Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What I am into this month: February

The same view from my office window that I usually post.
We didn't get much winter weather this year,
but on Valentine's Day we did get fog.
On My Nightstand: I read Death Comes to Pemberley finally was not as good as anticipated. I should institute actual Book Review Posts or something. The problem, I suspect, is that it was neither fish nor fowl, neither Jane Austen novel nor thrilling detective story. Meh.

Strangely, the Orson Scott Card novel was also rather disappointing. I mean, it read quickly and smoothly and that world will always be Real to me the way the best stories are, but...perhaps I am too old and not yet old enough to be charmed by the antics of precocious children. And sometimes you just never can cotton on to new characters in a series where the old ones are like dear friends. Y'know?

The Help. Lord, The Help. It's such a troublesome book. The period it discusses is troublesome. The balance of current race and gender relations is troublesome. That it's written by a white woman is troublesome--and yet, it's as much a book about gender as about race. In some ways, I don't know what to think about it because inevitably, I will offend someone with my opinion and that is a problem, as well as a whole 'nother topic.

But. In the end, it's just a good story. A good story about people who seem real--they're not all good and they're not all bad and some people are awful but even then they are people, as real people are. I enjoyed the pacing and the writing style, for the most part, the distinctive voices for each narrator. Read it for yourself, and I, for one, will not be offended by your opinion.

Either The Help or this next book was my favorite read of the month: How the Irish Saved Civilization. I am a sucker for a beautifully written, pedantic, scholarly sort of book when the author is just. so. excited. about his subject matter. It's why I loved my professor's books on Faulkner better than Faulkner's books themselves. It's why I will just as happily read Tolkein's scholarly articles as his fantasy novels. And it's why I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

I've started The Omnivore's Dilemma. I read Pollan's In Defense of Food several years ago, and found in it a fellow food-spirit. He gave words to much of my own wordless food philosophy. And though I could do without the tossed off lectures on global warming and obesity and a few other screeds, those are refreshingly few and far between. Moreover, you don't get the sense that Pollan, like so many other green/food/environment/organic writers, dislikes man. So. Good times.

Want to Read: Introverts in the Church has been floating around the blogosphere book rec list lately, and Anne convinced me I should read it. Well, the library doesn't have it, so that's put a stop to that temporarily, until I can convince myself to spend Real Money on a book (am I a sucker for impulse-buying the entire stock of used book stores? Yes. Can I very often convince myself to part with money for a brand-new book? No) and order it from Amazon. I also have a couple biographies of Luther on my list (which, of course, the library doesn't have!), and I need to add in a few Fun Books or I don't know what will happen to me. Suggestions?

TV Show Worth Watching: Let's see. We finished United States of Tara and are now pretty much back to our regularly scheduled programs: Once Upon a Time, Grimm, Castle, Bones, Royal Pains. Oh! Community returns next month! *happy dance*

Movies I've Seen (in or out of a theater): I don't think I've watched a single movie this month, and that's okay. It may or may not also be a lie, but if I can't remember it, it obviously didn't make enough of an impression on me to be worth mentioning.

In My Ears: I am currently obsessed with this. A Pandora station seeded with Gotye and Kimbra has proven to be bliss, at the moment. I was glad to see a singer who can actually sing clean up at the Grammys this year. I'm tempted to steal Adele's voice box and have it surgically implanted in my own throat. Would that work?

What I'm looking forward to next month: The day for the men that God made mad! I mean, of course, St. Patrick's Day. I am precisely half Irish and half German, so St. Patrick's Day and Oktoberfest are practically religious holidays in my family. Corned beef and cabbage, Guiness, green things, my Irish punk rock Pandora station...happy (green) panda. I'm sure there's other stuff going on, but it can't possibly be as important. Oh! Except that it will be my parents' thirtieth wedding anniversary in March! So that's something.

Goal Progress: I posted some goals for the new year, and I figured these monthly wrap-up posts would be a good chance to check my progress throughout 2012.

The Budget: Yeah...well, we're continuing to meet our budget for paying off debts, and I've managed to save a good bit. But. Our sewage line backed up to the tune of one hundred thirty-five unexpected dollars. The DDH took a trip to visit his sick brother in Houston and bring him a bunch of food and cooking supplies (he was just diagnosed with Celiac's and of course the dorm meal plan contains nothing gluten free except plain lettuce). Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. It could definitely be worse, though.

