Monday, January 30, 2012


Still caffeine free.  Still alive.  Daniel is still alive.  My brain was angry with me from Saturday afternoon through yesterday afternoon, but I think the worst was over once I hit the 48-hour mark.  I couldn't find any reputable sources for how long it takes to work the magic fairy dust out of your system, but the disputable ones (,, etc.) seem to agree on a week being the upper limit (gulp).

Fortunately I wasn't drinking a pot a day or anything, and I have some decaf so I don't to go through a change in routine as well as withdrawal from chemical dependence.  We'll see how work goes today.  As far as I can tell, I'm thinking clearly.  Or as clearly as I normally think at 5:30am.

This weekend was a lazy one but there were some highlights.  Friday evening we went out to Smokey's (a local supper club) for restaurant week.  Daniel and I debated what the definition of a supper club is.  It's one of those things that is hard to describe but you know it when you see it.  Our working definition Friday night was "a steakhouse that's not fancy".  I'd like to refine that to "A supper club is a steak house where you are offered A1".  

On Sunday Daniel played at church and then went in to work, making me look like a lazy bum because the best I can say for my Sunday afternoon is a I accomplished some afghan making and Mad Men watching.  I feel like I should care that I've been such a TV addicted hermit the last few weekends, but honestly, I don't.  January and February are kind of boring months around here.  While it was technically nice enough to go out for a walk yesterday, the windchill and remaining sidewalk glaciers made the thought unpleasant.  And I did talk to both my parents and my brother.  And I'm still showering and getting dressed and everything.

Ugh, I take back what I said earlier.  My brain is starting to throb again.  Hopefully yoga will help it chill out.  Otherwise today is going to be a looooooong day.  Caffeine free day three, here I come.

On the menu: Chicken Caesar salad.  We roasted the chicken using a new method where you heat a cast iron pan in the oven, then cook the chicken breast side up in the hot pan t 500 for 15 minutes and then turn it down to 350 until it's done.  It's supposed to help the dark and light meat get done at the same time.  We haven't eaten any of the dark meat yet, but the breast was very good.

I work out: Yoga and a walk Saturday.  Absolutely nothing yesterday.

Bible: I need to take "goat in mother's milk" off the menu for Thursday night...

Saturday, January 28, 2012

On the agenda

  • Blog post
  • Go scrape the ice off the car
  • Hit up Trader Joe's and Target at my very favorite time of day (before anyone else gets there)
  • Go to yoga
  • Go to Culvers
  • Lay on the couch and want to die
Yeah... after contemplating this for awhile, I'm finally pulling the trigger to get off caffeine.  I had a cup of decaf this morning, and I give myself until about 2pm until my brain wants to self destruct.  Wish me luck.

  I love, too.  We can still be friends, okay?

Thursday, January 26, 2012


I hadn't been able to do any laundry since last Thursday, and last night things were getting dicey.  Like, "Do underwear become clean when you turn them inside out?" dicey.  The hot water pipes for our building needed to be replaced, which was going to expose some asbestos, which meant we weren't allowed in the laundry/storage area until the job was complete.  There was a big intimidating sign on the door to KEEP OUT.

But I kept trying.  Saturday... no luck.  Sunday... no luck.  Monday, Tuesday... no luck.  The laundry room wasn't supposed to be closed for THAT long... So I trekked around to the other entrance to the basement and, sure enough, the sign was taken down on that side.  The genius contractors forgot to take down all the "do not enter" scary warnings on our end of the building, and genius me didn't realize that for almost an entire week.  Anyway, I was able to get four huge loads done last night so we can be presentable in the ER if either of us gets hit by a bus.

Also, every time we go to Target, this green whale thing freaks me out.  Evidently it is a candy dish???
Did Target hire Timothy Leary as one of its new designers?   I can just imagine this thing chasing you, trying to gobble you up during a bad LSD trip.

On the menu: We went to the always fabulous Inka Heritage for restaurant week on Tuesday.  If you live in Madison and have never been, I highly recommend it- restaurant week or not.

I work out: Some gym, some yoga.  Same ol', same ol'.

Bible: The Ten Commandments.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy Chinese New Year - May your Chinese New Year dinner be filled with nothing but the finest yak penis
Crude but funny. You always come through for us, Some E-cards.

