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Getting into a New Swing

Hey – it’s been a while. My blog has been on my mind a lot but when you aren’t in the habit, it’s harder to sit down and make the time!

I’m unemployed now and am settling into a couple months of anti-stress self medication (ie, extra sleep and long walks outside!) It’s weird, getting into a new normal but I know this won’t last for long. I’ll need to start thinking about a new job pretty soon. Although, not having to go to work isn’t the worst thing – ha ha. The first few weeks were pretty difficult mentally and I was harder on myself then I should have been. Now that the weather has improved and I’m able to get outside and breath in fresh Spring air, I’m feeling much better.

I used to think Fall was my favorite time of year but I’m in love with the rejuvenating aspects of Spring. It can’t be beat! I love the sun, the longer days, the warmer but-not-too-warm temperatures and of course everything flowers.

My little flower garden keeps growing:

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and growing:

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I made another day trip to Wausau a couple weeks ago and saw massive flooding at one of the public parks. Green Bay hasn’t had anything like this! You can’t event see in the picture below where the street ended and the actual river begins. Insane but really cool to see.

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I’ve been spending a lot of time wandering around our local park, collecting Pokemon and just getting out of the house. Lots to see every day!

A kite that’s been stuck in a tree for almost a week…

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Pelicans by the dam…

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A little friend who pops out to say “hello” every day I walk past his house…

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And the biking/walking trail that’s getting increasingly lush and green every single day! ❤

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I need to resolve to get blogging more. No excuses. I’ve had so many ideas for this little blog but I’m like a kid whose eyes are bigger than her stomach. 🙂  Hope you are all doing well and enjoying these precious Spring days as much as I am!

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Looking Back at 2008

It was the day before Thanksgiving in 2008. I walked into work and spent the morning chatting with co-workers. I swung by the company store (where they sold company products at massive discounts) and looked at the almost-bare shelves. The ladies who ran the company store were both colleagues and friends and I had done many system enhancements over the years for them. When I collected a large handful of random stuff and went to ring up my purchases, they looked at me, smiled, and told me to just take it all – free of charge. Everything left over was just bring boxed up and sent away to other plants and they were happy to give things to me.

My team was then ushered into the main conference room. The once bright and cheery room that boasted huge canvases of children and families playing in the sunshine now had blank walls and wires curling up like haggard old tree branches. I looked around at the casual attire (jeans, sweatshirts), bags of popcorn and sodas that were all part of the “company morale” signifying Corporate’s desire to keep people from leaving too soon. But today, it didn’t matter. I don’t really remember anything said to us in that last meeting except for handing over my key card. I know there were a few excited people – those close enough to retirement that they were being “bridged” a year or two early – but mostly everyone was somber, feeling in those last moments all the years of memories that were being effectively stopped. At that moment, we were all losing our jobs. The press was littered outside, I remember being told multiple times not to talk to them, and as we walked out past those eager for a glimpse and statement about a moment raw and painful in our lives, our department drove down to a nearby restaurant for an early lunch together.

I was the baby of the group and due to my young age received a meager severance package. Listening to those around me I felt comforted knowing that we were all in this together. We’d all find something. We’d all be there for one another. Slowly, one by one, we did all find new jobs.

Now here we are almost 9 years later and nothing really has changed. Just a couple weeks shy of my 8 year anniversary with my new company and I quit. The difference though is that I’m all alone this time around. Maybe I have more skills and experience this time around but my confidence in myself and my abilities has never been weaker. I don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to sell myself to another company so they can bleed all my energy and life and then toss me aside. I’m tired. I’m stressed. I’m sick.

But I’m also free. I realize this is one of those transition times and I’m going to be taking a few weeks to catch my breath before plunging back into the waters of job searching. Maybe I can regain some confidence. Maybe I can catch up on some sleep.

The good news is I actually might also have some time to blog and some more interesting content then waxing about being stressed and how my boss is evil. Ha! Ooh, maybe I might even have some time for a blog makeover that I’ve been desperately needing for a couple years now. The possibilities are endless!

Thanks for hanging in there with me. ❤

Ali

Lots of Chocolate

Good morning on a very early (and warm) Monday morning!