The Garden: I daringly planted out a bunch of seeds the last weekend in February. I know! I'm really living life on the edge here. Post to come soon.

Food: I'm not sure if my renewed Reality Chef blogging habit is feeding (ha) my resolution to cook at least three times a week, or if my resolution is feeding (ha. ha.) the blogging habit. Either way, tis tasty.
The Craft Room: Post to come on this.
How are you doing on your 2012 goals? What are you looking forward to in February?

Sunny Leap Day, with the willows starting to leaf out and the
redbuds beginning to bloom!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I am dressed (don't ask much more of me)!

Guys. The high today is supposed to be seventy-two degrees, guys.

In February.

*happy dance*

We also got some much-needed rain over the weekend and Monday.

Some outfits for you:
Gray sweater dress: Ross; Leggings: Target; belt: Target?
I wore these with my gray ankle boots that I think you've seen elsewhere, but they're cute with my slipper-flats. Hmm. The boots seem more formal and work-appropriate, though.

This is a fairly standard Katie-uniform: gray and black. I wear a lot of both of those colors, usually paired with silver or gunmetal (shiny black, like the pictured belt) jewelry.

Sunday, however, I attempted to switch things up. I braved the world of color, guys.

Shirt: Old Navy; Scarf: Target; Skirt: hand-me-down;
Belt: Target; Leggings: Target; Purple pumps: JC Penney.

A yellow scarf AND purple pumps.
And a lot of black things.
I found those purple pumps on clearance at JC Penney Saturday for $15. Fifteen dollars! Yay.

Cute, right?
Purple is one of the colors I do accessorize with--by which I mean, I have a number of purple shirts that I pair with black or gray bottoms, and a purple skirt I'll pair with a black or gray top, and a pair of purple earrings, and a frequently worn purple scarf.

So the shoes made perfect sense, though normally I would have stopped there--one color at a time, guys.

But yellow...I bought this yellow scarf on Black Friday, boldened by midnight impulse and grand fashionista dreams, but I just took the tag off on Sunday. Those dreams seemed foolish in the light of day.

Knot courtesy of Pinterest-surfing.
But it was dreary and rainy all day Saturday and, though Sunday turned out to be sunny and beautiful, I needed that shot of cheer that yellow brings. Plus, Pinterest has provided me with a plethora of scarf knots that I've been dying to try out.

With my hand-me-down houndstooth coat.
I'm not saying I'll be going out and buying anything else yellow, but I liked the way it worked (with an otherwise conservative black ensemble, this is still me, people).

I've been told yellow is not my color, though.
So of course the DDH hated it. He doesn't like yellow on me. (He also doesn't like the skirt I'm wearing, but I have my suspicions that he only likes tight short skirts, so perhaps I should discount his opinion when in polite company?)

Anyway. For today, I'm in all black again, but on purpose. It's Ash Wednesday, and so it's unadorned black for me. No belts, no statement jewelry, just black on black on black with my silver cross necklace and smallest silver hoops.
Dust we are and to dust we shall return.
Lent probably needs its own post. I do love the reassuring rhythms of the church year, though.

So what are you wearing these days? Anyone trying any bold-for-you experiments? What do you think about yellow?

Looking for a last bit of fatty Mardi Gras food--or do you just want to know what I ate last night? Latkes!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Reality Bites at Reality Chef

I know it's an internet phenomenon, to complain about how un-real our internet personas are.

I hear people complaining about it--how they get depressed because everyone's life seems better than theirs when seen through glowing status updates. I myself am prone to shameful raging fits of envy when I see other people's beautifully decorated houses (and then those people complain about them, ugh!), their seamlessly organized and totally fulfilling lives.

Exhibit A: This used to be the view from my bedroom window.
When I lived in Freiburg, Germany.
It seems to be all the blogosphere rage to insist you and your blog will "keep it real," that you're "all real," but all the while we post a carefully edited presentation of our lives. Even our troubles can be giftwrapped and prettied up to seem artfully tragic.

I hate that.

