Tuesday, August 31, 2010

ToT - Ways to lighten the mood

Whether you come home stressed out from work or you just finished a heated discussion with a family member, sometimes it's just time to lighten up.

my quick and easy list

1) Give a big hug - to someone else or yourself, either way is fantastic
2) Laugh at yourself or others - there are some great comedies on TV right now
3) Knit - Mittens are the project of the moment
4) Read - Add to the caterpillar
5) Light some yummy smelling candles and just think
6) Garden - pull some weeds, plant some seeds or just admire the awesomeness that comes from plants
7) Cook - chopping forces me to calm down and breath
8) Take a nap - I'm always sleep deprived and a few extra minutes means I wake in a good mood
9) Go for a run - I would never run to lighten the mood, but many of my family members find it beneficial
10) Attempt to watch a documentary with Jim - he will make fun of the ridiculousness and have you laughing too hard to watch the movie in less than five minutes

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Start a new one

What most people think of when I talk about traditions are ceremonial things that people do around holidays. Trees, presents, stockings, special food, etc. Many of these traditions can be traced in a historical manner to religion or cultural origins, but others don’t have such easily traced beginnings. This then becomes an open invitation for growing your own, no need for a real reason, cause or motivation, just think of something you really like to do, plan to do it on a regular occasion and call it tradition!

I have planted the seed for a tradition of my own. I want to make a new scarf and mitten set every year, or at least every year that I live in a location that necessitates such articles of clothing. Two years ago I made purple and black Egyptian mittens and I love them, they are warm and wonderfully functional and gorgeous. Last year I made a scarf that coordinated without being super matchy-matchy. I then promptly lost the scarf.
My plans for this year are another pair of colorwork mittens and a scarf. I made a chart for the mittens and used the same motif to create a scarf pattern. I picked up the yarn today and will be starting the project right after work. I can’t wait! When I am finished I plan on writing up the pattern and even posting it on ravelry (debating putting a price on it). What tradition do you want to start?

Onto finished knitting!
Earlier this year I knit a scarf for my little sister. I even sent it to her and since it was her birthday this week I thought I should finally blog about it.

Pattern: Lace Ribbon Scarf from Knitty.com
Yarn: 2 Skeins - Sereknity Yarn and Fiber Sock Options Shimmer (merino+bamboo) colorway floozy
Ravelry: Kinna's Scarf Redux
Thoughts: 2 skeins makes a really long scarf, but that is what she wanted I think she is happy with it

The best part? She looks ridiculously hot in it. She wouldn’t send me a great picture, but this cellphone/mirror in the bathroom pic is still pretty cute (all my sisters are drop dead gorgeous, I missed out on that gene).

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

ToT- Things to tell a college freshman

Just some anecdotal advice I have gleaned from my own college experience, which was less than typical

1) Have fun, study - My dad always says work hard during the week and play on the weekend. You are in charge of your time, use it wisely. 
2) Don't work during the school year - biggest mistake I made in school was working multiple jobs. If you want spending money put a cap on your hours I honestly suggest well less than 10 hours/week.
3) Work in the summer - Hopefully you can make enough money to pay for housing or books or maybe you can make enough to cover tuition. No matter what, the less you are in debt when you get out of school the easier it will be to live on a starting salary. Plus, you will already have work experience
4) Take the summer after you graduate off. It's going to be one of the few times in your life that you have 3 months to travel, visit, explore and enjoy the world you live in
5) Take advantage of cheap/free entertainment, arts, culture - I spent very little money to see mini-operas, baseball games, art exhibits, concerts and more. I wish I still had access to such cheap entertainment
6) Drop a class - If you hate it, it's not fitting in with the rest of your class and homework schedule drop it, take it over the summer or stay an extra semester, but don't make your other 4 classes suffer because of one class
7) Stay grounded - You are an adult now, fight your own battles, stand your ground and be humble enough to take criticism.
8) Have a purpose - Decide on a major, or decide that you want to accomplish something in the a certain time frame. Maybe you want to finish all of your gen eds in two years, or maybe you have something else in mind, but without a purpose you can spend a large sum of money on wasted time and effort.
9) Finish - Do everything you can to get that degree. People will take you seriously and after four years of money and time you want to be taken seriously
10) Go to class - It's easy to skip class, but the more you attend the easier the material will be and the less time you will have to spend studying it later. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Things I like

Tradition: Me
Story:
There will not be a ToT post this week so I figured I would choose my own random list of things I like and post it on Monday.

