To my 26 year old self

August 23rd, 2018 — 6:33pm

Ten years from now you won’t recognize yourself or the life you’re living. This thing that’s undone you becomes your superpower.

This world, this life you get to live, you’ll never stop being in awe of it. You are well acquainted with loss, but that just makes the sweetness of your life even sweeter—you know what you have. Life is such a gift.

You’re slightly horrified that you were willing to live under the shadow of a man who needed you to be small. Here’s what you know about that: You’ll never sacrifice the whole of yourself for someone else. And also, you’re so much more able to love with the whole of yourself without losing any of it.

You’ll never believe how wide your wings could spread. You are so capable. So strong. So brave. So alive. You’ll never reach the limit of where you can go, what you can do.

In the beginning, there were days where you could barely manage to just hang on, but you did hang on, you didn’t quit. And slowly, things changed. Slowly you healed. Slowly you became your true self.

So keep hanging on, so tight. Have hope. Do the work. Don’t despair. Because you won’t believe just how good it’s going to be.

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Pacific Northwest

August 2nd, 2018 — 9:10pm

We’ve been vacationing in the Pacific Northwest for over a week now. We drove from Colorado, through Utah, to Idaho, into Oregon—where I saw for the first time in my life a fox, in real life, running across the road (while I was definitely, maybe, probably not following Oregon’s ridiculously slow speed limit)—and then into Washington. Tomorrow we will venture into Canada for a day and night before we head back to Colorado.

The PNW is familiar in ways that I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe because the tall, tall trees and sea salt air are what my heart always longs for. (Why do I live in the desert?) Oregon is gorgeous with big sandy beaches and massive green trees. Portland feels a little like a place I belong with the most delicious food and shops dedicated specifically to terrariums and bubble tea. Everyone is kind and quirky and just really special.

We spent several days with my dear cousin Halee and her husband exploring farmers markets and ocean towns and wandering the rows and rows of their flower farm. It’s a place so magical that I can’t help but slow down and appreciate the black, fuzzy bumblebees lumbering between flowers, collecting every bit of pollen the can bear to hold. My cousin continued to extoll the virtues of Portland, being sure to hook Eden into going to college there, hoping that she would later bring her parents to Portland as well. All the while we talked about the cheap, cheap farmland in Western Colorado, working hard to convince them that a flower farm is exactly what WestCO needs. I’m pretty sure all of this convincing on both sides is because we really just long to do life together and that’s really hard to do with a couple states between you. I really love my cousin.

When we crossed into Washington Josh said that it felt different somehow from Oregon. And it did, but in ways neither of us could quite put our fingers on. Everywhere I look I see a Wes Anderson vignette, in the best possible ways. And it smells like earth and pine needles and the sea. We’ve driven through canopies and canopies of trees with ferns sprouting up from moss beds beneath. Everything is so green and sometimes the canopy overhead is so dense the road becomes dark and it feels familiar again, a little like there is magic in the air.

We’re staying in a vacation rental that’s literally right on Port Gamble. I look out from the table and see six different kinds of pine trees, each over 100 feet tall, framing the bay where boats are anchored and a sandy beach is revealed across the way, but only when the tide is out. I’m sure I’m going to see a whale at any moment. (The kids feel this dream is ridiculous, but I know it’s possible.) How do places like this exist on earth? Life is such a gift.

We’ve ridden the Bainbridge Ferry back and forth a few times, adventuring in Seattle. The ferry itself is magic and I’m sad that we won’t get to ride it again. I imagine that the commute gets old for people who have to take it every day, but it’s amazing to me that someone’s real life could exist with a boat ride across the Puget Sound at the beginning and end of each day.  The city looks familiar but feels way different than I expected. It’s much more of a city-feeling city than Portland. Seattle is cool, but I think the special part of Washington is in its small coastal towns.

We took kayaks out on the bay tonight floating lazily while we watched crabs scuttling around on the ocean floor, climbing over oysters, through billowing forests of seaweed. It’s been cloudy today and even though it never rained, the air is heavy with moisture. Earlier we turned the kids loose in Bainbridge Island’s downtown, buying ourselves a little one-on-one time, sipping wine and eating clams while we looked out on the harbor.

I’m not sure I’ve taken enough pictures. I’ve been so entranced by this green, lush landscape, the smell of the ocean, and the towering, tall trees. I read once that you remember something better if you see it with your own eyes rather than through the lens of a camera. I’m not sure I trust my memory, but I hope that’s true.

Although life is never, ever easy, I often look around and marvel at where I find myself.  The ocean and all it’s beauty buts just up to the forest with all its wonder. How are these places real? How does this exist? How is this wonder not here but as a gift, just for us?

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Last day of school

May 24th, 2018 — 1:31pm

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Last day of 8th and 10th grades. Last day of driving my kids to school, possibly forever. Eden will have her license soon and next school year she can transport both herself and her brother to school. They’ll be back together, going to the same school again. Once she’s graduated, he will have his license… so that’s that, really.