Ben had an early flight to Texas this morning so after I dropped him off at the airport, I realized I had some time before work. I stopped off at a new-to-me coffee shop a few miles from the airport and am sipping on the latte of the month: chocolate covered strawberry and munching on a warm blueberry muffin. Morning power food!

I’ve been working on quietly wrapping things up at work. The plan is to put my notice in next week. In the meantime, you’d be surprised (at least I was) of the stuff I am trying to get done ahead of time. You never know if they’ll just walk you out when you give notice, so I’m cleaning out my inbox of emails, savings things like recipes and home emails of friends, and doing some serious purging of files (both on my PC and in my cubicle shelves). You’d be shocked at how much stuff you accumulate after 8 years! It’s bittersweet. I’m actually not feeling my anxiety lift yet. The past couple of days I think maybe this is adding stress because I’ve had really weird heart palpitations. Bleh Anyway, I think once I’m done with this I can just work on mentally healing and then figure out what the next chapter will bring.

Since we know we’ll be dropping down to one income for an indeterminate time, we’ve been trying to cut back on things… It’s gone well in some areas (Internet/Cable and cell phone bills) but then there’s the random funny thing. I told Ben not to buy me expensive flowers for Valentine’s day because I wanted to save the money.

Then I went out to a chocolate store I’ve never been to before to see if I could find just a little something sweet for my sweetie. This place was to die for!

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It was a tight fit for all the love birds in the store (I imagine Christmas is ridiculous) but they had so many fun things. Oh – and the ceiling! I just love the tin pattern some of these historic buildings have. You don’t see much of this in the Green Bay area anymore (at least in such good shape).

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The prices were a little ridiculous so I just started grabbing “two” of a few different things for us to try. Two caramels, two mint truffles, two sea salt caramels…

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And of course, wouldn’t you know by the time I was done my “small” purchase was a $30 pound of delectables. Ha!

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But I didn’t want to put anything back. You know how it goes. I had my purchased wrapped and paid at their amazing cash register and then after picking up a card, I was set!

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So then a few days later Valentine’s Day rolls by and imagine my surprise when I get a call at work that there’s a delivery for me at the front desk. Well, Ben took my message to heart and did NOT get me flowers.

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Chocolate covered strawberries instead! We’re swimming in chocolate now!

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Sharri’s Berries are being advertised a lot lately so I was excited to unwrap and see what they look like. I received a dozen in 3 different combos. They looked a little beat-up when you unwrap them and several weren’t in their little tray locations and had to be moved back into place. They don’t have any stems so you can literally take one and pop it right into your mouth.

In case anyone is thinking about ever ordering them – here’s my unbiased opinion. Save your money. There’s a good ratio of berry to chocolate, which I liked, but the chocolate with chips was not great and several of the berries weren’t red and ripe like the one below. Instead, they were white and pretty under-ripe. Not what you want when you’re paying a premium. We actually much preferred the dipped berries we get from the supermarket in Milwaukee.

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But – it was still a really sweet (ha, no pun intended) treat from Ben. Now we’re rolling in chocolate goodness.

Ben made me a delicious Valentine’s dinner with steaks on the grill and baked potatoes. Mmm Hmm

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This past weekend we got hit with April/May weather. It was in the MID FIFTIES yesterday! Ben and I went for a 3mile walk around the neighborhood and I hung our sheets on the line. I remember doing that a few years ago in March wearing snow boots and a winter jacket but yesterday I was in a t-shirt and sneakers. I think we’re all feeling a little spoiled at the moment. Looks like this weather will continue until Thursday and even hit 60 on Wednesday. Be still my heart.

Ok, time to get packed up for work. Have a terrific day!

A Little Back and Forth

Hey there blog world!

It’s been a while and quite a month too. The weather has been as unpredictable as I’ve ever seen for January. Usually, we’re experiencing super-cold temps and a boatload of snow but we’ve run the gamut. There’s been some single digit temps but then we had warmer weather and tons of rain leaving a ridiculously icy mess.

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Not only did driving over that stink but WALKING across a huge parking lot to get in and out of work was treacherous.

