Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wordless...Thursday

Vegan Challenge was less fun today, but still going along. Here are some pics from the day:

Spooooky...mine is the scary one:)

Roasted Pumpkin seeds:

Psychadelic kins. We tried to make her go to rehab, but she said, "no, no no."

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Operation Temptation Resistance (and a little knitting)

Hi guys! I almost didn't post tonight; I'm pretty exhausted. I was doing fine today until I read a blog that someone posted about a cat they'd lost recently and put a very sweet poem at the bottom. It made me think of Puss and I ended up crying the whole way home, so by the time I got to the house, I just wanted to rest.

Dinner was Chinese takeout tonight...don't fear, though...I did my research and found out that General Tso's sauce is vegan, so I got General Tso's tofu. It came with broccoli and white rice. I may or may not have had a couple of Utz reduced-fat potato chips too....and now some coffee with soymilk (which I am currently drinking).

So, how did I manage to keep myself mindful of my Vegan Challenge today in the face of all of the wonderful treats and goodies? Check it out:

This morning, after I had about 1 tbsp of peanut butter, I took a nice ink pen and drew the word "vegan" on my wrist. It worked like a charm, and got a couple of comments, too. Someone actually thought it was a real tattoo...hehe.

I had a 100 calorie popcorn ball at work that my friend gave me; I checked the ingredients and it qualified, and I also discovered that Ruffles potato chips are vegan, so I had a few of those...skipped my oatmeal, though, because of the other stuff.

How about some real knitting content finally? I'm working on a Cowl from an easy pattern that I found on Ravelry...it's got a very simple quasi-lace pattern (I don't know if it's lacey enough to qualify as "real" lace, but I'll take it!)

Like that it's on top of my MITs list? MITs stands for "Most Important Things." It's my relatively short list of things that I need to get done today. I think that this may finally be the day that I get it all done! Anyway, here's a closer shot of the knitting:

It's a simple pattern, just a yarn over, slip one, knit one, pass slipped stitch over, and knit one. Not tough and really pretty:)
Now for the treats that I had to resist today....isn't this the most adorable cake you've ever seen? My friend Erin made it...she's for hire, so if you're looking for an event cake, let me know and I'll get you in contact with her!


Check out the rest of the table of goodies...there were chips and tortilla chips, two kinds of dip, brownies, cookies, and cupcakes.

I had a salad with some homemade tamari dressing (1 packet soy sauce, a splash of red wine vinegar, and a drizzle of tamari), which I think needs some tweaking. I'll be working on that in the morning.

Lunch was processed, but vegan....Trader Joe's rice noodle soup bowl...the spring onion flavor. It's instant and salty and wonderful...I knew I'd need a favorite if I was going to let the cake pass me by. I had some hummus/cabbage and 1/2 an apple for a snack.
There's been a ton of schoolwork this week...I got what I needed to done...got one more thing due Friday, which I'll get done tomorrow.

No Shelli pic tonight...I need to take some more. She's been a little antisocial tonight.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Epic Dinner Win!

First, join Joey and me for our Frugal Challenge: No-Heat November! I know it sounds crazy, but we've done it for the last two years (actually, we leave the thermostat set no higher than 62 all winter long), and neither of us have gotten frostbite or hypothermia. It's a great way to save on your electric or natural gas bill!

Food-wise, the entire day has been an epic win! Breakfast Part 1 (I always divide breakfast into two halves) was some chopped cabbage and Sabra hummus...followed by a travel mug of coffee and soymilk.

At about 10 am, I had 1/2 cup oatmeal with 2 TBSP Jif Natural PB (which is sweetened with molasses, which is definitely vegan)

And lunch, my friends, was this:

A GIGANTIC salad with Romaine Mix, cabbage, black beans, and the rest of the pico de gallo that I got on Sunday. No dressing, just pico-y goodness:).

I had a serving of raw almonds for my afternoon snack, but was DYING for some candy around 3. EMSI came by the office and dropped off Halloween treat bags for us, which had a Reese's cup and a mini-tootsie roll (both definitely not vegan) and a small pack of Twizzlers. Thanks to VegNews and their listing of Vegan Halloween Candies, I found out that the Twizzlers were vegan and I tore into them!

We hit Trader Joe's on the way home so I could stock up on tempeh, tofu, and hummus, and then hit the Teeter because I had to get a treat for our office's Halloween Snack Party tomorrow (which I found out about this afternoon). This one's going to be a huge test for me; I'm relatively sure that nothing is going to be dairy/egg/animal product free, so it looks like I'm going to be staring at everyone while they chow down. I've come up with a pretty good way to remind myself to resist the treats, though, which I'll share with you guys tomorrow. I got some tahini at the Teeter too...expensive, it was, $8.50 for 1 lb, which in our house is obscene, so I'll have to use it up. thankfully, Heather did a whole week on the stuff, so I should be all set with ideas!

