Sunday, August 31, 2008

Thoughts on Friendship

But first, some totally shameless self-promotion. Check out thelift. It's our relatively new modern worship service, and if you click on the 8/24 service, you can hear the trio that I'm a part of singing the Doxology acapella. We're about six minutes into it, but there's an AWESOME Coldplay song at the beginning that they did very well. I wouldn't normally do that, but it did end up sounding pretty nice, so I wanted to share:)

I've always struggled with making good friends. All too often, I've let myself get caught up in the trap of befriending people who need a "complaining partner," or basing friendship on the mutual desire to gossip. And I've learned, at least twice in very unceremonious ways, that those friendships are the most dangerous. You should not expect the people to whom you complain and gossip to refrain from doing the same with others, revealing what you have said to the world. I've learned over the past seven or eight years that it's better 1) not to say things that you wouldn't want people to know you said and 2)own up to things you've said that are unflattering. In the long run, it's better to leave a situation with a clean conscience, even if it is painful and humiliating for you. It's far better to be able to sleep at night than to worry that what you've said about others may be revealed eventually...

At any rate, over the past few years, I've had true friends come into my life, and I am so grateful. Our band did a concert at my home church tonight, and one of my friends, Katie, from FBCIT came along just because. Honestly, it just made me realize how grateful I am to have "true-blue" friends these days, ones who honestly care about me and ones about whom I honestly care. They are really worth more than money can buy (which is good since we have so little!). I hate that it's been such a painful journey to get here, but I don't think I would change it, honestly. I don't think I would change a thing.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Yawning, Stretching, Chores, Psycho Kitty

That's my morning. Joey and I stayed up late last night; recording fell through because one of our band members' mother is very ill and he had to go be with her. We'll have to reschedule. But, it gave Joey and me a chance to go spend some time with his parents last night; we got to see their newly-remodeled bathroom that now looks like a spa oasis. It's absolutely gorgeous. I'm enjoying the thought of being a graduate student in January. I'm finally ready, I think. I wasn't five years ago when I was supposed to start at Baylor.

I've been reading a ton lately. Thus far, I've finished Boundaries, A Complaint Free World, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and I'm reading The Beet Queen and Blue Like Jazz. I feel as though I've gained something from each of them and it feels so good to put something worthwhile in my brain again. It's funny how quickly we let ourselves go when we don't have a reason to push ourselves.

So, I'm doing a shift this moring because it's the end of the month and we need to be available to try to get some more business done, and I'm chilling online until noon. I'll fold the giant laundry monument that Shelli has claimed as her lair and will probably work on picking up the floor and the kitchen today. I may start getting some stuff ready for a future yard sale next month as I really want to purge some more "stuff" and pare down to essentials.

I'm in the process of brainstorming some Sustainability/Frugality goals for September; be on the lookout for an update there. And, I'm shooting to finish my shirt this weekend. Wish me luck in learning how to seam!!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Quick Update!

I don't really feel like posting a full blog, but it's been a pretty good week. I received my acceptance letter from ECU yesterday, so I'm in! Also, the band is going to record a song tonight, so yay for that!

More tomorrow when I'll have a relaxing day:) Love to all!

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Case of the Mondays

Blah. I hate having a case of the Mondays:(. Nothing particularly bad happened...I was just in a weird mood this morning at work (not because of anything at work) and never managed to shake it. I had these great plans of baking bread and making some mock-tuna casserole (recipe found at Chile Chews, which, by the way, is an excellent blog chock-full of great recipes, tips, and insights that got me through my Monday today!!), but I think I'm going to have to put it off until tomorrow or Wednesday.

I think that part of my feeling weird is because I think God's really working on something, and the "growing-into-it" phase always hurts and feels weird. I wish I would hear back from ECU already. I wish that God would give me a clearer vision than "just pray a lot and work on being more consistent." I know that I need to stop asking questions and just do what I'm being told, but I don't work very well that way, truth be told.

