Friday, December 31, 2010
I'm not sure if I'm amnesiac, but 2010 didn't have any single, solid best thing for me. However, there were lots of little pieces that made 2010 a pretty decent year.
But I'll share my biggest 2010 disappointment first: Nebraska. First, they announced they were leaving the Big 12. And then then they lost the Big 12 tournament game & their bowl game. Oh well.
Moving on to the positives! (in no particular order)
Best New Recipe- Brazilian Fish Stew
Best Music Acquisition- Jamie Cullum: "The Pursuit"
Best Minimalist Moment- Unloading my big ol' TV
Best Minimalist Project- My sister's playroom
Best Dessert- Scottish Shortbread
Best Website- grooveshark.com
Favorite Personal Blog Post- You, Me & Stuff
Best Technical Acquisition- HP Netbook
Best Electronic Recycling Discovery- Best Buy
Best Work Moment- Moving to a new office with a HUGE window
Best Vacation- Hiking 14ers with my dad in Colorado
Good Times- Hanging out with my family in Texas
People Who Win for 2010- My parents
Happy New Year!
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
I have always liked shortbread. I decided I liked it even more when I found out there are only THREE ingredients. This recipe was originally called 2-4-6 Shortbread since it's an easy way to remember the ingredient measurements.
- 2 oz sugar
- 4 oz butter
- 6 oz flour
- 1/4 cup plus 1/2 T sugar
- 1 stick butter (if unsalted, add a very small pinch of salt)
- 1 1/2 loose cups flour
In an ungreased 8-inch cake pan, press the dough into a firm, even layer.
Use the tines of a fork to press 1/2 inch lines radiating like the rays of the sun all around the edge of the dough. Score the dough into 12 or 16 wedges and prick each wedge with a fork, pricking all the way through the dough. (I started getting a little nervous at this stage since my dough started flaking a bit. I kept on packing it back down & that seemed to work. It still turned out ok!)
Bake in a preheated 275F oven until set & beginning to turn a light golden color- about 50-60 minutes. Cool the cookies in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully tap the "cake" out of the pan onto a cutting board. Cut the wedges along the markings while still warm (that's very important).
Cool completely, store in airtight container. Both the dough & cookies freeze well. Or eat them!
Friday, December 17, 2010
My minimalist philosophy is, "Don't own stuff you don't like," and some people really, really, really like Christmas stuff. If you do, go all out! However, that doesn't mean that everyone shares those feelings & just because others don't, we aren't being Scrooges. I will appreciate your Christmas efforts from slightly afar.
I'll admit it. I like twinkle lights. But some people really, really, really like twinkle lights.
Na. It's Christmas!!!
I own two basic Christmas things. In college, I bought a pre-lit tree about 3 feet tall. This year, my parents adopted it to use instead of their 7 foot tree since they're not hosting Christmas. Good call!
On the flip side, one of my Grandma's friends really, really, really liked Christmas trees & had one for angel ornaments, one for Santa ornaments, one for shiny stuff, & one to hold the presents underneath. It did look cool. I'll favorably remember her trees.
The other Christmas essential that EVERYONE really needs to properly embrace the feelings, spirit & sentiment of the season is the Ugly Sweater. I purchased mine for $1 last year at a second-hand shop and never got to wear it since the intended party was canceled, but did try to wear it to work as a joke. FAIL. I received many a sincere compliment from co-workers who considered it highly acceptable Christmas gear. However, my roommate borrowed it for a different party & won 1st prize for Ugly.
And here are a few other Christmas things I appreciate, though typically from afar-
Picture from here. That's some talent!
(I didn't make these particular cookies) My mom & I went to a class at our local health food store on "Fabulous Holiday Cookies" and that was fun! There's something magical about combining flour, sugar & butter. If I can track down an 8" cake pan, there's a shortbread recipe I want to try. We also tried several cookies that were SO delicious, you only want one.
My grandparents started this tradition (I think?), then my mom got one & I believe my sister has one too. Gumdrops get a bit flavor-fully repetitive after eating about three, but if this Christmas tradition makes an appearance, I certainly don't mind.
My Church's Light Show-
This really is something incredible. The side of the building facing the parking lot comes alive with thousands & thousands of lights (the mega-star on top has 10,000+) that move in sync to the LIVE MUSICIANS features in each of the windows. The viewers stay in their cars for the 15 minute show and tune to a radio station to hear the music. It's a huge production with tons of volunteers & hundreds of hours of work, and the end result is quickly becoming one of my favorite parts of the holiday season.
Christmas Music In Small Doses-
My roommate & I threw a party on Wednesday and as we were setting up, I put on some Christmas music. That lasted about an hour. For the actual party, we rocked out to the best of today's hits & random Gen X favorites through grooveshark.com.
It is after all the celebration of the birth of our Savior. The season is about Love, Hope, Peace, & Joy since that's what He brought. And whether or not you're religiously inclined, it's still a nice time to reflect on meaningful intangibles like those that we all strive for in our lives.
Merry Christmas y'all!
Monday, December 13, 2010
As a person who is a few steps in the introvert direction, I found myself nodding in agreement as I read and reflected, "Yes, it's true. I haven't had any time lately to reflect on life, process what's going on, and be able to focus on one topic long enough to compose my thoughts."
A lot of the activities in both my work & personal life lately have been run by extroverts. I like extroverts (most of the time), but I also need time to process & sometimes they don't allow for that. And when multiple extroverts are wanting multiple things out of multiple situations & presume I'm tracking, yeah, I get overwhelmed. That's why I like email- one thing, one subject, one person at a time.