Which brings me to my EPIC dinner win:)...I was reading The Fitnessista today and saw that she'd done something pretty unconventional with her sweet potato. It looked pretty good, so tonight I took two small sweet potatoes and "baked" them in the microwave. The first, I topped with 1/2 cup spaghetti sauce (I had Wal-Mart Garden Veggie Sauce), some nutritional yeast, garlic and onion powder, crushed red pepper flake, and a little cayenne. Holy cow was this incredible! I will absolutely be doing this again, and often. On the second, I put a little ketchup, hot sauce, cayenne, garlic and onion powder, and crushed pepper flake...it wasn't as good, but I'd used up the last of the spaghetti sauce. Gina, if for no other reason than this recipe, I love your blog (but I loved it anyway, so I guess that's kind of irrelevant)!!

Shelli got into the "special 'nip" last night....

Monday, October 26, 2009

Paper-Writing Monday, Vegan Challenge Day Two

Good Evening, bloggity blog folks:). Today has been better than the typical Monday and for that, I am extremely grateful. I was really overwhelmed today about the amount of schoolwork I've got this week (mostly because I procrastinated too much), but after finishing up my paper before lunch was over today, I felt much better about the potential that I'll finish the week without having a nervous breakdown.

So, in keeping with the spirit of my Vegan Challenge Week in honor of World Vegan Day on November First, I had 2 tbsp of peanut butter at home before I left for work, a travel mug of coffee and soymilk, and then 1/2 cup oatmeal with salt and pepper around 10 am.

For lunch, I had this:
Yep! Last night's Potato-Veggie Soup (recipe can be found HERE). It's thick and hearty and warm, and I added a TON Of pepper, so it was nice and spicy too.

To celebrate after finishing my paper and getting my work-work done for the day, I had this apple:
I know...it's so freaking huge...this was one of the Mutsu apples that we got at the apple picking festival in Waynesville last weekend while we were camping.
Dinner was some angel hair pasta and garden veggie spaghetti sauce with tons of garlic powder and a little nutritional yeast.
Check out this post from Vegan Soapbox. Yes, I know what everyone says about statistics, and, for the most part, I agree. However, it's hard to deny that it does require a huge amount of food and energy to raise animals for human consumption. It takes far less energy to avoid the "middle man" (or "middle meat," perhaps) and eat a plant-based diet. Veganism is a way to tread lightly on the earth.

Hopefully, tomorrow will be low-key as well. I'll have schoolwork to do, but hopefully Joey will be further along with his paper and we'll be able to relax and watch a little NCIS!
For your viewing pleasure, look at that little pouty face!!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Vegan Challenge: Day 1

Nope, no sushi today...I WISH I'd had vegan sushi today! I didn't take any pics of what I ate today because I was never in a position for the lighting to be good enough for the pic to work. But, today was a successful day, and it made me feel like this vegan challenge is going to work out just fine!

Breakfast was 1 cup of brown rice and some hot sauce, and a travel mug of coffee with soy milk.
Lunch was, as always, at the nasty ol' Captain's Galley, where I got a side salad and a baked potato. We'd stopped at Wal-Mart beforehand, and I got some Sabra Roasted Red Pepper hummus and some pico de gallo, so I put both of those on my salad and potato (no dressing on the salad and the croutons removed). It actually made the CG food edible! I think I've discovered a combo that's a winner!

We napped after that because Joey had a really late night working on his paper (I intended to work on mine this afternoon, so it was quite the bummer to have slept the whole time). But dinner was a definite win! I made Potato-Veggie Soup with Cabbage, which was FANTASTIC (the success of the dish was probably directly proportional to the amount of garlic I added to the soup)! I used a little soymilk to make it creamy, and it was thick and warm and delicious. I'll post the recipe soon...hopefully I can get a decent picture of it at work tomorrow.

So, it was a food success today; I was a little tempted by the cheese tonight that Joey and Cory put on their soup, I'm not going to lie, but I sprinkled a little nutritional yeast on mine and was perfectly content. It's nice to know that there can be a life out there without cheese.

This weekend has been such a whirlwind; I can't believe that it's about to be Monday again and back to the grind! Also, I started Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food yesterday and it's really excellent...very eye opening. He's got lots of facts and presents a pretty stark indictment of food processors/corporations and the government in making people's diets about "nutrients" only and not in the least about "real, whole foods." Something that I've been coming to realize especially over the summer after having read all of these health/fitness/food blogs is that we've gotten so far away from real foods that we don't know how to exist anymore in a world that's not prepackaged and microwave-ready in ninety seconds.

Almost hands-down, in all of the blogs that I'm currently reading about the above topics, the writers have lost weight and maintain their health, not by sucking down vitamins and supplement powders left and right, and not by eating nutrition bars and power-drinks, but by eating real whole foods. I really believe that it's something to which we need to return if we don't want to screw up our childrens' generation just like we are.

At any rate...that's enough thought-provoking stuff for the night. I'm going to turn in. Hope everyone survives their Monday!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Gun Show, Nap-kins, Vegan Challenge Kick-Off!

That's my little kins:)...except this afternoon, apparently she had to be exiled into her room during our nap because she was being too rambunctious. But, mostly, when we're in the bed, she's there too, as evidenced by the above picture that Joey took without my knowledge or permission.

Man, today was busybusybusy...we went to breakfast with my parents, went to the Dixie Gun and Knife Show, which is always super-crowded, worked on school stuff, and had dinner tonight with some friends.

