Playing with another blog

Monday, August 23, 2010

Check it out:

You should be able to add it to your list just like this one. I don't know if the new one will stick or not. But it's fun for the meantime. :-)

A blog about everything you aren't supposed to talk about

Monday, August 2, 2010

Long time no post! Things are good. Summer is HOT. I could regale you with 100s of vacation pictures, but maybe another time.

I have been thinking a lot lately about how little I feel about stuff. I rarely get worked up, I have the patience of Job, and I can rationalize away almost anything that would have made a normal person angry. I haven't decided if this is a positive or negative personality trait, but as with everything, I'm sure it's both.

One thing I miss about being a teenager was being able to turn on the radio and feel like every song was about me. It was so cathartic! You know, you could have a break up and rewind Brian Adams' "Please Forgive Me" over and over and still feel each and every word. I miss that. I hear songs on the radio sometimes and think, wow I would've LOVED this song when I was younger. This is a great party song, or a great graduation song, or a great new-love song. I don't know about you, but I find much fewer songs apply to me these days than used to. The nice thing about this is realizing the theme of the songs that DO apply lately. They're the happy songs! So, while I miss how it good it felt to commiserate with every emotional song on the radio, I'm glad that my life is in a stable, happy place where I can't relate with most music anymore.

But I find with most aspects of life, I'm neutral. This realization that I don't feel songs like I used to made me think about how I don't feel a heck of a whole of anything, at least compared to other people I know. It's not that I don't feel anything, but I just choose not to care or get worked up over stuff unless it's important to me. I see the Democrats' point of view as well as the Republicans'. I can't despise anyone for holding a particular set of beliefs (not just political). If I despise someone who is very liberal, doesn't that mean I align myself with conservatives? I don't know enough to know what's right, and frankly, that makes the people who act like this stuff is a no-brainer sort of scary. It's like Twilight. I like the books and movies. (Just a fair disclaimer). But I always joke that the only thing scarier than Twilight fans are the people who so vehemently HATE Twilight. I mean, talk about hating something just for the sake of hating it, with no real reason. But people are like that. They don't like something, so they hate it. Me? I only get worked up about things I truly care about, and I only argue if I feel confident that I'm right, which is probably less than 1% of the time. I just soak up everyone's viewpoints until I feel like I have enough information to form my own opinion.

One area in which my "neutrality" has been a big concern for me in the past few years is faith and spirituality. I can live without having strong beliefs in the area of politics, but what kind of person is just like, "eh" with regard to their faith?? I'm not at all OK with this. The problem is, I have yet to perfectly reconcile the things I believe with a church. Several things have had this on the forefront of my mind lately, but I'll focus on Anne Rice's recent denunciation of Christianity. Now, when I read the headline "Anne Rice Leaves Christianity", I thought "what is that crazy lady up to now??" I definitely identify as a Christian, and I know next to nothing about Anne Rice. When I read that headline, I thought, "Oh great, more fuel for non-believers..." Because some non-believers hate Christianity just as fiercely as some non-Twilight fans hate Twilight. Why does it even matter to them? I don't hate non-believers, and I can understand all different viewpoints. Except for the viewpoint that says it's OK to spout venom with your words. There is no need for that no matter who you are. Keep your hate to yourself.

Anyway, so I clicked on the article just like I do every other ridiculous thing in CNN's entertainment section (yes, today I learned that James van der Beek got married, and I realized how enormous his forehead is!), and much to my surprise, I pretty much share her beliefs. Here is part of what she said, although being a neutral sort, I would never be so absolute.

"As I said below, I quit being a Christian. I'm out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen."

So, on the surface she probably sounds like a maniac to a lot of people, but she expresses the stuff I have had the most difficulty with. I have visited a few churches in the last year, and my grandma says I'm being too picky, but I haven't gotten the "love everyone" vibe I'm seeking in a fellowship. It makes me wonder if I'm just too neutral to go to church. I love everyone, and I have loads of tolerance. I've heard tolerance referred to as fear of standing up for Jesus. To me, it's a special thing to be able to see people wholly and love them no matter what. Not everyone can do that (or maybe they just choose not to.) I want to be part of a group that is concerned with loving and serving others.

This is why my grandma (someone I consider a spiritual model) says I'm being too picky. I didn't go back to one church because he made fun of skinny, pale vegetarians. I get it, it was meant to be a joke. And I'm sure it was funny. But all I could think was, I love vegetarians! LOL I wish I could BE a vegetarian! And something about his remarks rubbed me the wrong way, and I didn't go back. Like, in my last church (which is really far from my house), my friends introduced me to hummus. In this church, they probably make fun of people who eat hummus! This sounds really ridiculous, I know, but I did not get the impression that this was a church full of diversity loving open minds. LOL Now, I can't really blame anyone but myself for my absence from church because the last place I visited was perfectly fine, and its lobby practically screamed "opportunities for service!" I have been lazy about going back... But, that's not the point of this post.

Now read this. These posts are from Anne Rice's Facebook page, by the way.

"My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn't understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me. But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been, or might become."

Are you talking to ME!? This is exactly how I feel.