So my focus has been diverted from my inner monologue lately, but that's ok. Extroverts plan some fun stuff!
Thursday, November 11, 2010
A few weeks ago, I tried cleaning up the programs on my netbook. It went extremely well until I accidentally deleted my audio drivers (yeah, and they let me write code & access servers at work, mini-FAIL for me, but I fixed it).
My first data step was getting over denial that I have data clutter: I know I have a lot of data around, but it's all on the external hard drive, so out of sight out of mind? It's kind of like that "drawer" or that "closet" where we continually throw stuff and shut the door to forget about it. But it's still there. However, uncluttering digital stuff is just like uncluttering stuff stuff. Start small & do it in increments.
My first step was music since I could easily approach it with the philosophy, "What songs do I always hit NEXT when my iPod is on shuffle?" I deleted roughly 10% of my collection, not too shabby!
Next battle: pictures. Then: papers I wrote in high school & college. After that: personal email and I'm working on a new email philosophy in the process- email is not data storage, it's temporary, disposable correspondence.
Monday, November 8, 2010
Huh? I guess I had never stopped to consider that aspect. But then I thought, "How much time do we spend stressing out about things we didn't choose & can't necessarily change?"
Many, many years ago when I was in elementary school, my family participated in a seminar that outlined 10 things we were never given a choice about (note: these are technically called the Ten Unchangeables and some can argue the changeability of some of these, but that's really not my point). We learned these in a song that follows the tune of "Anchors Aweigh" but unfortunately, I don't believe the seminar-giving organization believes in YouTube (and would probably not be happy about bellydancing). Despite that, the list is pretty good & outlines the things in life that we were never given an initial choice about.
- Physical Features
- Brothers & Sisters
- Birth Order
- Place of Origin
- Time in History
- Mental Capacity
- Aging & Time of Death
Saturday, November 6, 2010
"Crisis mode living is when you spend every waking moment of every day trying to figure out how to keep all your balls in the air and all your plates spinning. Most active people have to spend a certain amount of time in crisis mode. Life just turns out that way. The problem arises when you spend too much time in crisis mode. That's when crisis mode goes from being a season of life to becoming a way of life."
The Hybels outline two major areas of life that become shortchanged when we operate in crisis mode: we start skimming relationally & emotionally. Instead of engaging with other people, we chose to pursue the activities that will simply get the job done. Instead of allowing ourselves to process situations emotionally, we simply shove emotions under the rug. As they say, this is allowable for a season of life, but when it becomes a way of life, something needs to change.
I definitely agree with their suggestions for readjusting a life that is in continual crisis mode. First, life must be readjusted to a level of acceptable sanity as well as the attitudes toward the things we are doing. This can only happen when we are ready to let go of what has created the crisis mode in the first place. There's no point in trying to adjust the schedule if an adjustment in the attitude toward life hasn't already occurred. If the thought of an activity brings up stress, resentment and bitterness, it's definitely time to decide why we are doing that activity and see if that motivation is worth continuing that activity.
And if the motivation for doing something is purely to look better in the eyes of others, drop it immediately.
The goal of reorganizing our schedules is not to get the calendar down to one consecutive event after another. The goal is to get the calendar down to a place where we actually have pockets of free time- margin.
After deciding to adjust our attitudes, accepting the fact that we cannot continue life as it has been and reorganizing our schedules accordingly, it's time to start recharging our batteries. There is no instant recharge and anything that poses as such will probably be a let-down. One of the best ways to slowly begin to recharge is to make time for doing activities we actually enjoy. Hiking, fishing, knitting, watching movies, exercising, playing with the kids, going out on a date with the significant other, skiing, boating, dancing....yes, RECREATION! There is no shame in doing an activity you love.
Some may think that enjoying life and creating margin is selfish & that to truly live, we must fully sacrifice ourselves to others. I compare that philosophy to a coffee pot. How can coffee be continually poured out if water and coffee grounds aren't regularly added in to the coffee pot? How can we continually sacrifice ourselves to others when we aren't receiving any form of positivity into our lives?
There's nothing wrong with realizing our lives have moved into crisis mode. We aren't super-people; we weren't designed to be super-people. We are humans and can get overloaded. There's no shame in taking back our lives and creating boundaries. And there's really no shame in choosing to do activities we love to get the positive juices flowing in our lives that bring rest & vitality.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
"No one has the right to not be offended."
We all make choices. There will always be people in the world who don't agree with our choices. There will always be people in the world who will loudly vocalize that they don't agree with our choices. Are we entitled to having our choices insulated from criticism? Nope. Whether we choose to wear floor length dresses, are gay, exercise, are a vegetarian, abstain from alcohol, party non-stop, have short hair, have long hair, worship God, worship Buddha, worship stuff or pitch all our stuff to travel the world, our choices are not exempt from other people's opinions. (side note: especially if every little thing is posted on FB, Twitter, blogs & the moon, expect to get some offensive feedback)
Then on the flip side, I started noticing the "watchdog" groups that can't wait to get offended (remember Don Imus?). The Democrats, Republicans, Christians, Muslims, modesty groups, feminists, LGBT, academia, unions, sports nuts, etc. all watch each other and end up sitting around just WISHING to be offended about something. There's no better way to complicate life & invite unnecessary drama than to sit around asking to be offended. Besides, it instantly puts us in the role of the victim.
