Saturday, December 15, 2012

When a thought of war comes, oppose it by a stronger thought of peace

Around noon yesterday I saw an offhanded post about 'another school shooting,' a few down, a friend from my early childhood posted 'Oh my God...Lord please be with Sandy Hook Elementary. I can't even fathom the severity of this tragedy.' It was at this point that I turned on CNN and the tears started rolling down my cheeks. If the tragedy alone wasn't bad enough, it happened 15 minutes away from where I lived as a small child. I called my mom and bawled on the phone with her, asking how anyone could commit such an act of evil.

Weeks ago I had planned to go down to DC to see a concert featuring Munirih Sparrow and Gustav Besungu. The tour is called from Canada to Cameroon, and features this amazing mix of traditional Cameroon drumming and song, with Munirih's soulful folksy voice. Gustav is an incredible drum player, I could listen all day. I can't wait to break out his CD I bought.

More than a year ago I randomly clicked on an ad on Facebook advertising a 'Baha'i musician.' From there I found Munirih, and started listening to her music, which I just loved. Her voice is just incredible! I also loved that I was able to talk to her on Facebook, and when she was touring last year, emailed people trying to get her locations for house parties. Sadly, I had what I will refer to as 'the plague' and couldn't go. This year, I didn't want to let the somber mood prevent me from going to the concert, and when Munirih posted a message that said that it was, 'all the more reason to gather with strangers and be peaceful,' I knew I was going. Not knowing anything about the musician or the Baha'i faith, one of my college buddies who lives in the area agreed to meet me there.

The Coffy Cafe, where the concert was held is this adorable cafe in the hugely renovated area of Columbia Heights. I used to tutor around the corner, before the entire area exploded with growth, and gentrification. It was a surreal experience stepping off of the metro and being surrounded by all of these new buildings. The cafe was adorable decorated in 60's 'mod' style motif, offering coffee and crepes of all things. When I got there, Munirih and Gustav were there with open arms, and we chatted as I inhaled a crepe. It was good, I was hungry. I stopped inhaling long enough for a quick photo op. I'm not sure why I look so terrified in this picture though...

One of the first songs that she played was this heartbreaking song of prayer. "I am not of the Lost" is a song written from the perspective of a child that has died and gone to heaven and is comforting it's mother. She recorded this video yesterday, either before or after the concert, actually.

The night was incredible, and as much as I wanted to write some glowing review last night, I needed time to process the experience. The concert was a group of people singing, and gathering together with the shared goal of peace and faith. What a powerful way to combat the fate and divisiveness that we see every day. After the concert, and the necessary CD signings, my friend and I went in search of dinner (for me) and tennis shoes (for her). Luckily, thanks to all of the new construction we found both a sports store, and an IHOP within half a block of each other.
From Canada to Cameroon
IHOP seems to be the restaurant of choice to pour your heart out over sub-par pancakes and coffee. My friend, Rasa and I talked for a long time. I told her about all of the growth and discovery I've made over the last few years, and how I'd love to write about it, but it's hard to write down. We talked about our loves, our fears, our dreams, who we are and who we want to be. We talked about racism, prejudice, faith and religion. It was open, honest and powerful. It was a conversation without ego and facades, and it was inspiring. It was a reminder that friendship isn't about seeing someone every day, but about having a true, open and honest connection with them. 

I was reminded of the hope and love in the world. I was reminded of the peace that so many people want and consciously live with the goal of achieving that peace. My spirit was refreshed and my burden lightened. On the way home, I listened to my CD and cried for the victims and the loss their family's are experiencing. I prayed for them, for all of us. Then I got home, crawled into bed with my husband and hugged him just a little closer because I was once again reminded of the fragility of human life, and how fleeting it really is.

If you are interested in more of Munirih's music, check it out here.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Adventures with Galette

Growing up, my mom would always make us completely clean the kitchen before we started cooking. It annoyed the crap out of me, but rests on the sound principle that you want to have a clean and cleared space to cook.  Fast forward to now, and every time my kitchen is completely clean, I get this irresistible urge to cook or bake.  When I'm done with those projects, any desire to clean my kitchen has worn off though...leading to my only have a completely cleaned kitchen for short periods of time between my cooking adventures.

Yesterday, my adventures lead me to peruse my much loved Joy of Cooking book looking for something tasty but not difficult to make, and I came across a recipe for apple galette. It was perfect! I was staring at 12 granny smith apples that I'd purchased from Costco in retribution for the apples I bought to make pies that were too soft (all purpose my ass) but now I had no pies to make...or did I?

A galette can be many things, and stuffed full of whatever you want.  An idea of making or having one was planting in my head after seeing these amazing "pies" in Oregon with my mother in law. They had a weird name I couldn't pronounce, and thick yummy crusts that were folded over the fruits in the middle, and were created free form, without a pie pan.  They didn't have a top crust either and they look...amazing.  I'd seen galette's before, but it didn't occur to me until I was standing in my kitchen with leftover pie crust, an over abundance of apples and a cookbook to try to make it.  This one...was easier than pie (haha literally..it was easier than making pie!).  If you look up pictures of them, you can see a million different designs and beautiful ways that people organize the fruits.  I tried, but until I can cut things in a more uniform way...it wasn't happening.

I'm going to post the recipe from the Joy of Cooking, and then talk about the changes that I made (good and bad!)


Ingredients
1/2 recipe Deluxe Butter Flaky Pastry Dough (basically one 10'' pie crust and I totally cheated and used a leftover one from Thanksgiving)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon sugar
2 large firm apples, such as Golden Delicious (I used Granny Smith and they were perfect!)
3 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon (my book said 1/4, and I loooove cinnamon so I probably used almost twice that.)
Preparation
This is a bit like pizza, with thinly sliced apples on a buttery crust.
Prepare:
Deluxe Butter Flaky Pastry Dough (or pull out your trusty Pillsbury and roll it according to directions)
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. 
On a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil (I used a silcone baking mat that nothing will stick to, mostly so I didn't drop the galette) , roll the dough into an 11- to 12-inch round. Pick up the edges of the paper and transfer with the dough to a baking sheet. Melt and cool to lukewarm:
   unsalted butter
   Brush a thin coat of butter over the pastry, reserving the rest. Sprinkle the pastry with:
   sugar
   Peel, core, and slice 1/8-inch thick firm apples, such as Golden Delicious

Leaving bare a 1-inch border at the edge, arrange the apple slices in slightly overlapping concentric rings on the pastry. Fold the border of the dough over the edge of the apples. Brush or drizzle all but about 2 teaspoons of the remaining melted butter over the apples. Combine, then sprinkle over the apples:
sugar, ground cinnamon

Bake until the pastry begins to color, 15 to 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. and bake until the pastry is golden brown and sounds crisp when poked with a skewer, 20 to 30 minutes more. Set the pan on a rack, brush the apples with the remaining butter, and let cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. The galette is best served the day it is made.  

notes:
1. So...I have no idea how thick 1/8'' in, so I went as thin as I could cut...and did NOT know how many slices that I would end up with. Next time, I'm checking out a ruler first.
2. You brush the entire pastry with butter basically 3 times. This pastry is already pretty much nothing but a fat, flour and water so adding MORE butter to it is a bit excessive, and frankly unnecessary. You CAN taste that last brushing as you bite into it, but I hate that greasy feeling that many pastries have from excessive amounts of fats.
3. This recipe only uses 2 apples (I saw another calling for 2 POUNDS of apples), so you aren't going to get that heaping galette you've seen in magazines.
4. You could probably reduce the sugar by half and see no change at all, or add some nutmeg or all spice. I really liked the simple flavors though.
5. When this is cooking watch it! Mine did not take as long as they said it would.
6. I wouldn't use tin foil or parchment paper. I would destroy this thing if I did. I have awesome silicone mats courtesy of my mother in law, and I slid it on and off a cooking sheet to put it in and out of the oven. After I took it off, I slid it onto a cooking rack.

