving a bit of sunshine, so we went to Ontario Lake to do some swimming and lay by the water together in the sand. It's only about 30 minutes of driving, we payed $8 to park and got the whole afternoon in the sunshine. Seems very worth it to me. I keep forgetting my camera when we go out, so you get to see my very not so classy and cliche cell phone photo of us at the beach yesterday. Mr. Eckstein doesn't like this photo very much because he says he looks dorky in it, but that's kind of why I love him. I think he's adorable. Also, this is not his blog, it's mine.

Oh yeah, I found a job! It's really not ideal, but it's practical, Panera Bread! Most of my friends and family don't know what Panera Bread is because we don't have any back in Arizona. It's a cafe, bakery, and restaurant. "Restaurant" being used loosely because I don't have to seat anyone. Very cool! I didn't want to work with food because truthfully, people are mean when they're hungry! They aren't patient and they don't like it when you mess up. Luckily, at Panera Bread, I get to take everyone's order at the counter and i'm done with them! Thank goodness for that.

Things around here seem like they're going slow, but they're really going fast. I can't believe it's almost August, it still feels like April to me. Where did the Summer go? Everyday feels like a vacation to me because I'm away from home and I guess I just haven't adjusted yet. I'll get there. 

Things have been going smoothly, nothing to complain about; except Mr. Eckstein was called in for formation this morning (a Sunday morning!) because someone in 1st Squad got a DUI last night. Awesome. Overall, we are very blessed, and we have a very good life. Every once and awhile Dugan or I will stop throughout our day and recognize everything good we have and feel grateful that our life is the way it is. I hope all of you do it too! We all have very good things! If your biggest problem is your family is frustrating or the price of gas or your cell phone bill, start looking at things a little differently. You have a family, which is more than a lot of people have, you have a vehicle to put gas into, and you have a (i'm sure a really awesome and high tech) cell phone! We're all much too angry and negative at some of the wonderful things we are given. This month, I vow to try and refrain from complaining and instead stop, step back, and appreciate anything I have that I have to complain about.
I hope everyone's summer is just as beautiful as ours is up here in New York. It rains a lot, but I'm used to the desert. Everywhere rains a lot for me.
Have a good week, everyone!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Can't wake, the hag will get me.

Ok, so this post is going into a different direction than my others because the subject's been somewhat of a plague on me and what better way to talk about it then on my very own blog?
Several times in my life, starting when I was about 13 or 14, I have had episodes of a sleeping disorder known as Sleep Paralysis. Details to come. If you know me well, you know I grind my teeth in my sleep, but that's a different story. That's a different sleeping disorder. It's been known that many people with one sleeping disorder will have the misfortune of having several. In my case, it's only two... so far.
Several years ago I closed my eyes in mid day and accidentally fell asleep... kind of. My body fell asleep, but my mind did not. I couldn't move. I could hardly breathe. I could open my eyes but the rest of me was paralyzed. Needless the say it was one of the most terrifying things to ever happen to me.
It didn't happen for years after that until about a month ago when I decided to take a nap on my couch. Only this time, I could hear someone in the room with me. At first, i thought it was Mr Eckstein home from work for lunch. I couldln't move, couldn't speak, all I could do was breathe. So I tried to quicken my breath to get him to notice I was conscious. That didn't work. Why wouldn't he wake me up? I could feel him standing above me, right next to the couch, I could hear noises coming from the bookcase. What felt like hours later, I could move again and realized I had only been paralyzed for a couple minutes.
Just the other day, the same thing happened again in the bedroom. I fell asleep reading my book and uh oh, I couldn't move. I could hear everything around me. I even heard a cat coming down the hall (I don't own a cat) I knew someone was in the room with me! I could hear them. I could feel them. It felt like they were sitting right there on the bed with me. Dugan? Negative. When I woke up, I was alone.