I tend to enjoy the writing and explanation of other people. I like to hear about life, creativity and hardships. Many people have blogs like mine, an unfocused peek into real life, not the life you see on tv, not the life marketed by professionals. I connect to those blogs much like I connect to a really good book. They draw me in and make me wish I could spend an hour on the couch with the author. Even the least eloquent writer and least interesting topics will keep my attention because I somehow find a connection.
I also enjoy professional blogs -the blogs written to sell a product, to support an author and those who answer to the almighty dollar. They are fun and resourceful. I have never really admired pop icons of any kind or joined the throngs of “fans” at an event where famous people will present or be in attendance (one exception is Norm Abrams, but that is a story for another time). I don’t fit in with those who worship the yarn harlot or the pioneer woman, but I enjoy their blogs nevertheless.

In google reader I subscribe to a mere 300 sites/blogs. I try not to subscribe to those feeds which only provide a snippet of a post forcing you to click to their site to read further, but if I feel a strong enough connection or I enjoy a blog enough I’ll deal with it. Otherwise,I tend to add and remove randomly. Today I thought I would choose a few of the better known sites which I subscribe to in case you haven’t heard of them. Next time I will focus on some of the less mainstream blogs

1) Xkcd - a comic of pure genius. Each comic is funny, but the humor extends to the roll-over text box.
2) 1000 Awesome Things – Delightful reminders of everyday things that should make you smile
3) Catalog Living – humorous narration for catalog images
4) Sticks and String podcast – still the only podcast I listen to on a regular basis. I love David Reidy
5) Baker’s Banter – King Arthur Flour baking blog. Even though I know it is all marketing, the step by step instructions combined with the explanation of the texture and feel of a dough (things you can’t tell from a picture) make this blog better than any other corporate blog I have ever read
6) Pioneer Woman - her recipes are great and her attempts at humor are mildly amusing
7) Yarn Harlot - though I often find her essays as forced or overly dramatic I like her subject and she knits more in a month than I have knit in my entire life.
8) Brooklyn Tweed - Knitter, Photographer, Native of the Pacific NW
9) Twist Collective - Very serious knitter's magazine published online. Always great patterns though I have not finished a single one that I have purchased
10) Post Secret - New postcards are posted every week.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Documenting Life

Tradition: Documentaries

Story: When I was in school my dad took me to a documentary call “What the Bleep Do We Know?” It was a cool look at quantum physics, neurology, etc in relation to metaphysics and spirituality. When I saw it the first time I thought it was weird. I know there is more I could gain from watching it again, but I have yet to revisit that particular documentary.

This weekend I was bored and lonely so I decided to turn on Netflix streaming. I made the mistake of watching a film that killed my soul. In an attempt to construct a new soul I turned to 2 different documentaries. The first one was about Origami and there was some interesting artwork, mathematics and creations, but nothing that changed my life. Then I turned on “Man on Wire”, a documentary about Philippe Petit and his extraordinary feat crossing between the two world trade center towers on a tight rope.

The documentary was interesting, but I didn’t think it was life changing until the end. There was a whole group of people who worked with Philippe to make the act a success (he did successfully perform for 45 minutes and is still alive today). One of them was a lady and at the end of the documentary she explained that after they finished the project she knew that Philippe was going in another direction and so was she. It didn’t seem mournful and it didn’t include an extreme falling away or a slow progression. I found this refreshing and then the film went back with Jean-Louis Blondeau. I bawled. Jean-Louis was struggling to keep composure as he explained that the friendship ended at the completion of the feat. Again, there very easily could have been a fight, but that wasn’t explained in the film. Throughout the movie it was clear that Jean-Louis thought the rigging of the wire was sub-par and that Philippe could have done more preparation, yet he expresses these opinions as facts with no malice. Jean-Louis’s breakdown represents to me the conclusion of both the epic high-wire experience and a friendship. Jean-Louis’s tears influenced my own and there I found an epiphany.

