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Weekbeginning

22 Aug


I have a strange “weekend” setup.  Usually it starts around 5 on Saturday, and ends with work on Tuesday morning.  The Saturday night bit feels like a weekend, but the rest of it feels like a weekbeginning, filled with preparations for my upcoming workweek.  Sometimes that means cooking, sometimes it means cleaning, and it always means laundry.  Usually I try to squeeze in a new recipe or thing I haven’t tried before, like learning to crochet or fixing something.

This weekend/beginning is different.  My normal schedule has been condensed into 1.3 days, which has a strange effect on me.  Something like… I have nothing to do!  I guess I didn’t completely slack off.  First, I discovered that I’m pretty great at grilling big juicy steaks.  A friend told me about a rub he makes that gave me a much simpler idea… on one of my steaks, I did a pretty good seasoning of salt and pepper, and then sprinkled some granulated sugar and a little cayenne pepper.  Amazing hot caramely sweet crust.

Next was the final shift of our amazing garage sale.  I got off to a Very Early Start this morning, even though our first customer didn’t show up for a few hours.

I popped my weekly breakfast egg bake into the oven when I got there, had some coffee, and the day began.  After all was said and done, the gang brought in over $500!  An episode worth repeating, I think.  We saw some interesting characters, got rid of almost enough junk, and made a little cash.  The only downer?  The lady who walked away with some of my junk without paying for it.  Wouldn’t have bothered me so much if it hadn’t been set aside with some things that another customer wanted to actually PAY for.

After I got home with my compact carload of ugly Christmas plates and mugs (had two carloads at the beginning!), I threw in some laundry and decided my time would be best spent lying in the grass and making a little progress on The Help.

I thought our glasses looked like they were on an adventure.
I nearly got to take a nap in the sun, but Someone decided he was hungry.  We thought we could treat ourselves a little as we’d made a killing selling our junk to people who collect junk, and got rid of lots of junk in the process.  Plus, the great part about a 1.3 day weekend is that you don’t have much time to accidentally spend money you don’t need to spend.  We thought we’d walk to a “nearby” establishment for some supper, promising each other we would aim towards the cheaper items on the menu.  I say “nearby” because when you live as far from civilization as we do, every establishment you walk past is an entire block.  Home Depot, Best Buy, etc.  We walked just under 3 miles to a seafood restaurant (in MN) where we discovered that it was a little overpriced, but also industry night, and they counted us among the working folk.  Also, everything had a bit of a southern/bayou twist, so we got to douse it all in hot sauce and Cajun seasoning!  So our $32 bill became $16 and we left stuffed.  Score!

I didn’t have much time for culinary adventures or creativity, and I’m not really optimistic about finding time for that in the next several days.  But I’m beginning this week with clean laundry and a little cash in my pocket.  I can’t move my legs right now because of my 6-mile trek to dinner, but we can’t have everything, can we.

I Have Needs

11 Aug

Am I really the only one who feels totally overcaffeinated when the IKEA catalog shows up in July?  How about Restoration Hardware?  Or even just little ol’ Crate & Barrel?  I find it hard to believe that I’m alone here.  When he asks why I bother dog-earing the pages, I tell him that I’m just “getting ideas” for things like… paint color?  How to arrange the furniture, maybe?  I’ve never actually looked for these things in a yummy new catalog.  I’m sure I could get these ideas from the great staging they do, but what I actually see is gorgeous furniture that I need.  Wait, want.  I get those two mixed up a lot…  To understand how much I truly do not need furniture, you should know that until a few weeks ago, we owned five sofas.  Five.  This does not count upholstered chairs, of which we have at least that many.  I think I’ve mentioned that it’s a big, uncleanable house.  Holds a lot of sofas.  Davenports, if you prefer.

When we were cleaning up after our big shindig this weekend, we were looking around the house with a little bit of a critical eye, and he was telling me a few of the features he “hates” about the place.  We got on the subject of ceiling fans and other fixtures.  I have mixed feelings about ceiling fans.  I think they’re not the most beautiful design element available, but I love the option of moving the air around via something other than my expensive-to-run and highly-inefficient air conditioner.  There are two in the house, and sometimes we run them even though they’re in rooms we never use.  It’s our theory that the air circulates beyond those little rooms… but who knows.  We’re contemplating replacing one of the builder-standard gaudy “chandeliers” in the main room with a ceiling fan, but it is my opinion that it should be a non-hideous one, or it’s not really worth it.  Read: expensive.  That was pretty much immediately pointed out to me, but I quickly moved on to the next idea I had.  Take the gaudy “chandelier” in the kitchen and paint it red.  The question is whether I could swap out the glass “shades” for something that would be a little less 2001.
I saw this on Shabbie Chic Home‘s Etsy site and realized I might be able to make something cool…

And how cool would it be to have mason jar shades?  Okay, maybe a little much on an entire chandelier.  But I like the idea!  And cool of BootsNGus to recycle vintage jars this way.  I love that they tell me it will remind me of catching fireflies as a kid.  Agh!  Suckered again.