There's a balance between expecting 100% acceptance and expecting confrontation. First, be careful where information is spread and absorbed. If you aren't ready for critical feedback, don't put anything out there and don't expose yourself to groups or people you know can easily offend you. When offended, it's time to evaluate:
- Was this healthy criticism that can help me or is it nastiness for the sake of being nasty?
- If I started it, was my original statement intended to offend or make fun of someone?
- Why did this offend me?
- Waaaahh! I feel bad! Help, help! I'm being repressed!
Next time you feel offended, please picture the offender with this tone of "voice". It might just help with the getting-over-it bit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73W7G2fRuH0.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
A few weeks ago, my new house was without electricity for about a day. Yep, just long enough to make me really nervous about anything that had been opened in the fridge. It was quite frustrating to have to go through the fridge & have to throw away food. I LIKE food. But I had also spent the previous few days eating out & it brought to mind the concept, "Eat the food you already own!"
So in an effort to eat up what I already own (and inspired by my nanny experience), I made French toast for dinner tonight. Not just any French toast, this is the seriously good stuff. My mom enlightened me to the secret of seriously good French toast a few years ago. Handing me some leftover crusty bread, she instructed me, "It makes the best French toast. Or freeze it, then make French toast." Yes, crusty bread, baguettes, French bread or Italian bread make the BEST French toast. Wonderbread only makes OK French toast.
Most people know French toast, but just in case, here are the basics-
Heat a frying pan to medium heat and when hot, add 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable or canola oil. In a shallow bottomed bowl, beat up a few eggs with a fork. If you feel very fancy, add a few shakes of cinnamon to the egg mix. Some people also add milk. Drop a slice of bread into the egg mix and completely coat both sides. (I had some baguette slices in my freezer I defrosted)
Once fully coated, put the bread in the pan & cook one side until it's a nice tan/brown color, then flip & cook the other side the same. Repeat until all the bread or all the eggs are used up. Eat with syrup, fruit, whipped topping or all of the above.
PS-It's simple tasks like making French toast that are bringing my mind back to sanity after having a series of stressful months. I guess I chose to incorporate the recent stresses into my life instead of letting them control my decisions. I don't think it's just coincidence that I keep coming back to simplicity for sanity.
Monday, November 1, 2010
"I saw you had bread and eggs, but you don't have any french toast?"
"Nope, we ran out." They had only tasted french toast that came out of a frozen package. So I made them real french toast. I made a lot of french toast that summer.
And it got me thinking. What do I get pre-packaged that could be made using simple ingredients I already have? First idea- taco seasoning! I knew it could be done since I'd seen my mom do it before, but in college I took the path of El Paso. A simple Google search yielded like 240,000 results but the first one I tried, I liked & have made 4-5 times, so here it is.
The recipe didn't specify the quantity of meat, it seems to work for 1-1.5 lbs of ground meat. It's flavorful & a bit spicy, but to me that's tasty!
1 T chili powder
1/4 t garlic powder
1/4 t onion powder
1/4 t crushed red pepper
1/4 t dried oregano or Italian mix
1/2 t paprika
1 1/2 t cumin
1 t sea salt (or normal salt)
1 t black pepper
I dump all the ingredients in a small plastic Rubbermaid-esque container then seal & shake to mix. After browning the meat, add the mix & 1/4 to 1/3 cup water. Stir up & simmer 5-10 minutes.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
People & Things-
I have gotten rid of a lot of stuff in the last year in an effort to simplify, but still know that people can have a very strong connection to their things. During the last two months, my grandma has been in & out of several medical care facilities, but has now moved to a skilled nursing facility. I'm very grateful she is in a place where she can get the care she needs, but she has been separated from the things that normally surround her and bring back good memories for her. I know she is concerned about having these items accessible if she wants to see something or that the items will go to various family members as a remembrance token.
For me though, I remember people more through food than through their things. Grandma made wonderful gingerbread & an amazing potato casserole of some kind. I remember how nice & grandmotherly she was when we were baking brownies together & I burned myself when I tried to touch the pan. I remember how carefully she tried to plan birthday dinners so the special person got to eat their favorite meal. Even though there's a difference in how Grandma & I remember people, I hope that she can be comfortable in her new home and know that her things are being taken care of very well.
I've also tried to simplify my attitude by including more positivity, and I've realized how much other people contribute to my life. Genuinely smiling at someone and saying, "Thank you, I really appreciate it," really can make a difference in someone's day & spread a positive attitude around, especially if I am the one in need of a positive attitude! Showing appreciation also means taking a step outside my normal speeding-bullet-train of thought to pause and think of how I am NOT doing this on my own & how many people touch my life even in minor ways.
Although I don't remember if I've blogged about it before, I would be completely lost without my community. Through my various levels of community, each different part fulfills a completely separate need. Whether verbal processing, ideas, emotional & spiritual support or simply going out for a drink, I need all of these people in my life. These people aren't simply Facebook friends or ones who tolerate me for 20 minutes while they tap away on Blackberries. I feel so privileged to have the kind of true community that actually supports me during difficult times in my life.
And what to work on- Regrouping
With a crazy schedule, unexpected plan changes, no time & little creativity, I haven't been cooking or eating what I should. This almost worked for a few months until the stress and bad food combos resulted in a very uncomfortable bout with acid reflux. I decided I can either let my "out of control lack of schedule!" get the better of me, or I can lock down my time, create margin, & take care of what I need to get done to feel good.
I don't particularly like having a strictly defined weekly schedule, but I know I need to develop certain constraints to set some time boundaries in my life for the next few weeks. Stress takes a huge toll on my body, so I know I need self-discipline to restore the order.