Parenthood means that we are SO in a life phase and then suddenly we aren’t and we just go speeding right on to the next thing. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

When you’re in the middle of raising teeny tinies it is so frustrating for someone to tell you “cherish every minute because it goes so fast” and you’ve literally looked at the clock thirteen times in the last 30 minutes and the hand hasn’t moved and it must be broken. But then suddenly they really aren’t teeny tinies any more and you’ve traded them in for the next model and you don’t even know when or how that happened. And it really does go fast. In the macro view of it all, it blazes by.

So today I dropped off my kids for the last time and they headed into school and it was just any other morning. And next year, everything will be different. And life will be easier in some ways but we will start to miss all of those trips across the valley and allll of the driving and all of that time we had them, our captive audiences. And then suddenly things will be different again. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

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Spicy German Sausage with potatoes and asparagus

April 15th, 2018 — 9:05am

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This was a delish meal that I threw together quickly from what was in the fridge. We always get the best meat in our farm box and this sausage was no exception! The leftovers might even be better the second day for breakfast, reheated in a skillet and served with a runny egg on top.

1 lb Spicy, ground German sausage
1 bunch asparagus, chopped into 1-2″ pieces
3 baked russet potatoes, cubed (if you don’t have baked potatoes on hand, see below for alternate cooking instructions.)
4 cups of kale, torn into bite sized pieces
1/4 c red wine
1/2 c chicken stock
olive oil
salt and pepper

In a medium sized skillet, brown the sausage. At the same time, in a large skillet or wok, heat a couple Tbs of olive oil and sauté the potatoes and asparagus until the asparagus is tender and the potatoes start to crisp slightly. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the red wine and chicken stock to the browned sausage and let it cook down slightly. Add the kale to the potato mixture and cook until it’s tender and slightly wilted. Once the wine/stock mixture has thickened slightly, add to the potato mixture and stir to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with spicy brown mustard.

*To cook potatoes quickly, chop the potatoes into 1 inch chunks, place in a microwave-proof bowl, cover with water. Top the bowl with a lid or plate and microwave until the potatoes are tender, about 8-10 minutes depending on your microwave.

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chickpeas with eggs, chorizo, and kale

March 4th, 2018 — 7:39pm

Yum, this is probably my favorite breakfast right now. If you’re lucky enough to live in West CO, you must track down some Chorizo from Roan Creek Ranch, it’s truly amazing.

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Adapted from Refinery 29.

1 lb. bulk Chorizo, Roan Creek Ranch if possible
1/2 tsp cumin
1 onion, chopped
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 can chickpeas, drained (or make them in your instant pot – 3/4 cup dried is about the equivalent of a can.)
2 cups baby kale, torn and packed
5-6 eggs
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 400º. In a large, heat-proof skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in the onion, chorizo and cumin and cook until the chorizo is no longer pink. Stir in the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes start to break down. Add in the chickpeas and 1/4 cup of water and cook until chickpeas soften slightly, 5-6 min. Stir in the baby kale and season with salt and pepper. With the back of a wooden spoon, make 5-6 divots in the chickpeas and gently crack an egg into each one. Season each egg with salt and pepper and carefully transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake for 15 minutes or until the eggs are set but still soft and creamy.

Top with chopped cilantro and enjoy!

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the next adventure

February 6th, 2018 — 12:24pm

I’ve found that there are times in life that we let life happen to us and there are times that we make our lives happen. Lately, I’ve been choosing to make my life happen.

Here’s to knowing that when you can’t see the forest for the trees, once you’ve made your way through, all those trees make so much sense. And it suddenly becomes very clear that the path you’ve blazed was exactly the path that you needed.

We’re on to the next adventure here at the Blevins/Hudnall household. I’m leaving my Downtown job at the end of this month and I get to go work with Josh and a fantastic team at the startup that he co-founded. We are so excited to get to work together to accomplish huge goals and so very thankful and ready for what’s to come!

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gluten free biscuits rolled in “Everything”

January 13th, 2018 — 1:57pm

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I’ve been loving cooking through Smitten Kitchen’s Every Day book. Here’s my gluten-free take on her everything drop biscuits.

Smitten Kitchen Everything mix, tweaked slightly.

1 TBS toasted sesame seeds
1 TBS black sesame seeds
2 TBS poppy seeds
1 TBS minced dried onions
2 tsp minced dried garlic
1 tsp coarse kosher salt

Mix together well and set aside in a small bowl. (I fully plan to make more of this and eat it on buttered popcorn.)

my GF biscuits

2 cups Cup4Cup baking mix
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup cold salted butter, cut up into small pieces
slightly less than 1 cup buttermilk (I’ve easily substituted milk when I’m out of buttermilk – I just add in a splash of lemon juice.)

