Friday, July 30, 2010

A Quick Death by Chocolate

It seems that none of you have thoughts about living simply, etc.

That's okay.  I don't know if I do either.  But I'm trying.

Now on to more important things: chocolate cake.

Tonight I wanted chocolate cake.  But it's about a million degrees outside and I walked 11 miles today so my legs hurt and I didn't want to wait for the cake to bake which meant that I was not going to make a chocolate cake.  But then I remembered this recipe that I came across while looking for instructions on how to make a coffee filter wreath (which did not turn out all that well, hence you never hearing about it).  S and I tried it out and it was amazing!  At least for a 2 minute total prep and baking time dessert.  It was so amazing that I have no pictures to share, unless you want to see pictures of the empty mugs filled with yucky water in our sink downstairs (you don't).

On the linked blog it is called both "Death by Chocolate" and "Chocolate...In a Minute!"  But I am calling it "A Quick Death by Chocolate."  Here's the magical recipe:

A Quick Death by Chocolate

1. Get a coffee mug.
2. Put all this stuff in it:
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp. oil
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 tsp. instant coffee
  • 3 Tbsp. cocoa
  • a dash of vanilla - I used about 1/4 tsp.
3. Mix it all up.  A fork works nicely.
4. Microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds (1 minute and 45 seconds for a less gooeyness).
5. If desired, top with chocolate chips, chocolate syrup, ice cream, or whatever your heart desires.
6. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Living simply? Monastically? Oh, whatever.

This past year has been about us.  Me, me, me, you, you, you, and me some more.  S transitioned from seminary to working full-time and was kind of on "putting others first and trying to be good" overload.  For the first time we had a little extra pocket money so we've been taking care of our needs and, more accurately, our wants.  I wanted two pairs of shoes at DSW, and now I own them.  S wanted a Super Nintendo controller so he can play old games on the computer, and it is on its way to our house.  So, that's been nice.

But now we are slowly but surely rethinking things.  Maybe it's because we are getting ready for my second round of grad school in a year.  Maybe it's because we are starting to think about the babies and how we want to live when we have them.  Maybe it's because we've been taking a church hiatus and we are missing the emphasis on giving and sharing that tends to be a part of a church community.

On my long training walks, I listen to podcasts and try to vary the tone and topics (a 10-mile walk takes about 3 hours so I need some variety!).  I recently listened a Speaking of Faith in which Krista Tippett interviewed Shane Claiborne.  You can read more about him if you don't know much already.  He's kind of a new generation of Christians rock star so you've probably heard of him before.

This got me thinking about one of my favorite professors at Perkins, Dr. Clark-Soles.  I love her.  Anyway, she would talk about their "tribe": the people in their community and their church with whom they share resources and life.  Instead of everyone having their own lawn mower, the tribe has a lawn mower.  Instead of everyone having an SVU, the tribe has an SVU.  I like this idea.  We have a small tribe here, I guess.  We share wireless internet with our neighbor.  Instead of buying an electric saw for our table project we borrowed one from our friend.

Here's the thing about "living simply" and "new monasticism" -- the Shane Claiborne folks didn't set out to "be" something, they just started living a certain way and it "became" something.  So now that people are following in their footsteps and adopting that model, it seems a tad inauthentic.  We are going to "be" a new monastic community instead of, "we're here, you're here, let's try living like this and see how it goes."

Tangent - now back to what I was saying.

As grown ups trying to figure out how to be in this world, how do you live in a way that cares for others?  How do you make it a part of your family's daily life in real and tangible ways, ways that permeate your family's identity without becoming self-sacrificial to the point of guilt or overt righteousness?  How do you just live in such a way that your life brings life to others without being all like "LOOK AT ME! MY LIFE BRINGS LIFE TO OTHERS!  I'M JUST LIKE THE COOL KIDS!"?  How do you live generously yet quietly?  How do we live softly, in both senses, on the earth?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Estate sales!

I am learning to love estate sales.  One of the morbid perks of living in a community that was once mostly for senior citizens is that we have an unusually large number of estate sales each weekend near our house.  I think that I prefer estate sales over garage sales, despite the somewhat depressing circumstances.  Here are the reasons why:
  • "Estate sale" sounds infinitely more sophisticated than "garage sale."
  • But the prices are just as good.
  • Some of these people took great care of their awesome stuff, dating back to God knows when.
  • Lots of time the people running the sale like to tell you the story behind the things and usually they are good stories.
My estate sale finds this week?

This 25-cent bowl.  
That is the bottom of the inside of the bowl.

These $3 gloves.  
They have awesome scalloped edges and gorgeous little buttons.  
I have know idea when or where I will wear them,
but rest assured, I will wear them!

This $3 purse.  
A guy who was obviously much cooler than I am
(he was scouting estate sales for hats) told me that 
"vinyl is going to be VERY in this year, you have to get this!"
So I did.  
It doesn't even have a pocket for a cell phone.  That is old, friends! 

Oh, and that's the chair fabric that I do not yet love, but I am working on it.  Today I put a red pillow in one of the chairs to make sure it would look good with Christmas.  It wasn't bad, so it is slowly convincing me to keep it around.  Plus, I am really over shopping for fabric for this project.


Someday we will have a big kitchen (I know you've heard this one before) and I will get the amazing beautiful eight-foot farm table from Kudzu antique store and I will love it so much and forever and it will travel through the generations.