My husband came wondering in after I pulled it out of the oven. I think he has this sense for when yummy food is going to be available for him to consume and he just 'magically' appears.  I mentioned to him that we probably needed to eat the entire thing today, and he drooled happily.  I wasn't sure I would like the apples cooked and exposed to the air, that they might be dry, but I was so so wrong. I took a bite, and was transferred to a land of sweet cooked apples baked in cinnamon and sugar and a crisp crust melting in my mouth. I need to mention that I love apples in a dessert.  Take me anywhere and I will order the apple dessert if given a chance. This thing....was probably better than my pie.  Maybe it's that there is less crust to contend with, or perhaps it is because the flavors, with only butter, apple, sugar and cinnamon are more simple and easy to deal with than adding in nutmeg and cloves and all spice.  Either way, it's pretty out of this world and we both agreed that we actually like it more than pie.

What cooking adventures have you been up to? I really need to make some smoothies and use a butternut squash that is sitting on the top of my fridge, taunting me.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sensational Saturday

Last weekend, the day before I had a big swap of my own, we got up early to go to a 'geeky yard sale.' I didn't really know what was being offered, but say the word geek and my husband is dragging me out of bed to get there extra early.  It was...awesome. We scored some amazing stuff, including the PERFECT nightstand for my bed. I wish she had two but one is better than the blue storage totes I've been using for two years.  Anyways, we also met some awesome new geeky people who invited us to a game day yesterday...where much awesomeness ensued.
And we shall play them all...mwahahaha....

Apparently everyone brought Doritos, except for us because we got these two events confused and dropped off the brownies for today's event...yesterday.  (Doritos and Mt. Dew are apparently the perfect geek food, although I prefer the one below...) Who can spot the stabby man?  



Oh cheesepuffs...so long have you been removed from my existence  yet my love for you remains.  

Hilarious game about killing everyone else. Too bad I can't remember the name...


And I would write more but we are off to Oktoberfest with the same group of people. I'm hoping that more games will happen, because I've never seen my hubby quite so content. He was like a well fed cat, survey his domicile, as he looked over at a group of 11 of us arguing over who was the spy.  Today I'm rocking this shirt, also pictured on me here.
On an unrealted note, the Blogger ap you can download for your phone is absolute crap. It crashed while I was writing and every single damn time I attempted to upload a picture.  I'm really not a huge fan Blogger in general, but I liked that I could link my stuff with my Google account and post to Facebook and the such. What's your experience with blogging platforms? What are your plans on a cold and rainy October day?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Day One...Listening to the Silence

My husband and I get into these impassioned discussions about our future and what we need to achieve our goals.  Usually, it's just talking but yesterday we decided that we really needed to do something, however small to show our dedication towards self improvement.  I talked a really good game about how we should give up something that we really like 'for the greater' good of being more productive, and being more present in everything that we do.  So...I gave up TV, if my husband would give up video games and I woke up this morning to a heart drawn on a piece of paper to remind me of this fact.
there is a heart drawn on that paper--if you look closely!

Let me tell you about my TV viewing habits. I record quite a few shows and almost never 'watch' them. I listen to them while I crochet, clean, cook, chat and play on facebook.  I don't have the TV on all of the time, but I do have it on too much.  I think it's one of them rebel things from when I was a kid and my parents exercised extreme control over our television viewage. I like having background noise, and the radio reception for NPR is awful in our house. I was trying to think of something that I could give up that would be in some way equal to his video games, that I might learn something from giving up for a week.

I am engaged in a constant battle with my husband over how much time he spends playing video games. Actually on the flipside of that, he thinks that watching TV is mindless brain rot since you aren't interacting with the environment. So in the end, we both think that we are rotting our brains.  We have so much to do though, and are always feeling overwhelmed with our responsibilities, and planning for the future.  Something needed to give.  So I came up with this idea that we give up something that we like, something that means something to us, and instead engage more actively and fully in everything that we do.  We tend to do so much with our brains in one place, and our bodies in another, and I wanted to see how well we could come back to the present and be present in our daily activities.  Most of my cooking 'mistakes' are because I listen to audiobooks and get lost in the story and don't realize that I'm using phyllo dough instead of puff pastry, or that bread without salt tastes like air, or that you need to spray the damn pans first.  Actually...now that I'm thinking...I believe that all of my cooking mistakes are when I'm distracted, and I think in our lives today, we are all distracted.  We are thinking about everything that is going on all of the time, and don't know how to resolve it, or turn it off.  I'm so guilty of this. I read mindless fluff most of the time (I wholeheartedly admit) because it allows my brain to turn off for a period.

How will I deal with the quiet? I hate listening to the fridge make noise, and my computer sound like it's on it's last legs because it really needs to have the fan blown out. Well, I can try online radio (that has nothing to do with the election!), and I can get audiobooks, which frankly, help me to be more productive anyways because I can move around with them on.  I can also get used to the silence again.  Stop always filling the silence with more noise, stop running away from my thoughts, and see what I learn.

My goals for this week include getting ready for my second swap event on Sunday, clean my house, work on my blog and learn about personal finance and savings. It sort of hit me recently that you don't just magically know about finance and other 'adult' things, you have to be open to learning about them.  Why did it take me so long to figure out that out?

My husband's current google status is, "new status message - Day 1/7 without video games. It's going to be a loooooong week.   10:25 AM"

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Saturday Mornings

Saturday mornings are a beautiful blessing.  I love waking up before my husband, and snuggling up to him. Listening to his relaxed breathing.  I woke up this morning with a kitty on my feet, which was a nice treat, and just laid in bed for awhile playing a game on my phone and slowly waking up, thinking of the adventures that were to come for the day. Somehow I managed to convince my husband to make me breakfast (although I'm still not sure how that happened) and he proceeded to made me this glorious breakfast of  eggs with veggies, sweet potato hash browns and mashed avocado.  The cats were having their own lazy morning...

 
Saturday morning nap while their people eat

Henry wondered why we wanted to take pictures

Newton was...sleepy
 Newton's favorite place in the world is any open bag. It can be a grocery bag, a box on the floor, my luggage, duffle, purse etc.  He loves them all.  I was attempting to pack an overnight bag, and ended up, instead, packing a cat.  Luckily I didn't need this bag in the end, so he got to hang out there until I left the room (and he, of course) followed.
Have a beautiful weekend!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Survival Tips for Traveling and Living with the Color Blind

We just got home from vacation and vacation posts are long overdue. However...I really needed to write this  funny survival guide that has been bouncing around my head for years now.

My husband is color blind, or more exactly, color deficient. He can see just fine.  He can see colors too, but he can't always tell the differences between colors. He does not just see 50 Shades of Grey! And yes, more than one person has asked him that. They test for colorblindness in schools these days, but apparently not in 70's since he didn't learn that he was colorblind until he joined the Navy.  Since my trip made me realize how little the average person knows about colorblindness, I suggest that everyone read this ammmazing book by Oliver Sachs called The Island of the Colorblind which is about a Micronesian island of Pingelap where there are people who are completely colorblind (called achromatopsia), and do see the world in shades of grey.  This is actually a serious condition that comes with a lot of difficulties (including incredible light sensitivity and difficulty focusing your eyes) and is incredibly rare. It is really a fascinating read, and taught us so much.  If nothing else, click on the link and read the editorial reviews to get some understanding of the condition.

When we first met and he explained his colorblindness, we came across this website (go there now or this will make no sense to you!) showing pictures of how someone with color deficiency sees things verses what I see. It really was eye opening (no pun intended) because without looking very very hard at the pictures, they all looked the same to him, but incredibly different to me.  On one level, it made me profoundly sad that he would never see the deep green saturation of the green grass with bright red flowers, that he has no idea what color my eyes are (even if he says they are the most beautiful he's ever seen), and that I had to learn to cook meat (more on that), but he sees things in a way I'd never imagined because he has had to create coping mechanisms to deal with this disability.