I don’t tend to rush out and buy housewares.  My bigger impulse issue is clothing, as my job is fashion conscious and it’s easy to justify.  I neeeed this dress.  Wait, is that justifying or whining?  Either way.  And maybe there’s a little truth my claim that the wardrobe needs constant updating, but I can still shop the closet.  I can turn wide leg pants into skinnies.  I can take that dumpy old jacket and have it cropped and tailored.  That’s usually cheaper than a new outfit!  And I can paint the things in my house that are ugly until they are bearable.  I have a hunch that the busy-ness epidemic and the consumption epidemic are close cousins.  I’ll be trying to consume less without adjusting my schedule at all.  Stay tuned, this could get interesting.

Wa__sabi

6 Aug


My husband doesn’t understand these predicaments, either.

The aforementioned Friend K had a really cool post that has had me thinking for a couple weeks.  She said that her house is “wabi-sabi,” which not the same as my favorite green goo for sushi.

It’s not as tasty, and takes at least as long to get used to.  My favorite translation of it is Mess.  K says is “the acceptance of transience, of seeing the beauty in something that is imperfect, impermanent, or incomplete.”  I did a little wikihomework on the subject, and also liked how they summed it up… “[It] nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.”

The house I live in is fine.  Not wabi-sabi in the slightest, and in fact it could use a little more of that.  It was built in 2001, the walls are straight enough, and the carpet is only lightly stained.  I think it’s my life that is wabi-sabi.  Discuss…

Nothing lasts?  I guess I don’t think of material things that way, it’s more that I always have this hourglass in the back of my mind… “Like sands through the hourglass…”  How many times did I hear THAT during pre-employment summers?  More times than my mom wants to know.  For me, time is what doesn’t last.  My favorite moments of gin and tonics on the patio seem very temporary.  Fleeting, even!  My inability to work efficiently could have something to do with it, but as it stands, I feel like days, especially the good ones, go by too quickly.

Nothing is finished?  SERIOUSLY.  Nothing, unless it’s a pizza or a cheeseburger, is ever finished.  I have a special collection of garments at the bottom of my laundry basket that do not get washed.  I don’t ever have the right load to throw them in with, nor do I ever feel it is a “good time” to do a load of hand-washing.

Nor am I good at line drying…
This gives me a little bit of a complex about some things, but this wabi-sabi thing wants me to just accept that the dusting might get done, but not the vacuuming.  Practical application: I’m having a sizeable party this weekend, and it’s just not possible to be “ready” for such a thing.  There’s a pretty constant back and forth in my head that goes a little like, “Agh!  Nothing is done!” and then, “Nobody will notice that you haven’t rotated the picture frames in… ever.”  And so on.

Nothing is perfect?  Well, I think we all KNOW that, but sometimes that doesn’t make it easy.  When Friend B first moved into the apartment that neither of us knew would define our relationship, it was white.  White walls, white carpet, white furniture.  I had spent about 30 seconds in Leiden and the house I stayed in had light wood and white everything else.  Very cool, I thought, so I tried to recreate it in my carpeted suburban apartment.  Fail.  Friend B took my concerned self down to the Home Depot, and we picked out a purple (called “Sassy Pants” or somesuch), a tomato red, and a blue and a green for her room and bathroom that she would later decide was sort of lurid.  Oh well.  The living room was purple, the kitchen was red, and they were connected so it was just a lot of stuff happening that disturbed my sensibilities.

See?  Disturbing.  Lurid.  I’m pretty used to it now.
Note: several years later, my parents would apply the first coat of colored paint their house had seen since 1986.  Good work, Friend B, you even got to the root of the problem.  Don’t even get me started on how she started on the arrangements of knick knacks that were not in a Straight Line or hanging pictures without Using A Level.

More on wabi-sabi… Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.  Generally, I like it.  I think it’s a great model for working with what you have, going with the flow, and not falling into the ginormous trap of the Crate & Barrel catalog of Things I Don’t Have But Totally Need.  I have everything I need, none of it is perfect, I am not finished, and time doesn’t last.  So I guess I’ll have a gin and tonic!

Ya Gotta Have Friends…

29 Jul


My friends are the greatest!