Joey and I were discussing the idea of consistency yesterday. After an excellent experience at our church's "modern worship"service, The Lift, we were thinking about our generation and what needs to be done to effectively reach them. I broke down a little yesterday because I'm still struggling with meshing my views on environmentalism and conservation and my faith which calls us to be primarily people-focused (although I do hold that, while we all are called to evangelism, some are called to care for Creation also). Anyway, Joey brought up the point that we spend so much time compartmentalizing our lives that I naturally get worried about the whole.."this is what I believe about religion," and "this is what I believe about the environment." He suggested that I focus on the whole, on being consistently the same wherever I am, that the "work" me should be the same as "church" me and "home" me, and naturally those views would probably gel a little more. I think that we all feel like we have to fit in exactly with what our church thinks (or what the prevailing view of our denomination is) and it causes us a good bit of grief when we come upon an issue wherein our natural leaning differs with our traditional "institutional belief structure."

I apologize if this all sounds like nonsensical rambling. Honestly, I'm trying to work this all out myself. So, what I've settled on for now is that God wants me to work on my consistency, on having the very same level of personal holiness at work that I display outwardly at church. I figure that once I get that in order a little better, maybe I'll be able to see what's coming or at least what the next step is.

I finished Prisoner of Azkaban last night, and I plan on finishing A Complaint Free World tonight. I was going to finish it today at lunch, but I had the opportunity to go to the Dollar Tree, which is hard to refuse;). Tomorrow at lunch, I plan to start Blue Like Jazz, which I've been wanting to read for a while but Joey hasn't finished it yet. At this point, I think his reading list is pretty full with everything he's doing for the PhD.

No blog should be without a Shelli pic, so I leave you with her first experience with "El Gato Muy Loco" catnip...

She's winking at you....

Friday, August 22, 2008

Lessons Learned...Unfortunate Lessons...

I learned an unfortunate lesson yesterday:

1. If you throw a potholder at Shelli, she will believe it to be a big scary monster

2. If you pick Shelli up and take her over to the potholder, she will any means necessary.

Was I pissed? Definitely. Was it my own fault? Absolutely. Joey told me that she spent most of the day thinking that every inanimate object was a big scary monster. I gave the cat PTSD.

Tonight, I started teaching my friend Katie to knit...I know, it's the blind leading the blind. But at least I can show her to cast on, knit, purl, and bind off. Then, once I learn other stuff, I can teach her that too:). While she was practicing her knit stitch, I knit along and started this cute little swatch on a whim...

I think I'm going to keep going with it and seeing what kind of scarf it may become.

And, in keeping with the "more toward whole foods" movement, I had a very tasty dinner full of fresh produce:

I used:

  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 roma tomato, diced
  • a few handfulls of fresh baby spinach
  • a sprinkle of parmesan cheese
  • a bowl of (cooked) whole wheat penne

I sauteed the onion, tomato, and spinach in a pan with olive oil and some garlic powder. I also put a little leftover marinara sauce on the pasta to use it up, but I probably won't do that next time. The tomatoes were so fresh and wonderful!

And while I'm thinking about it, I found this blog today. It's a GREAT read. This is what I aspire to have....a yard full of vegetables and chicken poop.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Eating Whole Foods

Reading these sustainability blogs is killing me, mostly because I'm so jealous that I don't have a yard full of "edible landscaping" to use in my meals or to put away for winter. Since I likely won't be able to do any of that on a large scale until next year (although I think I will try to plant some things in pots while it's still warm here in NC), I have decided to move toward eating more whole foods and eating more simply. I also want to start trying to buy local when I can afford it. Unfortunately, that probably won't be very often right now as we've got to focus so much on frugality right now.
Since I was feeling "whole food-ish" tonight, I made a cold rice salad that was SUPER yummy!