When looking at a green tree that most people would say, "Oh look a pretty green tree," he sees the shades of green as distinct 'colors' and analyses the parts of the whole.  In computer programming terms (cause I'm cool and geeky like that), we look at the object as a whole, while he is analyzes the individual classes that make up the object.  He has created some really interesting techniques for overcoming his color blindness, but like being left handed, society hasn't adapted many techniques that would make it easier for colorblind people to fully interact with their environments.

I joke with my husband that I need to write a survival guide for living with the colorblind...so here it is. Everything in this list has happened to us, and funny things keep happening as we forget that we see things just a little different.  These differences have made us stronger as a couple, more understanding of differences, and made me a better cook.   Enjoy, and comment with your own stories!

Found here


When traveling or living with the colorblind:

1. Do not ask them to read a Google map with traffic overlays of red (stopped) yellow (slow) and green (normal) because they can't see the red and green any different than the background color, and  just wonder why there are occasional gaps in traffic (the yellow).  First he was confused, then he got really grouchy when he realized a program was written relying wholly on color.

2. Do not get them addicted to any game that involves matching color for speed...like Bejeweled.  It's sort of sad to watch him play, because he has to do it entirely by the shape and it takes forever.

3. Do not ask them what they 'don't understand about a warm pink center' when they once again overcook your steak. THEY CAN'T SEE PINK.  (This one took about a year for me to realize).

4. Don't ask them what they can't see...duh, they can't see it! People ask him this all the time.

5. If they are red/green color deficient (like my husband) Don't ask them "how can you drive, since traffic lights are red and green?" The lights are in the same place each time, and they look at the light placement, not the color! When playing Rock Band he doesn't look at the colors of the buttons that come up either, but rather the placement.

6. Don't look at them sadly and tell them what they are missing.  You will get punched, and deserve it. I deserve to be punched. He didn't know what he was missing until I pointed it out.

7. Don't ask them to drive in the city where the traffic lights are on the sides of the road. It's a mean mean trick since they look like tail lights.

8. Don't ask them if they see everything in grey...seriously, people.

9. Don't buy socks in multiple colors (brown, dark blue, black) and laugh when they can't match their socks correctly...it's mean.  Don't question why they have 10 shirts of the same brand in varying colors and 5 pairs of neutral pants. It just makes getting dressed easier. Also, if a shirt stains their underarms...please tell them, because they'll never be able to see it.

10. Don't ask them to do the laundry if there is anything red in it.  They can, and will manage to dye all of your clothing pink.  When my husband was in the Navy, he once had dress 'pinks' instead of whites.  I think they had a hard time actually punishing him for something that he literally couldn't see.

11. Don't point out that the color that they've worn for the last decade and love and thought was blue...is actually purple.  Finding this out involved a rather embarrassing exchange over cat collars in a pet store two years ago.  I thought it was awesome that he liked purple (my favorite color) so it broke my heart a little to realize he had such a hard time telling it apart from blue.

12. Don't highlight your hair red and feel sad when they can't see it.  Or wonder why they like goth makeup or bright pink stripes in hair. It's what they can easily see.  In bright light, he can see my highlights, but normally it's a no go.

13. Don't take them peach picking where the COLOR (pale pink/yellowish) is the determination of whether or not to pink the fruit.  While my husband did wonderfully at this, it was slow, annoying and incredibly difficult for him to determine which were ripe enough to pick.

14. Don't let them go through the leftover paint to fix spots on walls unless the color variant is very large.  It won't end well if you have pale colored walls.

15. Don't be vain about your blue eyes.  When you ask the man that you love what color your eyes are, he'll answer with "I don't know, but they are the most beautiful green...blue...grey.. I've ever seen," with a note of panic in their eyes. That...was humbling.

Do:

1. Ask them to describe how they see something. "What colors do you see in the sunset?"

2. Do ask them to explain why two colors look different! People who aren't colorblind won't really have an answer for this. Colors just look...different. He can tell you exactly what color is missing to make something a little different because he has to work at it.

3. Buy a meat thermometer.  This has saved my marriage, and dinner on so many occasions.

4. Dye/highlight your hair for yourself, not your spouses approval.

5. Paint your toenails so bright and happy colors, he'll appreciate it.  By bright, I mean red and aquamarine. Not some shiny pale pink. He can't see that at all.

6. Do all of the laundry, it avoids awkward conversations later about why all of your white face cloths are now pink.

7. Continue to make games with 'color blind' settings that change the colors of the pieces into ones more easily seen by people with color deficiencies (there are many different types of colorblindness!)

8. Learn! Learn about what colorblindness is, and put yourself in someone else's shoes for a day.

9. Gently (not patronizingly) attempt to explain what colors YOU see things as. An example would be the cat collar; "I see this one as more purple because there is more red in it, this is more blue."

10. Understand that 'shades' of colors are really hard to see differences and pale colors are impossible to make out.

I've learned a lot about colorblindness throughout my marriage, and will continue to learn more.  It's a really interesting topic and one that constantly challenges us to put ourselves in someone else's shoes.  Are you colorblind? What experiences have you had? Do you have any more do's and don't's to add to the list?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Saving Power, Making Yums!


It worked! The hottest month on record and we saved close to $40 on our power bill!  My husband rigged up a cloths line in the basement which we still haven't perfected but it did help.  I also did laundry less, ran the dishwasher less and (embarrassing admission) cooked less. Okay, the cooking less wasn't intentional, I think it was more that I was busy and didn't make it a priority. I also turned the AC up, and didn't accept being cold all of the time. I felt sort of bad for my husband who probably sweat more than he wanted to this month, but I did offer to buy him a fan and he didn't complain much. I also would make it a habit to turn the AC up during the day when he wasn't home.  After getting our bill, I went downstairs and asked my husband if the last month's efforts had been trying for him.He said it wasn't hard, and that we could do more--then I told him how much we'd saved. We had a moment. I believe this is the beginning of a cheaper power bill trend.

Moving on from the power bill, I had a fun adventure in cooking the other night.  See, I had put a chicken in the fridge to defrost because we seriously need to eat the stuff in our freezer, plus I thought it would be nice to have roasted chicken with potatoes and carrots made for my hubby when he got home.  I can't do this every night because he'll get spoiled but occasionally? It still impresses him.

After preparing the chicken, cutting up veggies and fresh spices, I slathered the sucker in chicken. Why you ask? Well because for the life of me, I couldn't get under the skin to put it there...and we all know that butter is like the duct tape of cooking--it fixes many errors.  I'm not sure I ever want to 'prepare a chicken' again though.  Pulling the gimlets and unrecognizable nasties out from the cavity made me want to yack all over the chicken and forced me to almost not be able to eat it at all.  I think that in the future, someone else needs to clean the chicken, I can do the rest of it! Anyways--after that adventure, I realized that I had never actually roasted a chicken before.  I've cooked chicken and seen many a chicken roasted but never been the one in charge of making sure that we didn't get salmonella. First I tried to find a recipe on-line, and learned about tressing the bird.  I didn't have kitchen twine though, so I improvised by pulling out my sewing kit and using white thread.  It was either that or cut down my glass ball that has been tied up with kitchen twine for 5 years because I've never gotten around to using the correct thread.  I think I made the right decision, although I didn't tie up the wings.

At this point...I decided to call my mother.  I really should have just opened my own copy of the joy of cooking, b/c that's what she did, but first she thoroughly confused me.  She told me about tilting it on it's side to cook it? Well, I had heard of people turning their chickens upside down to cook the dark meat first, followed by the white meat, so I gave it a half assed try.  I sorta propped the sucker up with the potatoes, stuck it in the oven for 25 minutes. After that time was up, the hubby was home and offered to flip the bird...and almost managed to drop it on the floor, and stuck it back in the oven for another half an hour. After I stuck a thermometer in several parts of it's body and it registered 165 (can't be too safe...right?) I forced us to retreat for the requisite 15 minutes so I couldn't steal (more) nibbles of the perfectly roasted potatoes.  Now--my issue with cooking the chicken was that I couldn't find a recipe that cooked the potatoes and veggies in the same pan, so I was worried about everything finishing at the same time.   It seemed to work really well though because the potatoes got this yummy crunchy crust on them and were delicious. My husband was dipping them in ketchup.

