Thursday, August 22, 2013

Decisions, Decisions: Mundane Endeavors 2

So there are some changes that need to be made.

I weighed approximately 196 pounds when I left to climb Kilimanjaro.  When I can off the mountain, I was somewhere around 185,  having lost weight during the climb.  I am now back to 194 because I'm just not paying attention to what i am eating versus the energy I am expending.  I need to fix this.  I have some really nice pants that are a smaller size that I would like to fit into again someday!  (and it is, after all, ALL about fashion).

So here are my thoughts for how I should continue at the moment:

I need to make sure that if I get a treat, I just get a small treat.  No more Ventis for me!

I need to only drink my favorite chai mix once a week or so, as a special treat.  Fridays and Saturdays when I need a little pick-me-up from the week or while Marc and I are watching a movie.  It should be special.

And I have stopped buying my favorite chocolate from World Market.  Again, it should be special - no more purchasing by the case like I did before, just to make sure I had it on hand.

So now that I've made that public, maybe I'll stick by it!  My other plans include the following:

  • Drink water every day - at least two liters.  Prevent the bloating that comes with dehydration and improves skin tone.
  • No after dinner snacking unless it's a piece of fruit or a handful of carrots.  Enough already!
  • Drink herbal tea instead of Chai mix.  Helps with water consumption and has no sugar.
  • Smaller portions at dinner - I don't have to take the biggest piece of chicken or have seconds on starches.  Vegetables are okay for seconds.
  • Don't eat the kids leftovers!
  • When I can avoid carbohydrates, I will.

I need to start treating my body like the temple it is and coming to grips with the fact that unless I do something and stop all the cheating, I am NEVER going to be able to wear my favorite jeans again.  I have two tubs of smaller clothes in the closet and I WANT to wear them.  I WANT to wear one of my favorite winter coats and I have to get in gear to accomplish that.

Who's with me?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary: Garden of my Dreams 1

That is my bean tipi - I got the idea from my dear friend, Dana, who promised she would come visit if I did it.  She hasn't visited, but the tipi is pretty fun anyway.  I made it using PVC piping that I spray painted yellow.  Each length was 8 feet and I tied them together at the top with kitchen twine and made a few "support" strings around the pipes at about 2 feet and 5 feet so the bean tendrils had something to take hold of.  Not that you can see the tipi, seeing as the beans have gone insane.  What I have learned this  year is NEXT year, don't plant so many plants.  I planted six or seven at the base of each pole and now they're so dense it's hard to pick the beans!

The kids like it, though, since they fit inside.  Ha.

This is broccoli.  Something is eating my broccoli plants, as you can see, but I have been unable to find the culprit.  I haven't pulled them out yet, even though they look terrible, because they are trying to actually produce vegetables and I want to give them a chance.  Next year, I may stick with the broccoli I buy in the store.
My cauliflower, however, is amazing.  This particular type is called "Cheddar Cheese" because it is a nice orange color.  It is fantastically tasty and I am so excited that five of the six plants decided to give me something.  This, I will do again.  Next year I am going to look for purple!!
My cucumbers have become a viney wonderland, overtaking their trellis in the past few weeks.  The cukes are great this year (last year they tasted like soap) and I was trying to NOT can pickles, but it appears I'm not going to have a choice.  I may try something different, though.  I did refrigerator pickles and they were awesome, so maybe there's a few other recipes out there that I can take a stab at.

These pictures are the corners of my deck - the above picture is my small herb garden which grew dill, chives, parsley, and basil this year.  Not the ones I probably would have chosen, but the only ones I had access to in Pipestone when I was planting.  they grew okay and I ended up freezing small cubes of parsley and chives and drying the dill.  I'm actually trying to dry dill SEED at the moment with dill plants in my kitchen bundled in paper bags.  Pretty entertaining.  The basil has just been used fresh most of the time and is really good.

The tall plants you can see are my salsa peppers.  They are HOT this year and are a hybrid I haven't tried before.  I think next year I will only plant two plants instead of six.

I planted gladiolus last year and dug the bulbs out in the winter, storing them downstairs on a cookie sheet after they dried out.  I wasn't expecting plants this year, but ALL of them bloomed.  I have yellow, dark purple, light purple, and a lime green.  I could take pictures of all of them, but it would be a little crazy to post them all here, so here's a yellow one in full bloom.

Those tiny plants are my second planting of radishes.  I LOVE radish relish and my dark red radishes were awesome this year.  These are WHITE radishes and we'll see how they turn out - they're supposed to be a little spicy, so that should be fun!