This phenomenon used to be known as "the old Hag Syndrome" and is now known as a medical sleeping disorder called Sleep Paralyses. It's where my mind doesn't finish with it's REM cycle before I decided to wake up, leaving my mind in an "awake" state and my body in a "sleeping" state.
The "Old Hag" syndrome come from tales told about people waking up and feeling a dark presence in the room with them, hallucinating figures and sounds almost as you would in a dream. People used to think that they had a demon or an "old hag" sitting on their chest, holding them down and making their breathing heavy. Click here to read more about it.
What it really is, is your mind halfway between being asleep and being awake, causing you to hallucinate and become paralyzed. Wikipedia can tell you more about it than I can.
This thing, is scary. I'm terrified to fall asleep throughout the day, and it only happens when I am alone. When it's happening, I am more than positive that there is someone there, watching me sleep, keeping me from waking up. I don't know what I can do to keep it from happening again. I guess it's just something I have to take one day at a time, or one nap at a time I guess. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Look at what I did!

My mother in Law sent me a cook book filled with only cupcakes a while ago called "Cupcakes Galore" and I was determined to make cupcakes! I'd never done it before so this was to be a new and possibly really traumatic experience. Last week I was doing my regular reading of the blogs I follow and I happened to stumble across a Pink Lemonade Cupcake recipe by A Beautiful Mess and tada- I had found the recipe I was determined to master. So, I went out, bought the ingredients I needed and did just that. So, I am sharing with you this week what I learned to do last week Enjoy! 
This recipe makes 22-24 regular cupcakes.
Cake Batter: 2 1/2 flour
2 cups sugar
2tsp Baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cups oil (canola or veg.)
1 3/4 cup water
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp vinegar
juice and zest from 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl (flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and zest) , and the wet ingredients(oil, water, vanilla, lemon juice, and vinegar)  together in a separate bowl. Stir wet ingredients in slowly with the dry ingredients. This should be a really wet and smooth batter. NOTE: You can add a little bit of red food coloring in with the batter to make it pink (i did) Pour batter into lined baking cups 3/4 full,. Bake for 20 - 22 minutes.

I made the mistake of following the instructions for a butter frosting, and I don't really like butter frosting. I had to add a LOT of powdered sugar to make it not taste like butter. So i'm giving you the recipe for a really simple Cream Cheese frosting. I LOVE cream cheese frosting!
8 oz (1 package) of cream cheese at room temp.
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temp.
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 cups of powdered sugar
And for a lemonade taste: juice from 1/2 a lemon.
NOTE: proportions are pretty flexible. You can add more or less powdered sugar according to taste. You can also add some red food coloring to this for the pink look too.
The cupcakes ended up perfect! Everyone loved them and they are really perfect as a summer desert. I hope you enjoy!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

10 Things cont'd...

Well, I told you all I would continue my 10 things I Miss About Home list in my next post and I intend to do just that. If my previous post I have you numbers 10-6 in no particular order. In this post I will give you numbers 5-1. It's a lot of talking about things I love in my life from home so I didn't want to overwhelm with such a big post- so that is why I have split it in two! I will talk about some things more than others. I think about some things more than I think of others and some things need only a few words. Here's the rest of the list folks.
5: Don't laugh. Our nights at Denny's is serious business. When the rest of the town shuts down late at night our options are Wal Mart, Green Valley, or Denny's. And we seem to have more luck not getting kicked out of Denny's. There have been times when I have been to this fine dining establishment (har har) 4 out of 5 nights some weeks after work or after shows. Nothing beats $2 biscuits and gravy with hash browns. No sir. The staff know our faces and know what's coming the minute we step in the door. We push tables together and have our own scene from rent right there in Payson. (perhaps not that extreme) It's truly exciting. I've had crazy fun moment here surrounded by laughter and friends, I've had date nights here, and I have had good quality talks with some of my dearest of friends. (Rachel, Simon, and Holly are only naming a few). Denny's, despite your incredible lack of any sort of edible food, awful mannerism when it comes to hiring staff, and completely unsanitary bathrooms, I enjoy the memories I've made here.

4: "Girls Night". The obvious, cliche, been-done-too-many-times, who-really-cares-about whoopty-doo Girls Night. Girls Night has meant many great things to me in the last 5 and a half years of my life. It's meant sitting in hot tubs, playing truth or dare (seriously), apples to apples. movies, laughter, tears, midnight snacks, you name it. It was what symbolized all of us as friends. The "group" for lack of a better word has gained and lost many members since it's creation. But the three that have remained are Julia Legassie, Audrie Bott, and me. I miss the girls, even the ones who have fallen out of touch, out of friendship, the ones who went a different direction. When we all get together, it's as if no time has passed. 