On the menu: Daniel requested Roman Candle pizza to build his strength for his first day teaching.
I work out: Not yesterday.  I walked on the treadmill while watching Mad Men.
Bible: Manna from heaven. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

School days

Daniel and I had a good time visiting the Wingra School yesterday.  Both of us are the product of pretty good but very traditional public schools, so learning cursive through personal exploration while reclining in the classroom loft was not part of either of our formative years.  Although they day we send any child to school is a long way off, it was interesting to discuss the pluses and minuses of the fancy, progressive private school model.  In my opinion:

The pros-

  • Enthusiastic parents and teachers.  You can find plenty of that in regular public schools, but there is plenty of apathy and dysfunction to deal with as well.  Private schools can get rid of kids/parents who won't get on the bus.  Public schools are forced to deal with those problems.
  • Regular recess and physical activity.  Can't argue with that.
  • Lots of field trips.  The kids love the field trips.
  • No standardized testing.  I'm actually not opposed to standardized testing in theory, but it seems to have gone haywire as it has been implemented in public schools.
  • No grades.  Instead students/teachers/parents discuss the child's progress toward mastering different skills.  I'm not opposed to grades either, but I think this could be very beneficial for the right child- a kid who was a little slower than others or a little faster than others or totally neurotic about grades.  
  • A supportive community.  I got a feeling that a lot of the meanness/bullying/etc. you find in public school would NOT be tolerated.  Again, a private school can kick that type of kid out.  Public schools have to deal.
  • Art, music, and Spanish classes.  Things that are important but always at risk of being cut from public schools.
The cons-

  • It's really expensive.  One year at Wingra is probably about the same price as both Daniel and I have spent on our entire post-high school education (together).  They do offer some financial aid, but still... is it better to save that money to send your kid to a good college?
  • A small school doesn't have some of the resources of a public school.  For example, it wasn't clear how/if the middle school students did science experiments like use microscopes or do dissections.  Also, band class was only held once a week.  You can't get better if you only practice together once a week.
  • There is no high school.  I can't even imagine the culture shock of leaving that school at the end of 8th grade and getting plunked down into a regular high school.  
  • Especially in the mid-elementary years, there are a lot of things you have to learn by rote: multiplication tables, cursive writing, states and capitals, etc.  You can't just explore your way to having instant recall that 6x8=48.  It wasn't clear to me how much emphasis was put on really learning the basics.
Did you ever attend a non-traditional school?  Would/did you send your kids to one?  If we had the $$$ to do it, it would be a tough decision.  There are strong arguments on both sides.

On the menu: Un-photogenic but tasty (and finally made) chili in the slow cooker.
I work out: 75 min vinyasa yoga class.
Bible: Just about to do that...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Kid stuff

So I started reading The Hunger Games a few days ago, and I'm totally into it.  Who knew the whole teen dystopian adventure romance genre could be so entertaining?  I'd consider seeing the movie when it comes out on Netflix.

I think it's funny that, because as a rule people in high school are weird looking, filmmakers always hire much older actors to play those roles.  I mean, am I really supposed to believe these people are high school aged?  That guy is like 28!

 Okay, I just looked on Wikipedia and the actor is only 19, but you have to admit, he looks way older in that picture.  Anyway, the point is that no one- not even people in high school- what to see a romantic scene played out by actual people in high school.

Last night we watched a kids' movie that wasn't a kids' movie based on a book that I don't think was really a kids' book either: Fantastic Mr. Fox.

I definitely recommend it.  It was very entertaining.  Daniel described it as being in the "when hipsters get a hold of children's stories" genre (see also, the new Muppet movie).  I read almost all the Roald Dahl books when I was a kid (maybe that explains something about my personality today, I'm not sure) but not this one.  In fact, I think I remember a friend not being allowed to read it.  Not sure exactly why that was... I can see it being a bit violent.

Finally, we're going to an open house at the local progressive elementary/middle school for no other reason than we are curious about it.  Daniel knows a guy who sends his kid there and a woman who teaches there, so hopefully we won't come across creepy.  It's never too early to plan for your kids future- even pre-conception!  I sort of feel like we are that couple with the braces and the dog in therapy from Best in Show.

We'll try not to coordinate our outfits.

On the menu: The snow chilled out last night (and I forgot to start our slow cooker) so we went to Panera.
I work out: 60 minute vinyasa yoga class.
Bible: The Passover.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Just... wow.

It's as if Kelly Kapoor started her own home organizing business (hat tip, A).

Back to my mess of a life...

On the menu:
Greek meatball pitas (using leftover meatballs from last week) and carrots with Trader Joe's cucumber dip.