Uncooked bird--notice all the butter?

Hellooooo yummy!  Come to mama


  All in all an adventure, but I think my husband is going to request roast chicken a lot more.  Well...except that he tossed the pan it was cooking in. I guess that the bottom pan was rusting...Oh well.  Maybe I'll replace it with this one...although these suckers are pricey!

The other night we had some awesome friends over, and I made a peach, blackberry crumble. It was divineeee.  I basically used the peach/cherry recipe that I found in this Moosewood cookbook, but left out the nuts.  If you don't own it, you should. I am expecting to make lots of yummy food from this book.  I'm not sure how to note that we just sorta snacked on the peaches as we were cutting them up though. I didn't have a 9'' square pan, so I made it in a 9.5'' pie pan! It worked really well, and tasted incredible.

Did I mention that I took up guitar? Well that's going to be my next blog post.  We are gearing up to go on vacation and I'm looking forward to seeing family that I haven't seen in awhile, and finally getting to introduce my husband to my extended family.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I've got the Power...bill

Our electricity/gas bill is ridiculous. That's the only way to explain the almost 300 dollar bill that we just paid. Ridiculous. No only is it ridiculous, but wasteful seeing how much of our electricity still comes from coal and not renewable resources.

My husband suffers from hypothyroidism, which is probably the reason that he's CONSTANTLY hot. He'd be happy in a t-shirt in 40 degree weather. The fact that he now has to wear a coat in winter (when I'm completely bundled up and chattering) or that he is capable of getting cold, is a new concept for him. I sympathize with his plight of hotness, but he keeps our AC at 72 (okay, I've managed to push it up to 74) all the time and I'm COLD. It is NOT right to be cold and wearing a sweatshirt when it's 100 degrees outside. I think it is training his body to never get used to adapting to heat, and making me more susceptible to getting ill.

We do try to save energy though. For example, when we moved into this house, the first thing that we did was change all of the bulbs to florescent bulbs. My hubs likes them, and I like the idea of saving money. The ones that they have now that are less 'white' and don't make my head hurt. Also, they don't take forever to warm up either. I used to have nightmares about walking into rooms, flicking the switch and having it be really dim. Something bad was in the room but I wasn't going to be able to see it until the freaking fluorescent light warmed the heck up! Yeah, wasn't a fan.

Moving on...I get that we pay a premium for having the AC on but what is that premium?
Let's check out my bill:

Customer charge: 7.50
EmPower MD charge 4.00
Distribution Charge 54.19
RSP(wtf?)/Misc. charges that I'm pretty sure they make up 9.42
wait...I'm paying 75.11 before we even get to the electricity that we used? Are you freaking kidding me? My parent's electric bill isn't even that much in total! Okay..then we move onto the actual electricity that we used, which is about $194. This includes me turning up the AC 3-4 degrees most days when my husband leaves for work. It also however reflects that the temperature was above 85 degrees for 195 hours this last month.

So what the heck am I going to do to lower this bill? We already closed off vents in rooms we aren't using, but it doens't seem to have made a difference (nor do those rooms even get hot). I turn up the AC when the hot one isn't home, and I think actually I'll buy him a fan and keep the AC up more. I can help him with cooling devices like our neck coolers, cool clothings and air flow. This is better than the AC being up super high anyways! We change our filter constantly, but we do need to check out cleaning the coils. We aren't going to sign up for electricity cycling--it's my husband's worst nightmare, so please don't suggest it. Once we take AC out of the equation, what is left?

I decided to check out the other electricty busting appliances...like the dryer. This puppy uses 4400 watts vs the fridge which uses 57-160 watts. The dishwasher uses 1200 watts, but if you don't heat the water, only 200. So I decided to cut down on using both. When I was growing up, we always had a cloths line. We would take our stuff out, hope it didn't fall on the ground or get bugs on it, and hated using crunchy towels. Now, apparently in an attempt to see it's effect on my electricity bill, I am going back to crunchy towel town.

In the last year I stopped drying half of my clothing in the dryer anyways because I was sick of my shirts shrinking up (not getting too small, just too short!), and when I recently bought a bunch of new clothing realized that I'd been blast heat drying most of my stuff, most of my life. The 'normal' setting is medium...NOT high. Yeah, this explains the holes in clothing and why they never lasted long, right? My dad gave some suggestions on where and how to hang a line, and I put in a request that one be put up in the basement. We live next to misquito breeding ground, and it's so insanely muggy here lately that nothing would dry outside (not to mention the HOA probably could care less about the environmental impact of a cloths line and just see it as impacting the quality of their cookie-cutter houses. We need to buy better line, but the one thinner line he managed to hang between two bookcases across our basement worked well enough to dry about half of a load of towels. I did throw the rest of them into the dryer on 'air only' because they were SOAKED (I'm not sure our washer spins them enough) AND I had no where to hang them. My bedroom has been the defacto place to hang stuff lately, so I'll hang up the shirts on hangers, and put them spaced around the room (on doors etc) to dry, then lay flat other stuff on the drying rack, blanket rack, ironing board and elliptical (see I'm using the workout equiptment). I'm also running the dishwasher less, re-using/better about washing dishes between uses and reusing instead of grabbing new dishes and making my husband put a kill-o-watt thing on his computers to show how much power they are sucking while he's at work not using them. I'm also unplugging more stuff, and being better about turning off lights.

What is your power bill (will you share?) and what have you done that has been effective in lowering it? What do you keep your AC setting on? Am I working for the greater good of helping preserve resources, or simply making life more difficult?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Rainy Day Musings


It's one of those type of days where Dylan playing Blowing in the Wind seems to just hit the spot in your contemplative mood.  


It's been rainy here, a blessing since the heirloom tomato plants that my lovely friend brought over are happily taking off, glad to stretch their roots down into a new pot of soil, rather than the cramped planter they were previously confined in.

I haven't written a lot lately, and I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because I feel like I have to finish a 'story'...come to some conclusion or resolution in order to finish a blog post. I've begun a ton of posts--and for some reason just can't find the gumption to finish them.

My husband is off playing board games with his friends, and I decided that I wanted to stay home. I think I had some grandiose idea that I would cook and clean but that's only gone so far as making some potstickers, and waffles to freeze for breakfast. I've noticed an absence of enough vegetables in my life, and a predilection to only like cooking carbie foods and I really need to remedy that.  Last night, in an ill-fated 'adventure' I attempted to find my 'limit' on how much cake frosting I could eat before I'd get a headache. The answer was...far less than I'd like.  Did I stop? Not really. I managed to curb how much cake I consumed but continued to nibble on the frosting. I'm paying today with a headache, and hung over feeling most of the day.

Still, it's amazing to see how far I've come in the last 15 months.  When I went to the doctor and found out why I wasn't getting pregnant easily, she gave me this laundry list of things to do. A list that I didn't think I'd be able to complete, even as I nodded my head in mute agreement.  It seems now like I'm well on my way to making those things happen. It's encouraging and yet daily I question if I even want kids now.  If I want to deal with the lack of sleep, the noise, the stress.  Yet, I know if I found out that I was pregnant tomorrow, I would push these fears into the back of my head and be ecstatic.  When people ask why I don't have kids, and I attempt to explain, as quickly as possible about the PCOS, after the pitying noises, it seems like they more often than not immediately ask if we'd considered adoption.  This bothers me.  While I have nothing against the idea of adoption, we haven't been married THAT long, I'm not damned to infertility, and what do you know about adoption or our desire or ability to do so? Frankly, the idea of having my life and financials picked over by a stranger for them to decide if I would be a fit parent, while some 16 year old gets knocked up the first go around infuriates me.  I am constantly thanking an unseen deity for the time that my husband and I have together in blessful quiet, save for the cries of Henry being attacked by a playful catnip infused Newton.  Not having kids right now isn't the worst thing in the world, and I wonder how many of those pitious looking people are quietly wishing they could swap places.

