Tuesday, November 22, 2011

In Which I Attempt to Freeze Spinach...

To prep for my Thanksgiving vacation, I decided to use or preserve whatever would get moldy in my fridge. The main item to consider was a 3/4 full bag of spinach. After some research, I found it was "easy" to freeze spinach to use later for smoothies or whatever else I guess.

I was able to follow the directions fairly well. Boiling water- no prob. Dumping in spinach- piece of cake. Set timer for two minutes- yep. Colander and cold water ready to go- rockin this!

And then comes the drying. I'm neither fancy nor married (both indicators of a plethora of kitchen gadgets), so I don't have a salad spinner. No worries, they give an option for a makeshift-tea-towel-salad spinner.

I quoth- "Drain your spinach then place in a tea towel. bring up the corners of the towel forming a sort of sack of spinach. Give it a whirl. Go ahead and spin it around. The water will be spun out into the towel."

Seems simple enough. My spinach fell in one big soggy flop onto the tea towel, I gathered up the corners and gave it a whirl. I went ahead and spun it around.


I have a large kitchen. Why wouldn't a single girl need a 14' x 14' space to warm up bean burritos? The flying spinach juice that resulted from my makeshift-tea-towel salad spinner managed to get in every random nook and cranny of my large kitchen it could find.

So I decided to just pat dry my spinach. At this point, my tea towel was turning bright green and I noticed that wet spinach smells a lot like wet dog. Ehhww. I tossed the stuff in a freezer bag. Hope if freezes ok!

Word of advice- don't try the tea-towel-salad spinner unless you need an excuse to clean the fronts of ALL of your cabinets.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Single People are Ruining the Economy, Again

CNN posted an article yesterday about adult children moving back in with their parents and how this is negatively affecting the housing market. They report that 19% of males aged 25-34 live with their parents and 10% of females in the same age group live at home. (Side note: males aged 25-34 is my dating demographic, and apparently 1/5 still live at home. Should I be concerned?)

The article attributes adults living at home to unemployment. I disagree. I would attribute adults living at home to this demographic experiencing a lot of life uncertainty, a need for everyday life support and the general philosophy of, "Um, wow. This wasn't the plan. What do I do now?"

The plan was to go to college for four years, marry "The One", backpack through Europe for a summer, graduate, both get $40K jobs straight out of college, move to the suburbs, buy a house, experience domestic bliss for several years, shell out 2.5 kids, maybe get a dog, buy a mini-van, coach the soccer team, get a promotion or two, take family vacations to Yellowstone, etc.

But that didn't happen. For most, college took 5-6 years, "The One" married someone else, there's $20K-100K in student loans and $10K in credit card debt, the best job offer out of college was $30K/no health insurance in an area with a ridiculous cost of living, the crappy college roommate moved out with all your furniture and the car needs a new set of tires.

Um, yeah, you move back in with Mom & Dad! At this point, home ownership is the last thing on your mind. The article says, "The economy as a whole suffers when young adults fail to venture out on their own." This wouldn't be the first time single people have been blamed for all kinds of evils. But seriously CNN, how are just-out-of-college single people supposed to know where we want to establish ourselves, let alone have enough money for a down payment? Most of us are just starting out with our jobs, and we know we don't have the financial, professional and relational stability required to set up roots in a community and buy a home.

Buying a home is extremely expensive and requires a huge amount of work for care and upkeep. One can get roommates to help with the cost, but managing a mixed bag of personalities and lifestyles to achieve a liveable house dynamic requires time and effort.

Living with the parents offers a measure of stability and division of labor that otherwise doesn't exist for a single person. Single people have to do everything themselves (married people, please appreciate your spouse for their part in your division of labor!!!!!!!!!!): work, housework, meal planning, cooking, repairs, car maintenance, bills, financial planning, laundry, cleaning, yard work, errands, everything. Having a living situation where some of these aspects can be shared makes life much, much easier. Even as a renter, I outsource yard work, housing maintenance and appliance repair.

I'd argue that moving back in with your parents is the responsible thing to do in some situations. I lived with my parents for about six months after college then ventured out on my own. But what do I know? I'm a single 25-34 year old who hasn't purchased a home yet, thus I apparently have a hand in wrecking the economy. Too bad I don't feel more responsible; I was too busy enjoying my spacious one bedroom apartment with vaulted ceilings and a lack of Saturday yard work.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Green Smoothie

Amy at New Nostalgia has posted several times about The Green Smoothie. Everytime I read about it, my mind said, "Um, that looks kinda weird" while my body said, "I want to eat that!!!" I'm not a spinach fan, or a banana fan, and I typically think of freakishly huge body builders when protein powder is introduced. Besides, I'm healthy, but I'm not THAT healthy.

However, I figured I should probably listen to my body on this one, so I decided to give it a shot.

The recipe-

2 large handfuls of baby spinach (about 2 cups)
1 cup soy milk (or milk of choice-coconut, almond, dairy, I saw oat milk?)
1 banana
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 cup ice

2 tbls chia seeds (optional, I haven't added any yet since I find seeds to be slightly scary for some reason.)
Pulvarize everything in a blender except the ice, then add the ice & blend a bit more.

First stop- the grocery store. What do you know? Organic baby spinach was on sale cheaper than the other stuff. Win! I had to pause a bit in front of the protein powder, but eventually found a non-intimidating, no-naked-people-on-the-front soy protein that has a TON of calcium in it too. Osteoporosis runs in the family, so calcium is always good. I picked up the rest of the ingredients plus some probiotic yogurt for my morning snacks, felt like a ridiculous health-nut then slipped some pepperoni into my basket (turkey pepperoni at least!) just to make sure I was still a (somewhat) normal person.

And then I got to pull out my RED blender. I got it for my 21st birthday from one set of grandparents (Accompanied by margarita mix. The other set of grandparents took me to a casino. Reason #4,578 I have the best grandparents ever!).

