Monday, June 28, 2010

Questions To Ponder Over Stuff

This 4th of July, celebrate your independence from stuff! I'm off to TX to visit my 9 month old niece who just happens to be the cutest baby on the face of the earth. During the visit, I will also see my sister & brother-in-law (yeah, they're pretty great too) and help in their project of turning their computer/random stuff room into a play room that just happens to have a computer in it.

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?
Playroom specific-
  • 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?
The list of questions is far from comprehensive, but it's a start. Plus, I want to have plenty of time to play with my niece & hang out with my sister & brother-in-law! All that is way better than stuff (or having fun getting rid of someone else's stuff, hehe).

Friday, June 18, 2010

As It Has Always Been?

Albert Einstein reportedly defined insanity as "doing the same the over and over again and expecting different results." Like most people, I understand and embrace this definition, but another part of my subconscious continually ignores it. I know no matter now many times I turn on a working stove, put a pan on it, add a bit of Pam, crack an egg over it and wait, I will end up with a fried egg. Other things though, yeah, I keep doing the same thing over and over and expect something to be different.

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 Salad

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.
So here's the recipe-

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.

Optional ingredients:
½ avocado, chopped
2 T olive oil

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Healing the Big XII

Since Nebraska is reportedly leaving the Big XII for the Big 10 and Texas plus its oompa loompas possibly leaving for the Pac 10, I have started my speculations on how to best reinvent the conference with a collection of new teams. Each of these new teams can bring a fresh perspective to athletics and can hopefully take the conference to new levels of glory.

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

The T-Shirt Quilt

I think the motto of the Great Plains is "Let's get t-shirts!" After high school, I had t-shirts from marching band, trips, class of '02, graduation, events, and other really random stuff. One person can never wear all of those t-shirts, they tend to sit around in boxes taking up lots of space. But then my mom The Seriously Good Sewing Wizardess came up with the great idea of making a quilt out of my high school t-shirts. I loved it and it's been my car blanket ever since.

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. :)

WIN: Pillow Shams. Finally!

I know it's lame. I've been struggling with pillow shams for the last few months. Nothing looked good, nothing was priced right, nothing expressed ME as a design (hehe, whatever, proper interior design is something like a foreign language to me, I like weird stuff).

After cleaning out my spare room (check another task off the Ultimate To-Do), I found an old lime green sheet and an old purple tablecloth in a random fabric basket. As I looked at them I thought, maybe I could make pillow shams? Actually, maybe my mom who is The Seriously Good Sewing Wizardess could help me make pillow shams?

Fortunately, she said, "Yes" and gave me some suggestions.
  • Look up a pattern on the internet.
  • Use a rolly cutter to get straight edges (not sure of exact name, I'm hard of listening)
  • Why not alternate the stripes?
So I figured out the dimensions & cut the fabric. I know how to sew, but my mom does it better, so she pretty much did the sewing. And here they are! (sorry, weird camera angle)
Thanks for the help mom! Now my spare pillows can live on my bed instead of taking up space in my closet.