I think I've figured out why I don't write much anymore. I used to love writing, love sharing and love having an attachment to this blog. Having it was part of my identity but lately, it seems like one more thing that I haven't caught up with.  It seems like one more way that I could say something out of place and piss someone else off because if nothing else, I'm damn good at accidentally pissing people off. It seems like one more way to remind me of my lack of close friends or direction in life.  I feel like I've been dropped in a pool and everyone else is swimming laps and I'm sorta messily treading water, maybe doggy paddling as Olympians breast stroke around me.  What the heck do I know about life, marriage, or parenthood?  One of the saddest things about becoming an adult is realizing that you don't wake up one day knowing everything you need to know, or having definitive direction in your life.  Childhood brings you up to see this idealized version of being an adult that exists only in a child's mind.

As I wrote above, I don't blog much about my experiences anymore because I don't want to offend anyone.  I'm contemplating starting a second blog where I can just write about all the crap that bothers me, but it seems like it would be all negative and nothing positive.  In the end, all I want is the negativity out of my life, and happiness, peace and positivity in.  I feel like I've entered a state of contemplation in my life.  I needed to find my passion again. What touches my soul? Before college my immediate answer would be music. Music was always that 'thing' for me, but when I left high school and weekly flute lessons that disappeared.  A few weeks ago I attended a Baha'i summer school and got to learn from this amazing musician JB Eckl. I listened and meditated on the music, the prayers and realized that that passion with music needed to be reignited in my life.  I listened to so much guitar music that weekend and decided I want to take up guitar.  I've always wanted to play a stringed instrument but hadn't really had an opportunity to until now.  Small hands and all, I will persevere.

I need consistency in my life. It has never been my strong point, or my husbands and that is becoming a serious issue.  Be it consistency in working out, taking medicine every day, eating correctly every day...I suck at it.  It is my goal to work on this consistency, and incorporate my playing guitar, eating well, writing in this blog etc. into that desire to have consistency.  Oh yes, and positivity...because my natural tendency is to gripe and complain (yes, I do acknowledge this) but by looking at the positive side of situations, you can usually be more productive and happy in the long run.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The choice to live, or not.

 The choice to live or the choice to die is something many of us have no say in.  When is it okay to say “I’m done” because your quality of life, is not a livable life.   

Currently, I’m in Oregon visiting my in laws.  The day before I got here my mother in law sent me an email with the sad news that their 17 year old cat (inherited after my sister in law passed away 3 years ago)  was dying from kidney failure. Summer had three cats, and Lightning will be the second to pass away.  Lightning (lighnin’ as we call her) is a spunky white cat, who used to chronically steal food, lick the butter if you forgot to cover it, perch on you daintily as you slept, and is a cat who has lead a life of service.   To understand this life of service you have to understand the mysterious myriad of illnesses that surrounded my sister in law, that eventually lead to her death, a death that taught us about what quality of life really means. 

Here is a long story from the NYTimes about Summer’s life, that you can read at your leisure.  Lightning is the white cat standing looking out a window.  In the magazine there were more pictures, and Ms. Lightning managed to push her furry head into all of them!  Read the article, or at least part of it because the abridged paragraph below doesn’t do her story any justice at all. 


Summer was a mystery that no doctor could figure out.  The time that I spent with her was when she was selected to come to the NIH (National Institute of Health) to be poked, prodded and written about.  They couldn’t cure her, but hoped that the knowledge that they could gain from studying her, might help others down the line.  She lived in chronic pain, knowing that these illnesses would eventually end her life. She was on dialysis, mobility issues, lost one eye, but she never lost her spirit.  People in chronic pain develop this biting wit and sarcasm as a defense mechanism, but from what I know of Summer that’s just how she was.  Strangely, with all of the undiagnosed diseases that Summer had, her cats seemed in some way to take them on.  Lightning occasionally had a seizure when she was younger, like Summer did and even had a touchy digestive system.    

Summer taught us about quality, or lack of quality of life.  In the end, she started bleeding, and they didn’t know where the blood came from or how to stop it. They gave her blood, and more blood and more and finally she said, ‘enough is enough.’ What is the point of being alive, when you aren’t living, stuck in a hospital bleeding out the blood that I just had injected.  What type of life do I have hooked up to these machines, incapable of doing anything more than lying here waiting for death?  She she made a choice. She chose to die.  She chose to have all her friends over to give away all her earthly possessions and tell them good-bye.  Our last conversation with her was on our wedding day (June 22) and the last thing she said before bye, was “I’ve got to go, the cat is eating my avocado!” Two days later, she passed away. On her own terms, in her own house, surrounded by family and friends. 

Lightning is 17 years old.  She’s an old cat that was the constantly companion to Summer. She hates being picked up because Summer couldn’t pick up the cats, so she never got used to being held like that. A recent vet visit determined that she was in the late stages of kidney failure, an inevitability in cats of advanced age, and the vet suggested subcutaneous saline injections. So home my father in law and the cat came, laden with a large bag of saline fluid, needles and tubing. While injections on a healthy cat with fat on it’s bones might be easy, it’s extremely difficult to ‘tent’ skin on a skinny dehydrated cat.  Let’s just say the first injection was both traumatic, probably not terribly effective and the last time we did it.  Instead when the time came to do the injection again, we decided that we would let her go on her own terms and that the trauma of the injection wasn’t worth the few days of benefit that she might gain from the injection. 

While she hadn’t been eating, she seemed to really like the small crumbles of turkey I gave her the night I arrived, so it was an issue of finding out what she could and would eat.  Actually, I only thought to feed her turkey because Newton is obsessed with smelling my food but never eats people food, and she seemed to want to both smell and eat my food.  The important thing though was that water. We started offering her water hourly in a bowl, where she was laying (rather than having to get up), and she started drinking. MY MIL ground up some cat food, added warm water and the gravy from it, and she started lapping that up.  I even suggested she get a ‘ride’ over to the litter box, and she greatly appreciated that as well.  

Lightning hasn’t given up. She will die, but she has chosen to hang on. Maybe she wants to make it until Summer’s birthday on 6/12, or the date that she passed away on 6/24, but either way she’s with us now.  She slept with me last night, which warmed my heart because the past times I visited she slept with me the entire trip.  Her quality of life isn’t bad. She’s not in pain, she’s just tired.  Similarly, Summer fought through the exhaustion,  lack of appetite, and failing kidneys until she was able to make a choice to say that enough is enough.  We can’t cure her, we can’t fix her, but we can let her make the choice of when to give up, and she’s not ready to.  

Not many people go on vacation to take people to cataract surgery (that’s in a couple of hours) or do home hospice for a cat, but I don’t mind. I didn’t think Lightning would last until this visit, and the idea of being there when my mother in law can see clearly with both eyes (without glasses) for the first time in her life,  are amazing memories that I will hold dear.  

Friday, June 1, 2012

Death

Death seems to be a prominent feature in this year, and I am not liking it at all.  Mere months ago my childhood best friend lost her mother and weeks later her father.  Their passing as a hit to me, not only because of the pivotal role they played in my childhood, but because they weren't that old.  I never felt like I 'grew-up' yet here I am, looking mortality in it's face.  I don't think that death is malevolent, but a necessity, for without death we can't have life.  This book really changed how I look at death. Yes, it's fiction and fantasy but it is also a powerful examination of the inevitable.

Anyone that follows me on facebook saw that my grandfather passed away yesterday.  I didn't know him well but I would like to share what I did know. It is going to be rough, and spotty and not necessarily completely accurate. It's from my memory, without calling family to back up the facts.


