18 May 2013

a saturday post

This is the day I set as my goal upon my return from Easter break. I knew that the weeks in between would be packed full of lists and decisions, accomplishment and success, and a few bumps along the way. But mostly I knew that at 6:30pm on Saturday, May 18, life would become a bit more normal.

Last night I hosted a group of friends from my life group for a craft night. It was fun. It's literally been years since I've been that crafty for that long. As per usual, I only finished one project (out of four). It happened to be the project I brought everyone to make: gardener's sugar hand scrub. It was for sure the most simple project that involved stirring two ingredients. But the result is a perfect blush pink. And it smells great.

From there, as the other girls continued with projects, it was downhill for me. I started two others, but as usual became completely overwhelmed in the decision-making process. When I finally decided just to start one, I wound up painting the canvas with a thick layer of paint that halted all other progress since it took approximately forever to dry. Then I decided to start a notepad project that involved Mod Podge-ing scrapbook paper to the cover of a notepad. Simple enough, huh? Except that it took me at least 20 minutes to decided which papers to use. I made the first cut. It was off. My OCD couldn't handle it. I made a second cut. It worked. I glued it in place and let it dry a bit before continuing. Then I decided I wasn't happy with that paper. Back to the drawing board. Only at that point I was tired and a bit defeated since it was obvious I wouldn't be finishing any other projects. Thankfully, my friend left an outline of Texas for me to continue my canvas painting.

Even after a cup of coffee at 9pm, I was exhausted. As we tucked into bed, we remembered to shut the doors between our bedroom and bathroom. It's not a habit, but in order to sleep in on Saturdays, it's necessary. The light from the east floods our bathroom and spills into our bedroom, making it impossible to sleep past 7am on Saturday.

This morning was slow and quiet. J made coffee; I made blueberry muffins. Our Saturday morning routine is breakfast in the living room while watching television. If you'll remember, we don't have cable. I recently discovered that the PBS channel is free. (Umm, that opens up a whole new world of options.) We love, love The Daytripper. And are able to watch it through the PBS channel. So we watched a couple of episodes, and then caught up with New Girl. (Which, ohmygosh! Hilarious and super-satisfying season finale!)

While J got ready for an afternoon of Star Trek, I pulled a few weeds from the flower beds. Once I had enough of that and watered my hydrangeas, I headed back inside. After some quick meal-planning, I handed the grocery list to J as he left for the afternoon. Now to decide what to wear to graduation, if I should fix my hair curly or straight, and if I want the discomfort, but height, of heels with the faculty graduation gown.

(If you'll remember, the decision-making is where I stalled last night.)

And then at 6:30, I should be headed home. J is in charge of dinner. He has plans of grilled chicken and veggies. It sounds perfect.

Tomorrow I intend to hit those flower beds again. Make burgers for lunch. Read. And find out what in the world is making such a stink in my refrigerator. Because life will have returned to normal.

11 May 2013

stopping the busy

I am busy. Too busy. Some can't be avoided as it is work-related, and there will always be an ebb and flow. But some can be avoided. It's just that I'm often too cowardly to say no. I do not like when people are unhappy with me. It's easier to say yes and avoid the disappointment of others. But then I find myself in a frenzy. I find myself frantic.

This busyness is overwhelming. Jumping from one thing to the next. Checklist after checklist made. Hoping not to let the balls drop from each project. Hoping that if I've missed something, I can cover and come up with a solution. And, more, hoping that those I must rely on will pull through on the important things. The things that won't be overlooked.

This busyness is frustrating. With too many balls in the air, if one is thrown just a little off, it can make me crumble. This week at work, the copier jammed. Tears spilled over. And then laughter because OH MY GOSH it's just a copier jam. I explained to my coworkers that it was a tough day. One demanded I get out of the office, and she would clear the jam and make my two copies. This is the busyness that is unavoidable. But it will pass. And until then, I have friends at work who take things from me when needed.

This busyness is consuming. I constantly think about all I need to get done. Ready for each day to be over so that it's one less day of busyness. Hoping to finally cross off an entire to do list. All the while keeping my house somewhat picked up and figuring out how to make the simplest meals, hoping we have leftovers in the refrigerator. I hate living life like that.

This busyness is annoying. I will not glorify this busyness. I try not to talk about it too much. My life is more than six weeks of busyness. But I recognize that once I get frantic, my relationships are strained. I'm not present like I should be.