I used:

  • 1 2/3 cup brown rice (cooked)
  • 1/4 cucumber, diced
  • 1 roma tomato, diced
  • a few sprinkles of shredded parmesan
  • a couple of tablespoons of light italian dressing

Just mix and dig in! It was absolutely marvelous, and eventually, I would want to make my own homemade italian dressing and buy some local cheese to use.

Joey and I also walked two miles this evening. We talked and talked (although slightly out of wouldn't have been a workout otherwise). Honestly, I'm loving days like these, where I can come home and go for a liesurely walk and make a fabulous meal and then relax and blog and knit some and read.

I started the back of my tank top!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Goals, Plans, Hopes, Future.

Yesterday, I finished the front of my shirt (or maybe the back; it depends on how much better the other side goes). It's infinitely better than the first cami that I tried to do earlier this summer. And I'm finally starting to get handle on my stitches, so they're much more even. I learned how to join different colors (although that's not entirely even for me yet). All in all, a knitting success thus far! I'm also excited because my church is starting a knitting group ("Twisted Sisters Knit n Lit") which will meet once a month at a coffee shop and work on items for people who need comfort. I'm excited to get to learn from more experienced knitters and have some camraderie with others who have the same love for fiber arts!!

I think I'm going to surpass my reading goal for this month; if I can keep on the same pace I've been keeping, I'll finish two books within the next week or so, Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban and The Artist's Way. I took a brief hiatus from the latter during July because Joey was home from school and I quit doing my morning pages. I also ended up losing hope about writing for a while until I recently began on the road to recovery from my anxiety. I'm going to start the tenth chapter tonight, which, I believe is "Recovering a Sense of Self Protection." It's funny how sometimes you'll receive the same message over and over during a certain time when it seems God's trying to tell you something. Boundaries was also about self-protection, about learning how and when to pull back and how to take responsibility for your own choices, yet not own others' responses to your choices. I'll be excited to see how Julia Cameron treats the topic.

I've been reading more and more of the sustainable living blogs that are out there in "blogland." I found Toward Simplicity this past week and have been reading every word with eager anticipation. This woman can make all kinds of fruit and veggies grow; how fantastic! Check out her blog and pictures. She's also got lots of good thoughts about sustainable living stemming from her own personal journey toward a more simple lifestyle. Reading her blog today really inspired me to take action steps this year toward a more sustainable future. I'm bad about thinking about and planning to do it, but never putting those plans into action.
Shelli entices a small ground creature into her lair...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Happiness is...

Shelli, home, Joey, Mom and Dad, blanket, Simba, The Monkees, pumpkin, spices, baking, Easter eggs, Puss, bedroom, routine, consistency, Halloween, chopsticks, books, Barbara Kingsolver, education, school, nature, animals, writing, reptiles, Ranger Rick, horses, fox bats, MST3K, M*A*S*H, Joseph Conrad, T.S. Eliot, knitting, crochet, yarn, free, sale, thrift, smart, zoo, mountains, beach, vacation, morning, hug, flea market, yard sale, cruise, Waco, TX, tiramisu, Olympics, focus, research, library, Wingate, literature, homemaking, gardening, sustainability, Chinese Food, veggie sushi, Trader Joe's, Thanksgiving, Christmas, snow days, fireplace, Snoopy, Woodstock, turtles, Faith, church, friends, God, Sheresh, Laurainne Snelling, bed, snow, autumn leaves, turkey, Fall Festivals, hayrides, concerts, youth, security, stability, editorials, blogging, photography, Christmas Show, streams, clouds, sunshine, breeze, salsa, peaches, pens, safety, kitties, fall, spring, magazines, road trips, winter, moon, stars, blue, purple, red, orange, Union County, classic rock, predictability, peace, harmony, relaxation, languages, oldies, TV, sweet potatoes, accomplishment, success, love.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Afternoon Ramblings...

I promise that the reign of "pictureless" blogs will end soon. I took some last night at band rehearsal and think that I'll try to take more photographs of my otherwise mundane existence! I'm sitting at the Panera across the street from work right now as it was my half day, but I have to be in Rock Hill at 3 pm, so it made little sense to go back home. A turkey artichoke sandwich later, hopefully, I'm out of the way enough that they won't mind my camping out here until close to 2 pm.

