Saturday, January 31, 2009

Thoughts on Thinking

I'm for it. Thanks, that is all. Of course I'm kidding....you know, being back in school has really reminded me how much fun it is to really think critically about things. It's funny how, when you leave the academic world and enter the corporate world, so much is devoted to knowledge of your duties, of your field, capability to handle processes quickly and efficiently and satisfy the customer. Less is devoted to critical thinking (with the exception of some industries, I'm sure). That's not to say that the corporate world is "dumb" or doesn't require as much; on the contrary, it requires a ton, but much of it is in terms of the concrete (making numbers work). Having been out of the academic realm for five years has let my brain "get soft," for lack of better term.

I'm (very) slowly getting the hang of things as far as school goes, and I'm starting to love it more and more every day. There's so much out there to be learned and explored, and I'm thrilled to be taking part in that adventure. Our first unit in the Indigenous Literatures course was about the indigenous people of Guatemala and the issues they have with their own culture and the atrocities that they suffered. One writer, Victor Montejo, actually wondered if his own culture was "interesting enough" or "worthy" to be written down. I just find that so amusing when viewed from the perspective of our culture where we record every event that happens to us (this blog included) because somehow, we think that we're all "special" enough that everyone should want to read what we have to say. And at the same time, we have people from another culture who are worried that their entire way of life is not "fascinating" (Montejo's term) enough to be written down for generations to come.

Now, I'm not planning to quit this blog in sympathy for the Mayan people, of course, because I love the outlet that it provides and I know that there are at least a few of you out there who for whatever reason are interested in reading what I have to say, but I think it's so important to keep things in perspective. Things that we think are earth-shattering may be nothing more than a tiny speck in the grand scheme of things. Maybe that would help us all to keep a better outlook on life.

I'm excited about our Super Bowl party tomorrow..we're having it at our friends' Robert and Tina's house and I'm going to make pigs in blankets and fried pickle chips!! Yum (and if you've never had fried pickles before, don't say a thing about it until you've tried it because I thought it was gross too, but once I tried one, I'll never be the same!!)

That's all for now; I'm hanging out on Blackboard conversing with my fellow students and watching Joey read for his class on Wednesday. Love to all.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Shelli, Halloween 2007, dressed up like a biker chick..
So, these days, it seems like the only time I have to post is on lunch at work. Oh well, at least there is time at lunch. So, Joey and I are undertaking a pretty hefty frugal goal for the month of February as we really need to rebuild our bank account from the holiday season (during which it's very hard to be as frugal as one would like).
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First, I've put myself on a yarn diet. I'm not going to buy any new yarn until my birthday, hopefully. That would give me six months of knitting out of my stash (of which there is plenty). I've got enough baby colors to do baby items, and I've got enough miscellaneous colors to do some nice accessories. So, maybe my birthday present to myself will be some yarn.
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Then, for the entire month, Joey and I are going on a consumer diet. Twenty eight days of no spending (other than groceries, as one must have them to survive). We did it once before, sometime last year, but we weren't able to go the whole month. It's amazing how much the little expenses can totally rack up and snowball into much larger expenses. We've got a gift card for our Valentine's Day dinner, so we're covered there, and we really don't generally do gifts for each other, honestly (not because we don't want to, but because we've always been pretty frugal and as sappy as it sounds, we see the ability to pay our bills as a gift in and of itself).
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We're also going to try to stick back to our $25 per week grocery budget, which means that, for the month of February, I have to limit myself to only tofu and edemame at Trader Joe's. Today, I spent thirteen dollars and change because they had some fabulous items that I thought would be good to try. I'm going to have to do some more cooking from scratch, etc.
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The Bento Challenge is going well, although I have forgotten my camera for the past two days as I meant to take pictures of my bentos. Today's snack bento is especially cute, so I'm really bummed that I forgot my camera. I can already see a difference in my appetite and my ability to correctly judge portion sizes. I also ordered a bento lunch set from the Ichiban Kan store in San Francisco. Their prices are amazing. Shipping was a little steep (six bucks), but when you're getting an entire lunch box and drink bottle and bag set for eight bucks, the shipping is really worth it.
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I made tempeh fried rice last night for inclusion in my bento (really easy, just some brown rice, mixed frozen veggies, a scrambled egg, 2 oz crumbled tempeh, and soy sauce and Chinese five spice powder). I should have added some onions, but I forgot. I also made forgotten vegetable kinpira again (with the leftover cabbage and broccoli stems), but I overdid it a little on the rice vinegar, so it was a little more tart than I'd prefer.
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Joey injured himself yesterday; cut his finger while chopping cabbage. It probably needed stitches, but why pay $100 to sit in the ER for six or seven hours, only to be told that it's too late to put any stitches in it anyway. His parents came over and his dad helped him stop the bleeding and get it taped up. Poor baby:(...
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So, that's all I've got for now. Be on the lookout in February for the progress in our Frugal Challenges. I'll be posting how much we spend on groceries each week as it comes!!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Weekend Review

