Friday, August 6, 2010

Observations from maternity leave

Wednesday was my first day of maternity leave!! Yahoo! It still hasn't really hit me that I don't have to go back to work until January...I feel like I've just been calling in sick and I have to remember everything for when I go back on Monday. I suppose it'll hit me when, oh, I have a baby.

Anyway, I didn't do too much on Wednesday (although I've done a bit too much this week; I'm definitely starting to learn my limits, and at 36 weeks pregnant, limited I am). I went to the grocery store, went to Starbucks, and did some laundry. Here are some random things I observed on my first day of maternity leave (which was also the day I hit 36 weeks):

1. People don't always hold the door for pregnant women. Why don't people hold the door for people anyway? I don't think this is something that men should strictly do for women - I hold the door for people all the time, men, women, doesn't matter. I was raised to be polite, and I think holding the door for someone is a simple gesture that you should always do for others. On my first date with the hubby, I knew he was the one for me; not only did he hold the door for me at the restaurant, but when he came to pick me up, he actually walked around to my side of the car and opened my door for me (and to this day, if he's around, I don't open doors).

2. Winco is just as busy at 9:00 a.m. on a Wednesday as it is at 9:00 a.m. on a Saturday. This was a bummer, but after I got over the crowd, I realized that it was crowded with old people, disabled people, and older housewives. This was much preferred to the crowds of the weekend that include parents who bring their entire brood with them to the grocery store.

3. My dishwasher is broken. This is truly a bummer; as I've been both busy and tired lately, and my kitchen is suffering from my laziness. The dishwasher has been making funny noises for a while now, but it still worked...until Wednesday. I always wash my dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, but hubby loaded the dishwasher last (exciting, no?!). He doesn't rinse, wash, or scrape food off the dishes so much before he loads the dishwasher (which is probably why he almost never does them, it drives me nuts). However, I was so excited he did the dishes this week; I began to unload the dishwasher, and thought that it hadnt been run - there was crap all over the dishes. I ran the dishwasher again, and when I went to unload the second time, still crap. I ended up hand-washing those dishes, then did another load today (washing all dishes before I put them in the dishwasher...redundant, maybe, but I was always taught this way) just to see if maybe it was the non-prewashing that was the problem. Nope, they're not shiny and water-spot free. Total freakin' bummer. Oh well, I guess this is why we have a home warranty.

4. There are a lot of people out and about on a Wednesday, and not just at the grocery store. I went and got gas at Sam's Club, which is almost never busy. Wednesday, packed! I also saw a semi at Sam's club for the first time (at the gas station). I couldn't help myself, I had to ask him how much it cost to fill up his tanks (because I was filling up the truck, which is always double the cost of filling up the Jetta). He said it cost him about 600 bucks, and would last him two days or about 1600 miles. I thanked him for making me feel better about filling up my tank, and told him to have a good day. He was a nice white-trash-hippie trucker.

Well that's it. I'm sure I'll have more random observations from maternity leave soon. Enjoy!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Random Thoughts

Some days I just don’t have a full topic to blog about, but I try to save random thoughts or occurrences and figured I’d combine them into one blog post. This is one such post.

1. I’m almost 35 weeks pregnant, and last Friday my coworkers decorated my cube with pink and white streamers and other baby decorations. Today no less than three people (and it’s only noon) have come by to congratulate me on the baby, not having known I was pregnant. I’m not sure if I should take this as a compliment (e.g. I haven’t gained much weight), or be a little offended (e.g. I don’t look pregnant because I was already chunky). Maybe it’s just a testament to how unobservant people are.

2. I let someone over on the freeway this morning, and the person actually waved. NO ONE waves anymore, and that’s one of my big pet peeves. It made me smile when they waved.

3. Today someone at work returning to their desk from the restroom stopped me to talk as I was on my way to the restroom. This happened several times last week, too. Don’t people realize it’s not a good idea to stop a pregnant woman on her way to the restroom!? Although, maybe these were the people who didn’t (and/or don’t) know I’m pregnant.

4. Yesterday I was sitting at a stop light and I saw a small Saturn coupe also waiting at the light. Something or someone was in the passenger seat, but I couldn’t make out what/who it was. Upon closer inspection, I saw it was a Great Dane…sitting in the passenger seat of a tiny convertible coupe. I think the top had to be down on the car because the dog’s head was taller than the windshield! It was adorable, and the dog looked like they were having a great time.

5. Here’s another pet peeve – people who don’t drive the speed limit. I’m not saying everyone should speed, but in the past week I’ve been stuck behind three separate people on three different days who were going 40 MPH on a 55 MPH road near my house. Learn the speed limit, or take another road if this one is uncomfortable for you (it’s a little bumpy and narrow, but totally straight). This drives me NUTS! Drive the damn speed limit already.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Rudeness and the grocery store - do they go hand in hand?

Is it just me, or are there more rude people in society today? Perhaps it’s because I’m pregnant and I can switch from hot to cold in no time flat, or perhaps it’s because parents don’t teach their children manners anymore. Either way, something is seriously wrong with society.

Take for example two recent experiences I had in the grocery store. I go grocery shopping every week, and it’s usually early in the morning so I can avoid as many people as possible (this is because I shop at a local non-union grocery store with great prices that is open 24 hours, so there are ALWAYS people there – always. I went at 11:00 p.m. back in my carefree single days and it was packed (with lots of people and children in pajamas, but packed nonetheless)). At this store, you must unload your groceries onto the conveyer belt, and then bag your groceries yourself. People often ask why I go grocery shopping alone if I have to bag my own groceries, but I enjoy shopping alone. First, if I brought my husband, we’d buy a lot more, because he’d just throw things into the cart. Second, I HATE people who bring their spouse and their six children to buy groceries…you know the kids are going to misbehave, and the parents usually end up arguing and not watching the misbehaving children.

Anyway – I usually have a pretty good experience at the grocery store. I park far, far away in a shady spot, away from the busy parking section in front of the store where angry people are fighting for spots. I grab my cart and get out my list (I’m actually one of those people who shop with a list and follow it – a newly acquired skill), and I head into the store. (I should also mention, my grocery shopping tradition is to go first to a drive-through Starbucks, so I come to the grocery store prepared with my Iced Venti decaf two-pump no whip mocha.)

In addition to the hordes of complaining children, there are always people who stop their cart in the middle of the aisle, abandon their cart completely to wander far away from it, and people who are just generally annoying. These things don’t bother me too much – I take it in stride and figure they’re going to happen, so I don’t get worked up over them. I start out in the produce section, and then work my way through the store. (Shopping tip – I used to make a list but go up and down every aisle, JUST IN CASE there was something there I forgot, so I never actually followed my list and bought way too much stuff. Now, I know the store well enough that if something on my list is not in that aisle, I skip the aisle; helps me save time and money.)

Finally, I end up near the check stands. My solo shopping expedition strategy used to be to find the line where the person in front of me didn’t have a lot of stuff, so I could start unloading my basket. Now, I realize that just means I have less time to unload, and then I’ll be rushing. If someone with a huge basketful of stuff pulls in behind you, you’re set, because you know you’ll have time to bag your groceries before they’re done being checked out. Back to my point, I try to find a line down at the not-so-busy bakery end of the store, and get to work unloading my cart.