I can't be one of these renegade Christians who study and serve alone because the church is so corrupt, though. Because guess what, I love Christians too, and I know there is no perfect church family because there isn't a perfect human being on the face of the planet.

Don't worry, this isn't going to be a post about the accident. But these are the parts of my faith that I feel confident in. I believe Tom nearly died last year and the fact that he recovered fully with no "hitches in his giddy-up" can be attributed in some part to prayer and divine intervention. I believe someone hears me when I pray, and I remember when it used to be a two-way conversation. I know that in my darkest hours, I desperately want to have that spiritual connection I used to have much more strongly.

But, when my Hindu friend tells me she pulls out an idol and prays before she drives (clarifying that she doesn't believe the idol is God, just a token), I don't see the difference between that faith and my own. I think that will always be my biggest struggle as a believer. And it's certainly not something I can work out in a blog post!

I'm not sure where my place is as a "neutral" Christian, but that shouldn't stop me from trying to find it. I think I will come to understand my spirituality more readily than my political beliefs...LOL.

Politics...check! Religion...check! Sex...oh, that's lacking. Sex sex sex sex sex. Now everyone can be fully uncomfortable since I have covered all the non-socially-acceptable topics of discussion. :-) Have a great week, friends.

168 Hours - Day 1

Monday, June 14, 2010

So, this probably isn’t the blog you are waiting for, the big vacation blog. I don’t know when I’ll get around to that! But soon, I promise. Actually, I’m leaving Thursday to go to Colorado with my parents, so I’m just going to be even more buried in pictures when I get home. Hopefully I’ll make time for it this week.

I've been reading a time management book called 168 Hours, written by Laura Vanderkam who also writes a gifted blog I follow (Gifted Exchange). I really like it so far. She also has a blog for this book you can find in my blog list to the right. One thing she encourages is to spend a week (168 hours) keeping track of everything you do during the day, and this week, her blog followers are all doing this. I’m glad, because I’ve tried keeping track and kinda let it go by the wayside, so now I feel motivated to follow through and actually record what I do in a week. So, here is my day today, for better or worse:

7:00am – hit snooze

8:15am – wake up, watch the news

8:25am – get a coke, go to computer room, unproductive online time (facebook, personal email, etc)

8:45am – shower/dress for work

9:30am – Leave for work, run through whataburger for coffee I didn’t make time to drink

10:00am – arrive at a middle school to pick up data for work. Finally find office at other side of campus, trapse back to car with a heavy box. Was so hot and sweaty by the time this was done I couldn’t bear to drink my coffee.

10:30am – arrive at university, illegally park so I can carry the box upstairs, repark super far away, and walk to my friend’s office

11:00am – return something to my friend, chat with old advisor for a bit, get suckered into tutoring statistics for the rest of the summer, and leave to walk to my office.

11:45am – emails (probably with a little facebook and chatting with co-workers mixed in)

12:30pm – finalize article revisions (my first journal article was accepted with revisions last week!), with co-worker chatting, facebook, and an unrelated work crisis sprinkled in.

4:00pm – submitted new article draft, emailed to co-authors.

4:20pm – played on internet – facebook and blog catching up. Found this blog and started logging my time for the day.

4:45pm – walked to car and drove home

5:10pm – say hi to Tom, get my rubbermaid tub out of the attic so I can pack it for my camping trip next week.

5:20pm – eat a snack and relax for a bit

5:50pm – put away the mountains of clean clothes we’ve had piled up in the bedroom for longer than I care to admit.

6:30pm – did a few dishes and got out the leftovers for us to eat, eat dinner, watch a Buffy episode on Netflix.

7:30pm – put away one more load of clothes from the dryer.

7:50pm – a little more internet time, now I’m updating this time log and posting it in a blog.

8:30pm – about to curl up on the couch with a book and some water. I’ll probably read til 10:30 or 11, then go to bed. But if not, I’ll come back and tell the truth tomorrow. :-)

11pm update - stopped reading at 10:30, and I just took some time to make a to do list for tomorrow, realizing my vacation is sneaking up on me, and I need to get on the ball. Night night.

Somewhat productive day with lots of time wasted, and not necessarily in the name of rest and relaxation. Will be interesting to see how the rest of the week pans out.

Promise to update eventually...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Been so busy! Not just work, but lots of fun, too. I promise to update with our vacation and other interesting things SOON.

Everything blog

Friday, April 23, 2010

I guess it’s only been 3-4 weeks since my last post, but it’s been cram packed with good times and hard work.  Commencing categorization of updates.


I have 3 classes this semester, 2 online and 1 face-to-face.  They are going well, but I’m not a big fan of the online classes.  I’d rather be taking them in person.  My face-to-face class is statistics, and it’s pretty easy but I’m relearning a lot that I’ve forgotten since I first took a stats class.  The exams in the online classes are 3-4 hours long each, a mix of essay (I mean, full length essay) and multiple choice questions.  They’re brutal!  I’m doing OK in them.  I should pull out A’s in all my classes.  I have the 2 online finals the weekend of May 8th, which is two weeks from now, and my stats class final is a write-up, so I can turn that in anytime and not have to take any exams during finals week.  Which is good, because….