One of the guide dogs in-training that Joey photoed last month...


Between Cultural Studies and Indigenous Literature, I feel like I'm doing little else these days. I have a paper due tomorrow...my first paper in over five years. Holy Cow. I've already gotten it written, but I have to type it up, insert references, and format it. I haven't even had to think about MLA in five years. What if I'm not as good of a writer as I used to be? Ok...enough oself pity, definitely. I'll get it done.
Today, we got to take dinner to some friends' house who just had a baby a week and a half ago...he was such a cutie, honestly. He slept most of the time that we were there, and it was so nice to catch up. It's funny how much your life seems to change overnight when you have a child.
Well, that's the extent of my thoughtfulness for the evening. I plan to be in bed soon.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

FO: Hubby's Alpaca Hat

The life every PhD student wishes they had;)..
It's been quite a week; it snowed here on Monday night and the office was closed Tuesday (but the few and faithful were there....meaning that I made Joey take me to work and some friends made it in too). Monday night, before the snow started, we had a wonderful Italian dinner cooked by my favorite knitter-in-training, Shannon.
I made homemade veggie tempura on Tuesday night, which was tasty and relatively easy (if battering and frying anythingi can be easy).
But, the best part of the week was finishing Joey's hat!!
Pattern: A Hat Knit for a Boyfriend by Stephanie (who likes to knit, apparently^_^)
Yarn: Bernat Natural Blends Alpaca (bulky)
Needles: US Size 8 dpns
This was such an easy knit. I started it on Saturday night, knit on it for a little while, and spent the bulk of Monday working on it. I finished it right after lunch on Monday. I did not make any alterations to the pattern, and it looks FABULOUS!! Joey loves it. In fact, he showed his approval by making the sound that he's sure a contented alpaca would make (man, I wish you could have heard that).

I've started another one in a different color yarn for myself (it's a smaller yarn and I'm using smaller needles, so I cast on 20 extra stitches).

Kudos to you, Stephanie...this pattern was so easy and totally rocks.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Why Have I No Self Control?

I wasn't going to eat the cake today. Honest. I packed healthy stuff, but I didn't pack a side item for my lunch. That's a bummer. I should have paid better attention to it and packed something other than just my peppers 'n onions wrap. I'm going to pack better tomorrow:(. But, I'm bummed at myself as always. I think that, tonight, I'm going to go ahead and plan my day out so that I can resist the badness. I'm also going to figure out how to incorporate my food into a bento so that I have lots of variety.

I've been alternately getting excited about and being terrified of school over the past week or so. All of the sudden, I no longer feel like the self-assured, smart kid who knew what she was talking about. Every study question throws me into panic...what if I don't answer with proper grammar (since I haven't had to use it in five years??)....what if I'm completely missing the point of the question?? I'm going to have to figure out how to get over that, most definitely.

