One Little Word 2015: Perfect


Last year, in place of resolutions (but not goals, I love me some goals) I decided to set a word that would guide my year. In case you have not run across this practice before, there are a number of great essays on the reasons for it, including this one from Elise, and this one from Rachel (and a recap). There’s also a workshop done by Ali Edwards, which I sort-of took part in over the last year. (Eventually I realized it wasn’t the route for me, but your mileage may vary.)

My word for 2014 was build. And so, I built. I continued building my role at A Practical Wedding, Ivana and I relaunched Good Dogs & Co. in February and worked hard to get a solid foundation in our first year.

In the end, what I wanted out of 2014 was stability. After years (and years) of ups and downs, job losses and changes and jumping from apartment to apartment, I just needed some time to breathe, and take stock. The word build was a chance to keep the ball rolling, but at a pace that didn’t feel so…manic. It was a good year—a year to enjoy a sudden influx of vacation time, a year to settle into job roles instead of railing against them. I’ve spent the last 365 days feeling very content, quietly and calmly fitting together the proverbial Lego pieces of my life, and then sitting back and being pleased by the progress.

For a little while, I thought my 2015 word might be better. At the heart of most things, I do basically want this year to be a bit like last year…but better. But it didn’t have the same impact as a verb might. The fit wasn’t quite right. I thought about repeat as another option, but what I’m looking for isn’t a repeat of last year. Last year was great; it was a breath of fresh air. But I want something different this year, another year where changes feel more palpable, more known. It’s hard to explain, but I can tell 2015 will not be a year for sitting back, or taking stock.

My main goal for 2015 is improvement. I’m about eighteen months shy of thirty now, and I don’t feel like I need (or want) to make any enormous life changes. (Or perhaps it’s that my Saturn Return has already passed.) However, to be a little cliche, there’s still plenty of room for improvement. Plenty of room to build (ha!) onto what I’ve started.

And so my word for 2015 is perfect.

Think about the word perfect, as a verb. To perfect is not to actually be perfect—only to strive towards that goal. It’s like practice, but with a degree of trying a little harder every time. For me, it’s the action, not necessarily the end goal. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to achieve the status of perfect cook, employee, wife, pet owner, freelancer, etcetera. But striving towards that goal will make me more progress than just the act of practicing daily.

After spending 2014 on a plateau of sorts, it’s time to keep moving. Onward and upward!

Thanksgiving Leftovers: Turkey Bone Soup


After Friendsgiving, we always have more turkey than we know what to do with. My go to answer, in the days after, is always soup. However, I’m a bit of a lazy cook—I take a few shortcuts here and there—and I never want to spend the time to make stock, and then add that stock to a soup. I’d rather pull down Christmas decorations!

I was pretty sure there were others like me, others that had an interest in making a turkey bone soup (kind of like a ham bone soup), rather than stock, from their leftover turkey carcass. But the only recipe I managed to dig up was this one. Unfortunately, it’s rather…unspecific about the turkey bones themselves, but we decided to try it anyway. Just call us the Bennett test kitchen.

We also didn’t have any leftover stuffing, and instead served it over rice, so this is modified a bit from the original recipe.


  • Turkey bones, with meat attached
  • 1 cup turkey gravy
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 3 ribs celery, sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp. thyme
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup cooked rice per person

Put all the ingredients (except the salt) with 10 cups the water into a large soup pot over medium heat, bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Let the soup simmer for about 1 1/2 hours. After about an hour you should be able to pull the bones out and the meat will fall off back into the soup. Let it cook for another 1/2 hour, salt to taste, and serve.

If you’re feeding a crowd, you can add the rice once you’ve pulled all the bones out and let it cook with the soup. We don’t like to cook the rice in the soup because it continues to soften in the leftovers and turns to mush, so we cook it separately.

Notes On The Turkey Carcass

The original recipe is pretty unspecific on how to deal with the turkey itself. We chose to make the soup using the full legs and wings, and the bottom portion of the turkey carcass—namely the hip and spine section. I left out the ribs to keep from having to pick out a huge amount of small bones. In all, it was roughly three or so pounds of meat and bones.

Whether to use the skin is also at your discretion. Like I’ve said before, I’m pretty lazy when it comes to soups, so we threw everything in with whatever skin was still on it, and pulled out any weirdly large pieces when we pulled out the bones. A fair warning, this will add some fat to your soup. It didn’t add an unbearable amount to ours, and you can skim all of it off any leftovers very easily.

It’s About Options

On December 23rd, 2002, we got a phone call from my dermatologist. The biopsy we’d basically begged her to take came back positive. Melanoma.  My bout with cancer was brief, compared to most. It lasted only months before remission was declared and my future felt more secure. It’s funny how people minimize their experiences, and I’m no different. Still, this post isn’t meant to be about my “little” bit of cancer. It’s meant to be about my hair.

