Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Moving: FAIL & WIN

I'm moving this weekend. I've been preparing to move for about a month now, so as the last few days of final action happens, I've had a chance to reflect. This move has provided an excellent opportunity for me to examine if I have indeed been pursuing a simpler lifestyle in the last few months. The true tale will be told this weekend by my parents since they helped me with my past three moves (yeah, I move a lot. side note: I'm hoping the weather will be nice. two of those moves included 98% humidity with a 105F heat index & the other was a blizzard).

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

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

Kuchen Party!

My great-grandma Rose left a legacy of family togetherness, excellent cooking, & fun. Today, fifteen or so of her descendants ages 16-86 celebrated her memory by gathering to learn to make (or just eat) one of her German specialties, kuchen (pronunciation guide: coo'-kin). Although kuchen in German just means "cake," this particular kuchen is like a fruit bierock, fruit filling inside a bread roll.

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 topping:
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

Homemade Salsa

I love homemade salsa. It's one of those things that just makes me happy. I'm not sure where this "recipe" came from exactly, but I know both my mom & sister do something similar.

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
Easy way: If you're not a huge fan of chopping everything into little bits, put everything together in a food processor & process until everything is chopped up & it looks like salsa.

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

The Green With Envy Blues

"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

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The TX Project

Several weeks ago, my sister emailed me and asked if I would come down to her place in Texas over the 4th of July weekend to help turn their computer/random room into a playroom for my 9 month old niece. How could I refuse?! Not only do I get to assist in a decluttering & reorganization project, but I get to see my sister, brother-in-law & seriously adorable niece? (side note: my sister said she has some blog ideas floating around so I'm hoping for her to do a guest blog soon!)

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!
And now the results by pictures-