I work out:
3.2mi in 30 minutes on the treadmill + weights + general trying to stay alive while outside.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

When the mercury drops below 0:

  • Outside is about the same temperature as your freezer.
  • Cold registers as pain.
  • Any exposed skin burns.
  • You will do ANYTHING not to be outside.
  • Your car doesn't want to start.
  • The steering wheel is still an ice cube even though the heater has been on for 15 minutes.
  • Locks are tough to open and close.
  • Your pants offer no protection from the wind.
  • Your fingers and toes go numb in the 5 minutes you spend waiting for the bus.
  • That calf-length down parka seems like a great investment.
  • If you are foolish enough to try to run, it will be hard to breathe.
  • Your lungs will burn.
  • Every part of your face that secretes liquid will.
  • And then it will freeze.
  • The water in your water bottle will freeze.
  • When you come back inside, your legs will turn red and burn as blood flow returns to your skin.
  • You can't believe you ever complained about being hot- except on the bus, which is really hot when you are wearing 5 layers, at least two made out of animal byproducts, and the bus driver is in shirtsleeves.
  • You hate everyone who wanted it to snow and be cold.
  • You count the days until you can move back south.

On the menu last night:
Spaghetti Bolognese, inspired by a recipe from Real Simple (which I can't find on the website right now).  I subbed in mushrooms for carrots and celery because I think carrots and celery in spaghetti sauce is strange.

I work out:
60 minute vinyasa yoga class

Moses comes back to Egypt to rescue the Israelites.  Pharaoh is a punk.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


More than 1 million signatures were collected for the recall Walker effort.  Obviously there are a few "Santa Claus" and "Mickey Mouse" and duplicates that will have to be tossed out, but it well surpasses the number needed to force the recall and even the dream goal of 700,000.

We got our first pro-Walker material in the mail yesterday.  I'm sure that it was sent to every household, but it seemed funny to canvas an apartment complex where 1.Most people can't vote and 2.The people living there were arguably some of the hardest hit by his controversial policies.  Whatever.  Now we just need someone to come to our rescue and run against him. 

On the menu last night: 
Um... taco salad.  BUT I did put together some Bolognese sauce to cook in the crock pot today so we can have a real dinner tonight now that Daniel is finished with his paper.

I work out:
3.2mi in 30 minutes and some weights

God speaks to Moses through the burning bush.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Don't speak

More words/prhases I'd reject from the English language:

Used to describe anything related to young men of questionable repute.  Bro-tastic, cool story bro, bro fist bump, brommunity.  

Credit (I think)

Used to describe something (usually a politician) that's increasing in popularity.  Do you feel the Rom-mentum?  Nope.  Sure don't.

Only one of you is going to puke for three months, grow a new human being, and then give birth to it.  Only one of you is pregnant.


Is there an add for diet pills or plastic surgery that doesn't use this phrase?  Gross.

Anything else you'd add?  I have a feeling that I'll have plenty more as time goes on.  A list of songs that should be rejected from the English language would be fun, too.

On the menu last night:
Noodles.  I was going to cook, but because we need to make the car swap around dinner time (Daniel can't drive to campus on a weekday but he needs it to come home when he's working late at night) it honestly makes sense for us to just get something out.  Hopefully Wednesday things will return to semi-normal.

I work out:
60 minute ashtanga yoga class

Jacob/Israel blesses his sons.  Tomorrow I start Exodus.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Ships passing

For the first time ever, Daniel went to bed this morning as I was getting up.  This used to happen not infrequently with my college roommate, who was a total night owl, but the 8 - 5 Daniel keeps is usually am to pm and not the reverse.  He has a big deadline for a conference paper submission tomorrow, so he's in the final push to get everything together.  I'm so glad I'm not in graduate school.

For my part, I was slightly less than completely lazy yesterday.  After running around doing church stuff in the morning, I came home, practiced the piano, and then worked on some decluttering.  Glancing through the last couple weeks of the declutter calendar, it looked like the major themes were kitchen, bathroom, and medications.

I won't say my cabinets look like they belong in an issue of Southern Living or Maratha Stewart's magazine, but they are definitely better than they were before.  In the process I threw away a frightening amount of OLD food and discovered I had 7 cans of tomato sauce.

I cleaned up the shelf in our hall closet where we keep the medicines and extra shampoo, saline, etc, and my bathroom cabinet shelf (not pictured).

It was one of those things that I didn't really want to do before I started, but tossing out Tylenol that expired in 2006 put me in the mood, and I'd finished sorting while listening to an hour of a really depressing episode of This American Life in no time.  I covered all of the relevant declutter activities for the coming week (one of the benefits of living in a small apartment), but I do plan to join Rachel in cleaning out the crud in my purse sometime today.