The recipe makes more than I thought it would. I had to pull out my 32 oz big gulp cup from Kwik Shop to fit it all. And it is pretty dang tasty! I'm happy knowing I'm getting the nutrients of raw spinach without having to actually eat it.

It's been easy to drink on my way to work the past two days, and I'm hoping I get the "glow" that Amy talked about. What's not fun about "glowing" especially when a red blender & a big gulp cup are involved?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

KJ's Guide To: Shoving things under the rug and burning the rug

I only have three emotions.
  1. Happy
  2. Neutral
  3. Frustrated
Just kidding. But seriously, it's kinda true. Frustration (aka stress, anger, exasperation, etc.) usually just gets internalized and manifests itself in anxiety and digestive disorders. This is quite uncomfortable and counterproductive, so I do whatever it takes to get back to neutral or happy.

Typically, when someone is going through stressful stuff that is occupying the mind, causing loss of sleep and generally getting in the way of life, I think the suggested advice is to "talk to someone about it." This helps with processing; I do it on a regular basis. However, there are some problems with this.
  1. I don't always like talking to people.
  2. I don't always know what exactly is bothering me.
  3. When I'm frustrated, I'm usually mad at someone but will get over it before too long. Bringing someone else in on that loop has the chance of damaging other peoples' relationships. 
  4. Just talking to someone about the problem won't make that boy like me, won't fix the stressful situation at work, won't make the friend apologize and won't make a relationship situation any easier.
  5. Life needs to go on regardless of the stressful situation.
So I've come up with an excellent method of returning myself to neutral sanity that is essentially shoving the issue under the rug and burning the rug. Another way of phrasing it: jump-starting the process of "just get over it." These are sequential and go in order. I'm not a psychologist and make no claims to be an expert, so I accept no responsibility for any professional medical or mental health advice that this might contradict.
  1. Exercise until borderline exhaustion. This will probably take 30-90 minutes. Pick an activity that is medium-high intensity and really go for it. Keep going. And keep going some more. Keep going until you can barely think anymore (Once upon a few months ago, I was quite frustrated with a boy. I did a kickboxing class. And then did 30 minutes on a cardio machine at a super-high level. And then lifted weights. I got home and was still thinking too much, so I ran three miles. That finally did it! I do have a higher internal energy level than most people, but you've got to do whatever it takes). Seriously, this is an incredibly important step because it helps out with #3.
  2. Eat a full, well-balanced meal. For me, it's best to eat a meal that primarily consists of lean protein, fruits and veggies. The temptation while stressed is to eat fat and sugar. But what's that going to do? It'll probably make you feel guilty for over-indulging in crap-food which really won't help get over the situation at hand. So eat some healthy stuff that actually helps your body out with no guilt trips.
  3. Get a good night's sleep. To quote The Bourne Identity (the book), "Sleep is a weapon." A well-rested mind and body is a beautiful thing and can really assist in approaching situations with a fresh, renewed perspective. Different people have different sleep needs; you know your body best.
That's it in a nutshell! A few times I've had to do this two days in a row. After that, I'm usually good. But just in case, here are a few additional things to try.
  • Go easy on stimulants and depressants like caffeine and alcohol. They alter moods and can cause over-reactions.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • After your good night's sleep, get dressed in a smashing outfit you feet confident and attractive in. Wear make-up! Accessorize! I typically bust out a pair of confidence-inspiring heels for work. Like these (not my feet)-
  •   So if you're in the position where you just need to get over something, give it a shot!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Getting Healthier in a Month

No, I'm not having a body image crisis. No, I don't think I'm fat. No, I have not developed an eating disorder.

However, following my super-duper intense 14er training this summer and successfully summiting seven 14ers, my level of fitness has indeed slipped. When one is consuming the same amount of food as when training, but no longer training, things happen.

I wasn't concerned until the jeans started feeling a bit tight despite exercising most days of the week. Time to get back into some healthier routines! This is good since my group of girl friends is going to be the Spice Girls for Halloween and I got recruited for Sporty Spice. While I have no desire to emulate the mid-1990's version of anorexic-sportyness, there is room for improvement and a whole month to get there!

I googled losing five pounds in a month (figuring that goal relies more on healthy lifestyle and less on crash dieting/cleanses/maple syrup concoctions/strange teas/weird supplements/"Follow This One Weird Tip!"/snake oil/etc.) and found a pretty good article with some simple tips. For me, seeing the math behind calories is a huge motivator for self-control. I love numbers! Each of these ideas is pretty straightforward and very do-able in everyday life since sadly, there is no magic solution.

  1. Ditch alcohol: I'm not a huge drinker, but let's figure in a week, I typically consume 2 light beers (~100 calories each), 2 real beers (~150 calories each), 1 glass of wine (~100 calories), and 1 double mixed drink (~400 calories. If it's an 8 oz margarita, ~560 calories. Ouch!). Right there, I'm consuming between 1000-1160 calories in alcoholic beverages a week. Math time! Four weeks of skipping alcohol will save me 4000-4640 calories. 
  2. Skip junk: I don't eat a lot of junk food, but I have lots of room to make healthier choices. Time for some serious discipline! Part of this for me will be skipping pop as well. I drink 2-3 servings of pop a week, but that still adds up to 300-450 calories. In a month, that's 1200-1800 calories. 
  3. Eat more fiber, drink more water: Fiber is magical. It acts as a gut filler to help prevent hunger and also helps move things along. Drinking water also helps with both! Plus, we often eat when we're actually thirsty, so drinking lots of water will help out with that too. One healthy lifestyle challenge I did a while back set a goal of drinking 3 liters a day. That's a lot of water, but also a great goal to shoot for. For fiber, I'll be upping my whole grains, fruits and veggies.
So we'll see how this goes. Goal: Sporty Spice! I also need to find a wig and a temporary armband tattoo in the next month. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Stuff/Time Parallel

This blog began about two years ago when I first started seriously considering graduate school.  At the time, I was envisioning being a full-time student and living on half my income, so simplification seemed like great preparation!  However, things took a different course, and now I'm doing grad school online (through a reputable univeristy) and working full-time.  I don't need to simplify the finances, I need to simplify time!