Here’s where I got really angry in the store a few weeks ago (and again just this past weekend). I’m unloading my cart, and it’s a deep cart, so to reach the items that are in the very back, I’d pulled my cart to the side of the conveyer belt, rather than left it at the end of it, and am unloading my groceries about on the middle of the belt (plus, with a pregnant belly, I just can’t lean that far over the edge of the cart anymore!). In this instance, I happened to be at the busier end of the checkout counters, so there was more traffic milling about. There was no one behind me in line, and there was a single older gentleman in front of me (who looks like he bought the entire store).

As I’m placing my items on the conveyer belt, this woman and her five children come screaming up behind me to get in line before anyone else takes their spot. THEN (and here comes the anger), even though the woman can clearly see I was only about halfway through unloading my groceries, she started to unload her groceries onto the end of the conveyer belt! I looked at her in disbelief, shook my head, and continued unloading my groceries. I was a little too shocked to say anything, and I thought when I run out of room, I’ll ask her where I’m supposed to finish unloading my stuff and make her move hers.

Turns out, I had just enough space to unload the rest of my groceries without moving hers, so I gave her the benefit of the doubt and waited patiently for the checker to finish with the man in front of me. He was (slowly) bagging his groceries, and the checker began on mine (there are two aisles at the end of the check out stand so two people can bag at once), so I moved my cart to the end of the aisle to prepare bagging (those of you who bag your own groceries – if you have a lot to do, don’t you start bagging right away too?). I look up after awhile and see that the checker is almost done with my groceries, so I grab my purse and head back to the checker to pay.

Well, I attempt to.

Rude Mama behind me has pushed her cart so far forward so that I can’t make it to the checker. I look at her and rudely say, “Excuse me, I need to pay.” (Really, it wasn’t that rude.) She moves her cart back an inch or two. By this time, I’m frustrated and state, “No, further, I need to get to the checker to pay” while making “shooing” motions with my hands so she moves.

Who F’ing moves their cart up in front of the ATM machine at the check out stand when CLEARLY they can see that the person in front of them hasn’t paid yet!?!

At this point, I was totally frustrated and angry. I had to hip-check her cart just so I could squeeze in between her cart and the checkout stand to pay for my groceries, so I returned to the end of the aisle to finish bagging in not the best of moods. I noticed that the elderly gentleman was still bagging his groceries, so both lanes at the end of the aisle were taken. Normally, this would cause the checker to pause before starting on the next person.

My checker, being oh-so-helpful to the wrong people, began to ring up Rude Mama’s groceries (she didn’t have much). In a normal situation, I’d be bagging as fast as I could to get out of their so I wasn’t holding people up. Instead, because I don’t like this woman, I bag as SLOWLY as I possibly can. It was great – talk about calming. This caused the checker to hold onto Rude Mama’s few groceries at the check stand (although she’d already paid, there was nowhere for them to go down the lane to the bags).

Again, the checker decided to be helpful when really she should have minded her own business. I was slowly bagging my groceries, and as slowly as I was going, I was still beating the elderly gentleman to my left (who I’d now engaged in pleasant conversation, just to slow the process up a little bit more). Rude Mama and her kids were hovering, unsure of which lane their groceries were going to end up in. Then the checker, damn her, grabbed some bags and bagged Rude Mama’s groceries herself so they could leave the store.

Damnit.

So, they left the store and I finished bagging my groceries at normal speed, bid farewell to the elderly gentleman (who was still bagging) and took off.

This past weekend, I didn’t have a bagging issue, and I didn’t have an issue with someone unloading their groceries before I was done. However, I had begun bagging my groceries and, seeing that the checker was nearing the end of mine, walked back to the check stand to pay. The woman behind me had her cart parked totally across the aisle, RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE CASHIER! Again, what is wrong with people!? How is it even feasible to think that is a good place for your cart, when you know I haven’t yet paid for my groceries? Why do you think I’m not going to come back and rudely tell you to get your cart out of my way so I can pay?

WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE!?

Honestly, I’ve defended this grocery store for years. I assumed people were too sensitive, too angry, or whatever and I continued with my happy shopping adventure in peace. I hope that I’ve just started shopping at the wrong time, or perhaps on the wrong day, and that a simple adjustment to my schedule will do the trick, because I hate to think there are this many more rude, ill-mannered people in the world who lack common sense and manners.

As I get ready to give birth, the type of world I’m bringing my daughter into worries me. Then again, I just remember how my parents taught me manners and respect, and know that I’ll teach my daughter the same things.

Although, maybe that’s what’s wrong.

Maybe my manners are too good – if I didn’t have manners and didn’t know how to properly act in social settings, I wouldn’t be annoyed. I’d be annoying other people, sure, but since I wouldn’t know the difference, I wouldn’t care.

Maybe today’s slacker parents are on to something! But you’re right, I can’t sink that low.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Who knew a "Black Thumb" could plant a garden?

I planted a garden this year, which is a major accomplishment for me (I’m the person who has killed an African violet, a cactus, and zucchini…all things that are supposed to be incredibly hard to kill). It started out small, just some tomato plants in a few five gallon buckets. I also got a couple of cucumber plants, and I figured that was plenty. I wanted lots of tomatoes so that I could can them and make spaghetti sauce and salsa from fresh tomatoes year round, and I’ve been eating lots of cucumbers lately.


This is how my garden started, all in pots.


After I bought all the potting soil, pots, plants, etc., and planted them all (by myself), the Husband decided he wanted to grow some chili peppers this year, and maybe some heirloom tomatoes. Keep in mind he has never had a garden. Also keep in mind that I tease him mercilessly because when he starts a new hobby, he goes all out…there is no easing into something new for him. Needless to say, my small bucket-garden was transformed into a 4’x16’ raised bed, completed with four heirlooms, three cucumbers, five roma and beefsteak tomatoes, two okra (for no reason other than that he liked okra when his grandma fried it when he was a kid, although he hasn’t had it in over 20 years), one bell pepper, and several (too many to count) Serrano, jalapeno, poblano, and God knows what other kind of peppers (we ran out of room because someone planted so many peppers, so my cherry tomatoes all went to my parents).