Tonight, I have to turn in my study questions and participate in a discussion for my indigenous literature discussion, and also probably post another post or two in the discussion for cultural studies. I'll have that reading done by the time lunch is over, so I'm not as worried about that as I was this morning.

What a boring, boring blog. I apologize for that.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Shelli Has a Foot Fetish...

Yes, that's my cat. And yes, those are Shannon's shoes. And yes, she is trying to fit her entire head into the shoes.

It's been a very busy, very high-emotion, dramatic week. There have been very bad things, very good things, and very frightening things. Last night was a nice chance to relax and forget about the week, to eat some tasty Japanese food and watch a little TV and zone out for a while.

I'm very happy to have the day off tomorrow. I have lots of reading to do for school. I'm reading I, Rigoberta Menchu right now and it's really affecting the way I view our own indigenous peoples. Her story of struggle as the ladinos stole from them and took their land really makes me think about what life would have been like had the same thing not happened here five hundred years ago. Please bear in mind, I'm not advocating any kind of drastic shifting of land ownership or monetary restitution. I think that, at least in part, our indigenous people have been pretty smart with their taking over the casino realm and I support any dollar that they can make off that (it's our own responsibility to monitor what we spend our money on; I don't blame them for capitalizing on our desire for excess).

That being said, I do think that we have to go back and recognize that there were points in time in our own history where we did not adequately give others the respect which was due to them and probably took things which weren't ours by less-than-honest means (and likely violent means also). I think we bear some responsibility to learn about history, to learn where we came from, and to let that view shape where we go from here.

There's a whole wealth of knowledge that remains largely untapped, both because we won't and because they are too wary to share it lest it be abused. I can safely say that while I do believe that violence sometimes has to be the answer to some problems, learning is most certainly always the first answer.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Will I Ever Run a 5K?

I think I'm going to have to stay on Week Two of the Couch to 5k program for another workout or two at least, which is a bummer. I'm supposed to move to Week Three when I do my next workout, but I was really struggling today, so I'm thinking that it's a sign that I probably should keep with this week until I'm feeling a little more comfortable.

It was so cold this morning; I helped load some vanities into the truck at Mom and Dad's for Dad to take back because they were the wrong size and my hands were nearly frozen by the time I got back in.

I don't have much else to offer. Joey and I are staying in tonight since it's been such a busy and tough week.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Much-Needed Update

I know, it's been a while. Between life and work and school, it's been a very busy week or so. Here are some highlights:

My desk is a mess. My friend Erin, who sits next to me, is bothered by this daily. So, she decided to redecorate my shelf:

I had my first Bento Lunch!! (it was the same lunch for three days, though):

It was roasted sweet potatoes, forgotten vegetable kinpara, sticky rice, and dry-friend tofu.

I have a callous on my index finger from knitting:

But I'm knitting this:




And it's making me very happy!! I was showing my friend Shannon how to do the purl stitch (she's already picked up casting on and the knit stitch....a FAST learner), and I started this little bit of something. I liked the way the yarn was striping, so I decided to keep going with it. I think I'm going to make it into another skinny scarf, but I don't know if I'll keep it. I may decide to try to put it up on my yet-to-be etsy shop in keeping with my desire to sell a craft this year.

So, I'm at the recording studio right now and we're having a pretty good time:). Yay!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Just Thankful, Really

I'm thankful for my Life Group today. If you ever come in to visit, you'll most likely be a little surprised at our unconventionality, but I think it's one of the greatest parts of the group. When we started, we were very discouraged. We grew out of another class and the eight or so people that were supposed to come with us ended up being only one. For nearly a year, we were four people (Cory came to support us also)...Wesley, me, and Joey. And then we grew. And now, we're averaging 10 people every week, which is something I never thought would happen when we stepped out on faith to teach a class.

What I like most about our group is that we're not "church people." You won't find a group of people trying to one-up each other about how spiritual they are, or pretending to be someone that they're not. What you will find is a group of real people, of broken people, of people who need Jesus and who need each other. You will find people who may not fit in with a class full of "church people" (sometimes, I wonder if I would, myself). You'll hear discussions of poop (thanks to me), laughter, tears, love, support....you get the picture. You'll meet a group of real friends and, honestly, of family too.