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Everything was melting away during a streak of 32+ weather until yesterday when we had another winter storm and 5 fresh inches of white making it look like Winter in Wisconsin once again.

With the Packers out of SuperBowl running now, the weekends aren’t filled with the pre-game excitement anymore. We’re heartily rooting for Atlanta but I’ve yet to decide if we’ll actually watch the game. There was SO much excitement when we hosted the play-off game a few weeks ago though. That’s the kind of buzz that fills an entire town. Ben and I were driving around Lambeau and stopped to see some of the fun snow carvings/sculptures they were making in preparation for the game:

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(I could totally make that)

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(This? Maybe not so much… Love the little carved G on the side and the spikes in the shoes. Fun details!!)

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I’ve been having a very difficult time at work. It’s been challenging for the past 2+ years since we hired a new boss for our department and I’ve been killing myself trying to do a good job. Sometimes it’s hard to see patterns when they are happening to you but looking back over time I’m seeing how my manager has been stripping away my confidence over time. I don’t feel like I can do my job anymore. I don’t feel wanted either.

It’s hard because I’m not a person who relishes change. In fact, I loathe it in these types of circumstances – especially when my confidence is a zero – but I’m realizing that it’s causing me so much anxiety, depression, and misery. I need to do something. I’ve been looking for new jobs to apply for but honestly, I don’t feel like I can do anything and I don’t want to do anything right now. So we’re balancing finances with maybe taking a little break from everything to figure out what I want to do when I grow up.

So that’s been a large part of why I’ve been MIA. I come home and, on a good day, make dinner and manage to get something done around the house. More often than not it’s been cuddled up on the couch in tears dreading going into work the next day. I’m a good, hard-working employee and a rational part of me knows I’m a valuable asset that companies would want to hire, but the emotional part of me fears failure and not actually being as good as I think I am. Definitely some mental work to do!

I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth – I’m just working on hanging in there a day at a time. I’m hoping for good things in 2017 despite a rough start but it’ll take courage and grit to get there. Wish me luck!!! 🙂

Christmas Vacation

What a week it’s been! I’ve been enjoying the time off from work and taking that mental pause on anything that hasn’t involved family and relaxation.

Our Christmas was not as hustling and bustling as year’s past – hurray! Usually we bounce back and forth between our families all day long but this time we were able to convince families to alter traditions (both of our families are Christmas morning celebrators). Ben and I got up on Christmas morning and didn’t have to race out the door. Instead, we had a moment to relax, enjoy our Christmas tree, and then actually head out for Christmas breakfast! Unreal and so wonderful.

Our Christmas tree! Everything gets packed up and put into the car to be transported to our loved ones. I LOVE getting gifts for people and get really excited anticipating them opening them up. It’s one of my favorite things about Christmas. 🙂

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After breakfast we went to spend the morning with Ben’s side of the family. We opened presents and enjoyed Christmas music, plenty of cheer, and a delicious meal.

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In the early afternoon we said goodbye and went to see my side for another round of festivities.

Our stockings were waiting for us…

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And then we had a good laugh about my parent’s tree. They have used this super-old fake tree the last couple of years to keep the dog out of the ornaments, but I think she’s plenty old enough now to stay away (and the tree is a little “Charlie Brown Christmas”). I think maybe we’ll get them a new one as an early present next year.

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Last year we had less than two dozen gifts under the tree (for 6 people) and I guess everyone did the same thing I did. Instead of one large gift (or a shared gift), I ended up doing a lot more little things instead. Way more wrapping involved but a LOT more fun to open on Christmas Day. Mom joked that we should keep the small tree because the trunk it is on makes it look like there’s even more presents. Maybe she’s right… Ha!

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Cheery people…

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I wonder what’s in there?

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It was a really nice Christmas.

We finally found a good day this week and went to the botanical gardens for the horse-drawn wagon ride through the gardens. There wasn’t a snowstorm this time BUT there was insane winds that froze all of our faces off! That’s part of the experience though. We were all squeezed tightly on the wagon and I brought along my car fleece blanket which I wrapped over our laps. Then we just held our mittens over our faces to block out a lot of the wind. We’re Wisconsin winter professionals.