I mean, I am the Number One Fan of the curated personality presentation. I don't mind people presenting me the Best Bits version of their lives--that's more or less what I'm presenting you. I like a juicy secret and I like to know that your lives really aren't perfect, but people go to the internet for the same reason they go to the movies or watch television or read books: for entertainment.*

And mundanity is anything but entertaining.

That's why no one loves the friend who tweets every day's tiniest event: Woke up, had coffee. Heading off to work, blah. Think I'll get Chipotle for lunch. Stuck in traffic and found some spinach in my teeth.


Somewhere, though, there's a balance. There's a balance between the kind of real that tells you what time I brush my teeth every day (right before bed. Yeah, just once a day, don't tell my dentist) and the kind of editing that makes you think I eat nothing but free-range meat and homegrown produce cooked in my four-star kitchen (I wish) to exacting standards for my Hollister-model husband and my 2.5 kids.

Somewhere in there is the version of life that's entertaining without making you (too terribly) jealous. A version of life that's relateable. A version of life--of self--that is a friend.

I've got a series in mind for this little blog, but I'm starting with Reality Chef, because I named the damn thing with this whole concept in mind yet lately have been only posting recipes and meals that make me look good like a skinny-bitch Paula Deen with a smitten kitchen chaser.

Every day from now until Easter (so basically for Lent), I'm going to post what I had for dinner. Sometimes, and in keeping with my New Year's goals hopefully at least three times a week, this will be a recipe that you might want to try. But maybe more often than I'd like, it's going to be leftovers or fast food or whatever reality meal Americans eat these days.

I won't be posting all of these here, because that could be totally boring. I'll just link to the recipe ones the way I've been doing. But if you're curious, keep an eye on the food blog for a taste of reality. Hopefully, it will encourage you and show you that real food lifestyles are doable, without overwhelming you with the impossibility of living them perfectly.

'Cause heaven knows that I'm not perfect, and Day 1's dinner proves it.

*Ok, so that's drastically oversimplified. REALLY mostly people go to the internet to Google stuff on Wikipedia. Also for porn. And to nurture human relationships or buy stuff on Amazon or whatever. But entertainment is certainly a primary purpose. No, I'm not linking to porn with that link, geez, but to the Avenue Q song.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sigh. I really want to create a Guns board on Pinterest so I can keep track of the different guns I've been trying out at the range, but I worry that it will put me on some sort of government watch list or something. (Watch out! That chocolate caramel lava cake she just pinned is definitely criminal.)

But wouldn't a Fight For Your Rights second amendment-themed board be nice? Having a picture would help me remember which was which, and I could put my little review of it, and post, I don't know, shooting safety tips or something (Every Gun Is Always Loaded).

Is it weird that I think that would be cute?

In lieu of said board, I shall just note here that the XD .40 caliber I shot Saturday was nice. I've been looking at .40s and 9 mms, I think. They still have stopping power but are just a touch smaller and would be easier to conceal (though honestly I couldn't conceal carry anything the way I normally dress. Women's fashions obviously are not created with imprinting in mind).

Reasonable grip size, comfortable in my hand (I have large hands for a woman (I mean, they're proportional to my height, but I'm tall), but obviously still much smaller hands than a man, so this can be awkward). No feeding problems in fifty rounds, which isn't a lot, so I'll have to check the reviews, but the DDH's 1911 was giving him trouble so I was paying attention to that.

I also figured out what I was doing wrong with my grip, and went from maybe a dozen out of thirty rounds hitting the target at all, to 18/20 in the ten box (+1 in the nine). Turns out I was pressing the trigger with the wrong part of my finger. I mean, it was the part they said to press with, but for some reason in my hands that didn't give me enough control. Switched it forward a bit and bam! (no pun intended. Maybe). Made all the difference.

It is nice to outshoot the DDH every once in awhile. ^_~

So that's what I was up to this weekend (that and cleaning the craft room...slow and steady wins the race, I hope).

How were y'all's weekends? Do you get a three-day weekend for President's Day (I don't, ugh)?Anything interesting on the agenda for this last full week of February?

I am cooking up a storm: Chipotle sweet potato mac'n'cheese

I almost skipped right over this recipe.

The DDH is so tired of my sweet potato and winter squash experiments. He's not a big fan of those vegetables, and he grumbles when I make strange vegetarian versions of things.