Florida road trip!!


Tom and I are driving to Kennedy Space Center as soon as he is done with finals May 11th or 12th to fulfill a lifelong dream of ours to see a shuttle launch.  If you don’t keep up with this sort of thing, there are only 3 launches left before the shuttle program is retired.  I’m sure it will come back one day, but who knows when, so many people are treating these launches are their “last chance”.  For many, like us, viewing a shuttle launch is a bucket list thing.  I have been interested in this stuff ever since we studied it and visited NASA in Houston with my GT class in 4th grade.  Tom is way more into it than me.  I’m thrilled that we get to go!  We have tickets through a tour company to view the launch from the causeway, which is the closest unobstructed view of the launch a layperson can get.  We are still hoping to get tickets directly from Kennedy Space Center, which go on sale Monday and are half the price as our “private tour” tickets.  But, they sell out within a few minutes, so I’m glad we have the other tickets as a backup plan.

The launch is scheduled for the 14th, but we will wait around on it if it’s delayed.  Other things on our Florida agenda are touring Kennedy Space Center (duh) and spending some time on the beach.  We will stop in New Orleans for a few days on our way home.  I am REALLY looking forward to the trip!!

San Diego Pictures

I went to the SITE conference at the end of March and had a good time.  Here are a few pics from there, although I didn’t get out that much. 


The hotel was next to a marina, and the views were great. 

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I still dream of this seafood cobb salad I had at the hotel.  I could eat it daily. 










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I did go with my coworker Okyoung on a tour for a few hours on our last day there.  Here I am in front of the famous Hotel del Coronado, and Okyoung and I on the same beach in front of the ocean.

I’d love to return to San Diego for more pleasure than business sometime, and especially with Tom.  I think he would love it there.  :-)



Here’s what we have sprouting this year. 



Topsy Turvy tomato.  It might look OK in this pic, but I won’t lie, the leaves look like crap!  I don’t know if it has some kind of disease or pest?  We are going to do some research about it, but our other tomatoes look far healthier than this one.  :-O







Herbs.  Left to right: basil, parsley, cilantro, and oregano.  On the bottom shelf, I’m experimenting with some garlic.  Only 2 of the cloves I planted are sprouting.









Left to right: cherry tomato, bush tomato, blackberry vine, and lime tree.  The lime tree is Tom’s pet, and we don’t have a clue what we’re doing.  We’ll get to the blackberries later…



Can you see our first tomato?  Sorry the pic is blurry, I was using my new cheap camera, not my lovely Canon.  It’s almost dead center in the photo, but a little to the upper right.  Yay!!





In my beds, I have bell, jalapeno, and banana pepper growing, but something is munching on them and I’m gonna have to get some pesticide of some kind.  I also went crazy and planted about 100 onion…LOL.  Red onions in the bottom bed and yellow on top.  :-)




This was going to be a trellised cucumber, but Sasha dug it up 15 minutes after I planted it.  I was appalled.  I think I’m going to try to trellis that blackberry vine here instead. 




Other Misc. Fun

Tomorrow, we are going to GermanFest in Muenster.  Somehow we got an “in” to judge in their BBQ contest.  Hilarious!  We are judging sausage at 12:30 and ribs at 3:30.  LOL   The best part is that Mark Chestnutt is playing there at 10pm tomorrow night.  Isn’t that great?!  Should be a good time.

And in keeping with the cultural diversity theme of 2010, we will follow up March’s Irish Festival and April’s German Fest with the Scottish Festival and Highland Games in June. 

Did I blog yet that I’m going with my parents camping in Colorado in June as well?  Tom can’t go because the class he needs to take this summer is only offered during the trip.  But I’m looking forward to it!  I have never been to Colorado with a digital camera – I’m gonna go crazy clicking away!  It’s the season of Colorado trips – I’m leaving Friday for a conference in Denver, then there is another conference in Denver at the end of June that I am probably attending. 


Hope everyone is well!  :-)

They've been workin' on the raaaaail roooooad

Monday, March 29, 2010

People have been working on the train behind the house everyday for a few months now. I think they figure the more noisy they are now, the less we will care about a commuter train coming through. I've made peace with the situation but we are still concerned about property values. In addition to the train, they are extending Corinth Parkway out behind our house to make it a full loop that connects to 35 on both ends. And they're putting a new industrial area on the other side of the train. Lots of changes coming!

I've been getting into a more productive groove, as far as school goes. The house suffers, but I think that's a lower priority right now. Nothing is worse than being as behind as I was in work last week!

I'm headed to San Diego tomorrow for the SITE conference. I'll be there til Friday night. I'm definitely looking forward to it, but I'm not sure how much extra time I'll have. This conference has activities in the evening, so my schedule will be pretty packed. But, hopefully we will find a little bit of sight seeing time! I've never been to California. I'd like to find a beach. We'll be on the water, but it's not a beach, it's rocks. I also need to find a good shopping area. I know they have a trolley tour. Need a cheap way to see a lot in a short amount of time. I think my coworker and I will take some time Friday to get out before our flight home. Even if I don't get out much, this is a fun conference. Heck, they have a cash bar set up at the poster sessions. LOL

Today is our 1 year TBI anniversary. We're not making a big thing of it but I can't totally ignore it either. It's been a long, important year. Lately we've been so consumed with school and work, planning vacations, figuring out how to manage my schedule, always thinking ahead about starting a family - I feel like the TBI situation defines us less and less. I am thinking one day it will barely be a blip on the radar of our lives, which is a refreshing thought.