Water Wheel
Fossil Creek "the waterfall"
3: Fossil Creek! I never realized growing up how awesome and convenient it is to have a beautiful valley with water running through it just a half hour away from me was. Fossil creek is beautiful and the water is warm enough 6 out of 12 months of the year. Oh, the adventures of Fossil, soaking in the sun, listening to the waterfalls, jumping off cliffs into water, tying rope swings to trees. It goes without saying that places like Water Wheel, East Verde, Roosevelt Lake, Flowing Springs, Knoll Lake, and i'm sure many more I am forgetting about have had their place in my past. Oh, what joys of days upon days sitting at a beautiful place like Fossil Creek.

2: My many many friends! This is, obviously, a pretty broad subject since it's hard to talk about each one of my dear friends in one simple paragraph. I could go on for days about what every single one of my friends means to me, but that still wouldn't bring them any closer to me. If I fail to post a picture of anyone or mention anyone, please, don't get offended. There are too many to name. I appreciate each and every friend of mine in their own way. I have kept only one or two from before High School, and the rest I either met within the 4 years or after them. Every time I see a group of friends sitting around a table at a restaurant or shopping together or just walking around town, having a good time, It brings tears to my eyes. You can ask Mr. Eckstein if you don't believe me. I miss you all so much. Don't ever think you're out of my mind.

Drum Roll Please....

1: You know this guy. He's the funniest and the most brilliant person I've ever met. This is Seth. He is my twin brother and living on the other side of the country than him is no easy task! If you knew us, you'd think I was kidding because when we're together, we bicker and beat each other up. But truth is, I couldn't live without him. I don't think saying I miss him would be saying enough.
When we were little we used to build these forts together. I don't even know where we got all that scrap wood. These forts were awesome! Every time I had a tough day at home, I used to go outside to our fort and imagine what it would just be like to live in the fort with Seth and no one else. Even though we're older and the idea of running away to a fort with Seth sounds a lot less realistic, it still sounds pretty cool. We would drive each other nuts and it would be great.
Love ya Buggy.

If you've made it this far, I should thank you for the amount you've read (or not read) and time you've looked into my posts so far. I'm grateful for the things I have and the people I have today and have grown up with.
Ta ta for now, everyone! 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

10 Things About Home

It may not be news to any of you, but if you hadn't already home, i'm terribly sick for my home. Not literally, although at times it seems that way. This is my first time moving away from home, not to mention to the other side of the country thousands of miles away from all my friends, family, and everything else I left back home. So, without further ado, I shall present to you 10 things I miss about my home in Arizona. However: these things are in no particular order. I do not miss one thing more than the other, nor do I mean to imply any sort of ranking here. Also, there are hundreds of things about home I miss. This is only ten for now. I will post numbers 10 through 6 in this post and 5-1 in the next post. So here are five out of ten things from home I think of and miss.

10: Food, sweet food. I'm sure there are several if not more places here I can eat and enjoy all the from-scratch meals I can at home. That's not the point. Payson and Pine both are elbow to elbow with personally owned and ran restaurants that I grew up on. Through out my days I'll think about a slice of pepperoni pizza and breadsticks from Pizza Factory or a Turkey Pepeprjack Melt from Macky's Grill, my mouth waters and I say either to myself or to Dugan "mmm, could use some serious payson food right now". I went all four years of high school living off of places like Pizza Factory and Alfonso's. There will always be places like Taco Bell or Sonic anywhere I go, but I sure love the little hole-in-the-wall places like I had at home.

9: My job! er... old job. We all complain about it when we're there but we all miss it when we leave. I miss all my friends at Sawmill Theatres. Even you, Craig. I miss all the hell we raise in the back rooms doing whatever we want and getting away with it. I miss stealing candy and pretending it was damaged. I miss rubber band fights while stocking candy and all the free drinks, popcorn and candy I want! I wasted every spare second of my days here watching movies and hanging around in the office. The atmosphere was, yes, boring at times but chaotic the rest of the time. I'll take that chaos back any day. Sawmill Theaters gave me some good memories. I also just miss having a job in general! Maybe thats just unemployed me sounding bored and frustrated, but it's nice to get up and get ready for something. It's nice to come home and say I had a long day at work.