Preheat oven to 450º.  Mix the Cup4Cup, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. With a pastry blender, cut in the butter until nothing is bigger than a pea. Stir in the milk and mix until it just comes together.

Drop 10 similar sized rough mounds of dough, one at a time, into the Everything mixture and roll to coat. Transfer to a lined baking sheet and flatten slightly. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until golden brown. When you remove them from the oven, there will be extra butter pooling around the biscuits. This is what makes them so good! Just let the biscuits cool on the baking sheet slightly and they will reabsorb most of the butter.

 

*Note: If you want to roll these biscuits out and cut into circles, decrease the milk to 2/3 cup.

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2017 Year in Review

December 29th, 2017 — 4:49pm

This is my 13th annual Year in Review. To read past reviews, click here.

2017 in a nutshell: so, so busy. Or the year we bought our house.

I’m of double mind about 2017. There was both so much bitterness and so much sweetness, as life always is. On one hand it was the year that I saw the culmination of years of my own personal growth. On the other hand it was such a stressful year, especially for Josh. There were so, so many challenges and stressors and there were times that I wasn’t sure how we were going to get through it. Josh found himself with three thriving businesses and not nearly enough time to make them all work. In the midst of it all he moved his mother here from Austin, TX and she ended up living in our house much longer than we had originally planned.

We also embarked on the super-stressful process of purchasing the Mid Century house that we’ve been living in for the past two years. Let me tell you, getting a mortgage when you’re self-employed is no joke. On the other hand the kids nothing short of blossomed. They are thriving more than ever and are both just coming into their real selves, unashamed of, and confident in, who they are. Josh merged FACTORY with the coworking space in Montrose, Proximity Space, taking on the role of Chief Creative Officer in a startup that has every chance of becoming something huge. He’s doing work that he’s excited to do every, single day and it’s so fun to watch.

Year three was a hard year for our marriage. I feel like our newlywed bubble finally popped. Some days, and nights, were so hard. But in the end, we’re getting past the butterflies and heart-eyes and into the grit and heart and sweat and tears that make a real marriage. It has been so amazing to be with someone who is dedicated to fighting through whatever comes our way. And it means more than I can say that there is someone who loves me so much that he will do everything he can to never leave my side. We find ourselves at the end of 2017 stronger than ever and with a little more of that all-knowing wisdom behind our eyes that only comes from having walked through fire.

The best word that I can use to describe myself this year would be Solid. Sometimes we grow in inches, or even millimeters, and sometimes we grow in leaps and bounds. This year was leaps and bounds and it happened in ways that seemed so easy, like the final pieces of a puzzle clicking into place. Some of the experiences that I had, I’d still rather not have had, but I was able to use them to connect the lines to lessons I’ve been learning over these past several years. I’ve come to really know that the only way any of us truly fill the holes in ourselves is only with ourselves. That no one else can do that for us and we will always be needy and searching until we understand that. This year I learned to stand up for myself, to have confrontation (so much confrontation thanks to my job) and to trust myself. I just really do feel so solid. I’ve found that there are times in life that we let life happen to us and there are times what we make our lives happen. This year I chose to make my life happen.

In 2017 I learned to Look Up. It started with a phrase that continually rolled through my head. And every time I heeded it I was astonished. Sometimes all we need is just to interrupt ourselves, to see, actually see, where we are. Sometimes the only solution is to get some perspective and to practice thankfulness. And sometimes those astonishing things are just there as a gift. Reminding myself to be thankful and to take in this gift that is the earth beneath my feet has been transformational. Seeing that everyone and every situation in my life is there to be my teacher has changed my whole perspective. When I remember this, when I practice this, I get to live in the fullness of who I truly am. And that makes life, even when things are bitter, so very sweet too.

Travel:
We didn’t stray quite as far from home as we usually do but we did take a few trips over the mountains to Boulder and Denver for GoCode’s Mentor Weekend. We camped in Moab during spring break and spent a day exploring Arches National Park. (For as close as we live to Arches, I’m ashamed to say this was everyone’s first time.) I joined a group of our friends to float Ruby Horsethief in May while Josh took some needed downtime and the kids went to Mexico with their dad. We camped and floated on the Moab Daily section of the Colorado River outside of Moab, Utah in June for our 5th annual Riverpalooza (rPal) with our dear friends. And we only camped once more on the Grand Mesa before school started. Josh and I travelled to San Diego for my birthday in September where we spent everyday laying on the beach and got the chance to snorkel with sea lions after climbing cliffs in La Jolla. We took a day trip to Aspen so Eden could attend the college fair (yes, we’re already at THAT life stage). Aside from that we managed to sneak away into a mountain town or two a few times throughout the year.