So there ya have it. I hope everyone is doing well! :-)

A lengendary update 2 weeks in the making

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Wow, I gotta admit, spring break was almost entirely a bust for me! I'm not complaining, it just wasn't anything like I expected.

We were supposed to go camping the first weekend of spring break, but the camper was all screwy, so we bailed. We're taking it to the shop this week.

I was supposed to get a lot of work done this week (you know, like work I get paid money for), but instead, I worked in the garden a few days. Luckily, I did not plant my veggies on Friday as planned so they aren't frozen right now. I think I'll wait til April...

We planned to take the boat out Thursday since we didn't get to go camping, but no, the trailer lights weren't working, the truck battery needs to be replaced, and the fuel pump on the mustang isn't working right. :-O It just wasn't meant to be.

I wanted to get a lot of school work done, too, but no. We watched Dexter and Weeds on Netflix and drank wine the whole week. Aside from the garden, this has been the single most unproductive 9 days in history.

And I don't even have a menu plan for this week. gasp!

Don't worry, I'm going to a Time Management workshop on Wednesday. Wish it would've been the week before spring break! Part 1 of my time management workshop? Don't buy box wine!

Menu Plan Monday

Monday, March 1, 2010

Menu Plan Monday @ Orgjunkie!

What we're eating this week:

Breakfast - eggs with salsa

Lunch and snacks - I have a few things on the menu for this week. Mexican Red Lentil Stew (Update! I just made that lentil stew and it is DELICIOUS! Definitely recommend) for a few days. Roasted red pepper hummus with veggie dippers (rough recipe here). Avocados. Roasted brussels sprouts, my new favorite snack.

Dinners -

Monday: Roasted whole chicken with roasted cauliflower. Leftover from last week - we ended up having pizza last night!

Tuesday: Ham and Cabbage soup with Red Bell Pepper. Still working on that ham from a couple weeks ago. This will finish it off, and we should have some leftovers for lunch.

Wednesday: Creole seasoned pork chops with tomato red bell pepper salsa. With roasted broccoli and salad.

Thursday: Leftovers with salad.

Friday: Taco Salad - taco seasoned ground turkey with spinach, red leaf lettuce, avocado, salsa, cheese, olives, and green onion.

Saturday: Grilled chicken breasts with roasted vegetables (zucchini, onion, red bell pepper, maybe broccoli)

Sunday: ?? Leftovers?

New Orleans

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I headed to New Orleans early Thursday morning for a conference.  I spent all day at the conference on Thursday.  Thursday evening, I had the pleasure having dinner with a friend who lives in New Orleans, followed by an impromptu tour led by her.  It was great!  I saw Brad and Angelina’s house (although there was nothing really special about it) and also saw a movie being filmed.  Sweet.  Friday morning was more conference festivities, then that afternoon, I had a few hours before my flight, so I strolled around the French Quarter and took the following pictures.







First, I headed to Jackson Square to see the St. Louis Cathedral.  Here is a view from the fence just outside Jackson square.  There were lots of street vendors here with misc. artwork and horse and donkey drawn carriages available to rent.












You can’t get to the cathedral without passing by this famous statue of Andrew Jackson (right) or this fountain right in front (left)





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From inside the cathedral.  If you know me, you know I’m obsessed with pipe organs (left).  To the right is a view from the back of the church.












I left the church and found these creepy babies in a shop in the square.
















Then, I headed to the famous Cafe du Monde for famous beignets and famous cafe au lait.  Mmmmm!  First, I thought I should knock some of the sugar off those, but I learned that you really ought to try to keep every bit of sugar on those things.














I found the homeless people hanging out by the river enjoying a song by some other people who may or may not be homeless, but decidedly could NOT sing well.  I finished my coffee, waited for a train to pass, and continued my stroll.









I came across the State Supreme Court building (left) and thought, like many other court houses across the country, it was OK to go in and take a look.  I was met with an airport-style security setup, and they said it was OK for me to come in, so I went through and let Big Brother document my visit with a picture (right).


Once inside, it wasn’t all that thrilling.  I got yelled at by a security guard for trying to open a closed door, and I did briefly view the actual Supreme Court room for a minute or two before leaving.  Pros: got to use the restroom and got a cool official looking visitor badge that the security guard let me keep.

I was pretty pooped at that point, and my feet were KILLING me in my dress shoes, so I headed slowly back to the hotel for the airport shuttle to pick me up.  I browsed through some antique shops on the way.  The flight home was uneventful, but the Cruzan rum bar at the airport was pretty alright.  ;-)

Coming soon, one day, I will blog with our snow pics!  Maybe I should save them for a hot summer day.