8: Green Valley Park. Sure, it's the only real place Payson has where we can be surrounded by beautiful willow trees and water and ducks and feel peaceful. Ok, so it might also be swarmed with stoners and children, but that's normal right? I really grew to love Green Valley park, especially in the last few years I was home. I went to green valley alone almost every day Senior year during lunch because 1) I didn't care to go to lunch with anyone and 2) I was searching for peace. We all took this place for granted growing up. We used it as a place to make out, or climb on buildings late at night. This was our place of mischief as much as it was our place of peace. I think everyone deserves a place like this to go back to.

7: The Arizona Sunshine and Sunsets. I can't explain to you how wonderful sunshine sounds after rainstorms everyday in New York. The warmth (or heat), the permanent tan, the sunlight in your eyes as the sun rises and as the sun sets. I also want to refer to photo for #8 for this too. You will never find a sunset more beautiful than those of Arizona. Each day, the sun set seems more and more beautiful. Because of home, I appreciate sunshine.

6: My family. By no means does this mean I miss you any more or less than anything else on this list. Like I said, the number it's given does not give it any sort of ranking of importance to me. This bunch is a crazy bunch. We're fun, loud, chaotic, at times irritating, frustrating, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I love my family. Each and every single member.

Numbers 1-5 will be with  my next post.
I hope all of you are having yourselves a beautiful summer.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

A Weekend of Independence

We've had a great weekend so far filled with friends, road trips, lots and lots of food, fireworks, and great memories. 
Friday night kicked off with a fun barbecue at our friends the Damins' home. Saturday morning I woke up and had the sudden urge to go to Rochester. And so we did. When we showed up, it was in the middle of Geoff Catlin's Gratuation party, and we stuffed ourselves on delicious homemade food. Sunday we drove out to the beach and walked the pier, followed by some awesome sushi. The sun was shining and it was a perfect day for the beach, despite the hundreds of people there! 

 That night, we ate pizza and played games and shared stories with the Catlin family in their backyard until Fireworks started. They weren't anything big but it was fun to play with sparklers and watch the sky light up. 
We drove home the next day and got ourselves ready for Alexandria Bay. It's a great big bay with restaurants on the water and shops all up and down the streets. There is a great big beautiful castle called Bolt Castle (see photo)  about a mile off shore on a little island. We could've taken a boat tour out onto the water for the fireworks, but we weren't aware we needed reservations. Note to self, Alexandria Bay is crawling with people around the holidays. Particularly on Independence Day weekend. There was a great firework show over the water. Here are just a few pictures of our night:
Beautiful Bolt Castle. When the sun went down, it lit up.


The gorgeous sunset. Notice the # of people on the TIP of the bay

Our Friends, Amanda&James Mocco, celebrating with us.

It was so great to celebrate our freedom this year with our soldiers and heroes, since we had to celebrate independence day last year with them in Afghanistan. We had so much fun, but there was certainly a lot missing. This is the first holiday I spent away from family and friends, away from home. Let me tell you, It's not an easy thing to do. I'm sorry to everyone at home that I couldn't be home for this holiday. You are on my mind always. At one point during the fireworks, Dugan leaned down to me and told me he was happy, that he had all the fireworks he needed already. I love my life! But I sure miss the life I left behind.
We love you all.
We miss you.
Happy independence day! 


Saturday, July 02, 2011

Post-it Love

A few weeks ago while Dugan was at work, I left a few love note post its around the house for him to find. Since then, I find post its all over the place, usually when I wake up with sweet comments written on them. They all say things like "I like the way you smile in your sleep.", "there is nothing better than waking up next to you.", "You're my one and only." You get the idea. I keep most of them and stick them on the door to my closet so I can look at them everyday. This has become somewhat of a new tradition we have created. I love the notes, and sometimes drawings I find around the house. It's cheesy but it's our kind of love. I don't think enough people do simple things like leaving notes to remind someone how you feel about them.

I think it's sweet.