However, many of the principles for minimizing stuff and purchases are also applicable to minimizing activities and time commitments.

My philosophy for possessions and purchasing is "Don't own stuff you don't like." Slightly tweaked for time commitments, this would be "Don't do stuff you don't like." Just typing that, I'm thinking, "Well duh, why would I do something I don't like?" It happens all the time though. We all have to do some stuff we don't like (emptying the dishwasher, getting the oil changed, etc.), but for discretionary time, we do often decide to spend our time doing things we don't like for various reasons. The biggest reason though is the general inability to say "no" to activities. Other people are exceedingly good at manipulating our time since it's not often treated like the valuable commodity that it really is.

One of the aspects I group into my overall stuff philosophy is not owning stuff that gives you a bad attitude or brings out bad memories. The same goes for time commitments. There's no point in engaging in activities that bring you down, make you mad, or otherwise cause general frustration. Sometime this could be the activity itself, sometimes it could be the people we're doing it with. Is that unfriendly, mean and kinda selfish? Yes. But it's my time, I get to chose!

So- first tier for me minimizing activities: "Do I like this activity?"

Another principle of stuff-and-things minimizing is examining the return on investment on objects. Relating this to time commitments, I get to analyze the return on investment of my activities. What activities are moving me forward in my personal and professional goals? What activities help me adequately rest and relax? What activities are simply time sucks? What activities help other people?

Second tier: "Does this activity actually benefit me or someone else?"

Living in a world with little time margin available, the business principle of opportunity cost comes into play. In the world of purchasing, opportunity cost means "By buying this item, what am I giving up the opportunity to buy?" So with time management this translates to "By pursuing this activity, what other activities am I giving up?" This is one of the hardest principles for me to follow. I can talk myself out of buying just about anything because I know I'd rather spend money on something else. But thinking "I need to forego a gathering of friends so I can finish this school project" is quite hard. Friends are way more fun!

Third tier: "Is doing this activity going to cost doing other important activities?"

In terms of practical application, here's what I've boiled my activities down to in the last few months:

Working out
Daily life chores
Select friend gatherings

Anything else happens on an as-needed, convenience basis (including blogging, heh, sorry). It's a bit draconian at times and I've had to start saying "no" to activities, thus causing a few moments of "I'm a terrible person!" but it's really been ok. I'll catch up in 2.5 years or so when the Masters is done :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Frickin Good Chicken

We already had a family recipe called “Mmm Good Chicken” so I had to name this something else.  The primary flavor contributor is hot sauce, so caution: it’s spicy.

Ingredients (measurements left up to your own inspiration)

Chicken breasts (I cut mine into strips)
Sriracha Hot Sauce
Olive Oil
Ginger (powdered or for real)

Mix the Sriracha, oil, & ginger in a glass container or a plastic bag.  Add chicken and stir to completely coat.  Marinate for 30+ minutes.  Fire up the grill (George Foreman!!!!)  and cook until done.  The original recipe suggests serving on hummus but I used refried black beans & it was quite good.  

It was also seriously good on some leafy greens with ranch dressing.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Mama J's Household Tips: Getting Gum Out of the Dryer

I'd like to introduce my second guest blogger- my mom Joyce! Got questions about household tips, Dr. Mom inquires, recipe tweaks, wedding music etiquette, and everything else? She's got the answers!

During my move last week, she found gum remnants in my new dryer. It's a good thing she was there since I don't even know what gum in the dryer looked like. But after doing a bit of research online, I found that gum in the dryer is a fairly common problem like described here with pictures!

"Twice this past summer I have found myself confronted with the problem of removing chewing gum from a dryer tub. Both times were in rental properties. In the first instance, there was so much gum and it was so baked on that it took me nearly 2 hours to accomplish the task. The second instance was much tamer and was only a 15 minute project.

Ick. At this point, Kristen suggested that I write a Blog entry on the topic, as she suspected that there might be some people who wouldn’t know what to do. Sorry – but if you ignore it, it won’t go away.

Prevention is the easiest policy. If you are a gum chewer, or you have one in your laundry group, be sure to check pockets before tossing shorts and pants into the washer. If you think that you don’t have an extra minute to check pockets, then consider whether you have the time needed to remove gum from clothes or from the dryer.

To remove gum you will need paper towels, Goo-Gone or Goof-Off and your choice of spray cleaner. An optional item would be one of those hard plastic scraper things that used to be a door prize at Tupperware parties. A plastic spoon might also do the trick. Do NOT use anything metal for scraping, as it would scratch your dryer. A fingernail also works.

Spray or dab the Goo removal product onto a small area. Let it sit for a few seconds while you think about happier things than dried gum (especially if it isn’t your gum). Use the paper towel, and gently apply the scraping tool to get the gum off. Repeat throughout the dryer tub. Some dryer tubs will simply rotate for you, others require you to shut the door and turn the dryer on for repositioning. Think of it kind of like a roulette table or the Wheel of Fortune, and you have to play a game to correctly position the gum so you don’t wrench your back as you clean.

After the gum is completely eradicated from the dryer, you now need to clean the Goo remover from the dryer. It leaves an oily residue that you will not want on your clothes. Use the spray cleaner and thoroughly clean the entire interior of the dryer. Every surface. Next, lightly dampen a paper or cloth towel with water and wipe this throughout the dryer. Wipe dry with another paper or cloth towel and leave the dryer door open for a bit so that it completely dries out. If you still smell any of the Goo remover, then you need to repeat these steps again.