I would like to buy it now.  But did I mention that it's eight feet long?  And on sale for $749?  But, they'll still have it in 5-10 years, right?

I would like to show you a picture so I googled "farm table" and "trellis farm table," as it was listed on the price tag, and "8 foot farm table pedestal base" but nothing even remotely as beautiful as this masterpiece appeared.

The dining room table is almost done, if the dang foam pieces would just get here.  We have fabric.  I don't love it, but I'm trying to develop an affection for it.  I thought I would love it.  Oh well.  Someday it will be our outdoor furniture on our big porch.  Are you beginning to envision the house that I am building in my head?  Did I mention that the entire house will be transportable and able to travel the world?  Yes, it will be amazing.  You will be amazed.

It is 2:31 am on Saturday morning and I am writing about tables.  I am not sure what that says about me.  Don't think I want to know.  Perhaps that I need more activity in my day.  Activity that has nothing to do with tables I am guessing.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The marriage book

Can you give the marriage book credit for helping your marriage if you grow closer together by making fun of the marriage book?  The marriage book is a good book and based on really good research with really good advice and exercises but it's written for all kinds of people, including those are a day or two away from divorce and wish they had a few more days.  Since we are not there, thank goodness, some of the scripts and such sound a little, um, extreme.  Our new favorite is in the chapter about "turning toward your partner."  Dr. Gottman talks about empathizing with your partner and not taking sides with their arch nemesis.  So if your partner feels wronged, you are supposed so say, "That's outrageous!", which we feel is an appropriate response for any sort of thoughtful or emotional expression.

 For example:

-I think I'm going to have ice cream
-That's outrageous!

-This towel is dirty.
-That's outrageous!

-Buddy did all his poops today.
-That's outrageous!

It's really helping our marriage.  

In fact, it's helping so much, we celebrated our second anniversary on Monday!

Monday, July 12, 2010

The weekend of the table

I didn't intend for this to be DIY project show-and-tell, but it's sort of ending up that way.  I warned you, I have a lot of free time on my hands right now and S is on his teacher summer break so you know we're going to get in, refinish tables.  Same thing, right?

In any case, we are slowly but surely turning our house full of inherited hand-me-downs into a house full of "our" things.  And here is the story of the dining room table.

Once upon a time I saw a cute white table on Craig's List for $50.  Whoo-hoo!  Let's buy it!  So we went to look at it and....

It was not a white table.  It was a decrepit and yellowy and not pretty.  So we got it for $40 and took it home.  Here is what happened next.

  Ugh...ugly furniture.

It only took an hour per chair to rip out all of the old, dusty upholstery and rusty staples.


and painting...

and more painting....and two days later:

A table!  

Don't you love the craftsman-style details on the chairs?

No cushions yet.  That's going to require some plywood, the foam I ordered online (much cheaper than at the store, in case you ever need that info), some interface or batting, and FABRIC!  I am having a blast looking at fabric.  I'm not really into sewing but I have discovered that I love upholstery!  :-)  Now we just have to figure out how vibrant we want these seats to be.  I'll share a final product picture sometime soon.

The End.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

When I need a little pick-me-up or slow-me-down

Today I started looking seriously at PhD programs.  I have an Excel spreadsheet so you know I mean business.  Then I started having a panic attack.  Ah!  Maybe I shouldn't have combined PhD searching with looking at entrance exams with looking for a more permanent job for the next year.  This may have been a mistake.  Anxiety overload!

So I visited NieNie. Here's how I found NieNie:
  •  Once upon a time I visited Give Away Today every morning to see if I could win a giveaway.  I never did so I sort of gave up (don't tell anyone, but I'm a quitter).  However, I did discover a lot of cool stores and artists.  Ms. GiveAwayToday is Mormon so lots of the products she features come from Mormon folks.  Which begs the question, when did the Mormon ladies get so fashionable?  Seriously, way to turn it around, ladies!  Anyway, GAT led me to....
  • Crystal B. on Etsy.  I love Crystal B.  For Christmas I got a beautiful Crystal B. necklace from my grandparents and for Valentine's Day S gave me this:
The Nie Nie necklace.  I fell in love with the necklace and the description directed me to... 
  • Nie Nie (aka Stephanie Nielsen)'s blog.  Stephanie and her husband were in a horrid plane crash.  The pilot died and both of them were seriously burned.  Stephanie was in a coma for a long time.  Her blog was used to keep loved ones up-to-date on her condition and she continued updating as she recovered and continues to recover.  The necklace was made by Crystal B. for the 1-year anniversary of the accident.
Here's why I like reading NieNie:
  1. She's my age -- she just turned 29
  2. But she seems infinitely wiser.
  3. She has FOUR kids!  Those Mormons...  :-)
  4. She admits when she cries or is mad about not having "her" face anymore and when it hurts to get out of bed but always with grace and I always cheer for her when I read that she had a victory. 
  5. She makes me laugh.
  6. Her kids are adorable and she takes great pictures. 
  7. She has fantastic style.
  8. Her faith is inspiring.  I'm certainly not a Mormon and not really label-able right now but I am inspired by her convictions and her honest faith.  Even the video on her blog that was produced by Mormon Messages makes me take pause (and cry a little bit).  
  9. Her posts remind me that life is about more than PhD programs or jobs but that wanting good things is okay.
  10. She has fantastic decorating sense and I want to decorate like her when I grow up.  See?
If that's not my house, I don't know what is.  And I want that bench.  Now.

Thanks, Nie Nie, for sharing your life with me.