Our first harvest - Poblano peppers on the left, banana peppers on the right

Don’t get me wrong – I wanted the raised beds, and I’m thrilled to have them. However, you’ll notice I didn’t get raised beds until Husband decided to plant peppers; he was more than content with my tomatoes hanging out in buckets. You may also be wondering why he planted so many peppers. Well, he wanted to try different varieties, so instead of buying a few at the grocery store and trying them, he planted his own (multiple plants of each variety, did I mention?). He also decided he’d make hot sauce out of them. Finally, and I warned you earlier he goes all out when he tries new hobbies, his main desire to grow chilies was to try growing the hottest chili pepper ever created – the Ghost Chili. My dear husband went online, ordered seeds, and nurtured these seeds like I’ve never seen him nurture me or the dog. You have to wear gloves to even pick these ghost chilies, so I don’t know who in the hell is going to be eating them. He also got a few other varieties online, some of which died, some of which are growing nicely (damnit) in our over-crowded garden. (Oh, and let me just say here, we discussed how this was our “experimenting” year, so we probably wouldn’t have so many plants next year. Last night he told me he wants to build more raised beds for next year. Our backyard is beyond miniscule, and there’s already a patio and a raised bed. There is NO ROOM for more raised beds, unless he wants our children to play in them instead of the small patch of grass that currently remains.)
Jalapenos, banana peppers, and tomatoes

Anyway, back to the reason I wanted a garden. I LOVE canning things, but there aren’t many things I can successfully can and eat later – beans, butters, and tomatoes are about it. Other veggies that you might can taste weird to me, because I mostly like fresh, crunchy produce. Oh and I like jam. So, I have a water bath canner, but I was thinking about canning tomatoes, and have decided I’m going to make batches of spaghetti sauce, then just can the sauce; when the baby is born, I’m not going to have time to make sauce from scratch, so I thought I’d just make it now and be good to go. Once you start adding stuff to tomatoes, it changes the pH balance, and they say you need a pressure canner to can tomatoes once you add anything, as their pH balance is on the cusp anyway.
This is what my garden grew to after Husband got involved. I'll have to take pictures of it tonight so you can see how big everything has gotten; this is right after we planted.

I’m going to buy my pressure canner this weekend (so excited!!) and last weekend I bought a food mill, in preparation for canning (and because I watched Barefoot Contessa make a vichoisse and it looked amazing, and I’ve wanted one for awhile. It’s just a cheap one ($30) but it works great! I made spaghetti sauce last night from some tomatoes we’d picked this weekend, and the food mill was AWESOME! Part of the tomatoes I’d boiled, shocked, and then peeled over the weekend. But, half of them I threw right in the pot and let them cook, then put through the food mill. SO COOL how it takes the skins right off!! Husband said it was the best spaghetti he’d ever had last night, all made from tomatoes out of our own garden. Pretty cool.

I can’t wait to can this weekend. What are you going to be doing this weekend?

Let me tell you about my morning

Today must just not be my day. I woke up late and almost, almost stayed in bed…now I’m thinking I should have.

Let me describe my morning to you.

The husband and I carpool to work. Usually we take my car, but as I get more and more pregnant, getting in and out of his truck is easier than getting in and out of my car, so today we happened to be in his truck. I drive to my building, and Husband takes over from there, driving to his building since he has free parking and I don’t.

This morning, I’m getting on the freeway, and attempting to merge all the way over into the carpool lane. I’m almost there, but I stop in the 2nd lane to let a motorcycle and white Sequoia go by in the carpool lane. I can see another car coming, but they’re fairly far back, so I accelerate and move over. And since I’m in the V-8 truck and not my gutless car, I mean accelerate. No one could have accused me of cutting this other car off (which also happened to be a Sequoia, but was blue).

So we’re driving along, and I can see the carpool lane ahead of me…it is non-stop cars. We’re going about 60, and the single-car lanes next to us are doing about the same. All of a sudden, I notice blue Sequoia from behind me is next to me, and sure enough, she merges right over in front of me. SHE SPED UP TO GET ONE CAR AHEAD OF WHERE SHE WAS! And not only that, but I was right behind the white Sequoia in front of me, so she cut me off to go no faster than she was going before. I began to give her the benefit of the doubt, thinking maybe she couldn’t see through my tinted windows and thought I was holding up traffic. But I think that's unlikely.

I noticed that I could actually get over one lane and speed up, passing the now three vehicles (two Sequoias and a motorcycle) in front of me, so I did. Yes, part of me was doing this because I was pissed at the blue Sequoia (which happened to be driven by a short middle-aged woman who probably couldn’t see over the wheel), but whatever…I moved up and in front of the slower traffic without cutting anyone off.

So, we’re driving along, and I’m once again behind some cars that are going about 60 or so. I tend to leave quite a bit of space in between me and the car in front of me; this is a habit from learning to drive in a vehicle without power brakes. There are cars slightly ahead of me in the lane next to me, but at the rate I’m going, someone could BARELY squeeze in front of me (however they would definitely be cutting me off and I’d have to slam on my brakes). All of a sudden, I happen to glance to my right and…BLUE SEQUOIA IS SPEEDING UP TO PASS ME! She’s also flipping me off WITH HER CHILD IN THE FRONT SEAT (I don't really know why she's flipping me off at this point, since when I passed her I also passed two other vehicles and didn't cut anyone off...perhaps she was just angry)!! Instinct kicked in and I floored it, closing the very small gap in front of me so that she couldn’t cut me off once again (I may have also flipped her off, but she deserved it; this was before I could see there was a child in the car).

Now, blue Sequoia is behind me yet again. There was now a bit of space in front of me as some cars had merged out of the carpool lane. I could have sped up, as I was still going only about 60 MPH, and the speed limit is 65. However, I am of course a cautious driver, so I felt it would be unsafe to speed up with this much traffic around me.

What would you do in this case?

You got it - I took my foot off the accelerator and coasted for a bit.

Normally, I don’t condone this type of behavior, but I have to admit, it was very calming.

A few minutes later, blue Sequoia merged out of the carpool lane yet again, so I sped up and left her in my dust. I think she was going to get off the freeway, but she could have been moving over to pass me. Either way, F her.

So later this morning, I experienced another incident. This one is in no way bad, yet just annoying (at least to me). I didn’t have time to eat breakfast this morning, so I went down to our cafeteria about 9:00 a.m. to get something to eat. I ended up choosing to stand in the grill line; usually when I get breakfast I just get hashbrowns, but French toast was all of a sudden calling my name!

You should know that the grill line at work often takes FOREVER. There were two women behind me in line, chatting about banking. I couldn’t help overhear, because they were standing very close (but that’s another blog topic), and because, so sue me, I like to listen; I think human behavior is interesting, and that involves listening to people and watching them.

So these two women, one near my age and one nearing retirement age, are talking about our local credit union. We happen to have an ATM for said credit union in our building, so it’s a very popular bank for employees to bank at. The younger woman was complaining because there are not many branches of this credit union near her house, but it’s so convenient because the ATM is here at work. The older woman joined in on the complaining, talking about her son who lives in Southern CA. Apparently there are “no” (and I quote) branches of said credit union down south, so she cannot transfer money into her son’s account. (I’d like to stop here and point out that she’s wrong, and there are branches of said credit union throughout California. Also, I’m assuming based on her age that her son is of at least college age, if not older; the fact that she is still putting money in his account worries me.) She then continues by stating that she told her son she’d just have to mail him money.

(Allow me to stop here yet again. In today’s day and age, there is NO REASON for anyone to send money through the mail. It just isn’t safe. I’m a member of the aforementioned credit union, as are my parents, and years ago my mom linked her account to mine (and vice versa) so that we could transfer money to each other. Years ago.)

So I’m standing there, yearning to tell these women that a) yes there are branches of said credit union down south; b) she should really link her account to her son’s so she can easily transfer money; and c) you’re a member of a credit union, you can go to ANY OTHER CREDIT UNION and withdraw or deposit money at their ATMs for FREE!

