Six Things I Learned in 2016

I know this is four months into 2017, but it took me a long time to write this because I really tried to reflect and process. For so many people, 2016 was a tough year filled with unexpected challenges and hard lessons. In the way of self-discovery and personal growth, my year was just as arduous. But it was also a wonderful opportunity to get to know myself a bit better. I read a quote somewhere on the internet that resonated with me as I reflect on my past year of growth: you have not met all of yourself yet. Amazing and frightening all at the same time. Here are a few things I learned in 2016:

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  1. When moving, I need to set up my house within the first month of moving in, or I won’t ever finish. We moved into this house in May of 2016 and there are STILL boxes that aren’t unpacked and rooms that serve no purpose other than being a place for those boxes. I lost energy about three weeks into getting the house in order. Now I know that if I can’t conjure up some natural energy, I can always make lots and lots of coffee!
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  2. Small dogs are the hardest to house train, so you have to start early and be very consistent. Yeah, didn’t know that until we adopted a mini Aussie in August. He still has trouble. He’s lucky he’s so damn cute.

    img_0039Photography basics: I purchased my first DSLR in 2016, and I knew NOTHING about my camera when I bought it. Over the past year, I’ve done some travel photography, landscape photography, and I’m currently working on my portraits. K taught me some basics, and I learned some things online. My next step is to take a photography class which is one of my goals for early 2017.

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  3. You absolutely need waterproof and tall boots when traveling to Canada in the winter. This may seem obvious, but the last time I was in Canada in the winter, it wasn’t all that cold. When we went to ring in the new year, the snow was up to my waist in some parts. We all had to make a trip to the underground mall to purchase waterproof boots. I finally bought the cranberry docs that I had lusted over for about a year. If I could go back and do it again, I would have chosen taller boots. I can chalk that one up as a rookie mistake for sure.

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  4. Don’t sweep relationship issues under the rug. Even if you talk about them with your partner, I learned that trying to share my feelings all the time isn’t the way to really listen, understand, and empathize. I’ve always heard that communication is key. I thought I was communicating well because I can talk about my feelings all day every day. Apparently there’s more to it than just expressing feelings 🙂 It also takes effort every day to effectively listen and understand. It sounds so simple, but sometimes it’s easy to slip into the hum drum of every day life and forget what’s really important.

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  5. The perfect taco is pretty hard to find, but I discovered I can come pretty close to making it at home. My friend and I had embarked on a quest to find the perfect taco in Colorado Springs and Pueblo. We found several new places, one of which I was obsessed with for about two months. I ate there three or four times in the first week I knew about it. Tlaquepaque, (pronounced T-lock-uh-pock-ee) you have my heart. But when I couldn’t get to Tlaquepaque, I tried perfecting my recipe at home, and I am SO pleased with the outcome. Maybe I’ll share that recipe soon! I’m especially proud because I made it myself! Food blogging, here I come (eh… maybe.)

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  6. How to make friends as an adult: This is often so hard for me. To me making new friends was like embarking on a delicate platonic courtship. I used to be very rigid about my friend standards– I only spent time with people with whom I vibed 100%. This year I have learned how to reach out to friends for casual hang outs, I’ve learned how to be comfortable in a casual get together at our house where we order pizza and drink cheap and craft beer, and I’ve learned to relax my structured thinking about with whom I spend time. This has all allowed me to realize that I actually like hosting, cooking, decorating, cleaning, and prepping for hangouts in general. I’ve also realized that being around people that vibe with me on all wavelengths is wonderful, but that also creates an echo chamber of the things that I already value and believe. I’ve discovered that being around people with very different view points allows me to open up my mind and empathize with certain view points, especially politically, that I would not have otherwise. A lot of this I attribute to learning from K and his naturally calm, relaxed, and open demeanor. It also helps to make ridiculous faces. That’s how you can tell who’s part of your tribe 🙂

Thanks for letting me share! I know there are a lot of sad things happening around the world that hurt my heart, but I’m still holding out hope for the rest of 2017.

Kindly,
Maegan

Photo Friday 

I love everything about this sign, especially that it rotates. I found it walking around downtown  Seattle on a cold, rainy day. There were a lot of rookie mistakes that happened later that night that I’ll share in another post. Despite that, it was a wonderful adventure.

Maegan

P.S. I posted this on Instagram and A Beautiful Mess liked it! Guys, they are my blog idols. I’ve been a reader since 2011. If you haven’t read their blog, go check it out!

New Beginnings

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View of the Sound from Tiger Mountain

Hello, friends! I have an exciting announcement–no, I’m not pregnant–but I am relocating to an area just south of Seattle, Washington. My three years in Colorado Springs have been challenging, heart wrenching, beautiful, inspiring, motivating, and I could go on. So many things have happened in the last three years. I value the people I’ve met in Colorado Springs and Denver, and I’m so honored to have the privilege of being part of the community.

Now this blogger goes West again! Stay tuned for new life experiences and inspiration.

Sending out so much love and light,

Maegan

P.S. I’m in Seattle presenting at the National CASA conference. I am so inspired by all the connections that I’ve made here. I also became galvanized to actually sit down and write the book that I’ve been writing in my head for years. On a particularly rainy day in Seattle, I dreamed up my first chapters over a burger and fries in a downtown bar in grill. If anyone has any knowledge about publishing, I would love to learn from you!

Valentine’s Day Bath Bombs

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I love making fun little crafts for Valentine’s day! I have recently been exploring the wonders of baths, bath salts, oils, and bath bombs, so for a recent craft night, I decided to make Valentine’s themed bath bombs for my coworkers. I found this recipe here .