They tell me when I’m good at stuff.  Occasionally, they tell me when I’m not so good at stuff.  Example: “You should maybe consider taking your life in a different direction.”  They tell me when I look great, and when I’ve strayed from the looks that I look great in.  Example: I now own two of the currently-trendy belted Hefty bag dresses.  One maxi, one mini.  Friend J has insinuated that while I look fine in them, I should not add to my collection.  No matter how comfy they are.  Her (and my) better half hates them entirely, but we all have fat days.  This lady illustrates that you don’t have to have a fat day to wear this dress.

Sometimes, your friends will pretend that you don’t bother them when you totally do.  Example: Friend N (see also: Husband) pretended this morning that we weren’t leaving the house 15 minutes late.  He sat at the breakfast table, staring into space, as I rushed around trying to get out the door.  He then claimed that he “hadn’t noticed the time” and marveled at how “the last 10 minutes go by so quickly!”  I think he was grinding his teeth, but it was nice of him just the same.

Sometimes, your friends remind you to do the things that make you happy.  Friend K, who is 11 months pregnant, is getting impatient with my lack of writing.  She sent me a message at 4am today that I should get to writin’ because she is bored and can’t move/sleep/sit still/function.  Or something to that effect.  So here I am, 12 hours later, writing!  Hi K, hope you’re staying cool.  You should really schedule your last trimesters for the cold snaps.

Sometimes, your friends help you buy things.  In college, Friend B and I shared joint custody of a pair of purple velvet pants.  No, really, they were cool…  Friend KS and I currently share joint custody of a set of sweet recipe cards from the 70s that have cocktails on one side and appetizers on the other, complete with awesome photos.

Sometimes, they challenge you to try new things!  Or new old things.  Like crocheting.  Is that even a word?  I’ve tried knitting… I’m okay at it.  Crocheting is easier, I think.  Friend J just asked if I could show her how.  Right now, I could not, but I was just thinking about trying it again after reading Friend K’s post about it.  So I think I’ll re-examine my yarn collection and crochet hook, figure it out, and teach Friend J.  Think about it… I get to do something challenging (figuring it out), something creative (making something fuzzy), and something that adds to one of my many great friendships (teaching Friend J)!  I think I’ll try this cute flower, it looks like a good first project…

I can barely keep track of my great friends, but they seem to always still be there when I resurface from my long work weeks.  Maybe it’s because of my keen fashion sense… or my cocktail-making skills.

Busted.

15 Jul

Remember how I’m not buying things?  Right, me too.  This morning, I poured myself a tall mug of coffee and left for work with enough time to stop at my favorite place for squandering money, the Bead Monkey.  They rearranged!  There was a much better selection of Swarovski crystals, some new semi-precious stones that I hadn’t seen before (lemon jade is my new favorite!), and I played with some of the precious metals they keep behind the counter – I’m making a gift.  And maybe one for myself.

While I was talking to the super nice lady behind the counter, and we were holding chains up to links, some JERK started honking his horn.  And not just honking, really, but laying on it.  Pretty soon, we decided that it must be an alarm going off.  A lady came in and said it was coming from a nearby building, their security system must have been tripped.  Then another lady came in the door on the other side of the shop, and my stomach sank.  I got that feeling you get when you realize the woman in the distance – so far away, you can just barely make out her features – who is stomping towards you is Your Mother.  I recognized that “building alarm,” and the lady said that it was coming from a black Pathfinder.  I don’t drive a Pathfinder, but not everyone knows cars.

I put two and two together quickly enough and ran out to shut it up.  Not happening.  I started the car.  I stopped the car.  I locked the doors.  I unlocked the doors.  I hung my head, walked back into the store to grab my umbrella.  I mumbled an apology to the poor deaf people and high-tailed it outta there.  There’s a repair shop about 4 blocks from where I was, so I went in that direction.  I learned two things along the way: 1. If you seem to be reclining on your horn, people will pull over and let you pass them; 2. As you pass them, they will give you the dirtiest, most hateful look you can imagine.  The guys at the shop sprang to action and got it to stop.

The icing on this lovely cake was the record rainfall happening the whole time.  After I dropped my car off to be muzzled and muted, I walked 3.5 blocks to work.  I was dry when I started out, and 2 hours after I arrived at work, I was dry again.  Sigh.

We’re still in need of some detective work to uncover the cause of this whole horn problem, and then a solution.  The prevailing theory is that a remote trigger was installed by N, and that my proximity to a cash register is what set it off.

Is this really all there is…?