But this.

Oh my word, this dish.

So good.

Check it out.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I am dressed (don't ask much more of me)!

For whatever reason, I've been inspired this past week and have put together a number of fun outfits.

Also I bought two belts and some new clothes at Target.

Did I accomplish anything in the realm of garden-starting last weekend?


But I made cute outfits. C'mon, I can't do everything.

First, let's show off (duhn duhn duhn!) a casual outfit!

Turtleneck: Old Navy; Belt: Goodwill; Cargo skinnies: Old Navy; Boots: Dillard's?
So in case you hadn't noticed, Winter decided to pay Oklahoma a visit starting last Saturday. I had to work, but work-Saturdays are casual (yay). This was my cozy turtleneck and fuzzy boots outfit. The big shiny earrings really made it, I think.

Can we pause for a moment to talk about how much I love cargo skinny pants? LOVE. Actual working pockets, happy skinny silhouette. Win win win. And these ones are gray, so extra bonus for not being denim.

You will also see that the theme of the week is belts. I got this wide, fake patent leather belt at Goodwill (one of my only successful thrifting finds). It's too big, really, but I do the hair tie trick and it works ok. I like wider belts because I think they smooth out my lumpy belly.

Turtleneck: Target; Sweater: Old Navy a long time ago; Belt: Target;
Skirt: H&M from when I lived in Germany, which is the only time I've ever
lived near an H&M and I've been mourning the loss ever since.
Sunday featured this outfit for church (+ tights and the same fuzzy boots). Sorry I didn't get a picture of it on. Comfy, cozy, warm, and fun. I haven't worn this skirt in a long time; it's a little longer than most of my skirts (hits a bit below the knee), but I was inspired by Megan to try it with a belt and I loved it.

Also, the belt was one of Saturday's Target finds and oh! the love. I've been looking for something like it for awhile and here it was on clearance. It was Meant To Be.

Off-white sueded leather and brass hardware. <3
Monday, it snowed (yes! snowed! the nerve). So Sunday's skirt-sweater-belt outfit morphed into a pants-sweater-belt outfit for work:

Sweater: Old Navy?; Pants: who knows; Belt: Target
And then I wore another sweater on top of that because, predictably, my boss had the air conditioning on (did I mention it was snowing? Yeah. I thought so).

For Valentine's Day, a bit of lovely maroon and my favorite shiny black belt:

Shirt: ?; Belt: Target? or Kohl's?; Skirt: The Limited ten years ago.
With black sweater tights (still cold out) and black heeled boots. You've seen all these pieces before, I think. I wore a dress and patterned tights to dinner but didn't take any pictures, alas.

Sorry for all the awkward pictures of clothes on my bed; I keep forgetting to photodocument my self. But do you like the bedspread? I got it for free on Black Friday at Target.

And today, my other new Target acquisitions, because really I should get them to sponsor this blog post with all the advertising they're getting from me:

You can't really tell, but the pants are pinstriped. I can't figure out if they're brown or gray. They're either a really gray brown or a really brown gray. Something different for the work wardrobe, anyway.

The color of the shirt is a perennial favorite. It has fun cuffs and--a cowl neck. I've decided I love cowl necks, and I think I figured out why: they add bulk to my bust, which needs all the help it can get. Anyway, it and the pants and this chain belt AND the other belt were ALL on clearance because really, why bother otherwise?

I saw this belt months and months ago and have almost bought it more than once. To the point of picking it up, putting it in my cart, wandering around with it, and then abandoning it because I just couldn't ever justify spending twenty bucks (or however much...more than ten, anyway) on a belt. I mean, I should have justified it, because it's so perfect, but apparently good things come to those who wait, because I snagged it on clearance for $6.48.

So there you go! A long post this week because I had to show off my new shiny-things, and because for some reason all of my outfits have been post-worthy. Yay!

What are YOU wearing these days, as winter wears (buh duhn tss) out its welcome?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I am loved.

Happy Valentine's Day!

When I was younger, I was pretty anti-Valentine's Day, not so much because I cared that I was single (I'm talking middle and high school here; few of my friends dated at those ages, and none seriously) but because my youthful self was very Cyncial and Anti-Corporate and Anti-Sap and Anti-Flowers (and wore really wide leg jeans with rips in them and baggy t-shirts and was totally badass in her own head and no one else's).