Relationships are traditionally treated as enduring, eternal, long-suffering, a burden, good, bad, wonderful, devastating, but mostly we talk about relationships as having a beginning, but no end. There may be a falling out, a slow drift apart or any other such thing, but usually no definitive ending. This leaves an opening for a reunion, a prodigal son moment or some other romantic notion. This movie made me contemplate the idea that there actually can be an ending. You can end a relationship without malice, without an argument, without dramatics. I immediately found peace, relief and general comfort in this idea. It isn’t that I have any friendships I particularly wish would end, I just love that the possibility exists to define an ending to a part of life without drama. This is not a new concept or idea to me, but one that I had never taken the chance to internalize, really apply to myself and my own relationships.

Caterpillar:
10) Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquival - It was like reading a Telemundo soap opera.
11) In the Lake of the Woods, Tim O'Brien - I prefer his novel The Things They Carried
12) Coastliners, Joanne Harris - Interesting, slow novel, great beach read
13) Holy Fools, Joanne Harris - Not a fan
14) The Ladies of Garrison Gardens, Louise Schaffer - Enjoyable, small twist in a predicable ending
15) Summer People, Brian Groh - Bland book

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

ToT - Reasons to love bacon

1) BLT – must have mayonnaise and is even better with sliced avocado
2) Broccoli salad- my mom makes a a great recipe with bacon, broccoli, sunflower seeds, craisins and dressing
3) French toast – with a side of bacon. Drizzle syrup on the French toast and a touch on the bacon too for the best sweet/savory combination.
4) Carbonara – yummy pasta dish that I always forget about
5) Cowboy burger – if we go to dinner Jim orders a burger with bacon, cheese and BBQ sauce 90% of the time because it is a safe bet he will love it. One of the chain restaurants (applebee’s maybe?) calls this the cowboy burger on their menu so when we go out he orders it by the name on the menu, but when I ask “what are you ordering?” he inevitably calls it a cowboy burger.
6) Baked beans –One of these days I will actually make my own baked beans with bacon or ham hocks or some other deliciousness, but for now a can with some extra bacon works.
7) Salad – I love salads with bacon, hard boiled eggs and a small amount of ranch dressing
8) Baked Potato – two things that make a baked potato a delicious treat? Bacon and sour cream
9) Pioneer woman’s recipe - My dad LOVES jalapeno poppers and these are kind of similar but with added BACON!

That’s not 10 but it’s really all the ways I can think of that I love to eat bacon.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Marriage Secrets

Tradition: Inside jokes

Story: Growing up I had a small group of friends that I loved to no end. I haven’t pinpointed exactly where I met all of them but some I know for sure

K- our families moved to the area around the same time and so we were all new to the church congregation at the same time. K and I were BFFs forever and ever
L- Pretty sure K met L in kindergarten and I met L in first grade when I skipped over kindergarten and K introduced me to L.
C- I think C was also in our first grade class
A- A is the mystery. I think that I met A in leadership during fourth and fifth grade, but I am not sure. I know that I knew her before middle school (6th grade) but I also know A was never in my elementary school classes.

I moved away from our high school in my sophomore year, but I still stay in close touch with L and A and to a lesser extent C and K. K doesn’t really talk to me at all and that makes me sad, but she just isn’t one for staying in touch and I was never as close to C as the others, probably because I missed all of those high school years.

The thing that made our friendship memorable was our inside jokes. Some are never-ending and when I look back they aren’t funny. I have no idea why I found them funny to begin with but they still make me giggle. I will never look at classical markers the same thanks to K’s comment on the similarities between classical markers and classical musicians. L will forever cross my mind on mother’s day and when I see a bottle of wine with a chicken on the label.

My best relationships have hundreds of inside jokes, including my marriage. Jim and I have some epic jokes. Today’s favorite? There are some awesome lines from tv shows and movies that are supposed to be romantic, but are really just the corniest things ever. Jim and I like to see who can say them with a straight face, pretending to be serious. I always lose. No matter the line, the reference, the moment or the conversation that precedes it, as soon as I open my mouth to say the line I giggle. We like to use lines that we have heard recently, but we also have a favorite line. My go to line? “I will be your bait” alternately “I’ll be your bait” (can you name the show/situation without google?)
Someday I will be able to say this without giggling, but don't hold your breath. I’m pretty sure Jim will put that line on my headstone just to make me laugh for eternity.

 What is your favorite cheesey movie line?