Goals for November- Limit eating out to 4 times a week, eat 2-3 servings of fruit/veggies a day (yeah, I know it's lower than 5, maybe that'll be the Dec. goal, baby steps), hit the gym once a week, visit Grandma twice a week, do something random/fun at least once a week, blog more.
PS- The "flavor" of this blog might be varied over the next few months as I'm processing a whole new set of circumstances to simplify, but hey, this is life!
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
This isn't coming from a personal crisis of self-loathing, a tanking of my self-esteem or false humility. Although it's a reversal of what modern culture is telling us ("you deserve a break today", "because you're worth it", "your way right away", ad nauseum), who we are and what we do cannot instantly make the universe owe us anything, whether possessions, experiences, opportunities, power, recognition, our own way, an extra cookie or even a close parking spot to the grocery store. And just because THEY got one doesn't mean I deserve one too.
And it's been amazing. I had no idea that the process of losing entitlement could be so personally freeing. Entitlement is merely a set of lies (yes, lies) we believe about ourselves & our future. For me, this shift is an attitude change that is happening slowly, but it's like dropping a ton of bricks one by one. Talk about simplification! This is probably the biggest attitude shift toward simple I've had since I started blogging.
Instead of banking on the future being perfect because, well um, I AM perfect, I can recognize that life happens. The rain falls on the good, the bad & the ugly. That doesn't mean I can't try to put up an umbrella, but I'm not in control and that's perfectly ok. For years, my focus has primarily been on the future through worrying, trying to plan, & trying to control situations. I've missed out on a lot of what's happening right now though. I've missed out on a lot of joy and peace too!
One of the first steps toward losing entitlement was majorly upping my attitude of gratitude. Not to go all happy-crazy or Pollyanna, but focusing on gratitude not only decreases overall negative attitudes, but it brings our attitude back to a realistic place of who we are & how much other people do for us.
It's very amusing, but I am enjoying being surprised by good things that happen.
- Fun new friends
- Excellent conversations with old friends
- Learning ultimate tennis
- Taking a new class through Parks & Rec
- My kickboxing ladies who keep on coming back for more torture
- A great Saturday lunch
- An amazing backup of friends and family
- Pita Chips
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
My typical response to life's issues is to internalize & worry. Productive, huh?
This week, my Monday night discussion group was covering JOY. I realized worry & joy don't share space well, one has to win. So far in my life, worry typically wins. Further in the discussion the comment came up, "If we truly have the right perspective on life, all those other problems & details won't matter & worrying is obsolete."
My feathers got ruffled. My grandma is going through a bunch of health issues, & I'm suddenly supposed to want the "right perspective" in which her problems don't matter? How can someone make such a cold, unfeeling statement as that? Worrying is how I show I care!
Wait, what? "Worrying is how I show I care."
Kristen, you know that's 100% hokum. Besides, how could that ever possibly help the situation? Worrying isn't caring, it's just worrying.
Today while reading I ran across the word "compassion." Maybe that would be a decent replacement for worry in some situations. For other situations, I need to remind myself, "This is not my problem. Let it go & forget it." So for the next few weeks, I can hopefully trade in a few handfuls of headache medicine for joy & compassion instead. We'll see how it goes. Is it really possible to make worry obsolete?
And for the unrelated pic of the day- Quandary Peak from my hiking trip a few weeks ago. My dad & I hiked Quandary & Elbert. Quite the trip & lots of fun!
Saturday, August 14, 2010
June 2010- Our duplex neighbors moved out. When they did, our cable finally transitioned to just basic. How sad! Whatever will we do without What Not To Wear, Real Housewives, Project Runway, Little People Big World, Dirty Jobs & Mythbusters? We managed & ended up watching a lot of regular network reruns of Friends & Law & Order spin-offs.
August 1, 2010- I moved into a house owned by a friend of mine & was warned, "We don't have cable." There is also a large desk in the living room (temporarily) blocking the TV.
Two weeks into August (today)- Perusing my blogs, I see an article about limiting children's TV time. And then I realized- I have spent the last two weeks without watching TV & I haven't missed it at all. Ok, I guess I haven't been completely without. I've watched two DVD's at other places & watched some episodes of Big Bang Theory my parents had DVRed.
Previously, I probably watched the most TV while eating meals since I frequently eat dinner alone. In the last few weeks, I've spent most of my dinners reading or catching up on email. Two dinners were spent on Youtube watching clips from Whose Line Is It Anyway. And instead of spending my evenings watching TV, I've been walking, visiting my grandparents & hanging out with friends downtown.
While I'm not going to say my life has been completely revolutionized skipping TV, it is nice not even having it as an option. No more internal complaining, "There's nothing on! Why can't the networks make any good shows anymore? It's nothing but commercials!" and still just sitting fuzzy-eyed in front of it. I'm responsible for my own entertainment & that's not a bad thing. The no-TV lifestyle definitely isn't for everyone, but right now for me, it's working out quite well.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Why should we be concerned? How people expresses themselves shows exactly what is going on inside them. Expressions are a reflection of a person's inner monologue. Even a well tuned filter can't catch everything that wants to come flying out, and with the popularity of Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and every other sort of cyber-social communication, we are continually expressing what's going on inside us. As long as I can remember my filter has been terrible, but regardless, I definitely don't want to be known as a person who hurts others with words. However, tweaking just the words won't cut it since they are simply a reflection of what's going on inside. The inner monologue has to change first. (Maybe this wasn't a good subtopic for "Simple Things to Simplify," but whatever.)