Views from the bumpy wagon:

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After our ride we quickly ran around for a few photos:

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It works better with the flash.

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Inside the “caterpillar”:

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I’m. So. Cold. My. Lips. Are. Frozen.

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I took zero pictures of food this year. Odd, I know, but this year was a little scurried in the prep and a little lazy / relaxed on the holiday. Besides, Christmas isn’t about the food, is it?

It’s about 90 minutes from New Years as I’m writing this. Ben’s downstairs flipping back and forth between the various holiday TV programs and I’m trying to decide if I am going to stay awake or go to sleep right after I hit the “Publish” button on this post. Right now, I think sleep is winning. 🙂

Happy New Y… Zzz… zz… z… .. .

Feliz Navidad!

Merry Christmas & good tidings to all!

We’re getting ready to load up our presents and head over to celebrate the day with our families. But first – I wanted to share a quote I saw recently that I just love.

“One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.”

Andy Rooney (1919-), American writer, producer

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Enjoy!!!

Bailey – and I’m not talking about Irish cream

Hello! Did everyone in the Midwest survive the latest winter storm? The snow started falling here on Friday morning and I was getting antsy because I had a Groupon massage scheduled on the other side of town with plenty of slick & icy city driving to get there. Luckily the snow fall was consistent but light most of the day and I made it there and back with only one tiny little slick moment. For a girl who lives in Wisconsin, one of these days I need to get over my fear of winter driving!!

Friday night we did a quick pass of shoveling and hunkered in to wait out the worst of the storm… only to wake up Saturday morning and find that there were only flurries and maybe an inch or two more snow overnight rather than the 6-8″ of snow forecasted. Well – ha! I jumped into overdrive to wrap presents for our out-of-town friends and got the packages ready for the post office. Then we hopped into the car and decided to see how long the wait would be to mail a box on the last Saturday before Christmas Eve (answer: super short line! I think people were afraid of the snow).

After the post office and a trip to ShopKo for more gift wrap tape, we began spotting all these special Santa Pikachu in Pokemon Go and spent another hour driving around town hopping on gyms and collecting new Pokemon. We had our winter boots on and it was a good thing too, because a few times we had to traverse around piles of snow to get to gym locations.

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It was a bit ridiculous since we were trying to beat the rest of the storm but it turned into a hilarious trip with Christmas songs blaring on the radio, my flannel blanket over my lap, and game playing interspersed with a special trip for egg nog brickle ice cream at the local custard store. Yummm!

The snowfall began to pick up so we went home and spent the rest of the day doing a gift-wrapping and Hallmark channel Christmas movie marathon. Those Hallmark movies are definitely Christmas-y but they feel very redundant (as in I thought I was watching the same exact movie over and over).

LOTS of snow came down on Saturday and this morning we woke up to the final damage of 9.5″. The sun was out today which will help clear the roads a bit before work tomorrow BUT the high temp today was -1. That’s right, not even a high in the positive degrees. Ben bravely bundled up to snow blow and pick up groceries but then we spent another day inside the house.

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I’m excited that I have all my family Christmas presents wrapped. I got started on Ben’s gifts when he was out but I’ll have to finish another time. My Christmas cards are also done and ready to pop into the mail tomorrow. I’m finally feeling on top of the Christmas list. Hurray – better late than never!

Ben made a really fancy dinner for us tonight – chicken carbonara. I’ve never tried it before and was a little nervous about the eggs in my pasta sauce (sounds weird) but it tasted really good.

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I like it when we get a bit more adventurous in our cooking. Ben’s really blossomed in his cooking acumen and is no longer nervous about trying new recipes. He loves it!

Time to get ready for bed but I wanted to show you our fun purchase when we were out shopping yesterday. My grandma made a ceramic Christmas tree and my parents have it in their house. I’ve always LOVED it. It’s one of my favorite Christmas decorations. Anyway, ShopKo had this miniature mock-up (not quite the same color) so we picked it up for our house. It makes me so happy. 🙂

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Here’s to a GREAT week before Christmas!!!