For some reason, my tomato plants are rotting.  This happened a few years ago, too.  The plants rot from the bottom up, but the tomatoes are still turning red and are really tasty.  I guess we'll just keep trying, since fresh tomatoes are so very tasty - we did one cherry tomato plant, one roma plant, and three regular tomatoes.  I have frozen tomatoes twice already and will probably have to do more this weekend.  Marc has been making salad with the fresh tomatoes (cherry and roma) and some of our cucumbers and vinegar every week since they got ripe and it is delicious!!

We also have wildlife in the garden:
Mr. Toad, who is probably a Mrs. Toad since we have baby toads in the yard now... Here she is caught in a frisbee by my children.  What a patient toad.  We think we've had the same toad living in our yard for a few years now, she just keeps getting bigger.  Probably digs down between the air conditioner and the house in the winter and lives under the hose reel in the summer.  My hose leaks, so it's probably a lovely place for a toad to live.  It also might be the reason why I haven't fixed the hose.

And baby bunnies!  Dagny was actually fast enough to catch one under the bean tipi last night, which I thought was impressive.  Unfortunately, I think Mommy got shot on Saturday morning by Marc.  Hopefully, him mowing yesterday just disturbed them and they're not out trying to find food at such a tender age.  They might not last long.  Dagny just about went ballistic when the dog went after one of them.  He's a dog, what does she expect?  We did NOT bring them in the house, though it was hard not to.  They are very cute.

So that's my garden this year.  I don't think I could ever live anywhere where I couldn't grow veggies now that I've done it for seven years now.  I get better every year, learn new things, and completely enjoy it.  Gardening is therapy after a long day and picking my own vegetables and preserving them makes me feel like a provider, not to mention I know my veggies are healthy since we grew them ourselves!!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Play Nice in the Sandbox: UMSJ 2

I know what's wrong in the world today - everyone forgot the lessons they learned in kindergarten.  You know the ones:

  • Be nice to each other
  • Share things
  • Don't call names
  • No biting, scratching, hitting, or kicking
  • Everyone can be friends with everyone else

So what happened?  How did we end up in a culture that believes that pursuit of happiness means running over everyone in your way because NO ONE's happiness is as important as yours?

The American culture is disconnected.  We don't know our neighbors as well as we used to, we don't take the time to speak to others while we travel, we simply ignore everyone but ourselves and our own needs.  This is our problem.  We move too fast, we rely on technology and not humans, and we don't stop to smell the roses.  Anything that isn't instantaneous isn't worth having.  And because of that, if someone else has a need that interferes with what we want for ourselves, we ignore the need even to the point of shitting on it.

My husband and I were talking about this the other day - people are very keen on pointing out everything you did WRONG (which interfered with one of their needs) and almost never tell you if you did something RIGHT (which would fill a need for you).  Complaints are fielded every day in both our areas of employment, but rarely compliments.  Really, people, how hard is it to tell someone you appreciate what they do?  If someone does something nice, how hard is it to say "Thank you"?  How hard is it to say "Excuse me," or "Nice shirt," or  "That color looks great on you."

In this time of fighting over who is more right for our country (everyone is wrong, really), I have a lot of thoughts.  We can NEVER have a government based in religion because that leads to persecution of everyone else - come on, it happens everywhere.  ENOUGH with saying this is a Christian nation!!  I'm a Christian and this is deeply offensive to me.  I don't want my church and my government combined at all!!  Faith is personal.  Who cares if you believe in Allah, Krishna, Jehovah, or God or nothing at all?  Really, who cares?  Are you a decent human being?  Do you take care of the people around you?  In the end, that's all that matters.

And this whole fight over basic human rights?  We all have the right to be happy, it says that right in our constitution.  "Pursuit of happiness" - it's right there.  Does it say that everyone's pursuit of happiness has to be the same??  Does it state that if you are gay, black, Jewish, or something else then you don't have the right to be happy?  Come on.  Get off your high horse and realize that if you don't like gay marriage, DON'T HAVE ONE!  Two men getting married has no effect on my relationship with my husband - it doesn't ruin traditional marriage.  And traditions are mostly ridiculous anyway - lots of them need to be broken.  Love your partner, love each other.  Jesus taught us that - why is it so hard for a lot of Christians to understand?

Someone wrote a letter to the editor lately about how the bible is very clear on marriage, that gay marriage is wrong.  Well, it also says you need to stone your children if they mouth off, you can't eat shellfish (lobster, anyone?) and you can't wear mixed fabrics.  So unless you're only wearing natural wool, you avoid shrimp, and you've stoned your children for talking back, Shut Up.  Let he who is without sin throw the first stone and, trust me, we've all sinned.  Don't even pretend that your horse is higher than mine.