Was that easy? No, not exactly. Better to spend the 60 seconds and check the pockets. However, if you find yourself with dried gum, then now you know how to approach the task!"

Saturday, August 6, 2011

New Layout! And I moved.

So it's not that exciting. I decided reading small white font on a black background could be a bit hard on the eyes. Besides, the whole new layout thing took like 10 seconds, so why not try something new?

I moved into a new apartment last weekend. This was my 13th or 15th or something like that move in the last 9 years. Props to my parents for helping....again! After having had like 20+ roommates in my life (here's a brief synopsis of the stuff lessons I've learned, and I've had even more roommates since I wrote that), I decided it was time to put on my big girl pants and try living alone.

So far, it's absolutely fabulous!

I have no plans at this time to get a cat. Or 50 cats.

One of my favorite parts- having a bedroom that is just a bedroom. Since college, my bedroom has been the equivalent of a middle school cafe-gym-atorium. It's the bedroom, office, workout room, dining room, sitting room, closet overflow, and general escape from the rest of the house. In my own apartment, the room is 100% devoted to sleeping. Yes, this is American excess at its finest and I love it.

Another favorite part- having a kitchen all to myself. It's not a huge deal in the grand scheme, but I am really enjoying it. :)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

On Shoes

A friend shared this video on Facebook today. Beth Shak has over 1,200 pairs of shoes.

This motivated me to count my shoes. I had 27 pairs, quickly decided I could easily live without 2, so I'm down to 25. Several pair are quite superfluous, but that's ok.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sorta Fail: Green Clothes Drying

In my blog reading over the past few years, I readily gleaned that clothes dryers use up lots of energy & cost money. I've always put off trying the clothesline or air drying methods due to convenience sake. This is one side affect of being a frugal, psuedo-minimalist and environmentally conscious person. Since I don't have a lot of certain clothing items, I need them to be clean and dry RIGHT NOW thus I've always used a dryer.

But today I had a bit of extra time, it was like 103 degrees outside (not exaggerating), and I decided to try out my roommate's clothes drying rack thingy since making all my clothes even hotter just felt wrong. So here's the rack.

And cue "You're not a minimalist, you fraud! You own more than two shirts! I can SEE them!" comments.


Anywho. I ran the load of wash then hung my clothes to dry about 2:30 pm with high expectations of a brand new environmentally friendly approach to life and laundry.

In my in-and-outs over the next eight hours, the rack constantly brought up overwhelming feelings of unsettled angst over sighted, unfolded laundry. I can't stand unfolded laundry. (It's kinda like a unclosed parentheses.

But how can you fold laundry that's still wet? Sigh, patience! Inner strength! It's good for the world at large!

I finally came back at 10:00 pm, ready to fold, and go to bed. What do you know, eight hours later, it's still wet. Any dry spots felt like cardboard, and everything's got wrinkles to boot! I just threw the whole load in the dryer to finish up so I can fold dry, unwrinkled laundry and go to bed peacefully.

If I try this again, I'm going to have to find a spot out of sight & out of mind so my chi isn't messed up by unfolded laundry. And how do I not have wrinkly clothes?

) That's for all of you who were struggling with the unclosed parentheses.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Book Review: Living More With Less

I'd like to welcome back my sister Diana as a guest poster! Last August, she wrote a great piece on clothing & modesty (it's actually the most popular article on the blog), and she's back with a book review of "Living More With Less." If you want to check out more of her stuff, she now has a blog at LifeOnOliveStreet.com.

Living More With Less- review by Diana

Sustainability... global responsibility... simplification... social justice... These are buzzwords of trendy modern ideas, right? And Mennonites... don’t they just drive buggies and bake casseroles?

Enter Mennonite author and social activist Doris Janzen Longacre who published the “More with Less” cookbook more than 30 years ago. She had a deep passion for the world’s poor and wanted to encourage responsible food consumption in the wealthy (that would be all of us, yes all) homes of Americans and Canadians. The book was so well received that Doris was prompted to write on developing a sustainable, globally responsible lifestyle. Thus “Living More with Less” was born.

In this book, Doris outlines five “life standards” - basic principles that boil down to being less selfish and consumeristic. Then she includes tips from people (Mennonites) around the world sharing their experiences on living with less.

But being sustainable and “green” now is mainstream, and we can all feel really good about ourselves for taking our reusable bags to the grocery store and using our Nalgenes instead of endless Ozarka bottles, right? And I’m a busy mom with no time to embrace radical conservationism, plus I’m not very excited about using junk mail as toilet paper or stuffing my pillows with the dog hair my canines drop in endless fluff balls (don’t worry, I just made that up, those are not in the book). But I think I can pick one thing to change right now, and then maybe next month I can pick another, then another, etc. I’ve already decided to switch to cloth napkins (as soon as we use up our 1000-count pack from Costco) and be more aware of food waste.

As Doris was writing “Living More with Less,” she was battling cancer - what a perspective on important living. For the impact of her books, she was named one of the top three Mennonites of all time. I didn’t even know there was a list of top Mennonites; neither did my husband. He was raised Mennonite (buggies=no, casseroles=yes) and had the impression of it being an old-fashioned, small-town religion. While that may have been the case in his home town, reading these books has given him a new pride and respect for his upbringing. The “More with Less” cookbook and Doris’ life standards reveal that sustainability and global responsibility were priorities to the Mennonite community before they became mainstream to us hipsters.

Luckily, for this generation, “Living More with Less” has been published as a 30th Anniversary edition. The statistics and global contexts have been updated, and it includes modern testimonials of applications of Doris’ principles.

Some quotes along with each of her five life standards:

Do Justice: “(It) must become a standard of living by which Christians make choices... This means being mindful, conscious, and aware, so that never again can we make a decision about buying or using without thinking about the poor. They lurk in the new-car lot and behind the rack of fall outfits. They sit beside you in the restaurant and wait for you in the voting booth.”