It's been cooler the past few days, definitely not "fall" cool yet, but much more comfortable, nonetheless. I'm able to drive Rhonda without sweltering to death now (because of the lack of AC). I've been giving sustainability even more thought now that my blog was actually added to the APLS Blog Carnival (yay! the first time anyone was actually interested to read what I've written!). During the first of the summer, I became very irritated at our large yard, because it takes so much to mow it, and, try as I might, I just cannot do the reel mower in 90 degree heat *sigh*. I've been poking around on the web, and I think I'm going to start researching the concept of edible landscaping further. We would have less grass to mow, and we'd have much more to put away for winter (and the added bonus: it would be *very* locally grown and I'd know exactly what was used on it). We shall see.

Joey's coming back from Wake Forest today; he's got a German class from 1-4, but will then be back on his way home. Hopefully, he'll be home before 8, but probably not.

There's so much running through my mind that I want to do for the rest of the year. I started a list the other night and was already halfway down the page before I quit writing to go to bed.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Pining Away for Days of Yore

This time of year always leaves me pining away for Wingate; I think it's the combo of the kids going back to school, the "shadows changing" as Joey said to me earlier this week (the earth shifting and days starting to get shorter again), and the weather cooling off a bit, but somehow, I'm always drawn back to those days when sometimes I feel I was at my best. College was the first time that I honestly looked forward to the beginning of each semester. I loved going to buy my books, seeing what novels I would be reading, what different aspect of the Spanish language I would be learning, all of the crisp, fresh (usually used) books. I miss that so much.

I learned so much at Wingate; I honestly feel that I learned from the best, from Dr. Thomas (my English professor who is most near and dear to my heart as I worked as her student assistant for 3 1/2 years) to Dr. Christopher, who made me love Southern Literature, to Dr. Little-Sweat, who helped me write creatively, to Dr. Schuhl who taught me so much about Latin American Literature and Culture, and Dr. Rivera, with whom I worked for an entire summer and got to know very well. I miss them all so much; sometimes it's almost too painful to remember my days at Wingate.

I'm a little sad, because I know that, should I be accepted into ECU, I won't get that same relationship with my professors again. I'll have to do my coursework online, which is infinitely more convenient for me because of my current position (and online is better than not progressing at all), but I won't get that added component of really getting to know the people I'm working with and trying to build a reputation for myself. It will be infinitely harder to build a good reputation from a few hundred miles away. But still, I'm hopeful and excited at the prospect of getting to rejoin the academic community.

I was thinking today about things that I want to do throughout the rest of the year. Here are some of my goals:
  • read another book this month
  • read 3 books in September
  • read 4 books in October
  • learn to knit socks!
  • start planning our future edible landscape (for sustainability!)
  • cook from scratch more
  • be active to become more self-confident
  • do well in Wendee's writing class

I'm sure there were some others, but I really can't remember.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

On Living Sustainably

I am new to the sustainable living movement....very new....meaning that most of my ideas are just that: ideas waiting to be put into action. We bought a home a year ago (intentionally choosing a small house to reduce heating/cooling costs) that's on 3/4 acre of land (planning to have room to grow plenty of food). My first garden attempt last year was an abysmal failure because of a drought in NC, where I'm from. I planned to grow tons of fresh produce and to can and freeze them so that we'd have plenty of food during the winter, so naturally, I was crushed by the slow, agonizing death of every plant in my garden. This year, I couldn't even bear to try as I was afraid that it would just happen again.