But I don't know. Yes, you should live every day like it's Valentine's Day; there's not just one day of the year when you should treat your Significant Other specially and express your love for him or her. But reality is reality: you sort of lose track of things in the monotony of the day to day. It's nice to have a day to dress up fancy and go out to a tasty meal and get flowers and chocolate and extra smooches. Isn't it?

And I would like to say that it's a day to celebrate all kinds of love: friends and family and of course and above all that God-love which all other loves can only shadow palely.

But you know what?

It's nice to have a day to celebrate romantic love, too. Romantic love, that one-and-only relationship that's like the love you have for friends and like the love you have for family, but different. The love that begets the children you (may) eventually get to love together. The two-become-one love that you have with this person and this person only.

I tell my single friends I love them on this day, too, and I would never begrudge them whatever celebration or lack thereof they wish for on this day, just as I hope none of my attached friends begrudged my celebrations and non-celebrations when I was single.

Now that I am married, though, this is how I choose to celebrate Valentine's Day. This is what it means to me: That I love my husband, and he loves me, and that that love is special and worthy of celebration.


Sidenote: So at my church growing up, the youth group put on a Sweetheart's Dinner on a Friday or Saturday night near Valentine's Day. Couples (our parents and other adults in the congregation--my parents certainly attended before my sibs and I were youth-group-aged) bought tickets and the youth cooked a fancy meal (steaks and salmon and baked potatoes and fancy-beans) and decorated the Fellowship Hall as fancily as possible and provided babysitting free with the price of the ticket and dressed up as servers and generally tried to make a really nice night out for a reasonable price (and raise money, because youth groups always need money).

I enjoyed serving those dinners as a youth, and I know my parents enjoyed eating them. I looked forward to getting to be an attending couple some day when I grew up.

But do you know what my Tulsa church does for Valentine's Day?

It has a Father/Daughter Valentine's Dance.

Say what?


Let me get this straight. You, loving husband of a loving wife, should spend the holiday created (more or less) to celebrate romantic love (and, um, fertility)...with your daughter?

Am I the only one creeped the heck out by that?

Not to mention, what about mothers and sons? They don't get to dance? I guess no one cares about them.

What a strange perversion and confusion of loves. I'm sure it's all perfectly innocent and I'm probably the only person in the world (besides my husband, actually, and thankfully) who thinks it's strange, but ick. It makes my skin crawl.

I mean, my dad took me out on a date when I turned sixteen, to emphasize to me how a gentleman should treat a lady and that I was worthy of that kind of treatment and respect and that he and my mom loved me no matter what other guys may or may not love me eventually. That's not really the creepy part.

But on Valentine's Day???

I don't know. I think they're missing the point.

Also maybe I'm bitter that I don't get a fancy-pants youth-served dinner of my own. Shhhh.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

11 Things at 11:11 on the 11th.

By the time I hit "Publish" it won't be, but I would like to point out that RIGHT NOW it is 11:11 a.m. on the 11th. ^____^ (By the time I hit "Publish," it's not even the 11th anymore...oh well.)

I think the entirety of my online existence in middle school (and, honestly, most of high school) consisted of chain survey emails passed around between my girlfriends and me.

At some point I realized that other people didn't enjoy them as much as I did...and my innate shyness means that I cannot do anything that might possibly irritate, offend, or cause someone to think less of me. So I stopped sending them.

But I love love love them. I am endlessly curious about other people's lives, and perhaps because I'm so shy and spend the entirety of my life crafting a persona I think others want to see in me, I spend a lot of time navel-gazing myself.

SO. Megan at SortaCrunchy tagged me in this little meme and I'm going to do it. SO THERE.


1. Post these rules.
2. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
3. Answer the questions set for you in the post of the person who tagged you.
4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
5. Go to the blogs of the people you've tagged and tell them that you’ve tagged them.
6. No stuff in the tagging section about you are tagged if you are reading this. You legitimately have to tag 11 people.