The gun show was lots of fun; we got some stuff, and we saw lots of neat firearms and other self-protection items. I was looking for an old olive-drab messenger bag at the booths with old army/navy surplus stuff, but it didn't look like any place had any. It was wall-to-wall people at any of the booths that had handguns, which is normal, so we had to weave our way through and muscle in so that we could look at things.

I've gotten my discussion posts done and now just have a paper due Monday...next week is mine and another girl's week to lead the discussion for our reading in Ethnic American Lit, so it's going to be busy on that front, too.

Tomorrow begins Mel's Vegan Challenge week in honor of World Vegan Day!! I'm going to make cabbage and potato soup tomorrow night that we'll have for dinner during a night of football and FUN!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pursuit of Dreams...

Check out this guy's tent, eh? We called it the Taj-ma-tent while we were camping. It was incredible...the last day of our trip we talked to him and got to go in and see the inside. He had a wood stove and the tent was very balmy and wonderful.

The tent's resident is a photographer named Mike Florey. He told us that he was going to be at Moonshine Creek through the end of October and was going to go home and then head out to the Ozarks. Mike is a photographer...an incredible photographer. I wish he had a website so I could refer you to it to see his stuff, but he had too much trouble with people stealing his work. So, suffice it to say, if you're out looking for beautiful art to put on your walls, check and see if Mike Florey is the photographer and buy it if so!

Mike travels over the country and pretty much lives in that tent. He's weathered 50 knot winds in it and total whiteout conditions. Sounds crazy? Maybe, but what really struck me upon listening to him is the realization that he is really living his dreams. His dreams have him living mostly in a tent in freezing weather, but he loves it, and he wasn't afraid to pursue it. Incredible, eh? He was also just an all-around really nice guy, which made me even happier about his being so happy in his life.

Today was pretty rough...I don't know...it seems like I say that a lot, so I should probably just stop;). I'm getting there, though. Things are coming together in my mind and forming into these awesome ideas and, for once, I really do believe that I can achieve what I've set out to achieve! I have a lot of these feelings that I owe to Angela and Heather. Both of them made some pretty big life changes that have been very positive and, because they've shared their respective journeys, people like me can read and learn. It also helps that they're my age...that way I can see that it's still possible:).
Here's a little kitty pron for your enjoyment:)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Savory Oats...

Doesn't look half bad, does it? I vascillate between wanting sweet items and savory ones for breakfast, but I don't like to include grits too often (even though I love them) because they're basically devoid of nutrients. Enter Oatmeal. Believe it or not, you can really eat it with savory seasonings and it's just as good as with sweet! This morning, I added an egg (microwave scrambled), salt and pepper, and a packet of ketchup (I know, not really natural or healthy), but I've been known just to have it with S&P too. It's so easy...just add about 3/4 cup hot water to the oats and let them soak the water in, and you're good to go. No need to dirty a pot or microwave it and have an explosion that you'll have to clean up later;).

So, I was looking for recipes for next week's Vegan Challenge and I came across this Southwestern Cabbage Soup that looks insanely good...I'm thinking that I'll make this Monday as I've got the ingredients already...a big pot will give me plenty to eat for lunches during the week!

On a non-blog related note, I'd really appreciate if you guys would hit up my Examiner website if you haven't already been. I write about Frugal Living, and while sometimes the articles over there mirror what I'm taking about over here at Inner Monologue of a Madwoman, there are plenty of articles that are totally unrelated. And, come on, everyone can use a little advice about saving money these days, eh??

Today was pretty good; I got some major headway made on my cowl during choir tonight, which is great, because I want to get it done as soon as I can so I can decide whether or not to make another to give as Christmas gifts. Since I'm trying to do a totally handmade Christmas this year, I'm needing to get on the stick with that now!

And, I'm not going to talk about it too much yet because the idea just hit me on the way to choir tonight, but I think I'm starting to stumble upon one of the things I'm supposed to do in life...a way to advocate for animals and show that animal advocacy and Christianity do not have to be mutually exclusive. Just say a prayer for me as I mull things over and try to get a plan into action.

Good night, folks =^-_-^=

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mel's Vegan Challenge!

Hello, bloggies! We're hanging in there in Weaver-ville...I got my assignments done (turned my Sherman Alexie paper in just about an hour ago). Joey, however, has a lot more to do which, apparently has led him to tell me that he isn't going to be pleasant to be around for the next ten days or so. So, I guess my time will be spent writing, reading, and hanging out on the web, trying to stay out of his hair. I hate these times for him...all of his papers are so huge (which stands in stark contrast with my five-to-ten page papers) and require so much research and insight. It takes a lot out of him. But, I'm proud of my super-smart PhD man (and now, wilderness man).

As most of you probably don't know, November 1st is World Vegan Day, and is generally filled with pleas from animal rights groups asking that people give veganism a chance for just that one day. While I don't necessarily think from my reading of Genesis 1:29-30 that veganism was prescribed, I do deal frequently with wanting to be vegan just because I see it as the natural end of vegetarianism. No, I'm not throwing out all of my shoes and purses and setting Shelli free (not all vegans believe that we shouldn't even own animals, but some do). But I will be doing my part to promote World Vegan Day through next week's personal challenge:

I'm going to take the next week (starting Sunday, 10/25) and am going to adhere to the principles of veganism (no eggs, dairy, or honey) through World Vegan Day (11/1). I'll spend this week picking out recipes and meal ideas so there will be no boredom in the Weaver house!