My initial failure at developing our sustainability led me to read everything that I possibly could on the topic, and to find a way to reconcile the "process" of getting there" to "becoming the end result." Sustainability, to me, has since become a spiritual and mental shift wherein I reviewed the Bible (as I am a Christian) to reconcile my views with the uber-conservative, "Global warming is all faked by the heathen, pagan scientists who surely hate the concept of God," view, which is pretty prevalent in my area of the country. I began to search online to see what I could find and this is what I've come up with:

1. Sustainability, to me, is how we are called by God to be. God did not give us unrestricted domain over the earth to do exactly what we please and to use its resources however we see fit. We are creations of God, just as this earth and all creatures that dwell upon it are. We are called to be stewards of this earth, to care for it, not to dominate it and destroy it. Part of the shortfall of my faith is the tendency for us to place so much emphasis on ourselves that we overlook the importance of Creation (I'm not using that in a "Creation vs. Evolution" sense) to God as well. A verse in Romans says that Creation itself is waiting to be redeemed, which means to me that spiritually, we are to look at this earth as a gift that we were given and as something that we should work to protect and sustain. This probably isn't a popular view in the conservative church, but through discussions with new friends, I am comfortable with this idea.

2. Sustainability is a change in the way we view the world, in the way we view the things we buy, the drives we make, the food we prepare, the way we entertain ourselves. I used to believe that sustainability meant selling our car and biking to work (which made me feel defeated because I live 17 miles from my job right now), moving to a small condo in the city and having a roof-top garden (which depressed me because I like being on my own land). What I'm growing to understand is that all of those ultimate goals may be good, but I have to do what I can where I am to move forward. Right now, I cannot bike to work. Eventually, I may be able to. I'm working to get my graduate degree so that I can ultimately teach on a college level (as is my husband). If these plans come to fruition, we could potentially live within walking distance of our job. That's what I'm hoping for. For now, I bought my car used for cash, keep it in top running condition, purchased a car that gets over 30 mpg, and coast down hills whenever I can to use less fuel. We keep our thermostat as high as we can comfortably (78 or 79) and keep our natural gas use to a minimum (winters are COLD in our house). I'm purchasing a used bike this weekend so that I can bike to the local grocery store and to friends' houses who live nearby.

Next year, I will likely dust off the gardening gloves again and see what happens. I'm getting a rain barrel from our city so that I can conserve rainwater to use for said potential future garden. I'm cooking from scratch and storing up food so that we can be prepared for whatever happens to the economy.

It also amuses me how sustainability and frugality go hand-in-hand so well. I'm an avid frugalite, both because I have to be right now and because I choose to be. We buy clothes and discretionary items used whenever possible, both to save money and to keep items from going into the landfills. We also THINK about our purchases, about whether we really need them or whether we're just looking to fill a "want" rather than a "need." We're seeking to buy whole food items rather than processed, prepackaged, food-like things. It tastes better when they're cooked from scratch anyway.

To me, sustainability is being willing to go the extra mile, to take the extra time, to give decisions greater thought, and sometimes to make a personal sacrifice to fulfill our duties as good stewards of our own lives and of our surroundings. I'm not there yet, but I'm working on it, moving toward it, and growing little by little into who I hope to be.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Fruitful Evening!

I finally did what I've wanted to do almost every day of the week; I set a plan for myself and I followed through with it. When I got home from work, Joey and I took a very brisk walk around the neighborhood for a little over half an hour. Then, I cooked TWENTY pounds of potatoes. Yes, TWENTY. First, I made potato soup (yum!). Here's my recipe:

  • a crap ton of potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks (we used Yukon Golds)
  • 3 cans of fat free chicken broth
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 2 onions
  • garlic powder
  • salt & pepper
  • milk (your choice. I took powdered milk and made it with twice as much powdered milk as called for)
  • A few instant potato flakes

Boil the potatoes in the broth until tender. At the same time, dice up the celery and onion and saute in a pan until soft. When potatoes are done, use a masher to break them up and make the more soupy. Add the onion/celery mixture and seasonings. Let cook for a little while and then add the milk and a handful of potato flakes to thicken it up. Serve with Cheddar Cheese!

The rest of the potatoes, we roasted in the oven with some olive oil, garlic powder, salt/pepper, and Italian herbs. They'll be very good.