Earlier in the week, a favorite author, Shauna Niequist, wrote for Storyline blog. And I wanted to give it a slow, standing ovation. She wrote about living a less-frantic life,
I’m adopting a ruthless anti-frantic policy. I’m done with frantic. The new baseline for me: will saying yes to this require me to live in a frantic way? I’m saying no more often than I’m saying yes. I’m asking hard questions about why I’ve kept myself so busy all these years. 
As summer approaches, I want to practice living a less frantic life. I want to be present in my relationships. I will have to be intentional in saying yes--or no. I want love well those around me. I want to have conversations that don't include a portion of my checklist. I want to have meals and jars of tea and dessert with those close to me. I want to be less frantic.

03 May 2013

things that make me uncomfortable

Three posts in three days. It's so unlike me.
It's tempting to find canned prompts every month. 
It's also likely that canned prompts beyond one month would be super tedious.

Day 3: Things That Make You Uncomfortable
Here goes:

I'm really not good at this. It's the introvert in me.
When I first started dating J, a friend would help me come up with a list of topics
to discuss if conversation waned on our dates. 

When the day comes that churches no longer do the "welcome," I will be so very excited.
It is an introverts nightmare to have to talk to random people during church for three to four minutes.
It seems to be a lasting tradition that is so super ineffective.


These topics go hand-in-hand in east Texas.
And it's more likely that the conversation leans to the far right.
I like to hang out in the middle. So I tend to shut down when these discussion begin.
Mostly because they become heated debates.
I've never known a person to alter beliefs after a debate as such. If anything, beliefs are cemented.
Let's just back off and have a conversation over a good meal.
And let the other person talk. If they don't agree with you or you with them, be OK with that.
But if after going back-and-forth a couple of times, things start downhill, just stop.
And move to dessert or refill your wine glass.
Then talk about something you both like.

Oh, geez. I sort of curl up on a ball on the inside when someone continually has an answer.
No one should have an answer--or an opinion--for everything.
In my experience, a know-it-all doesn't want the correct knowledge.
They just want to believe that whatever they've said is absolute.
I've come to the place where I'm OK saying that I don't know the answer.
I want to be willing to learn from others. But it's unlikely I will want to learn from a know-it-all.

02 May 2013

what i'm good at: chocolate butter cream pie

In my job as a college advisor, I work with students on their resume. They have a difficult time bragging about any accomplishments or significant contributions. I have to encourage them over and over to set aside all the times we've told them to be humble and to make that college admission rep want to offer an acceptance. This prompt 'educate us on something you're good at' is no different for me.

After thinking for hours, wondering if there's anything I'm good at, I decided that there are a few things:

...I'm a great storyteller. I'm super expressive and know just how much hyperbole to use to make the story even better.

...I paint rooms well. I don't tape off. I have a steady hand. I can cut-in like a boss. And I don't let J paint anything in our house. (He hates that.)

...I can make bookshelves look really great. I have a gift.

...I make excellent filet mignon.

...I decorate cakes. My gift is piping. I love it and my cakes are super cute. My mom is co-owner of a bakery. I self-taught when I was in high school after watching our decorators for about two years. But I only decorate about two per year, so I'm super slow.

But I'm not sure I can educate you on how to do these things. If we made a trip to the bakery, I could give you some cake decorating pointers.

(Actually, I once attempted this, but I turned around and my friend was eating icing out of the icing bucket. Her lack of attentiveness was evident upon her completion of the cake she decorated for her boyfriend. Then she married him. And took a cake decorating class where the icing wasn't as tasty. We're still friends. She still loves icing.)

I can help you paint your house or stage your bookshelves.

I can have you over for steak where I'll, no doubt, tell you a story.

But I can't tell you how to do these things.

One thing I can tell you, though, is that I make a really good chocolate butter cream pie. Actually, it's my mother-in-law's recipe, but I'm claiming it. I love it so much that when J didn't request she make it for his birthday dinner this year, I requested one for the celebration we had at home. Then I asked for a copy of the recipe to make for Pi(e) Day. Y'all. It is so easy. And even more delicious.

I have to tell you that you can't be wigged out by eating raw eggs. Just buy fresh eggs, preferably from a local farm. (They treat their chickens so much better so there's less likely to be nasty germs like at a factory farm.) If you ate this at my house, I wouldn't even tell you there are raw eggs.(Unless you are preggers. Then you need to be informed so that you can make a decision.)