I've read so many good things from people who've given up dairy; since dairy increases mucuous production, it's really not a singer's best friend, and most people are actually mildly lactose intolerant (at least), so I'll be very interested to see what kinds of changes I feel by not dealing with its effects.

Join me? Join me!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Our Freezing Weekend of Camping Fun!

So, rather than doing an uber-long post about the camping trip, I'll post some photos and then do a little list-style synopsis at the end...

Shannon in the tent, very shortly after we got it set up.

A Veggie Parmesan sub from the Smoky Mountain Sub Shop. We stopped there while we were enjoying Waynesville's Apple Festival.

Joey, making a stilly face while cooking chili and keeping an eye on our coffee...

Shannon, warming by the fire at breakfast Sunday morning

Moonshine Creek, which smelled a little like sewage...
  1. We will not be going back to Moonshine Creek. The staff was really nice, but the sites were too close together and we originally had a site where we would have had to carry everything by HAND across the creek (no car access). That would have been unfortunate since we had 1/2 a truck bed full of firewood. We got our site changed, thankfully. The campground was also really small. But the bathrooms were clean.
  2. Every meal, save for the one that we ate out, was cooked over an open fire. Joey was an AWESOME cook!!
  3. It was 37 when we woke up Saturday. The high was 48. It was 31 when we woke up Sunday.
  4. It sleeted on Saturday night.
  5. Electric blankets in the tent are the BEST IDEA EVER.
  6. Camping without James is noticeably quieter at night. Enough Said.
  7. It's hard to knit while bundled up like an eskimo.
  8. Mountain people are strange.
  9. Senior Citizen cloggers ROCK!!
  10. Men + Fire = singing hair off something.
  11. Watching a group of kids from App standing in the dark freezing because they didn't know what they were doing was a riot.

That's all I can think of for now. It was a good weekend. Even with the freezing temps and sleet, I wish I was still there.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Jumble of Thoughts...

Today was a good day. My dentist appointment went really well (as usual). I wasn't expecting it not to, but it's always comforting to know that I'm doing well on the oral hygeine front. They actually changed my scheduling so that I'll only have to have the xrays every 18 months rather than every year:).

Had breakfast with Mom and hung out there for a long time! There's nothing like drinking copious amounts of coffee and laughing loudly and unceremoniously in a restaurant full of old people and a grumpy manager;). Mom is so my best friend. Dad too. I'm pretty freaking blessed with my parents.

I had lunch at Eastland Mall with Mom and her best friend Bobbie; I purposefully schedule my dentist appointments on Wednesdays so that I can have lunch with them two or three times a year. I found a new knitting pattern to work on while I was there; it's a lacework cowl, but I like the pattern so much that I'm toying with making it into a scarf. I've never made a successful cowl, though. I'm using a really deep greyish teal worsted weight yarn and size 7 needles. It's not knit in the round, but is knit flat and then seamed at the end with some kind of bind-off method I've never tried before. Looks like I'll be hitting up the Knitting Help website soon!

Tomorrow's going to be pretty hectic; I ended up spending most of the night tonight finishing up Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison...good book. It was a little more crass than what I generally like to read, but I think that the message was pretty incredible. And, as usual, I had to have the obligatory cry-fest because it seems that nothing that we read in grad school has a traditionally happy ending. At any rate, tomorrow will now be the day that we do the rest of what we need to for the camping trip.

So, all of this stuff today has left me with a jumble of thoughts and emotions, trying to figure out where I am now and where I'm supposed to be, and whether that's going to involve writing, or music, or frugality and preparedness, or animal rights (from the Christian perspective) or Christian vegetarianism, or all of the above.....I have to believe that all of the restlessness of spirit that I've been having lately is more than just a sign of being mildly disillusioned with my current life position. It has to have been more than that. Otherwise, I think that it would have ebbed by now and I would have fallen back into my normal routine of thought patterns. Something's there. I've just got to seek it out, or wait it out, or whatever. It's funny how, with God, lots of times you don't know whether to do one or the other, or whether you need to figure out how to do both at the same time.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ok, God, It's Your Turn...Seriously....

Doesn't it just look like it'll go on forever? It was so amazing standing at the overlook gazing across Cold Mountain back in July. We are camping this weekend, but unfortunately, a cold snap is coming, so it looks like it's going to be a pretty chilly weekend to be in a tent. We should be fine though...got our long johns and fuzzy sleeping bags, and we'll make sure that we have extra blankets. And we have plenty of firewood!!

Today was not a very good day; I'm not going to lie. I had a very encouraging evening after I spent lots of time Saturday night mapping out things that I can do now to work toward my passions and dreams, and I was able to hold onto that despite the drama from yesterday, but today really took away my joy. My life isn't falling apart or anything, but I'd managed to work through something and be at peace only to have it upheaved again and now I'm left looking to the sky trying to figure out what God's trying to show me.