  1. I own or have owned a variety of dogs, rabbits, fish, and rats, but I have always wanted and never owned a guinea pig.
  2. I showed dogs for five years or so when I was younger (elementary and middle school).
  3. Monkeys creep me out to the point of terrifying me. Ugh.
  4. I have lived in five states and two countries. Technically, I'm a Yankee by birth, but I'm a Southwestern girl at heart.
  5. I only shower about three times a week.
  6. I am the oldest child of two oldest children.
  7. I hate Jon Stewart. He's a pompous, unfunny jerkface and I have no idea why he's so popular. (I also don't get The Office. Obviously my sense of humor is broken.)
  8. One of my husband's and my old college friends is currently living in one of our spare bedrooms.
  9. I don't like olives, bell peppers, or pepperoni.
  10. I eat hamburgers and other sandwiches in circles around the outside edge. The middle bite, where there's a bit of everything (meat, veggies, sauce) is the tastiest and I save it for last. 
  11. I have an insatiable sweet tooth and the summer I spent nannying, I went through a 96 oz. bag of M&M's from Sam's Club every two weeks. By myself. I didn't gain any weight because I was spending ten hours a day literally running (and biking) around after two little boys, but amazingly once I stopped this habit, I lost thirty pounds.
1. Which season is your favorite and why? Fall. Harvest season! The weather is beautiful, there's an abundance of fresh produce, and I like coziness and pumpkin spice. I'm a fan of summer, too, though, and spring when it's finally warm after winter. Honestly, more than the season, I just love a clear sunny day, no matter the temperature. Rain and mud depress me.

2. What is the best deal you've ever gotten on anything? Hmm. When I was in middle school, my Destination Imagination team went thrifting for supplies for our skit. At one of the thrift stores, I found and for some reason fell in love with a stuffed armadillo. I don't remember what he cost; maybe a dollar? Little enough that my limited-income middle school self could snatch him up. Armee has accompanied me everywhere since: to dog shows, on road trips, to college, to Germany. He lives in the bottom drawer of my bedside table and even now if I'm feeling gloomy I pull him out and hug him and think of a sunshiny Albuquerque day and an adventure with friends and all the places we've been together.

3. What is your favorite dessert? Ice cream. Anything involving ice cream and/or chocolate.

4. When was the last time you went to the dentist? Just a few weeks ago, actually. No cavities!

5. Do you prefer older homes or new construction? Older homes (though updated plumbing and electricity would be nice). They just seem more solid, somehow. Built to last. And I love love love hardwood over carpet or tile any time. Our house has hardwood that some idiot covered in hideous Berber carpet, and it is one of our fondest dreams to rip it up and refinish the floors beneath. But bringing the electrical system up to code and replacing the disintegrating cardboard sewage pipes should probably come first....

6. What is your favorite social media platform and why? (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, etc) Facebook 'cause my mommy's on it. Ha. No, Facebook seems the most suited for actual personal interaction with family and friends that I don't see every day (or ever), as well as for just sharing those interesting tidbits I find on the web. Though I just started on Pinterest yesterday and it's proving useful so far.

7. Photography: do it yourself or go to a professional? I haven't had a professional portrait taken since my senior pictures for high school. I guess except my wedding pics, which aren't very good. I am a prolific but mediocre picture-taker and would really like some nice, artsy photos of me, the DDH, and perhaps the pets. But, you know, money.

8. What is the last thing you made? Yesterday I made two tortilla pies, beef stew, and some granola bars. Today I made guacamole. I make a lot of food. What was the last non-food thing I made, though? I'm not even sure.

9. Thrifting: love it or hate it? I want to love thrifting. That is, I want to have all these cute vintage clothes for very little money. But I have not found a good place to go in Tulsa and/or I'm just not very good at it. I have difficulty seeing the possibilities of a garment and I never seem to find any treasures (except Armee the Armadillo, of course).

10. Sunrise or sunset? Fiddler on the Roof. ^_^ Sunrise. There's something special about being up and outside at that time of day.

11. What is your guilty pleasure? Long, hot showers, since I am a water Grinch in the rest of my life (desert girl, you know). Also, trashy novels.

I'm not tagging anyone because the only people I know who read me are Megan (who tagged me), Anne (whom Megan tagged), and Sarah, who has an itty bitty baby and negative amounts of spare time. I guess technically I'm tagging you, Sarah, but you can just answer Megan's questions. And, contrary to the rules, anyone else is welcome to play, too.