See, I didn't know him well. It's hard to mourn someone you barely knew, but it still hurts.  Leonard Stamper, otherwise known as Pete, was from Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  His mother's name was Lee Ilya and she was a 6 foot tall red head.  I'm giving her name for my first daughter, because from the time I heard it, I knew I loved that name. My grandfather and grandmother divorced when my mother was young. Their relationship was tumultuous and certainly not monogamous, as my mother discovered in her 40's that she was named after a woman he met in a bar. My family likes to keep it classy.

My mom remembers sitting on his shoulders as a little girl, but I didn't meet him in person until I was in college. In high school I got mail from him. I guess my mom talked to him about my liking to collect quarters, and one of his hobbies was collecting coins.  I received a box in the mail, and it had some proof sets of the quarters that had been minted that year.  These coins are the only gift I ever received from him, and I thank him for fostering a love of coin collecting in me.  My collection is tiny, mostly still the things that he sent me, and I value it highly.

I met him over a summer vacation from college. My brother came upstairs and woke me up saying something about a strange man yelling at the door. My parents weren't home at the time and I was confused as to a. why there was some strange man at the door and b. why the hell my brother wouldn't take care of it. I managed to pull myself out of bed and head downstairs to figure out what the hell was going on.  He had a red truck, and drove straight up from TX to Ohio to bring my mom a box of pictures. Family history. My mom loves to study history and geneology and it's fitting that he gave them to her.  In my sleep fogged brain, I couldn't figure out what he was yelling. Actually..it was probably his damn accent, but he was yelling "auuuuuuuuuuud?! Auuuuuuuuuuuuud?!" one of the only people allowed to call my mom that, and not get kicked.

My grandfather was a Southern man through and through.  He was so Southern, it oozed out of him.  His accent was so thick you could cut it with a knife, and talking to him on the phone was almost impossible.  Talking to him was like talking to a southern stereotype, and I had a damn hard time not laughing at him. Oh, who am I joking, I totally did.
 One thing I hated about my grandfather, was his racism.  I deplore racism, and perhaps one of the reasons that my mother was so vehement about teaching us about the evils of racism was because of her father. He was a Korean War POW, and perhaps that experience had some part in his racism, but I really think it was just growing up in the segregated South and being too stubborn to care or change.  When we were looking through the pictures that he brought us, he said something and used the n-word. I had literally never heard someone drop a racial slur like that, and without thinking about it, blurted out something along the lines of "we don't use that language in this house, and if you want to you can leave!" I took him (and myself) by surprise and he apologized and said, "that was just what we called people back then" and he knew it wasn't right.  You would think that my parents would be angry that I spoke to an elder like that, but my mom still tells this story. I think she was glowing with the pride that I stood up for something that she impressed so strongly into us.

The next time I saw him was my cousin's wedding. I don't think it was the same summer, but it very well may have been. I remember asking if he'd seen my grandmother, and he commented that he hadn't seen her in (trying to do math in my head....) 40? years. I was walking next to him, and pointed her out to him. He grunted in approval and commented that "she held up pretty well over the years." Is that a Southern compliment?

He died of lung cancer. Smoking cigarettes for half a century (plus) can and will kill you.  He battled this disease for most of the last decade, and it finally took him. I truly believe that he came to see us years ago because he thought it was going to die then, and he needed to make peace before he left this world.  In the last decade, he managed to make peace with his daughters and foster some sort of relationship with all of them.  He finished what he set out to do, and it was okay for him to go.  He had a DNR. He wanted his passing to be just that, not a tug to stay on this plane of existence, but an acceptance that death will take us all.  

In a weird twist of fate, my wonderful friend's father passed away yesterday and we had a long discussion last night and I was mourning his passing only to wake up this morning and find out that my grandfather had passed away.  It has been a strange, and a bit surreal of an experience.

Today my 5 year college reunion starts, followed by Slumber Parties training, work, a party and finally my trip to Oregon.  Hopefully I can write more there, but until then I bid you adieu and leave you with this prayer:

Omy God!  O Thou forgiver of sins, bestower of gifts, dispeller of afflictions! 
Verily, I beseech thee to forgive the sins of such as have abandoned the physical garment and have ascended to the spiritual world. 
O my Lord!  Purify them from trespasses, dispel their sorrows, and change their darkness into light.  Cause them to enter the garden of happiness, cleanse them with the most pure water, and grant them to behold Thy splendors on the loftiest mount.

Abdu’l-Bahá

Saturday, May 19, 2012

I may need a new post office


Having a business that I more or less run out of my home, means that I’m running to the post office frequently for stamps, or to ship orders out to people.  That means that the guy (ironically named “Guy”) that works behind the desk has become familiar with my face. Usually there is a big line behind me and I don’t ever get to have small small talk with him without feeling the razor gaze of the poor person behind me that wishes I would hurry the hell up. The extent of our conversation up to this point was my assurances that there was no liquids, fragile or hazardous materials in my packages, and that I would like the “love or celebration stamps, please.”   Yesterday, about an hour before they closed,  I ran over to ship 5 padded envelopes to ship from my last party. This time the post office was miraculously empty, and I said something to Guy about seeing me often to which he responded, “What do you sell anyways?”…

Enter awkward silence for a moment. Not that I’m not embarrassed in any way about what I sell, or what I do, Latino men in their mid-50's aren’t exactly my target audience, so I go for broke and say, “sex toys more or less. I’m a consultant with Slumber Parties so I sell sex toys, but also lotions and candles and such. Most of these are candles and lotions.”  I think he may have swallowed his tongue at this point, and eye contact is now in short supply.  He picks up a package, squeezes it and says “well…I know what’s in here!” I think for a second, actually trying to remember what had been put in that package, and respond, “Actually that’s just a packing bubble to even out the package. All that is in there is a candle, good try though.”  He makes a noise in his throat that I interpreted to mean, “yeah right, I know you’re shipping dildos, but whatever!”  Our conversation more or less stops at this point as someone else comes into the room. 

So, now my postman will be feeling up my packages and trying to guess what’s in them, and very obviously laughing his ass off at me after I leave. I think that I may actually have made his afternoon. I’ll give him my business card next time I’m in there, see how he reacts. That will be amusing. Either that…or find a new post office.  

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sunshine and Salaams


It was a beautiful day for a walk. I met a friend in the parking lot and set out around the lake.  Coming down a hill we saw a man walking and my friend pointed out that he looked like he was wearing PJ's. I commented that it was probably a thobe, and then saw that he had prayer beads.  I explained what they were, and as we walked by said "Salaam aleykum" to him.  The man, an African man, probably in his 30's was dressed in a thobe, matching pants, and a kufi, with a large string of prayer beads in his right hand (think of Catholic nuns and their super sized rosaries that we thought were cool as kids).   He smiled and responded "wa aleykum salaam" and I turned back to my conversation. 

Down the bend there was a bridge, and a mother goose with goslings. Canadian geese are a pain in the ass, but even annoying water fowl have beautiful fluffy babies, so we stopped to coo over them.  I had forgotten about the man I spoke to earlier until he caught up with me and asked me how I knew Arabic, and if I’d been to Africa before. I told him that, no I hadn’t been to Africa but was Muslim in college, but no longer considered myself Muslim. I also attempted to explain that, while I still search for my faith but don't necessarily feel the need to be constrained by labels.  He asked if he could say a du'ah (prayer) for me, and in a whisper prayed for me quickly in Arabic.  My friend, who is white, probably hasn't spent much time around Muslims and frankly, doesn't know me very well yet, didn't know if this guy was propositioning me, or doing something to make me uncomfortable, and quietly asked if we wanted to continue our walk. I held up a hand to ask her to hold on until she was done. When the man finished, I said thank you, and we continued on our walk. I explained to her that he was saying a prayer for me, and that talking about religion with strangers doesn't really bother me at all. 