I didn’t lose all of it in those few months, but enough fell out that I grew self-conscious about the spots. A black Nike ear warmer that I owned covered the most obvious places, so I wore it every day, from the time I came back to school to well into April, when fuzz replaced the bald bits. Over the course of a few months I systematically cropped my hair shorter, from mid-back length to shoulder length to chin length, hiding the formerly healthy, now frayed and frazzled ends that I’d never dyed and barely blow dried. Shorter hair made it easier to ignore, easier to go about my day without thinking about the next treatment or check in. My remission coincided with the end of school, and I wore baseball hats and swim caps for most of the summer. My hair grew back out darker, but mostly the same as it had before.

Before cancer, I did nothing with my hair. After cancer, I still do nothing to it. Mostly, hair is something that I deal with. Its length is not my symbol of power, or of how womanly I am. If it gets past my shoulders I instantly gain the intense desire to chop it all off again. I grew it long for my wedding specifically so my stepmother could put it in a french twist, ensuring that my hair would leave me the fuck alone for the entire day (even short hair gets ideas about where it should be versus where you want it to be). Once we got back from our honeymoon, I chopped it short again.

Cutting my hair off is not a challenge. I’ve never cared about the length of my hair – the first time I’d buzzed most of it off had been five years earlier in middle school, and I didn’t give a second thought to the many, many inches of hair that fell to the floor that day. Instead, I felt free of the constant hair in my face or tight ponytails – my only quick option for dealing with said hair in my face. What did upset me, during my treatment, were the funky spots of hair, the patches, the feeling that everyone could spot the different lengths. Had someone, anyone, come forward and said, “just shave it and get a wig,” I’d have done it without blinking. I didn’t even realize it could be an option. Wigs seemed delegated to those who had no choice in their baldness. Clearly, I would have to deal with the in between states just like any other patient, though I never seemed to see anyone else in that transitory phase. Luckily, I didn’t have to travel that road very long.

I’ve always thought about donating my hair, especially in the winter when I forget to cut it for months at a time. Most of the time I became impatient, unable to wait for my hair to get long enough. Until this year. When I came onto A Practical Wedding as an intern in late February, one of my first projects was helping to put together designs for their campaign with Pantene Beautiful Lengths. Something Maddie said in her original post struck me, and really solidified my decision to commit to this cause. 

The thought process is something like: As if the chemo and the radiation and the horrible, horrible steroids aren’t enough, now I get to look like a cancer patient instead of just feeling like one.” 

This is the exact feeling that I had so many years ago, but I believed it was just how things go, not a changeable option. And that’s all that I wanted back then: options. I was in a place where my entire future had been whittled down to whether a biopsy came back positive or negative (visit a college? well, let’s wait for those blood test results first), all I wanted was some better options. And so in August I donated nearly a foot of hair, in hopes that I can help someone reclaim their options when it comes to how they look. Because yea, I don’t give a crap about how my hair looks, but I am lucky that I have a choice in the matter.

Photo taken by the amazing Amanda Summerlin. This post is not sponsored by Pantene Beautiful Lengths, but they are great and if you can donate your hair, I encourage you to do it through them. 

Doctor Who Primer: Season Seven

REMEMBER: I will sometimes be spoiling things like when characters enter and leave (but not how), when a new Doctor appears, and a few character/alien names. If you want to remain unspoiled for everything, I recommend you get off the Internet right now and don’t come back until you’re done. Seriously.

Season Seven

General Notes: This season is actually split into two separate blocks – Season 7 Part 1 and Season 7 Part 2. It’s probably easier to think of it as two shorter seasons, because the first half and the second half feel entirely different, thanks to a number of changes. There are also LOTS of extras from this season, so pay close attention!

Mini Episode – Good as Gold: This doesn’t fit within the current storyline, but it’s a fun mini episode featuring Amy, The Doctor, and the Olympics!

Prequel to The Doctor,  The Widow, and The Wardrobe
Christmas Special – The Doctor, The Widow, and The Wardrobe: My favorite Christmas special, in which the Doctor crash lands in 1938.

Prequel – Pond Life
Prequel to Asylum of the Daleks
7×01 – Asylum of the Daleks:
The Ponds return! Sort of. Nothing is happy and everything is awkward and character arcs mean nothing to Moffat.
7×02 – Dinosaurs on a Spaceship: It’s exactly what you think it is.
7×03 – A Town Called Mercy: A Doctor Who Western adventure! With aliens?
7×04 – The Power of Three: The Doctor comes to live with Amy & Rory while investigating a threat. It works out about as well as you’d expect.
7×05 – The Angels Take Manhattan: Angels. In Manhattan. Also, don’t expect to have any of your questions about this episode ever be answered. Prepare to be sad.