Anyway...enough of that. I should be back in Frugal Living Examiner mode within the next couple of days. I have some good story ideas that hit me during my "car time" (which was pretty cold) today.

OH!! And I've got both the front and back knitted up on the sweater, so I just need to seam the top and then pick up stitches for the sleeves!! Gigantic purple bag sweater, here I come!!

That's all I've got tonight. I've got to get going on Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon...I may or may not have slacked off a little since nothing was due last week;)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tired Blog...

Man, it's been a long (but pretty good) day. Our Life Group fellowship almost didn't happen, between the combo of the overcast skies and a large group that had the picnic shelter filled, we didn't even think we'd be able to have it in the park, and to top it off, Joey thought he'd bought match-light charcoal, which didn't prove to be the case after he used an entire bottle of lighter fluid and the charcoal still wouldn't hold a flame. It was a dramatic situation.

Cory was nice enough to make a special, smaller pot of chli without meat, which i thought was very sweet of him. I knew that "pickins'" would likely be pretty slim because we were focusing on hamburgers and hot dogs, but I did end up having something tasty to eat.

Then, we gathered at our house for a night of football since we've got a crowd of Colts fans in our life these days.

I'm starting to lose consciousness while blogging, so this'll have to be it for the night.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Everybody's Working for the Weekend...

One of the falls in Brevard, NC
Man, what a week. It started out pretty well, but rapidly got very busy. I sang at a funeral today for my old boss (from my WW days)'s husband, who also happens to be my former pastor's dad and my best friend from high school/college's grandpa. It was pretty tough, but I was honored to be asked, but it also made for a long and very emotionally draining day.

Next weekend, however, Joey, Shannon, and I are going camping in Balsam, NC, up in the mountains. I cannot WAIT...hopefully the leaves will be pretty when we get up there...I'm also hoping that it's crisp, but not TOO cold. Joey got two stacks of firewood today, so we should be set for the trip. We still need to season our cast-iron cookware and get the rest of our food. Really, I need to just make a list tonight or tomorrow morning so we don't leave anything out.

Also have two assignments due before we leave, so I'll be working like crazy this week to get that done. Wednesday, I'm off for my dentist appointment; I have to work Thursday (to make up for one of the days I missed during the kidney stone saga).

Have you ever felt kind of lost in trying to put your finger on exactly what it is that you're passionate about? I know that I'm passionate about animal rights and especially on the unnecessary death of shelter animals (cats in particular). I know that I need to try to figure out how to get into helping with that, you know, but I'm afraid. I'm pretty sure that helping out with those organizations is going to involve a lot of saying "goodbye" and grieving over animals, but I'm starting to feel like, if it's something that I really care about, then maybe I should be willing to feel the pain to help bring about change. I don't know. But I know that I'm going to need to start taking the necessary steps to pursue something because I can't stay in the same place, because I'm not exactly happy here. And I think it's one of those situations where, if I'm feeling so restless and dissatisfied, then God is probably trying to tell me something and it would be wise for me to listen. So, that's what I'm going....lay it on me, God....

I've been reading Angela's and Heather's blogs lately (well, I've really been reading both since May of this year), and they've offered a lot of insight on the topics of personal satisfaction, pursuing dreams, finding methods/styles that work for you and not being so concerned about doing things "this way," or "that way," because that's what everyone else is doing. So, I'm starting to feel that, little by little, God is giving me these small, quiet messages through people like them to encourage me that dreams and passions are worth pursuing. More on all of that later, I'm sure.

So, that's where I am on this lovely evening...tomorrow is church and then our SS fellowship at Stallings Park (per Tara Lane, it's not going to rain later tomorrow afternoon!), so while tomorrow will be busy too, I don't think it'll be too bad.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Miscellany...

A green smoothie in the awesome shaker cup that the folks at Amazing Grass sent me (along with samples of their products). This one had spinach, banana, pineapple, and some Amazing Grass meal (a protein and vitamin/greens supplement). Not too shabby...not great on its own, but not bad in a smoothie.

So, I'm definitely in a better state of mind than I was the other night...which is normal. We all have bad days every now and then and that day, I just let things get to me too much....today, I'm back on the proverbial horse!

So, we are watching Jeopardy and relaxing!


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Tomorrow's Gonna be Another Day....

First, a disclaimer: this blog post is not intended to be whiny or a plea for sympathy or pity. To be quite honest, I'd rather you despise me than pity me as ultimately, I feel like we are where we are supposed to be in life regarding the choices we've made and our current place. But, I also think it's important to be transparent; one of the things I value most about this blog is that I've been very honest up to this point, and I haven't really shied away from the things I want to talk about, and I'm not going to start that now.