Although my mom is the queen of making pie crust and has taught me well, I don't like making pie crust. It's so finicky and messy. I feel fine using a frozen crust.

You'll need a few hours to chill the pie. It can even chill overnight.

Allow the chocolate to cool completely. Otherwise, you'll end up with scrambled eggs in your pie.

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1-9" pie shell, baked
Whipped cream

Melt chocolate in a double boiler, stirring regularly. (Or if you don't have a double boiler, set a big bowl on top of a small pot of boiling water.) In a mixer, cream butter. Add sugar, cooled chocolate, vanilla and salt. Beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time and mix. Once all eggs are added, beat for 3-4 minutes until mixture is smooth and thick. Pour into baked pie shell. Chill at least 4 hours. To serve, top with sweetened whipped cream.

may goals

I'm goal-oriented.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that I found an idea for a list of monthly goals 
and decided I'd try my own list during May.

This is a busy month, but I think I can still accomplish things during the month.

1. Take Crickett for a walk three times a week. 

2. Organize one hallway closet.

3. Make one new recipe.

4. Workout four times per week.

5. Develop a prayer calendar to use with Jeremy.
And make praying with him a priority.

6. No fast food.

7. Buy new athletic shoes.

8. Finish reading Freefall to Fly.

01 May 2013

the story of my life in 250 words

As I've confessed, I use imitation as a form of flattery all too well. I found a great idea to use these prompts to blog every day in May. In an attempt to start blogging regularly again, I think this might be a good writing exercise. I don't know that I'll blog daily, but I'll try. And I'm not willing to give up the series' that I've started (tuesday things & reads for your weekend), so I might post twice in a day. But there are some great  prompts that I'm excited to write. Here's my life story in 250 words...

I was born April 8 in Huntsville, Texas. I was the first girl in 50 years on my dad's side. I've only ever lived in Texas, and I love Texas summers. I'm still a great boss to my two younger brothers. If I were doing what I intended as my first college major, I would teach music. After spending one (of three) summers doing mission work in Romania, I changed my mind. I switched schools and majors. After a stint in the foster care field, I convinced a school to hire me to eventually become a college advisor. It's the job I never knew I wanted. I love it. I met my husband at a church. He came to my church to see if there were any girls on the market. He found one. We married after almost 2 years of dating and engagement. Since I was committed to my last name for 29 years, I moved it to be my middle name. Now, I love the idea of last names for middle names. (I'm lookin' at you, future kids.) We rented a house in a historic district of Tyler before we bought a house in rural Tyler. I miss the brick streets and houses with old, wood floors. I think we'll move back at some point. We adore our cat and dog and hope to add kids to our family soon. I'm creative, frugal and good storyteller. I love books, coffee, decorating our home, cooking, laughing, travel and television.

Done. 250 words.

tuesday things (on a wednesday)

1. I learned last week that I know nothing about HTML coding. Not even the 0.2% I thought I knew. I totally messed up my blog with an attempt to make things better. Thankfully, my wonderful designer at Designer Blogs came to my rescue. Comments are up and running again, as are the social media links on the sidebar.

2. I worked from home yesterday. I learned that I don't like working from home. It's super lonely, even for this introvert. It's a good thing I had dinner with a friend from church, otherwise my poor husband would've had to endure me getting in my 10,000 words once he arrived home.

3. I also learned that I hate our keyboard. It's so noisy and the keys are hard to push. So, I just ordered the one I have at my desk at work. With two day delivery. Oh, first world problems.

4. I'm in a big purging mode at my house. But I'm so busy that I don't have time to really dig into closets and cabinets to make piles of things to purge. And then, I'm torn between donating items and having a garage sale. I think I could make some good cash, but it's just so much work. Every time I have a garage sale, I promise that I'll never do another. But then I think it's a decent idea. Only in Texas it's never a decent idea to have a garage sale in the summer months. And if we don't get rid of some furniture in our garage, I'm afraid I'll be banished to parking in the driveway so that J can finally park in the garage. Oh, first world problems.

5. A few months ago--which very could be a year ago--I mentioned that I needed to stop using "gonna" for "going to" in my daily vernacular. Umm...it seems a little east Texan. And then a friend's mom, who's a retired English teacher (from Wisconsin, so far from east Texas slang), commented that she loves seeing the English language evolve. Since then, I've been a bit fascinated slash intrigued by the idea of a language evolving. This article is one way that we're seeing a language change: Slash: Not Just a Punctuation Mark Anymore.