The soup ended up making ten servings, so Joey and I each had one for dinner and I put two in the fridge and froze the other six (in our saved egg-drop soup containers). We will have a few roasted potatoes tonight and then I'll freeze them as well.

ALSO! In addition, I made a SUPER frugal yummy chicken salad today for my lunch at work tomorrow. Here's how I did it!

  • picked the meat off a thigh and drumstick leftover from lunch on Sunday
  • in a tiny chopper (the little one with the button), chop 3 of the inner stalks of the celery and 1 dill pickle spear.
  • Add chicken to chopper and top with some light mayo and deli mustard
  • chop until satisfied with consistency.

I was totally amazed with how good the combo was and I'm totally psyched about my lunch tomorrow and about my FRUGALITY! I did the same with some tuna because I had more celery to use up before it rotted.

Today, I did really well to take care of myself. I ate right, exercised, was productive. That makes me feel like an adult, and I'm glad for that. I also got a LOT done on my knitting this weekend while spending endless hours watching the Olympics.

Oh, and the grad school app has left Charlotte. It will be at ECU tomorrow. I'm awash with relief and scared to death all at the same time.

It was a good day.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Few Thoughts Regarding the Olympics!

1. There is no freakin' way that the Chinese gymnasts are 16. The first girl who got up for the floor exercises looked to be ten years old. Of COURSE their "government-issued" ID's reflect that they turn 16 this year. But I find it a little suspicious that they appear that they should be at home singing along with Barney and Friends. Even the news said to look at them and make our own opinion.

2. America's girls' gymnastic's team has choked already. It'll be interesting to see who vaults themselves out of bounds for the floor exercies and/or tosses themselves off of the uneven bars when the actual medal competition rolls around.

3. Michael Phelps rocks. There's nothing else to say for that one. He's focused, poised, likeable, fast, and impressive.

4. I can't believe how narrow the bike tires were during the ladies' race today. I'm amazed that they could balance on something that thin. And, since America had no prayer of winning, I'm pretty happy with that British girl achieving her dream.

5. The guys' beach volleball team today ROCKED and beat the Netherlands very soundly!

This was a very impressive Olympics day. I'm very sad that I'll have to go to work tomorrow and not be able to watch it all day.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

In a Mood

Yep. I'm in one. No idea why. I don't know if it's because I feel like I've wasted my afternoon (doing largely nothing), or because Joey is starting back to school this week, or because I still need to write my statement of purpose for the grad school app, or because I need to pick out a song to sing next week because I have to have the title in tomorrow (I'll need to use something I've already used before since we're not buying anything new this month).

I have decided that I'm going to check out the yard sales for a bike next weekend. I'm not considering it as part of my consumer celibacy if I buy something that is used and someone would otherwise throw away. That may be wrong, but I'm viewing the fact that I want a bike, and I don't want to spend an outrageous amount of money on something not knowing whether or not I'll want to continue with it or not.

The Olympics have rocked so far. Except for the men's beach volleyball team (I didn't watch the whole match, but while I was watching, they were not doing very well). Right now, I'm watching Day One of men's gymnastics, which has definitely been exciting.

I have knitted and knitted this afternoon; I should finish the front relatively soon. No pictures, though. I had to get new batteries for my camera, and I haven't put them in yet. And it's dark in the house.

Shelli is hiding under a liquor box. Believe it or not, that's how we moved back from TX. They're really sturdy boxes, you know.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I am Prince of Space!

We're watching MST3K (surprise, surprise), the one with Prince of Space. It's definitely one of my favorites. Some day, I will own the complete collection of these. And I will have much joy in my soul. And I likely will not leave the house for some time.

Today, there are precious few updates. Got to leave work a couple of hours early. Had coffee with a friend. Had dinner with Joey's parents. Ate too much and feel gassy and otherwise icky. Tattoo continues its second (and hopefully last) peel. Will likely try to get another two rows knitted tonight since I haven't had time to do much.