When thinking of bad expressions, we have zingers, put-downs, unnecessary & unhelpful criticisms, tirades, "bless her heart" comments, and Freudian slips to name a few. However, other aspects of speech might not be so obvious. I've been thinking a lot about these lately & recognizing where my inner monologue needs to change.
Unfortunately, one of the fastest ways to connect with other people is to mutually complain about something or someone. Misery loves company? Not really. What kind of decent relationship is based on negativity? Complaining is rooted in the inner issues of discontentment, entitlement & the idea that a person or situation is not living up to some certain standard, usually an unexpressed & rather ambiguous one.
My attempted first step- Don't complain about anything I could have done something to fix. Don't disguise complaining as "just stating the facts."
"Sorry about the mess, no time to clean." "I didn't have time to make it nice." "Just trying a new recipe." "She's just that way, don't take it personally." I'm guessing you get the idea. Disclaimers can come from at least two roots:
- False Humility. By disclaiming a situation we are in control of that is actually perfectly fine, we intentionally invite responding comments of "Oh, it's absolutely lovely! Besides, you are quite talented, smart, beautiful, & you can make a perfect souffle!" False humility is a cross between a white lie and manipulation, neither of which are high quality attributes. My attempted first step- Just stop.
- Self-Consciousness. We recognize a situation we are in control of is not perfect and feel that if someone else notices this by themselves, we will be judged and it will be blatantly evident that we ourselves are likewise not perfect. Our instinct is to protect our pride and offer a disclaimer that brings public attention to the fact that yes, we do know something isn't perfect. AACK! It's just not perfect, OK?? Don't judge me! My attempted first step- Strive for excellence, but if something isn't perfect, let it go this once. It'll be ok. Do this again and again until the tunnel vision of perfectionism begins to crack & break away.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Modesty as Wardrobe Uncomplication- by Diana
I’m a modest person. From a young age, I’ve been told that modesty is important. It’s somewhat of an abstract concept as a child - the why’s of modesty are not quite clear, it’s more of being told the “right” way to dress and the “wrong” way to dress. As you get older, you’re told that guys are basically sex-crazed lunatics, and you’d better cover up to avoid being attacked. Or if you show a little too much (wherever that abstract line is), you are personally and solely responsible for the moral demise of some guy’s thought life.
So I dressed modestly as a safety measure, or I was guilted into it for fear of sending a wholesome young man into a downward spiral of lust and peril. And what were my guidelines of modest dress, you might ask. Well, you have to wear shorts that cover 100% of your butt, you shouldn’t wear skirts that provide a view if you open your legs a few inches, bikinis are questionable, you shouldn’t show too much cleavage, and pants with “Juicy” written on the butt are definitely out.
I’m feeling pretty good about myself. No one has confused me for a prostitute, and I’m definitely more modest than some people (when in doubt, always compare yourselves to others for self-validation).
But while those reasons for modesty are valid at a foundational level, I’ve come to see the value of staying covered for my own reasons. We’ve been fans of the Duggar family (17, 18, 19 ... Kids and Counting on TLC) for a few years and noticed their family dress code of coverage from knees to collarbones. I also recently read “A Return to Modesty” by Wendy Shalit, a young Jewish author comparing social mores and observations between her more liberal friends and Orthodox Jewish acquaintances. I’ve decided modesty is more than sexual restraint and following the rules, it’s wardrobe uncomplication.
Let’s think about tank tops and bra straps. I live in Texas, it’s very hot; I wear a lot of tank tops. But I find myself in a day-long battle with those straps that peek out under the shirt, even when a tank top has wide straps you think will cover. Just when I think I’ve adjusted and re-adjusted and tucked and pushed enough, those pesky bra straps come sliding out again. Is this a big deal? Maybe not. Do lots of other people have their bra straps hanging out? Yes. But I’ll remind you that a bra is still purchased in the underwear department and therefore does not need to be seen by the general population.
What if I gave up my perceived need for tank tops and simply wore shirts that covered my “unmentionables”? Uncomplication. I could go through the day with no concern whether the color of my bra would be revealed to everyone by two skinny straps sneaking down my shoulders.
Now let’s think about necklines. I have a baby, so there are little hands pulling at everything grabbable. Having a baby also means lots of bending over, these things are not good for most necklines. Even shirts I considered modest are now a liability as I’m bending and little hands are pulling down. On an episode of the Duggars, where there are record numbers of little hands, I noticed the Duggar girls have freedom. No worries of bending or being exposed by grabby babies. Uncomplication. When you wear shirts that you trust to keep you covered, you can go through your day without a quick hand to the neckline.
So how about low-rise jeans - and I’m not just talking about the ones you makes faces at where the zipper is only an inch long. It seems like anything lower than an old-school “mom jean” leaves you in a compromising position any time you want to take a seated position. You’re pulling down your shirt, pulling up your jeans, sitting five different ways to avoid announcing to the room that you’ve got your orange flowered panties on today. Wearing skirts (of an appropriate length) solves this problem.
If I chose clothes that eliminated adjusting, fidgeting, pulling up, yanking down and re-arranging, I could go through my normal day and focus on my day. Not on what was sliding or peeking where. Modesty as uncomplication benefits ME.