Extra – The Battle of Demons Run, Two Days Later: Set after A Good Man Goes to War
Prequel – Vastra Investigates

Christmas Special – The Snowmen: Hey, haven’t we seen this brown haired girl before? The ending gets sad, then picks back up again.

Prequel to The Bells of Saint John
7×06 – The Bells of St. John:
I’m sorry but I just can’t take a monster seriously if it’s called a Spoonhead.
7×07 – The Rings of Akhaten: We haven’t had an episode with lots of weird aliens in quite a while, and this episode certainly delivers!
7×08 – Cold War: A Classic Who era monster stalking around a Russian submarine. For additional fun: play Guess Who’s the Redshirt?
7×09 – Hide: Haunted mansion ghost story meets seventies styling meets The Doctor.
7×10 – Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS: Yep, that’s what it is. What’s not to love about seeing more of the TARDIS? I want an entire season of TARDIS exploring.
7×11 – The Crimson Horror: Something strange is happening in Sweetville, but where is the Doctor?
7×12 – Nightmare in Silver: The second episode to be written by Neil Gaiman, in which the Cybermen get a facelift.

Prequel – He Said, She Said
Prequel – Clarence and the Whispermen
7×13 – The Name of the Doctor: To keep his greatest secret, the Doctor must go to the one place he shouldn’t. So of course he does.

Meet Topher

When this cute face popped up on Facebook late Thursday morning, I found myself hesitating rather than scrolling by. Later, I couldn’t bring myself to close the tab. One very long gchat with my husband and eight hours later, we were out picking up a collar and toys and food bowls. I feel like that’s how adoption works (at least shelter adoptions), no matter how long it’s been since you’ve decided, yes, you plan to get an animal, it kind of blindsides you. Or maybe that’s just us: both our cats were also spur-of-the-moment adoptions.

We think Topher was abandoned by someone—or maybe left in a yard or dumped—because he seems too mild mannered to be entirely stray. He’s amazing on a leash, a little slower to over the top excited than most pups, and a very quick learner. Still, he’s all bone (poor boy), he sticks to us like a shadow, and cries (howls? screams? definitely screams.) if we leave the room without him. A work in progress, as most puppies are.

If you want to follow along with Topher because you think he has a cute face (obviously), then you should hightail it over to Good Dogs & Co, where my friend Ivana and I wax eloquent about our puppies on a weekly basis. Get it? Hightail it?

I’ll show myself out.

Doctor Who Primer – Season Six

REMEMBER: I will be spoiling things like when characters enter and leave (but not how), when a new Doctor appears, and a few character/alien names. If you want to remain unspoiled for everything, I recommend you get off the Internet right now and don’t come back until you’re done. Seriously.

Season Six

General Notes: Season six has a lot of really great episodes, but the major plot point is not my favorite. Still, there are many character and story reveals in this season, so pay attention. This season is also very easily spoiled.

5×14 – A Christmas Carol: I missed this episode because it’s another that doesn’t appear in the Netflix lineup. Unsurprisingly, it plays out kind of like A Christmas Carol.

Comic Relief Short – Time
Comic Relief Short – Space

6×01 –  The Impossible Astronaut: Part 1 of 2. Amy, Rory, and River are summoned to a reunion of sorts.
6×02 – Day of the Moon: Part 2 of 2. The Doctor investigates the Silence. Prepare for a million unanswered questions.
6×03 – The Curse of the Black Spot: Now for something completely different. Pirates! 
6×04 – The Doctor’s Wife: Neil Gaiman’s first script for Doctor Who. Tissue alert.
6×05 – The Rebel Flesh: Part 1 of 1. I don’t think any good can come from naming something, “The Flesh.”
6×06 – The Almost People: Part 2 of 2. This and the next few episodes all tie together. Note this episode ends in a cliffhanger.
6×07 – A Good Man Goes to War: In which Rory is a badass and the Doctor is tricksy. ALSO ends in a cliffhanger of sorts, though not quite like The Almost People.
6×08 – Let’s Kill Hitler: This is why Amy and Rory can’t have nice things.
6×09 – Night Terrors: Don’t watch this in the dark. Also be ready for creepy dolls.
6×10 – The Girl Who Waited: Amy gets separated from the group in a wibbly wobbly timey wimey way. Tissue alert again.
6×11 – The God Complex: This place is one part spaceship, one part Hotel California.
6×12 – Closing Time: The Doctor visits Craig (The Lodger) to see how he’s doing. No motives here, not at all.
6×13 – The Wedding of River Song: Time is collapsing, the Doctor is being held prisoner, and eye patches are in season.