BTW- do not listen to this if you won't want to hate yourself for wanting cool new electronics.  It's about the working conditions for people who manufacture iPhones and iPads, and I'm sure the same things are true for the Dell I'm typing on right now.

Speaking of depressing, I join our state in corporate mourning for the Packers, who lost to the Giants in the NFL playoffs.  I didn't watch any of the game, but I know it will be the talk of the town today.  It's a good thing we have today off of work.

On the menu last night: Leftover Chili's.  I *think* I will actually try to cook something for this evening even though Daniel won't be home.  At least it was one step up from ice cream.

I work out: Not yesterday.  Too lazy.  *I honestly hope I'm not coming down with something.  I NEVER don't want to at least go for a walk.  A lot of people at work have been sick :(*

Bible: Jacob et. al. move to Goshen in Egypt.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Remember back in algebra II when you were learning about sine curves, and you had to do a project where you started with your birthday and tracked it forward to the present day to see what your emotional, mental, and physical levels were?  No.  Just me?

Anyway, now you can have a computer do it for you (although the graphics from this site are a nice throwback to 1997, when I would have been learning algebra II).  You can also plot the biorthyms for certain celebrities.  Maybe you want to make sure you stalk Kim Kardashian on a low wisdom, high passion, low physical (so she can't get away) day.

Here are my biorhythm charts for today:

When I looked at the first graph and saw physical near the bottom, I was not surprised.  Although I got all my chores done, yesterday was a day of epic laziness.  I decluttered exactly nothing and I spent most of the afternoon reading the latest issue of the Atlantic and watching episodes of Mad Men on Netflix.  And I just didn't care.

Today is an epic day of driving Daniel out to play with the church band, driving back to cover for someone doing set-up at church downtown, and then driving back out to the west side to get him and take him back to school.  This is one of those (admittedly few) days I wish we had two cars.  If it was warmer I could just bike downtown and all our problems would be solved, but I'm definitely not hard core enough to bike on snowy roads in 20 degree weather.

On the menu last night:
Daniel was at school working on a paper, so I opted for a spinach salad (so I could feel 1% healthy) and some homemade ice cream with crushed up mint chocolate cookies.  The ice cream was pretty good.  Not a really strong vanilla flavor, but good creaminess factor.

I work out:
75 min vinyasa yoga class.

Joseph, when it comes to meeting his brothers again: He's hot and he's cold.  Ye's yes and he's no.  He's in and he's out.  He's up and he's down.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

On the agenda

  • Yoga class.  I *considered* going out for a short run this morning, but it's 12 degrees, which doesn't sound so bad as I'm typing it, but it's right on that dividing line between "okay to run" and "would be 30 minutes of me hating my life".  So niet, comrade. - Please don't ruin the nice weather by suggesting that we go outdoors
  • Baby dedication ceremony(?).  Our church doesn't do infant baptism so we are going to whatever the equivalent is for the baby of a friend.  Several couples are participating including a woman Daniel knows from the church band so it should be interesting.
  • Culver's for lunch.  Not the healthiest thing in the world, but a Saturday tradition.
  • Clean and declutter.  Going to do some catch up with the declutter calendar and maybe go through some winter clothes for donation/resale.
  • Practice piano.  Have a I mentioned that I'm learning to play this?:
  • Call my parents.
  • Eat last night's leftovers from Chili's for dinner.  Thanks to my aunt and uncle for the gift card.
  • Make "blizzards".
  • Watch Fantastic Mr. Fox/ Portlandia.  And hopefully knock out a few snowflakes for my afghan.

On the menu last night: 
Chili's tortilla chips and fajitas thanks to a gift card from my aunt and uncle.

I work out:
Some time on the elliptical (the roads were still kind of nasty for driving to yoga).

Operation decultter:
On the docket for today.

Joseph interprets pharaoh's dream.

Friday, January 13, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like January

This was the scene when I got off the bus after work yesterday.  We've had a few more inches of accumulation overnight.

It's hard to believe it was almost 50 degrees on Wednesday and I was in Florida just a little over a week ago.  

I ate my last FL orange yesterday.  Very sad.

Maybe after Daniel graduates, we'll move somewhere it doesn't snow so much... like Portland.

If you haven't watched that show, you totally should.  It's pretty funny... the dream of the 90s is alive in Portland... it's where young people go to retire.  You can stream it on Netflix and the episodes are only like 20 minutes long.