It really bothers me that there are people this stupid in the world. Okay, maybe they don’t know there are other credit unions down south, but wouldn’t you think about maybe doing some internet research? See where the closest branch is to your son. Call up the bank and ask them what the easiest way to transfer money to your son is (because clearly, this woman nearing retirement age was not technologically saavy, so okay, maybe she didn’t think about linking their accounts).

So I’m standing there, just burning with the desire to correct them, because I hate it when people have incorrect information (and sue me, I like to be right, and in this case, I know I am). Also, I don’t mind when strangers talk to me (such as the old ladies in the grocery store that apparently love me and always talk to me). However, since meeting the Husband, I’ve learned there are many people unlike me. He HATES it when people make random conversation with him in the store. With this in mind, I’m hesitant to interrupt the stupid women, because I now realize there are people who don’t want a stranger’s input.

In the end, I didn’t interrupt them. But I’m still thinking about it, because again, it bothers me that they have incorrect information and apparently don’t have the smarts to think outside the box a little bit.

Is it just me, or would that have bothered anyone else?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Don't think me a nerd...

...but I love cleaning products.

Awhile ago (okay, back in February) I wrote about my homemade laundry detergent. I’m happy to say that I made a batch of detergent the first week of February, and am currently on my last container, with probably three to five loads-worth of soap remaining. That’s FIVE MONTHS of laundry detergent that I made at home for about $2.50, if that.

Since then I’ve been Googling other homemade cleaning products, and have found a great all-purpose cleaner containing water, vinegar, and Borax, as well as some creative uses for salt and lemons.

My most recent discovery was that of a dishwasher detergent. I’ve been using the Cascade “Action Packs,” which are the little packs of detergent and spot-free rinse in one package. They worked great, but they’re pretty pricey. During one trip to Winco I bought a package of “Finish” tabs (the brand that used to be Electrosol, or something along those lines) because they were cheaper and Winco didn’t have Cascade. You definitely get what you pay for, because those didn’t work nearly as well. I promised myself that after the Finish tabs were done, I was going to find a new product that was cheaper, worked better, and was preferably homemade.

After doing my research online, I found that you can make dishwasher detergent by combining equal parts washing soda and Borax. Those are both products in my homemade laundry soap, so I already had them at home. I mixed equal parts together then added slightly more Borax because we have hard water (as instructed); I put it in a large container so I ended up using 7 cups of washing soda and 8 cups of Borax. I did my first load of dishes last night with the new detergent.

The results? AMAZING! My dishes were clean, and there were NO water spots. I basically consider this to be a free product, because I bought the washing soda and Borax back in February when I decided to make laundry soap. If I was going to guess what it cost, I’d say about $3.00 (assuming in making the amount of detergent I did that I used about half a box each of washing soda and Borax, and that they cost about $3.00 each, respectively). This amount of detergent will last me a LONG time, as I used about ½ a cup’s worth for my full load of dishes, so I’m pretty happy.

Just in case you’re not sure what these products are, here are some pictures. For those of you who live near me, the only store in town I found washing soda at was Winco. Borax can be found at Target, Winco, Safeway, etc.

I love finding cheap things that work great, and it’s even better when they’re homemade! Sometimes I wish I was a pioneer woman who had to make her own butter, cheese, cleaning products…and then I start to imagine life without air conditioning and am pretty happy to be here in 2010.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Clean House Anyone?

I’m back!!!

Well, I’m trying to be back, at least. I’ve decided that my time would be better spent capturing your attention with my creative prose than surfing the web reading boring and/or depressing news stories about our state’s financial woes. Okay or I’m just bored so I’m going to blog.

Thanks to satellite TV, I’ve greatly expanded my repertoire of television shows from just Law & Order and Criminal Minds to cooking shows, reruns of awesome oldies, and even some reality TV shows. One show I’ve been watching (well, I guess they’re split into two) is Clean House and Clean House: Search for the Messiest Home in America. At first I was addicted (much to Grant’s chagrin, as he hates the sound of Neecy’s (sp?) voice), but now I’m starting to be selective about which episodes I watch. Here’s why.

Long ago I watched that show with Ty Pennington where they find a family, and completely redo their house in seven days. I stopped watching it because I got sick of the sappy stories and the realization that these people would probably trash the house after a few years anyway (and besides, half these houses were in the ghetto…perhaps you should have just bought them a nicer house in a nicer neighborhood to give them a little boost ahead in life…because their ghetto neighbors are probably going to tag/rob/f*%k up their house in some way).

Then I started watching a show on BBC America called How Clean is Your House? These two British ladies come in to houses that are not only full of clutter but dirt, trash, grime, and quite often parasites as well, clean it all up, and teach the homeowners how to clean. They don’t replace any furniture, they don’t redecorate, and they simply clean it up.

Now I’m watching the aforementioned Clean House series and once again, I’m starting to get sick of it. Why? Take these two examples. Example number 1 involves a woman who has a good job as a nurse, two spoiled daughters (they admitted on the show they get whatever they want…and btw both are over 18 and live at home), a husband who is always out of town, a very nice, large house, and a shopping addiction. Her house is full of clothes with the tags on them, and clearly she is not hurting for money. She also admitted that she is not ready to make a change in her life (not shopping), but just wants someone to come in and clean up her house.

Example two is a woman who has been divorced for about a year and has four boys, ranging in age probably from pre-teen to early twenties. This woman was a stay at home mom for years, then had to get a job when she got divorced, so she doesn’t have much time to clean. She did everything around the house, and her four boys played sports and sat in their “man cave” and played video games, doing nothing to help mom.

In Example #1, the family did end up getting rid of stuff, but I hated to see them get their house redesigned, especially since Neecy “gifted” them a brand new, clearly expensive (and extravagant aka ugly) bedroom set. This woman brought everything on herself by shopping all the time, not cleaning up her house, and not teaching her daughters to clean up after themselves (and not punishing them when they contributed to the mess). In fact, she didn’t even seem that appreciative with all the hard work the Clean House crew did.

In Example #2, I almost cried when they revealed the house because the mother was so emotional and so thankful. Her boys really stepped up, sold their stuff to help buy their mom a new bedroom set, and even wrote out chore lists and learned to do laundry and iron their clothes. The entire family really learned a lesson, and you could tell that they were ready to make changes in their lives and the boys were ready to actually help their mom, as they could see they’d been taking advantage of her for years.

I guess that my point with all this is I’m tired of seeing people taking advantage of the system, getting things for free without really having to work for them, and basically being dead beats. No, I’m not perfect, and sure, I’ll take some things for free. But, I work hard, I had to learn to control my spending on my own, and I think there are always creative solutions to your problems, you just have to work hard to find them.

Although maybe this was their creative solution…?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Major Compliment...I Think

Someone just walked past me and said, "Oh April, you always look like your name."

Huh?

She then continued, "You always look like a fresh breath of spring."

Um, thank you, I think. In 28 years, that's one I've never heard!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The English Language

Today I was doing a bit of internet research and I came across the following. I love words, reading, and learning, and sometimes I forget how confusing the English language can be. I thought this was pretty amusing, so I wanted to share.