Tomorrow should be a good day; it's not my flex week, but since it's so many other peoples', it's usually a very quiet afternoon, which is nice. I think I'm going to take some time tomorrow and reorganize my desk and brainstorm new ideas that can make me more efficient so that I can do my job more effectively.

Things currently running through my mind:
  • Frugality
  • knitting
  • singing (I have to have a song for 8/17)
  • gluttony and its after-effects
  • personal satisfaction or lack thereof
  • do I really feel 27? Does it feel any different than 26?
  • who has a chicken puppet?
  • I wish I had a horse.
  • If only Shelli was more affectionate...(it's hot, so she's a little stand-offish).
  • The Olympics starts tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Frugal, Fiberiffic Day!

So, our month of consumer celibacy, as expected, is turning out to be the month where we think of all kinds of things that we need and want. We will definitely have to spend some on camping gear next month, and I'm prepared for that, but we seem to be noticing all of the little things (like extra memory for the computers, another cooling pad for our laptops, etc). I am glad that we're taking this month off from the vast consumer economy, though. I know that consumerism very well may be what makes our society great, but right now, I think that it's producing a really crappy generation of people who think that everything should be available to them at every whim. I know that I, personally, don't want to be that way. If that means that I'm the odd ball, and that I benefit from other people's greed (i.e., great designer clothes from thrift stores), then so be it. I just know that something funky is coming that'll probably shake a lot of our views on money and our "wants" versus "needs." I don't want to be one of the people who doesn't even know how to supply my "needs" because I've spent so much time focusing solely on my "wants."

Enough of that rant, though. I did want to post some pics of my new shirt that I'm working on. I think I've settled in on the thought of doing some sleeves on this thing. I was going to make it another tank top, but I think it'll end up being too bulky, so I'm going to use a pattern for a tunic sweater that I queued on Ravelry and do the sleeves that way, but will rib the ends of the sleeves and the neckline. Anyway, here's what I've got so far! The coloring is definitely a little retro, but I think that if it turns out okay (meaning I don't screw it up like I did the cami, it'll be fit to wear and I will wear it. I am happier with how much more even my stitches are this time and how many fewer mistakes I'm finding myself making. I am actually progressing at this knitting thing, and I really love it!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Small, Winged Potatoes...

Those who are MST3K lovers will get the title. For the rest of you: yes, I am a dork....but at least I'm not obsessed with Star Wars or something. So, I'm trying to cook up approximately 40 pounds of potatoes that Joey bought for us when I was planning to do my "potato detox." Since I knew I would be furious with myself if I let the food go to waste, we are cooking up loads of potatoes and freezing various meals.

I've been wanting to come up with a better system for groceries (we usually buy the same fifteen items and then scrounge all week); I want to shop the sales, stock up on items, and come up with meal plans. The next two weeks will be primarily focused on potatoes, though, so I've got my work cut out for me.

Last night, I made a potato bake (no pics, sorry). Here's my recipe:

  • A crap-ton of peeled and grated potatoes (sorry, don't know how many we grated. Just start grating and stop when you hit knuckle. That's what Joey did)
  • some diced ham (we used leftover deli-sliced ham from the freezer)
  • 2 cans of cream of celery soup (I used 98% fat free, and would probably use 1 can of cream of mushroom soup next time)
  • A little yogurt (b/c it's what I had. I would probably use light sour cream if I had it)
  • A little cheddar cheese
  • a little Parmesan cheese
  • some bread crumbs

I mixed up the first five ingredients and spread it in two casserole dishes, then topped with the Parmesan and bread crumbs. I baked it at about 400 for 45 minutes. It was pretty good! We ate off one, put the rest of that one in the fridge, and then froze the second one in individual servings (we save egg drop soup containers for this purpose).