Other wardrobe uncomplications:
- keep only items that fit
- no question whether something will work or not, limits trying on time
- no adjustments - belt, pins, etc
- no stress - if I breathe too deeply my button may pop off
- don’t buy strange items just because they’re really cheap on clearance
- just taking up space in your closet, waiting for the “right time” to wear it (because you have convinced yourself there will be a right time)
- for the price of several cheap novelty items, you could have gotten a solid basic piece which could be worn weekly
- know your wardrobe
- when you’re out shopping, you’ll know if you have items that will “go” with a new item
- you’ll avoid accidentally purchasing something you already have - “oh wait, I forgot I already have two black t-shirts.”
Sunday, August 1, 2010
To simplify the emotions:
- Give yourself plenty of time, even if you just hurry up & wait
- Be positive
- Be patient
- Smile even if you don't feel like it
Tips on what to wear-
- Pants that don't require a belt
- Slip-on shoes
- If in doubt about items & carry-on eligibility, check the TSA website while packing
- Keep your boarding pass & ID handy
- Get yourself ready before you get in line & while standing in line
- For example, if you have a belt or pocket items, place them in your carry-on before you get in line
- More examples: unlace shoes, put jackets in your carry-on, and remove large pieces of metal jewelry
- Don't even try to get a beverage through. The TSA doesn't care about your hydration. (I carry an empty bottle & refill it once I'm through security. I care about hydration.)
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
This move will take me from a three bedroom duplex with garage & lots of space down to one bedroom in a house with three other girls. The house is already furnished so I won't need my kitchen stuff or any household furniture. Fortunately, I can store stuff in my parent's basement until I need it in the future. No point in getting rid of my favorite RED kitchen stuff since I know I will eventually need it again.
So here are my reflections, FAILs first-
FAIL: Me being a minimalist. Ok, it's not a complete fail, but I'm not as far along down that path as I thought I was. However, I think living out of a bedroom will help me figure out what I really need & what can really go.
FAIL: I don't know what to do with my pair of orange Banana Republic dress pants. Plato's Closet didn't want them, but that's no surprise. The minimalist in me says, "Donate them! The last time you wore them was to work on Halloween 2007!" Another part of me thinks, "They fit like a glove. Too bad they're orange. Keep them for a costume!" What kind of costume involves orange pants? Wait! Carrie Bradshaw!
FAIL: Realizing I'm ok at maintenance cleaning, but I haven't done deep cleaning of my apartment since...um...
WIN: I took stuff to Plato's Closet & they bought some of it!
WIN: Donated a lot of stuff to Goodwill
WIN: Sold the coffee table on Craigslist!
WIN: Being able to move a whole bunch of stuff to my parent's basement before the actual move.
WIN: Finding out I can buy homemade wheat bread by the slice at the Mennonite Deli near where I work. $.25 a slice! Ok, that might not be a direct moving WIN but I'm quite happy about it anyway.
The WINs outnumber the FAILs so I'm really quite happy with how things are going. I'm packing up the kitchen tonight, so we'll see how that ends up. Here's to moving!
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
I will get my FAIL out of the way first. I was planning on including the recipe in this entry (hehe, the BIG BATCH recipe that makes 120 kuchen), however, I am moving in two weeks and boxed up my cookbooks to be temporarily stored in my parent's basement. So, the recipe will come when I rediscover my cookbooks or can borrow another copy. Instead, here are the pictures and a recap of the day.
Getting together with extended family is a blast, especially when food is involved! My great-aunt was in charge of teaching us how to do kuchen the "Rose" way. The morning began with a flurry of activity to get the fruit, dough, and topping ready.
The wet ingredients:
The yeast mix:
One of the fruit offerings, peaches (we also had cherries & blueberries):
The only bowl big enough to hold the dough for rising:
The dough has risen indeed:
Getting ready to make the kuchen:
Flatten the dough and place fruit into the center:
Pinch the edges together so all the fruit is enclosed:
Ta-da! A kuchen is born!
Yep, we made 125ish kuchen today:
Put the yummy topping on & then bake:
And because I left my blog up accidentally, here is the final review as guesstimated by one of my kuchen eaters (and also the writer of this blog):
"I anxiously awaited diving in to my creation as they came out of the oven; however, before we could enjoy our spoils, we had to return home. The entire ride back, all I could think about was the delicious treats sitting in the trunk. I could envision the explosion of flavors bursting out of the dough and tickling my taste buds. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, I sat down with my roommates and opened up the container. The smell took me back to the enjoyment I experienced earlier in the day and brought a smile to my face. We tore into the kuchen with reckless abandon. Before I knew it, half the container was crumbs. We had had our fill and enjoyed every flavor of kuchen available. We all walked away, satisfied with this wonderful creation known as kuchen. Another reason to smile (and big WIN- I still have half the container to get me through the remainder of the week.)"
Yeah, it was pretty tasty. :)
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Salsa should taste the way you want it to taste, so this set of ingredient guidelines is intended to be tweaked, retweaked, tasted & adjusted. Some people like to use fresh tomatoes (de-seeded), but for me using canned is easier.
- 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
- 1/3 to 1/2 onion (1/2 if you like the onion-y flavor of Carlos O'Kelly's salsa)
- 1/4 to 1 jalapeno, de-seeded unless you want a huge kick
- 1-2 gloves garlic
- cilantro to taste (I use about 1/2 a bunch)
- lime juice to taste
- salt to taste
Hard way or if you want chunky salsa: Chop everything up yourself.
Taste, adjust flavors & enjoy!
Here's my work in progress. Ok, I actually just wanted to show off my red food processor.
And the final product. It's really tasty!