You know how I do it...

In my constant quest to balance my love of cooking and my love of eating with my desire to be SMALLER, as you probably know from reading here, I'm kind of on a "whole foods" kick courtesy of famous people such as Jillian Michaels and Michael Pollan. Credit is also due to non-famous people (at least by my standards) like Paul Prichford, whose book Healing With Whole Foods, I must admit, is where this really all started for me. Not counting whatever life experiences led me to purchase that book in the first place.

Two mottos have stuck with me. Jillian's, "If it didn't come from the ground or have a mother, don't eat it," is one. Michael Pollan has inspired a new way for Tom and I to categorize food - food and nonfood. Where my fake powdered coffee creamer is "nonfood" and my creamer is food. Food? Spinach, oranges, beans, chicken, rice, oatmeal. Nonfood that has graced my pantry regularly? Meal-replacement bar of the moment, splenda, white bread/tortillas, Frosted Shredded Mini Wheats, Blue Bell ice cream, Diet DP, most salad dressings (including Miracle Whip). Just to name a few.

Tom and I have crossed into overweight BMI range in the last couple of months. This all happened very slowly. I went to New Orleans for a conference this week, and sort of like the week after Christmas, I feel like this week will go right as far as eating right. So, with all that build-up, I'd like to present our meal plan for the week. Not much emphasis on dieting, just eating real food.

BTW, this is my first week to link this to Menu Plan Monday at Org Junkie's blog, something I have wanted to do for quite a while!

For breakfast everyday, Oatmeal Breakfast bars and fruit (oranges or bananas).

For lunch, we have some ham leftover from last week (which probably falls closer to the nonfood category, but alas, it's lean and it's in the fridge), some tuna salad (with real mayo, onion, and celery), or some homemade peanut butter (and banana, optional) sandwiches, on whole wheat bread I'm making today.

Snacks: oranges, bananas, cashews, carrots and celery. Might make some hummus today (a can of drained, rinsed chickpeas, a tbsp of tahini paste, a clove of garlic, a splash of lemon juice, some salt and cumin, and a roasted red bell pepper, processed til smooth in the food processor.)

Sunday - a "scramble" with a roasted diced potato, a little onion, some diced ham, and some eggs. Really excited to have received some fresh eggs from my mother-in-law's chickens yesterday! We must have about 25 small eggs, equivalent to a dozen. Woo hoo!

Monday - Salsa roast from Kalyn's Kitchen (except I've started making it in the dutch oven on the stove and only cooking it for a few hours), with roasted brussels sprouts

Tuesday - leftover roast with salad.

Wednesday - Smoked ribs ala Tom (rubbed with this rub from Alton Brown) with roasted potato wedges and some kind of green, maybe broccoli

Thursday - whole roasted chicken and roasted cauliflower (I'm a little obsessed with roasting at the moment)

Friday - Vegetable soup

Saturday - leftover vegetable soup

Countdown time!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I don't know if anyone likes reading the countdowns, but this blog is really all about me anyway, and I LOVE countdowns!

1 day til my sister's 15th wedding anniversary. Dang!
1.5 days til I'm in New Orleans (but only for one night)
4 days til the McNair conference where I'm moderating in the morning. Awesome breakfast and lunch included. Woo hoo! Got MIL's birthday dinner that night.
5 days til I recover from jetsetting. I'm such a wuss.
8 days til my friend's dissertation defense. Big deal for her!
10 days til a poster presentation at UNT. Kinda nervous about having my project out on display for people I actually have to see everyday.
14 days til a fun happy hour with friends.
23 days til our spring break camping trip
26 days until the time changes and we get an extra hour of daylight. Thank goodness!
27 days til we come home from our camping trip and still have SIX whole days left in spring break
32 days til the day before I go back to school after spring break and realize that I should've accomplished a lot more over the break.
39 days til HBO starts showing True Blood season 2 again (in preparation for the new season starting in the summer)
72 days til I leave for the AERA conference in Denver, where I get to stay 3 nights. Woot!
76 days til the 10th Sookie Stackhouse novel is released (Southern Vampire Mysteries that True Blood is based on)
82 days til finals week. Seriously.

Then it's summer! OMG I can't wait to get some sun!!

Another Focus Challenge - Reading

Monday, February 15, 2010

Well, I managed to write for one hour undistracted a couple weeks ago, and now I'm moving on to reading. Can I sit and read a textbook for one hour without doing anything else? I've probably picked a terrible day to do this because my allergies are awful, but oh well, there is never a GOOD time to sit and read for one hour. Much like with writing, I need to up my game in grad school, and reading is part of that. I rarely had to crack a textbook as an undergrad, just going to class and taking notes works for most courses.

I'm going to get a glass of water, some kleenex, and start the reading frenzy at noon. I will report back with my success or failure later.

Edit: I succeeded. 45 pages read in 1 hour. I read carefully but didn't take notes or highlight, just read like a novel. So, at that rate, it should take me about 15 hours to read the 678 page book. Probably longer since the content becomes more complicated as I go. That's not bad...