WORDS TO CONFOUND THOSE TRYING TO LEARN OUR LANGUAGE!

1. We polish the Polish furniture.
2. He could lead if he would get the lead out.
3. A farm can produce produce.
4. The dump was so full it had to refuse refuse.
5. The soldier decided to desert in the desert.
6. The present is a good time to present the present.
7. At the Army base, a bass was painted on the head of a bass drum.
8. The dove dove into the bushes.
9. I did not object to the object.
10. The insurance for the invalid was invalid.
11. The bandage was wound around the wound.
12. There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13. They were too close to the door to close it.
14. The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15. They sent a sewer down to stitch the tear in the sewer line.
16. To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow how to sow.
17. The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18. After a number of Novocain injections, my jaw got number.
19. I shed a tear when I saw the tear in my clothes.
20. I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
21. How can i intimate this to my most intimate friends?
22. I spent last evening evening out a pile of dirt.

Source: Father Terry Fulton’s website, http://www.frterryfulton.org/Thoughts/thoughts.htm

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Likes and dislikes

NOTE - I edited my last statement regarding what I don't like about pregnancy...because I realized it sounded harsher than I meant it to.

Things I like about being pregnant (so far):


  • Being pregnant in general.
  • Getting to experience being pregnant myself instead of listening to others talk about it.
  • Knowing that at the end of pregnancy, there’ll be a cute baby.
  • Knowing that if I overindulge every once in awhile, it’s okay…the baby needs nutrition!
  • If I’m not feeling well, my husband takes very good care of me.
  • During the first 10 weeks, knowing that I had my own little secret.
  • That I’m not barfing (although feeling queasy is no picnic).

Things I don’t like about being pregnant (so far):


  • Having headaches and not being able to take anything (those of you who know me know I used to have headaches every day, and quite often didn’t take anything…but knowing that I CAN’T take anything somehow makes the headache worse).
  • Feeling tired ALL THE TIME.
  • Feeling occasionally queasy and quite often bloated.
  • That my digestive tract has slowed, and I quite often feel sick after eating.
  • My pants already feel snug, and the waist digs into my stomach when I sit.
  • People constantly asking me how I feel and/or offering unsolicited advice*.

*This last bullet refers not to friends and family who actually care about how I feel, but about those people (be they coworkers, strangers, acquaintances) who use "How are you feeling?" as a conversation starter, when really we have nothing to say to each other.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Give me your recipes, please!

Lately I’ve been really bad about making dinner and lunches to bring to work. I get home and I’m so tired that all I want to do is eat a bowl of cereal and sit on the couch. However, my health and my wallet are begging me to get back in the groove and start using all the food that’s going to waste in my fridge.

I’m going to write a post soon about meal planning, but for right now, I actually have a question for all of you. What are your staple meals? What meals make it into your weekly rotation every week, or perhaps are your standby meal for when you just don’t know what else to make. Mine is spaghetti, but I also have tuna noodle casserole and chili. My mom used to always rotate wok chicken, chicken tacos, chili, pork chops, etc.

I’m trying to build my cache of recipes and I want to know what your tried and true recipes are. Maybe it’s something you found, or maybe it’s a recipe that’s been in your family for 50 years. If they’re short, post them in the comments section; if not, email me here.

If you send them to me and I end up making it a regular in my rotation, it could end up in the family cookbook I’m making.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Book Review - Twilight Series

Let me start by warning those of you out there who haven’t read the Twilight books that you shouldn’t read this post. Of course you’re welcome to, but I spoil many things, and I share my opinion of the series with you.

I've never felt compelled to write a book review before, but after reading these four books, I had to share my thoughts.

I hate the Twilight series.

Okay, two of the books were really okay reads. But the other two, I'm not even sure what happened because I was thinking about how much I hate the main character the entire time I read them. I was also thinking that the books are not quite appropriate for the intended audience (I'm sure teen and preteen girls). Why, you ask? Well sure, the author doesn't come right out and say she thinks you shouldn't have sex before you're married (a good message, although not really realistic anymore), but it's clearly implied. Contrasting this implied message is the fact that Edward spends EVERY NIGHT in Bella's bed - what kind of a message is that!? "Sure honey, you shouldn't have sex before you're married, but it's okay to sneak your much older boyfriend into the house every night while I'm asleep and sleep in the same bed with him, as long as there's a blanket in between you." Yes, Bella does turn 18 in one of the books, but she's 17 for a lot of the time, and again, I dont' think that's an appropriate message to send to the intended (or unintended but popular) audience for these books. If as an author you're trying to send the message that abstinence before marriage is the way to go, sneaking your boyfriend in at night doesn't really support that message. No guy in the world is as strong willed as Edward.

Having said that, let’s continue. During the past week I read the Twilight series: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn. I’d had a borrowed copy of Twilight for over a year, and had just never gotten into reading it. Finally, I was out of other books, and so I started it. I was actually quite addicted to the first book – while it was an easy read, it held my interest all the way through. I was so excited to move on to the second book that I purchased it, rather than waiting for my friend to lend me her copy (that was a mistake, now I’m stuck with a crappy book). I borrowed the last two books from my friend, and had a really hard time finishing them. Let’s look at each book individually.

I enjoyed two of the books, and absolutely hated the other two. Twilight was one of the books I liked – it introduced the characters, the setting, and had some action in it towards the end. However, I can see that this book would make a horrible movie, because although there’s action towards the end, that’s it…not much else happens. I don’t really remember much about New Moon, so clearly I didn’t enjoy that book very much. I didn’t realize at first it was mostly about Jacob, so I kept waiting for vampires to enter the story. I really decided in this book that I don’t like Bella, the main character, so that made it hard to want to keep reading the series. I don’t like how weak-willed she is, and how she keeps trying to pull Jacob in, knowing his feelings for her, while she’s sure she’s in love with Edward. It feels like she’s using him for her needs and completely ignoring his.

I made it to the third book, Eclipse, but this was the hardest book for me to read. Honestly, I don’t even remember what happened in this book, because all I kept thinking about was my hatred of Bella. I almost stopped reading the series here; I got so sick of “No I won’t let the people I love be hurt” but oh yeah, I’m not going to do anything to stop them but whine. Bella also still at this point can’t understand why Edward loves her, because she’s plain and he’s so beautiful…get over it and get some self-confidence! The guy (well, sort of) has had a century to find a woman and he found you – clearly that means something, yet she doesn’t accept that EVERY TIME HE TELLS HER. I get sick of her fishing for compliments (though the author doesn’t write it like Bella is fishing for compliments, that’s how I see it).

Finally, I made it to the final book, Breaking Dawn. This one was again fairly interesting – although things aren’t continuously happening, I didn’t find this book to drag like the previous two. It was interesting to meet all the new vampires, and I love the show of solidarity in the end; I absolutely love when people stand up for others for no reason other than that it’s the right thing to do. I also enjoyed that much of this book was told from Jacob’s perspective, saving me from Bella’s whiney thoughts.