Learn from the World Community: “Some ideas from the international community on improving American life include better public transportation, cooking better, reducing waste and (ouch) building simpler, less expensive facilities for churches.”

Nurture People: “For many people, security is the life insurance policy, the pre-paid college education, the expanding business, the comfortable retirement plan. All these are choices that seem to nurture. Yet too often these choices mean second jobs, late working hours, frequent long-distance travel, and no one at home when children come home from school.”

Cherish the Natural Order: “Today we own the machines for full-scale plunder of our environment... We need not give up manufacturing, but we must make ethical choices between factory pollution and human health. Finding these blends means that we consciously choose to fit the way we live to the environment, not trying to reshape the environment to our whims.”

Nonconform Freely: “We need to be always on the alert not to become carried away with the ‘bigger and better’ slogans of our society. We have the example of Christ and a higher purpose for our earthly life. The young must be taught to appreciate the freedom of not being enslaved to material things.”

Check out my more mundane musings at Life on Olive Street. As I make small changes, I hope to share some personal applications of my own living more with less.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Uncomplicating Alcohol By The Numbers

Disclaimer: This post is for responsible adults of age who have decided that drinking alcohol on occasion is ok. If you're a teetotaler and don't agree, that's ok too. I personally am not a heavy drinker, I don't advocate heavy drinking, you can do as you choose, don't drink & drive, etc. etc. etc. Feeling appropriately disclaimed? I hope so. Moving on.

I like beer. If you're ever in Philadelphia, hit up City Tavern. They brew certain beers according to some recipes of the founding fathers. It's good!

Two things about alcohol:
  1. It's high calorie
  2. It's relatively expensive
So how can we make the best choices regarding our calorie intake & money output?

MATH. Don't freak out, someone else already did the ratio calculations for us.

If you're more worried about calorie intake, Get Drunk Not Fat presents various alcoholic beverages with an assigned ratio of calories to grams of alcohol. The lower the ratio, the better. For instance, a rum & diet coke has a ratio of 19.7 whereas a rum & coke has a ratio of 37.7. Thus, for the same amount of alcohol, the rum & diet coke will have less calories. Most light beers are in the 23-30 range. The highest ratios are for non or low alcohol "beers" since they barely have any alcohol which skews the stats (but who drinks those for the alcohol anyway??). If you don't want to drink your calories, try to avoid the TGIF On The Rocks Mudslide (731 calories & a ratio of 73.1).

If you're more worried about the expense of alcohol, Get Drunk Not Broke presents the price per 1 oz of alcohol. I found this list hilarious since the top twenty-five are a mix of somewhat high quality alcohol, cheap beer, & Franzia boxed wine. Example- Keystone Ice is $.93 per ounce of alcohol. Jose Cuervo Especial Gold is $.97 per ounce.

And if you care about both your waistline & wallet, the clear choice is Everclear. If you care about neither, try Bailey's Irish Cream. But if you care about taste & enjoyment, just buy the Irish Cream, pour over crushed ice to enjoy, & dump the Everclear down the toilet where it belongs.

This won't stop me from enjoying a Fat Tire Ale every now & then, but for my general consumption, I feel justified that my standby of Michelob Ultra is a decent choice.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Follow the Power of Your Dreams! But Please Be Nice About It

It's the motivational cry across the world (or at least the US)- "Follow your dreams! Live intentionally! Be the change in the world you want to see!"

Yes, that is just dandy. But in the meantime, please stop being a royal stinkpot that the rest of us have to put up with. I'm no
Emily Post, but there are a few things I believe we should all be cognizant of in our daily lives while we're all out following our dreams. How we act towards others is a direct reflection of our true character. However, this only applies if our true character is one that legitimately cares about how we affect other people.

You can thank Emily Post for this one- “Manners are made up of trivialities of deportment which can be easily learned if one does not happen to know them; manner is personality—the outward manifestation of one’s innate character and attitude toward life.”

So, a few habits that can make each & every one of us easier to be around. I’m the first to admit, I’m really not perfect, but I’m a work in progress.

  1. Clean up after yourself. Especially if you live with other people, be it your mother, significant other, or roommates. Don’t make them clean up after the mess you made.
  2. Say please & thank you. Nobody owes you anything, so don’t treat anybody like a second-class citizen who only exists to appease your every whim. Let’s be appreciative of what others do for us.
  3. Open doors for people. And it’s not just a rule for guys. Even if you are a girl, recognize when someone else is heading the same direction as you and take the opportunity to do something special. Especially if that person is pushing a stroller, a pregnant lady, an elderly person, someone with their hands full of stuff, etc. It takes being aware of your surroundings.
  4. Tip. It’s a great way to show appreciation.
  5. Don’t take out your frustrations on the little guys. The customer service representative on the other end of the phone didn’t set the policy that overcharged you $30 on your last bill, and they’re only getting paid like $7 an hour. (Exception- if you’re talking to a representative from AT&T, your health insurance company, or your local cable company, all bets are off! You can say whatever you need to in whatever tone to get the job done.)
  6. Every now & then, offer to be the designated driver. Give your “responsible” friend the night off.
  7. Stop texting at: family dinners, formal concerts, the movie theatre, church, weddings, funerals, class, any small-group hangout, poker games, etc. Do you like it when people keep interrupting you to tap away on their phones?
  8. Send thank you notes/emails. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy or over the top. Just a note of appreciation for a gift or something kind someone else did.
  9. If someone is explaining a problem, don’t automatically describe their perfect solution. This one is extremely difficult for me. Most of the time though, people talk about their problems to vent & not because they actually want a solution. Conversely, don’t explain a problem to someone else unless you’re ready to hear their advice on the situation.
  10. RSVP. If invited to something, do the host the courtesy of RSVPing and try your hardest to actually follow through with what you responded. This is the most important if formally invited to official events like weddings, but also goes for most evites & Facebook events. For many events, people are trying to plan for food and beverages, so it’s best to let them know if you’re coming or not. It’s a bit rude to not reply anything & wait around for the bigger-better deal. A “maybe” is somewhat better than not replying anything.