Valentine's Day Menu

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Well, I am making our own Valentine's Day dinner tonight instead of going out. Because it's cheaper, just as delicious if not better, and I don't have to wear a bra.

We're having:

2 grilled ribeyes, with this rub. $8

2 grilled lobster tails. $10

Potatoes au gratin. I don't know, maybe $5 total for a bag of cheese, a few potatoes, some heavy cream, and an onion?

Roasted brussels sprouts. $5

Chocolate fondue with pears, strawberries, cheesecake, and poundcake to dip in. Let's see - $1 +$2+$4+$1+$2 = $10

1 bottle red wine = $10

1 bottle pink champagne = $6

$54 for an awesome Valentine's Day dinner for two complete with booze and ridiculous dessert. And, add $8 more and we got two extra steaks, so we'll have Valentine's Day dinner for two, two days in the row.

I see lots of salads in my future next week.

Whether you're staying in or going out, I hope everyone enjoys celebrating or not celebrating. Whatever you want! It IS kind of a silly holiday. I mean, anytime the grocery stores set up special valentine's day tents outside so shopping is quick and convenient, that takes the fun and thoughtfulness out of it. I love the way we're celebrating this year.

I'll post snow pics later. :-)

I'm that girl who...

Friday, February 5, 2010

Stolen from Jessica!

I'm that girl who...

Still catches General Hospital when possible, since I watched it with my mom starting in 5th grade.

Takes things way too seriously but seriously can't help it.

Is drinking a mini bottle of champagne as I type. ;-)

Naively expects that everyone has good intentions and doesn't bounce back easily when proved wrong.

Has a guilty conscience!

LOVES food and cooking.

Is always surprised when people describe me as sweet because I would describe myself as kinda depressing and weird. ;-)

Is never surprised if people don't like me because I know I wasn't blessed with a talkative, fun loving personality, but that just makes me all the more grateful for the people who love me for who I am, for whatever reason they do!

Really hates shaving.

Wants my future baby's room decorated with a sky of airplanes and a landscape of dinosaurs, regardless of gender.

Is ridiculously introspective, and majoring in psychology just made it worse.

Will shallowly consider myself successful when I have an awesome pool and can afford someone to clean it.

Has a husband with a sincerely good heart, which is the bottom line for me despite the challenging year we have had.

Is not-so-patiently waiting for her cats to croak so we can get new furniture. Seriously.

Can justify making a spreadsheet for any situation.

Keeps forgetting to ask Jessica how much they put down on their cruise to book it.

Hopes to one day be an expert in SOMETHING.

Doesn't expect that "something" to be life.

Hopes that my other girlfriends will post this. :-) What kind of girl are you?

Food and garden talk

Sunday, January 31, 2010

We've been cooking like crazy lately and haven't eaten much at all that we didn't make ourselves. It's sort of a goal of mine. I say sort of because I know it isn't realistic to do that 100% of the time. With my lazy schedule this semester, I do have plenty of time through the week to do stuff like make bread or peanut butter. How can you not feel good about having a piece of homemade bread with homemade peanut butter as a snack? I've felt really good about our diet the last few weeks, just by virtue of eating better food.

Speaking of cooking, I am IN LOVE with my new cookbook, All About Braising by Molly Stevens. Please get this book and be as happy as me! It is beautiful. There are plenty of recipes with everyday ingredients, and some with special ingredients if you want to try something new. Here is a sampling of recipes from the book that I found online.

This is a boneless leg of lamb I'm probably making for Valentine's Day:

Creamy Braised Brussels Sprouts:

Vietnamese Braised Scallops:

Whole chicken braised with pears and rosemary

Short Ribs braised in porter ale with maple rosemary glaze:

Heather, this goes out to you: have I been doing any gardening lately? Not really! My last garden was LAST winter, when we did cabbages, brussels sprouts, and broccoli. It was pretty late yielding, and we didn't start eating much of it until March. Then, Tom's accident happened, and I hadn't touched the beds at all until earlier this month. We finally got out there and cleaned out the beds, uprooting the old fall veggies from last year. The word "cabbage patch" only begins to describe what we experienced. That stuff was so overgrown and intertwined. But now the beds are cleaned, and in March, we'll replace the weed barrier and plant some spring veggies. This year, we are sticking with what we know we can grow easily: peppers (bells and jalapenos), tomatoes (will grow them in 5 gallon buckets), and okra. Maybe some garlic and onions.

Next fall, I want some blueberries!

One more book recommendation for the road: In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. I just started it this weekend, and I also have The Omnivore's Dilemma waiting for me, but so far I like it. So far, it's about how most of what is marketed as "food" really isn't food. Interesting read.

How long can you focus on one thing??

Saturday, January 30, 2010

I have a hard time writing research papers. Not really for class - those are normally pretty easy, you can follow a formula and go for it. But, I started working on a research project about 1.5 years ago. I guess you could call it a few semesters of "pilot" testing, since now that I've been working with the data for quite a while, we have brainstormed some changes to the research design, and we're rolling it out for summer and fall and hoping to publish it.