Normally, I would never have said anything but I must have been intoxicated on sunshine, fresh air and the cool breeze.  I felt compelled to talk to him, not to show off my mad Arabic skills (cause I don't have them anymore), but perhaps like my niqabi friends that like to buck stereotypes and Rollerblade in niqabs, I want to be the person that isn’t afraid to talk to people just because they look different.  Everyone has something to offer, and I don’t want to miss an opportunity to see what they have to teach me.  Also, I lived in fear of judgement from others for so long. The fear that I was too Muslim for the culture I lived in and not Muslim enough for the culture and community that I was trying to enter. I put restrictions on myself, that others weren’t imposing, and today I realized this. I didn’t know this man, and will probably never see him again, I had nothing to prove to him, but two little words, “salaam aleykum” brightened up both of our days. 

It was truly a beautiful day for a walk. We couldn’t have asked for better weather and I’m four pounds away from some badly needed new clothing.  I'm happy for a new found friend that is going to make me walk off of the pounds around our area's beautiful lakes, and for the don't give a damn attitude that people thought I had, but I've really just developed.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

5 years of my life I will actually remember!

My mom had surgery yesterday, and thankfully it seems like she is on the road to recovery.  I was awaken this morning by a phone call from her, and was so happy to hear her sound like herself.  However, being woken up with a phone call lead to me forgetting to take my medicine and later finding myself sprawled on the couch wondering why I barely had the motivation to blind, let alone get any work done. Luckily I realized that I'd forgotten my medicine but I still feel like crap. Does anyone else get instantly and insanely addicted to caffeine? I do. I can drink 2 sodas one day and feel like I have a 8 shot tequila on an empty stomach hangover the next day. What...the...hell!  I hate it. Please pause for me to go make tea because I'm sick of my head spinning.

Okay moving on.  Last year I met this lovely flight attendant whom my husband decided was the coolest girl like EVER after she did the safety speech for him. Oh yes, she did.  Anyways, this fabulous lady had a journal. It's the Q& A a day 5 year journal and when I saw it I knew I needed it. I love writing, I love keeping records but I suck at maintaining routines, which means that I have tons of half filled notebooks.   This journal has guided questions and 4 lines to answer, with space for 5 years worth of answers. I knew I needed this thing, and she promised it to me for my birthday but when she went to the store they didn't have it (and apparently I was too lazy to look it up on amazon like I just did for you). Anyways, a couple of weeks ago, after watching the Newies (oh yeah, the only school Disney one!) and drooling over baby Christian Bale for awhile, she pulled my own awesome journal out of her bag annnnd of course I had to start writing! Note that she made me wait until after I'd watched the entire movie.  

Sunday, April 29, 2012

My Weight Loss Journey check in...I've lost how much?

There is a show on TLC currently called “My 600lb Life” that has struck a note with me. It follows around 4 different people that had gastric bypass surgery for almost a decade to see what happened after the surgery. It isn’t a before and after shot, but an in depth view of the struggles and the triumphs that they face.  This show inevitably makes me cry every time I watch it.  I had it on my DVR for weeks before I could.  This show is hard to watch.  The journey of being 600 pounds isn’t easy, and the weight loss isn’t easy either. People develop addictions to food for a reason, and it’s a hard hard job to face those addictions, admit to them, and then struggle to stay on top of them. 

The reason that that show is hard to watch, is the same reason that I started this blog.  It resounds so closely to my own battle, and my own constant fear of uncontrolled weight gain.  I started this blog after a discussion with my college friend Benita.  I had been thinking seriously about getting some sort of bariatric surgery to help me lose weight.  At 300 pounds, getting to anything with a 1 in the front of it seemed like an impossible task.  This was about the same time I had an aunt that I’m close to (and resemble in body type) have gastric bypass and lose an amazing amount of weight,  feeling like she had energy and the ability to live for the first time in a long time.  Maybe it was laziness, maybe fear, or maybe damn stubborn persistence that I could lose this weight, that I never went through with the surgery. I'm still not sure, and commend those that were able to make that decision and have lost huge amounts of weight.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

You sell what? *gasp*


It has been far too long. It’s been far too long since I sat at a screen, wrote down my feelings and shared them with the world.  I take pictures, I script out blogs in my head, but my lazy distracted self has failed in blogging lately.  One of the reasons is that it’s really hard to just shoot off fast posts. I have to sit, and ponder and then percolate, and eventually genius ends up on the screen. Just kidding about the genius, but I don’t want you to read anything stream of conscious from me. If you think I get distracted by sparklies in conversations, my writing is worse. I write in paragraphs and then somehow make things sort of fit together. Sort of…see, I’m trying.  Plus, if I don’t at least make a cursory attempt a editing, my husband…judges.  

So my life has been taken up by sex toys, and it’s been difficult for me to figure out exactly what level of hilarious but not necessarily ‘safe for work’ detail I should go into on here.  For example, should I tell the story of how my husband managed to hurt is back ‘lifting a crate of dildos,’ or how I almost shot a ‘sleeve’ across a room while practicing for my demo, or how I fed a parrot a wiener. Actually that last one has nothing to do with sex toys, but it was fun!  So my life, if I thought it was reality TV worthy before, only got better when mixed with gratuitous amounts of lubrication, laughter and my own…lets go with unique, sense of humor. 

I guess I should write here more because someone other than me, and my husband should be in on these adventures.  For example, yesterday I was having lunch with some new women from one of my meetup groups, and they asked what I did.  They were intrigued and we were discussing my company, toys, sexuality and the whole gauntlet of topics.  After awhile one of my friends had to leave, so I turned on the seat to talk to the remaining person at the booth and glanced at the computer the guys in the booth behind us had.  On the screen was a picture of a bloody thorned ‘crown’ as I hear this guy passionately discuss how the thorns in the crown they forced Jesus to wear were 3 inches long.  Apparently I missed the Bibles the dudes were carrying when they sat behind us and began attempting to convert a fellow hipster.  Funny, the guy they were trying to convert was sitting with his back to me, and I’m almost certain he heard…everything that I said. And for the record, I wasn’t at all embarrassed. 

I love to study religion, and spend a huge amount of my time and energy learning about my faith.  I however am sick of ‘religious’ people that  straight out judged me and my character because of what they presume I do.  Yes, I sell sex toys… and lingerie…and lotions… and massage oils…and great products and great opportunities. What I don’t sell are the poor life choices, infidelity and immorality that their judgement charges me with.  What I do isn’t dirty. What is dirty is societies perception of people that use my products.  I say this now, and I will say it again—there is NOTHING wrong with have a fulfilling sexual relationship with your spouse (or partner because I’m not discriminating).  There is nothing in the Bible against finding your spouse attractive, and trying to be attractive for them.  There is an entire book in the Bible extolling the virtues of finding your spouse beautiful, and desirous.  There is nothing in the Qu’ran against having a healthy sex life. Heck, the hadith actually had requirements on how often men were required to ‘visit’ their wives based on their jobs, and advised lots of foreplay.  No, I’m not digging out quotes.  If you don’t believe me, I will thought.  Please just believe me. I’m lazy.

Starting a business has glaringly brought back into the forefront of my life, my inability to deal with stress.  I have serious difficulty filing things in order of necessity, or priority without first freaking out about feeling like I have a million things to do and no time.  I had a really really hard time in the beginning, feeling like I needed to shove as much knowledge into my head as could possibly fit. When I started having dreams about sending out invitations, and organizing and learning my demo, I realized that I realllllly needed to take a step back.  The crying and fighting with my husband weren’t worth it at all.  It wasn’t until I told myself that it was okay not to be the best immediately that I sort of allowed myself to relax a little. I still am freaked out…I’m worried that I’m having an open house this weekend and no one will come, but then I have to remind myself that I can only do what is in my control. 

That in mind, I’ll clean my house, I’ll make cookies, I’ll ENJOY myself, and I’ll let something be out of my control, because I’ve had an iron grip on that control for so long that my hands have cramps. It’s time to let them relax.  

Okay..brain dump here readers—answer these questions and get a prize.  Okay you won’t get a prize but I’ll write more;).