On the menu last night:
This was okay but not super great, which was disappointing because as a rule, TJ's prepared foods are pretty good.  The author of the post where I snagged that photo didn't like it either.

I work out:
3.2 mi in 30 minutes on the treadmill and some back and leg exercises at the gym.

Operation declutter: 
Nada.  Portlandia and 30 Rock (I love you, thank you for coming back to me!) won't watch themselves. Since the tasks are pretty easy, I didn't think I'd have a problem doing them each evening, but it hasn't turned out that way.  I think it's more realistic that I'll try to pick a few things from each week and do them in an hour-long declutter binge on the weekend.

Joseph is in Egypt.  God loves Joseph.  The Egyptians are uncool.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Don't say it...

Lake Superior State University's list of words that should be banned from the English language.

A few noteworthy examples:

Received the most nominations. LSSU was surprised at the number of nominations this year for "amazing" and surprised to find that it hadn't been included on the list in the past. Many nominators mentioned over-use on television when they sent their entries, mentioning "reality" TV, Martha Stewart and Anderson Cooper. It seemed to bother people everywhere, as nominations were sent from around the US and Canada and some from overseas, including Israel, England and Scotland. A Facebook page – "Overuse of the Word Amazing" – threatened to change its title to "Occupy LSSU" if 'amazing' escaped banishment this year…


Although nominated by many over the years, this phrase came in as a close second to "amazing" this year.


"'Occupy Wall Street' grew to become Occupy 'insert name of your city here' all over the country. It should be banished because of the media overuse and now people use it all the time, i.e. 'I guess we will occupy your office and have the meeting there.' 'We are headed to Grandma's house – Occupy Thanksgiving is under way." Bill Drewes, Rochester Hills, Michigan
"It has been overused and abused even to promote Black Friday shopping." Grant Barnett, Palmdale, California
"Why couldn't they have used a more palatable kind, like pecan or peach?" Bob Forrest, Tempe, Arizona


"Can a human being truly be a parent to a different species? Do pet 'owners' not love their pets as much pet 'parents' do? Are we equating pet ownership with slave holding? This cloyingly correct term is capable of raising my blood sugar. Lynn Ouellette, Buffalo, New York
And a couple more I'd add:

Used to mean exactly the opposite of what the word means.  "He was literally drowning in dirty Kleenex."  No.  That is impossible.


People keep saying this and I don't know what they mean, and I don't think they know what they mean.  It's sort of a generic thing to call someone/something who does something good or is lucky???  I think????

Any other nominations?

On the menu last night: 
Quizno's run so we could stop by Target for a new snow shovel for the snow we may or may not get.

I did use our ice cream maker for the first time.  It's currently hardening for weekend Blizzard-making.

I work out:
Vinyasa yoga class.

Operation declutter:
Yesterday's task was to clean out under the bed.  I only keep out of season clothing under the bed, and it's not really time to go through that now, so I took the evening off.  My night stand is very tidy.

Joseph was sold by his brothers and is hanging out in Egypt.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

5 minute internet break

You can't say no to a baby sloth:

Now we know where all our snow went:

Oh, the huge manatee:

On the menu last night: 
Taco salad.  Unfortunately I'm having photo issues right now so you'll just have to imagine what that looks like.

I work out:
60 min Ashtanga yoga class + walking to and from work

Operation un-clutter:
Was my night stand.  Not too much to do there.

Done.  Jacob wrestled with God.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I had a feeling about Brussels sprouts

Yesterday, A sent me a link to a cute piece about 20 resolutions for 20-somethings.  The truth is that I'm just barely clinging to the upper end of my 20s so my gut reaction was more "hey, you kids, get of my lawn" than "hmmm... that was insightful.".  Except #13.  That one is for real.  Also, what is Instagram?