Me
• My job continues to keep me on my toes with big challenges and successes, especially in the area of Downtown’s public parking system (aka the “P” word). I saw a lot of successes in my marketing efforts and saw our district thriving more than it has in years. I struggled to not take criticism and crazy people personally but learned to hold things loosely and focus on the good work that I’m doing and the ways that I can make things better. Public service continues to be of constant fascination to me and I am never, ever bored.
• Turned 36.
• Had an op-ed published in the newspaper.
• Started hosting my own monthly radio show on our community radio station.
• Hiked the lower and upper monument trail (12 miles) with my workout girls in May.
Lost my grandmother – my dad’s mom in February.
• Made some dear new friends after reaching out over Instagram to some like-minded ladies. We now get together monthly in my kitchen to create.
• Got to pet TWO Great Danes. (life dream)

Eden
• Participated with 5,000 other people in the Women’s March down our Main Street.
• Turned 15.
• Went to her first Winter Formal and homecoming.
• Performed a solo during the Solo/Small Ensemble week the school district hosts.
• Played golf on her high school golf team.
• Got her permit.
• Got her braces off.
• Finished 9th grade and started 10th.
• Got accepted into the Show Choir along with continuing in the advanced women’s choir.
• Busked for the first time on Main Street.
• Performed 18 days in a row during Christmas with her two choirs.
• Wrote a book.
• Posted her first video on YouTube
• Got a new cat named Leo.

Josh
• Saw his coworking space, FACTORY, really thrive after their soft opening in December 2016. The grand opening party saw hundreds of people. It has been so cool to see how this community has embraced this new (to us) concept.
• Josh and his partner, Brian, merged FACTORY with Proximity Space with it bringing them 5 new business partners, two more coworking spaces, new friends, and a kick-ass company that provides hardware and software for managing coworking spaces and communities all over the world.
• Hosted the Western Colorado portion of the Colorado Secretary of State’s coding competition, called Go Code, at Factory in the spring. We sent two teams to compete in the finals in Denver.
• Turned 36.
• Started winding down his company, FastPXL.
• Perfected his smoked brisket recipe.
• Built an amazing wood plank wall at FACTORY.
• Started going to Montrose once a week so he could work in-person with the Prox team.

Honor
• Continued to spend a lot of time honing his card game playing skills at our local game shop. His new favorite game is called Star Wars Destiny.
• Took over running the after-school D&D group at his school.
• Anchored the weather on his school’s news channel.
• Turned 14.
• Grew taller first than his sister and then taller than his mom too.
• Got braces.
• Finished 7th grade and started 8th.
• Really turned into a hard worker, helping his mom a lot during Downtown Events.
• Started a political satire blog. SassyFashion.horse
• Learned to solve a rubix cube in about 4 minutes.

We
• Celebrated my Grandma’s 90th birthday and my family reunion (mom’s side) this year at our house. We had so much fun with cousins and aunts and uncles playing in the pool and lounging in the back yard.
• Added a new honorary member to the family when my event coordinator, Caitlyn, lived with us for a couple of weeks while she found a new place to live. She’s become like a little sister to Josh and I and a big sister to Eden and Honor.
• Celebrated a pool party with all the Proximity business partners, a back-to-school pool party with the kid’s friends, pumpkin carving, Thanksgiving (including Pie for Breakfast™), THE Christmas Party, and Christmas Day at our house.
• Participated in the Inside-Out Project, taking poster-sized pictures of ourselves and pasting them up, along with 250 other community members, on the outside of FACTORY in support of the Dream Act and all of the Dreamers in our country.
• Voted in two local elections, losing the first and winning the second. Feeling hope start to seep into this community that has historically said NO to everything.

We go into next year with a plan to rest more, to focus in on the few things we know we’re supposed to be doing so we can leave behind some of the frantic and stress from 2017. We will keep remembering to #lookup and take a minute to learn the lesson and see the gift that is before us. We’ll paint some walls and change some things in our new house now that we own it. And we’ll focus in on the teenagers because we are realizing just how little time we have with them before they embark on adventures of their own. And we’ll continue to always, always be thankful for this life – this redemption – that we have, knowing just how precious it and just how lucky we are that we get to live it together.

Au Revoir 2017!

Every pic I posted to Instagram in 2017:

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Net Neutrality

December 14th, 2017 — 10:19am

Both of the children texted Josh and I today worrying about Net Neutrality. They both also have Net Neutrality written on their Christmas lists (really). I can’t say it better than Honor, who is 14, so I’ll leave you with his words:

“Net neutrality is gone, this is a very scary reminder of the state of our country, something that will affect (almost) every single person in America negatively was passed without anyone wanting it. The only people this benefits are pre-existing internet service providers, things like Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast. (FREAKING COMCAST) This is a very big issue that we need to fix. Please inform yourselves and use common sense, it’s really not that hard.”

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Happy Holidays 2017

December 10th, 2017 — 10:43am

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