10 Jul

Okay, I don’t exactly have an issue with monotony.  It has been 4 weeks since my last confession.  Post.  Have a seat, I’ll catch you up…

We made it.  We’re officially Not Newlyweds.  I gave him a Kindle (paper anniversary… get it??) which I more or less had to set up for him.  He’s not very technological.  He gave me a hat!  I love it, but I haven’t figured out what to do with it yet.  It looks like this:

We spent the weekend at the same hotel we stayed in one year prior.  We had dinner at the same restaurant.  We spiced it up by having drinks at a place that had nothing to do with anything other than I really like it.  Turns out it all felt really overpriced this time, but as he put it, “a nice parallel.”  Next year we think we’ll order a pizza.

The next weekend was reasonably quiet, as I’d thought I would be on a business trip so there wasn’t much planned.  A little garage-saling (saleing? sailing? whatever), a little birthday party for one of my many pregnant friends, and an inaugural batch of bacon chocolate chip cookies.  That’s right, I said bacon.  After this experiment, it may be making appearances in all manner of baked goods that come out of my kitchen.  As I write this, I realize that a “quiet weekend” for me involves baking, shopping, and partying.

The NEXT weekend was Inlawpalooza.  I survived.  We went to Colorado to celebrate my cousin-in-law’s wedding to a lovely man who will not become a priest.  Long story.  Okay, it’s not that long.  She’s pretty hot, so he thought he’d marry her rather than finish seminary.  Good times were had, sleep was not.

Now we’re back in town for a (little) while.  I’ve set up a tentative chore calendar which I am certain he will love, and I’ve got some 3-ingredient recipes to try out.  Next week I have a little more time to myself than I normally do, so I’m trying to think of things to do that will help me feel like a more balanced individual.  So far I’ve scheduled a brunch.  I thought maybe a “pole fitness” class would be fun, but those conflict with my work schedule.  So… maybe some yoga?  Hopefully some writing, I always enjoy that outlet.  Jewelry-making is a distinct possibility.  And chores, though not enjoyable themselves, always make my life seem a little simpler.  I definitely plan to spend some time this week making limoncello.  It has been a couple years since I’ve tackled that, but I’m confident that I can still pull it off.  Now I just need to find a summer cocktail recipe for it… club soda?  mint?  hibiscus tea?  Stay tuned for more on all that, and on my pineapple bok choy slaw.  It can only turn out well.

Freaks!

8 Jun

Seems that a busy work week can put a damper on my intentions to get to this… ironic, given the title of my last post!  Oh well, back on the wagon!

We are both control freaks, but of different colors.  Me, I’m a freak about the details.  He is a freak about “the plan” and something called “all-or-nothing.”  I will explain.

Because of the high incidence of Spandex (R) and exposed skin in our chosen profession, we sometimes (less frequently than in previous years) shave some carbs out of our diets.  For me this means having two pieces of cake instead of three.  Or having sushi, because “it’s only a little bit of rice!”  For him this means eating scrambled eggs and cottage cheese and grilled chicken.  Once he decides not to eat cake or rice or anything that tastes good, he just doesn’t.  End of discussion.  I can’t seem to understand why, after our grilled chicken and cottage cheese, we can’t just have a little dessert!

By about Tuesday (we have Sunday and Monday off, so Tuesday is the beginning of our work week), he is usually asking me what “the plan” is for the weekend.  My response is usually something like this: “…I don’t know…” accompanied by a look that says, “stupid question, stupid answer.”  I’m a really nice person.  The thing is, I’m a recovering over-planner, so whenever possible, I like to go where the wind blows me.  I learned it from my friends, I think it’s lovely.  He thinks it’s disorganized.

However… if we are GOING to make “a plan,” it needs to be The Perfect Plan.  This is where I become a freak.  (Maybe my resistance to planning is a self-preserving attempt to be less freakish?)  We’re going out to lunch?  I have to research the menu online – nothing is more irritating than an unpublished menu! – so that I can make a decision on my order sometime the same day as being seated.  I need to find the perfect patio on a gorgeous day.  And what kind of cocktail will enhance the sunshine?  It’s paralyzing, folks.

A couple weeks ago, after much “What do you want to do?” and “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” he planned a date.  It was wonderful.  I did not criticize the details.  I didn’t even want to!  We went to see The Hangover 2.  He poured Captain Morgan into our Coke.  The movie, and the drink, were gross.  Then we went to dinner.  This was actually pretty exciting, because we never do the dinner-and-a-movie date.  I had a good martini, some thawed calamari, a pretty decent entree, and a great time.

I think we can all see the lesson here: let him handle the details.  I’m going to start doing a LOT of delegating.  As an act of self-therapy, of course!