Overall, my life would still have been complete if I’d never read these books. Sure, the first and last books were interesting (to a point), but I had to struggle to read the second and third books. I feel like I’ve wasted a bit of my life over the past week – there are so many things I could have been doing besides reading this series. If I never pick up another book by Stephanie Meyers, it’ll be too soon.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Homemade Laundry Soap


Lately I’ve become more interested in becoming more self-sufficient. Not only that, but I’m more interested in using/eating products that either have fewer chemicals/preservatives in them, and/or that I make at home so I know exactly what is in them. I’m not going all tree-hugger, but I am trying to put fewer chemicals in my body, and I’m interested in living a simpler life, hence the making things at home. That, plus I’m sick of being furloughed and losing 14% of my salary, so I'm trying to save money in creative ways.

This year, I’m starting a garden (though those of you who know me know about my black thumbs, so it’ll be interesting) in order to have fresh produce around the house. We just purchased a steer and a hog from a friend of Grant’s who raises livestock raised on his own, homemade, organic feed (this is a great arrangement until a few years down the road when we can move back to the country and raise our own animals). My friend’s mom sells eggs from her chickens, and we buy those when we can. I'm also going to take canning lessons from my friend's mom so I can learn to can things like tomatoes for salsa and spaghetti sauce, pickles, beans, etc. I was raised in the country, and I raised livestock, but we didn't do a lot of "homemade" things at our house - although my mom made some GREAT homemade pickles when I was a kid. Too bad she stopped...

I’ve also been reading a book called "Storey’s Basic Country Skills.” I bought this awhile ago to learn how to can foods, and have ended up learning so much more from it! It talks about finding your land in the country, planting gardens and fields of hay, raising livestock, making soap, and canning/storing your harvest, plus a lot more. I’ve also read a few articles on the “Simple Living Movement.” I’m not ready to dump all my possessions and move to a 100 sq. ft. cottage in the woods, but it has made me realize that I can spend more time doing things at home, instead of buying things in the store.

Case in point – I recently watched an episode of “18 Kids and Counting” (now “19 Kids and Counting”), a show that I’ve really begun to enjoy. In this episode, they made homemade laundry soap. It looked easy and inexpensive, and one batch of soap lasted their family (of 20 at the time) 2-3 months! Imagine how long this soap that costs under $2 to make would last my family of two!

So I found the recipe on the Duggar’s website, and did a little Googling. Turns out it’s a very popular recipe using Fels Naptha soap, washing soda, and borax. I had borax at home already, and I was pretty sure I could find the other ingredients easily enough, even though I’d never heard of them.

Turns out I was wrong.

However, after much running around town and almost purchasing the remaining ingredients online, I found everything I needed at Winco, of all places. (Note – once I found the soap, I told my mom about it, and she said Fels Naptha is what my dad uses for poison oak…in case any of you out there are as allergic to poison oak as my dad).

Anyway, I made the laundry soap and so far, I really like it. It has a pleasant smell, yet when the clothes come out of the washer, they just smell like clean clothes, rather than an overpowering perfume smell like some laundry detergents.

Here’s the recipe, along with a few pictures of my soap-making process.

Homemade Laundry Soap
1 bar Fels Naptha Soap
1 cup Washing Soda (I used Arm & Hammer)
½ cup borax

Grate the bar of soap ( I was going to use the grater on my KitchenAid, but ended up just grating it by hand, which was easier than I thought).

Melt the soap in a large saucepan with 4 cups water. When all the soap has dissolved, pour it into a clean 5-gallon bucket. Add the washing soda and borax, and stir until all the powder dissolves. Fill the bucket with hot water, then put a lid on the bucket and let it sit overnight.

(The liquid will become a gel after sitting overnight. I thought it would become a gel like a liquid laundry detergent, but mine became an almost solid gel. This may have been because I put it in my garage and temperatures overnight were in the 30’s to 40’s.)

Fill a smaller container (something with a lid – can be an old laundry detergent container that you’ve cleaned, a glass jar, etc.) with equal parts of the soap/gel and hot water. Shake well to combine (the total laundry soap from this recipe is 10 gallons; if you have two 5-gallon buckets you can add the extra water now, but I just mix half detergent and half water when I refill the smaller container).

Use 1 cup of the soap for each load of laundry. On the Duggar’s website it says if you have a front loading machine to use as little as ¼ cup (although this soap doesn’t get really sudsy, so I think you’re okay to use more than ¼ cup).

I made a note of the date I made the soap, and I’m excited to see how long it lasts me. Ten gallons of laundry soap for under $2!!

Here are some pictures from my laundry making process, although I forgot to take pictures of all the steps:


This is the bar of soap that you grate and melt. It cost $1.26/bar at Winco.



After I dissolved the grated soap in water and mixed it with the powders, I filled the bucket with hot water. I stirred it some more, and this was what my bucket looked like before I put the lid on.
Okay, so I forgot to take pictures of lots of the steps. But at least I took a couple!

Update on the 50 Book Challenge

I started January off very slow, but am proud to say it feels like I've been doing nothing but reading lately, and I'm making a (sort of) impressive dent in my 50 book challenge.

Here are the books I've read so far:

1. Two for the Dough
2. Three to Get Deadly
3. High Five
4. Ten Big Ones
5. Four to Score
6. Belly Laughs
7. Twilight
8. New Moon

(Note - the # books are all in the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich.)

Now I know - none of those are exactly tough reads. I needed some light material to get me back into the reading groove. I'll keep you guys updated periodically on my reading progress.

I have some news...

Those of you who follow me on Facebook now know my secret – I do indeed have a bun in the oven! I’m pretty excited, and it’s been all I’ve wanted to write about…hence my scarcity in Blog Land for the last 10 weeks.

I have to say, pregnancy so far is pretty boring. I don’t know about the rest of you, but until my first dr’s appointment three weeks ago, I didn’t even believe I was really pregnant (even though three separate home pregnancy tests told me otherwise…and actually it still doesn’t really feel “real”). I haven’t been sick (thank GOD), I do have to pee more often but I’ve been drinking more water, and I’m worn out all the time, but I’m not completely exhausted when I get home every day. So for myself, before I told the rest of the world, I needed the dr to confirm that yes, there really was a baby in there (just one, thank goodness), and yes, everything was okay.

Even after the dr confirmed the pregnancy, and I had my own little sonogram picture to carry with me, I still didn’t want to tell everyone. When I first found out, those first few days, I wanted to tell everyone – my friends, my family, the woman behind me in line at the grocery store. However, the longer I waited, the more I wanted to wait; it was nice to have our own little secret. Plus it became sort of a game to me, to see how long I could wait before telling everyone.

Well, the secret’s out. Not only does everyone on Facebook know, but I finally told everyone at work today as well. And let me tell you, my coworkers are not quiet, nor are they shy. I think everyone in the vicinity of our cubicles knows – but that does save me the trouble of telling the rest of the office.