One of the most frustrating things about our current lifestyle is the feeling that we're always a step behind other people our age. While most of the people we know our age are married, two income families (or the husband makes enough that the wife can stay home), we are working with one income. Others have moved into (or built) their own two and three thousand square foot homes, while we opted for one that's only eleven hundred so that we'd be sure to be able to afford it easily. Others are having kids while we know that's not going to be a reality for us for some time. We're not ready. And I cannot tell you the amount of times that I've heard, "if you wait until you're ready, you never will be," like for some reason, that's supposed to encourage us to make an irresponsible decision. I really believe that it's absolutely crucial to realize when you're not emotionally ready for children and/or to realize that your current way of life would make having kids an irresponsible decision. A household with two full-time students who are also working is no place for a dog, much less a child. Additionally, my anxiety isn't fully controlled, so I can't even fathom the possibility of going back to a lifestyle of being terrified for nine months (because I'm sure I would have to go off my meds). So, when we get to the point when kids are going to be a reality, other people our age will already have older children, we'll be older parents and will have trouble relating to other parents with similarly aged children.

It's tough to try to explain to people why we don't go places, don't eat out frequently, don't do things that cost much money, why we leave our thermostat set to 80 in the summer and 60 in the winter, why we leave the lights off if at all possible, why we "save a flush," why we drive a car that is twenty years old and was gifted to us, why I (almost) only buy second-hand clothes, why brand-name is a rarity in our house, why our monthly gasoline and grocery budget combined is only $450, why I wash plastic spoons and forks, and why we only have twenty channels.

Would we do these things even if we did have money? Probably. Because I know that, as a general rule, as income increases, so also increases one's lifestyle to match. I don't ever want to get in that pattern. I want to be free...free to stay home to take care of our kids if I want to, free to pursue a dream, free to be free of corporate America. I don't want to live a life where we have two new cars and a big home, but I have to climb the corporate ladder to be able to afford it. That, my friends, is a prison all of its own.

However, if we had more money, I would buy organic produce and fair trade goods. I would buy eggs from a local farm, somewhere where I know that male chicks weren't thrown into a grinder alive and hens weren't forced into battery cages without being able to move. I would give money to animal rights organizations. Hell, I might even create my own Christian-based animal rights organization. I would set up a cat rescue. I would join a yoga studio. I wouldn't feel supremely guilty when we do our once-weekly Chinese takeout meal. I would pay twice what our mortgage payment currently is so that we can pay it off faster. I would opt to pay Joey's tuition out-of-pocket. I wouldn't be terrified when my tuition bill comes due each semester just because we are paying mine out-of-pocket.

I don't really think that these things are unreasonable, but they're just not a possibility for us right now. And sometimes, it pisses me off. Sometimes, I look at the people who eat out three or four times a week and buy every technological gadget that comes along and I'm resentful. Do I begrudge them their purchases? Not really. I think that there are probably more useful ways that they could be spending their money, but I don't hate them for what they have. But sometimes, I do wonder why we struggle when other people quite obviously don't have to.

Do I think it's because we've done something terrible and God is pissed at us? In my weaker moments, yes, I do. I'm not going to lie. Do I sometimes feel like God doesn't really care? Yep to that one too. And before you leave me comments to tell me that I'm wrong, be aware that I know that. But I also think that it's pointless to lie to God...He knows what you're thinking anyway, so you can't really feed Him a line of bull unless you're just trying to make yourself feel holy, which is a waste of time.

In my heart, I know that we're called to a specific purpose. Since Joey and I have been together, we've both known that our calling was in the world of academia. We knew that it would be a hard and expensive journey, and we knew that we were going to have to live a life where we sacrifice the best material things so that we could pay for our tuition. We knew that it was something that would pay off later, if not monetarily, then at least in our feeling that we were doing something worthwhile, that we were helping people and making a difference. We knew that it wasn't going to be easy.

But last night, I had a hard night. After fixing yet another meal of brown rice, I got angry. Today has been better; today, I've regained focus. I don't think that God hates us, and I know that He cares. And I know that my attitude simply needed an adjustment, from ambivalence to gratitude. I'm in gratitude mode today, and it feels much better.

That's all I've got.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Silence is Golden....

I never appreciated how wonderful silence is until I ended up in a lifestyle where I almost NEVER have any. I can't imagine what it'll be like if/when we have children. I thrive on it...especially now that I'm in recovery from depression/anxiety. When I was at my worst, silence was terrifying, because it allowed all kinds of awful fears and "what if" scenarios to creep into my mind, things which I couldn't get out of my head, no matter what I tried. TV was always a good escape as it kept my mind from roaming too far, but I couldn't bear to be alone with my own thoughts. Now, I can really appreciate the silence without fear; I can sit alone in my car at lunch without the radio on and just the whisper of the fan blowing cool air on me and knit and think about things I want to do, goals that I have, and things I need to change without the constant, nagging fear that I'm dying of cancer or something horriffic like that. It's times like those when I really DO feel like the year of treatment has been worthwhile.

So, remember my comment yesterday that the b-nut squash isn't so good roasted in bigger chunks? It was waaay too soggy and really had a "squashy" taste rather than a sweet taste (like a sweet potato). I really didn't know what to do; I only ate about 1/3 of the squash yesterday. Joey forced some down and I put the rest in the fridge. So, I thought that I'd try adding it to oats and see if it improved any. Today, I packed some dry rolled oats (3/4 cup) with ground cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. I added some hot water (probably just 1 cup) and the (peeled) roasted b-nut. I also dumped in a couple of packets of Sugar in the Raw (not ideal, but it was the most natural option). The end result?