It's all about the love.  All about the appreciation and the need to belong.  In the end, that's where it all resides.  If we could all play in the sandbox together without throwing sand, dumping over others for their differences, and realizing that we can all work on the same sand castle to make it FAR more awesome than it would be with just a few of us, the world would be a better place.  We should celebrate and revel in differences, discuss our opinions, and create a world that's good for EVERYONE not just a select few.  Let's look at science - small isolated groups die.  They inbreed, they lose their genetic diversity, and they become susceptible to disease, birth defects, and eventual destruction.  Is that what America wants for itself?

Take care of each other.  It takes a village - not just to take care of children, but to take care of all of us.  Our isolated culture is damaging us.  A lot of our problems stem from the fact that we are no longer connected with others physically.  The internet and your phone don't count.

So for today, please take a moment to tell someone who helps you as part of their job how awesome they are.  Tell someone in the grocery store you like their shirt (even if you don't - it still goes a long way).  Pay for the person behind you in line at the drive through - it feels good.  If you think you can handle it, get off the internet and turn off your cell phone for an hour at least!

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Desire for Ink and Football: Mundane Endeavors 1

I got a new tattoo today to celebrate Africa.  Perhaps I should say that it was two, since it was a matching pair on my calves.

My legs deserve the attention for all the work they did, but I must say that it hurt more than any of my others and I am probably done with tattoos for awhile.  Twiga hurt more than Tembo (can you see the letters inside the design?  Swahili, baby!) and she bled more.  I went to Sam's afterwards not realizing that blood had run down my leg and pooled on the top of my sandal.  No wonder people were looking at me funny.

Anyway, the tattoo is beautiful and I love it very much, even if it IS bigger than I thought it would be.  I think they're perfect.  Done by the same guy who did my arms, which are also beautiful.  If I make the decision to do more ink, I will definitely go and see him.  If you need recommendations in the Sioux Falls area, I can give you one! has started.  Pre-season, but still football.  Tonight the Vikings are playing the Bills which is a hard game for me.  My dad is a Vikings fan, my husband is a Bills fan.  Crazy.  Can I cheer for both?  No, but I can secretly not care who wins, I suppose.  I will support the Bills because, well, I like them, but my dad will be happy if the Vikings win, so I really can't lose this game!

My dad has his second round of chemotherapy today - I know, he's had it before, but this is a new drug.  This drug specifically targets anaplastic large-cell non-Hodgkins lymphoma on its return.  That's right, its return.  Dad was diagnosed with a second run of cancer about two months ago and they decided to do chemo and radiation one more time.  I don't think he'll do it three times, I think this is the last shot.  And not sure how long it will last - this new drug does a number on him.

We were going to go fishing over Labor Day, but we decided to cancel.  Instead, we'll go to Cedar Rapids and stay at the Marriott and just visit, which will be easier on everyone.  I don't want the kids to have fishing memories where Dad wasn't at his best and I don't want Dad to think that he has to be happy and participate when he feels miserable.  I think it's better all around if we simply have an awesome family weekend and celebrate their 50th anniversary together.  Fishing would have been nice, but it's not necessary for us to have a good time.

This weekend coming will be nice - there's really nothing to do.  Marc has mowed the lawn already, so there will be garden work and maybe some tomato freezing, but no crazy errands need to be run and we can stay around the house.  Maybe we'll go for a family bike ride - I think that would be great.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

You Better Eat That: UMSJ 1

So a friend shared something on Facebook that I happened to see (I know, I see a lot...), but this one really bothered me.  It seems that South Africa has a few lion breeding centers that breed the lions simply so they can be shot by hunters wanting to bag one.

Lion hunter = douchebag
This offends me to the very core of my being.  It goes along with a friend of my husband's who goes to a farm somewhere they breed elk and he hunts them inside the farm grounds - are you kidding me?  How sporting is that?

Here's my opinion on hunting: You better eat it.

To hunt an animal that is enclosed, that has been bred to fulfill that purpose but is NOT a domesticated animal, is abhorrent.  You are a small human being when you engage in that sort of senseless behavior.

On the other hand, if you are a hunter and you hunt responsibly, taking only what you can use and hunting in some sort of sportsmanlike fashion, then I can deal with it.  If you take you bow out into the woods, hunt a deer, and turn it into sausage and steaks, I'm good.  If you go hunt an elk in a field so you can hang the antlers on your wall and you leave the rest behind, that's one big karmic check against you.