I love it. It really helps to make the whole shebang worthwhile.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

So, I've already started learning to knit cables. I'm going to have to start over on the project I'm doing with them, though, because it's to be a gift and the yarn and needles just aren't right, and I don't want to give a crappy gift. Since I'll be making those adjustments soon, I may post a picture of what I've done thus far as I won't be giving away what the gift is.

I'm already starting to feel the pressure of school and it's just barely started. Since the online program is much more self-directed than an actual classroom program, I'm having to figure out how to prioritize on my own and make sure I get everything read so that I can get my work turned in on time. One of my courses was moved to another professor, and we haven't even heard from him, so that's pretty nerve-wracking too...that's the one where I've got the assignment due Wednesday.

I did my fourth Couch to 5K workout today, and I also did abs and legs. I've lost two pounds since starting the couch to 5K...that's pretty awesome.

So, I'm hoping to still post twice a week when school gets in full swing, and to make my posts more photo oriented and more surrounding knitting, frugality, cooking, and fitness. Look for that and maybe a giveaway here and there. I'm also shooting to post a blog review every now and then of things that I'm currently reading and enjoy.

That's all for now...I've got to make some snacks for a potluck later today!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Resolutiony, Goal-like Things...

It's been a while, eh? I've had a pretty serious case of writer's block and have been in a bad mood for the past week or so, so every time I pulled up the ol' blog to write a post, I ended up feeling frustrated and shutting down the entire computer. Blah to anxiety...one day, I'll be glad when this is all worked out and I feel entirely (yeah, right) normal, whatever that feels like.

So, I'm thinking about my resolutions or goals for the year, and I wrote a few things down last week that I figured I'd post:

1. To get close to my goal weight by July/August (which should be attainable)
2. To run a 5K in April/May (which I've already started training for)
3. To buy only thrift-store clothing this year (which I've been doing since April of last year!!)
4. To finish knitting my sweater by March
5. To learn to knit cables (I've already got the pattern and recipient in mind!!)
6. To give 100% homemade Christmas gifts this year (and not buy anything, even the packaging!)
7. To sell a craft this year, whether it be on Etsy, or at a local craft festival, or whatever...
8. To shop at a farmer's market this year (local produce, here I come!!)
9. To keep the house more organized and get rid of things when we don't need them anymore (Started this one on New Year's day!!)
10. To go camping!

What I like about what I've selected is that they're all a stretch, but I didn't pick anything that's just unattainable. I'm not setting myself up for disappointment, because my goals are much more realistic than they have been in years past.

Of course, our big financial goal of the year is to come as close as possible to getting the car paid off (if not getting it there altogether). That one is going to be a big stretch. We don't owe a ton on it, but more than we can pay easily each month. We're going to have to take our frugality to new levels to see what we can do to pay as much as possible while still having heat/ac/food/a roof over our heads, etc.

It's going to be an interesting journey!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Boy, we had the best time that we've had in a long time ringing in the New Year...in fact, I'd put it up next to our favorite New Year's celebration, the one we spent in TX with our friends Josh and Jamie.

First, the Kins freaked out a little because of all of the fireworks people were setting off at SIX in the evening (seriously?)



James, Shannon, and Katie all arrived and we ate wonderful snacks!!

Katie is such a cutie:)


We played Phase 10, which was a lot of fun....the game took 3 hours, and we had a great time! (Notice, in the dark background, Joey's silly face)

Joey had a lucky hand and rubbed it in our faces...

Onigiri (rice balls), one of the snacks from last night (I made something authentically Japanese)...they also made a good breakfast this morning:)

I already said this many times last night, but I'm just thrilled with how many great friendships we've fostered this year. I really do feel like I would be lost without them.

Another post will come later with my Goals for the year...I just wanted to take some time to share the fun of the evening. Love to all!