What other general courtesy items can be added to the list?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sweeto Fritos

If you want to cut to the chase, here's the original recipe I made from New Nostalgia for my book club tonight. Amy calls them Salty Sweet Peanut Butter Caramel Funky Fritos, but that was too many syllables for me, hence Sweeto Fritos. The recipe has four ingredients (yay), is simple (awesome), and is seriously delicious (WIN)! My book club enjoyed them very much.

Sweeto Fritos

Spread 1 bag Fritos around a cookie sheet or 9 x 13 pan or something. Combine 1 cup white sugar & 1 cup corn syrup in a sauce pan or microwave safe bowl. Heat with your preferred method until boiling. Add 1 cup peanut butter. Pour mixture over Fritos. Sprinkle with M&M's or candy corn if you want. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Note- the saucy stuff tastes better after it's been refrigerated, so don't attempt to adjust it by taste right after making it.

And here's the rambling backstory.

I have 3 roommates. There's a lot of randomness that happens. Mostly, the randomness is really fun & good (spur of the moment croquet, meeting lots of new people, etc.), but occasionally it forces flexibility.

Our fridge door was cracked open for the better part of yesterday. If you've never left a fridge door slightly cracked before, here's what happens. The fridge works itself into a frenzy trying to keep the fridge cold but can never keep up. To make this worse, the light bulb in the fridge stays on & ends up heating up the fridge. Yes, the heat from the bulb was so intense, it melted a stick of butter. Thus today, I had to throw out all my food in the fridge.

I hate throwing away food. My consolation was that I got to keep the nectarines, beer, & Sriracha hot sauce. Not a great set-up for concocting a potluck dish for book club though.

However, a similar fridge situation happened last fall, and I learned my lesson! Only stockpile non-perishables. Thus with non-perishables on-hand, Sweeto Fritos were perfect!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Lumberjack Heroines?

A few years ago, yes, I too read the entire Twilight series. I enjoyed them. They are fluff but still entertaining. Recently, I started reading The Hunger Games, a series dubbed by some as "the next Twilight." I'm only just starting the second book, but it's entertaining.

The Hunger Games just might be "the next Twilight" for several reasons.
  • Both heroines run around in lumberjack/hunter garb
  • Both heroines are under attack from some larger-than-life entity (army of vampires, the Capitol)
  • Both heroines are in such frequent and dangerous peril that they require not one, but TWO love interests to continually save them from death & dying
  • Both heroines apparently require multiple novels of somewhat stilted emotional dialog to hash out their romantic feelings
Perhaps this is the new way of telling fairy tales. Growing up, fairy tales were straightforward lore of girls in fabulous clothes (occasionally they were poor girls who eventually got fabulous clothes) who found themselves in some sort of peril (dragons, witches, etc.) when ONE man shows up in the nick of time, they fall madly in love, and (of course) live happily ever after. The story can be told quickly in one book.

So what's the deal with taking three or four books to hash out feelings while wearing plaid tunics? I demand a return to fabulous clothes, monogamous death-defying rescues, and simple realizations that said-rescuing prince is indeed THE ONE, I love him, end of story. Can you imagine the outcry if Snow White, upon her awakening by the prince, sat up and said, "Well hey, thanks. You're really hot and all, but I'm not really sure how I feel about you since that one dwarf was super duper great too. Here, why don't you just hang out while I spend two more books emotionally torturing you while I talk about my feelings? By the way, we're creating flair buttons for the readers that say "Team Prince" & "Team Dwarf". How's that sound sweety?"

Come to think of it though, Snow White probably wouldn't have actually been awakened by a prince if she followed the Twilight/Hunger Games fashion approach. Girls sleeping in the woods wearing flannel shirts and baggy jeans are treated like they would be sleeping in the woods for a legitimate reason, ex. they were camping, got tired, and took a nap. Unless the prince is super creepy, those girls don't get kissed awake; they are left to sleep in the woods.

So give me frilly dresses, standard villains, no chatter about feelings, and the reassurance that I only need one knight in shining armor riding around on a white horse. I'm an old-fashioned curmudgeon; I prefer the fairy tales of old.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Optimism- A Quick List

My five-minutes-over-my-lunchbreak list of ways to be more positive throughout the day-
  1. Hide negative people on Twitter or your Facebook newsfeed
  2. Send a random "hey" text to a friend
  3. Skip complaining at least once
  4. Drink more water
  5. Find something that makes you laugh (this did it for me today)
  6. Take a walk on your break
  7. Clean something
  8. Smile because you can!
  9. Be happy you don't have to wear this-


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tuna Puttanesca

I normally don't try recipes with fancy names. In my world of stereotypes, fancy names mean something is complicated, expensive, and pretentious, adjectives I prefer to avoid. However, my sister shared this recipe for Linguine with Tuna Puttanesca with me & it's really, really great (mostly because it's pretty simple, economical, and only sounds pretentious). Plus the recipe calls for four cloves of garlic. WIN!

Here's the real recipe. I've tweaked it a bit for my purposes so the only "complicated" ingredient is the capers, so who knows, it might not even be authentic Puttanesca anymore. Also, I prefer a higher ratio of saucy stuff to my pasta, so I halved the pasta amount. With that tweak, it makes about 3-4 servings.

Tuna Puttanesca, my style

6 oz or so of whatever pasta is sitting around
2 T olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
2 T capers, drained
1/2 cup or more roughly chopped black or kalamata olives
1 normal size can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 can tuna, drained (I used water packed)
salt to taste

Make the pasta according to the directions.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until slightly toasted, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the capers and olives and fry 2 more minutes. Add can of tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and salt to taste and cook until the sauce thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tuna, breaking it up with a fork, and season with salt.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water, and return it to the pot. Add the sauce and the reserved cooking water and toss.