If you take the life away from another living creature, then that life must be used to sustain your own.  You don't get to go shoot a lion and hang the pelt on your wall just to say you did it - that's not how things should work.

Have I repeated myself enough?  Can you see I feel strongly about this?  And with fishing - if you fish for sport, so be it, but if that fish gets badly hurt in the process, you better eat it.

And I consider this social justice.  We're not the only creatures who are social, mind you, and all living things deserve our inalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Who cares if their happiness is not the same as yours??  Does that make it less valuable?

Having just come back from safari, perhaps my opinions have strengthened in the past few weeks.  I watched elephants in the wild and they are most definitely social, loving animals.  They live in large groups, they interact with their siblings the way my own kids do, and they most definitely love their family.  Taking that away from them is horrible.

Domesticated Animals:

Shame on feedlot owners for having those animals live in disgusting conditions.  Shame on feed producers who use animal parts in the mixture, feeding cows to cows and chickens to chickens.  Not only does that pass disease (mad cow, anyone?), it is unnatural in the strictest sense of the word.  A cow would not eat another cow, even if it were starving.  Okay, a chicken might, but chickens are weird.
Feedlot - how can that be good for them?
Feedlots are a disgrace, which is why I try to ensure the meat I buy is free-range, not genetically altered, and led a relativelt normal life before it ended up on my plate.  Could I be a vegetarian?  Probably not - I do love meat.  meat is not the issue - it's the way the animals are treated before they die.

And that would be the end of my rant today.  I'm sure there will be more.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Fictional Heartthrob: Library Confessions 1

It's not unusual - most people who read develop a slight crush on a well-written character.  Happens all the time.  And not just with books, but with television and movies as well.

I have secret fictional crushes.  Lots of them.  Most recently, I have a thing for Walt Longmire from the TV series Longmire (go figure).  That particular character does double duty as a literary figure as well, though I have never read the books by Craig Johnson.  Now that I've seen Robert Taylor play him on TV, that face will always be ingrained in my memory, no matter what the written word says.

Robert Taylor as Walt Longmire
The story (and I'll assume the books follow the same general plot) centers around a county sheriff in Wyoming and his three deputies.  The town is small, but the county seems quite large - they do a lot of driving.  And on top of that, they seem to have more than their fair share of mysteries and murders happening in their parts, at least enough to do several seasons of quality television.

I have had crushes on Vincent D'onofrio from Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Jim Caveziel from Person of Interest, Josh Holloway from Lost (any woman who is not attracted to him is a big liar), and Sam Trammell from True Blood.  For some reason, these actors fit the characters they play to a T and do it well enough to stir something inside of the women that watch.

Books, however, are something else entirely.  In a book, no matter what the author tells you, a reader develops an image of the character that fits their personal perception.  If the character is attractive to them as written (with dialogue, actions, etc), then the imagined physical appearance will be attractive as well.

For instance, we'll use Harry Dresden from Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series.  I have always had a crush on Harry, not necessarily because of how I think of his physically, but of how his sarcastic sense of humor is conveyed by the author.  He's cheeky, hilariously funny, and a wizard (added bonus of awesomeness), but without Butcher's excellent writing, he would be nothing to me.
Harry Dresden - artist's rendition
To develop a book crush, we are dependent on the author.  I know that sounds strange, but it is very true.  Without the story capturing our attention and the writing sparking our imaginations, there would be no crush - nothing at all would happen.  The reader would have put the book down instead of avidly following the story from one book to the next, to the next, and so on.  I would not still be reading the Dresden Files if there wasn't a quality to it that I can't quite put a finger on.  And my secret crush on Harry would never have blossomed.  Of course, a crush on a fictional character is unrequited, but that's part of the appeal of the entire thing in the first place.

Do you have a book crush?  Do you have any sort of character crush?  Thank an author or a scriptwriter or the creator of that persona - without them, our vivid imaginary boyfriends wouldn't exist.

Blog Organizations

So I was thinking and I have several different threads I would like to write about, but I don't want to start different blogs for each topic.  Instead, I am going to put a sub-title of sorts on every post so you, my faithful and disturbed readers, can tell which sequence of thought I am following.

So far, I am going to use the following subtitles, though these could change without warning:

The Garden of My Dreams will be used for *gasp* gardening thoughts
Kitchen Fantasies will revolve around cooking exploits
Library Confessional speaks for itself - books and other media
Unruly Mob of Social Justice (UMSJ) will be my rants about society
Mundane Endeavors will be just the regular life of me, my kids, and our general craziness

I might add more, but for now, I'll stick with these five trains of thought.  :)