20 New Year’s Resolutions For 20-Somethings
JAN. 2, 2012 

1.       Before you status update, Tweet, Tumble or Instagram, pause and say to yourself, “is it entirely necessary that I share this morsel of thought with my entire social network?”and if the answer is not, “yes, I absolutely must,” then step away from the Internet.
2.      Know which candidate you’re going to vote for in the upcoming presidential election, and know why.
3.      Enough with the 14-day juice cleanses. If you want to lose a little weight quickly, eat less and exercise like crazy. If you want to lose a lot of weight slowly, do whatever Jennifer Hudson did.
4.      If you really like the person you’re hooking up with and would like them to be your boyfriend/ girlfriend, find a way to tell them, and hope for the best. If you don’t and wouldn’t, stop.
5.      Find a way to save approximately 300 dollars and spend it on a flight to see a friend or family member who lives far away.
6.      Please stop liking the Kardashians, all of them. It’s not helping anyone, least of all the Kardashians.
7.      Spend less than or equal to the money you earn each month.
8.     Wear clothes that fit you, especially to work.
9.      Call someone on the phone at least once a week, and speak to him or her for at least ten minutes.
10.  Start preparing now to get over the fact that Facebook is probably going to change again in six months. You’re not going to deactivate your account. You don’t know how.
11.   Wait 30 seconds before you look up a fact you can’t remember on your phone, and try to remember it using your brain. This is what the olden days were like.
12.  Replace one terrible reality show you’re currently watching with one wonderful scripted show currently available on television.  Swap suggestion: Real Housewives of Anywhere for HBO’s Enlightened.
13.  Try that food you think you don’t like but have never actually tried, unless it’s brussels sprouts. They really don’t need any more attention.
14.  Cut one person out of your life who you truly do not like and add one person who you truly do. Note: not on Facebook, on Earth.
15.   If you’re still blacking out regularly, you should stop.
16.  Volunteer once over the next 90 days.  You’ll feel really good about it, and probably end up volunteering again over the next 275.
17.    Tell someone who you love that you love them on a more regular basis. To their face, not in a text.
18.  Back up your entire online life onto an external hard drive, especially your photos.
19.  Crap or get off the pot. This applies to whatever thing you’re not doing that you should just sack up and do already.
20.  And in the eternal words of Tom Haverford, “TREAT YO SELF!”

On the menu last night:
Cooking Light slow cooker beef Burgundy (which doesn't appear to be online).  I'm pretty sure we would have starved to death by now without this old standby.

Operation declutter: 
Nightstand drawer is officially clutter free.  Only cough drops, a flashlight (that works, I checked) and emergency nighttime Chapstick remain. 

I work out:
Early morning yoga class.  ZOMG I'm sore from lifting weights yesterday.  Fortunately strength and muscle tone are things that seem to come back quickly for me.

Bible: Jacob and Laban cheat each other.  Jacob and crew leave for Canaan.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Clean Sweep 2012

Okay, I wasn't going to go all resolution crazy all at once, but when I saw that Sarah was using this declutter and organize calendar from My Simpler Life, I knew I had to jump on the bandwagon.  I've actually been doing a bit of sorting and archiving since I came back from vacation, but entropy always wins.  I've glanced through all the tasks for January, and they seem manageable.  I missed the first week, but every Sunday is a day off, and there are a few days that don't apply to me (no bedroom shelves, no laundry room, no kids if there are kid things in there, etc.) so I can use those days to knock off some tasks I missed.

Tonight's task: declutter your night stand drawer.  Easy peasy.

Anyone else in?

On the menu last night:
We had a pretty late lunch so rather than cook a full meal we had "fend for yourself" night.  I made poor-man's nachos with some spinach and salsa on top to ward off scurvy.

I work out:
Going to the gym for 30 minutes of some kind of cardio and 30 minutes of weights.  I haven't done weights in about a month so I'm going to be super sore tomorrow.

Still going strong.  Jacob just married Leah and Rachel.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Book Review - The Help

I finished The Help several weeks ago, but it occurred to me yesterday that I never did a review of it.

First, I learned that having (but not being) a maid is totally awesome.

Second, this is not a book I would have picked up by myself, but a friend was raving about it at the same time as my mother-in-law asked if I wanted to borrow it, so I decided to give it a try.  And I'm glad I did.

The story (which you probably know by now) is about the lives of maids in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s and one white woman who helps them write a book about their experiences.  In general, I'm suspicious of historical fiction.  Too often the main character comes off as an unrealistic goody two shoes because the author would rather have a protagonist that comes out on the right side of history rather than one that is actually interesting or believable.  I have no patience for characters who are purely good or purely bad.  That's a big reason why I thought Water for Elephants was terrible.

Amazingly, The Help is not like that.  The maids are not portrayed as completely selfless defenders of civil rights and the ladies of white society are not completely heartless racists.  I wasn't alive during the 1960s so I can't say for certain how realistic the story line was, but at least to me it was believable.  I thought the character development was good and there was enough drama to keep the plot moving along.  It was a long book, but I read it pretty quickly.  I'd recommend it to anyone who likes character driven novels and doesn't mind books that are "about" a controversial (at the time) issue.

Would you hire domestic help if you had the money?   
I really don't have a  problem with the idea as long as you treat the person you hire with respect and pay decently well.  I would totally hire someone to do heavy cleaning and other nasty household tasks if I had more money than time.