At this point in the research process, I should be able to write the introduction and methods section of the paper. Heck, I should be able to write the whole dang thing about the 4 semesters of pilot work, including results/discussion. The whole shebang. I run hot and cold with this project. I love it and hate it. I hate running the not-really-an-experiment experiment. I hate writing about it. But anytime I'm forced by deadline to make a presentation or write about the study, I am always reenergized when I realize that people are actually interested in what I'm doing!

Once I FINALLY sat down last week and wrote up the changes I want to make to the research design, now I am ready to cash in on my excitement and start writing this puppy up! Enter: new deadline. Got an email about a deadline extension for graduate students to submit papers about their research for some kind of award at a conference. Decided not to do it because conference attendance (in New Orleans in 3 weeks) is mandatory. Was talked into doing it anyway and figured out a way to keep the trip fairly inexpensive. So, now I have a deadline (Tuesday) for writing this stuff up.

But for some reason, it is so hard for me to sit and write a paper like this! I wish it didn't take a real deadline to motivate me, because the quality would probably be better if I would just meet my own deadlines. So anyway, I am about to open this paper again and try to write UNDISTRACTED for one hour. The second I have any brief writer's block, I'll have to fight the urge to click on Facebook, Words with Friends, my phone, etc.

How do people like me ever finish dissertations? I guess they don't! I'll have to figure out how to be like someone else once the time comes for me. :-)

UPDATE: I did it! 1 hour undistracted. And I typed my butt off the whole time!

TRYING to end on a positive note...LOL

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

OK I guess I won't try to end on a positive note...I'll end on a positive note!

There was a bit of a job switcheroo last week, when I was given an assistantship. Typically, when grad students are given an assistantship, it means they work with professors in their program and get some kind of compensation, usually money, health insurance, and tuition. Which I should be really excited about, but honestly, it happened so fast that it's left me reeling in shock. And I didn't love the way it happened either. For example, my boss, the woman who took me in for no good reason and gave me a great job, supported me through what was the hardest year of my life last year, was told I accepted the assistantship before I even knew it was on the table. I don't know if it was some kind of misunderstanding, but it felt kinda wrong to me, like there was a lot more going on than I know about.

Ideally, the offer would've been on the table last month, giving me, and my boss for that matter, time to consider our options. One thing that kinda chokes me up (and I so hope I'm not mistaken) is that even with all this hooey, she seems to be looking out for me. I know I'm a good employee - I don't mean to sound like this is all a one way street, but I also know I have a good thing at school. So, what IF the offer had been on the table earlier? I guess there are two options. My boss would find a way to match it. Or, we'd all have time to mull it over, and even if it was decided that the assistantship really was the best offer, I'd take it but be able to feel good about the way it went down.

Instead, I feel pretty uncomfortable about leaving my old, comfy job and starting a new one. My old boss said, and I really hope she meant it, that I made the right choice taking the job. Apparently, the wrong here wasn't in my actions but in the way this all went down. But tell that to my guilty conscience. This kinda thing eats me up.

One more gloomy paragraph. This morning, I got a headache in my class and couldn't shake it all day. I took Tylenol and everything. What the heck kind of headache doesn't go away when you take medicine? Ugh! But it wasn't a terrible headache, so I toughed it out and went to the gym after I left the office. When I got home at almost 6, I was totally miserable. My head hurt so bad! It was maybe the worst, most stubborn headache of my life. Tom was precious, bringing me ibuprofen, water, and peanut butter on whole wheat bread. I laid down til 7 and did feel a little better, but my head is hurting again. How much drugs can I really take in a day?? I will take another dose of ibuprofen real quick before bed. This is for the birds. On one hand, I hope it's stress related so I'm not getting sick or something. On the other hand, I don't want to be stressed out enough to get a headache like this. :-S

I need to focus on some positives and quit worrying about things I can't change (anymore).

I really am excited about getting to work with other professors, it's just buried under the hooey. I have a task to do for one of them tomorrow (I was assigned to 2, 10 hours/week each), and I'm looking forward to working on something different than I'm used to.

I got up early today even though I had an extra 45 minutes to sleep if I wanted.

I cleaned off my desk at the office. :-)

I got to catch up with my friend Twila and schedule a happy hour.

My husband was really sweet about my headache. And he put together our salad for dinner.

I worked my butt off at the gym today. Plan to tomorrow also.

I rented a new locker at the gym and asked for one in the back because last semester, I was right by the door, and it was like, "Hello and welcome to the locker room, from me and my boobs." Apparently, the girls in the back of the locker room like to walk around completely naked, which is kinda awkward for prudish me. But hey, at least I can change in relative privacy without going into a bathroom stall. *thumbs up*

On the radar for tomorrow:
1) Make my lunch.
2) Work in the office
3) Possibly meet 2nd new boss who I haven't met yet?? Guess I better brush my hair...
4) Gym
5) This for dinner.

Good night! I feel better having written some stuff out...

Cheesy inspirational quote

Monday, January 18, 2010

"Today I'm not going to try, I'm going to do!" LOL

I do quite a bit, but this goes out to all the stuff I try to do every day. So, tomorrow:

I'm not going to try to eat breakfast at home...

I'm not going to try to fix my hair right and wear makeup...