Tonight, I made LOTS of gnocchi. To do this, I used:

  • Another crap-ton of peeled potatoes, diced
  • a crap-ton of flour (I mixed white and wheat)

  • A little melted butter

I boiled the potatoes for 20 minutes, strained in a colander, mashed up, added the melted butter, and then started adding the flour. When it was of a consistency that I could start to knead it, I turned it out on a floured board and worked in flour until it looked like any other dough (it will be a little stickier than normal dough). I rolled pieces of the dough into logs and pulled off bite-sized portions. Since I made so much, I didn't use the fork to give it the traditional "gnocchi-look," so I rolled them into balls instead. We ate them with some canned tomato sauce that Joey jazzed up with garlic, onion, and Italian seasoning.

It was a TOTAL hit..really good. We put another serving for each of us in the fridge (so we can use up the rest of the sauce) and froze the rest. It makes me feel really good to know that I'm starting to build this selection of meals in the freezer so we can always have something to turn to and don't have to always think about going out.
I'm even more resolved these days to be frugal with what's going on in the economy and looking at the costs that we're going to have to deal with between Joey driving back and forth to school twice a week and me starting grad school in the spring (hopefully). I really feel as though we can end up making ourselves (and our parents) proud with our frugality when all is said and done.

I've also been feeling pretty excited these days...I think it's the thought of fall coming again and the thought of all of the hustle and bustle that the last four months of the year tend to bring. I'm actually looking forward to the holiday season this year, I think because I won't have to be in survival mode, coming off the traumas of 2007. This year, I think we'll put up a Christmas tree and do all of the traditional, "fun" stuff. I'm not going to let myself get so busy that I don't take time to enjoy those things, especially with how hard it's going to be for Joey with his schoolwork. Learning how to put the most important things first is always easier said than done.

Potato anyone?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Ting, Tang, Walla-walla Bing Bang

It was a nice weekend. I got lots of knitting time in, saw Live Free or Die Hard on Saturday with my folks, which was such a great action flick, and got to sing at my friend Heather's church last night. Here's a shot of the festivities!
Her home church is just an absolute dream to visit; everyone is so nice and welcoming. They had dinner and we were able to eat with them (can't beat some home cooking!).

I'm working on a new shirt; it's grey and pink and green and looks very '80s, but I'm enjoying doing the striping and I think that I'll wear it if it turns out okay.

I'm hoping for a camping trip for Joey and me this fall. I'm really ready to get away from technology and the hustle-and-bustle of everyday life and to be somewhere where I can spend time knitting, reading, and writing without feeling as though I've got nine hundred things to do every time I turn around.
That's all I've got for right now.

Friday, August 1, 2008

A Little Disappointed

My cami is not turning out like I'd hoped it would. My problem lies primarily in the seaming and the fact that the bound-off ends of the straps didn't fit together perfectly. I'm going to finish it nonetheless, but I'm definitely having trouble getting motivated to do so. I'm working on the first of the side-panels, but it probably won't be at the top of my pile for a while. I'm going to find something new to start tonight.

Soon, I'll have my final letter for the grad school app; I'll be thrilled to get it out the door and to be ready to wait to start the program. I'll be excited to get to expand my mind and grow my education, and to start working toward what I feel I'm meant for. But, more immediately and equally as exciting, I should be getting my materials for Wendee Holtcamp's writing course any day now. I absolutely cannot wait to learn from her since I admire her writing so much!

Next month is going to be quite the growing experience for me; I'm taking a business trip that will require me to fly alone. My coworker and friend is going with me, but she'll be taking a different flight and will be flying back to another city rather than back to Charlotte, like me, so it'll be exciting and nerve-wracking to see if I can do it without freaking out. My flight back will require that I spent nearly five hours in the airport in Jacksonville, FL, so I'll absolutely have to take some knitting with me.

Today was an excellent half-day. My workday wasn't too busy (usually, the day I'm supposed to leave early is always the day that a million things have to happen), and I came home and knitted, and then took a two-hour nap. After some tasty Chinese food for dinner, we're relaxing and looking forward to a good weekend!