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
"It's not FAIR!" Ah, the war cry of the six year old. The statement remains even twenty years later though, why did she get two cookies, but I only got ONE? Why is my friend the cute, petite blond and I have glasses, braces & frizzy hair?
We'd like to think jealousy is a characteristic left in elementary school, but it's not. My Bible study is doing a video series that talked about jealousy & envy this week and it really hit home to me. Jealousy is basically wanting what someone else has since you feel you are entitled to it. Yeah, adults get jealous. The problem with adults though is we tend to STAY jealous without knowing it, and that's a bitter, bitter load to carry around in life.
Most people think of jealousy in terms of possessions like houses or cars, but it can extend to anything that we feel entitled to- getting good grades, having responsible children, getting a trophy spouse, receiving a promotion, coming up with a good idea, having a successful blog, being healthy and even just being happy. We want life to work like a vending machine, we put in something, for example hard work, & expect to magically receive a raise & promotion. We put in exercising 3-5 times a week and expect to be healthy, fit & ready for the cover of Shape magazine.
But life doesn't always boil down that way. The promotion goes to Ed in accounting & the shape ends up being a size 16. Instead of embracing what Mom always told us, "Life's not fair, you just have to do the best you can," we decide to hate Ed forever & blatantly shun anyone who looks to have a BMI under 25. We tell our friends that Ed is an anti-social, happiness hater & decide that all skinny people obviously have mental issues and eating disorders. But here's the worst part, we get a little twinge of satisfaction when we realize that Ed has been late three days in a row and the skinny-mini at the gym looks like she's putting on a little around her middle. Yes! They're not perfect either! I'm justified!
After thinking about the jealousy thing, I realized I was jealous of several people out there. I knew I had something against these people, I just couldn't figure out what, but now I know! Yeah, I felt super immature. And it's totally stupid to feel better about myself when someone else experiences misfortune. That's just not right.
But one point about jealousy in particular struck me- why do we take out our jealousy on completely innocent people when we are in fact shaking our fist in fury at God/life/fate for not making things FAIR? However, we don't really want things to be fair. We want everyone else to have equally distributed possessions, body fat, money & personality traits as longs as ours are just slightly better. We haven't evolved much past the six year old really.
So here's what I'm doing about jealousy-
1.) Recognize when I'm feeling jealous
a.) Am I rejoicing when someone else fails?
b.) Do I feel uncomfortable around this person because, "they're too nice," or "they're too perfect," or "they don't appreciate what they have. If I had that I would..."
2.) Recognize I am actually entitled to absolutely nothing
3.) Accept the fact that I have not been given this thing (or at least not yet)
4.) Be ok with that and don't get mad at the person who has this thing
5.) Recognize that God is good all of the time no matter what
6.) Move on with life
And some of my favorite jealousy references from back in the day-
Anybody remember watching Disney Sing Alongs? On the "Fun With Music" one, a track is called "Green With Envy Blues." I think it's really about colors, but the title makes a lot of sense now that I'm older.
Veggie Tales: The Water Buffalo Song- "You can't say everyone has a water buffalo because everyone does NOT have a water buffalo. We're going to get nasty letters saying, 'Where's MY water buffalo? Why don't I have a water buffalo?' And are you prepared to deal with that? I don't think so."
Both songs can be listened to on grooveshark.com.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
So the TX room project...
The story begins long, long ago when my sister used to bribe me with 7 month old Easter candy to clean her room. I always thought I got the better end of the deal since a.) I got candy b.) I was able to organize her stuff so it was easier for me to find & borrow. My sister got married in 2005, thus a pile addict married a stuff spreader (I'm not telling who is who). They've lived in their house about three years & their computer room became the catch-all for both piles & stuff spreading. They wanted to clean out the room & make it a playroom, but also knew that simultaneously trying to convince the other person to de-stuff, de-spread & de-pile might not be a good idea, so that's where I came in. I got real food this time & not just old Easter candy. Win!
I gave them a list of questions to start thinking about last week, and both were ready to dig in a clean out! They were extremely motivated to get the project done & I only had to pull out the drill sergeant card a few times. They did a great job! Even the cat got in on some of the fun.
First, the results by the numbers since I really like numbers-
- 3 full bags of stuff to the trash
- 2 bins of recycling (mostly paper)
- 1 large bag of Goodwill donations
- 3 items listed in Craigslist
- 1 large box of books to go to Half Price Books
- 3 recycled electronics items
- 2 Best Buy buy-backs
- 1 nasty broken chair to the trash!
Monday, June 28, 2010
I told them several weeks ago I would be putting together a list of questions to start thinking about as they prepare to go through several years of accumulated things to see what can stay and what needs to go or go elsewhere to make room for the playroom. Here's the list so far-
- Have I used this in the last 6 months? In the last year?
- Why do I have it?
- Do I like it?
- Should it physically be located somewhere else?
- Does someone else need it more than I do?
- Do I have a specific, concrete reason or plan for owning this item or is it a "just in case" thing?
- Is it safe for a child to be around?
- How many Cheerios would fit into any given crevice?
- Would this make a mess if a child got into it?
- How easily can this item be cleaned from random bodily fluids?
- Are child items placed at a good child level?
- Is this room set up in a way that gives an example about a good attitude toward stuff?
Friday, June 18, 2010
Right now the project manager side of me is screaming, "Why on earth would you continue to implement inefficient, ineffective measures to accomplish something? That's completely idiotic, stupid & a grand misuse of your resources!" But another part of me replies, "Because doing the same thing is comfortable. You really do know that method & approach doesn't do anything, so you don't have to risk some new outcome. While part of you might want something to be different, you know it won't be different so it's safe."