Last night's menu:
Simple stir fry courtesy of our meat CSA and Trader Joe's precut Asian veggie mix and General Tso's sauce.

I work out:
60min David Farmer yoga download podcast.  I always forget how hard holding my arms out in warrior two is after doing a million sun salutations.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The year without a winter? - I miss hating the summer heat

It's January 7, and there's no snow on the ground.  The lake isn't frozen, and the roads haven't turned into an ice skating ring.  Not that I'm complaining... but it's kind of weird.

This time last year, Lake Mendota was already frozen, and it was really cold.  Sometimes really really cold.  A review of January 2010 confirms that it was cold then too, but 2009 is curiously devoid of complaints about the weather.  I must have been in a state of shock.  While we did have some warmer days those years, it was nothing like the weather we've had lately.  Highs in the 40s?  In January?

According to the UW news, Lake Mendota is typically completely covered by ice by Dec 20; however, there have been several years on record where the first freeze was in January.  The latest freeze over date was Jan. 30, 1932 so there's plenty of time for me to regret ever even thinking about the fact that there's no snow and ice hanging around.  And soon enough I'll be back to complaining about being hot and living in an apartment with inadequate AC.

In other news, I'm continuing to get back into the groove of acting like a responsible adult.  After two weeks of all my food magically appearing before me (thanks, Mom), I've actually cooked dinner (with help, thanks, Daniel) the last two nights.  Nothing too exciting- just Greek meatball pitas (inspired by Cooking Light) with carrots.

And this crazy spicy mustard turkey pizza from Taste of Home.  It's supposed to be a way of using up leftover turkey from Thanksgiving/Christmas, but I just used deli slices.  Not the healthiest thing ever, but an interesting combo for sure.  Daniel, who's highest praise for something is "it's okay", declared this to "have a flavor".  Thanks.

How's the weather where you live?  

Friday, January 6, 2012


Coming back from a long trip to see friends and family is always bittersweet.

Bitter because there's so much excitement in the planning leading up to a trip.
Bitter because you remember things you didn't even know you missed (I'm looking at you, Chick Fil A).
Bitter because your appreciation for your family increases directly with the number of miles between you.

Sweet because you realize there's a place you really consider home that is different from where you grew up.
Sweet because you appreciate your job and the things that keep you busy from day to day.
Sweet because you have memories to last you until the next time.

I'm not sad that I don't live in Florida anymore, but there are definitely things (my family, Publix, wearing shorts on Christmas Day, etc.) that I'd pick up and take with me to Madison if I could.

Do you live near where you grew up?  If you've moved away, what do you miss?  What are you grateful for where you live now?

Thursday, January 5, 2012


We got back to Madison last night.  Christmas break 2011/2012 is officially over.  Luckily I was able to take today off and get things like grocery shopping and unpacking out of the way so I wasn't stressed about having no food or a suitcase death trap in the living room.  Soon enough I'll have to think about returning to real life.  For now, a little vacation recap.

First, I got a new pet.

Yep... he's swimming in the bathtub right now.  He's a hungry little guy... good thing we picked up an extra box of Kentucky Fried Poodle.


We started off with a trip to Bok Gardens, which is a... well... garden with a large tower with a carillon.  Actually it was very pretty, and the weather was an amazing 70 degrees (which it remained for nearly the entire time we were in FL).  I hadn't seen the sun for the past month, and it felt really good to stroll around and listen to Sleigh Ride clanking on the bells in the tower.

Fun bonus fact: Bok Gardens is located on the highest point and near the lamest tourist attraction in peninsular Florida.  

It kind of works... kind of.

After Christmas, my in-laws came down and we drove down to visit the Ringling Mansion and Museum in Sarasota and the Edison and Ford Winter Estates in Ft. Myers.

The Ringling Mansion was a lesson in how the other half lives... or how they lived in the early part of the last century.  Although I admit I felt a twinge of jealousy when I saw the annunciator that could be used to call for an emergency late-night back massage or ice cream fix and the two story tall fat chick paintings, I felt good knowing we have one thing that they didn't that makes life in Florida 10000 times better- air conditioning.  And probably better pesticides, too.

The coolest thing at the Ringling was the giant detailed model circus.  And I mean giant.  And detailed.  Like there was a model "men's room" complete with a white sheet that said "face this way".  I guess everybody needs a hobby.

The Edison and Ford homes were nice and modern enough that no chamber pots were necessary I could imagine myself living there.  There were huge banyan trees, which are awesome giant trees with aerial roots, growing out front of the visitor's center.