Who has read 50 Shades of Grey? Am I the only person that didn’t like it? Well…me and the 400 ppl on Amazon that said that they didn’t like it. 

Anyone else feel an incessant need to move their furniture at least once a month? I move my living room furniture constantly. 

Recipes—any new ones?  I just threw some quinoa, veggies and chicken together for lunch and it was tolerable…I may even go so far as saying it was good. 

Time management…what is that? 

Sleepy? I am, so I’m going to bed now.  

Sunday, April 8, 2012

DIY Nasal Saline Rinse Solution

I hab a cold (said in most pitiful of voices). I always seem to have colds or some sort of congestion between being around kids, and having sinuses that are chronically swollen. People have been telling me for years about how much I need to do nasal rinses, and while I did them sporadically, I've only recently started to do them regularly.  I'm sick of being sick, and  if they help keep me from getting horrible sinus infections that are having to be treated monthly with antibiotics, I'm willing to shoot pressurized water up my nose.

For the record they AREN'T sinus rinses. You do NOT rinse your sinuses, but rather your nasal passages. If we could rinse our sinuses we would get mondo infections because anything we inhaled could get in them.  This little disclaimer was brought to you by my old ENT who got verrry annoyed when people talked about how wonderful sinus rinses were.  

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Not ignoring you!

Or rather...I'm sort of ignoring everything right now. I have my debut Slumber Party on Tuesday and then two other parties already booked, and I'm ... going a little crazy trying to get everything planned. It would help if I would just sit down and write my notes instead of reading all the books, cleaning my house, getting distracted with anything and everything and being worried that I'd wing it.  Four years of Speech Team taught me that I'm an excellent improv speaker, but those were 5 minute speeches, not 90 minute presentations.  must...get...this...done!

I'm not entirely sure what my husband thinks of our kitchen table being covered in demo 'toys' but he hasn't complained yet.  I think he is intrigued.  I am hoping to book more parties off of the three I have coming up and then work from there.  I swear I have non-toy related recipes, and updates to make when life is a little calmer!

eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!
back to work.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My grocery dilemma...

My husband and I have a grocery budget. Or at least we are supposed to. Sadly, the hundreds of dollars that we blow at Costco every month on God knows what, don't seem to be a part of that budget, and yet we were still spending them.  So after realizing that we were pretty low in cash this pay period (thank you medical bills!) I decided we didn't really need to go shopping for two weeks.  I made smoothies out of old fruit, we ate pasta, the sauce my dad canned this summer, all our veggies, meat from the freezer, and more stuff from the freezer, and ate at our friend's houses, and tonight I might have picked up dinner. Okay, so no, we didn't not buy food for two weeks, we just didn't use our shopping budget, we had to use our own fundage if we wanted anything extra.  It seemed to work except that I've been trying to make a meal plan for the last 4 days and I'm stuck.  I'm not really sure why.  My brain is sort of in a muddle as I contemplate what foods I should buy. We desperately need  fresh veggies and fruits. At this point all we've got are some leeks I bought for soup that we ate the potatoes for a week ago. The husband cleared us out of smoothies, any milk products, anything with the word juice in it, and any snacks I shoved his direction.  Tonight he was dying to open our last bottle of Martinelli's Apple cider (that I wisely hid in the pantry and forgot about), and I offered to make him lemonade instead. I heated up some water, poured a bunch of True Lemon in it, and squirted some honey in. He said, "I don't like it, but I can deal." Eh, I'll take it.  I wasn't trying very hard to impress him.

Please note that we still have food in the house, and if it weren't for my need for ketchup (still can't find mine--whoever stole it is going to hell because taking my ketchup is a sick sick joke!) and nail polish remover (they won't be used together!) I would probably attempt to avoid going to the store this week either. I find though that I'm doing a craptastic job of being all domestic like and cooking lately and my other half isn't really a fan of dinner duty. 

Instead of that shopping list which is still avoiding being written, I'll just post some recipes that I'm excited to make. Maybe I'll feel motivated, or maybe I'll spend 5 hours on pinterest and get nothing done.  

1. Paleo Pumpkin Walnut Muffins

Yumm...these look good. I've got all of the ingredients, even after not grocery shopping in weeks. Once again, if it weren't for that damn ketchup, I just wouldn't go! I'm leaving the walnuts out though since neither of us can eat them. 

2. Spinach Bites
This is from my friend's blog and they are amazing. How do I know this? Because the perk of babysitting for her daughter was getting to taste test these puppies. I detest boiled, steamed, cooked spinach.  The first time my grandmother gave it to me, I spit it back out on her.  No joke -- sorry grandma! These things are nothing like that boiled mess though.  The spices and potato give them great texture and flavor, while baking them gives them an awesome crunch. There is no overwhelming spinach flavor unless (I think) you make them super thick.  Think of them as a healthy green french fry thingy.  Just do it, and you'll thank me me later.  Spinach is our friend! Popeye had it right, even if I thought he was lying for most of my life. 

3. Sweet Butternut Squash mash yumminess (yes, my super professional chef name!)
Please for the love of God, just buy it pre-peeled and cut! Save your fingers...or in this case mine. Actually the real issue is that butternut squash, while I love it, lasts for-ever. So I just let it sit and think about how I want to eat it...for months.  If I buy it already cut, it's got a pretty clear expiration date, and I actually will EAT it.  Is that cheating?  You can judge me while I'm eating my butternut squash mash with a teeny bit of brown sugar and cinnamon and nutmeg. Judge away, but I'm not sharing.

4. Anything on this page
specifically these: http://www.multiplydelicious.com/thefood/2012/02/moroccan-meatballs-with-citrus-glazed-carrots/ which will be gracing my kitchen after I do a spice inventory tomorrow morning. 
This website isn't strictly paleo but she's got a paleo section that looks amazing.  
I would love to do the paleo diet and give up all (or most) grains, legumes, and dairy. I already know dairy and I had a love affair that needed to end.  My bronchial tubes thanked me for that, and I figured out the cause of my decade long headaches.  Grains are a hard one though. I don't doubt that cutting them out would make a difference in my health and weight loss. It's just hard, and I don't need people who are already drinking the kool-aid to harass me unless they want to get slapped. 

I like the idea of the paleo diet except for a few sticking points-I don't eat pork and can't make myself eat most fish.  This means that I'm missing out on the, seemingly vital food group: Bacon. Ugh...sorry guys, I can't do it.  I can't even stand turkey bacon anymore. It just grosses me out.  I'm pretty sure I'm allergic to walnuts (hence leaving them out of the above recipe) and raw almonds and I may have a tenuous relationship. My husband can't have any soy or walnuts (thyroid issues), just to complicate matters.  I'm figuring out how my stomach and mouth react and deal with raw food and meats. Most of my life, I stayed away from meat because it gave me stomachaches.  I'm not sure I really have a problem with incorporating more beans into my diet either. I know that more veggies is basically the answer though. I'm figuring out the root causes of my dietary issues, and experimenting with different foods. Please...give me some time. If you don't, I've already warned you about smacking potential.  

On another note, I've decided to torture Newton by tying his stick toy (hot pink b/c that's how my man rolls) so it hangs, feather down, into the cat house that my dad made him.  Now, instead of just perching on the top most perch and sleeping like the prince he is, he's getting into the house, balancing on the back scratching post and go crazzzzzzzy playing with it. It's...hilarious fun to watch and I'm pretty sure he's enjoying himself. If you guys need more pictures of Newton...just ask. Since everyone knows that I anthropomorphize my cats since I don't have kids, I have pictures a plenty. It's not my fault he so freaking fluffy you want to squish him to death, and that Henry has the most amazing anime eyes ever.  

Anywho, off to attempt to sleep next to a freight train that call himself my husband.  If he knew how often I kicked him in his sleep, he'd probably stop talking to me for awhile.  And since he's going to read this, I might add in looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooove you baby :)