It may look a little weird, but it was actually pretty good. The squash was more pumpkin-y rather than squash-y, and it was really filling and satisfying. Now, I have two ways to eat the rest of my b-nut squashes:).

Then, at 1, I commenced "car-time." I didn't know if I'd feel like napping, so I took my knitting with me. I've finished the front, and so I needed to go back and knit the 8 inches up the back before seaming the top and then picking up for the sleeves. I got maybe five rows done and then tired of it and put it away. I'll probably work on it some more tonight, though!


Then, "car-knit" time turned into "car-book" time. I started on this:

It's our next assignment for Ethnic American Lit. It looks like it's going to shape up to be a good read. I read the first few pages, and then got tired, so I laid back with about 30 minutes left and had a little nap. I really do cherish that time to not be bothered. I think that, when it gets too cold to stay in the car, I'll probably have to save up so I can walk across to Caribou and sit in there for a while. It's just so nice to remind myself that there really is a world outside of the office, that beautiful things still happen and that the world is still turning out there. When you're in a cubicle all day, it's so easy to lose sight of that; you live by the clock, and without the ability to see much out a window, it's difficult to really get a grasp on the progression of the day. Sometimes I really wonder about American Society and the ideals that it has instilled in people.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday Night Randomness...

No knitting today...I may knit a few rows before I go to bed, because I really don't want to let a day go by without working on it. My car-nap was only so-so today, so I think I probably would have been better off staying at my desk and knitting. It was chilly, which was nice, but some people in an SUV parked right next to me in one of the handicapped spots and people piled out talking at what seemed like the top of their lungs. Additionally, I'm parked under a tree on the side of the building...there's PLENTY of room, but people ALWAYS feel the need to walk up right by my car. Blah.
Anyway, I was going through my pics and found some randomness that I thought you may enjoy...
The perfect lunch....thai-style noodle soup and a good book. This was from my summer session in Native American Lit. I definitely recommend this book if you get a chance to read it, Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko.

The perfect way to spend a weekend, watching Crow, Mike, and Servo riff on some pieces of cinematic tripe:)
Shelli has aspirations of becoming a vegetarian....I don't think it'll stick, though.

And Shelli, looking a little sullen.

I struggled today with feeling like I really really want to do something that's worthwhile. I've got at least two or three more semesters left before I'll have my degree and can potentially teach at community college, so I'm settled in that knowledge, but it's so hard to get through a stressful day and feel like it doesn't really amount to much. I definitely need to spend some time in prayer and contemplation, methinks, about my own attitude and perception and whatnot.

I learned tonight that butternut squash is best when made into fries. Otherwise, it's really soggy, even if roasted. I've got some in the fridge that I think I'm going to try to add to some oats or something. It'll probably be better served sweet than savory.

Ok...off to knit a little.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Stop. Sweater Time!! (Alternate Title: Actual Knitting Content)

So, like a year ago in September, I decided that I wanted to make a sweater and started a really easy pattern. I can't really remember it now, but it was some kind of tunic from Berrocco's website, I think. Anyway, I altered it a little because the pattern was to be knit flat and seamed up and I didn't want to deal with seaming, so I am knitting it in the round. I'll pick up stitches for the sleeves, so the only actual seaming I'll have to do is the top of the shoulders. Anyway, I worked on it pretty diligently for a couple of weeks, but I think that the endless rows of stockinette finally got the better of me and I quit.

And, so it sat, and sat, and sat, and sat (I'm starting to sound like the book Once Upon a Potty here...). At New Year's, I made a resolution to finish it by March. Instead, I didn't even touch it at all.

Well, I've got everything that I'm currently working on off the needles right now, so I figured that I'd pull it out and perhaps have a sweater to wear this winter (if it turns out being wearable), and thanks to a girls' knit night last night (yay!! Total fun...next one is at my house, girls:)), I finally got to the length that I thought was appropriate to split for the sleeves. I did that this morning.

Splitting for the sleeves is either very difficult, or I was totally doing it wrong, because I felt like a total moron trying to get the cable through half of the stitches to hold while I'm working on the front. I have to knit up the front eight inches, and then switch to the back and do the same, and then seam them together save for the neck hole, and then I can pick up the sleeves and start to knit them down. Now that I have the interchangeable needle set, I think I've got a cable short enough to be able to knit them down without DPNs, which I'm glad about, not because I don't love dpns, but because I think there'll be too many stitches involved, and mine aren't that long.

Here are a few pics....sorry for the crappy lighting, but we keep the lights kind of low at the house to save electricity:

I just looooooove this color. It's one of Bernat's yarns, and it's really really soft. It's a deep purple with grey in it also. Absolutely one of my favorite colors. I'm a little nervous about getting the roll out of the bottom, though, because it's acrylic. I don't know that it'll block out well. It's making me wish I had either done some ribbing at the bottom or done a few rows of garter stitch, which I also think would look pretty freaking awesome. I think that the next one I do will be a yoked sweater. I'm really wanting to do Jared Flood's Cobblestone for Joey.