  That is all one tree... crazy, right?

Although there were a couple antique cars laying around, Edison was definitely the star of the show.  He invented pretty much everything including... no joking... the panini press.

You'd think that would be enough but no... there was MORE waiting for us when we got back to Central Florida.

We went to the Stetson Mansion, which was awesome and beautiful and currently without a personal photo to accompany the description because my camera battery died and my dad needs to send me copies of the pictures (ahem).  

Anyway, the story behind the house is that it was built by Stetson- the hat guy- but had fallen into disrepair over the years.  Then these two other guys bought it to live in it.  Realizing how much they'd spend and how much more they needed to spend to make the house livable, they got a bunch of sponsors to cover the fix-up costs and opened it as a model home.  It was a strange cross between a historic house and a Southern Living feature.  You'd never know someone actually lived there until you went into Stetson's bedroom closet and there were all of the owner's clothes.  Crazy stuff.  I can't imagine having to do EVERYTHING (go to the bathroom, make some toast, etc.) with the knowledge that 50-100 people were going to be coming through my house later that day. 

We also went to see the new and improved fountain in Lake Eola on New Years Eve.  You'd think this was the lamest new years of my life, but once I spent New Year's Eve throwing up Chili's and waiting to watch some guy do a motorcycle stunt on TV at midnight.

Pretty nice.  There were actually a ton of swans walking around, including some black ones, but my photography skillz are such that this was the best image I could get.

That is a black swan at night.  You can kind of see the eye.

Last but certainly not least, we went to Weeki Watchee to see the mermaid show.  This is some seriously old-school kitch.

We sat in a half-submerged amphitheater and watched 20-somethings (I'm just doing this to put myself through school at USF...) do back flips and be accosted by turtles in a lovely blue spring.      

That turtle was all upon that mermaid.  Actually, it's kind of impressive when you think about how tough it would be to train yourself to breathe from what is basically the thing you use to inflate your car's tires, keep your eyes open and lip sync underwater, and hold your breath for a really really really long time.

I of course had to get my picture taken with a real mermaid.

I'm sure she was totally not creeped out by that.

Whew.  Um... I did some family stuff too, and went to Gainesville twice.  This is getting long, so that'll give me a little more material for another day.

What's the weirdest/funniest/lamest tourist attraction you've ever been to?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Resolution recap

It was kind of funny to go back and look at my new years resolutions from 2011.  I'd actually forgotten what and how many I'd made.  It's great to put things in writing but if you never look at them again... well... they don't do much good.  Anyway- it's interesting to see what was important to me this time last year and how things actually played out.

1. Try one new vegetable or way to prepare vegetables per week. - I'm sure I didn't actually do this but participating in the CSA helped us try a lot of things (beets, kale, chard, ground cherries) that I never would have picked up in the store.  Some things were nasty (beets) but others (kale chips) turned out to be quite good. 

2. Have one social dinner every month. - Although I don't have the documentation to prove it, I'm pretty sure I met this goal.  I'm an introvert by nature, and I can get kind of wishy washy about social situations, but 99% of the time I have a good time when I go.  We still don't have the space to host very well, but one day...

3. Write one blog post a day every day I am home. - Um... nope.  That's okay, though.  Sometimes I feel like writing and sometimes I don't.  Sometimes I think I'll quit blogging altogether because it's kind of a time suck for someone who already spends too much time on the computer, but I do like having the ability to look back over time and share things with family who live far away. 

4. Up the intensity of my interval training. - I did over the winter and it looked like this year would be a good one for running, but life took a turn and this was a goal that just didn't make sense after a certain point.  It was exciting to see how hard training does pay off (imagine that...) and I know I'll get back into shape one of these days.

5.  Connect with one person I don't talk to regularly each week. - Boo... no on this one, too.  It kind of makes me sad. 

As I said yesterday, this year I'm jumping on the no resolution bandwagon.  I do like the idea of setting one goal a month (or maybe even in smaller time periods) because it gives the sense of forward progress without being tied down to some thing(s) that seemed like a great idea on Jan 1 the year before.  Life happens while you're busy making other plans and all.  

January's goal is a simple one.  Our church has challenged all its members to read the Bible in one year, and I want to stick with the scheduled reading plan for this month.  Since this is supposed to last all year, I wanted to see what the time commitment was going to be before I added anything else to my schedule.  

I love how the new year brings a sense of promise and a clean slate.  How did your new years resolutions from last year turn out?  I'm enjoying seeing the big plans people are making for 2012.