Friday, August 6, 2010

It works for me, but maybe not for you

Tradition: Path to perfection

Story: A friend of mine recently posted some amazing comments on Facebook about goals and such. I responded with the following

True, but also remember that we define our own perfection and the happiest, healthiest people are honest and confident even if they are shy of perfection. Progress without being consistently disappointed in oneself is not easy. Now if I could really take your point and mine to heart I could make progress.

Jess, being the amazing, smart and insightful person she is responded basically telling me she agreed except about that perfection stuff.

Why is it that I must define my aspirations in terms of perfection? It’s probably a combination of my general upbringing and my religious belief that perfection is attainable even if not in this life. Let me explain why that works for me, though. I know that perfection is unattainable, but MY perfection is MINE. I know what I want myself to be, I know what I need to do to attain that level of perfection and I know that my perfection is not perfection for anyone else. I also know that the path to perfection is to be enjoyed even if I am sometimes on the path alone.

I can point out the 12 thousand different ways I disappoint myself on a daily basis. I can tell you all about the goals that I did not achieve and my responsibility in that failure, but I have reached some sort of peace with it. I don’t mean peace in a hippy “life is what it is” way. I mean the peace that comes from knowing myself well enough to know how much I can gain from my own disappointment and how much is too much. I think there is something valuable in failure.

The most apt example from my life is running. I have been running regularly for 7 months now. I am nowhere near where I should be at this point. I should be able to run longer, faster and feel better doing it. I know this, but I can’t change it. Really. I can do nothing about where I am currently. I am currently failing, truly failing and it doesn’t feel good. I also know that there is value in my failure. I can evaluate where I veered off the path and I can backtrack. I can be currently failing without thinking I am a failure. I can also work to get back to success. I can succeed in the future and when I do I can do so knowing what it felt like to fail.

I had trouble expressing this point back in April when I ran a 5K. I did not meet my goal and I was disappointed. I felt good because I finished, but finishing was not the only aspect of my race perfection. I appreciate the thoughts from everyone who encouraged me with their comments, but it did not change the failure. Some people thought it would feel good for me to hear/read things like “you did better than most people” or “you finished and that is accomplishment enough” These people had their hearts in the right place, but missed the point. I set a goal and did not reach it, being sad about it was worthwhile. I had to be disappointed. Prolonged disappointment and self doubt is not healthy, but I think we often try to avoid any disappointment and we justify failure. There does not need to be justification. When we do that we miss so much that there is to gain from living.

So when I am focusing on the moment, the current feeling, my current place and existence I learn from the disappointment and I celebrate the successes. I haven't always been able to see life this way, but once I began to view it this way I have been much more confident in myself, who I am and who I am working to be. Just because I want to be perfect does not mean I hate who I am now. This statement alone is why this works for me, but does not necessarily work for anyone else.

Does perfection work as your goal or do you, like my friend Jess, find more success in defining goals differently? Why does it work for you? I am sure there is something I can learn from your methods

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Spicey!

Tradition: Salsa

Story: Today it’s about food.

I love cooking, I love chopping, simmering, sauteing and otherwise playing in the kitchen. I married a man that would prefer to grab something from the freezer and throw it in the toaster oven so our diet has been an adventure based on quick, pre-processed foods. One secret to including some less manufactured food is to eat from the garden.


Jim built a 12 bed garden this past spring and filled it with vegetables: Squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, beans, eggplant, corn, onions and all sorts of fun food. I am not sure how or why we planted 20 pepper plants, but we did. There are wannabe habaneros, jalapenos, sweet pepper and hot banana peppers. I don’t like spicy food so Jim has been making pepper-filled fajitas twice a week to make a dent in the crop, but last night we hit critical mass. We had some ripe tomatoes and some little onions ready to be used. Jim found a recipe for salsa and insisted we make it. I employed my super chopper and began chopping onions, peppers, tomatoes and cilantro

 (I am in love with the bracelet I’m wearing,  you can find it  here).

Jim added salt, pepper,lime juice and some tomato sauce. It was good and needed some adjustments in the seasonings, but after a couple of minutes we had 3 pints of delicious garden salsa. I found it to be amazingly flavorful, but a touch on the hot side.



 Jim thought it was too cool so he added an entire wannabe habanero to a single bowl of salsa. I think I burned my lips off.


We probably could have left out the tomato sauce, added some cucumbers and called it gazpacho which would have been a delight in the warm weather we have had lately.

I didn't actually can the salsa it just fits nicely in the fridge if it's in enclosed containers