I’m sure as time goes by I’m going to be blogging about pregnancy a lot more. I hope you guys don’t mind. Those of you who’ve had babies will feel my pain/joy/excitement, and those of you who haven’t, well, I hope I can share something with you that you didn’t know. I read Jenny McCarthy’s book “Belly Laughs” this weekend, and I appreciated her openness – although there are a few things I wish I still didn’t know.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A boring little update...of nothingness, really

I really don’t have anything to blog about today. My weekend was pretty routine – Friday Henry and I hung out. We had our usual morning Starbucks then did some errands, before returning to my house where Henry played Super Mario Brothers Wii and I sat on the couch and watched him. Saturday, I didn’t leave the house at all, which was fabulous. I caught up on some Tivo and made dinner, and that was about as productive as I got. Sunday I went to church with PDawg, which was interesting. I’m SO not used to churches that a) don’t have their own sanctuary and meet in a high school gym; b) sing…a lot; c) have a pastor that wears Converse; and d) encourage you to “feel” the spirit of the Lord but raising your arms, closing your eyes, etc. I grew up in a stuffy Catholic church – totally different. Still, it was a nice experience.

So again, I really don’t have anything to blog about today. I think I’m writing only because I’m on a break at work, I’m bored, and I’m antsy…not sure why I’m antsy. It’s 9:26 in the morning and I’m already ready for this day to be done.

On a positive note, I did make it to the gym last night. It was SO busy; I couldn’t get a treadmill because of all the newbies. I can’t wait for another few weeks until they stop coming.

On another positive note, I’m going to dinner on Thursday with Katie! Katie (see her blog here) was my bestest friend all through elementary and junior high schools. We sort of hung out with different crowds in high school, but then reconnected on…you guessed it – Facebook. We still live in the same town, so we’re FINALLY meeting up for dinner! I can’t wait!!

That’s it for now. Maybe later I’ll have something interesting to write about. Maybe not.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Good, the Bad…the Old.

Yesterday was my birthday. I am now 28 years old and firmly entrenched in my “late 20s.” The mid-20s are gone, and my early-20s are looong forgotten (actually, much of the early-20s are quite literally forgotten).

Each year when my birthday rolls around, as I creep up there in age, I feel like this is the year that I have to grow up, be serious, and start my transition into adulthood. After all, I’m no teenager anymore. This year though, I’ve wondered what exactly I expect myself to do…after all, I’ve been supporting myself for years, have held a steady job, and gee, bought a house. This year, instead of focusing on the things I could do to make myself more of a grown-up, I decided to focus instead on how I actually have grown up, and the events that have led me to 28.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

  • I’ve had a steady job since I was 16. I actually started working when I was 14 (not counting baby-sitting and pet-sitting jobs). The summers when I was 14 and 15 I worked at Orange Julius at the State Fair. When I was 16, I started working at Linens ‘n Things – I remember taking Mom’s van to the interview because it was hot and I didn’t want to sweat my makeup off in my truck with no air conditioning. I only worked at Linens ‘n Things for a month (it was AWFUL) before moving to Plantation Coffee, where I finished out the school year. I had a summer job working for a beer distributer before going off to college. I actually didn’t work the first part of my year in college (mom didn’t want me to work) but by the third quarter I’d gotten a job with the school’s cafeteria, transferring recipes from their old recipe cards to their new computer program. I started with the state about a week after I came home from school, and I’ve been here ever since, moving on up the ladder.

  • I’ve lived on my own. I went to college at 17, came home for two years, then at age 20, moved out with a friend. We had a gorgeous apartment that we shared, until we moved in with her then boyfriend. After a few months of that I started looking at getting my own place; there was a short two-month period of living back at mom and dad’s before moving into my very own, roommate-free apartment. A year later I moved downtown, again to my own place, until Grant moved in. We’ve lived several places since then, but have always paid our bills and our rent on time.

  • I bought a house. Okay, I bought it with Grant, but we were mature and responsible and waited until the market settled down and we could actually afford a house. Then, we bought something in our income bracket. We were furloughed the month we signed the papers, and we’ve still been responsible enough to curb our spending in other areas (namely my shopping habit) so that we can afford our home.

  • I own a dog. Yes, this is a grown-up, responsible thing. Bruiser is my first inside-dog, and when he was a puppy, I swear he was a baby with fur. He’d wake up every hour at night to pee, and let me tell you…it’s much worse to go outside in the middle of the night in winter with a miniature dachshund than it is to change a baby’s diaper in a warm, dry room in your house. Also, he whines and barfs and constantly needs your attention. He’s good training for having a child.

Those are just a few examples. Now, I’m not perfect. I’ve racked up a boatload of credit card debt, eaten ramen for breakfast, and spent my phone bill money on a purse. But, everyone is allowed a few mistakes as long as you LEARN FROM THEM! Repeat them a few times, maybe, but eventually – learn from them so you don’t keep making those mistakes and so that you can grow.

I suppose that’s why I finally admit I’m a grown-up. Not only am I responsible, but I’ve made mistakes, learned from them, and moved on. I guess that’s an adult.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Goal #1, Day #1

Okay, I got up on time this morning (having gone to bed early last night...I really do feel better in the morning after getting a good night's sleep), showered, blow dried my hair and put on some makeup.

What do you think?


Oh, and I got my new glasses last week...cute, no?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I Don't Do Resolutions

For the last two years, I’ve made resolutions. To be completely honest, I can't remember what they were...although I do remember putting a lot of thought into them and feeling that they were grown-up, mature, reachable goals.

Since I don't remember them, I have a feeling I didn't achieve many of those goals.

This year I'm doing something a little different. I'm going to name one "goal" at a time (rather than resolution...that seems so final) that I'm going to attempt to achieve. Rather than measure success by whether or not I achieve said goal, I'm going to measure success by whether I change my habits and work toward the goal. If my goal is to get healthy (this is more broad than I would make my goal, but just as an example), I’d measure success not by how much weight I lost, but by whether I was going to the gym or doing some form of exercise regularly and consistently, or whether I’d incorporated more fruits into my diet, etc.

My first goal for 2010 was inspired by my friend Katie’s blog (you can read her inspirational post here). She describes her utter frustration with women who leave the house looking trashed. Now, I don’t leave the house in sweats and slippers, but lately, well, I’ve stopped caring a whole lot. It’s really a combination of laziness, having just enough self-confidence to not care what others think, and well, laziness. I never leave the house in PJs, although sometimes I’m in jeans and a sweatshirt, because it’s comfy. I don’t normally wear makeup on the weekends anymore, and even during the week I only do my eyebrows and slap on some mascara. My hair – well, it has its ups and downs (literally…and its frizzies, its greasies, and its flats). I try to always look put together, but sometimes, in the rush to get out the door, I feel frumpy, not cute.

So – my first goal is to spend more time…on myself. I will ALWAYS do something to my hair, and I will no longer let it get to that day where you just don’t want to wash it because it’s cold outside so you throw some baby powder in it and put it in a ponytail (wait, are you saying you didn’t notice my hair today?).

I will always put my face on, even on days when I am supremely lazy. This will include, at a minimum, eyebrows, mascara, and lipgloss. During the work week, it should also include powder, eyeshadow, eyeliner, and blush.

I will spend some of my free time primping, plucking, exfoliating and moisturizing. I hate doing any and all of that, but I will make an effort to have trimmed nails, smooth skin and non-reptilian heels.