Just a couple of close-ups of where I split for the sleeves. I'm really looking forward to finishing this, if nothing else than to have my size 9 circular and my long cable back. So, I'll be working on this tonight while watching football and we'll see how much farther I get.
Next week? Normalcy (yay)! With the exception of a BBQ at my boss's house, we've got nothing out of the norm to do and I can't get over how thrilled I am. We're going to hit the gym Monday and Tuesday, and maybe Friday, so it'll be good to get back into the groove of taking care of myself. Hot Dog!!
Love to everyone:)


Friday, October 2, 2009

Thoughts on Stress Management: Finding Time for YOU at Work...

From my range qualification last week. Notice how good the shots are...of course, it was just a .22, so it wasn't that hard. We had a lot of fun at the CCH class and on the range, and I learned a lot. Education is never a bad thing!

I'm finally caught up with school...procrastination sucks. I'd make a vow never to do it again, but I'd really be lying, so we'll leave it at that.

A thought on stress management at work....finding a way to relax during the day is really an imperative if you work in a fast-paced and stressful environment. Americans take less vacation time than they ever have before and are working more and more hours and are more stressed and less happy than they've ever been. Many of us may not be in the position to be able to reduce the amount of work that we do, so we have to find a way to cope with the situation in which we find ourselves.

When I began my first corporate job, I noticed that almost everyone ate their lunch at their desk and just continued to work or passed time on the computer for a while before diving back into work. Naturally, I followed suit ("when in Rome," yes?). Within three months after starting the job, I found myself having headaches on the right side of my head and a serious case of eye strain. Unfortunately, it took me another four years or so to figure out that what I really needed was some time away from my desk, away from the ringing phone and chatter.

Just fifteen minutes or half an hour of quiet in the middle of a work day can do so much to help you re-center yourself, calm yourself down, and refocus so that you're able to work to the best of your potential for the rest of the day. Whether you're sitting outside, running to the coffee shop, or taking a walk, time to yourself is so important.

I like to take "car naps." As long as it's not too hot, I'll take my lunch hour and kick back in my driver's seat and sleep for a while in total silence. During some of the cooler summer days, I'd roll my windows down to let a cross breeze though, but it also let added noise in too. These days, with it being nice and cool, I can leave the windows up and have the fan blowing a little air through the car cabin. After an hour of uninterrupted, quiet time to clear my mind and relax, I find myself much better put together for the rest of the day.

You don't have to nap; just find some time to remove yourself from the stressful situation, and you'll be much more clear when you have to jump back in;)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I Got a Feelin' (woooo hooooo)....

It's been a while, yes. Things have been absolutely insane this week...between recording for ITC09, schoolwork, month-end at work, and a seriously nasty case of laryngitis, I've been either working on something or totally collapsing with absolutely no mental function whatsoever. I was able to get my solo recorded; I didn't feel spectacularly about it, but Phil seemed to be okay with it, and I trust him, so it's done. I started getting hoarse over the weekend, and apparently Monday was the *last* of my voice, because I've sounded TERRIBLE since. But the pressure's off now, so if I sound raspy/squeaky, it is what it is.

I'm looking forward to the prospect of next week being mostly normal, without tons of extra stuff added in. I'm always amazed by those people who can keep on going and going and have their calendars absolutely packed and be happy. I'm just not like that...I need to have several nights at home each week to decompress and recover. It's something that's taken a long time for me to learn about myself, and I think that, for the most part, I'm doing okay with it right now. I'm down to only one evening commitment, choir, which is a nonnegotiable for me; everything else has been stripped away and I've never felt better about it. It's weird, though....like, I LOVE it when friends come over, but to actually go *out* sometimes is a little overwhelming.

I'm also *very* routine-oriented....so to have a week where the routine's disrupted so much really weirds me out. This week hasn't been too bad; I just had recording on Monday and then went to most of the choir recording last night (I just listened since I couldn't sing), but Tuesday night and tonight were normal and I don't think we've got anything big going on tomorrow night either (except for schoolwork for me).

This semester is really rocking schoolwise. I did procrastinate this week...I hate that; I'd been much better about it for the first month. But overall, I feel much more connected to the coursework and the program in general. I feel like I *am* actually in a graduate program and I *am* actually working toward my academic goals, finally. It's funny...I always felt so confident in my academic abilities when I was in college. No fear. Seriously. I attacked every paper and project and felt absolutely certain that I'd be able to pull off an "A." Then, I get away from school for five years, and go back and now, I feel like the lowest common denominator sometimes. I've got to get my mojo back;)

Saturday...FLEA MARKET day!!! I'm going to take ten bucks with me again and see if I can find SOMETHING this time since I went away with nothing last month. I'm loving going to Metrolina expo again....we used to go every month when I was a kid, and it's so awesome to get to do that with my folks again. We always have a blast! And, the end of the month is the Gun Show! That'll be exciting.

So, overall, lots of good stuff coming up (camping trip in a few weeks too!)...just got to keep the right frame of mind.

Happy World Vegetarian Day, by the way! Most of you probably didn't know about it, so try to go tomorrow without eating meat. It's not that hard, and it'll really make a big difference for you, health-wise and soul-wise. Maybe take the time to think about how far-reaching the sins of Mankind really were. We didn't just sentence ourselves to death with the first sin....we sentenced ALL of Creation.