6×14 – The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe: My favorite Christmas special, involving a crash landing and a promise.

Willing to Believe

Affirmations. The idea that if you just put your mind to the task, you can do anything. I like making affirmations, putting up little reminders on post-its, the whole bit. However, I think they don’t always work the way people intend. It depends on the wording. Like resolutions, even the most positive of affirmations tends to fizzle over time. It’s too rigid, unbending. 

A few years ago I took a course called The Declaration of You, which focused on finding that one secret, special thing that drives you. It’s through this course that I figured out how to turn affirmations into intentions. 

Here’s an example.

I’ve been trying to take up running for a while now. I know it will be good for me in the long run, but I’m pretty terrible at it. For a few months now, I’ve been telling myself, “I’m going to run every day.” The affirmation is easy to remember, easy to say. And yet I almost never run.

Every day I wake up and tell myself, today I will run. Then I don’t. Because I’m not giving myself any room to dislike running. I’m not transforming any of my previous opinions on running, I’m just trying to bully myself into believing something totally contrary. Unsurprisingly, it’s not working.

Imagine using a different phrasing. Imagine being gentler. I am willing to believe that I can become disciplined enough to run every day. By giving more room to experiment, more room to change your thinking, I can make my goal fit into my routines without feeling like I’m cheating. It also makes room for a whole bunch of new questions: is there a type of running I enjoy more? What else should I be looking into about how to form new habits? The list goes on. 

Everyone constantly tells themselves they should be doing something differently, and then ignoring it while feeling guilty. Instead, make yourself a few intentions. And go easy on yourself. Be willing to believe that you have the ability to get there.

 This post is brought to you by a new book called The Declaration of You. It will be published by North Light Craft Books this summer, empowering people to step passionately into their lives, discover how they and their gifts are unique, and uncover what they are meant to do! I’m thrilled to participate in this post as part of The Declaration of You’s BlogLovin’ Tour alongside over 100 other creative bloggers. Learn more by clicking here.

Doctor Who Primer – Season Five

REMEMBER: I will be spoiling things like when characters enter and leave (but not how), when a new Doctor appears, and a few character/alien names. If you want to remain unspoiled for everything, I recommend you get off the Internet right now and don’t come back until you’re done. Seriously.

Season Five

General Notes:  Hello Matt Smith! This is my husband’s doctor. Matt Smith brings his own style of gravitas to the role of the Doctor, with a heavy dose of silly. It’s also just been announced that, after 3 seasons, he’s leaving at the end of this year’s Christmas special. I recommend catching up before he goes, because there’s nothing like knowing you’re going to cry on Christmas day, right? *sob*

5×01 – The Eleventh Hour: The Doctor crash lands in Leadworth, and meets his new companion.
Extra:  Meanwhile in the TARDIS, Part 1
5×02 – The Beast Below: All aboard the Starship UK, a weirdly steampunk future starship.
5×03 – Victory of the Daleks: Daleks + World War Two = I did not expect this at all.
5×04 – The Time of Angels: Part 1 of 2. Let’s go adventuring in a cave full of statues. Nothing could possibly go wrong!
5×05 – Flesh and Stone: Part 2 of 2. What are Weeping Angels afraid of?
Extra: Meanwhile in the TARDIS, Part 2
5×06 – The Vampires of Venice: The Doctor takes Amy and Rory out for a nice romantic getaway…slightly against their will. No worries!
5×07 – Amy’s Choice: Time to add dreams and old people to the list of things not to be trusted.
5×08 – The Hungry Earth: Part 1 of 2. Drilling to the center of the Earth sounds like a great idea!
5×09 – Cold Blood: Part 2 of 2. Where the Doctor asks people to do specific things. Nobody ever listens.
5×10 – Vincent and the Doctor: The Doctor sees a something in a painting, and decides to pay a visit to its creator. Has a painfully good ending and I cry every time.
5×11 – The Lodger: The TARDIS has some technical difficulty, stranding the Doctor in Colchester.
5×12 – The Pandorica Opens: Finale part 1. Vincent can’t catch a break, but manages to leave a warning for the Doctor.
5×13 – The Big Bang: Finale part 2. A very wibbly wobbly timey wimey ending. Rory is awesome.

On the Way Down

If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go into business, because we’d be cynical. Well, that’s nonsense. You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.”

– Ray Bradbury

A few weeks ago, I quit my job, and last Friday I walked out of my office building for the last time without hesitation. Not because I have everything figured out, but because I know that I simply could not be in that environment any longer. So I got out.

People advise striking out on your own in stages: save up, work in your off hours, wait until you’re certain of success. It’s a difficult approach, but safe. However, I’ve never been very good at following through when I can see the safety net below me. I need that bit of fear to push me forward. 

So here I am. Building my wings on the way down.