Here's the batch I made tonight. I just got back from Utah & had all the ingredients on hand except the olives, so those are missing. I like the salty flavor the olives add, but it's still quite tasty without.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Goals, eh

I dislike goals. Being a (somewhat) high-achieving, driven person, you'd think I have a three-page bucket list broken down into personal, professional, & fitness goals. Not I. For me, having a goal means there is something I cannot do that I must work to improve myself at before having some event that declares me officially competent. No thank you!

The goals I set are typically ambiguous ones along the lines of "try to be nicer" or "don't get terribly out of shape." Goals like this don't involve a high level of commitment out of me, it works out well! I'm not accountable for performing up to a certain level at the blow of a whistle, and I don't have to take any steps in the meantime to try to incrementally "get better." Plus, everything is on a relative scale, so if I am not very nice to someone there are plenty of excuses available to self-rationalize my nastiness and to try harder next time. I'm not opposed to gaining new skills or learning things, but saying "I'm going to read 100 books by the end of this year," has never really appealed to me.

It's possible I'm just lazy & scared of failure. I am also averse to spending a huge quantity of time on any one thing in life, but that's kind of beside the point.

So it's probably a good time to set some goals. Fitness goals are usually the easiest for me, so that's what it'll be!

Goal #1- Be able to hike a 14er in 8 weeks when I'm in Colorado with my family. Ok, so that's kind of an ambiguous goal, but I have a concrete path I'm following. I'm following a 4 week fitness shape-up I saw in a magazine. It's two days of cardio intervals & two days of weight lifting each week. I'm supplementing with additional endurance cardio & yoga. And the occasional game of ultimate tennis which is WAY more fun than traditional (pretentious) tennis. In 4 weeks, the crazy-intense, 6:00 AM community workouts start which involve lots of running hills, lunges, and overall kick-in-the-buttness that is necessary for doing a 14er.

Goal #2- Do 100 pushups in 6 weeks. This is something Britt from Snapurly suggested. Today was day two of week 1!

Maybe if these go well I'll be more likely to set more goals. Who wants to do 100 pushups with me??!!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Everything's Amazing & Nobody's Happy

But here are 10 reasons Everything is Amazing & I'm Happy!!!

1.) Great time spent with friends. Here's to you Tiffany & Tiffany! (thanks to the others too, but they aren't readers as far as I know)
2.) It's spring & things are green. My neighborhood has a ton of old trees. It's gorgeous!

3.) Miller High Life is indeed the champagne of beers.
4.) Song #1 I've been listening to non-stop.
5.) Song #2 I've been listening to non-stop when I'm not listening to Song #1 non-stop.
6.) My job rocks.
7.) I'm taking an online grad class & I think it's going well so far.
8.) Just finished "To Kill a Mockingbird" and it was great. I think I read it in elementary school, but reading it again was really good!
9.) I'm continually surprised that following medical advice really does help life. Eating fruits & vegetables & taking a multi-vitamin really does help with energy & mental awareness! I find that energy + mental awareness really contributes to having a positive attitude.
10.) "The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity."

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day! Please pass the Mr. Collins

Mother’s Day is a beautiful time to celebrate the impact our mothers have had in raising us to be the people we are. Mothers teach us so much about life, love, caring, kindness, and responsibility; they deserve a special day of the year to be recognized for all they do. However, they are also used as a manipulative advertising technique.

I received a promotional email from eHarmony yesterday stating- “Give Mom the Greatest Gift of All- Find someone who's perfect for you!” It went on to read, “Your mother wants what's best for you. And we do too. That's why we're inviting you to get to know matches uniquely right for you at a Mother's Day discount.”

“Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! I was going to get you a thoughtful present that expressed my appreciation for all you’ve done for me, but instead I thought you’d be happier if I got myself an online dating profile. Don’t worry, eHarmony is saving the day! I’ll be married soon & you won’t have to worry about me anymore!!!” I emailed them to say I think their advertising is in poor taste. My mother, to my knowledge, has skipped the stage of being a Mrs. Bennett, and fortunately doesn’t dump a load of familial guilt on me for being single. eHarmony, on the other hand, would like me to believe that my relationship status is somehow tied to how I’m valued in my family, especially by my mother.

Perhaps they have a point though, especially when greater society is concerned. This ad arrived several weeks after a friend told me that her father tried to fix her up with a gentleman specifically so he could carry on the family business, but all in the name of her future happiness of course. Furthermore, another friend told me of a grad school classmate who was complaining that single women in the workplace are taking jobs that men need to provide for their families. I was under the impression that society had evolved past the stage of viewing the single as a drain on the economy. Apparently, we are dually the embarrassments of our families in addition to single-handedly (ha) ruining the economy.

So single women are supposed to sit around their parents’ houses and crochet lace doilies? Should my father still be financially responsible for his twenty-something daughter simply because I’m not married? Good thing some single woman didn’t take his job in the workplace so he can still provide for his family! I guess I thought that being a financially independent, tax-paying, law-abiding citizen was a positive thing. Nope, it’s not good enough. In the eyes of eHarmony, I’m still stressing out my mother. For shame!

Alright then society, you win. Now where is Mr. Collins when you need him?

Na, just kidding. I’ll at least wait around for Wickham ;)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tea & Blood Duty

Vomit is the only bodily fluid I cannot handle under any circumstance. Since everything else is fine for me and, having not had intercourse with a man who's had intercourse with a person who lived in Timbuktu with an exotic cow from the UK for a time amounting to less than 3756 days, I am an ideal candidate, I consider it my civic duty to donate blood as frequently as possible.

