“Endorphins Make You Happy – Happy People Don’t Kill Their Husbands.”

I’ve started running again and dragged a few friends into it with me. Our goal is to run a half marathon in November. (If I can find time to train, and my legs don’t give out. I’m feeling pretty sore!)

I headed out this morning, deciding to try to find a safe place to run outside instead of the treadmill at the gym.

I ended up walking most of the time instead of running – I’d forgotten what a difference those hills actually make. In addition to the hills, I’d forgotten how enjoyable it is to walk and think.

There were many miles I walked with a portable cd player and my “Les Miserables” sound track in high school.

On this walk, I mulled over some things in my current reality: living in an apartment and yearning for a house, work, and the Fellow and I’s wedding next year.

After pondering some wedding invite and logistics details I’ve been struggling with, I thought about an article my boss had sent me. This particular article spoke about keeping yourself from falling down the “rabbit hole” of a bad mood. The author often goes for a walk to puzzle through issues or lift her mood. It was sent to me as a suggestion for our Wellness Wednesday email blast for the week.

I love that this is something that my employer wishes to share with her employees, which got me to thinking about mindset and the way we handle life experiences and the choices we make. I am very grateful for certain influences in my life. My parents, work and employer, the Fellow, and a few key friends spring to mind immediately.

Everyone tells you that “Communication is Key,” but no one teaches you ways to healthily communicate. My fellow does a wonderful job of not letting me fight and making us talk things out. One of the things we covered at my work orientation was the concept of “Choice.” Every day we are faced with choices. If we get stuck in traffic, we can choose to meet the frustration with a gentle acceptance or let it color our entire day.

I struggle daily and still find myself falling down the rabbit hole sometimes, but I’m grateful for the people, places, and experiences that have shown me that unhealthy communication isn’t the norm and the importance of actively working to communicate in a healthy way. My life and relationships have been drastically changed for the better because of them.

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To War!

I don’t believe I’ve mentioned our yearly vacation yet on this blog, which is surprising since I’m usually working on something for it.

When my fellow first asked me if I wanted to go on a two-week long camping trip, my answer was an absolute NO.

He then explained to me about the SCA and his Household (camping group).

For those who aren’t familiar with the SCA, I’ll borrow a description from Wikipedia: “The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) is an international living history group with the aim of studying and recreating mainly Medieval European cultures and their histories before the 17th century.”

His group camps more on a “glamping” level. We have a full shower with on-demand hot water and a pretty intense kitchen set-up. Period tents are suggested but not required. We just upgraded from a dome mundane (not period) tent to a still mundane but more acceptable and convenient canvas Kodiak tent.

The event we attend is the Pennsic War. It is usually just called Pennsic and is held at Cooper’s Lake Campground near Pittsburgh. Pennsic is two weeks long; the first week is Peace Week, and the second week is War Week. I only go for the second week.

Throughout the entire event there are classes, shopping, and parties. During War Week, fighters get to participate in several battles or tournaments. There are also arts and science displays. There is truly something for everyone!

One of the requirements for this event is that you make a “reasonable attempt” at garb (clothing). I have been building up my basic garb wardrobe and updating the Fellow’s. Most of our household focuses on Viking or Middle Eastern cultures. I’m leaning more towards German or English, so I’m still researching and finding inspiration.

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I want to start playing in the SCA more. I’m excited to try to make it out to some other events throughout the year. I would like to do an arts and science exhibit at War next year, so I’m pondering things for that, and I’m looking for a bow to pick up for archery.

It’s magical to step away from civilization and live in the past for a week or two. You can meander dirt paths lit by torches or stroll around the lake by moonlight to the sound of distant drum circles. There is amazing food and music. There is dancing and wandering performers. You hear “MiLord” or “Milady” and see royals being bowed to in the market place. It’s an absolutely captivating, exhausting, amazing week, and I’m so ready for next year.

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Mermaid Birthday Party

I love mermaids. I can remember trying to swim around my grandparents’ pool like a mermaid. Fairies are cute, but mermaids are captivating. I also feel that they get overlooked. Outside of The Little Mermaid, they don’t get much attention. They are side plots or supporting characters. I want a deep mermaid movie with a good budget, amazing special effects, a gorgeous set, and stunning costuming. Is that so much to ask? I’d settle for a good mermaid book though. Any suggestions, let me know.

When I was a kid around the time The Little Mermaid II was released (at the beginning of the Disney sequel downhill spiral), my parents threw me an awesome pool party with a Little Mermaid theme. This was quite the request on my part as my birthday is in October.

loved it.

One of my friends at work is a DIY and craft goddess, and her (adorable) little girl is turning two. She’s throwing her a mermaid party and asked me to make the birthday cake.

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The majority of the cake is decorated with fondant seaweed ruffles.The starfish are not edible. This cake will inevitably turn into a cake smash picture prop for the birthday girl, and the rest of the guests will be eating cupcakes.

The fishbowl in the background is just one of the awesome decorations this crafty mama has put together for this “soirée” as they say.

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I also made a mermaid outfit for the big day. Every mermaid needs some sparkle to her scales.

Pig Pickin’

Right on the heels of our WV trip came the Fourth of July and then next up was one of the highlights of our family’s summer – our neighbors’ annual Pig Roast or Pig Pickin’ as they call it. These folks have the gift of hospitality down to an art. They welcome more than a hundred of their friends and family each July to a picnic under their pavilion by the creek.

In addition to an amazing meal, children can frolic in the stream or ride the merry-go-round while adults enjoy corn hole or horse shoes. Sometimes they have a blue grass band. There is time to sit and chat with friends and family under the trees. Some will stroll down to see who the winner is in the Cow Plop Bingo; yes, you read that right, Cow Plop Bingo. A numbered grid is spray painted on a small, enclosed field and you purchase tickets for the numbers. Then old Bessie is led into the pen and does her business. Whatever square she “picks,” gets the prize.

There is also a miniature car show as the neighborhood car enthusiasts bring out their antique cars or chopped rides. My father’s ride this year was his Chevy pickup truck which he chopped into a convertible. I caught the car bug and did my first pin-striping attempt. I started with a dull Sharpie so my lines were bigger than I wanted, so I switched to paint, but again didn’t have thin enough brushes, but I guess it’s not too bad for my first attempt, and it made my father happy.

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Not only do these folks have hospitality down to an art, they have it down to a science as well. They have built large metal-lined bins for the cold dishes. They add ice brick packs and then layers of ice to keep those macaroni and potato salads and deviled eggs cold on even the warmest of days. (Ice troughs make Mama happy as she doesn’t follow my fellow and I’s school of thought that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.) For the hot dishes there are plenty of outlets available to keep crock pots simmering.

Our neighbors always provide the main dish, place settings, and drinks, and everyone else brings a dish or two. While pork is the primary dish, this year’s feast also included BBQ turkey, BBQ venison, and BBQ bear as well. BBQ bear is a bit oily, but BBQ usually is anyway. Their bear meat was ground, so it reminded me more of a steamer (Sloppy Joe). I’m not sure if shredded bear meat is a possibility. Definitely something for everyone’s palette.

Because of the pig theme, I try to create something pig-related. One year it was a pig cake. This year in an effort to be more healthy, I made a pig fruit basket. I wish I could take credit for these designs, but they came from Pinterest.

The day always ends with a beautiful fireworks display. I love summer picnics and get-togethers. It’s all good, and it’s all fun. It’s WV living at its best!