My friend Tiffany recently started a series about life maps on her blog. Her last one addressed how we need people in our life to give input on our "map." Allowing people to consider our maps so closely and provide input takes a lot of courage, but in my opinion, the benefits far outweigh the risks (this is provided of course that you have a seriously good set of people looking at your map). It takes a huge amount of trust to ask someone, "This is what I've been doing, it's not working, what needs to change?" then actually choose to follow a new route on the map. (I'm cracking up while writing this thinking of that lady-voice on the Garmin Nuvi complaining about "RECALCULATING!")
To quote my wise father, "Nothing will change until you actually want it to."
Jicama (un-phonetic pronunciation guide: "hick'-ih-muh") - also known as a Mexican potato. It's a root, it has really tough skin & most importantly, it's tasty! For more scientific info, see wikipedia.
My first encounter with jicama was an article in the city newspaper describing the food and some of the uses. Generally, this sort of thing would have been easily forgotten, but a local stripper/blogger commented that she LOVES jicama and that stuck in my memory a bit more. A few weeks ago, I was at the natural food store and saw they had jicama salad, so I decided to give it a try. It was really good! My mom also tried the salad (she knew about jicama before a stripper helped her remember it), then emailed me a recipe she found so I could try making it at home.
This recipe pairs EXTREMELY well with Brazilian Fish Stew since both recipes call for 1/2 of a few peppers & cilantro. Last night when I made this though, I paired it with spicy turkey brats and thorough enjoyed the contrast of the spicy meat with the sweet, tangy & crunchy highlights of the salad.
A few personal notes-
- You can find jicama at a normal grocery store. I found mine by the ginger & peppers. Strangely, it took me less time to find a jicama than to find lime juice. Point to remember after wasting 10 minutes randomly wandering around: lime juice is in the juice aisle. (heh, duh)
- Be sure to have a good knife in hand! A normal peeler may or may not work on a jicama. I cut mine in half, then peeled the skin off with my knife. It's a tough little bugger. I opted to shred the flesh instead of cubing it.
- I LOVE all the colors!
- I decided to splurge & buy an ORGANIC cucumber. I felt really good about myself & saving the earth, until I had to get that stupid "organic" sticker off. After wasting 10 minutes randomly picking at it, I decided to just peel the cucumber.
1 large jicama (about 1 ½ pounds) peeled, then julienned or cubed
½ red bell pepper, finely diced
½ yellow bell pepper, finely diced
½ green bell pepper, finely diced (I used an orange one instead)
½ C chopped red onion
½ a large cucumber – peeled, seeded, chopped (Mom note: or use an English cucumber to avoid peeling and seeding, and to provide some green color)
1 navel orange – peeled, sliced and chopped into chunks
1/2 C fresh cilantro, chopped
1/3 C fresh lime juice
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of paprika
Toss together the jicama, peppers, onion, cucumber, orange and cilantro in large bowl. Pour lime juice over all. Sprinkle with pinch of cayenne and paprika, and stir. Season with salt (Mom note: under season and taste in 30 minutes). Let sit for 30-60 minutes before serving so flavors will meld.
Supposedly this serves 4. Seems more like 8.
½ avocado, chopped
2 T olive oil
Thursday, June 10, 2010
With this chance of reinvention, the Big XII should think about redefining the values of college athletics to embrace new ideologies of away-game geography considerations, harmony, inclusion regardless of division and equitable resource distribution (and possibly make a conference rule that Joe College can reopen?). So here is my daydream breakdown...
Nebraska is off to the Big 10. Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, OSU & Colorado are all lured away by the silicone-implanted, bottle-blond ditz of the Pac 10. Whatever. That leaves KU, K-State, Iowa State, Baylor & Missouri. I'm not a Missouri fan, so they're out and I'm declaring them the Notre Dame of the Midwest. With four remaining schools, eight slots are open for new schools.
1. TCU- We need at least one team that can win a football game! I'm willing to forgive that TCU would raise the purple count of the Big XII to TWO since this reinvention is all about inclusion.
2. University of Nebraska-Omaha- Bring in some diversity by including a college with a hockey team.
3. University of North Texas- It's time we made Iowa State feel good about their athletic program, so UNT is a logical choice to become the new Big XII whipping boy. But hey, they have a great marching band!
4. Texas State- Pretty much just because we need at least four Texas schools. Texans are serious about their football. We need to keep open any & all Texas recruiting connections plus it's nice to travel to a warmer climate for late season football games & occasionally the Big XII tourney.
5. Colorado School of Mines- It has a cool name.
6. University of Nebraska-Kearney- A.) Their mascot is an antelope. B.) All good runners come from Kearney, Nebraska (well, there & Kenya).
7. Some random school from Arkansas- We'll need someone to make fun of since Missouri is gone.
8. Either Johnson County Community College or Wichita State University. Wait, do they even have football teams?
Since bowl games would be a thing of the past, the Big XII can host the "Two Months Until March Madness! Bowl."
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
But then came college and even more t-shirts! Marching band, dorm floor, philanthropy events, Campus Crusade, athletics, pep band, taekwondo, and everything else that makes me happy. The shirts took up a lot of space in my closet, so for Christmas I asked my mom to make me another t-shirt quilt but this time with twice as many t-shirts. So here it is! It's twin sized. Not only is it special because it displays so many good memories, but my mom made it. :)