If you've never donated blood before (and thus are totally confused by my previous paragraph), each donor must answer a series of questions regarding habits or circumstances that could affect whether or not their blood could be used for a transfusion. Then each donor has to go through a mini-physical to again make sure that their blood meets certain standards. One of the tests is a finger prick to check hemoglobin (iron).

The last three times I've tried to donate, my hemoglobin has been well below the acceptable range. FAIL X 3.

Typically, I can approach things in life from a logical standpoint where doing AB&C results in successes in XY&Z. Thus, for most of my life, I am WINNING more than Charlie Sheen. In the case of iron, I usually consider myself to be health-conscious & a nutritious eater, and so I should have no problems whatsoever with having perfectly acceptable blood. Unfortunately, getting rejected three times for donating blood means I haven't been doing the right AB&C things. Arg, I might actually have to CHANGE something!

The phlebotomists are always very nice & offer suggestions about how I can improve my iron level. Eat more almonds, red meat, & spinach. But you have to eat all that for about two weeks before your blood donation. Sigh, almonds are expensive, I don't like cooking red meat, & I'm not a huge fan of spinach, raw or cooked.

And then they ask, "Do you drink tea?"

"Why yes!" I reply. "It's one of my favorite beverages! I drink 1-2 cups a day."

"Hmm. Yes, tea inhibits the absorption of iron. You should probably stop drinking tea about a week or two before trying to donate."

Oh dear. Not only am I not eating iron-rich foods, but my beverage of choice is blocking me from absorbing what little iron I do take in. I love tea. Ok, I'll start taking a multi-vitamin at night! I'm already taking my calcium supplement then, so it won't be hard to add a step to the routine. And then I won't have to give up tea!

After a discussion with my mom about this, she passed along this article. Guess what is another iron absorption inhibitor? Calcium.

At least now I know what AB&C things I would need to do to be able to donate successfully. The question is though, am I willing to actually do AB&C? Is the XY&Z goal enough of a motivator? The analogy extends to a lot of things in life. We know what we need to do to make something happen, but are we willing to change to achieve the goal?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Cooking for 1: Mexi Mash

Most of the time, I eat rather unglamorous food. I don't like spending a lot of time cooking if I'm the only eater, so if it's just me, I tend to just throw together stuff in my fridge. Mexi Mash is one of my favorites since it's basically embracing the concept, "Here, let me just fancy up some basic food with SALSA!!!"

Random tangent: I come from a long line of salsa users. My great-grandmother used to pack a jar of Pace in the crocheted basket on her walker whenever she went down to meals at her retirement home. She passed down her love of the zesty.

Back to Mexi Mash.

Combine several of the following ingredients in a bowl. Top with cheese or salsa or whatever (here's a recipe for homemade salsa). Heat & eat.

Rice (my fav: microwaveable brown rice)
Beans (my fav: refried black beans)
Ground meat (for fancier, make it with taco seasoning)
Scrambled Eggs
Leftover veggies

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Commonality of Stoopids & Smarty-Pants

Disclaimer: The following is based on my own personal experiences; I'm not attempting to implicate anyone. If you feel implicated, my apologies, but it's not my fault :)

I was flagged as a gifted kid in 3rd grade. Gifted kids talk. Heh, we LOVE to talk, especially when we can properly pronounce and use big words like "moot", "untenable", and "bruschetta" and pretend we can solve issues like world poverty and predestination over lunch.

Besides using big words and discussing deep issues, gifted kids also complain. It's generally about the louse who made fun of them for setting the curve on the calc test, the moocher who contributed nothing except snoring to the group project, and the ignorant son of an nasty woman who keeps insisting on using the pronunciation "supossebly." How can these people be so arrogant and off-putting in their stupidity?

I went along on my merry gifted way until my study abroad in college. After several weeks of studying on the beach, one of my classmates wrote me a note that basically said I was arrogant and she wished I would stop judging everyone. This came as a bit of a surprise to me, since I had spent the last few weeks thinking she was way too arrogant & judgmental for her general lack of intelligence. We both probably pegged each other correctly.

Arrogance has nothing to do with intelligence and everything to do with entitlement and lack of social & emotional maturity. Arrogance is evidence of a heart that is either so prideful it feels the need to continually puff itself up or a heart that is so insecure that it feels the need to continually put others down. Both ends of the intelligence spectrum can succumb to either form of arrogance. It's not a selective emotion that crops up every now & then, it's an attitude that is pervasive (how's that for a gifted word!?) through every venue of a person's communication. However, most arrogant people don't know they come across as arrogant. But even worse, some arrogant people don't care they make other people feel like crap, they even take personal pleasure in doing exactly that. To me, that's the saddest of all and it's little short of being an emotional sadist (use definition 2).

It wasn't until last year that I began to discover exactly how my words, phrasing, tone of voice, and facial expressions made people feel and what my communications told people about me. Plus, a piece of my father's wisdom finally hit home- "People won't remember what you said or did, but they'll remember how you made them feel." Do I really want to be remembered as an arrogant ass who made people feel insignificant and stupid? Um, no!!!

For me, a beginning shift from arrogance came with several releases:
  • I don't have to be right 100% of the time.
  • Everyone doesn't need to know I'm right.
  • My comparative intelligence matters fairly little in the grand scheme of things.
  • I can be a responsible, useful person and still be allowed to screw things up every now & then.
  • Other people can be responsible useful people and still be allowed to screw things up every now & then.
  • Other people don't need to justify their existence.
I'm still working on it. My family & friends still get to hear my rants and raves of the extra-stupid stuff that people do, but hopefully I'm not making people feel like crap on a regular basis. It'll be a life-long process with ups & down, but hopefully I'm on the right path.

And just in case highly-intelligent people do seem more arrogant overall, here's a quote I found on an anonymous internet forum- "If people on the high end of the intelligence spectrum seem to carry [arrogance] more, possibly they've had fewer humbling experiences in their life. Either that or they're just better at rationalizing those experiences to themselves."