Yay weekends and middle school flashbacks!

Friday, February 10, 2012

I am having my plans foiled by nature.

I would like to point out that the weekend I designated as "Do Gardening Stuff" weekend is forecast to be the coldest one of the winter so far.

All winter it's been sixties and sunny.

Tomorrow it will be twenty-seven and mostly cloudy.

Technically most of the stuff I need to do will be done inside anyway, but I was hoping to plant seeds on the back porch so I don't spend an hour vacuuming up dirt afterward.

Between the cold weather, this chest cold that insists on getting worse instead of better, and having to work tomorrow, I have very low hopes for this weekend.

Perhaps my mum will email me her chili recipe. Or perhaps you have one to share?

I am on Pinterest.

When Pinterest started to be a thing, I thought to myself, "Self, that is a bandwagon onto which you shall never hop. You, Self, are not a visual person, so what is even the point to a visual site?"

I've decided, however, that Not Being A Visual Person is precisely why Pinterest would be useful to me.

I have the most terrible ever in the world time with clothing sounds weird to call having a pretty house "interior decorating," but I guess that's what you would call it.

No matter what you call it, I'm terrible at it. I can't vision how colors and patterns and shapes work together, because I am everything but a visual learner person. You know those questions on IQ tests where they show you a shape and ask you to pick what it would look like folded up?

Yeah, I suck at those.

So anyway. If I want to make my surroundings (and my clothes) prettier and more cohesive, I need to figure out this visualization thing. And if I can't do it in my head, maybe I can do it on the screen. Maybe patterns will pop up.

So I have a clothes board (Make It Work--I love you, Tim Gunn), and a home board (zu Hause, which means At Home). And why not keep a to-read list (Haltet der Literatur die Treue! which means, roughly, Hold true to literature, or hold literature dear, or whatever, I'm a terrible translator). And of course, a food board (Eat Me / Drink Me).

I'm sure either more will come or I'll give up on it completely, as I did with Google+. ^_^

Anywho. If you, too, are on le Pinterest, feel free to follow me. I'm SingingPenguin.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I am cooking up a storm: Shrimp and Veggie Rice.

Speaking of having a cold and also too much to do:

Lest you think that all my culinary adventures are Martha-esque (or Alice Waters-esque or smitten kitchen-esque or really anything other than someone who likes food trying to make dinner for herself and her Darling Devoted Husband), I present--shrimp and veggie rice.

I am dressed (don't ask much more of me)!

Mostly this week has been very boring, clothes-wise, but here's what I wore Sunday, a tank-top dress over a long-sleeved shirt, with tights and boots:

Bonus dog-butt in the picture.
I liked it. I love this dress in the summer--it's knit and comfortable and cool. It was nice to wear it over a shirt and not to have to worry about it gaping and showing off the girls too much.

That's my perennial problem with tops: If they're long enough and fit through the middle, they are made for much more...well-endowed women than I. Other women have problems with their busts popping out of too-small tops. I have a problem where the tops just gape open because there's not enough to fill them.


Anyway. I love this look on other people, but I'm not sure it does me a lot of favors. I would ask your opinion if I could actually be bothered to take better photos, but so far the phone camera and the dusty mirror are it (I lack a tripod and also the motivation to ever upload pictures from my normal camera).

I could, I suppose, at least dust the mirror.

Anyway. On Anne at The Modern Mrs. Darcy's recommendation, I recently bought Tiny Twig's e-book The No-Brainer Wardrobe. I've been scanning through it and I'm excited to actually whip my wardrobe into shape and put together some nice outfits and and and.


I think I'm trying to do too much. I've been cooking like a fifties housewife, doggedly cleaning and organizing the house every day, working out four to five times a week, reading two books a week, at some point still going to work and choir practices and meetings, and it seems like I never get around to the gardening tasks I need to be doing if I'm going to justify the fact that I spent eighty dollars on seeds and another seventy-five on supplies, not to mention an hour expanding the darn thing, and the prospect of fencing in the new bit looms large.

I am trying to clean and organize my trainwreck of a house, have a magnificent vegetable garden, cook every meal from scratch, and figure out a polished and shiny-fun wardrobe?