I will continue my exercise routine with gusto (it needs some gusto…in the last month it really got some wind taken out of its sails). This is not necessarily to lose weight, but to help me sleep and give me some energy.

Finally, I will go to bed at a decent hour every night so that I don’t hit snooze eight thousand times in the morning, only to finally wake with a headache because I slept so little and so not well.

Thanks Katie for the virtual push – and thanks everyone for reading! Keep an eye on the blog for periodic updates to this goal, as well as other goals for 2010.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Writing Project #1 - Article Thoughts

I've always been a big fan of reading, and there is one type of book that I particularly love. I love books that not only tell a story, but really let you into the character's head so you know what they're thinking and why. A few of my favorite books are Save Karyn, the Confession of a Shopaholic series, and The Devil Wears Prada. I know, they're not literary classics, but in each one, the main character leads you on a journey of their inner-most secrets. There's always something in these books that you can relate to, even if you don't want to admit it. Like in the Shopaholic series - as I read I can literally feel the thrill of hunting for a new purse, finding just the right one, and reaching into my wallet at the checkstand to pay for it...the feeling of victory when the screen flashes "approved" and the cashier hands the item to me and it's officially mine. To me, reading books like these are like looking in someone's house to see how they live: what's in their junk drawers, what brand of makeup is in their bathroom, what bills may be laying around in their piles of mail.

I love to learn the things about people that we don't normally share - I've said it before, I'd love to stop random women on the street and ask them what's in their purse. I think it's so interesting to see what other people have, why they have it, what they use it for (after all, at first glance would you guess the permanent marker in my purse is for writing? It's not - it's for filling in scuffs on my black shoes...see, interesting, no?).

Today I read an article on CNN.com, one of my favorite websites to peruse when I am on a break at work. This news story caught my interest - I really couldn't care whether this woman can't sleep, but I loved reading the things she worries about that cause her not to sleep. Not because any of the things she worries about are things I worry about - after all, I couldn't care less if acid wash jeans make a comeback, and I don't worry about getting the ebola virus (okay, maybe a little) - but just because I'm curious what others think. Here's a list of things I worry about when I can't sleep:

  • I worry that I'll never get back in shape. It used to be so easy to lose weight, 'back when I was young.' I'll be 28 in 2 days, and it sure was easier to lose weight at 21 than it is at almost 28...what's it going to be like when I'm 40!?!
  • I worry that I'll never pay off my debt, and I feel guilty about the amount I charged up. I admit it - I used to be a spendthrift. Perhaps it was a little too much Shopaholic influence, or perhaps it was just a normal 20-something getting carried away with a hobby she loved, but boy did I use my credit cards. To my credit (ha, get it?), I haven't used credit in about three years now, and my debt is well on it's way to being gone. But I lie awake sometimes thinking about the things I could be doing (or buying) if I wasn't still paying off old debt.
  • I worry about what I'll do with my life. I went through a phase recently where I didn't really see a reason to have kids; after all, unless you know they're going to become the president or create a new life-saving drug, then really, you're just bringing someone into the world who is going to use up it's natural resources and contribute nothing to society. I mean, what have I contributed? What do I really want to do with my life? Should I make a radical change and try to work in a "helping" profession? Will that make me feel like my life is meaningful?
  • I worry about trivial things like what I'll wear to work the next day. I have a closet full of clothes that don't fit, and the clothes that do fit are pretty limited. Either that or they're the ones strewn about my bedroom that I can't find when it's dark and I'm not fully awake in the morning.

So, read the article, then think about the things that keep you awake at night? What are they? Do we share any worries? Do you have any strategies for dealing with your worries? I'd love to hear them!

The Writing Project - Accidentally Continued

Do you remember me saying that I was going to be disciplined and write at least one article/story/something a week? Well, I got sick right after I wrote that, and then discipline all but disappeared from my life.

Until today.

Today I had a stroke of genius! I was trying to decide how I’d decide what to write about. I read a news story where a man rolls some dice each night and the numbers on the dice become the number of words he includes in his story each night. Then I thought about the movie Julie and Julia, and how she wrote each day about the recipe she cooked the night before. I needed a great idea, but I’m not so great at coming up with new ideas – I’m actually better at copying and improving upon other’s great ideas.

Today I finally got an idea of my own. It may not be great, but it’ll work for now, and hopefully it’ll keep you interested. I’m going to write each week about a news story.

Don’t start yawning on me now – just wait. It isn’t necessarily going to be a huge news story about peace in the Middle East (or lack thereof), or the rise (and fall) of Wall Street. I know this is probably bad, but honestly, I don’t care that much about those things. I read news stories about things that interest me or affect me. I know both of those things do potentially affect me, and should definitely interest me, but they don’t. I’m interested in missing person’s cold cases, the horrible leadership of our great state, or a great shoe sale at Macy’s. I may be interested in articles on child-rearing (hey, it’s in the future) or urban planning, or the newest superfood. I like to think I’m a pleasantly eclectic mix of interests…not too heavy on one subject so as to alienate my readers who, like me, may crave variety.

Today’s article (coming soon in another post) is actually neither of those, but more of a light-hearted look into the way someone else thinks (which, as you all know, is something I love…taking a look into others’ lives).

So, join me on my writing project – comment, leave tips, leave thoughts. Or don’t. Whatever works for you.

The 50 Book Challenge is Back

Last year (well, two years ago now I suppose, since its 2010…eek!) my friend inspired me to read 50 books in one year. I didn’t make it to 50, but I did make an impressive dent in the library (okay, I think I read 36 books…still, nothing to sneeze at). In 2009, I completely failed at reading. Sure, I read lots of books, but many of them were repeats, and I think I spent more time watching TV and playing video games (easy to do since we got Direct TV and a Wii in 2009).

2010 is going to be the Year of the Bookworm in my household. Okay, Grant hates to read, but it can be the Year of the Bookworm for me. Inspired by yet another friend (who read 48 books in 2009!) I’m going to renew my vow to read 50 books.

And I’m already four days behind!

The rules are as follows (yes, there are rules):


  • Any book that contains a majority of words and minority (if any) of pictures counts as a book. For example, I’m currently reading “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” If I finish, I’m going to count this as a book. There’s a whole story in the beginning, and scattered throughout the recipes are additional narratives. In my book, this is a book.
  • You cannot read the same book more than once. You can, but it won’t count more than once. You can even reread a book you’ve already read, but you can only read it once this year for credit. For example, I’m going to read the Harry Potter series this year. I’ve already read them all, but the first time I read them this year will count towards my grand total; if I reread them a second time this year, the second time does not count as a book.
  • The year is a calendar year from January 1, 2010 through December 31, 2010 at 11:59 p.m. Which means I’m already four days behind – shoot!
  • You must track your books. You must keep track of the books you’ve read (for obvious reasons, such as so you know how many books you’ve read, and then also just for fun), the author, and how many pages each book is. More pages isn’t always more impressive, but it’s still neat to see how many total pages you read.

So – anyone else up for the challenge? Come on, who wants to read 50 books with me?