I'm not going to try to make my lunch before I leave...

I'm not going to try to make it to the gym...

I'm not going to try to throw my bike in the back of the pickup...

I'm going to do it!

As for tonight, I'm not going to try to put away the laundry...sigh, I better get after it.

Yes!!! Moment of GLORY

Thursday, January 7, 2010

On New Year's Day, you may remember my quest to make it to the end of Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism. I was determined to see the end of the DVD no matter how many breaks I needed to take. And I did.

Every day since, I did Level 1 on the 30 day Shred (which continues to kick my butt no matter how many times I do it). I took a break on Tuesday to rest my poor sore muscles. So, today I figured I'd try BFBM again, hoping to make it through 4 of the 7 circuits before taking a break. But I did the whole thing this time with no stopping! It probably helps that I am not suffering from too much sangria, cheese, and ice cream syndrome like on NYD, but who cares how, I am just so glad I made it through. This workout is 40 minutes long, compared to the Shred's 20 minutes. I still have plenty to work toward though: 1) Doing the advanced versions of all the exercises - I can only do about 1/3 of them all the way, if I want to make it though and not hurt myself, and 2) Alternating this every other day with the shred, instead of just occasionally.

Since I'm off work, you know we've been eating some tasty food, so here are a few new recipes we've tried:

Quinoa and Pistachio Salad with Moroccan Pesto - finally, a quinoa recipe that Tom liked! Or at least, said he liked and ate it anyway. This could handle more veggies easily. I would definitely dice some cucumber and throw it in next time. And cooking the quinoa with chicken stock and orange juice was delicious alone, without ever mixing it with the pesto. I loved the OJ in there! Next time I want just a plain grainy type of side dish, I'll make quinoa with OJ and chicken stock.

Cider Braised Pork Shoulder

Creamy Veggie Fondue (new year's eve fare, not 2010 fare)

Braised Short Ribs - AMAZING, worth every second spent preparing it. Used my new dutch oven to make it. If you missed it on Facebook, isn't it beautiful? Thanks to my parents' giving me a graduation gift card, I was able to pick up this beauty! And short ribs are sort of the quintessential dutch oven recipe, so I had to try it out right away.

Which reminds me, I haven't blogged about this exciting adventure, making no knead bread in the dutch oven. Check out this video to see how I did it. And this is how it turned out. Gorgeous huh?

It was crusty and perfect. The only thing is, it called for a dusting of wheat germ, cornmeal, or flour, and I used flour since I didn't have the others. The flour end up with a burned taste and smell cooking in the dutch oven, so I would definitely opt for the wheat germ or cornmeal next time. I did get a bread machine for Christmas not long after trying this recipe, but while I know I'll get a ton of use from the bread machine, I can't make something this pretty in there.

I will say, it wasn't QUITE as easy as they show in the video. I couldn't keep the dough from sticking to me no matter what I did, and I feel like I probably lost 25% of the dough along the way! But this was my first homemade bread (other than quick bread), ever - I'm sure there is a learning curve even for the easiest recipe.

Simple Whole Roasted Chicken - still love this recipe even though it makes my kitchen smell smoky. Do cover it once you put it on 425 for the last 30 minutes. I'm finally going to make my own chicken stock from the bones. Will do that tomorrow and use it Friday to make chicken noodle soup.

The breads I've made in the bread machine are Apple Pecan Cinnamon bread, which was supposed to be a sweet bread, but it just had the tiniest touch of sugar. We ate it for breakfast for a few days, then toasted it for the fondue on NYE, and it was REALLY awesome with the cheese. I made a cheddar beer bread, which wasn't out of this world because it didn't have much cheddar or beer flavor in it. And, I made a whole wheat loaf which is pretty tasty, but my quest for 2010 will be to find the best whole wheat/whole grain bread machine recipe. So, we'll be going through a lot of bread in the coming months! I'll have to get creative for using the leftovers without just stuffing our faces with bread constantly.

And with that, I am really hungry so I'm outta here. 6 more days til I go back to work. Boo!!

Banish fat, boost metabolism

Friday, January 1, 2010

This DVD is hard!! I could make it through the 30 day shred in one piece today, but no, I had to pick this one. I have only tried it once before, and I only made it about halfway through. Of course, a difficult cardio workout is probably not the best idea when you had too much sangria last night and have only had coffee, deadly cream cheese bars, and a little water so far today.

There are 7 brief circuits, which is nice because you won't ever be doing any one thing for too long. I just made it through 2 circuits and nearly died of nausea and sharp pains in my side. I have never seen the end of this DVD. So, I'm taking a break, gonna start it again in a few minutes and make it through another few circuits, take a break again if I need to, and FINISH it. I have to set a good precedent for the year. But doing 180 squats is a bit much. I won't lie...I was doing 90 degree squat jumps and I still nearly died. LOL

OK, back to it!

Update: made it through the next 3 circuits. Just two more left after this break. WHEW. :-)

Update: Finished! Need a shower. Wonder how long it will take before I can do the whole thing in one shot. Think I'll do the Shred tomorrow and alternate between the two.

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