It's just not going to happen.

Not all at once, anyway.

And I've actually been pretty good about chopping things down into little pieces and just doing a tiny bit every day (yesterday I cleaned my microwave! And the day before that, the range hood!), but I've added too much to the to-do list and a) it's getting overwhelming and b) one of my Major Important Goals for the year (the garden) is getting neglected.

All that to say, I'll keep trying to hit my goal of one nifty outfit a week, and I'll keep trying to cook at least three meals a week, and I'll keep trying to work fifteen minutes on the house every day...but hopefully you'll be seeing some gardening progress posts soon, and those tasks need to come before the fun fashion stuff.

Ugh. Being a grownup is hard.

Also I have a miserable chest cold and my lungs feel like they're on fire and I would be tempted to see a doctor about that if I had $25 and a boss who would let me off work. Oh well. Hot tea FTW.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I am shy.

If you've been wandering around the IntArwebz lately, you've probably noticed a quiet little hubbub going on about introversion.

Susan Cain has released a book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking. Adam McHugh has a blog and a book on introverts in the church.

I haven't read either book, though I do read McHugh's blog. He has a lot of good things to say, and from the interviews with Cain and the reviews of her books that I've read, she does as well.

(I will admit that I think the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod is a more introverted denomination than the traditions McHugh comes from, so sometimes his stuff confuses me. I just don't get that "extroverts are better" vibe at my own church.)

With all this publicity surrounding introversion, however, the same comment keeps cropping up. Take this statement from an interview with Cain on NPR:
"Now, shyness, on the other hand, is about a fear of negative social judgment. So you can be introverted without having that particular fear at all, and you can be shy but also be an extrovert."
Only recently have I come to realize that shyness and introversion are truly different things.

And that, moreover, I am both introverted and shy.

Apparently the heart-clenching paralysis I feel when facing human interaction--whether it's calling to make a doctor's appointment or going to a party--is not introversion.

Apparently, being around people can make you tired without you being terrified of being around people.

The problem with all of this introvert publicity--and let me say that I don't think it's a bad thing, that Cain and McHugh have important messages that they convey articulately--is that, while it normalizes introversion, it has made me acutely aware of how abnormal shyness is.

That is, so often people, as Cain does in the interview excerpt above, leap to say, "Introversion is okay; it's normal and wonderful and just different from extraversion. It's not, heaven forbid, shyness."

And while I know that's not the message they're intending to convey (I don't think) sure makes me feel miserable.

It just emphasizes that other people aren't like me. Other people can call up a dentist and make an appointment without agonizing over the process for weeks--and they can cancel a subsequent appointment because they don't like the dentist, instead of continuing to go because she's so afraid of having the dentist and his employees dislike her.

Other people can take clothes in to a consignment shop and get money for them instead of sheepishly dumping them in the donation bin, all the while freaking out about the people driving by who obviously are judging her.

Other people can speak in class when not called on and meet friends' eyes when speaking to them.

(Other people have Real Life friends.)

Sigh. This sounds mopey and self-pitying. To a degree, that's because it is. But to a degree, it's not.

If it's not normal, maybe it's something I can change. If it's not normal, maybe it's something I can overcome.

Probably not. Not completely, anyway. But maybe if I do some of these common tasks often enough, reminding myself that other people don't panic about them because there's no reason to panic, maybe, eventually, I'll stop panicking.

Or maybe I'll die of a heart attack before I'm thirty. Either way.

I am cooking up a storm: Candied Bacon.

So I made candied bacon for the Super Bowl party. I also made caramel corn, and updated the recipe.

Then the DDH and I made chocolate caramel corn last night.

Geez Louise, I need to stop this dessert nonsense before I weigh three hundred pounds.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I am dressed (don't ask much more of me)!

Seriously, guys, it's the first day of February and the high's supposed to be 67. I think it hit 72 yesterday.


I dutifully managed a skirt outfit this week:

I got this skirt when I was in high school. It's the other skirt my grandma bought me at Express (I mentioned the first one here).

I like it, but I wouldn't wear it without tights to work. Heh.

In other news, I need to stop making cookie dough three nights a week or I will stop being able to fit into all these clothes.