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Instead of regular bath salts, I used eucalyptus scented salts. I also used about four drops of peppermint essential oil. I had this heart silicon mold that I bought from Target a few years ago. I also used an ice cube tray to mix up the shapes. I didn’t have any rose petals, so I did without them. Instead of letting these sit for 24 hours, I allowed them to sit for 48 hours, just to be sure. I was convinced that there was no way they would stay together once they came out of the molds. But I was wrong! Success!

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Next time, I will use more red food coloring than yellow. They turned out pinkish/orange instead of the soft pink or red I was hoping for. But with a little red tissue paper and some gold ribbon, these little guys are perfect for a Valentine’s Day gift. I highly recommend making them! This craft was definitely NOT a Pinterest fail like so many of my other crafts have been.

Try it and let me know how it goes!

Warmly,

Maegan

Currently Making Me Happy

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{My newest plant babies getting some snowy light}

GUYS! I haven’t shared what I’ve been up to in a long time. I had many, many pictures since Christmas that I needed to edit. Here are some of my favorites that are currently making me happy. In high school I used to write happy lists in order to refocus on gratitude. I recently started writing those again, and all of these pictures document some of the things on those lists. It’s truly made me feel like a happier person in general. I would recommend it.

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I chose these colors in honor of Valentine’s Day. I don’t much care for the holiday, other than having a great excuse to decorate with all sorts of pink, purple, gold, and hearts. Magical!

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Confession: I WAY overwatered my Snake baby (also humorously called Mother’s In-Law’s Tongue). There was standing water in the bottom for about three days. The leaves started drooping, so I replanted the whole thing. Fingers crossed that it can still survive.

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{My bestie at a new brewery in Texas}

Spending time with my friend, Breann over Christmas lifted my spirits more than I can say. We met at this brewery that gave us free food and free glasses. The service is warm, and the beer is delicious. If you go, get the Armadillo Ale Works. It’s a crisp blond ale. Take it from this Colorado beer snob, it’s the real deal.

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{Women’s March in Denver, Colorado}

I was privileged and honored to take part in the Women’s March in Denver. This is one of the many, many pictures I took. I’ll share more about that in a future post. The gist is that I talked myself out of climbing a tree and I couldn’t stop crying. The two were unrelated.

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James and Knox being willing participants in my photography experiments. As long as they get to take one picture each with my camera, they’re happy. I’m going to miss seeing these guys learn and grow.

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I am so fortunate to have spent Christmas Eve with my family at my grandmother’s house. I have learned so much from her and everyone that was there. Thanks for letting me take endless pictures after dinner 🙂

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I thought this sunset shot was going to be one of the worst that I took, but now I think it’s the best by far. Funny how that works.

Thank you for letting me share with you!

Warmly,

Maegan

 

Dreaming of the Beach

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Every now and then I have dreams of sticking my toes in the sand on a deserted beach. I look down to see the sand folding over my toes and everything feels right. I love the mountains, but there’s just something about the beach that beckons me. Would I want to be a sailor? Not a chance. Do I actually like being in the ocean? I feel like I’m going to die every time I get past my hips. But the calming ebb and flow of the waves is comforting and somehow reminds me of who I am when I feel lost.

Forever a beach baby,

Maegan

This is what 7 degrees looks like:

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It’s currently 7 degrees in Colorado Springs. I took this while letting the dogs romp around in the snow. They’ve been getting some serious cabin fever. You can just see a hazy moon peeking out behind the branches of the tree. This is a calm cold. There’s no chilly breeze. All the neighbors are warmly tucked into their houses. The only sound was the crunch of the powdery packed snow giving way to my boots and the occasional honking from geese in flight. Thick snow flakes, the kind that settle into your hair and eyelashes, have been blanketing the ground for two nights in a row. When the sun rises, it resonates on each crystal, giving the town an enchanting twinkle.

Stay warm wherever you are, friends!

Maegan

Banana bread: a Departure From My Usual Content 


So you know how this is primarily a travel blog? Well, I’ve got something else to talk about. In my previous post, I mentioned cooking. I have been putting so much energy into cooking, considerably more than I have my entire life. I’m getting to the point where I can attempt difficult recipes because I finally have the cooking confidence I have been chasing since I was 16.

I know this is not my usual post, but stay with me while I digress. Can we hang, Bloggerverse?

Want to know a secret about making banana bread in Colorado? If you want your loaf to be swolloable, do not use whole wheat flour. That’s what I get for trying to make banana bread healthier. To make your bread, ugh I hate this word, moist, add a half a cup sour cream. Most recipes that I’ve found tell you to use a stand mixer or hand mixer at some point, but this recipe doesn’t call for that. I’ve made it both ways, and I can’t tell a difference. Save yourself some time and dishes, and skip that step. Also, feel free to replace the butter with coconut oil. It works just as well but is so much healthier. Without further ado, here’s my perfected banana bread recipe that I’ve been working on for the past month:

1/2 melted butter

1 1/4 cup flour (not whole wheat)

1 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract ( if you don’t have any on hand, the same amount of maple syrup works too.)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 medium bananas sliced and mashed (you can do this with a fork)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan with coconut oil or any oil/cooking spray you have on hand.

2. In a large bowel, stir together melted butter and sugar.

3. Add the eggs and vanilla. Mix well.

4. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Then stir it into the butter-sugar mixture until smooth.

5. Fold in sour cream, mashed bananas, walnuts, and chocolate chips.

6. Spread evenly into the loaf pan.

7. Bake it for 60 minutes or until a toothpick entered in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

8. Let stand for 10 minutes, and serve.

What are your secrets for the best banana bread? I’d love to try them all!

Newly converted banana bread enthusiast,

Maegan